By Jeff McKay
Special Features Correspondent
WASHINGTON, DC — In the era of industry-wide consolidation and moves to cut costs with syndication over local talk hosts, longtime radio and media veteran Kirby Wilbur could be the poster child for reinventing a career while helping others to start their own. Washington, DC-born and Seattle-raised, Wilbur made a name for himself in the Pacific Northwest not from his job as a real estate appraiser, but as a frequent caller to talk shows, a non-paid “hobby” that ultimately led him to his own talk show on KVI in 1993. For the next 16 years, he was a staple on Seattle airwaves, along with numerous appearances on TALKERS magazine’s “Heavy Hundred” list of the most important radio talk show hosts in America, and also as a fill-in host for the Sean Hannity Show, until he was cut loose from KVI in October, 2009.
Fortunately for Wilbur, his Republican ideology, political activism and ability to articulate points allowed him to move directly into politics, becoming the chairman of the Washington State Republican Party. During his tenure, Republicans picked up majorities in the Washington State House and State Senate. However, an offer came his way that has not only changed him, but is also developing a new generation of members of the media.
TRN Companies and Cumulus Media Announce Amicable Westwood One Settlement. TRN Companies and Cumulus Media announced late Friday afternoon (3/7) that they have agreed to settle outstanding claims arising during previous ownership of WestwoodOne, acquired by Cumulus Media in December, 2013. Lew Dickey, president and CEO of Cumulus Media, said, “While Cumulus Media had no role in the lawsuits filed by TRN Companies, we are pleased to resolve these claims and move forward together. We remain supportive of each other and are optimistic for the future.” Mark Masters, CEO of TRN Companies, said: “We are pleased to ‘turn the page’ with the new owners of WestwoodOne and have put past issues behind us. As we build bridges together, we look forward to a mutually beneficial future working with our affiliated stations, customers, Lew and John Dickey and Cumulus Media.”
Emmis to Reward Employees with Stock. The company states that as part of its 2012 Employee Retention Plan, roughly 75% of its full-time employees are being notified they are eligible to receive what it is saying is “a sizeable stock award.” The company further states, “Emmis prides itself on being a destination employer in the media and digital industries, and as such, places a high value on cultivating a culture that allows us to attract and retain the best talent in our industries. The third of Emmis’ Eleven Commandments states: Be good to your people – get them into the game and give them a piece of the pie.” Eligible employees will receive a pro-rata share of approximately 976,000 shares of Emmis Communications common stock. Using Friday’s closing price, the 976,000 shares in the Retention Plan will deliver $3,240,000 in value to the 598 employees who qualify for the plan. To ensure a broad-based distribution, the Plan excluded executive officers and capped the level of salary credit at $50,000. As an example of the award size, a full-time employee of Emmis who has been with the company since April 2, 2012, with a salary of $40,000 per year will get approximately 1,480 shares. That equates to a market value of $4913.60, using the closing price last Friday, March 7 of $3.32. The awards will vest on April 2, 2014 and will be distributed to employees shortly thereafter. It will be their choice whether to hold or sell the stock.
KSFO, San Francisco Names Hughes Late Morning Host. Cumulus Media’s news/talk KSFO, San Francisco has been trying out talk show hosts in the late morning slot (billed on the station’s website as “KSFO Talk Show”) for the past several months. Now, the station names Spencer Hughes permanent host of the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon program. Hughes’ resume includes stops at talk stations across America including WRKO, Boston; KGO, San Francisco; KTKZ, Sacramento; and KSRO, Santa Rosa.
WGN VP/GM Jimmy de Castro Talks Radio and More. The vice president and general manager of Tribune Company’s WGN, Chicago and the new sports talk WGWG “The Game 87.7” spoke candidly with the Chicago Sun-Times for its online video feature “The Sit Down.” In the interview, de Castro throws out a number quips that’ll interest industry watchers. For example, he’s not trying to bring young listeners to WGN, “I don’t want a younger audience for ’GN. I want 35- to 65- or 70-year-old people.” He says he hasn’t committed a lot of money to his staff. “I don’t have one contract with one person on our station. Not one. They’re all here because of how they feel. Any time they want, they can walk out the door.” The one-time WLUP-FM leader also talks about his career and how he views life after all of his success. See it here.
Jack Roberts Dies at 62. Radio executive/on-air personality Jack Roberts died this past weekend in Los Angeles. Over the course of his career, the 62-year-old Roberts was a general manager, program director, on-air talk host, and producer. Most recently, the Boston College graduate and Massachusetts native was executive producer for CRN Digital Talk Radio programming, including “What’s Cookin’ Today.” CRN chief executive officer Michael Horn comments, “Jack truly understood and loved radio. He became an instant, caring friend to everyone he encountered.” Roberts thought he could get any guest or celebrity, and Horn remarks, “He almost always booked them. Guests and talent, but most especially the listeners, enjoyed what they heard. Jack’s legacy will live on through them and all of us. That would make him very proud.” Roberts was a senior producer on syndicated radio programs hosted by Dick Cavett, and Colonel Oliver North. He was in charge of production for “The Jerry Williams Show” and “The Doug Stephan Show.” His on-air experience includes stops at Boston’s WRKO, WMEX and WXKS; WPRO, Providence; and WDRC, Hartford – where he became general manager and program director. Roberts held those titles at WWRC, Washington, DC as well. Programmer Ron Jacobs writes, “Jack Roberts is great at shining the spotlight on others and not blowing his own horn.” Funeral services are pending for Roberts, who wrote a radio-themed blog – “HollywoodHillsGroup.com” - that highlighted industry achievements and gave publicity to on-air talent.
Twin Cities Star Tom Barnard Talks Podcasting in Profile Piece. Morning radio personality Tom Barnard – a 43-year Minneapolis-St. Paul market icon – is profiled by the Minneapolis Post. The star of Cumulus’ rock KQRS speaks about numerous topics – the death of the voice-over business, his rise to fame, and his decision to get more political after 9/11 – in the story and explains his separate business producing and selling ad time for his daily two-hour podcast. Barnard tells the Post that although he billed roughly $250,000 in 2013, the show is not in the black due to expenses including salaries and the cost of bandwidth. Barnard and partner Don Shelby (former WCCO personality) are not collecting a salary at this point. Barnard’s decision to sell ad time and not charge for subscriptions as well as to go after local ad dollars, flies in the face of the way many of the high-profile podcasters are doing it (think Tom Leykis and Adam Carolla). Read the entire Post story here.
Odds & Sods. In the Duluth market, Midwest Communications flips standards WGEE, Superior, Wisconsin to sports talk using CBS Sports Radio programming…..Sports radio pro Seth Everett becomes part of the New York Mets broadcasts on Clear Channel’s WOR, New York this season where he’ll be hosting the pre- and post-game programs…..Charlotte Knights minor league baseball will air on Greater Media’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte this summer as the station will carry 10 Saturday night home games and two Friday evening home games.
Chris Stigall Broadcasts from CPAC. The annual Washington, DC gathering of conservative politicians dubbed the Conservative Political Action Conference involves an active radio row and WPHT, Philadelphia morning drive host Chris Stigall (right) was in the middle of all the action last week as he broadcast his show from the event. He’s pictured here interviewing former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton (left).
WVBR Returns To Collegetown (Ithaca) in New, High Tech Studio Station to Hold March 15th Dedication Ceremony – Keith Olbermann Makes Major Donation. Proving that grassroots terrestrial radio is alive and well, WVBR-FM is returning home to Collegetown (a proud name sported by downtown Ithaca, New York – home of Cornell University and Ithaca College – per its reputation as being one of the best college towns in America) after a 14-year absence, with a newly-built, state-of-the-art studio. The new studio is located at 604 East Buffalo Street in Ithaca, next to the Carriage House Café and across from The Connection, Loco Cantina, and the Chapter House. WVBR has operated out of 957 Mitchell Street near East Hill Plaza after leaving its longtime home at 227 Linden Avenue in Collegetown in 2000. It will be officially dedicated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to take place this coming Saturday (3/15). WVBR-FM is a commercial, non-profit radio station that is owned and fully operated by the Cornell Radio Guild, a group of Cornell University students. Since 1935, this group’s stated mission has been running a radio station with the goal of training students in broadcasting. Since 1968, WVBR has been serving Ithaca and Tompkins Counties playing an eclectic mix of classic and modern rock under the banner, “Real Rock Radio.” WVBR broadcasts over 93.5 FM and 105.5 FM to Tompkins County and the surrounding area. The newly named Olbermann-Corneliess Studios was purchased with donations from station alumni, most notably ESPN host Keith Olbermann. Olbermann gave what has been described by station management as “a generous donation” with a request that WVBR’s new home studio be named in honor of his late father Theodore Olbermann, as well as the late Glenn Corneliess, his colleague during his years at WVBR who passed away in 1996. Olbermann, the Corneliess family, and Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick will be among those on hand for the dedication, as well as many station alumni, current staff, and management. A brand new set of professional equipment, a large vinyl library, a live performance space, three soundproof production booths, and two advanced on-air studios are some of the many highlights of the new space. “There is no doubt in my mind that 604 East Buffalo Street will feature the best college radio setup in the country,” says Drew Endick, president of the Cornell Radio Guild, Inc. and general manager of WVBR, telling RadioInfo, “We have been trying to expand our content production operations and provide better services for the local community, and we now have the facilities to meet these challenges.” The new studio will be home to two radio stations – WVBR, which broadcasts with a rock format over FM, as well as CornellRadio.com, which is being launched as a more student-centric, freeform online station. CornellRadio.com will feature pop, hip-hop, dance, and alternative music, as well as talk shows, comedy programming, and sports content provided by a partnership with the Big Red Sports Network. Each station will have its own cutting-edge studio within the building. “This move is extremely important to the goals of our station,” says Michael Mallon, senior vice president of communications. “The latest technology will not only allow us to create better content for our listeners, but it will also allow the students of Cornell University to learn and train on the same equipment as is used in the big stations in major cities.” The move is also significant as the station will now be a close walk for most students. “It’s a perfect location for us, both physically and symbolically,” Mallon continues, “The station is right between the students who operate the station, and the Ithacans who make up most of our listenership.” ASI Renovations managed the huge project. The space was already in great condition, but the design presented some big technical challenges. Sherpa Technologies wired the building for radio operations. Students and weekend staff led the move, bringing over the entire vinyl and CD collections, as well as other important articles from the old station.
Chattin’ with a Legend. WFTL, Fort Lauderdale late morning talk host Rich Stevens (right) entertains legendary disc jockey Cousin Brucie (left) in the station’s studios. Stevens tells TALKERS the pair chatted about numerous topics and took calls from listeners. While speaking with callers, a 92-year-old local listener phoned in to tell Cousin Brucie he remembers winning a contest 40 years ago that Cousin Brucie executed that sent him on a vacation. Brucie asked him if he was still there and needed money to get back!
Sittin’ in on WMAL, Washington. Former Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell (left) is pictured here in the WMAL, Washington studios as she served as guest co-host on the “Morning On The Mall” program today (3/10). O’Donnell worked with co-host Larry O’Connor (right) while subbing for Brian Wilson.
Entercom Revenue Down 2% in Q4; Dips 3% for 2013. The 2013 fourth quarter numbers for Entercom are in and the company reports net revenue was down 2% on $99.6 million though adjusted net income per share was basically flat. Also free cash flow increased by 2%. For the full year of 2013, net revenue dipped 3%. Though station expenses decreased slightly during the year, station operating income decreased by 8% to $125.8 million. Entercom will hold a conference call with investors and analysts at 12:00 noon ET today (2/11). President and CEO David Field says in a statement, “Entercom’s fourth quarter revenues declined 2% while revenues excluding political advertising posted a 2% increase. 2014 began on a solid note with January revenues up moderately over the prior year. We are optimistic about 2014 performance based on improving sales capabilities and execution, strong ratings and meaningful local growth opportunities.”
Beasley Broadcast Group to Work with Propel Marketing for Online Marketing. In an effort to expand its online marketing, Beasley Broadcast Group announces it is engaging Propel Marketing to “assist Beasley’s local clients in building and expanding their online marketing opportunities and solutions.” In a statement, Beasley says that Propel’s products and services include website and mobile site design, search engine optimization, lists and local directories, social media services and online reputation management. It further states that the “agreement affords Beasley’s local account executives access to a robust portfolio of online marketing services. Beasley’s relationship with Propel Marketing enhances the on-air and online advertising opportunities already available to existing and future clients, especially small businesses that typically do not have in-house resources to create and implement successful online marketing campaigns. Propel Marketing will not only create and deliver online marketing solutions, but also provide a dedicated team of specialists to ensure that Beasley’s clients are fully leveraging Propel Marketing products.” Beasley EVP and CFO Caroline Beasley states, “We are extremely excited by this relationship. It gives us the ability to respond to any request a local advertiser may have that involves exploring a digital component. The ability to combine radio’s powerful reach with Propel Marketing’s wide assortment of online products and services will greatly enhance a local advertising campaign.” Newly appointed vice president of digital Stacey Sedbrook adds, “By integrating online marketing with their current radio marketing efforts our clients are able to both extend their audience reach and more efficiently target their messaging. Beasley sales professionals remain the primary contact for our advertising customers. Our goal remains helping local businesses build their brands and grow their revenue. We can now offer integrated marketing solutions under the Beasley Broadcast brand allowing advertisers to streamline their marketing efforts with a trusted local partner.”
TALKERS Posts Part-Two Today of Three-Part Special (2/10-12) Spotlighting Danno Wolkoff and Envision Networks. Like many people who go to college with a plan for what they want to do when they graduate, Danno Wolkoff went to Syracuse University with a goal of winding up in television production. Fate, and the prodding from senior management at MJI Broadcasting instead sent him in the direction of sales and affiliate relations. Wolkoff discovered he had a gift for sales, and doubled his income in one year. It was through sales and affiliate relations work that he climbed the corporate ladder at MJI, expanding and growing their sales offices nationwide. When Clear Channel acquired MJI and merged it into Premiere Radio Networks (now simply “Premiere Networks”), he became VP of affiliate relations. However, it wasn’t long before he began to realize that the hands-on and creative approach he had at MJI wasn’t translating to the growth concepts and business model of Premiere and Clear Channel. Wolkoff faced a career crossroads and would make a decision that would change his life and become an important source of programming and services for radio. His vision was Envision Radio Networks — a highly successful and forward-thinking company that creates over four-dozen content products and services for radio stations and media outlets nationwide, customizing solutions for clients, producers and affiliates. It is a company literally founded after another syndication and programming company decided they had a good product that despite making money, didn’t make enough money for their bottom line. What Wolkoff has accomplished in the span of just 10 years is inspiring and a textbook example of creating a force for productivity and jobs in an industry. He took the biggest gamble of his life, grabbing a program and three people laid off by an established firm that would become his largest competitor, and growing an independent syndication empire serving over 1,500 radio stations with everything from prep services to music shows, local news and information to weekend talk shows. His staff has grown over 20-fold in a decade to include an array of producers, salespeople and contract staffers researching, producing, creating and selling more than four-dozen products to radio stations in both the largest and smallest markets. Now known simply as Envision Networks (they dropped the word “Radio” this past week – more on that later) continues to not only grow, embracing new technology and catering to those needs, but in the process has become an independent force in syndication. In today’s installment, Wolkoff discusses exactly what it takes to build a formidable syndication firm from scratch and shares his view of the changing nature of the syndication business as well as radio in general. In the words of Michael Harrison, “The emergence of special individuals like Danno Wolkoff is the force that propels an industry such as ours forward. I’ve seen this movie many times before. Danno is the kind of guy who has the makings of being a true giant 10 years down the pike, taking his place among the biggest of the big.” To read part two of TALKERS special features correspondent Jeff McKay’s extensive profile “The Vision of Envision: The Rise of Radio Syndication Entrepreneur Danno Wolkoff and an Emerging Independent Powerhouse” please click here. And if you missed part one published yesterday, read that here.
Max Krasny Joins CBS RADIO as VP/Sales and Strategic Alliances. The former WestwoodOne EVP takes on the vice president, sales and strategic partnerships position with CBS RADIO’s Altitude Group division which focuses on helping brands connect with consumers using CBS RADIO stations, along with CBS Television stations and their digital properties, as well as CBS’s outdoor assets. Max Krasny reports to the executive leadership of the Altitude Group: Rich Lobel, executive vice president and CMO, and Sue McNamara, senior vice president, sales. Lobel states, “Max is a seasoned pro who brings a marketing acumen to a client’s business, and knows how to deliver creative excellence that makes brands stand out and get noticed. No one has a better portfolio of local assets under one roof than CBS including: radio, television, out-of-home, live events, websites, mobile and social apps.”
FCC Socks WLS-AM, Chicago with $44,000 Fine. The Forfeiture Order comes from the station failing to identify the sponsor of programming that aired back in 2009. The content was in the form of long-form shows – two two-hour programs, a one-hour show – plus 90-second and 15-second spots and promotional announcements paid for by Workers Independent News. During the two-week period in question, the FCC determined that 11 announcements were aired without proper sponsor identification and issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for $44,000 – 11 violations at $4,000 per. Cumulus argued that the commission had in the past reduced fines to a one-time violation amount and that it should just have to pay $4,000. But the commission ruled that no such precedent had been set and that the forfeiture amounts in failure to identify sponsorships cases reflect the unique aspects of each case and thus the commission considers this case to be comprised of 11 violations, not one.
Former MLB Slugger and Talk Host Jack Clark Apologizes to Albert Pujols. During a discussion on WGNU, St. Louis, sports talk host and former MLB slugger Jack Clark alleged that former Cardinals player Albert Pujols used performance enhancing drugs during his time in St. Louis. Pujols threatened to sue and the station ended the contract between Clark’s co-host Kevin Slaten and Clark, cancelling their show. The station also issued an apology to Pujols. But for a time Clark maintained his assertion about Pujols and even challenged Pujols to a live debate – an invitation Pujols’ attorney refused. Now, Clark issues the aforementioned apology and Pujols agrees to withdraw his lawsuit.
“Market Rally” Readies for March Launch. What is said to be the first-ever, long-form agricultural commodity markets-focused national radio program will debut next month (3/10). That is when Farm Journal Media launches Chip Flory-hosted “Market Rally.” The one-hour weekday program will air at 2:00 pm (CT), immediately following the close of major commodity markets. Farm Journal Broadcast Division senior vice president Brian Conrady remarks that a “really solid group of stations” is already committed to air “Market Rally” and he anticipates “several more” before the program debuts. “The show fills a programming void for many stations,” Conrady comments. “It wraps their day’s farm coverage with a new, information-packed, entertaining program. It is all about markets, which everyone knows farmers cannot get enough of.” Flory notes, “We have a long list of guest analysts anxious to share their market perspective with the audience each day. We will take listener questions/comments via phone, text, and social media. Our goal is to remove as much confusion as possible from this increasingly volatile marketing environment.” Flory remains editorial director of Farm Journal’s “Pro Farmer” newsletter and he will host “Market Rally” from FJB’s new studio in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
The Beatles Played in Washington, Too! As America remembers The Beatles’ arrival in this country 50 years ago this week, much of the attention is focused on the New York-based national broadcast on the “Ed Sullivan Show.” But Cumulus Media’s WMAL, Washington knows that the group’s first public concert was in Washington, DC. Pictured here in the WMAL studios are Fox News Channel chief Washington correspondent – and noted Beatles expert – James Rosen (center) and “Mornings on the Mall” co-hosts Brian Wilson (left) and Larry O’Connor (right) after being on the air for Tuesday’s celebration of The Beatles’ first concert on U.S. soil – in the Nation’s Capital. Among other guests remembering The Beatles on the program were: The Beach Boys’ Mike Love, Rolling Stone Magazine’s David Wild, Herman’s Hermits singer Peter Noone, and local Fox 5 anchor (and former “Good Morning America” weather anchor) Tony Perkins, who discussed his love for the Beatles as an African-American youth growing up in D.C.
Odds & Sods. Baltimore Orioles broadcaster Jim Hunter recently visited his alma mater Seton Hall University and spoke with student staffers at his old college radio station – WSOU-FM – about making it in sports broadcasting today. Hunter, pictured here (third from the right) surrounded by students, stressed to them the importance of preparation, noting that the need to do your homework doesn’t end when you graduate from college. He also shared tips on improving on-air performance and how to tell listeners a good story…..New York City broadcasting legend John Gambling returned to the radio recently, if only briefly, to speak on WABC, New York with Frank Morano on his Sunday “Morning with Morano” program. Morano and Gambling talked about the state of radio today, the tradition of the Gamblings and covering weather events…..For the 18th consecutive year, ESPN Radio is providing comprehensive coverage of NBA All-Star 2014, culminating with an exclusive radio broadcast of the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, February 16. Kevin Calabro will describe the action throughout the weekend with analyst Jon Barry. They will be joined by studio analysts Marc Kestecher and P.J. Carlesimo and reporters Marc Stein and Shelley Smith.
Brent & Meg Honored for Keeping Studio City, California Free of Dog Poop. Although they are heard all over the world on TalkersRadio (weekdays 12:00 noon – 2:00 pm PT), the experimental talk station that lives on this website, the dynamic husband/wife radio duo of Brent & Meg (Brent Seltzer and Meg McDonald) believe in the concept of cleaning up your own backyard as well as tackling the issues of greater humanity. This past Saturday evening (2/8) they were honored by some of LA’s top movers and shakers for their community volunteer work in regularly picking up dog poop (no kidding) found on the streets of LA’s Studio City – the neighborhood from which their daily show emanates (as well as their home). The gala appreciation dinner took place at Carla’s Café on the CBS Studio Center lot. Pictured here are (from l-r): State Assemblymember, 46th District, Adrin Nazarian; Los Angeles City Councilmember, 2nd District, Paul Krekorian; Meg McDonald (Brent & Meg Show on TalkersRadio); Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; and Brent Seltzer (Brent & Meg Show on Talkers Radio). Upon learning of Brent & Meg receiving this honor, TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo’s music editor/director Duane Doobie issued the statement: “I seldom listen to talk radio, but when I do, I prefer Brent & Meg. True, like most talk show hosts, they are full of sh*t… but in a helpful, solutions-oriented way.”
ObamaCare Criticism, Hillary Clinton in 2016, Immigration Reform, Winter Olympics, Winter Weather, and Shirley Temple Black Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/10). Scrutiny of the implementation and effects of the Affordable Care Act; the release of new documents about the Clintons and Hillary’s possible run for president in 2016; the move in Washington to pass immigration reform legislation; the Winter Olympics games in Sochi, Russia; a new winter storm reportedly heading for the South and East this week; and the death of former child star and U.S. Ambassador Shirley Temple Black were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
New York Losing Progressive Talk Outlet WWRL. Progressive talk host Karel – whose Long Beach, California-based talk show is heard on Access.1’s WWRL, New York – reports the station says it will flip to Spanish-language programming on December 27. The station airs progressive talk programming including Ed Schultz, Thom Hartmann, Premiere’s Randi Rhodes, and Leslie Marshall as well as non-political shows including Radio America’s Dr. Joy Browne, WYD Media’s Phil Hendrie plus various health and wellness shows. New York’s Amsterdam News reports the station is telling employees “low advertising revenue” is the reason for the format flip.
Brown Boosted to Bonneville International President. KSL Broadcast Group president Darrell Brown is promoted to president of parent company Bonneville International. Brown will oversee Bonneville’s 12 radio properties in Los Angeles, Seattle, Phoenix, and Salt Lake City, as well as Salt Lake City television outlet KSL-TV. “Bonneville International is known across the industry for its integrity and quality,” he comments. “As a group, these stations are committed to serving and building-up their local communities. I am honored to be part of Bonneville’s legacy.” Brown joined KSL last August, after having previously spent 28 years at McGraw-Hill Broadcasting.
Sports Talker WFAN, New York Sponsors Red Hot Chili Peppers-Headlines Show at Barclay Center. With the Super Bowl just across the river the next day, CBS Radio sports talk giant WFAN, New York is sponsoring a big event across the other river at the Barclays Center titled, “WFAN’s Big Hello to Brooklyn.” The announcement was made this morning as WFAN morning team Boomer Esiason (left) and Craig Carton (right) welcomed Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith (center) into the studio and announced his band will be headlining the show on Saturday, February 1, 2014. The concert will also include: New Politics, MS MR, J. Roddy Walston & The Business, and Basic Vacation. CBS calls it “the biggest weekend in sports and entertainment, and is the exciting conclusion to Barclays Center’s “Kickoff In Brooklyn” series which also includes championship boxing (1/30/2014) and a match-up between the Brooklyn Nets and the Oklahoma City Thunder (1/31/2014). CBS Radio SVP, strategic events and partnerships Amy Stevens says, “The intersection of sports and music is never bigger than during the weekend of the Super Bowl. Red Hot Chili Peppers are an American institution and rock ‘n’roll icons, and what better way to celebrate football’s championship than with this incredible lineup of artists for local fans and the thousands in New York from around the world.”
WFAN’s Mike Francesa to Exit YES Network. The New York TV simulcast of WFAN, New York’s Mike Francesa will end on January 31 after the current contract expires and WEPN-FM afternoon drive host Michael Kay’s program will take over the time slot on the Yankees-owned cable channel. The New York Daily News reports that the change was a financial matter and that CBS Radio was asking more for the rights to the program than YES wanted to pay. The Daily News piece speculates that cable’s Madison Square Garden Network may have the “inside track” with Francesa as he’s considered close to Garden management. The story also notes that fledgling cable channel CBS Sports Network, which is airing WFAN’s Boomer & Carton morning show, is not enticing to Francesa because he fears he’d have to change his content to appeal to the national audience.
Steak Added to WCNN Menu. In addition to existing members Sandra Golden and Brian Finneran, “The Front Row” on Dickey Broadcasting, Atlanta’s WCNN “Sports Radio 680 The Fan” will be comprised of Stephen “Steak” Shapiro as well. Formerly the 17-year host of “Mayhem in the AM” on Lincoln Financial Media’s crosstown WQXI “790 The Zone,” Shapiro has won numerous Georgia broadcasting awards and starts his daily 9:00 am – 12:00 noon assignment on January 2. WCNN president/general manager David Dickey comments, “I am excited to have ‘Steak’ back on ‘The Fan.’ He is one of the best-known and most-talented sports personalities in the country. ‘Steak’ will become an important part of what is already the region’s biggest and most-experienced sports-talk line-up. His homecoming is yet another example of Dickey Broadcasting’s ongoing commitment to invest in the best talent, the best content and the biggest partnerships.” Shapiro, who replaces Ray Mariner, adds, “‘The Fan’ gave me my start and is the reason I moved to Atlanta [from Boston] almost 20 years ago. I am ecstatic to be back doing what I love. ‘The Fan’ has been the number one sports talk station in the south for so many years. To be able to be a part of such a winning team with so many folks I have worked alongside in the past and consider friends is really thrilling.” Shapiro founded Big League Broadcasting in 1997 and was its president for roughly 14 years.
Dare to be Crap-Free. When it comes to online content, it’s easy to think you have a staffing problem or a time management problem or a resources problem, when what you really have is a crap problem. In a new column posted today (12/16) by noted digital radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller, he writes, “There’s stuff on your site that is irrelevant to your station and is keeping people from finding what they DO want to find there. Your social media is probably influenced more by what everyone else is doing in social media, rather than what will cause your biggest fans to love you all the more.” To read how Chris Miller can help you get crap-free and focused on results for 2014, please click here.
Odds & Sods. Connecticut talk show host Mary Jones announces she’ll retire from Buckley Broadcasting-owned news/talk station WDRC-AM, Hartford as of December 23 in order to spend more time with her husband and enjoy winters in Florida. Jones tells TALKERS it was a big decision but she is excited about the change….. WMAL-AM/FM, Washington “Mornings on the Mall” co-host Larry O’Connor is doing some double duty during the holiday season. O’Connor will sub for WABC, New York-based Geraldo Rivera beginning December 20 through the end of the year (and the end of his national syndication run) and will also sit in for WestwoodOne-syndicated personality Dennis Miller on January 2 and 3 – the last two days of his 10:00 am to 1:00 pm airing (the show begins airing from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm on 1/6)…..“Libertarian-conservative” media personality Wayne Allyn Root will be guest host on Cumulus Media Networks’ “Savage Nation” with Michael Savage from December 23 – 30. Root is author of The Ultimate Obama Survival Guide (Regnery 2013) and serves as a commentator on Fox News Channel and TheBlaze.
KSCO, Santa Cruz Personality Ethan Bearman’s Profile Rising. Talk radio personality and writer Ethan Bearman is getting more recognition in the Santa Cruz market as his locally focused talk show on Zwerling-owned KSCO, Santa Cruz grows in popularity. Recently, Bearman was a go-to media voice for a KION-TV news piece (captured here) on the anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. View that video here. Also, Bearman, who has intensely covered the hot issue of dirty needles, trash and other refuse in the town’s parks that’s making it unsafe for people to use, was part of a clean-up crew that made the news for its work. Read about that issue in a piece in the Santa Cruz Patch here. Bearman is a visible example of a growing trend in news/talk radio in which talk hosts are eschewing monolithic political party doctrine and instead are approaching their programs on an issue-by-issue basis.
Hawkins Scores With CRN Special. Over the weekend (Saturday, 12/14), former NBA player Tommy Hawkins premiered his CRN Digital Talk Radio holiday special “We Wish You a Jazzy Christmas.” According to CRN chief executive officer Michael Horn, “‘We Wish You a Jazzy Christmas’ is filled with holiday-themed jazz music, along with Tommy’s infectious, warm personality. His love of jazz and the holidays combine for such a treat. It is the perfect accompaniment for an evening by a Christmas tree.” Following a standout collegiate career at Notre Dame (where he was a two-year All-American), Hawkins went on to play in the NBA for the Los Angeles Lakers and Cincinnati Royals (now the Sacramento Kings). He later became vice president of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. For approximately 15 years beginning in 1970, “Hawk” was a staple on Los Angeles siblings KABC and KLOS. As part of his basketball-to-broadcasting transition Hawkins not only became KABC’s sports director, he also did “Sports Snorts” weekday mornings with remarkably talented Frazer Smith on KLOS. In addition to doing weekends on KKJZ “K-Jazz,” Los Angeles, Hawkins has written “Life’s Reflections: Poetry for the People.” His CRN special will play throughout the holiday season.
Over $120,000 Raised in KFXX Special Olympics Radio-thon. Entercom-owned sports outlet KFXX “1080 The Fan” afternoon drive (3:00 pm – 7:00 pm) hosts Isaac Ropp (pictured here at left with some female fans) and Jason Scukanec (second from right) anchored the third annual 28-hour Special Olympics Oregon radio-thon, which brought in more than $120,000. Program director Jeff Austin comments, “We are proud to partner with Special Olympics Oregon. The overwhelming support of our station’s staff, our listeners, and advertisers was a testament to the bond Isaac and Suke have with their audience.” Scukanec (“Suke”) states, “We cannot thank our listeners enough – Portland is a special community and this is a very special cause. We talk about sports and high-powered athletes every day, but these Olympians are the real athletes. They are the real champions and we are privileged to honor their spirit and dedication.” Special Olympics Oregon chief development officer Kim Bergstrom adds, “We are honored to partner with [KFXX]. Isaac and Suke’s radio-thon helps raise funds to support year-round sports training and competition opportunities for thousands of individuals with intellectual disability. In addition, they generate immeasurable awareness of the importance of Special Olympics Oregon programs for athletes and their families.” This year’s $120,000 radio-thon total surpassed last year’s mark by more than $45,000.
Broadcast Electronics Bumps Up Bealor To President. Effective immediately, Broadcast Electronics executive vice president of product development Tim Bealor is upped to president of the Quincy, Illinois-based company. “I am honored to be asked to lead BE into its 55th year and the next phase of the company’s growth,” he comments. “Next year is going to be an exciting time for Broadcast Electronics and its customers.” Bealor began his Broadcast Electronics career as a technician in 1975. Over the past 38 years, he has held a variety of technical, support, product management, sales leadership, and marketing positions with the company.
Clear Channel Goes with DC-Based Elliot Segal for WOR, New York Morning Show. In announcing its new program schedule for news/talk WOR, New York (which includes the Arrival of Premiere’s Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity), Clear Channel Media + Entertainment throws a curveball to industry watchers and names “DC101” morning drive host Elliot Segal the new morning drive show, replacing the retiring John Gambling. The “Elliot in the Morning” show will continue to air on Clear Channel’s rock WWDC as well as rock WRXL, Richmond “XL 102.” Segal says, “I’m excited to be coming back to New York, to a station with such a legendary history. We have built something very special in Washington, DC and Richmond and I’m beyond thrilled that the show will continue airing on DC/101 and XL-102. Now, WOR will be home to ‘Elliot In The Morning’ and I couldn’t be more anxious to get going.” This move is particularly significant because it is the first time in recent memory that a major market heritage AM news/talk station will be carrying the same show that is running on a major market heritage FM music station. Although there is nothing new about major FM music stations running talk (or talk-oriented) programs in their lineups (usually in morning drive), this move marks a significant breakthrough in mixing the cultures within a single outlet’s stationality. The implications of this, should it be successful, will be huge. Clear Channel notes Mark Simone follows Segal from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon. After that it’s Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Andy Dean and Dave Ramsey. Joan Hamburg – a longtime WOR personality – moves to weekends with programs airing on both Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon. President and market manager Joe Puglise states, “This is an incredibly exciting time for WOR. Bringing America’s top two talk show hosts to our lineup, the entertaining Elliot Segal and his team to the mornings and becoming the flagship station for the Mets will allow us to create unprecedented marketing opportunities for our partners and unbeatable programming for our listeners.”
John DePetro Apologizes for ‘Whores’ Comment. WPRO, Providence late morning talk show host John DePetro has issued an apology for calling union protestors “whores.” This latest development comes less than a week after TALKERS reported that DePetro had filed a police complaint stating two men had threatened him outside the WPRO studios because of the comment. Back in September, DePetro railed against the union-supported protest taking place outside a fundraiser for State General Treasurer Gina Raimondo. During that broadcast he reportedly directed his words toward a female union leader, saying, “What a disgrace. You are an embarrassment…You are parasites. You are cockroaches. You lie. You are union hags. There’s another word I’d like to use…it begins with a W. and an H. and an O. and an R. and an E. and an S. See if they can spell that.” DePetro was off his program last week and the Associate Press reports it’s unclear if his absence had anything to do with the remarks. Still, he called into his own program and told listeners, “The language I used was not in keeping with the family friendly atmosphere that I try to maintain for the thousands of people who listen to me. Going forward I intend to approach debates on the current topics that we talk about in a more sensitive style.”
Saunders Begins Daily Talk Show. WBNQ, Bloomington, Illinois morning drive host Susan Saunders is adding a daily talk show on sister station news/talk WJBC-AM/FM. Saunders leads the CHR morning show alongside Ray Wagner. Now, she’s adding a two-hour 9:00 am to 11:00 am talk program to her duties at the Cumulus Media cluster. She says, “It’s official, and I couldn’t be more excited about joining the legendary, Marconi- and Crystal Award-winning staff of WJBC-AM/FM. After 15 years (on the morning show), it was time to expand my horizons into pure form talk radio. Over the last four months I have been auditioning my non-musical style with WJBC’s audience, and it works!”
Beasley Declares Cash Dividend for Share Holders. The dividend will be paid on January 10 to shareholders of record on December 27 and will pay $0.045 per share. Chairman and CEO Geroge Beasley states, “The re-initiation of a regular cash dividend reflects the free cash flow generated by our operations as well as our commitment to deliver value to our shareholders, and follows the one-time special dividend of $0.085 paid to shareholders in December 2012. Importantly, taking into consideration the proposed annual capital allocated to dividend payments, based on current conditions we believe Beasley Broadcast Group‘s total free cash flow should provide us with the liquidity needed to further reduce leverage, consider potential station acquisitions and to enhance long-term shareholder value.”
Flora and DeLucca Join Clear Channel, Phoenix as GSMs. Coming onboard effective immediately as general sales managers are George Flora and Libia DeLucca. Flora will oversee sales operations for Clear Channel, Phoenix outlets KFYI “Newstalk 550,” KOY “Business 1230,” and KGME “Fox Sports Radio 910.” In addition to her GSM duties, DeLucca will assist with brand manager responsibilities for the cluster’s rhythmic hot AC KYOT “Eva 95.5.” Clear Channel Phoenix vice president of sales Linda Little states, “George Flora is the perfect addition to our sales management team. He will add a wealth of knowledge and experience in driving revenue and creating solutions for clients utilizing our spoken-word brands. Libia brings with her years of experience selling integrated marketing solutions with digital, newspaper, and TV assets in Phoenix. I know she will take her team to new levels as they become even stronger digital marketers for their clients.” Prior to the six years he just spent at ESPN Los Angeles, Flora was with CBS Radio Los Angeles for 12 years. DeLucca had a 14-year run with Gannett Media Phoenix – most recently as digital sales manager.
Yankees Add Syracuse’s Rock “TK 99″ to its Radio Network. Galaxy Communications, Syracuse classic rocker WTKW “TK 99″ signs a multi-year agreement with CBS Radio to air all 162 regular season games of the NY Yankees beginning with the 2014 season. Galaxy Communications president/chief executive officer Ed Levine remarks, “We intend to go far beyond just broadcasting the games on the radio in Syracuse. We’re going to enhance the experience for Yankee fans in Central New York in a myriad of innovative ways.” CBS Radio vice president of sports programming Mark Chernoff comments, “CBS Radio and the New York Yankees are very excited to be partnering with ‘TK 99′ and Galaxy. They have shown a great ability through their work with Syracuse University athletics to enhance what is already a strong presence in Syracuse. We look forward to that continuing with the Yankees.” In April 2007, WTKW became the flagship play-by-play outlet of Syracuse University men’s football, men’s basketball, and men’s lacrosse games.
KIRO-FM’s Twelve-Hour Fundraiser Collects More Than $489,000. Local foster children will be aided by money amassed through listener donations and sponsor matching funds via the Bonneville Seattle talk outlet’s 7:00 am – 7:00 pm radio-thon last Thursday (12/5). KIRO-FM conducted the annual “Holiday Magic” on-air event in conjunction with Treehouse, a nonprofit organization addressing essential education and enrichment needs of kids in foster care. Bonneville Seattle Media Group vice president/market manager Carl Gardner comments, “Again this year, our community has dug deep to support foster children. Treehouse does a tremendous job of strengthening foster families and helping children realize their full potential. It is a joy and privilege to connect our generous audience with good neighbors who just need a little help.” Treehouse chief executive officer Janis Avery remarks, “We are absolutely thrilled with the success of the 25th ‘Holiday Magic’ radio-thon. We are so grateful to the KIRO radio team and listeners for once again helping Treehouse give 6,000 kids in foster care across Washington State happy holidays.” Founded in 1988, Treehouse recently set a goal that, by 2017, King County foster kids will graduate high school at the rate of their peers. Major community contributors to the KIRO-FM radio-thon included Carter Subaru, Safeway Foundation, and GEICO.
WMAL-AM/FM, Washington Helps Raise $330k-plus for Fisher House Foundation. WMAL-AM/FM, Washington program director Bill Hess tells TALKERS magazine that it was a big weekend for the Cumulus Media station and its listeners as the 10th Annual Fisher House Radiothon raised $330,630 for the charity that helps provide housing for the loved ones of U.S. servicemen and women begin treated for injuries suffered in the line of duty. Hess calls it an “incredible response by our wonderful WMAL listeners” and reports that this year’s total beat last year’s total by $40,000 and the 2011 total by $75,000. The two-day radiothon was anchored by morning hosts Brian Wilson and Larry O’Connor, along with midday host Chris Plante and weekender Rick Fowler.
Beasley Las Vegas Holiday Bash. The Beasley Broadcast Group Las Vegas cluster took time over the weekend to get together for a holiday party at the Blue Martini. Pictured here (from l-r) are: Beasley Las Vegas VP of programming Justin Chase, corporate VP of operations Brian Beasley, Beasley Las Vegas general manager Tom Humm, KDWN talk show host Alan Stock, KDWN and syndicated talk host Dr. Daliah Wachs, and KDWN program and news director John Shaffer.
Entercom Reports Q3 Revenue Down 4%. Bucking the trend of recent third quarter reports from other broadcasters showing generally moderate revenue growth, Entercom’s Q3 2013 financial statement indicated revenue down 4% on $98.4 million. President and CEO David Field stated that station expenses increased 5% and the resulting adjusted EBITDA was down 22% to $26.2 million. Field did tell investors during yesterday’s conference call that the company has been paying down debt, “We also continued to direct our substantial free cash flow towards debt reduction. During the third quarter alone, we cut our net debt by $20 million, and have now lowered our net debt by nearly $450 million over the past six years.” Field reported that local sales were down 5% and national revenue was basically flat. Field admitted the company’s sales effort was the problem, stating that in the markets in which the company operates, total radio revenue was up 1%. “Plain and simple, our sales performance in the third quarter was poor. We failed to get the job done and that is unacceptable. We lagged our radio peers by a significant margin, and failed to capitalize on our strong brands, ratings and marketing capabilities.” Field reminded investors that the company anticipated a down third quarter due to recently enacted changes in the company’s sales strategies and practices and that the changes will make the company stronger in the long run.
Saga Communications Inches Up 1.6% in Net Revenue. For the third quarter of 2013, Saga Communications says the $35.8 million (ex political) resulted in a net revenue increase of 1.6%. CEO Ed Christian told investors during yesterday’s conference call that considering how much the company is down from the loss of political from last year to this, the results are not bad though he had hoped to be up 2%. Christian can be downright chatty during these conference calls and he took the time to reference a Barron’s article indicating America may be at the beginning of decades of slow growth and suggested radio’s prescription for adapting to such an economy is to focus on rebuilding radio’s image. He says research shows people like radio but there needs to be more trust and respect. “If we blend the community – and you can define community any way that you like it – if we blend the community and we blend radio into one, we’ll continue to survive and prosper, even in a 2% GDP world.”
Salem Communications’ Broadcast Division Announces Flat Q3 Numbers. The broadcasting division of Salem Communications was up just a hair – 0.3% on $46 million dollars for the third quarter of 2013 compared to the same period a year ago. During yesterday’s conference call, CFO Evan Masyr broke down the company’s performance by format, reporting, “Thirty-nine of our radio stations are programmed in what we call our foundational format Christian Teaching and Talk, these stations contributed 45% of total broadcast revenue and increased 1% for the quarter. Block programming increased 2.3%, while infomercials were down 29.7% as we continue to reduce the infomercials on our radio stations to improve the overall programming on the stations. Our 26 news/talk stations had a decrease of 6% in revenue for the quarter. Overall, these stations contributed 14% of total broadcast revenue. The revenue from the 12 contemporary Christian music stations contributed 24% of total broadcast revenue and had an increase of 5% for the quarter. Again, we continue to see strong results from many of our music stations, most notably in this quarter Los Angeles and Dallas. The seven stations that we have programmed in Spanish language, Christian Teaching and Talk grew by 26%, and these stations comprised 2% of our broadcast revenue. Finally, with respect to the formats that we focus on the 10 stations in a business talk format, and that format contributed 3% of our broadcast revenue and had a decrease of 2% in revenue.” Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the conference call transcript. Members can read the entire call here.
Nielsen Promotes Mitch Barns to CEO. The ratings giant – which recently brought radio ratings into its fold with the acquisition of Arbitron – announces that Dwight M. “Mitch” Barns will succeed David L. Calhoun as chief executive officer effective Jaunary 1, 2014. Barns has been with Nielsen for the past 16 years, currently serving as president, global client service, which oversees $5.5 billion in revenue and leads the efforts of Nielsen’s Watch and Buy client service teams worldwide. Upon Barns’ succession, David Calhoun will become executive chairman of the board of directors, at which time Nielsen’s current Chairman of the Board, James M. Kilts, will step down as chairman, but will remain a board member. Calhoun states, “Nielsen is successfully implementing its global strategy, and the time is right to name the next leader to take the company to its next phase of growth. Mitch’s strong track record at the helm of a number of key Nielsen business units around the world – combined with his vision and commitment to our strategic plan – puts the company on solid footing for continued global expansion and value creation. I will continue to remain invested in Mitch’s success in my new role.” Barns adds, “I am honored by this opportunity to serve Nielsen as its chief executive officer, and I am thankful for the board’s vote of confidence. Throughout my 16 years at this company, I’ve been privileged to work side-by-side with talented leaders and associates in Nielsen businesses across the world. I look forward to continuing our work together to anticipate client needs with ongoing innovation and expand our footprint in developing markets, while consistently delivering growth and enhancing shareholder value.”
KFI, Los Angeles Critic Files Petition to Deny License Renewal. It’s probably not surprising to anyone at Clear Channel’s news/talk KFI, Los Angeles that Alex Nogales, representing the National Hispanic Media Coalition, has filed a Petition to Deny the station’s license renewal application. Nogales has long been a critic of the station’s programming. It’s hard to say whether Nogales actually believes the FCC would act on his assertions that because hosts such as John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou speak against illegal immigration that their show is “harmful and dangerous” and this could qualify as actionable or whether he just wants to get some publicity by announcing the filing of the Petition. Regardless, as we’ve seen countless times before – and most recently with the Commission’s refusal to deny license renewal for Cumulus’ WMAL-AM/FM, Washington – disagreements with the opinions of talk show hosts are not valid reasons for non-renewal. As it wrote in the recent WMAL case, the FCC states, “The Commission is prohibited from exercising any power of censorship over broadcast stations with respect to content-based programming decisions. A licensee has broad discretion – based on its right to free speech – to choose the programming that it believes serves the needs and interests of the members of its audience.”
Programmer and Consultant Greg Moceri’s Son Tony Writes New Hannity Theme Music. Tony Moceri is the 13-year-old son of talk radio programmer and consultant Greg Moceri and resides in Ada, Michigan. Tony has been playing piano since he was five and currently is a percussionist in his middle school’s band. Greg Moceri tells Mlive.com that, though he’s worked with Premiere Networks star Sean Hannity in the past, his connection didn’t influence the use of his son’s work. He says Hannity’s staff was seeking new music, “They wanted a change and asked for something upbeat and lively for the show opening. I wasn’t thrilled with what I was finding and then I remembered Tony’s piece and sent it to some people that I work with. They all thought it was perfect and so I sent it to Sean. I didn’t tell him where it came from; I didn’t want him to feel obligated. But he loved it and now they are using it.” Hannity told Mlive.com, “Isn’t this a great story? When Greg sent me the music, I thought it was a pop song and wondered why I had never heard it. I have a son about the same age…and I listen to a lot of kids music. I love music and this is spectacular.”
Odds & Sods. Hockey is back and so is WGN, Chicago’s broadcast series, “Chicago Blackhawks Live,” a number of one-hour radio remotes during the 2013-2014 season that take place over dinner and feature current Blackhawks players, legends, and front office executives. It’s hosted by Blackhawks radio broadcasters John Wiedeman and Troy Murray and the season premiere will feature Blackhawks forwards Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw. It takes place on November 11 at 7:00 pm at Old Town Pour House in Chicago…..Cuts at Rogers Communications are affecting some of the company’s spoken-word outlets. The Ottawa Citizen reports that CIWW, Ottawa is losing seven staffers as the station will simulcast sister CJCL, Toronto “Sportsnet 590” for weekends and part of the weekday programming. In all, Rogers is reportedly laying off 94 staffers…..MLB‘s Miami Marlins games will be heard on Clear Channel‘s sports talk WINZ, Miami beginning with the 2014 season. This past season, Marlins play-by-play was heard on Lincoln Financial Media‘s WAXY, Miami.
KIRO-FM, Seattle’s Dori Monson to Take on Governor Inslee in Hoops Challenge. KIRO-FM, Seattle talk show host Dori Monson gets to face off with Washington Governor Jay Inslee in a charity basketball game tonight that will be broadcast live on KIRO-FM. The “Clash on the Court” will benefit Food Lifeline and Sports in Schools. The program consists of a five-on-five co-ed game between local youth, coached by Monson and Inslee, followed by a five-on-five game featuring show hosts from KIRO Radio and “710 ESPN Seattle” up against local politicians handpicked by Jay Inslee. The event will conclude with a one-on-one game between Monson and Inslee. Monson jokes, “This may be my first and only opportunity to force a local politician to go right! This proves that, for us aging basketball players, we check our politics at the gym door. I’m thrilled Governor Inslee and I – along with our colleagues – are able to get together to raise money for two great organizations.”
ObamaCare Criticism, Presidential Approval Polls, Election Day, Toronto Mayor Crack Case and NFL Bullying Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/5). Criticism of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act; new lower numbers for President Obama’s approval ratings; the high-profile races in Tuesday’s elections, including gubernatorial contests in Virginia and New Jersey; the admission by Toronto Mayor Rob Ford that he’s used crack cocaine in the past; and the accusations of bullying within the Miami Dolphins organization were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
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:
Phil Boyce Takes on Operations Role at Salem Communications’ New York Cluster. Talk radio programming pro Phil Boyce already serves as VP/director of spoken word format for Salem Communications but he’s adding the operational vice president for the New York cluster title to his business card. That means he’s directly in charge of operations for WNYM “970 The Answer” and Christian talk outlet WMCA. Salem Communications president David Santrella says, “Phil’s innate understanding of the New York market, particularly as it relates to news/talk, as well as his day-to-day proximity to the operation, has led us to the decision to ask Phil to take on the additional role of operational VP for the New York cluster. Phil will continue to work with all of our stations as VP director, spoken word format.” Program director Peter Thiele remains in his position as Boyce’s charge is to oversee the station’s revenue and assist all departments in that effort. Other changes from Salem Communications include Salem regional VP Linnae Young, who has overseen the New York cluster, taking on the oversight of the Tampa cluster that includes news/talk WGUL, Christian talk WTBN, and news/talk WLSS, Sarasota. In Louisville, Salem regional VP Mike Moran will assume oversight of news/talk WGTK, and Christian talk WFIA-AM/FM.
Mike Gastineau to Exit KJR, Seattle. Longtime sports talker Mike “Gasman” Gastineau announces he’ll leave Clear Channel’s sports KJR, Seattle where he currently hosts the PM drive show with co-host Elise. Gastineau has been with KJR since 1991 and was originally partnered with Rick DuPree in middays. He’s been in the midday slot for the past 19 years. In a statement explaining his departure, Gastineau says, “Since 1991 I have hosted more than 5,000 shows on KJR and I’ve reached a point where I’d like to explore other creative options. KJR’s management has been incredibly understanding and supportive of my decision. I’m proud to have been able to give Seattle fans a voice in these incredibly important debates. I always strived to do three things on the show – be funny, entertaining and give people a place for reasonable debate on sports issues of the day.” His last show is tomorrow (12/6) and KJR has not announced plans for the PM drive slot as of yet.
Robin Bertolucci Honored at PIRATES Event. KFI and KTLK, Los Angeles program director Robin Bertolucci was honored at the holiday fundraiser of the Print Interactive Radio and Television Educational Society (PIRATES) at the Castaway Restaurant in Burbank, California. The PIRATES’ “Golden Buccaneer” award is given annually and was awarded to Bertolucci in recognition “of her remarkable ongoing commitment to public affairs, the community and education as one of the media’s most outstanding role models for students.” This annual holiday fundraiser benefits the Ruth Collander Endowment Fund which enables PIRATES to provide scholarships to college students majoring in communications, journalism, radio or television. Pictured above (from l-r) are: Brent Seltzer (Still at Large) who emceed the event, KOST 103.5 program director Stella Prado, Bertolucci and KFI director of marketing/brand manager Neil Saavedra.
Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze Partners with Production Companies for Competition Reality Show. The name of the series is “Pursuit of the Truth” and the goal of the show is to bring together 20 selected filmmakers from across the country to prove to a panel of expert judges that their project is worthy of the grand prize – financing and worldwide distribution for their feature documentary film idea. Go Go Luckey Entertainment and Wild West Productions are working with TheBlaze on the project. The 20 contestants will be asked to perform a series of tasks during the 10-week production period for the panel of expert judges. Contestants will be asked to not only prove the validity of their idea for a documentary but also their filmmaking abilities. They will either survive or be eliminated based on that criteria. For example, contestants might be asked to produce a sizzle reel, procure and execute a key interview, or pitch scenes to the panel of judges. TheBlaze president and chief content officer Joel Cheatwood says, “We are excited to continue to expand our programming with producers like Vince Vaughn, Peter Billingsley and Gary Auerbach. The documentary film, particularly those that seek the truth with no agenda, is an important art form that is struggling to survive in this media environment. We will be looking for stories that simply need to be told.” The nine-episode series debuts on TheBlaze in late spring 2013.
WMMS, Cleveland Dismisses PM Drive Co-Host Chad Zumock. The rock station’s Alan Cox afternoon drive talk program is without air talent Chad Zumock after the 38-year-old comedian and radio co-host was arrested following a recent incident in which he crashed his car into a tree while returning home from a gig at a local comedy club. Zumock refused a breath test but authorities are charging him with DUI. According to Cleveland.com, the incident violates a clause in Zumock’s contract with Clear Channel and host Alan Cox addressed Zumock’s dismissal on the program on Tuesday, December 4.
WTAG, Worcester Morning Host Jim Polito Exits for Boston TV Gig. Jim Polito returns to his television roots beginning December 10 as he’ll handle commentary for Fox TV O&O WFXT, Boston’s evening newscasts. Polito left WGGB-TV, Springfield, Massachusetts in 2008 to join Clear Channel’s WTAG, Worcester for the morning drive program. No word from Clear Channel what its plans for the morning show are.
Branson, Missouri Gets FM Talk Station as Earls Family Broadcasting Makes Changes. In making programming changes to its cluster of stations in Branson, Missouri, Earls Family Broadcasting consolidates its two country outlets on one signal, freeing up KRZK at 106.3 to become a news/talk station. The new format is branded as “Your News. Straight Talk. 106.3.” In a statement, the company says news/talk is “a perfect fit for our traditional, informed and community-minded citizens of the Branson area. Since KRZK has always been popular for local news, talk, and community service, an all-news/talk format is the perfect evolution of this beloved station.” The station is carrying Fox News Radio for top-of-the-hour news. The program schedule includes: Steve & Janet in the Morning for 6:00 am to 9:00 am; “At Your Service” with Scott McCaulley from 9:00 am to 11:00 am; Dial Global’s Dennis Miller from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm; Dave Ramsey from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm; and “The Ozark’s News Hour with Greg Pyron” from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
The Expert Radio Network Launches. A new San Diego-based terrestrial radio network is getting off the ground. The Expert Radio Network, “a multi-media radio platform for experts to deliver their content, expand their audience and explode their product sales” is opening for business. Vice president of business development Susan Ram explains the network’s approach. “Experts will have the opportunity to host a weekly radio show in major markets across the country, complete with marketing guidance from co-founder Scotty Saks. Experts will also work directly with award-winning talent coaching specialist and ERN co-founder Cliff Dumas and his business partner Randy Lane of The Randy Lane Company. Cliff and Randy will teach the same communication secrets Randy has personally taught Ryan Seacrest, Jimmy Kimmel, Carson Daly and hundreds of other entertainment, sports and business clients. Finally, Experts will be able to leverage the power of a fully produced, online marketing sales funnel custom designed to monetize their product and brand.” Identifying “experts” as those who’ve committed three years or 10,000 hours to knowledge of their subject of expertise, ERN says it has identified several “key verticals,” including: finance and business, health and wellness, and personal development. “The timing could not be better, as ‘real,’ terrestrial talk radio is experiencing explosive growth, and attracting millions of listeners who seek critical investment, business, and personal development advice from experts across the country. The power of ERN will massively expand an individual or corporate brand’s audience and deliver valuable advice and information to consumers.” ERN will utilize SpotMedia’s new Synchronicity platform for its program distribution, eliminating satellite distribution expenses while automatically customizing shows and commercial insertions on an affiliate by affiliate basis for both over the air and digital audiences.
Good Karma’s WEFL, West Palm Beach Renews Local TV Partnership. West Palm Beach sports talk ESPN 760 extends its content-producing partnership with local television stations WPTV-TV and WFLX-TV. The stations had been working together for the past three years and have agreed to terms on a new multi-year contract. WPTV-TV vice president and general manager Steve Wasserman says, “Since teaming up with ESPN 760 in 2010, the profile of local sports has risen to an unprecedented level. With the powerful combination of the region’s top-rated television station and the area’s unrivaled leader in sports radio, we will continue to set the standard for sports coverage in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast.” The stations say that over the years they have produced quality content with unique local coverage and programming that includes: “Football Night in South Florida,” “5 Sports Live” on WPTV and “Wayne Akers Sports Zone” on WFLX. ESPN 760’s anchor team of Joe Girvan and Emerson Lotzia will continue to be seen nightly on WPTV NewsChannel 5’s 6:00 pm and 11:00 pm newscasts as well as WFLX Fox 29’s 10:00 pm newscast. WEFL vice president and general manager Steve Politziner states, “We are thrilled to continue to share stories about sports in our local community with the passionate fans of WPTV and WFLX. ‘Football Night in South Florida’ has become a franchise unto itself and the way in which schools, players, coaches, administrators, parents and fans have embraced our coverage, it’s more than exceeded our expectations.”
Odds & Sods. Cumulus Media’s WMAL-AM/FM, Washington raised more than $290,000 during its radiothon on Friday and Saturday to benefit the Fisher House Foundation. It was the 9th annual such radiothon and program director Bill Hess tells TALKERS the total was up $50,000 from last year’s total and that, to date, WMAL listeners have raised more than $4 million for Fisher House over the past nine years…..Herman Cain subs for Neal Boortz on the Cox Media-syndicated national talk program December 10 – 19. Cain, who hosted a program at flagship WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta prior to his run for president, will take over hosting the Neal Boortz show on January 21, 2013…..WQAM, Miami sports talk host Dan Sileo subs on the morning show at Entercom’s WEEI, Boston December 26 – 28.
Talk Producer Colin Brady Dies at 43. Florida-based radio producer Colin Brady passed away at age 43 after a struggle with cardiovascular disease. Brady worked as a talk producer and host in both Tampa and Orlando. He worked with Shannon Burke at WTKS, Orlando and on his internet show at RadioIO.com. Burke tells the Orlando Sentinel that although Brady was the butt of jokes (as producers often are) his listeners were shocked. “They all loved him very much. Last week, they were calling the show crying. He was beloved, no doubt about it.”
Washington ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Battle, Syria Chemical Weapons Threat, Egypt Unrest, Obama Cabinet Nominees, and Jovan Belcher Case-Costas Comments Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/4). The fight between GOP leaders and the Obama administration over how to avoid the “fiscal cliff”; charges Syria is planning to use its chemical weapons on rebels; the unrest in Egypt as citizens protest Mohamed Morsi’s policies; speculation over the shape of the new Obama Cabinet; and the murder-suicide case of Jovan Belcher and Bob Costas’ anti-gun commentary were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief
LOS ANGELES — American voters are conditioned every four years to believe that the presidential ballot they are about to cast will be the most crucial such decision they will make in their entire lifetimes.
That was certainly a dominant theme of the 2012 campaign, yet less than 10 days before Election Day, something else began percolating that had approximately 20% of the country hitting the “Pause” button to politics: “Sandy.”
Innocuous as the name sounds, “Sandy” unfortunately arrived as advertised and now, weeks later, harsh reality remains in its wake.
Bryan Nehman to Take Over Morning Drive on WBAL, Baltimore. Anne Arundel County, Maryland native Bryan Nehman is named the successor to the morning drive show at Hearst’s news/talk WBAL, Baltimore after Dave Durian – who’s been with the station for 20 years – steps down from his position this fall. Nehman has been half of the “Brian and Bryan” show on Cumulus Media’s WMAL, Washington with Brian Wilson but tells the Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik the WBAL job is too good to pass up. “Number one, it’s a great station, and I love the fact that they’re local, local, local. It’s very hard to find that in radio these days. Almost everywhere you go, it’s syndicated in radio. The company is fantastic from everything I heard. And then, there’s the city. I’m a Maryland boy through and through.” WBAL program director Dave Hill tells the paper, “Bryan is one of the brightest young men that I’ve met, and he is the guy who’s going to lead WBAL into the next 20 years of broadcasting.” Durian’s last day hosting the AM drive show is not certain – though mid-October has been suggested. Durian will remain with the station to do special assignments.
Trip Savery Upped to VP/General Manager at Greater Media Charlotte. Director of sales Trip Savery is promoted to the vice president and general manager position at Greater Media’s Charlotte cluster that includes news/talk WBT-AM/FM and personality AC WLNK. Savery joined Greater Media in March of 2010. He’ll continue to perform director of sales duties and will now serve as acting market manager under senior vice president and general manager Rick Feinblatt who says of Savery, “Trip’s outstanding performance as DOS of Greater Media Charlotte has earned him this well-deserved promotion.”
August Sports Scoreboard. Sports talk radio is one of radio’s hottest formats right now. It has the kind of listener engagement that advertisers crave, it brings adult men with disposable income to the table and its content focuses on one of the hottest aspects of American pop culture in the early 21st century – professional sports. Sports as a radio moneymaker is evidenced by the recent launching of not one but two new players in national sports talk content – CBS Sports Radio Network and NBC Sports Radio. TALKERS managing editor/West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian has taken a look at the ratings of 40 of America’s sports talk outlets and compiled them in this “scoreboard-style” feature. Check out the rankings in Kinosian’s piece here.
Killer Endorsement Spots: Advertisers’ (and your) Best Buds. Consultant Holland Cooke says the best way radio can fight the competition for ad dollars (Google, Pandora, et al) is for personalities – talk hosts and jocks – to use the credibility and relationships they’ve built up to their advantage. Cooke says, “Radio is an intimate medium, with decades of cred’ to the two generations which control most retail spending. So the local DJs and talkers who will survive the ongoing bloodbath do so by being more than just voices. Properly applied, the trust you have earned with listeners can sell-sell-sell, in a way that makes Arbitron numbers irrelevant.” How to do that? Holland has some suggestions. Read his piece here.
Re-Branding Drives Success for Home Improvement Host Danny Lipford. Mobile, Alabama-based home improvement talk show host Danny Lipford says his weekend program is gaining new affiliates since he re-branded his program. Now called “Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford,” the former “Homefront” show is garnering renewed interest, according to Lipford. “SuperTalk Mississippi was the first group to come on board with our name change from ‘Homefront’ to ‘Today’s Homeowner.’ The response to the name change has been tremendous.” Danny Lipford has made over 150 television appearances on shows such as “Rachael Ray,” “Live with Regis & Kelly,” “CNN’s Your Bottom Line,” and “The Early Show on CBS.” He also produced a television program of the same name.
Talk Hosts Play Role in Family Research Council “Values Voter Summit.” This weekend’s Family Research Council “Values Voter Summit” in Washington, DC will feature a number of high-profile talk show hosts. Salem Radio Network’s Bill Bennett will introduce GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan. The congressman once worked for Bennett at the think tank Empower America before he entered public service in the Congress. SRN talk personality Dennis Prager will serve as a keynote speaker with his speech addressing “the need for American values to triumph around the world.” Other talk personalities appearing this weekend will include Premiere Networks star Glenn Beck, Talk Radio Network’s Laura Ingraham and Cumulus Media Network’s Mike Huckabee.
WGN, Chicago’s John Williams to Attempt New Speed Golf World Record. WGN midday host John Williams and a group of his listeners will attempt to break the world record for the fastest round of golf on Sunday at Carriage Greens Country Club in Darien, Illinois. Dubbed “King John & His Royal Court’s Speed Golf World Record Challenge,” this will be the second attempt at a world record by Williams and crew after last year’s inaugural event. Williams has assembled a team of 200 listeners for this Sunday’s event, which will play out in a speed golf relay format. Golfers will be assigned locations along the course based upon their best club and will hit the ball to each other in progression. The current world record is 7 minutes, 56 seconds.
Leslie Marshall Represents America Progressive Talkers in Dublin. Nationally syndicated progressive talk host Leslie Marshall will be in Dublin, Ireland next week where she says she’ll “represent the Left/Democrats at an international debate on the U.S. Presidential race at the U.S. Embassy, in Dublin, Ireland.” She’ll also appear at Dublin’s Boston College as well as speaking at the Women For Election luncheon about women in the U.S. Election. Additionally, she’ll be a guest on Dublin’s “The Right Hook” talk radio program on Monday, September 17.
Talk Radio Pro Roger Fredinburg Re-enters Biz with “Homeland Security Radio.” Roger Fredinburg was nationally syndicated by Talk Radio Network back in the 1990s. His program was the lead-in to “Coast to Coast AM” back when it was hosted by Art Bell. Fredinburg exited the business in 2004 after saying he became “frustrated with redundant voices and re-packaged news, each agonizing hour of talk radio parroting the last.” He got into the national advertising agency business. Now, Fredinburg tells TALKERS he’s getting back into the talk business due to his concerns over recent developments in the Middle East. He says that, combined with his recognition of a growing communications gap between the public sector and private citizens as relates to Homeland Security, has awakened his passions and he is determined to make a positive difference using talk radio. He’ll keep the focus and a watchful eye on Homeland Security and bring HS insiders to the airwaves to connect with average Americans via talk radio. Genesis Communications Network is syndicating the program on Sundays from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm ET.
Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeaderhip Hits Indy. Nationally syndicated talk host Dave Ramsey (pictured here third from the left) brought his super-successful EntreLeadership Seminar to Indianapolis on Wednesday in conjunction with the launch of the new AM/FM simulcast of his affiliate station, “Freedom 95.” Here he poses with the station’s staff.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. XtreMEDIA’s Kevin McCullough adds five new affiliate stations: WLES, Richmond, Virginia; KTIA, Des Moines; KUTR, Salt Lake City; WCRU, Charlotte; and WBRG, Lynchburg, Virginia…..Also, the XtreMEDIA-produced Dani Johnson show is added to WETR, Knoxville, Tennessee and WHKT, Norfolk, Virginia…..The nationally syndicated talk show “Phil’s Gang,” with host Phil Grande, is added to the program schedule at KFNN, Phoenix and KPSF, Palm Springs, California…..Fox Sports Radio Network adds its daily lineup of sports talk shows to KVNS, Brownsville, Texas…..”The Captain’s America” host Matt Bruce announces a new flagship home — WXJB-FM, Homosassa, Florida (“News-Talk For The Nature Coast of Florida”) — for his program that is syndicated by Phoenix Broadcasting…..The weekly military talk radio program, “Frontlines of Freedom” hosted by Denny Gillem, LTC, US Army (Ret) is added to the weekend schedule at Midwest Communications’ WKZO, Kalamazoo, Michigan and its simulcast WZKO, Portage, Michigan.
Libya Consulate Strike/Obama Foreign Policy Record Top News/Talk Stories for Week of September 10-14. The violent attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya that resulted in the death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the assessment of President Obama’s foreign policy record tied for the most-talked-about-stories on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. Following at #2 was the anti-American violence taking place in the Muslim world tied with President Obama’s relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. At #3 was President Obama’s “convention bounce” in the polls and at #4 was the rise in jobless claims. The Talkers TenTM is a ranking of the top people and stories discussed on news/talk radio during the week. It is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Other Defendants Named in Mark Masters’ TRN Lawsuit Against Dial Global Claiming Monopoly Practices. As reported yesterday (8/28) by TALKERS, these companies, referred to generally in the industry as Talk Radio Network (TRN), include The Original Talk Radio Network, Inc., Talk Radio Network Enterprises, LLC and Talk Radio Network-FM, Inc. They have initiated the filing of a Federal action against Dial Global, Inc. and multiple other parties, asserting antitrust, anti-monopoly and other claims. The complaint, which demands a jury trial, is titled “Complaint for Violations of the Sherman Act and the Cartwright Act, and for Fraudulent Inducement, Interference with Contract and Interference with Prospective advantage.” In addition to Dial Global, it specifically names: Excelsior Radio Networks, Triton Radio Networks, Triton Media Group, Oaktree Capital Management, Verge Media Companies, Courstide, LLC, Compass Media Networks, Compass Media Marketing, and WYD Media Management. Individuals named include Spencer Brown, David Landau, and Ken Williams of Dial Global, Ron Hartenbaum of WYD, Peter Kosann of Compass, and Norm Pattiz of Courtside. To see the entire complaint click here.
Big Staffing Changes at Federated Media in Fort Wayne. Last week TALKERS reported the departure of WOWO, Fort Wayne program director Gregg Henson and his replacement by Woody Zimmerman. Now, after almost 18 years with Federated Media, chief operating officer Mark DePrez announces his departure from the company. Brad Williams, who had been overseeing the Indiana markets of South Bend, Elkhart and Warsaw, will also be in charge of the company’s Fort Wayne and Auburn, Indiana markets as he becomes COO. But that’s not all, as Indiana Radio Watch reports national sales manager Mary DePrez, production director Steve Starbrelz (this November would mark his 35th year there), classic hits WMEE, Fort Wayne middayer Zack Skyler, country WQHK, Fort Wayne GSM Suzee Leavell and several sales staffers have also left the building. IRW also reports Clint Marsh becomes GM of the South Bend properties. On his tenure with Federated Media, DePrez states, “After almost 18 years I’m leaving Federated Media. We accomplished great things in Fort Wayne but all good things must come to an end. I am grateful to the Dille family for the four promotions over those 18 years including my recent tenure as COO. For a decade it has been my distinct honor to be the custodian of such iconic brands as WOWO, WQHK (K-105) WMEE and more recently WBYR (98.9 The Bear). I am immensely proud of the talented team we assembled and know they will continue to do great things.” DePrez is available for his next challenge. He says, “For employers looking for an executive obsessed with top line performance and profit optimization they can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 260-385-2574.”
ESPN and Major League Baseball Agree to $5.6 Billion Deal. The new contract between ESPN and MLB goes through 2021 and runs an average of $700 million per year for TV, digital, radio and other rights. ESPN is currently paying about $305 million per year for TV and about $50 million for radio rights. The new contract would almost double that but gives ESPN more flexibility, some playoff game rights as well as international rights. For radio it means increased ESPN Radio rights, including the additional right to co-exist during two Saturday windows per team, per year.
Patt Morrison’s Southern California Public Radio Show Cancelled. The popular Southern California public radio figure will remain with the organization but Patt Morrison’s six-year-old afternoon program will end on September 10. The move is part of a series of programming changes at KPCC, Pasadena that include the expansion of the Brand & Martinez program and the addition of the “BBC News Hour” and “The World.” KPCC VP for content Russ Stanton is quoted telling the Los Angeles Daily News, “While the show may be leaving, Patt isn’t. What we’re trying to do is take a lot of the segments that she’s produced – which are very popular with a large part of our listening audience – and spread those a little more throughout the programming day when there are a lot more listeners than there are in the 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm slot.” SCPR notes Morrison will still cover the Democratic National Convention for the organization.
NBC Sports Radio and Dial Global Announce More Sports Talk Hires. As NBC Sports Radio continues to prepare for the September 4 launch of the new network, more hosts and sports anchors are being hired. Former NFL star Amani Toomer will team with Eytan Shander (most recently with SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Radio) for a 10:00 am to 1:00 pm ET sports talk show. Dan Schwartzman – who’s worked for WPEN, Philadelphia and ESPN in New York – will host an overnight show from 1:00 am to 5:00 am ET Tuesdays through Saturdays and Kay Adams joins the network as sports anchor working the 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm shift Monday through Friday. Dial Global is NBC’s partner in ad and affiliation sales and distribution.
Forbes Releases New Highest Paid Celebrities List. Four radio stars landed on the Forbes list of the most recent Highest Paid Celebrities. Of the 21 celebs noted this time around, Howard Stern is the highest at #7 (although he makes a ton of cash from his SiriusXM gig, the NBC TV job helps!); Glenn Beck comes in at #11; Rush Limbaugh lands at #15 and Ryan Seacrest follows at #19.
Larry King to Host Coverage of the RNC on YouTube’s Elections Hub Channel; Premiere Networks’ Andy Dean Joins King on Panel. Longtime CNN star and broadcasting icon Larry King is now working with Ora TV – the digital on-demand TV network funded by Mexican media magnate Carlos Slim Helu – and Ora TV is partnering with YouTube to produce the Elections Hub channel. Tonight, King will host coverage of the Republican National Convention live from Los Angeles featuring a roundtable of well-known celebrities and guests on the special series “Ora 2012 with Larry King” from 11:00 pm to 12:00 midnight ET. Premiere Networks nationally syndicated talk host Andy Dean will take part on the panel.
Entercom and University of Florida Enter into Sales Agreement. The college and Entercom Communications have struck a deal which will have Entercom provide sales for the school’s two radio stations – country WRUF-FM and sports talk WRUF-AM. It’s a seven-year deal that begins in September. The university notes that the deal “will provide the College with a guaranteed monthly revenue. Additionally, the stations will participate in a revenue share agreement with Entercom that allows for additional revenue to flow to the stations based on monthly sales performances. In addition to the joint sales agreement, Entercom is launching an academic enhancement initiative to create internships and student opportunities for the College’s students at the company’s stations in Gainesville and around the country. These student involvement opportunities, subject to faculty approval, will include sales, digital marketing programming, news, sports, public relations, strategic communications and promotions.” The stations’ operations director, Jerry Butler, will stay on and co-ordinate the relationship between the stations and Entercom.
Hundreds of Talk Show Hosts from Across Country Broadcasting from RNC. The invention of the “radio row” – largely developed in the modern talk radio era by Washington, DC-based Talk Radio News Service – has really come into its own at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Numerous networks and syndicators have set up shop in elaborate clusters of tables, microphones, remote equipment, banners and, of course, big talking personalities on both sides of the mic. One of the biggest of these assemblages is again hosted by Talk Radio News Service for its affiliates which include the likes of Rusty Humphries, Phil Valentine, Roger Hedgecock and many more. TRNS bureau chief Ellen Ratner tells TALKERS, “We have more stations than ever – about 40 stations and programs. The RNC gave us a prime spot, right next to their booking office. We are not in the arena but in the building next to it that houses all the press. Other than press conferences, some longer television interviews and hall confrontations between the news media, radio row is the only place to have an in-depth conversation. Radio might have lost some of its audience to the internet, but you would never know it from radio row. Big time politicians want to be there and obviously feel they will get a chance to say what they want. It is still the spot to be and the place to be heard.”
WMAL Morning Hosts on the Scene in Tampa. The final day of the Republican National Convention is today and talk radio and the national press have been busy bringing the political talk home to their constituents. Pictured here are WMAL-AM/FM, Washington morning drive team Brian Wilson (c) and Bryan Nehman (r) interviewing former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton (l).
Republican National Convention, Tropical Storm Isaac, and Iran-Syria Connection Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/28). The progress of tropical storm Isaac and the activity from the Republican National Convention in Tampa Bay were two of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio. The growing connection between Iran’s military and the violence in Syria was also a major topic.
Glenn Beck Draws Crowd to Cowboys Stadium for Live Event. Estimates of the crowd of fans that attended the final part of Glenn Beck’s three-day “Restoring Love” week went as high as 65,000 for Saturday’s Cowboys Stadium gathering. The weeklong program consisted of the conservative conference FreePAC, an evening of religious speakers at Under God: Indivisible, and the Day of Service where attendees “went out into the Dallas- Ft. Worth area to serve their fellow man.” The Saturday event consisted of “music, history and inspiration that celebrated the service done over the week as well as what you can do to take these lessons back to your community in order to restore America,” according to Beck’s website. Beck is pictured here on the stage set up at mid-field. The event was not without its critics as the infamous Westboro Baptist Church protested outside the stadium brandishing signs that read, “God Hates America,” “God Hates Your Idols,” and “America Is Doomed.” (Image from KTVT-TV, Dallas)
NFL Club Prevents CBS Radio Station from Airing Redskins’ Robert Griffin III Press Conference. The Washington Post reports Daniel Snyder-owned Red Zebra Broadcasting – owner of sports WTEM, Washington, the radio flagship of Washington Redskins football (Snyder also owns the team) – nixed competitor WJFK, Washington’s plans to air the first live press conference of Redskins first round draft pick quarterback Robert Griffin III. The move does not violate NFL rules. As long as WJFK is allowed to cover the event, flagship stations can protect the live airing of such press conferences. The Post’s Dan Steinberg writes that numerous other NFL clubs he contacted for the story said the blackout on WJFK’s live coverage was not in keeping with what they’ve done over the years and noted that pre-season press is greatly desired by NFL clubs. Redskins senior VP of communications Tony Wyllie tells the Post he was protecting their broadcast partners and the fact that WTEM and the Redskins are owned by the same organization doesn’t come into play. WJFK program director Chris Kinard tells the paper, “I’ve never heard of it being done before, here or anywhere else. I don’t understand why they would want to do it. Well, actually, I understand exactly why — it’s because they own our competition. They own 980. I think listeners can make up their own minds about the relationship between the radio station and the team, if they’re going to make these kinds of decisions about news coverage. I think that calls into question the entire relationship.”
Premiere Networks Teams with Alpha Broadcasting to Bring Clyde Lewis into National Syndication. The Portland, Oregon-based evening talk host discusses “all matters of the paranormal, UFOs and conspiracies, and shares his passionate and knowledgeable approach to news, current events and politics” from Alpha Broadcasting’s FM News 101 KXL. “Ground Zero with Clyde Lewis” airs live from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am ET and goes into national syndication August 27. Lewis states, “I feel that coming on with Premiere Networks is like winning the lottery. I’m joining a company where some of my inspirations are employed, like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Nikki Sixx, and several others. This opportunity allows the show to expand worldwide. I feel a responsibility to push ‘Ground Zero’ to a whole new level. If you think you’ve heard fireworks on the show before, just wait – with the help of Premiere, ‘Ground Zero’ is now ready to drop the atom bomb.”
Five Easy Fixes to Improve Your PPM Numbers. Sabo Media chairman Walter Sabo takes the position that Arbitron’s Portable People Meter is not a bad measurement system for talk-formatted stations. “You’ve heard the horror stories about talk stations losing a third of their audience when measured by PPM. There are talk stations that have gone up in PPM and other formats have benefitted from the new measurement technique.” Sabo provides some advice for easy-to-implement tweaks to talk radio programming to score better in the PPM markets. Read Walter’s piece here.
“Free Talk Live” Hosts Produce Online Film. Titled, “Derrick J’s Victimless Crime Spree,” the 88-minute film available on YouTube and Torrent features “Free Talk Live” co-host Derrick J in what FTL host and executive producer Ian Freeman calls “Derrick J Freeman’s exciting first year of activism in Keene, New Hampshire.” Ian Freeman states, “He was arrested multiple times for ‘crimes’ with no victim – including throwing a quiet dance party, attempting to smoke cannabis, going to court, and riding a bike. It was all caught on video and made for a very entertaining documentary!” Learn more about the film here.
Preventing Disaster. Cumulus Media’s WPRO-AM and 99.7 FM, Providence talk host Matt Allen hosted a roundtable discussion on Monday, July 30 with local officials designed to provide an understanding of the possible causes of the Aurora theater shootings with the goal of prevention. Taking a local angle, Allen and guests discussed various aspects of the tragedy including media influences, Rhode Island gun regulations, societal pressures and Rhode Island mental health policies. Pictured here are (from l-r): Colonel Steven O’ Donnell, superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police; Tom Martin, administrator of clinical service at the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Health Care, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals; Matt Allen; and Cranston, Rhode Island Mayor Allan Fung.
It’s Primary Election Day for Talk Host Martha Zoller. The Georgia talk show host gave up her daily radio gig to enter the race for Congress in Georgia’s new 9th Congressional District. Today, Martha Zoller faces state legislator Doug Collins in the Republican primary election and she’s calling on the support of some of her talk radio friends in her effort. Zoller is portraying herself as more conservative than Collins and her campaign sent out an e-mail blast containing the following paragraph highlighting some of her talk radio colleagues: “Martha has earned the trust of Gov. Sarah Palin, Speaker Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Sean Hannity, Erick Erickson, Mark Levin and numerous conservative organizations like the Tea Party Express, Citizens United, FreedomWorks, Susan B. Anthony List, and Georgia Right to Life, who all know that Martha will work tirelessly to find conservative solutions to America’s most pressing issues.”
Stitcher Announces Next Step in Bringing Service to Connected Cars. The new API (application programming interface) called Stitcher Connect brings the aggregator’s news, entertainment sports and talk content directly into Chevrolet’s “connected cars” – specifically the new Sonic and Spark models. Stitcher CEO Noah Shanok states, “Over a third of our listeners are currently using Stitcher in the car. Generally over 70 million users are using mobile devices while on the road. As we continue to make advancements, the in-car audio experience is becoming more seamless. The connected car is poised to eclipse the traditional radio dial.” Stitcher reports its technology is able to be integrated across numerous auto manufacturers’ platforms and is currently available in Ford, GM, BMW and Mercedes vehicles.
Odds ‘n’ Sods. Sun Broadcast Group creates a spinoff of its “Got Game” radio feature that reports on the hottest and latest in video games with “Got Game Sport,” focusing on – you guessed it – sports video games and targeted to sports talk radio stations…..CBS Radio’s KNX, Los Angeles broadcasts live from the city of Irvine in Orange County for the next stop in its “KNX on Your Corner” series. Officials and community leaders will appear on the air as the staff broadcasts from Corner Bakery Café in Irvine Spectrum Center on August 24…..WTOP, Washington promotes digital news writer Meera Pal to afternoon digital editor at the news organization.
Legendary Radio Programmer Al Brady Law Dies. Respected Top 40 radio programmer Al Brady Law passed away at a nursing care facility in New Hampshire on Monday (7/30). Law programmed numerous major market stations during his career and famously programmed WABC, New York, coming to the station in 1979 and remaking the station during the end of its run as a Top 40 outlet.
Politics & A Pint. WMAL-AM/FM, Washington talk show host Chris Plante (r) engages some fans in a political discussion at The Pour House in Washington, DC last Thursday evening as part of the station promotion “Politics & A Pint.”
Presidential Campaign, London Olympics, Syria Violence, Russian Punk Group Trial, and NYC Breastfeeding Program Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/30). The presidential race; the 2012 London Olympics; continuing violence in Syria; the trial of a Russian punk group for criticizing Vladimir Putin; and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s campaign to promote breastfeeding were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
The State of News in News/Talk Radio. The rise of digital news sources, today’s quickening news cycle and the economic realities of our times are forcing news/talk radio stations to evaluate their news product and adapt to continue to serve their listeners. In a feature story by TALKERS managing editor Kevin Casey, some of today’s top news/talk programmers speak on the record about their news philosophy, how they are integrating digital tools, news as a cume builder, the relationship between news and talk and their thoughts on the state of journalism. Read this feature piece here.
NOW-Organized Protest of Rush Limbaugh at WMAL, Washington Fizzles. The National Organization for Women-sponsored “Enough Rush” campaign got off to an ignominious start outside the studios of affiliate WMAL, Washington, DC Friday, May 18 as just seven protesters marched. As reported by Fox News, NOW announced the campaign against the Premiere Networks talk radio superstar in April and has partnered with Media Matters for America to target affiliate stations and their advertisers. Friday’s event in DC was part of a national protest scheduled for that day. Reports of substantial protests at other Limbaugh affiliate stations have not surfaced.
Cox Media Offers to End Paul Finebaum Issue with Contract Buyout. The Birmingham Business Journal is reporting that Cox Media – which put sports talk outlet WZNN-FM, Birmingham on the air last September – is again offering to buy out sports talk host Paul Finebaum’s contract with Cumulus Media and its WJOX-FM, Birmingham. Regular TALKERS readers are aware of the ongoing legal battle between Cumulus and Finebaum that goes back to when the station was part of the Citadel group. Finebaum’s popular sports talk show has been based at WJOX-FM and regionally syndicated. While Cumulus would probably like to stop paying legal fees in the ongoing dispute, it may not want to have Finebaum working for a competing station in the market – at least not right away – however it’s likely he’ll end up working there eventually. There’s no response yet from Cumulus on the offer.
RAB Reports Radio Revenue Up 1% in First Quarter of 2012. The Radio Advertising Bureau issued a report on Friday, May 18 concluding advertising revenue for all of radio was up 1% for the first quarter of 2012 – the third consecutive Q1 increase – for total revenue of $3.814 billion. RAB president and CEO Erica Farber states, “Q1 2012 results confirm that radio commands a solid position in brands’ total marketing plans. While advertisers continue to capitalize on radio’s spot and network efficiencies, they’re increasingly utilizing local digital capabilities and audience engagement that this medium affords.” From a category standpoint, spot revenue was flat, network was up 8%, digital rose 10%, and off-air was up 3% for Q1 in 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.
Odds ‘n’ Sods. WXKS, Boston – Talk Radio 1200 – morning drive talk host Jeff Katz wins two Associated Press Awards – one for “Best Talk Show in Boston” and the other for “Best Public Affairs Broadcast” for his special remote from the Fisher House in Boston…..Salem Radio Network talk host Dennis Prager co-hosts CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report” alongside Brian Sullivan tonight at 7:00 pm ET. SRN states, “With the just-launched IPO for Facebook as well as the unfolding 2012 battle between Mitt Romney and President Obama, Dennis Prager brings his unique background as a talk radio host, author, lecturer and societal observer to CNBC in what will surely be an eye-opening experience for ‘Kudlow Report’ viewers!”…..SiriusXM announces veteran soccer commentator and former player and coach Ray Hudson will host ‘The Football Show’ alongside fellow soccer experts Charlie Stillitano, Neil Barnett and John Harkes. Hudson has been a commentator for Gol TV since 2004 and is widely known for his elaborate and excitable play-calling style. Also from SiriusXM, three-time SEC Coach of the Year Houston Nutt has joined SiriusXM as an analyst on its 24/7 college sports channel. Nutt will host multiple shows each week on SiriusXM College Sports Nation including ‘College Sports Today’ with Mark Packer and ‘College Football Playbook’ with Jack Arute…..Former WGNU, St. Louis talk host Leonardo Drisdel was found guilty of the 2005 murder of Cassandra Kovack on Friday. He’ll be sentenced on June 29.
Clark Howard to Help Break Ground for New Home for Joplin Tornado Victims. Cox Media syndicated talk show host Clark Howard heads to Joplin, Missouri tomorrow along with a team of his listeners to break ground on a new home for a family that lost its home to last spring’s tornado that hit the city. Howard will broadcast his Tuesday program live from the build site to recognize the one-year anniversary of the tornado. Clark Howard is funding the Joplin home himself. However, he joined forces with Cox’s KRMG, Tulsa to promote the build and KRMG even had advertisers chip in for a storm shelter for the house and due to the listeners’ overwhelming support for the build in Joplin, they teamed with Clark to build a home in Tulsa this past weekend. The home is being funded by monies raised by listeners and Howard. He says, “I love Habitat for Humanity because it is a hand up and not a hand out. Homeowners have to meet strict qualification guidelines and put in hundreds of hours of sweat equity to build their own home and other Habitat homes. It is not a free house. It is a low-cost mortgage.”
Vic “The Brick” Jacobs Rides the Zamboni at L.A. Kings Game. Yes, that’s Fox Sports Radio sports talk host Vic “The Brick” Jacobs – of the network’s “Loose Cannons” show – on the zamboni during last Thursday’s L.A. Kings NHL playoff game. In addition to being at the Staples Center in Los Angeles for the game, Jacobs (decked out in his Kings jersey and crown) did a post-game interview with Kings rookie Dwight King who scored the winning goal.
Cumulus Dallas Goes into Storm Coverage Mode as Twisters Hit Metro Area. The Dallas cluster of Cumulus Media reacted swiftly to the severe storms and tornadoes that hit the Dallas-Fort Worth area yesterday, led by news/talk sister stations WBAP and KLIF. Operations manager Tyler Cox tells TALKERS that the stations had a great opportunity to super-serve the community. “WBAP (820 AM/96.7 FM) and KLIF (570AM) began simulcasting continuous coverage. Shortly after that, the remaining stations in the Cumulus cluster (sports KTCK 1310 AM, KSCS-FM, KPLX-FM and KLIF-FM) joined with us to create a six-station simulcast reaching countless numbers of listeners with life-saving information.” Cox says all six went into non-stop, commercial-free weather coverage with the news/talk stations’ reporters and listeners providing on-the-scene information all across North Texas. Preliminary reports indicate no fewer than 12 tornadoes formed in the region and, although there is widespread destruction, there are no fatalities confirmed at this time.
KFI, Los Angeles Adds New Weekend Shows; Adds Diversity to Lineup. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s KFI, Los Angeles is adding a two-hour early evening program on Saturdays hosted by Morris O’Kelly, the producer and co-host of sister progressive talk station KTLK’s “Diverse L.A.” Also, KTLK PM drive host David Cruz will host a Sunday early evening program on KFI. In a statement, Clear Channel says the purpose of the new shows is to “discuss, dissect and investigate the important, often controversial issues of the day through the eyes of an eclectic collection of Southern California residents, urbanites and suburbanites, young and old, across race, gender and the political spectrum.” Morris O’Kelly states, “I’ve wanted to do a show like this for a long time – to dig into what Southern Californians think and why. Opinions are as diverse as the population and I think we’re going to shed light on issues that really matter.”
Erica Farber Replaces Jeff Haley as President and CEO of the RAB. The board of directors of the Radio Advertising Bureau announces Erica Farber, who joined the RAB in late 2011, will replace Jeff Haley as president and CEO of the organization as Haley exits to pursue a new opportunity. RAB board chairman and EVP Scott Herman says of the move, “Erica is an excellent selection with the relevant skills and expertise to lead the RAB. She brings an impressive track record in radio sales and management. In addition, Erica has a clear understanding of the organization and what the broadcast industry requires from the RAB. She has demonstrated a strong capacity of working with multiple constituencies which is critical to the RAB role. We thank Jeff for his guidance and leadership the past five years in helping to shape an organization that fits the radio and media landscape today. He’s left an indelible imprint on the industry and we thank him for his service and commitment.”
Budget Mandate Forces WBSM, New Bedford to Release Talk Host Ken Pittman. Local officials are decrying Cumulus Media’s decision to eliminate Ken Pittman’s local afternoon drive talk show on WBSM, New Bedford, Massachusetts. The New Bedford Standard-Times reports New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell even wrote to Cumulus COO John Dickey to express how area residents are upset with the loss of local programming. “The local programming available on WBSM, including local news, talk and sports coverage, is truly valued by the thousands of listeners the station draws from the New Bedford region,” he wrote. Meanwhile, station programming manager Pete Braley tells the paper local management made the cut reluctantly after being mandated by corporate to trim expenses and realizing that someone had to go. With Pittman out, mid-morning host Phil Paleologos will move to PM drive and do more news event coverage. The station brings Salem Radio Networks’ Mike Gallagher in for late mornings to cover Paleologos’ slot. That leaves the station with four hours of local programming: morning drive and a 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm program.
Management Change at Cumulus Washington, DC; Jeff Boden Exits. President and general manager Jeff Boden has left the building at Cumulus Media’s Washington, DC station group that includes news/talk WMAL-AM/FM. DCRTV.com’s Dave Hughes reports Sam Rogers – former CBS Radio Washington cluster chief and Cumulus VP of political and platform sales – has taken over Boden’s role at the stations. Hughes reports that rumors have more cuts coming to the DC cluster in the near future, although it’s hard to predict which stations and what positions will be affected.
Damon “The Bulldog” Yaffe Joins WNST, Baltimore. Nestor Aparicio-owned sports talk outlet WNST, Baltimore announces Damon “The Bulldog” Yaffe becomes part of the late-morning show on the station alongside Paul Mittermeier and Greg Marsh. A release from the station states, “Yaffe’s crew will focus on all Baltimore sports with fun conversation, guests and lots of banter about the state of the local sporting universe including the Orioles, Ravens, Terps, and local lacrosse.” Yaffe had previously worked at CBS Radio’s crosstown sports talker WJZ-FM.
Bankruptcy Filing Leaves Broadcasters in Financial Lurch. The bankruptcy filing of tax resolution company TaxMasters is forcing a number of broadcasting companies – including CNN, Dial Global, Fox News Channel and others – to face the fact they will likely receive little if anything of what the company owes them. Forbes reports that Time Warner’s CNN is owed the largest amount for ads aired on the cable news channel: $2.6 million. Other broadcasters are also listed as unsecured creditors. News Corp’s Fox News Channel is out $938,414; Dial Global is owed $676,000; MSNBC stands to lose $259,441; and ESPN is out $94,265. TaxMasters and CEO Patrick Cox were hit with a $195 million verdict in Texas for violating the state’s Deceptive Trade Violations Act. It lists assets of just $1.7 million.
Bob Visotcky Takes VP Sales Position at Cumulus Los Angeles. Bob Visotcky moves over from his market manager post at Cumulus Media’s Oxnard-Ventura stations to the Los Angeles cluster where he’ll become vice president of sales representing news/talk KABC and classic rock KLOS-FM.
GOP Primaries/2012 Presidential Race, Supreme Court-ObamaCare Issue, Ryan Budget, Twisters Hit Dallas, and Trayvon Martin Case Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/3). The ongoing GOP primary race and the greater 2012 presidential campaign, the charges President Obama is pressuring the Supreme Court in its judgment of the legality of the Patient Care and Affordability Act of 2010, Congressman Paul Ryan’s Republican House budget proposal, tornadoes sweep through the Dallas-Fort Worth area and the Trayvon Martin case were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Controversy and Misinformation of Radio Advertising Keeps Rush Limbaugh in the News; Host Reportedly Refuses to Take Back Advertiser. The consumer media continues to hang onto the Rush Limbaugh-Sandra Fluke issue with numerous stories and segments being published and produced over the weekend about the extent to which the controversy may be hurting advertising on Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh show as well as a wider swath of conservative talk radio. In addition to the fluctuating count of advertisers that may or may not have left the Limbaugh program (depending on whether or not they actually advertised on the show in the first place as many reports cite firms that did not), outlets such as New York Magazine and The Daily Beast are writing about a memo from Premiere to affiliate stations detailing 98 companies that don’t want their goods or services advertised on controversial programming. The memo gives examples of hosts including Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, Tom Leykis (shows how old that memo is), Michael Savage, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. TALKERS has pointed out to countless consumer media that have contacted our offices regarding this issue that “no controversial programming” dictates are common and practically as old as talk radio itself and not a unique reaction to the Limbaugh case – although certainly reiterated as a result of it. TALKERS has also pointed out that monitoring a station’s internet feed does not reflect the same commercial content as the air feed since union regulations affect the degree to which union talent-voiced spots can air on the web. Meanwhile, the Sacramento Bee is reporting Rush Limbaugh is refusing to take retailer Sleep Train back as an advertiser. The story cites Limbaugh spokesman Brian Glicklich stating the company sought to return to the Limbaugh show and the program replied to the Sacramento-based mattress retailer, “Rush received your requests personally. Unfortunately, your public comments were not well received by our audience, and did not accurately portray either Rush Limbaugh’s character or the intent of his remarks. Thus, we regret to inform you that Rush will be unable to endorse Sleep Train in the future. Rush appreciates your long friendship and your past support, and we wish you good luck in the future.”
Celebrity-Founded Women’s Media Center Piles on Rush Limbaugh. The organization co-founded by Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda and Robin Morgan is using the Rush Limbaugh controversy to call to arms like-minded activists to petition the FCC to take Limbaugh off the air. In an op-ed piece on CNN.com, the group reasons that Limbaugh – through his language and political opinions – is a purveyor of “hate speech” and therefore is not acting in the public interest. The group is suggesting the stations whose licenses are up for renewal that carry Limbaugh’s program are not serving the “public interest” and need either pull the show or not have their licenses renewed. The group states in the piece, “This isn’t political. While we disagree with Limbaugh’s politics, what’s at stake is the fallout of a society tolerating toxic, hate-inciting speech. For 20 years, Limbaugh has hidden behind the First Amendment, or else claimed he’s really “doing humor” or “entertainment.” He is indeed constitutionally entitled to his opinions, but he is not constitutionally entitled to the people’s airways.” It’s hard to tell what the motive here is – beyond polemicizing – since the FCC does not deal with issues of content in this way during the license renewal process.
Special Interest Group Intent on Hounding KFI, Los Angeles; Picks on Bill Handel’s Comment. Time will tell if the latest salvo from the Los Angeles-based Black Media Alliance sticks to Clear Channel’s KFI, Los Angeles or ricochets back to harm the goals of the very organization that fired it. What’s for certain is the Black Media Alliance is taking a page from other special interest media “watchdog” groups and is recording every minute of KFI’s broadcasts and, when it hears something it doesn’t like, is firing off press releases and hoping for some traction. It used a March 9 broadcast from the Bill Handel show for this purpose. During a segment in which Handel comments on the news of the day with Gary Hoffman and Neil Saavedra, the topic of a California bill that would allow nurse practitioners to perform aspiration abortions came up. Handel commented on a law in Kansas where doctors are required to have the women see sonograms prior to having an abortion and offered his opinion that those who don’t already understand the procedure are “dumb-ass women.” BMA is using this comment to imply Handel has attacked all women. Listen to the segment here. There are numerous issues at play here but TALKERS will address the primary ones. The tenor of Bill Handel’s program hasn’t changed and presumably his advertisers know what they’re buying. If an advertiser boycott of Handel’s program is what the BMA seeks, it may find the going tougher for Handel’s Southern California show than national groups are for the Rush Limbaugh controversy. That’s generally the way these cases work. Handel broke no FCC rules and we believe it’s unlikely he or KFI will apologize – so far neither has. During the discussion, you can hear both sides of the issue being debated by the air talent. This is exactly the kind of public debate of important issues Supreme Court rulings, such as New York Times v. Sullivan, protects and which the Court admits could be controversial. Justice Brennan even wrote of the “profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open.” The most important issue for the BMA is whether this tactic will cause it to be perceived by the public as nitpicking and a pest instead of being seen as an organization with goals of diversity and fairness.
Salem Communications’ WNYM, New York Rebrands as “The Answer.” The New York news/talk outlet formerly known as “The Apple” hits the air today with an altered programming schedule and the new handle, “The Answer.” Salem Communications VP and director of the spoken word format Phil Boyce states, “The new name will more accurately reflect who we are and what the benefit is to listening to us. ‘The Answer’ just popped into my head my first week here, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. We are the answer to so many questions, from ‘what happened while you slept?’ to ‘is it gonna rain?’ to ‘why am I stuck in traffic?’” The company notes the new station lineup is as follows: Salem Radio Network syndicated Bill Bennett‘s “Morning in America” from 5:00 am to 7:00 am, local host Curtis Sliwa from 7:00 am to 10:00 am, Dial Global’s Dennis Miller from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon, SRN’s Dennis Prager from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm, SRN’s Michael Medved from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm; Curtis and attorney Jeffrey Lichtman from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm; and SRN’s Hugh Hewitt from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Boyce says new imaging will create a hip, younger sound for the station, heavy on a New York-style attitude. “New Yorkers are slightly jaded and a little sarcastic, so we wanted the sound of our station to reflect the city we serve.” In describing his collaboration with voiceover talent Lonnie Perkins, Boyce gushed, “I told him to sound like that ‘Mayhem Man’ commercial for Allstate Insurance.” The new imaging includes new top of hour ID’s, promos, and show opens. Boyce wanted to re-arrange the lineup to “put the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle” together in the right order.
Heidi Harris Exits KDWN. Word from Las Vegas is that KDWN, Las Vegas morning talk show host Heidi Harris has exited her position at the Beasley Broadcasting-owned news/talker. Sources inside the station tell TALKERS that the relationship between Harris and KDWN management had been strained for some time now and finally reached the breaking point. Heidi Harris, a multi-repeat member of the TALKERS Heavy Hundred is considered by industry observers to be a rising star. The conservative host has been a regular contributor and guest on the progressive Ed Schultz Show on MSNBC and speaker at the New Media Seminar. Harris has not responded to e-mail requests by TALKERS for comment and confirmation but her presence on the KDWN website has been removed. More details as they are available.
WMAL, Washington Re-Positions AM Drive Show; Mary Katherine Ham Exits. The former “Morning Majority” AM drive show at Cumulus Media’s WMAL-AM/FM, Washington is now “Mornings on the Mall” with Brian Wilson and Bryan Nehman as Mary Katherine Ham – who joined WMAL last summer – leaves the program. Ham wrote on her blog earlier this week, “It has been a pleasure to work with Bryan Nehman and Brian Wilson – two consummate broadcast professionals who generously taught this n00b as much as they could. And, though I’m new to radio, it’d be hard to imagine a producer more capable than our executive producer Heather Smith, who I remain convinced does not require sleep (in an industrious way, not a vampire way). The folks at the company had a vision for a different, independent role for me at the station, but we just weren’t able to come to an agreement that would make it work, so I’m off to do my other jobs. I’m constantly thankful I have the freedom to make decisions like that, and realize it’s a tremendous blessing to have such options.” Ham is an analyst at Fox News Channel and is a contributing writer for The Daily Caller.
Firesign Theater Founder Peter Bergman Dies. One of the founders of the radio comedy show Firesign Theater has died at age 72 after a battle with Leukemia. Peter Bergman and three fellow comedians — Phillip Proctor, David Ossman and Phil Austin – created the radio program that spawned four must-have comedy albums (released between 1968 and 1972) for college-age hippies of the time. Bergman was hosting a late-night talk show on Pacifica’s KPFK, Los Angeles when he started the Firesign Theater program. Bergman revived the Firesign Theater show on the internet in 2010.
Salem Radio Network Correspondent Dan Hackel Passes Away. Longtime news pro Dan Hackel died in Israel over the weekend after a battle with cancer. He had been Salem Radio Network’s primary correspondent in Israel for the past four years. Hackel was a founding anchor for CNN International and a frequent anchor on Headline News. He served as Washington correspondent covering the White House for ABC News, and he reported on the U. S. Congress for the Mutual Broadcasting System.
TRN’s and WGST, Atlanta’s Rusty Humphries Named Kentucky Colonel. Kentucky colonel is the highest title of honor bestowed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Commissions for Kentucky colonels are given by the governor and the secretary of state to individuals in recognition of noteworthy accomplishments and outstanding service to a community, state or the nation. Other notable Colonels include Bob Hope, Pope John Paul II, Winston Churchill and of course Col. Sanders. Pictured with Colonel Rusty Humphries is Melissa Forrest, president and market manager of Clear Channel Atlanta where Humphries works at news/talk WGST.
SiriusXM Delivers 2011 Revenue Increase of 7%. Sirius XM CEO Mel Karmazin opened the Thursday conference call with positive news about 2011 and rosy predictions for 2012. Karmazin reports the satcaster added 1.7 million net new subscribers with revenue topping $3 billion for 2011. He told analysts the company has reduced programming costs by 27% over the past three years to bring them to 10.7% of adjusted revenue. And Mel’s favorite figure – free cash flow – was also a nice one: $416 million. Karmazin says he expects free cash flow to grow to $700 million this year due in part to the restrictions on subscription prices having been lifted. He projects revenue to hit $3.3 billion in 2012 with 1.3 million new subscribers added.
Nassau Broadcasting Agrees to Undergo Chapter 7 Liquidation. It was four months ago that Nassau Broadcasting Partners convinced U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross to allow its Chapter 7 liquidation being sought by its creditors to be converted into a Chapter 11 reorganization. Now, the company wants to liquidate itself and is asking the judge to approve an auction of its 49 stations. Nassau owes more than $280 million to its senior lenders which include Goldman Sachs Lending Partners LLC, P.E. Capital LLC and Fortress Credit Opportunities. Nassau’s spoken word stations include: WARK, Hagerstown, Maryland; WTSV, Claremont, New Hampshire; WEMJ, Laconia, New Hampshire; WVPO/WPLY, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; WEEX/WTKZ, Allentown, Pennsylvania; WSNO, Barre, Vermont; and WNHV, White River Junction, Vermont.
Dave Ramsey to Take Over Live Midday Slot on WOR, New York. The end of the nationally syndicated Lou Dobbs talk radio show is creating room for other hosts and programs across the country and in New York City at Buckley Broadcasting’s WOR, independently syndicated Dave Ramsey moves from delayed broadcast status to airing in the live 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm slot beginning February 27. WOR VP/GM Jerry Crowley states, “In these rocky economic times New Yorkers need a voice they can trust to guide them in their money decisions. We are proud to welcome the country’s top name in financial talk radio – Dave Ramsey – to our award-winning lineup.”
“Battle Line with Alan Nathan” Adds Two Hours on Lifestyle TalkRadio Network. Alan Nathan’s Main Street Radio Network-produced talk program is already distributed nationally via the Blue Star Media’s Lifestyle TalkRadio Network from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm daily. Now, with the departure of Lou Dobbs’ radio program from the network, “Battle Line” adds another two hours from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Main Street Radio Network president Jane Silk says, “Main Street is very excited with the additional two hours of ‘Battle Line’ on LTRN. Our working relationship with the staff of BTRN/LTRN is a model on how companies can work together for the good of all involved!” Business TalkRadio Network CEO Michael Metter comments, “We are thrilled to be a part of the increase in Alan’s reach. We are looking forward to bringing our affiliates the brilliance of Alan’s informed, entertaining centrist views.”
Fabulous Sports Babe Nanci Donnellan Off WHBO, Tampa Due to Health Issues. The Tampa Bay Times is reporting that Nanci Donnellan – known as the Fabulous Sports Babe – is absent from her midday sports talk show on Genesis Communications’ WHBO, Tampa due to what is believed to be health issues. The station is not commenting. Donnellan, who hosted a nationally syndicated sports talk program on ESPN Radio in the 1990s and at Sports Fan Radio Network after that – left radio for a period to battle breast cancer before returning to the air in Florida, eventually settling at WHBO. Sitting in for her is former WDAE sports reporter Whitney Johnson.
Boston Radio Community Honors Memory of WBZ Personality Dave Maynard. During a 40-year radio and TV career Dave Maynard ruled the airwaves in Boston on WBZ during the 1980s. He’s being remembered for his warm personality that made his program such a success in the market. Maynard died at his home in Citrus Hills, Florida on Wednesday at age 82. He’d suffered with Parkinson’s for the past decade. WBZ director of news and programming Peter Casey tells the Boston Globe, “He was just a genuine, honest person on the radio. There wasn’t a Dave Maynard on the air and a Dave Maynard off the air. He made a career being Dave Maynard on the air, and that was the Dave Maynard who lived next door to you.”
Bell Media Cuts 16 Positions in Ottawa Radio/TV Cluster; Afternoon Talk Host Michael Harris Among Casualties. While the Canadian economy has not been hit as hard as America’s during recent times, it appears Bell Media is feeling the pinch and the need to restructure its Ottawa operations. According to the Ottawa Citizen, among those let go in addition to CFRA afternoon host Michael Harris on the spoken word side include CFRA reporter Gord McDougall, sports CFGO – Team 1200 – staffers Jim Jerome, Phil Melanson and Mike Sutherland. Harris had been a talk host at CFRA for the past 11 years. He tells the paper the moves appear to be financial in nature and management “went out of their way to say it had nothing to do with the quality of my work.”
GOP Primary Battle the Top News/Talk Story for the Week of February 6-10. The intensifying GOP primary battle between Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum (with Ron Paul sticking it out as well) landed atop the Talkers TenTM as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week. Right behind at #2 was the 2012 presidential race combined with the Obama Super PAC story. At #3 was the Syria policy and the closure of the U.S. embassy there as a result of the intense violence. And at #4 was the foreclosure abuse settlement signed by President Obama. The Talkers TenTM contains the 10 top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
In the Belly of the Beast. WMAL-AM/FM, Washington, DC morning drive team the “Morning Majority” broadcast live from the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC this week. Pictured here are “Morning Majority” co-hosts Brian Wilson (l) and Mary Katherine Ham (c) interviewing CPAC organizer Al Cardenas (r) of the American Conservative Union. Also broadcasting from the two-day event were WMAL morning co-host Bryan Nehman and midday talk host Chris Plante.
WNDB, Daytona Beach Talk Host Marc Bernier Moderates Carlson-Begala Debate. The Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce packed 600 people into the Daytona Beach Ocean Center for a debate of the issues of the election season between CNN analyst and Democrat Paul Begala and Fox News Channel personality and Republican Tucker Carlson. WNDB talk show host Marc Bernier served as moderator for the event. Pictured here are (from l-r) Paul Begala, Marc Bernier and Tucker Carlson.
SCOTUS Hears Broadcast Indecency Arguments; Sweeping Changes Unlikely. TALKERS magazine legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman says although Attorney Carter Phillips – representing Fox Television – argued convincingly that broadcasters are responsible to their audiences and advertisers and would not, therefore, engage in a “race to the bottom” with regard to indecency, he believes the Supreme Court will not throw out the current indecency rules as some broadcasters might hope it would. Attorneys representing the Federal Communications Commission, Fox Television and ABC Television argued before the Court yesterday for the first time since the Pacifica case in 1978. Read Attorney Weisman’s analysis here.
TRN Entertainment Syndicates Former KGO Weekender Dr. Bill Wattenburg. Bill Wattenburg was one of the KGO, San Francisco talk show hosts let go by Cumulus Media in December. Now, TRN Entertainment begins offering Dr. Wattenburg in national syndication Sunday evenings from 11:00 pm to 2:00 am ET beginning January 22. TRN Entertainment CEO Mark Masters says, “We are ecstatic to have a person of Dr. Bill Wattenburg’s caliber join our network. His vast knowledge of science and physics will enlighten all of his listeners. We believe he will quickly develop legions of dedicated fans that want to improve their personal knowledge and way of life.” Bay Area talk radio listeners are aware of Dr. Wattenburg’s credentials but the rest of the nation may not know that he is a senior research scientist at the Research Foundation, California State University, Chico; and a scientific consultant for the University of California Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and many other institutions. He is a former nuclear weapons designer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; a former member of the US Air Force Scientific Advisory Board; and a former UC Berkeley professor of electrical engineering. TRN Entertainment describes Dr. Wattenburg’s show as “mostly an open-line, listener-driven call-in show in which he answers questions ranging from fixing cars to physics, and everything in between. His combination of experiences and scientific background give him a great wealth of knowledge that he applies to entertain and inform his audience.”
Clear Channel Takes Another Step Toward Making iHeartRadio a Ubiquitous Media Application. The broadcast giant announces it is making its application programming interface (API) and affiliate program available to third parties and developers so they can integrate its content and services into their own products, web pages and apps. Clear Channel states, “Developers will have the opportunity to create their own innovative versions of iHeartRadio on their platforms. The iHeartRadio API includes access to many of the service’s features, including its live broadcast and digital-only stations and Custom Stations as well as a deep social media integration.” Clear Channel Digital president Brian Lakamp says, “Opening our API will unlock exciting opportunities to enrich the unique, combined live and custom radio experience that only iHeartRadio provides. This move also builds on our commitment to be everywhere our listeners expect us to be, with the best products and services.” The company is clearly moving full-speed-ahead to compete in digital media distribution device race and this is another smart move to try to enhance iHeartRadio’s useage.
CBS Radio Names Two More to WNEW-FM, Washington Staff. When CBS Radio’s all-newser WNEW-FM, Washington debuts on January 19, Lisa Baden will be handling the traffic reporting in one of the nation’s most congested commuter markets and Jill Schlesinger joins the station for twice-hourly business reports. Baden has been broadcasting traffic reports in the DC market for two decades, most notably with crosstown WTOP-FM and Metro Traffic before that. Schlesinger is editor-at-large of CBS Moneywatch and also hosts her own nationally syndicated weekend financial talk program syndicated by Dial Global.
Premiere Networks’ Andy Dean Hits 50-Affiliate Mark. Nationally syndicated talk host Andy Dean, host of “America Now,” marks the 50-affilliate plateau. Premiere Networks SVP of affiliate relations Peter Tripi says, “The rapid growth we’ve experienced with this program is a testament to Andy’s talent, dedication and hard work. We look forward to reaching many more milestones together.” Dean’s program is heard on talk outlets across America including WSB, Atlanta; KSTE, Sacramento; WHIO-AM/FM, Dayton; WOKV-AM/FM, Jacksonville; and KNST-AM/FM, Tucson.
National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Announces Honorees. It’s the time of year when the NSSA announces winners of its best-of honors for their accomplishments in 2011. Here are just a few of those just announced: WGN, Chicago morning sports anchor and Northwestern Wildcats football and basketball play-by-play announcer Dave Eanet is named the 2011 Illinois Sportscaster of the Year. WGN VP/GM Tom Langmyer states, “Dave Eanet is a tremendous broadcaster and a class act. His passion, integrity and professionalism are apparent in everything that he does and we’re proud to have him on the WGN radio team.”…..Drew Deener of Sports Radio 790 WKRD, Louisville is named Sportscaster of the Year in the State of Kentucky. Deener hosts “The Early Birds Morning Show” and “The Cardinal Insider” on WKRD. He also serves as the TV play-by-play voice of University of Louisville football and basketball on WHAS-TV…..KOZN, Omaha’s Kevin Kugler, host of the popular sports talk program “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” and play-by-play host of the College World Series, earns the Nebraska Sportscaster of the Year award for the eighth year. KOZN program director Neil Nelkin states, “It truly is remarkable that someone this early on his career would be recognized at this level and at this frequency. It just goes to show how much talent Kevin has behind the mic and in the world of sportscasting.”
Former St. Louis PM Drive Team Thom and Jeff Begin Internet Initiative. The longtime PM drive team at Emmis’ alternative KPNT, St. Louis, Thom West and Jeff Burton, are producing an internet talk show available via iTunes or their website. Thom and Jeff were “downsized” in August and began producing podcasts in September. They say they are now averaging 40,000 downloads per day. The team has grown to include Scottie “Boom Boom,” Coach, and Kara the Lesbian. Daily guests add to the non-stop entertainment including comedians, visits from bands, athletes, and local and national celebrities. Jeff Burton says, “I really enjoyed the old radio show but with the added people and no FCC regulations we are free to do and say whatever we want…and we do!”
Longtime WMAL, Washington Personality Bill Trumball Dies at 77. Bill Trumball retired from WMAL, Washington in 1996 after spending more than 35 years with the station. He was partnered with Chris Core on the “Core and Trumball” show for many of those years. He passed away on January 10 from respiratory failure.
New Hampshire Primary, Iran Saber-Rattling and World Financial Markets Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/10). The GOP race to take the nation’s first primary election of the 2012 presidential campaign, the ongoing saber-rattling by Iran and speculation about its drive to develop nuclear weapons and the state of the world’s financial markets were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio across America yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
WQAM, Miami Host Sid Rosenberg Serving Unpaid Suspension. Sid Rosenberg’s been off the air at WQAM, Miami for several weeks now with a lot of speculation as to why. Now, according to Jose Lambiet’s Gossip Extra, the Beasley Broadcasting sports talk host is serving a six-week unpaid suspension for a plugola deal to pay off a gambling debt. Lambiet cites a source connected to the station reporting that Rosenberg had a debt of about $100,000 to a sports betting organization and he was going to pay off the debt by plugging the operation on his program. The details of the arrangement were spelled out in a fax to Rosenberg at the WQAM offices that the source says Rosenberg accidently left on the fax machine. It was discovered “before he did any damage,” according to the source. Rosenberg is scheduled to return to the air on January 2.
Phil Tower Returns to Program Director Post at WOOD-AM/FM and WTKG, Grand Rapids. Clear Channel has been looking for a new program director for its Grand Rapids, Michigan news/talk duo of WOOD-AM/FM and WTKG since Paul Cashin left in August. Now a familiar face returns to the building as Phil Tower takes over the PD post he held for so many years. Tower was most recently general manager of publications/multimedia at Stafford Media Solutions. Prior to that he was general manager of the nationally syndicated Allen Hunt show.
WBAL, Baltimore Talk Host Ron Smith Dies at 70. It’s only been two months since WBAL talk host Ron Smith announced he’d been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. He passed away on December 19 at his home in Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania after several weeks in hospice care. Smith spent more than 25 years at WBAL and was an institution in the market as a talk radio host and, in later years, as a columnist with the Baltimore Sun as well.
Rumor: WMAL, Washington Talk Host Chris Plante to Be Syndicated. DCRTV.com’s Dave Hughes reports rumors of a plan by Cumulus Media to syndicate Chris Plante’s 9:00 am to 12:00 noon ET talk show to other stations on some sort of limited basis. It could be that Cumulus is taking a page from Clear Channel’s playbook and is planning to distribute programming to smaller regional markets emanating from large markets like DC. Hughes also reports talk of more job cuts coming to the Cumulus cluster in Washington.
Dave Ramsey to Buy Nashville Office Building. The Tennesseean is reporting that nationally syndicated talk host Dave Ramsey – through a company called Andy’s Union, LLC – is buying a four-story office building in downtown Nashville for $1.6 million. The building is known locally as the Jackson law office since it sits on the site of what is believed to have been the law office of Andrew Jackson. The current building was built in 1996. Ramsey’s plans for the building are unknown.
“The Costa Report” Clears Seattle on Fisher’s KVI, Seattle. When KVI returns to a talk format in January, it’ll air the weekly “Costa Report” program being distributed by Broadcast Affiliate Sales. The program is described as “a weekly news talk program which features a one-hour interview with a world leader or expert, followed by a second hour of call-ins from listeners.” It’s hosted by Rebecca Costa who states, “Americans are sick and tired of the rage-a-holics who have hijacked talk radio, hosts who, day after day, spew hateful, divisive rhetoric which has torn the country apart. ‘The Costa Report’ is the voice of the ‘rational center of America’ – citizens who don’t care if a solution comes from the left or the right as long as it really works.” Costa is a sociobiologist and author of The Watchman’s Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction (Vanguard Press 2010).
Wrappin’ With Jack! This mass of people you see here are gathered at Northside Ford in San Antonio for the 13th annual Wrappin’ With Jack event in which listeners gather to wrap donated gift items for children and adults through the Family Services Association of San Antonio. KTSA’s Jack Riccardi proudly notes that some 600 people showed up to volunteer their services. “We set new records for participants, gifts donated, and for the first time in our 13 years, we managed to ‘adopt’ 100% of the families FSA was hoping to serve. I think our growth is largely due to the unique call-to-action: You don’t have to donate money or a toy to participate (although many people do) – all we ask is that you show up and help us wrap, while enjoying live Christmas music performed by local musicians and treats served by local restaurants. Although the radio station gets behind ‘WWJ’ logistically, it’s mainly a talk show host appealing to his listeners for help in a worthy cause, and people responding to the intimacy and immediacy of that.” The event took place on December 13 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
Steve Gill Launches “Generous Hearts” Charitable Program. Nashville-based syndicated talk host Steve Gill recently created the Generous Hearts charitable organization in conjunction with local charities Nashville Wraps and A Generous Heart. Since November, it has raised $20,000 in cash for the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes, 750 turkeys delivered to the Nashville Rescue Mission and has offered aid to six homeless Sumner County families to bring Christmas to life this season. Gill says Generous Hearts is aligning with a regional food bank’s mobile pantry to help feed Middle Tennessee’s hungry families. Gill states, “The ‘Generous Hearts’ project initiative, throughout 2012, is to raise funds as well as provide increased visibility to people and organizations in need. As an active community member, ‘friend-raising’ is as vital as fundraising.”
NRG Media’s KKAR, Omaha Raises Funds for Child Saving Institute. On Friday, December 16, news/talk KKAR, Omaha held a radiothon to raise funds for the Child Saving Institute that provides a safe haven and healing for thousands of innocent young victims of family crisis, neglect and abuse. Program director Neil Nelkin says the event raised $60,000 for the institute. “The listeners of KKAR delivered again this year. Despite the economy, the listeners opened their hearts and their wallets to make a difference for a wonderful cause that will brighten the holidays of hundreds of children in need throughout Omaha.”
Arbitron Reports Radio Listening Up; 1.4 Million Listeners Added. According to Arbitron’s RADAR 111 National Radio Listening Report, 1.4 million more Americans ages 12-plus are listening to radio on a weekly basis compared to the RADAR report released one year ago. “The number of persons 12 and older listening to radio each week now reaches an estimated 241.3 million, representing 93% of the population 12 and older,” according to Arbitron. The report concludes, “In addition to adding 1.4 million weekly listeners during the past year, radio listening among key demographics continues to hold steady. Compared to the December 2010 RADAR report, teens aged 12 to 17 remains consistent at 22.8 million, or 92% of that demographic’s population. Radio listeners aged 18 to 34 increased slightly versus the December 2010 RADAR report. Radio now reaches 66.3 million weekly listeners in this age range, that’s 93.4% of this demographic.” The report also highlights the large increase of Hispanic listeners – more than 1 million 12-plus — from year-to-year. Arbitron states the sample size for RADAR is 395,502 persons 12-plus which is “designed to provide more stability for key demographic estimates, dayparts and Market-by-Market Analysis reports, which report all individual DMAs®.
John B. Wells Joins “Coast to Coast AM” Air Staff. Premiere Networks announces long-time “Coast to Coast AM” fill-in host John B. Wells becomes a regular host of the Saturday weekend edition of the program. Wells becomes part of the staff after current weekend host Ian Punnett announces he must reduce his duties with the program to seek aggressive treatment for a debilitating case of tinnitus with which he’s suffering. He’ll continue to host one weekend program per month. (Punnett also continues to co-host the morning show at Hubbard Radio’s KTMY, Minneapolis with his wife Margery.) On joining the program, Wells says, “Spending Saturday nights talking to millions of ‘Coast to Coast’ fans is a dream come true. After guest hosting the show off and on for the last few years, it’s a real honor to officially join the ‘Coast to Coast’ and Premiere Networks crew. This is going to be a lot of fun and a real adventure!”
Norman Goldman Snags Denver Affiliation. Compass Media Networks talk host Norman Goldman becomes the PM drive personality at Clear Channel’s KKZN, Denver. Goldman’s program has been in national syndication for two years and is heard in major markets including Chicago, San Francisco and Boston as well as numerous others. Of his newest affiliation, Goldman says, “We are thrilled and excited to be part of the live programming schedule offered daily by AM 760, Colorado’s Progressive Talk. Our highly engaged, socially connected audience expects to interact with and comment about the live events happening around the world and respond in real time. My sincere thanks to KKZN PD Dan Mandis for this amazing opportunity to make great live radio.” Compass Media Networks notes Goldman began his program in 2009 with the pledge of serving local affiliates. “Throughout the past 24 months, Goldman has held rallies, Town Halls, advertiser appearances, and events – at no charge to his stations. His emotion-filled message of hard work, tenacity and passion for justice resonates with listeners and advertisers alike.”
Fox Sports Radio Adds Bobby Bones and Andy Roddick for Weekend Show. Tennis great Andy Roddick partners up with Austin, Texas-based syndicated CHR morning show host Bobby Bones for a weekend program on Fox Sports Radio Network beginning on January 7, 2012. Roddick and Bones are long-time friends and the two have talked sports on Bones’ morning show numerous times. They also subbed on FSRN this past summer. Bones says, “I can’t wait to get paid to talk about sports, especially since Andy and I have been doing it for free for years. We’re pretty excited to get to use real microphones and be heard by a real audience, on Fox Sports Radio!” Fox Sports Radio VP/GM Don Martin states, “We are proud to bring the amazing talents of Bobby Bones and Andy Roddick into the Fox Sports Radio family. This unique duo will blow the minds of the sports talk radio audience.”
CBS Radio Names Neil Salvage Head of Digital Sales. Neil Salvage comes to CBS Radio from CityGrid Media where he was executive vice president of advertising. In his new position he will oversee all sales efforts on a national and local level related to CBS Radio’s digital assets, including the division’s websites, a variety of mobile assets, and online streaming initiatives. CBS Radio president of sales Michael Weiss states, “In Neil, we have succeeded in hiring an incredibly seasoned local advertising pro with experience at well-respected companies such as Citysearch, Yellowpages.com and BellSouth. With his background we’re confident we can acquire new clients whose focus is deeply rooted in digital marketing, and claim a greater share of incremental dollars in 2012 and beyond.”
Radio-thon for the Troops. Cumulus’ WMAL, Washington, DC morning program personalities (from l-r) Brian Wilson, Mary Katharine Ham and Bryan Nehman work a remote broadcast on December 2 as part of the day-long 8th Annual WMAL Fisher House Radio-thon. The station raised $256,000 for the Fisher House Foundation which provides housing near military hospitals for the families of convalescing and rehabbing military personnel who’ve been injured in the line of duty. Program director Bill Hess states, “WMAL’s listeners have contributed more than $3.7 million over the past eight years through fund drives and events. It’s a cause about which we – and our very supportive listeners – feel quite strongly.” WMAL talk host Chris Plante also worked the radio-thon as part of the station’s effort.
Cain Suspends Presidential Race, Euro Zone Downgrade/Financial Markets Response, Putin’s Political Future and Iran Tensions Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/5). Herman Cain’s suspension of his presidential campaign, the S&P downgrade of 15 Euro Zone countries and its effect on financial markets, Vladimir Putin’s political future in Russia and the tension over Iran’s military buildup were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Sirius XM Delay Broadcasts Audio Version of Rosie O’Donnell’s OWN Talk Show. Rosie O’Donnell began a new talk show on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN cable channel on Monday (10/10). Sirius XM announces it will air “The Rosie Show” the day after it airs on OWN at 10:00 am and 1:00 pm on its Stars channel. Winfrey relaunched the Oprah Winfrey Network on Monday and reports on the ratings for O’Donnell’s program indicate it averaged less than half a million viewers. The New York Times’ Brian Stelter writes that in her heyday hosting a talk show a decade prior, O’Donnell’s show reached “millions.” OWN is a project of Winfrey’s and Discovery Networks and Stelter reports O’Donnell’s program must grow in order to become profitable.
WJXL, Jacksonville Goes Local in AM Drive. Seven Bridges-owned sports WJXL, Jacksonville bumps United Stations Radio Networks’ Lex & Terry from the AM drive slot and moves local hosts Jeff Prosser and Dan Hicken to the morning slot. The station airs “XL Primetime” with Joe C and Hacker in the midday time slot previously occupied by Prosser’s and Hicken’s “Sports Final Radio.” Syndicated Lex & Terry were once based out of Jacksonville. Their program now emanates from Dallas.
WGN, Chicago to Air Live Remote Chicago Blackhawks Shows. The station – flagship for Chicago Blackhawks hockey – is producing six live remote broadcasts called “Chicago Blackhawks Live” with the first one taking place at Harry Caray’s Legendary Italian Steakhouse on October 24 from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm. “Sportsnight” hosts David Kaplan, Brian Noonan and Andrea Darlas host the show that is open to the public. Special guests will be Blackhawks greats Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita as statues of the two are being unveiled outside the United Center just two days prior.
Chicagoland Station Owner Joe Gentile Passes Away. Joseph J. Gentile was a car dealer who bought AM daytimer WKDC — licensed to suburban Elmhurst – in 1994 and changed the call letters to his initials (WJJG) in order to help promote his car business. He found out he liked broadcasting and became the station’s morning host – a hobby he continued for years after retiring from the car business in 2003. Gentile died Monday at age 87 of natural causes. WJJG is operated by Chicago radio pro Matt DuBiel who serves as general manager. The station recently announced it is adding Talk Radio Network’s “Mancow Experience” and Michael Savage shows to its lineup.
Iran Terror Plot, Obama Jobs Bill, 2012 GOP Presidential Candidates and ‘Occupy’ Protest Movement Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/11). The Saudi ambassador assassination plot allegedly sponsored by Iran, the failure of the Obama jobs bill in the Senate, the Republican candidates for president and the ‘Occupy’ protests movement were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Running for a Good Cause. WMAL-AM/FM, Washington morning drive hosts Brian Nehman (l) and Mary Katherine Ham (not pictured) ran the 2011 Army Ten Miler on Monday (10/10) to benefit the Fisher House Foundation. Nehman is pictured here with Fisher House vice president Brian Gawne (r) after finishing the race. The Fisher House Foundation provides housing for the family of military personnel so they can be near their loved ones while they are being treated for injuries suffered in combat. To date, WMAL has raised nearly $3 million for Fisher House since 2004.
WBZ, Boston Celebrates 90 Years on the Air Today. Yes, the building with its twin radio towers in the photo at the top of this page is the site of the original broadcast studios but you might be surprised to know it’s not in the Boston area. The CBS Radio station’s history as the first “commercial license” radio station in the country began 80 miles west in Springfield, Massachusetts at the old Westinghouse plant. Many of the nation’s oldest radio stations moved around the dial and WBZ was no exception. It broadcast at 830 on the dial when it first went on the air from this location on September 19, 1921. Read more about WBZ’s history here.
Cumulus Gives WMAL, Washington an FM Boost Today. The victim is classic rock WVRX-FM at 105.9 as WMAL will simulcast beginning at 12:00 noon today in time for Premiere’s Rush Limbaugh to be heard in the Nation’s Capital on FM. WMAL clearly has its sights set on some of the dollars crosstown competitor WTOP has been raking in on the FM band. WMAL president and general manager Jeff Boden states, “By expanding our successful brand to the FM dial, we will be a viable listening and advertising option for many more people in the Washington, DC area. There are many potential listeners who never listen on AM, and we are now making programs of wide interest available to the largest possible audience.”
George Plaster’s Status in Nashville Unknown. Nashville sports talk host George Plaster was off the air at WGFX-FM on Friday and he tells the Tennessean, “There’s been a lot of rumors about where we’re going to end up. At this point no decision has been made. I want to do not only what’s good for my group, but I want to end up doing something good for our listeners.” WGFX-FM was a Citadel station until the closing of the merger between Cumulus and Citadel. Eight years prior, Plaster sued Cumulus to get away from that company and join Citadel’s WGFX-FM. If there’s bad blood between the two parties, the question is will they be able to get over it and work together again? Plaster’s show rakes in a reported $2 million annually for WGFX. The complicating factor is the new crosstown FM sports talk station WPRT-FM “The Game,” operated by the Cromwell Group, which would no doubt love to bring Plaster over to get its new format off the ground with a popular, money-making talent. Expect some decisions to be made soon.
Bill Cunningham Debuts on Daytime TV Today. WLW, Cincinnati and Premiere Networks talk show host Bill Cunningham’s nationally syndicated eponymous TV show debuts today. Cunningham tells the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Kiesewetter that this is a completely different program than his radio show. Cunningham has been taping shows since late July and the content is very much the stuff of daytime TV talk shows – dysfunctional families, pot parties and other such fare. Cunningham says they’ve remade his image with spray-on tans and expensive suits but producers of the program say they want his image as a father, family man and the guy-next-door to shine through. Cunningham’s program debuts on 22 stations across the country, including in his home town of Cincinnati.
WTMM-FM, Albany Brings Bruce Jacobs in for PM Drive. Sports talk and talk radio pro Bruce Jacobs is named the new PM drive host at Townsquare Media’s Albany/Schenectady FM sports talk outlet 104.5 The Team. Jacobs has worked most recently in the Phoenix market. Jacobs begins his new program Tuesday, September 20. The Long Island native says, “After 20 years of being away, it’s so great to be home again. It’s great to be back with the most passionate, hardcore fans in the world.”
John Olsen Named PD at Sports WZZN-FM, Birmingham. Cox Media Group announces John Olsen is the program director at its new FM sports talk outlet Sports Radio 97.7 The Zone. Olsen has been with Cox since 2001 in various capacities. He says, “Thanks to Ben Reed, David DuBose, Ray Nelson and Justin Case for their vision to bring 97.3 The Zone to the air. We have a terrific, unique station that will give sports fans a true sports station.” Also at the CMG in Birmingham, programmer Justin Case is named operations manager for the cluster.
Eleanor Mondale Dies at 51. Eleanor Mondale, daughter of former vice president Walter Mondale and former WCCO, Minneapolis talk show host, passed away on Saturday at age 51 after her second bout with brain cancer. Mondale left her show on WCCO in March of 2009 after the brain cancer returned a second time. She had surgery later that year to remove the tumor and it was reported at the time that the surgery was successful. Mondale began her broadcasting career in 1989 as the entertainment reporter for WCCO-TV, Minneapolis. She went on to network television gigs but returned to Minnesota and co-hosted a radio talk show on WCCO with Susie Jones in 2006.
KYW, Philadelphia’s Jack O’Rourke Passes Away at 80. Shortly after covering the Phillies-Cardinals game Friday night, the KYW sports reporter collapsed and passed away. O’Rourke began his career with KYW in 1966. He worked with NBC Radio in New York for more than 20 years before returning to KYW.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliation Roundup. Premiere Networks’ “America Now” with Andy Dean is added to the program schedule at Cox Media Group’s KRMG-AM/FM, Tulsa in the 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight slot…..Genesis Communications Network’s “America Tonight” with Kate Delaney is now heard on WWNZ, Bangor…..Premiere Networks’ “Coast to Coast AM” with George Noory is picked up by CBS Radio’s new news/talk outlet WXYT for the 1:00 am to 5:00 am timeslot…..The talk-intensive, Premiere Networks-syndicated Elvis Duran morning show adds new affiliate WMXZ-FM, Ft. Walton Beach, Florida…..The “Health Insurance Advocate” show with Cary Hall joins the lineup at KBMV-FM, West Plains, Missouri…..“Armed American Radio” with Mark Walters adds KFLO-FM, Shreveport, Louisiana; KWKC, Abilene, Texas; KBMV-FM, West Pains, Missouri; and WBFD, Bedford, Pennsylvania…..“The Rose Hollywood Report” with Shannon Rose is cleared on KRDO-AM/FM, Colorado Springs.
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.”