Tim Benz Promoted to Sports Director at CC Pittsburgh. Programmer and air personality Tim Benz exits his role as morning show host at alternative WXDX, Pittsburgh “105.9 The X” to take the sports director role at Clear Channel’s Pittsburgh cluster. With the move, WXDX evening host Abby Krizner moves to mornings. According to Pittsburgh’s Timesonline.com, Benz’s move means he’ll host a show on sister sports talker WBGG but will also continue to contribute to WXDX’s sports content (the station is the Penguins flagship). In a related move, Benz’s co-host Bob McLaughlin stays with the station as producer of the sports-heavy PM drive Mark Madden program on WXDX. About his promotion and the expansion of sports programming which will see his commentary used on cluster stations including rock WDVE, CHR WKST “96.1 KISS,” news/talk WPGB “FM News Talk 104.7,” and classic hits WWSW “94.5 3WS,” Benz tells Timesonline.com, “This opportunity to extend sports programming is something we have been discussing for some time and will enhance our platforms.” He’ll host the daily 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm show on WBGG.
James Crystal Radio Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection. After reports surfaced in the radio trades (including TALKERS) that James Crystal Radio had missed payroll in January, questions began to arise about the state of the company’s affairs and, sure enough, it’s now public information that the company has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the Southern District of Florida. In the filing, James Crystal Radio lists assets of between $1 million and $10 million with between $10 million and $50 million in liabilities. Some of the 20 creditors with the largest claims include: more than $220,000 owned to BMI, more than $1.5 million to various attorneys for fees, plus some $861,000 owed to the IRS in payroll taxes and more than $200,000 in property and local taxes. This is a particularly unfortunate situation since the company has operated in a very locally focused manner giving opportunities to Florida personalities at news/talk WFTL and sports talk WMEN, both serving the West Palm Beach and South Florida markets. The company also owns foreign-language WFLL, Fort Lauderdale and gospel KBXD, Dallas.
Dave Ramsey Crosses Town to KEIB, Los Angeles. Nationally syndicated financial talk superstar Dave Ramsey moves from news/talk KFWB, Los Angeles to Clear Channel’s new conservative talk KEIB “The Patriot 1150” where the show will air from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm beginning February 24. KEIB program director Robin Bertolucci says, “We are delighted and excited to have Dave as part of our lineup. With his proven track record in LA, he’ll be an excellent addition to our station.” Currently, local personality Carlos Amezcua airs in the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm slot on KEIB.
KFWB Expands ‘Money 101’ with Bob McCormick. With the departure of Dave Ramsey, CBS RADIO operated KFWB, Los Angeles grows Bob McCormick’s “Money 101” program and places it in the 10:00 am to 2:00 pm slot on the program schedule. As a result, “LA’s Morning News with Penny Griego and Phil Hulett” adds another hour, wrapping at 10:00 am. The station notes that McCormick “is a recognized authority on personal finance issues in Southern California…his fast-paced show features compelling content that goes beyond the headlines and focuses on how these issues influence our lives in Southern California.” Program director Andy Ludlum says of the changes, “We have enjoyed a great relationship with Dave Ramsey and his team. They are consummate professionals and Dave did a great job for us. It was a good partnership, but the opportunity to add more local programming to super-serve our listeners prevailed.”
Envision Networks Announces New Brand. The new name and branding for Envision Radio Networks is Envision Networks. The 11-year-old media network, which provides content and services to more than 1,500 radio stations across the country, says it has grown beyond the scope of a radio-only syndication company and that the new name Envision Networks encompasses its heritage radio business as well as its growing digital networks, streaming networks and on-demand listening. President and CEO Danno Wolkoff states, “Envision Networks is a more accurate representation of our current evolution and growth in radio, digital, streaming and product placement. The Envision Networks name and branding now reflects everything we supply to radio stations and other media while creating a desirable audience for our advertisers and partners.”
Broadcasting Pro Todd Feinburg Launches Boston Traffic Service. It’s called J4traffic and the Boston-based broadcasting pro tells TALKERS magazine it is a “crowd sourced, all-traffic radio station for Boston, the first radio format being launched by Speaks Mobile, Inc.” The app is available for free download from the Apple and Android stores. Todd Feinburg (who co-hosted morning drive on WRKO, Boston for the past five years and currently is doing part-time and fill-in work for WBZ-AM) explains the concept behind this initiative. “Rush hour is expanding to encompass much of the day in major American cities, and not just on weekdays. Radio traffic reports lack the frequency, substance and reliability to be effective at easing this pain, and traffic maps don’t go together well with the legal and practical responsibilities of operating a motor vehicle. Furthermore, traffic data delivered to mobile apps lacks the nuance that drivers need to make effective decisions regarding comparative routes – and it’s generally not much fun. We will correct these problems with The Jay – on-demand traffic talk radio that is informed by the crowd.” Feinburg says the programming will consist of a traffic report every five minutes. In between, they’ll broadcast updates reported to them by commuters. Drivers will share what they see on the road via 15 second mp3s they record on the J4traffic app, or they’ll call in with live reports. He says they are in “beta” mode right now but once they’re up to speed, they’ll use “Facebook mobile ads and Google keyword ads to push new users to the app in order to speed growth. In addition, we are optimistic that local media outlets will respond well to a PR campaign emphasizing a new format – all traffic radio – on a platform that has not been used to offer unique, local, radio content – but has been proven successful by companies such as Pandora, Spotify and Apple.” Feinburg says their positioning will be “as a humble, bootstrap operation looking to solve a problem, because that’s what we are. We see this as the beginning of a trend – ‘local’ is the power of radio, and local radio has been abandoned by broadcasters. Now that the threshold to entry has been lowered and anyone can have a radio station, we expect thousands of niche broadcast outlets to appear on the mobile platform.” Along with Feinburg, the two other principals are Jonathan Roy, an attorney who has left his practice in order to join the startup world. He gained experience in tech and startups before attending law school 15 years ago. Aaron Sawyer is a 20-year veteran of Total Traffic and its predecessor, Metro Traffic. Aaron worked as a manager and announcer for Total Traffic, setting up and rolling out new markets.
Executive Changes at NextMedia in Chicago as Sale to Digity Expected to Close on Monday. The sale of NextMedia’s nine suburban Chicago radio stations to Dean Goodman-led Digity, LLC is expected to close on Monday, February 10 and Chicagoland Radio and Media reports that two executives are being told they will not be retained when the deal is consummated. General managers Patrick Pendergast and Scott Kosak will reportedly exit the company and NextMedia360 vice president Brian Foster will serve as manager for the entire group. The Chicago stations are part of a larger deal that encompasses 33 stations becoming assets in Digity, LLC. The Chicago-area stations include: classic hits WERV-FM, Aurora; country WCCQ-FM, Crest Hill; news/talk WJOL-AM, Joliet; AC WSSR-FM, Joliet; rock WRXQ-FM, Coal City; sports WKRS-AM, Waukegan; hot AC WXLC-FM, Waukegan; rock WIIL-FM, Union Grove, Wisconsin and news/talk WLIP-AM, Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Dave Ramsey Brings Live Events to Boise. Nationally syndicated superstar Dave Ramsey is pictured here with (from left to right) Idaho First Lady Lori Otter, Townsquare Media regional vice president Kevin Godwin, and Idaho Governor Butch Otter during a visit to the market this week. Ramsey presented his “Legacy Journey LIVE!” event to a sold-out crowd in on Thursday (2/6) at the Morrison Center for the Performing Arts. The production presents Ramsey’s philosophy about how to win with money, strengthen marriages and lead your children with confidence. His daughter, Rachel Cruze, joined him on stage. Local affiliate KIDO helped promote the event and Kevin Godwin states, “KIDO’s enthusiasm for the unique opportunity to host Dave Ramsey in Boise is brimming. It couldn’t have come at a more perfect time, as KIDO is celebrating its 85th anniversary of broadcasting this year. It’s very special to have one of our most popular talk show hosts here to share this with us and our community.” On Wednesday, Ramsey hosted his “EntreLeadership 1 Day Event” along with Cruze and speaker Chris Hogan, about how to run a business using the same common sense principles that Ramsey practices in his own company of more than 350 employees.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. In the Riverside-San Bernardino market, Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh is added to the lineup at KTIE, San Bernardino…..“Free Talk Live” featuring Ian Freeman and Mark Edge joins the program lineup at WVFT-FM, Tallahassee; WYOO-FM, Panama Beach, Florida and KGUM-AM, Agana, Guam…..The XtreMedia produced and syndicated Kevin McCullough show is added to the programming at WHEP, Mobile/Pensacola; WTXY, Wilmington, North Carolina; and WROM, Rome, Georgia…..The WYM Media-produced Leslie Marshall show is added to the Indiana Talk Radio Network airing from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm…..Salem Radio Network’s Michael Medved show is added to the lineup at WFBL, Syracuse; WMCR, Oneida, New York; and KVOC, Casper, Wyoming and the company’s Mike Gallagher show joins the programming at KMAX, Colfax, Washington…..“The Graveyard Shift” show announces affiliates for its March launch. KONR, Anchorage and KDOL, Livingston, Texas will carry the program.
Bennett Keynotes at Reagan Event. Nationally syndicated morning drive host Bill Bennett is pictured here speaking at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California yesterday (2/6). The Salem Radio Network personality, who served as Education Secretary under Reagan, was keynote speaker at the event commemorating the 103rd anniversary of Reagan’s birth. Yesterday’s ceremony included a color guard, chaplain, a brass quintet, a 21-gun salute, a flyover, the placing of an official White House wreath on President Reagan’s gravesite and remarks by Bennett. Prior to the ceremony, Bennett signed copies of his new book, Is College Worth It?
Sean Hannity to Keynote and Host Special Breakfast at Talkers New York 2014 Set for Friday, June 20. Nationally syndicated Premiere Networks and Fox News Channel talk media superstar Sean Hannity will again serve as the morning keynote and breakfast host at this year’s installment of TALKERS magazine’s annual New York City-based convention. The TALKERS magazine annual national talk media industry conference enters its 17th consecutive year as the date and site have been set for the next installment of the industry’s largest, longest-running and most important gathering. Upon the announcement of Hannity’s participation, TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey states, “Sean’s valuable contributions to this event have become a tradition over the course of its colorful history. He transcends politics and even the competition factor at this event and is by far one of the brightest and most popular individuals in a behind-the-scenes sense in the talk industry. His grasp of ratings issues, sales challenges, the local/national balance equation and changes in the syndication sector is extremely ‘black belt’ in quality and greatly appreciated by his colleagues in the business.” According to TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, “This will be the most important installment of this can’t-miss conference ever because it will deal with some of the most sensitive and existential issues facing not only the talk side of the business, but all of what we still call ‘radio.’ It should not be missed, plain and simple, by anyone or any company serious about their future in this industry.” Registrations for the event are limited only to people who are members of the working media (meaning actively or recently employed in the industry or associated industries) and can only be booked by telephone with credit card. Individual registrations for the entire event including all sessions, presentations, breakfast, lunch, refreshments and receptions are $249. As usual, because of space limitations and the quality of this long-established event, an early sellout is expected. Stand by for ongoing information about speakers, agenda and hotel suggestions in the days ahead. For further registration and sponsorship information, please call 413-565-5413.
Mike Francesa to Deliver Sports Keynote Address at Talkers New York 2014 - Set for June 20. WFAN, New York sports talk superstar Mike Francesa will reprise his “grand slam home run” contribution from last year and again deliver this year’s sports keynote address at Talkers New York 2014 on Friday, June 20. Upon making the announcement, TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “Mike Francesa’s speech last year was one of the most memorable highlights of the conference. He brings the same no-nonsense, unapologetic, common-sense approach to the issues of the industry that he brings to his legion of fans on the radio about their passion – sports — and quite frankly, it is quite refreshing and inspirational to those of us for whom radio is the ‘game’ of our lives. Francesa is the quintessential local sports talker – the most important in the business – and is a voice that needs to be heard because so much has happened in the sports talk sector since last summer. He’s the perfect guy to deliver the updated message within the context of continuity.” Francesa’s address will directly follow the conference’s general morning keynote address delivered by Premiere Radio/Fox News Channel heavyweight Sean Hannity. More than 60 speakers from the leadership ranks of the industry’s talent, programming, management and sales arenas are being signed up to fill out the power-packed, one-day agenda. The TALKERS magazine annual national talk media industry conference (known for years as the “New Media Seminar”) enters its 17th consecutive year as the talk radio industry’s largest, longest-running and most important gathering. Harrison continues, “This will be the most important installment of this must-attend conference ever because it will deal with some of the most sensitive and even existential issues facing not only the talk side of the business, but all of what we still call ‘radio.’ It should not be missed by anyone or any company serious about their future in this industry.” Registrations for the event are limited only to people who are members of the media industry (meaning actively or recently employed in the radio, television, and press industries or associated industries) and can only be booked by telephone with credit card. Individual registrations for the entire event including all sessions, presentations, breakfast, lunch, refreshments and receptions are $249. As usual, because of space limitations and the quality of this long-established event, a very early sellout is expected. Stand by for ongoing information about speakers, agenda and hotel suggestions in the days ahead. For further registration and sponsorship information, please call 413-565-5413.
ObamaCare Criticism Returns to #1 on Talkers TenTM. The most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week of January 3-7 was scrutiny of the rollout and effects of the Affordable Care Act. The issue held the top spot on the Talkers TenTM for eight straight weeks last fall and now returns to #1. At #2 this week was the pending immigration legislation and the amnesty component expected to be included in the bill. Following at #3 was talk of Hillary Clinton running for president in 2016 with the nation’s and several states’ marijuana laws coming in at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. To view this week’s entire chart, click here.
Sports Talker Dan Sileo New AM Host at ‘The Mighty 1090’ in San Diego. Sports talk personality Dan Sileo – who’s been working at stations in Florida for the past several years – joins Broadcasting Corporation of the Americas-operated XEPRS, San Diego “The Mighty 1090” where he’s the new morning drive host beginning today (2/3). Sileo most recently was hosting a show at James Crystal Radio’s WMEN, West Palm Beach but was fired from that station in early November of 2013 after shooting off a controversial tweet. Sileo has also worked at Beasley’s WQAM, Miami and Clear Channel’s WDAE, Tampa. He takes over the morning show at “The Mighty 1090” from market pro Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton who will remain with the station in another capacity. Program director Mike Shepard says, “I am thrilled to welcome Dan to ‘San Diego’s Sports Leader, The Mighty 1090.’ Dan is a passionate, outspoken, engaging and incredibly knowledgeable sports radio personality. His track record of major market success is remarkable and Dan is a perfect addition to the Mighty 1090’s top-rated, all-star lineup.”
New Talk Station to Air in DC Market. The Laurel, Maryland-licensed WILC flips from Spanish music to a hybrid of talk and oldies. The ZGS-owned signal is being operated by Wallis Communications under an LMA and the new format debuts today (2/3). In a statement, the company says the program schedule is not complete but the station will be “libertarian and conservative talk radio.” Chief operating officer and general manager Bryan Berner says, “All of us at WILC and Wallis Communications look forward to serving the people of the region and bringing a common sense, fresh perspective to talk radio in the Washington, DC market.” Programming will include Premiere Networks’ Glenn Beck, Wallis Communications’ “The Dr. K Show,” “The Capitol Hill Show with Tim Constantine” and WestwoodOne’s Dennis Miller. Overnights will showcase vintage radio as the digitally remastered Wolfman Jack will air.
Mike Gallagher Causes Stir with Hoffman Death Observations. Nationally syndicated talk show host Mike Gallagher’s observations in the aftermath of the untimely death of actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman caused such reaction that his post to his MikeOnline.com site logged more than 50,000 views and drew threats to him, his family and even his dog. Speaking about the suspected heroin overdose that took Hoffman’s life, Gallagher stated, “Another senseless death. This time, one of the greatest actors of our time. I wonder if he started with marijuana…If you want to get pot lovers mad, dare to even ask the question if an Oscar-winning movie star who is found dead in his bathroom with a needle stuck in his arm started with marijuana.” Gallagher has stood firm in his stance against the legalization of marijuana as some states move to legalize and decriminalize the drug.
To Get Listeners to Your Website, Don’t Threaten to Bore Them! Digital media consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller wonders why we tend to turn the marketing part of our brains off when we go “online.” We can write good, tempting ad copy for radio but all we’ve learned goes out the window when it comes to our websites. Miller says that one of the worst ways to get someone to your website is to offer them “all of the details” when they get there. Not very tempting is it? More details. Instead, put your marketing skills to work in the same way you would with a spot. “A good commercial will do a better job getting business through a client’s front door than a bad commercial will. It’s the exact same thing getting people to go from your broadcast to one of your digital platforms…or move from one digital platform to another. Opportunity is knocking.” Read Miller’s entire piece here.
Clear Channel Tweaks Lineup at WVOC, Columbia. The South Carolina news/talk station drops the early evening “Sports Talk” show syndicated by Learfield Sports that aired in afternoon drive and adds Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity for the 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm slot. The “Sports Talk” program is hosted by Phil Kornblut, Kevin McCrarey and Tom Hayes. According to The State, Learfield’s “Sports Talk First Edition” – which aired on CC’s sister sports talk station WXBT “560 The Team” from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm – is also being replaced. A local sports talk show featuring former South Carolina footballer Rick Sanford will air in the time slot instead. Learfield tells the paper it is working to place the shows on new affiliates in the market.
Mike Francesa Fans (and a Few Critics) Gather for FrancesaCon in NYC. Sports talk pioneer Mike Francesa – afternoon drive host on CBS RADIO’s WFAN-AM/FM, New York – said after learning of the weekend event that the participants would probably be half fans, half critics. How the numbers came down is unclear but the fact that an estimated 400 gathered at an Upper East Side bar on Saturday (2/1) to celebrate, imitate and even mock Francesa, shows how big he is in New York. A piece by Jim Baumbach in Newsday tells the story but the short version is as follows: 23-year-old friends Michael Leboff and Ron Haraka came up with the idea of FrancesaCon as a gathering of Mike Francesa fans. Little did they know that not only would people show up in droves, but they came dressed as Francesa, carried the appropriate props (Diet Coke cans), and did some very good imitations of the man himself. Some even came dressed as Francesa’s longtime former partner Chris “Mad Dog” Russo and classic Francesa-Russo back-and-forths took place in the bar. Check out Baumbach’s story in Newsday here.
FCC Grants Tribune Cross-Ownership Waivers. The license renewals for several Tribune-owned television stations were being challenged by the United Church of Christ, the Media Alliance and the Teamsters. The commission handed down rulings on Friday that granted renewals for the licenses though it also granted the petition for reconsideration to the UCC and Media Alliance. The FCC also reaffirmed the permanent waiver for Tribune in the Chicago market where it owns the Chicago Tribune newspaper, WGN-TV, and WGN-AM. In making the decision, the commission ruled that “Given the ‘uniquely long-term symbiotic relationship between [Tribune’s] broadcast stations’ and the Chicago Tribune that provides a special benefit of continued cross-ownership, coupled with the slight cost to diversity in Chicago’s massive media market of continued cross-ownership, Tribune has in fact shown sufficiently ‘unique or special circumstances’ to justify the granting of a permanent waiver of the NBCO (newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership) Rule to its Chicago licensees.”
L&L Closes on Border Media Trust Stations. Seven Texas radio stations that were in the Border Media Trust are now owned by Larry Wilson’s L&L Broadcasting. The stations include San Antonio-licensed outlets news/talk KTSA, sports talk KZDC, adult hits KJXK “Jack 102.7 FM,” regional Mexican KLEY-FM, Jourdanton, regional Mexican KJAH-AM/FM, Pearsall, and CHR KTSM, Floresville. The station group cost L&L $31 million and puts the company into market #28.
Short Ideas for a Short Week. As the industry returns from a holiday weekend, digital media consultant Chris Miller offers some quick thoughts regarding your digital efforts. If you’re still wondering about the changes Facebook made that affect the way content lines up on your news feed, Miller has three items to consider. Also check out his thoughts on the type of content you put on your station website and whether that content lines up with your brand’s “message.” Plus, Chris has a final word about attitude. Check it all out here.
Promotions Conflict at Philly Eatery Brings Abrupt End to Live Broadcast. The Philadelphia Daily News is reporting that the quick shutdown of a WIP, Philadelphia remote broadcast with afternoon hosts Anthony Gargano and Rob Ellis at Chickie’s & Pete’s may not have been the result of an ISDN breakdown but the fact that rival Greater Media sports talker WPEN personality Jon Marks was also at the establishment for a personal appearance. The paper reports that about 30 minutes into Gargano’s and Ellis’ broadcast, WPEN’s Marks arrived along with rock WMMR jock Matt Cord for a $1,000 MetroPCS giveaway in another part of the pub. The Daily News goes on to write that Chickie’s & Pete’s management tried to move Marks and Cord to a different part of the restaurant but Greater Media refused. CBS tells the paper the ISDN problem was the issue and while no one else is commenting, it appears it could have been nothing more than a scheduling snafu that ruffled the feathers of the stations involved.
Linder Joins WMEN, West Palm Beach for Afternoons. The JCE Licenses-owned sports talk station names Jon Linder host of the 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm show, replacing Andy Slater who left for Clear Channel’s sports talk WINZ, Miami “The Sports Animal” in December. Linder joined WMEN as a fill-in host last year. He’s worked at Beasley’s WQAM, Miami serving as a sports reporter and studio host during Miami Hurricanes football broadcasts from 2010 through 2012.
Cleveland Host Faces Jury Trial in Domestic Violence Charge. WKNR, Cleveland sports talk host Tony Rizzo will appear in Medina Municipal Court on February 27 for a jury trial after being accused of domestic assault by his wife Catherine Rizzo in December. Rizzo remains on the air at Good Karma-owned WKNR. The company issued a statement after the incident leading to the charge calling Rizzo “an exemplary teammate and member of the community and his status with us is unaffected.” Police were called to Rizzo’s home after his wife called them saying she had locked herself in the bathroom after Rizzo choked her and hit her in the face. Rizzo pleaded not guilty on December 9.
KCAA, Lorma Linda, California First to Accept Bitcoins for Airtime. The Fred Lundgren-owned news/talk station that serves the Riverside/San Bernardino market is claiming it’s the first radio station in North America to Bitcoins as payment for advertising and airtime. The station says it signed its first programming agreement purchased with Bitcoin on January 17. KCAA utilized a service called “Coinbase” to process the payment. Lundgren comments, “Our first transaction paid us 9.4 Bitcoins, which Coinbase displayed as approximately $7,200.00 USD. These funds will appear in our bank account in two to three business days.” Lundgren adds, “The value of Bitcoin as a digital currency will grow as more businesses accept it. I predict it will become a viable alternative to ever increasing bank charges.”
Houston Talk Host Michael Berry Emcees Senate Campaign Fundraiser. KTRH, Houston-based talk show host Michael Berry is headlining a fundraiser for U.S. Senate candidate Col. Rob Maness (USAF, Ret.) on Friday, January 24, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Berry’s program is heard on stations across the U.S. including on WJBO, Baton Rouge from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Maness is running for the Senate seat currently held by Democrat Mary Landrieu.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Sochi Olympics Terror Threats, Syria Torture Allegations, ObamaCare Criticism, Wendy Davis Bio Questioned and Chris Christie Sandy Aid Charge Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/20). The Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday; concerns over security at the Sochi Winter Games; new allegations of the Assad regime’s use of torture in Syria’s civil conflict; criticism of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act; Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis’ life story disputed by critics; and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie faces charges of misappropriating Hurricane Sandy aid were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Clear Channel Posts 2% Revenue Increase in Q2. That’s for the Media and Entertainment division – the radio stations, Premiere Networks and Total Traffic Network – on revenue of $805.6 million for the second quarter of 2013 compared to the same period a year ago. During yesterday’s investors’ conference call, chairman and CEO Bob Pittman spoke positively about the growth of iHeartRadio and SVP of investor relations Gregory Lundberg noted that it has 34 million registered users and that represents growth of 162% year-over-year. Regarding the makeup of the company’s revenue, he stated, “National sales for the stations grew 5%, with local up 1%. Excluding the impact of political advertising, in both quarters, national sales rose 7% and local was up 2%. Our strongest performing ad categories remained financial services, retail and telecom. Digital sales continue to grow in the double digits as we monetize our station’s online presence and keep growing iHeartRadio, where total listening hours were up to 36% in the second quarter. We also saw good year-over-year growth at Premiere Networks. Partially offsetting this growth rate were revenue declines in the traffic business from lost contracts and from lower sales resulting from integration activities. Operating expenses increased $42 million or 9%, reflecting a $21 million expense credit from one of our performance rights organizations, which we received in the second quarter of last year.” He stated pacing for the third quarter for the stations was up 3% and up 1% for the division as a whole. Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the transcript. Members can read it all here.
Clear Channel Sells Its SiriusXM Interests for $135.5 Million. Way back in 1999 when XM Radio was gearing up its operations, Clear Channel was an initial investor putting in $83.1 million and getting the right to program some of the satcaster’s music and talk channels. Now, CC sells its interest in the company for $135.5 million – the value of the stock – and that means most of the CC-programmed content will disappear from the XM Radio platform. That’ll include some of the company’s music FMs such as hip hop WGCI, Chicago; country signal WSIX, Nashville and hot AC WLIT, Chicago. But two of the CC-radio channels are expected to stay on the XM platform – WHTZ, New York and KIIS, Los Angeles. It also means the talk radio channel on the XM platform will see talent like Glenn Beck, Bob & Tom, Todd Schnitt as well as Fox Sports Radio programming go away.
Arbitron Reports Q2 Revenue Rises 2.9%. As it prepares to be acquired by ratings giant Nielsen, Arbitron issues its 2013 second quarter financial reports and states that on revenue of $107.4 million dollars it is reporting net revenue of $7.1 million or $0.26 per share. The cost of the potential Nielsen deal ate into the company’s earnings before interest and income tax expense (EBIT) as it shelled out $6.1 million during the quarter in preparation for the acquisition. President and CEO Sean Creamer states, “In the second quarter, we maintained focus on our long-term priorities: investing in and growing our core radio services, evaluating and implementing quality initiatives to enhance the value and utility of our offerings, and exploring emerging opportunities with an emphasis on those that allow us to highlight the power and advantages of radio. As the media and advertising marketplaces continue to evolve and new technologies permit consumers to consume content virtually anytime and anywhere, it is important we keep pace with these changes to ensure radio gets full credit for its audience – regardless of the delivery platform. Radio is growing and vibrant – and we are committed to helping the radio industry tell and validate its complete and compelling story.”
The Job of the Program Director in Five Years. According to noted consultant and TALKERS columnist Walter Sabo, if you want to know which way the job of PD is heading in radio, just take a look at what has happened to the same titled position at television stations. In a new column posted today (8/2) Sabo writes “As more on-air content decisions are made at the corporate level and delivered from a central source, the program director job will morph to meet the demands of the tasks that must be completed. Smart companies will evolve the position to one that has been desperately needed: ‘Program and Public Relations Director.’” Sabo goes on to list other combinations of tasks and responsibilities that will be added to the title “Program Director” on the radio station level. To read his entire column, please click here.
KBME, Houston Ousts Adam Wexler and Matt Jackson from AM Drive; Adds Fox Sports Radio’s Jay Mohr to Middays. In a realignment of programming at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s sports talk KBME, Houston, Adam Wexler and Matt Jackson have been let go from the station and their morning drive gig and Lance Zierlein and Adam Clanton take over the AM show. Zierlein co-hosted the afternoon show with Charlie Pallilo but, as the Houston Chronicle notes, had also worked on the morning drive show alongside Wexler and Jackson in the past. Adam Clanton has hosted sports talk radio in the market at CBS Radio’s crosstown KILT as well as having worked at KPRC-TV. The addition of Fox Sports Radio’s nationally syndicated Jay Mohr to the lineup from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm forces some other changes. Greg Koch and N.D. Kalu now air from 9:00 am to 11:00 am; Charlie Pallilo hosts solo from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm; and Matt Thomas is on the air from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
Michael Harrison to Speak at NAB Radio Show. In what promises to be a riveting and inspirational hour, TALKERS and RadioInfo publisher Michael Harrison will address the forthcoming NAB Radio Show in Orlando (September 18-20) on “Radio’s Evolving Role in Popular Culture.” Harrison, fresh off a rousing keynote speech at the Conclave, will further elaborate on the theme of the challenges facing radio in its quest to remain societally iconic in the digital age of the 21st century at a specially scheduled Info-Session sponsored by TALKERS. Harrison says that for radio to remain competitive with all the emerging “exotic” competition of this “wildly new era,” it must maintain “ownership” of the scenes it addresses whether they are music, politics, news, sports or any other expression of the human condition. He says radio should maintain a foreground, active position that protects it from being marginalized as a passive delivery system and discusses options and opportunities to carry out the mission. (To see a brief clip of Michael Harrison’s Conclave keynote speech addressing these subjects please click here. The full speech will be posted to both RadioInfoTV and TalkersTV shortly, stay tuned.) Consultant Holland Cooke introduces this popular annual NAB Radio Show session featuring the venerable programmer, air personality, entrepreneur and trade magazine publisher who has been accurately describing radio and popular media’s road ahead for the past 45 years. The Info-Session is scheduled on Thursday, September 19 between 1:30 pm and 2:30 pm and is open to all attendees of the NAB Radio Show.
Clear Channel Makes Morning Changes at KTCN, Minneapolis. Morning drive talk show host Bob Davis and Clear Channel Minneapolis part company and the station fills the morning drive slot with former evening hosts Jack Tomczak and Ben Kruse, at least for now. Bob Davis had been paired up with Tom Emmer for mornings but Emmer exited the station in June to make a run for the congressional seat being vacated by Michele Bachmann. Davis made national news when, during a discussion about gun control, he said on the air he would tell the Newtown families to “go to hell” for their role in shaping the gun debate. He later apologized for the tenor of his comments.
Radiate Media Promotes Ivan Shulman to President. Seven months after joining Radiate Media as executive vice president of sales and chief revenue officer, the company promotes Ivan Shulman to president. CEO Chris Rothey states, “Ivan has a deep background in sales, marketing and media, and his leadership experience makes him a great fit for us. Since joining us in November of 2012, we have experienced quarter-over-quarter revenue growth, including the launch of Radiate360 – our integrated marketing platform to drive hyper-local business. Ivan will continue to lead that initiative as well as overseeing the day-to -day activities of our broadcast radio, TV and digital lines of business.” The company is bullish on its new product Radiate360 which it describes as “an easy-to-use, online platform that empowers businesses to expand their reach and connect with their customers. With Radiate360’s revolutionary suite of tools, businesses can establish an online presence, engage customers through social and mobile media, and promote to the local audience that matters most.” Shulman says of his promotion, “I joined Radiate because I was excited about future opportunities. Our growth on both the broadcast and digital side has been phenomenal and I look forward to working with broadcasters to help bridge the gap between digital and traditional media.”
Dan Sileo Takes Over Midday Program at WMEN, West Palm Beach. Florida sports talk personality Dan Sileo – most recently midday host at WQAM, Miami – moves into the 10:00 am to 1:00 pm slot at JCE Licenses’ WMEN, West Palm Beach “640 Sports” effective Tuesday, August 6. Sileo – who worked for years at WDAE, Tampa prior to his stint with WQAM – is filling in for Travis Rodgers on KLAA, Los Angeles today and on August 5. Sileo is, by his own admission, an edgy personality whose willingness to push the envelope has gotten him fired from his last two radio gigs. He maintains he achieved excellent ratings while with Clear Channel at WDAE and that the station pulled in a lot of revenue from his program.
Eric Deggans to Leave the Tampa Bay Times for Gig at NPR. Journalist Eric Deggans has covered first music, then media for the Tampa Bay Times for the past 18 years. Now, he exits the Times to become a TV critic and correspondent for NPR News. Deggans has been a contributor to NPR in the past but joins the organization full time. He states in a press release, “For many years, I have been a fan of NPR’s super-smart journalism and I often fantasized of what it might be like to join their ranks as a contributor. A position like this one is beyond my wildest dreams; I’m honored and excited by the opportunity to help shape NPR’s coverage of television and pop culture.” Deggans has been an excellent reporter covering the Tampa Bay media scene over the years but also could be viewed as a polarizing writer. He’s been a critic of talk radio on a number of levels as indicated in his recent book Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation (Palgrave Macmillan 2012). Photo by Carrie Pratt.
Odds & Sods. Dial Global announces it has signed an exclusive terrestrial, three-season deal with London-based talkSPORT to broadcast live coverage of Barclays Premier League, FA Cup and Capital One Cup. The partnership includes play-by-play commentary of nearly 400 soccer matches per year, in both English and Spanish….. “The Black Sphere” talk show host Kevin Jackson joins the advisory board of the Steamboat Institute, an institution that “defends freedom and advocates for liberty.” Jackson says, “Witnessing the progress of the organization first hand, I am overjoyed to be part of the advisory board and play a role in the future direction of the Steamboat Institute, an organization that will undoubtedly mold political discussions and policy in the future.”
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Update. Statewide syndicated sports talk host Bill Michaels is added to the lineup at WOZN, Madison, Wisconsin…..Kevin Jackson’s “Black Sphere Radio” show is now airing on WEZO, Augusta, Georgia…..Talk Media Network announces affiliate additions for three of its programs: “Fat Guys At The Movies with Kevin Carr & Kristin Dreyer Kramer” joins WKVL, Knoxville; “The Financial Fitness Show with Chip Cummings & Tony Rubleski” is added to WRSB, Rochester, New York; and “Frontlines of Freedom with Lt. Col. Denny Gillem” joins the lineup at WZFG, Fargo.
ObamaCare Implementation Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of July 29 – August 2. The implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the cost of the program was the top news/talk topic during the week. Following at #2 was the Anthony Weiner sexting case and the political fallout. At #3 was the 2016 presidential race followed by the Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity contracts flap at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Mark Davis Back to Talk Host Duties in Big D on Salem’s KSKY. Longtime Dallas media personality Mark Davis returns to the radio in the market on Salem Communications’ KSKY in the 7:00 am to 10:00 am time slot. Davis, a Dallas Morning News columnist and television political commentator, exited Cumulus Media’s crosstown WBAP after 18 years in April when the two sides could not agree to a contract extension. Now, Davis will follow Salem Radio Network’s Bill Bennett who airs on KSKY from 5:00 am to 7:00 am. Salem Communications vice president and director of spoken word format Phil Boyce is also re-branding KSKY “The Answer” as he’s done with KRLA, Los Angeles; KTIE, Riverside/San Bernardino; and WNYM, New York. Boyce states, “Adding an industry icon like Mark Davis, and re-branding the station as ‘The Answer’ will help take KSKY to the next level. This station will truly be an answer for so many things going on in the metroplex and the world, with smart hosts who know how to help you understand all of those things, not to mention great news, traffic, weather and information.” Davis begins his new position on Monday, June 4 and he says, “There’s been a lot of attention paid to talk radio lately, about whether companies and stations are losing the commitment to local shows where a bond can build over the years with listeners. I love seeing the evidence that there is a company and a station looking to grow, rather than shrink that concept, and I am proud to be a part of it.”
Sid Rosenberg to Return to the Air in South Florida. Mercurial sports talk host Sid Rosenberg appears headed for a new gig at James Crystal Radio’s WMEN, West Palm Beach (licensed to Royal Palm Beach) according to a recent report in the Miami Herald. Rosenberg most recently hosted the afternoon drive show at Beasley’s WQAM, Miami but exited that position after a well-publicized DUI arrest. WMEN general manager Steve Lapa tells the Herald he expects WQAM to let Rosenberg out of his contract that runs through August – in exchange for financial concessions – and allow him to start with the station sooner rather than later but that WMEN would be willing to wait if necessary. Lapa says Rosenberg is “a talented guy and he wants to work” and after meeting with him has no reservations about Rosenberg’s past issues with drink, drugs and gambling. Where Rosenberg would fit into the schedule has not been announced. The station is currently live and local from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm with Chris Perkins in AM drive, Troy Stradford in late mornings, Andy Slater in middays and Orlando Alzugaray in PM drive.
KFI, Los Angeles Engineer Tony Dinkel Exits as Position Eliminated. He was just a day shy of his 29th anniversary at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s KFI, Los Angeles when he was notified his position as transmitter site broadcast engineer was being eliminated, but Tony Dinkel has nothing but fond memories of his time with the station. The 57-year-old engineer tells the Orange County Register’s Gary Lycan he’ll always remember all the great people he worked with at the station. Dinkel also served as the remote engineer and station staffers praised Dinkel’s ability to get remote broadcasts off without a hitch. Read more about Dinkel’s time with KFI in Lycan’s column here.
Cumulus Media’s Atlanta All-Newser Debuts Today. All News 106.7 – the new news outlet Cumulus Media is putting on the air in Altanta – debuts today with a special radio documentary about the news business in Atlanta. The program will repeat for most of the day and the actual all-news format should be live and running after that. Cumulus made the decision to remove classic hits from WYAY-FM, Gainesville, Georgia more than a month ago and the station will be the first all-news outlet to serve Atlanta since WCNN back in the late 1990s.
Cox Media Drops Sports/Talk Hybrid “Bulldog 103.7”; Debuts Variety Hits Format. The FM sports and news/talk station that was home to talk-host-turned-Congressional-candidate Martha Zoller – WXKT-FM, Gainesville, Georgia (licensed to Maysville) – becomes a variety hits music station dubbed “Chuck FM.” The station morphed into “Bulldog 103.7” last fall featuring a combination of sports talk and news/talk. Gainesville-based talk host Martha Zoller held down the late morning show until her recent exit from the business to run for the open seat in the newly created Georgia congressional district.
WTOP, Washington Names “Commuter Idle” Contest Winner. Hubbard Broadcasting’s WTOP, Washington held a contest to find – and reward – the person in the DC area with the worst commute. And the winner – with a 100 mile, five-hour daily commute to and from work – is Brenda Wells from Sparrow’s Point, Maryland. WTOP states Wells’ commute “begins at 3:00 am and her commute includes a 45-minute drive (complete with two tolls), a 50-minute train ride, two metro rides, a short walk and a metro bus ride. Wells is a federal worker with the Department of State in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, where she assigns special agents to the consulates and embassies around the world. She is a single mother of three and lives with her parents in Baltimore for financial and child care reasons.” Wells wins $1,000 in gas money and a future limo ride to and from work courtesy of Reston Limousine. WTOP program director Laurie Cantillo says, “As the DC area’s #1 traffic authority, we feel our commuters’ pain. We received hundreds of incredible stories from listeners who cope with crazy commutes just to make ends meet, and crowning a ‘winner’ was a challenge. Brenda’s multi-faceted commute, the long distance, and the impact on her family are what put her over the top.”
Odds ‘n’ Sods. Legendary Southern California media personality Charlie Tuna – currently spinning classic hits at K-Earth 101 in Los Angeles – is named the new station voice of KDOC-TV, Los Angeles…..Sports USA announces the first part of the slate of National Football League games it will be offering to stations for the 2012 season beginning with the New England Patriots at the Tennessee Titans on September 9. Sports USA says it will announce more NFL play-by-play approximately three weeks ahead of each week’s games…..The Nick Carioti real estate, money and business weekly radio talk show prepares to celebrate its one-year anniversary on Star Over Orlando’s WEUS, Orlando in July…..Performance Racing Network’s Wendy Venturini made history this weekend as the first woman to lead a NASCAR radio broadcast at the Charlotte Speedway’s History 300 on 5/26. PRN paired her with Doug Rice in the radio booth for Saturday’s race.