Talk Radio Wraps Up Major Week of High-Profile Broadcasting and News Gathering. The Republican National Convention week was a busy one for the country’s news/talk stations as well as more than 100 outlets that chose to broadcast live from radio row in Tampa and many more than that sent hosts, staffers and news people to the city to cover the convention and report back to their markets. According to a report issued to TALKERS by the Republican National Committee, this year’s radio row generated some 1,551 radio interviews smashing 2008′s record of 1,263. The convention radio row is not only fertile ground upon which to produce a live broadcast with a huge pool of political experts, candidates and surrogates available as guests in one compact location, but it is also an opportunity to get some national attention as Compass Media Networks’ Todd Schnitt did on Fox News Channel (upper left photo). Talk hosts in major markets and nationally syndicated stars certainly have the ability to book big-name guests via phone but the chance to actually rub elbows with big political stars, speak with them face-to-face and chat in a “live” situation is unique to this political season. It also provides members of the talk radio community with a place and reason to meet and network in a working situation conducive to enhancing existing relationships and forging new ones. The Ernest Istook program, hosted by the former congressman and produced by WYD Media, also emanated from the convention site this week and gave Istook the opportunity to chat with U.S. Rep. and former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann (here at right).
Yankees Baseball Stays on WCBS, New York for at Least One More Season. The New York Post’s Phil Mushnick reported it earlier yesterday and CBS Radio confirms it in a release. Apparently the Yankees have rejected overtures from ESPN to join the company’s new FM-enhanced sports talk outlet WEPN for they will stay with WCBS for the 2013 season. Numerous industry watchers had expected to see a big bidding war for Yankees baseball and perhaps we’ll see that next season but if this report is correct, it’ll be another year before CBS Radio and Disney/ESPN battle it out for Yankees rights.
Bill Rehkopf Returns to KDKA, Pittsburgh. The former morning news man at CBS Radio’s KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh returns to the Steel City after being involved in the start-up of the company’s Washington, DC all-newser WNEW-FM. Rehkopf was the featured morning drive anchor at the station. Now, he’ll anchor KDKA-AM’s “KDKA Afternoon News” from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Current anchor Rose Ryan-Douglas remains with the station to work on the PM drive show. In a statement, Rehkopf says, “Working in the nation’s capital was extremely exciting and rewarding. However, my family and I have deep roots in Pittsburgh and this is a terrific opportunity at KDKA. It’s a perfect professional fit for me and works well for my family. I look forward to providing Pittsburgh with a quality program of essential news, information and entertainment to wrap up their work day.”
Reports of Mel Selling Sirius XM Shares Raises Eyebrows. In a release issued after yesterday’s closing bell, news from Sirius XM Satellite Radio that CEO Mel Karmazin will be selling an additional 30 million shares of the publicly traded company (Sirius XM SIRI) this fall has both Wall Street and radio industry observers speculating as to what it means. Considering the timing involved – Mel’s contract is up this year and major investor Liberty Media (LMCA) is closing in seeking control – there is evidence to support the educated guess that the company’s chief is heading for the door. Other possibilities include that Mel is simply cashing in his chips for a job clearly well done or that it is a maneuver to throw an obstacle in the way of Liberty taking control. The price to exercise the 30 million options shares is $0.43. This means the shares will cost Karmazin $12,900,000. If he were to sell them all at $2.50 the price would be a cool $75,000,000, delivering a profit of $62,100,000. Analyst Spencer Osbourne writes in the Seeking Alpha newsletter, “I can imagine that the news relating to an insider at Sirius XM selling 30,000,000 shares will not be well received by the market. Be prepared, because this news is going to cause some wild speculation and debate. I would not be surprised to see the stock price move down on this news. Between the Liberty cloud and now the Karmazin cloud, the uncertainty is building for Sirius XM.”
NBC Sports Radio Announces Affiliates for Next Week’s Launch. As NBC Sports Radio and partner Dial Global prepare to debut their late night and overnight sports talk radio shows and hourly sports news reports on Tuesday, September 4, the list of affiliates for the programming is being made public. The build-up to a national affiliate base with a big rollout is always a challenge and NBC is gearing up with a lot of medium and small market stations for its sports talk shows and has some major market clears on small or outlying signals. For example, The Amani & Eytan 10:00 pm to 1:00 am show will air in markets including Huntsville, Santa Barbara, Evansville and Roanoke. But it will also clear secondary signals in the Washington, DC, Denver and Charlotte markets. Both Amani & Eytan and the 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm Erik Kusilias show will be heard on WPOP, Hartford. To see where the shows will debut, click here.
Emmis Delivers Good News to Staff in the Form of Bonuses. Emmis Communications CEO Jeff Smulyan issued an e-mail memo to staffers informing them that they would be receiving cash bonuses to reward their loyalty and dedication to the company during these tough economic times. Full-time employees will be getting a $1,000 bonus while part-time staffers will each get $250.
Salem Communications to Pay Q3 Dividend. The board of directors of Salem Communications declares a dividend for the third quarter of 2012 that will pay shareholders of Class A and Class B common stock 3 and ½ cents per share. The dividend will be paid to all shareholders of record as of September 14 and will be paid on September 28.
Katie Couric’s TV Talk Show to Debut on September 10. The show, titled simply, “Katie,” will be broadcast in syndication beginning on Monday, September 10 and all media eyes will be on the television legend as she begins a new chapter in her career. She was once the most popular personality in morning talk television but Katie Couric left to take the helm of the “CBS Evening News,” a job that even her harshest critics would admit is probably beyond anyone’s ability to succeed in this day and age. But as Howard Kurtz examines in his excellent piece in the Daily Beast, the question is whether Couric’s newsy approach to issues and distant personality will grab daytime TV viewers. Couric clearly appears to be bucking the trend in what makes successful daytime talk TV but she appears determined. Read Kurtz’s piece here.
Attention Radio Sales Staffers! Your Job Was Born 90 Years Ago This Week. This week marks the 90th anniversary of the first sale of radio time. It was back in 1922 when New York radio station WEAF – owned by Bell Telephone Company – sold a 10-minute commercial to the Hawthorne Court Apartments in Jackson Heights, New York for $50. At about 5:00 pm on August 28, 1922 a pitch for the apartment complex was made to anyone who happened to be listening and the business of commercial radio was born. It didn’t take off like a rocket, as radio historians will tell you, but it certainly was the beginning of an industry. NPR produced a fantastic segment commemorating this event. Listen to the segment or read the transcript at NPR’s site here. (Photo: MTM Enterprises)
The Economy, Health Care and Foreign Policy Issues Topped the Talkers TenTM for the Week of August 27 – 31. These issues, as related to the presidential campaign and set against the backdrop of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this week, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. Coming in at #2 on this week’s chart was the RNC speeches. At #3 was the mainstream media’s coverage of the RNC and the firing of Yahoo! News bureau chief David Chalain and at #4 was Tropical Storm Isaac. The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top talk topics as discussed on news/talk radio during the week. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s chart here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. Dial Global’s Jim Bohannon and “Jill on Money” join the program lineup at WZKT, Salisbury-Ocean City, Maryland…..Benztown Radio Network morning show “The Todd N Tyler Radio Empire” hosted by Mike Tyler and Todd Brandt replaces the syndicated version of Mark & Brian at KXFM, Santa Maria/San Luis Obispo…..“Malcolm Out Loud” is added to the programming at KKYT, Ridgecrest, California.
By Richard Neer
WFAN, New York
Talk Show Host
NEW YORK — He wasn’t a talker in the sense that he hosted programs on traditional news/talk outlets. Indeed the content of most of his programs featured more music than talk. But when he did crack the mic, you couldn’t find a more intelligent voice observing pop culture than the late Pete Fornatale.
Pete got his start at WFUV-FM, the Fordham campus station and, ironically, that is where he did his final program in mid-April. In his own way, he was every bit the pioneer that radio legend Alan Freed was in exposing popular music to the masses. The difference was that while the early rock ‘n’ rollers spun “silly love songs” that you could dance to, Fornatale cared more about the lyrics, not the beat.
He was one of the first to string together songs in a meaningful fashion – the art of the segue – as it became known. There was a purpose behind every record he played. When CSNY rushed the single, “Ohio” to radio stations to protest the Kent State killings, Pete was the first to play it, indeed repeating it several times before enhancing it with his own emotional comments on the tragedy.
Peter also paved the way for talkers with unconventional voices. His own was slightly nasal with a higher pitch than the sonorous tones listeners were used to on big city radio. But in New York, that qualm quickly passed with astute listeners who were enlightened by the content of what he said. He was probably the first real musicologist on commercial radio who presented rock and folk music as an intellectual as well as emotional experience.
He wrote books, taught classes on many levels, gave lectures and hosted multimedia presentations. Unfortunately, in the early 1980s consultants took over what had been free form FM radio. They didn’t understand Peter’s appeal and lobbied to oust him from the midday shift he had occupied for so many years. When I was program director of WNEW-FM I tried to hold out as long as possible against some of the more radical changes the consultants wanted to affect. For Fornatale, my idea was a weekend program that played to his strengths, a show that was to be called “Mixed Bag,” after the Richie Havens album of the same name. He would play folk and country rock, songs with lyrics on a deeper level. When I broached the subject with him, he was excited and immediately expanded and refined my rough concept and made it his own. It became his hallmark program.
He took it with him wherever he went, from WNEW-FM to K-Rock and eventually back to WFUV-FM. He was a great interviewer and a dear friend to many artists, ranging from Garland Jeffries and Richie Furay (Poco) to Art Garfunkel. Musicians were comfortable talking to someone who truly understood and appreciated them.
Peter was always a pleasure to work with. Even if he didn’t agree with a particular direction, after expressing his views, he executed whatever he was asked with loyalty and dedication to his craft. He welcomed newcomers to the station with open arms and helpful advice. One major regret I have about writing my story of those years, FM:The Rise and Fall of Rock Radio, is that I wasn’t able to interview Pete extensively, since he was working on a similar project and wanted to be heard in his own voice. Although he’s still a prominent character, his personal recollections would have made it a better book.
But fortunately, he leaves books of his own and numerous recordings, many available at his website. Peter passed away quietly the morning of April 26, 2012, but his voice will be heard for generations to come.
Richard Neer is a sports talk host at WFAN, New York, an anchor on A Touch of Grey, and sports editor of TALKERS magazine. He can be e-mailed at email@example.com.
Return to Main News page here.
WLS, Chicago Puts Local TV News Brothers Together for Weekend Show. WLS, Chicago operations director Drew Hayes announces the debut of a new Sunday afternoon talk show co-hosted by local TV reporters Dan and Anthony Ponce. Anthony Ponce works at NBC O&O WMAQ-TV as a general assignment reporter while Dan Ponce is a general assignment reporter at Tribune’s WGN-TV. Dan also co-founded the nationally recognized a capella singing group Straight No Chaser. Together they will recap the top national and local stories and give listeners a chance to grade the media. “There’s always so much more to report beyond the time we have on TV. This is the perfect opportunity to tell the story behind the story,” says Dan. “We’re hoping to give listeners a peek into the world of Chicago journalism and hear their opinions about the week’s biggest stories and how they’re covered,” adds Anthony. Drew Hayes states, “Dan and Anthony have enormous energy, contacts and hands-on experience with Chicago’s biggest news stories which they combine with an organic sense of entertainment. More importantly, the Ponce Brothers bring an enthusiastic thirst for feedback giving WLS listeners a unique opportunity to talk back to the ‘news media.’”
CBS Radio Closes on Purchase from Family Stations Inc. Less than a week after firing up its all-news format on WNEW-FM, Washington, DC at 99.1 (licensed to Bowie, Maryland), CBS Radio closes on the station that made the format shift possible. CBS Radio bought WLWL-FM, Annapolis at 107.9 from Family Stations, Inc for a reported $8.5 million (CBS has not officially stated the purchase price) in November of last year. That allowed CBS to move its Spanish “El Zol” format to the 107.9 frequency and debut the all-news WNEW-FM on the 99.1 frequency.
Carolyn Polke Promoted to SVP of Digital at Glenn Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts. Glenn Beck’s production company, Mercury Radio Arts, announces Carolyn Polke is promoted to senior vice president of digital for the company she’s been with since 2006. She is responsible for the continued development and marketing of GBTV, GlennBeck.com and Mercury’s other e-commerce initiatives. Mercury president and COO Christopher Balfe says, “Mercury is leading the way in developing innovative digital platforms to connect with readers, viewers, and listeners around the globe. Carolyn is an incredibly talented leader and I’m thrilled to have her in charge of building and managing our most important products.” Polke works out of Mercury’s New York City headquarters.
WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange to Host Talk Show on RT Network. He’s reviled in some quarters and hailed as a hero of transparency in others and soon Australian national Julian Assange will be talking with “iconoclasts, visionaries and power insiders” on a planned 10-program series produced and aired by the former Russia Today cable channel known as RT. The network boasts a worldwide audience of 430 million people. There is no announced start date for the program but Assange is currently under house arrest in Great Britain as he fights extradition to Sweden on sex crime charges.
Urban, Female-Targeted “Café Mocha” Program Inks Ads Sales Rep Agreement with Cumulus Media Networks. The two-year-old, weekend syndicated variety program is currently heard in 20 markets across the country. It’s co-hosted by Grammy-nominated artist MC Lyte, actress/comedienne Loni Love and broadcast pro Angelique Perrin. The show was created and is produced by Sheila Eldridge who says, “It’s an exciting time for us as we grow our various brand extensions and answer the requests of our listeners to be everywhere and to go mobile. Our new ‘Café Mocha To Go’ on-demand app has been a huge success, offering listeners’ uncut content, exclusive celebrity interviews, social commentary, on-demand music mixes by MC Lyte, and inspirational messages. Our goal is to expand the on-air experience for listeners and increase our global presence!” The show is a blend of urban music, interviews with celebrities and newsmakers, conversations and advice. It’s produced by Miles Ahead Broadcasting.
Clarification. Yesterday’s piece on Santita Jackson’s program at WVON, Chicago needs a bit of clarification. According to Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder, Jackson’s late morning program has been off the station since December and she is working on developing a nationally syndicated program. Midway Broadcasting chairman and WVON GM Melody Spann Cooper tells Feder, “Santita’s goal is to have a national platform and I need some time to get over a little [financial] slump. When she rolls out on a national level, I will clear this market for her, let her use our studios and give her all the support I can give her.”
Gingrich-Romney Primary Battle, Obama State of the Union Aftermath and Euro Zone Tensions Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/25). The fierce battle between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney for votes in next week’s Florida primary, analysis of President Obama’s State of the Union Address and revived concerns about the economic stability of the Euro Zone were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Lou Dobbs Syndicated Radio Show to End in February. Word has emerged from inside sources at United Stations Radio Networks that the syndicator has sent letters to the affiliates of the Lou Dobbs Show informing them that the four-year-old program is coming to an end in February. Citing a decision reached with Dobbs by “mutual agreement,” the sources close to the program state that the veteran newsman/commentator wants to devote more of his busy schedule to his nightly program on the Fox Business Network, one of that cable operation’s top-rated shows. United Stations will also cease production and distribution of Dobbs’ syndicated short-form features but sources close to Dobbs indicate that the former CNN icon might continue that enterprise independently.
Two More Pubcasters Join iHeartRadio Platform. Popular Southern California public radio outlets KCRW-FM, Santa Monica and KUSC-FM, Los Angeles begin streaming their audio via Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s iHeartRadio app. KCRW-FM is a hybrid news, talk and music outlet while KUSC-FM is a classical station. KCRW-FM, general manager Jennifer Ferro states, “KCRW is always looking for exciting partnership opportunities knowing that even among hundreds of radio stations, what we offer is entirely unique. By combining our compelling content and iHeartRadio’s vast reach, we’re inviting a new audience to discover and engage with KCRW.” CC Digital president Brian Lekamp says, “We want to be everywhere our listeners are with a variety of programming options to appeal to the widest possible audience, and adding these public radio stations to iHeartRadio offers listeners an even more interesting and diverse listening experience.”
Missouri Authorities Consider Charges Against Man for Threatening Language on the Radio. Police in Arnold, Missouri spoke with a local man who made what could be considered threats against St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke while calling into the McGraw Milhaven show on CH Holdings’ KTRS, St. Louis. The discussion surrounded Kroenke’s announcement of Jeff Fisher as new head coach of the Rams and Kroenke’s apparent refusal to state he would not consider moving the Rams out of St. Louis. The caller reportedly stated, “I, I ain’t gonna say nothin’, but the only thing I could put into it other than jack is lead like the dude in Kirkwood. I don’t blame him a bit for what he did.” The caller was referencing the killing of six people at the Kirkwood, Missouri town hall in 2008. KTRS alerted police who’ve interviewed the man. No charges have been filed yet but prosecutors are considering charges.
Cumulus Media Erie Sports Talk Host Exits; Cites Compensation Issues. Until Friday, Mike “Chico” Boorman hosted a popular sports talk show on Cumulus Media’s WRIE, Erie – ESPN 1260. But Boorman tells the Erie Times – News that recent pay cuts and management’s unwillingness to negotiate his salary left him no option. Boorman is quoted in the paper saying, “They weren’t going to pay me what I felt I needed to continue doing what I was doing. I was making $40 a day. As I told a buddy of mine, that’s a nice name for a show on The Food Network, but it’s tough to make a living that way.” Cumulus Media Erie management declined to comment specifically on Boorman’s contract but GM Jim Riley told the paper, “We regret his decision to depart. We think we had a very popular show with him and we had a good response from listeners.”
CBS Radio Launches WNEW-FM, Washington on Sunday Afternoon. CBS Radio took the opportunity of a Sunday afternoon with bad weather approaching to launch its new all-news FM outlet in the Nation’s Capital. The company moved the hard launch from Thursday, January 19 to this morning (1/23) due to some engineering issues but opted to test the new equipment with staffers yesterday afternoon.
KOGO, San Diego Adds Lynda Martin as News Anchor. The former XETV-TV and KSWB-TV, San Diego reporter and anchor Lynda Martin becomes part of the news staff at Clear Channel’s KOGO, San Diego morning drive show hosted by Chip Franklin.
Smerconish Book Club Plays Hardball. Dial Global nationally syndicated talk host Michael Smerconish (l) interviews author and MSNBC personality Chris Matthews (r) during one of the Smerconish Book Club live events before some 1,000 attendees at the Scottish Rite Auditorium in Collingswood, New Jersey on January 19. The event, in which Smerconish interviewed Matthews about his recent book Jack Kennedy, Elusive Hero (Simon & Schuster 2011) was co-presented by affiliate WPHT, Philadelphia.
Radio Rows Have Talk Hosts Focused on Hot-Button Issues. Talk show hosts from around the nation converged on South Carolina prior to the state’s primary election on Saturday for a two-day radio row organized by Talk Radio News Service and SupportPopularVote.com. In South Carolina, talk hosts including Talk Radio Network’s Rusty Humphries, Radio America’s Rodger Hedgecock, Nashville-based talk host Steve Gill, Clear Channel Texas host Michael Berry, North Dakota-based talker Scott Hennen and others brought the primary race and 2012 presidential election issues home to their listeners through interviews with people such as former senator and presidential candidate Fred Thompson, tax policy expert Grover Norquist, former candidate Herman Cain and GOP candidate Rick Santorum. Earlier in the week, more than 20 talk show hosts from around the country took part in the Families USA Radio Row in Washington, DC from the organization’s Health Action Conference. Hosts including Dial Global’s Thom Hartmann; WWRL, New York’s Mark Riley; “America Tonight” host Kate Delaney; independently syndicated Leslie Marshall; nationally syndicated “Good Day” host Doug Stephan; and nationally syndicated host Carole Marks from “A Touch of Grey” talked health care issues. The event offered radio hosts a unique opportunity to interview key administration officials, numerous members of Congress, health care advocates from across the country, and leaders within the progressive community while broadcasting live from Families USA’s Health Action Conference.
Clear Channel Forges into Future of Entertainment; Names John Sykes President of Entertainment Enterprises. If there comes a time in the future when radio companies are forced to address why their business plans failed as technology and media tastes were changing all around them, for Clear Channel it certainly won’t be for lack of trying to use its enormous radio station base from which to move forward. On the heels of last week’s announcement of the name change – jettisoning the “radio” part and tacking “media” and “entertainment” onto its name – the company announces it is bringing entertainment pro John Sykes aboard to serve as president of entertainment enterprises. In announcing the hire, CC states, “Sykes will use the unparalleled assets of Clear Channel – including its 238 million monthly broadcast radio listeners, the 141 million people it reaches with Outdoor in the United States and the 374 million internationally, as well as the more than 75 million monthly listening hours for its digital properties – to develop new businesses for the company across a range of media, including television and live events, as well as create value for Clear Channel advertisers and key partners.” Sykes has served as president of VH1, president of network development for MTV, CEO of the old Infinity Broadcasting, president of Champion Entertainment, president of Chrysalis Records, and an agent for Creative Artists Agency. Most recently he was with the private equity firm Pilot Group – the connection to Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman. Pittman says of Sykes, “John’s experience and relationships in so many sectors of the entertainment and media business make him the perfect choice to lead this new initiative.” Clear Channel doesn’t have a lot of time. It has some $20 billion in debt hanging around its neck that comes due in chunks over the next four years and the pace at which media and technology is changing is faster than anyone can anticipate – including those new-tech operators who say they’re ahead of the game. But, in so many words, Clear Channel is making the statement it is bound and determined to use its large base of radio listeners to build something that will exist – and hopefully make money – in the future. And bringing in connected players from outside the traditional radio business could be the strategy that helps it survive.
CBS Radio Detroit Brings Bob Wojnowski and Jamie Samuelsen Back to the Airwaves on “The Ticket.” Detroit sports media pros Bob “Wojo” Wojnowski and Jamie Samuelsen are being paired up for a 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm show on WXYT-FM “The Ticket.” Both have worked on sports talk radio in the market previously on Clear Channel’s WDFN. WXYT-FM program director Jimmy Powers says, “We are extremely pleased to have Jamie and Wojo join our line-up. They are a natural fit. They have been dialed into the Detroit sports scene for many years, giving fans information on their favorite teams. Jamie and Wojo will continue to entertain listeners on their way home from work or to the stadium.” Wojnowski is also currently a columnist for the Detroit News and Samuelson is a regular blogger for the Detroit Free Press.
KMBZ, Kansas City Makes PM Drive Changes. Mike Shanin leaves his role on the “Shanin and Parks” afternoon show at Entercom’s KMBZ, Kansas City and takes the business editor role at the station. The station says it will continue to rely on Shanin’s “expertise and knowledge for political commentary.” Filling his seat alongside Scott Parks is KCTV-TV investigative reporter Dana Wright. She says of her new radio role, “This is really a dream opportunity for me. Journalism is my passion and I look forward to this exciting new step in my career.”
When Radio Was Insanely Fun. Beleaguered by the contemporary world of corporate radio? Pining for the days when radio stations were inhabited by creative and (quite possibly) unstable personalities? Talk radio host, WPIX-TV, New York commentator and LionelMedia.com “podcast titan” Lionel re-lives a bit of crazy radio history from his uniquely skewed perspective and personal experience. Prepare to laugh your tuchus off and click here.
CBS Radio’s WNEW-FM, Washington Launch Delayed. Various trade and consumer reports indicate the launch of CBS Radio’s new all-newser in Washington, DC will be Monday, January 23 and not tomorrow as had been planned. The cause is being reported as engineering issues related to the new studios.
Red Zebra’s WTEM, Washington, DC Adds College Hoops Expert. ESPN 980 (WTEM) announces former University of Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams joins the station to serve as its college basketball insider. Williams takes the temporary post through the NCAA finals during which he’ll join the station’s “Sports Fix” with Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro and “The Sports Reporters” with Andy Pollin and Steve Czaban for weekly college basketball reports. PD Chuck Sapienza says, “Adding Gary to our team solidifies our dominance in the area of college basketball coverage. He is ‘must listen-to radio’ and adding his expertise on the entire sport of college hoops is a big win for ESPN 980’s listeners.”
ESPN Audio Re-Aligns Management. At ESPN, Jim Roberts moves from his senior director, affiliate sales to senior director, Deportes local radio group. He’ll continue to lead the Deportes Dallas Radio station and in addition be responsible for the on-going relationship with all Deportes Radio affiliates. Patrick Polking, senior director audio national accounts, will transition to senior director II, distribution and business development. Polking will oversee the development and execution of strategies to further monetize ESPN Audio’s products. The company also says that because of the growth in usage of ESPN Audio properties, Scott Masteller, senior director II, radio content, will collaborate with Dave Austin, who was recently promoted to manager, ESPN Digital Audio Group, to ensure ESPN Audio is aligned in the production of its digital audio.
GOP Primary Race, Internet Anti-Piracy Bills, European Debt Crisis and Italian Cruise Disaster Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/17). The battle to win the GOP presidential primary race, the internet anti-piracy bills being debated in Washington, the continuing European debt problems and the Italian cruise ship disaster were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Clear Channel Drops the “Radio”; Becomes Clear Channel Media and Entertainment. Clear Channel Media Holdings chief executive officer Bob Pittman announces the “radio division” of the company is changing its name to Clear Channel Media and Entertainment to reflect its mission to deliver content via means beyond just terrestrial radio. “Over the last few years, I’ve watched as Clear Channel Radio has pushed beyond the traditional boundaries of radio to reach more Americans every month than any other media company through an unmatched combination of broadcast, satellite, online and mobile assets,” states Pittman. “Under John Hogan’s continued strong leadership, the new Clear Channel Media and Entertainment brand underscores that we are taking our brands and content wherever our listeners expect to find it. And, in the future, as new places emerge where people want to access our powerful brands and content, we’ll be there, too.” At the center of Clear Channel’s initiatives to move beyond radio station transmitters is the iHeartRadio website and app that delivers audio from its O&O radio stations of all formats, offers user-customizable stations plus audio from Cumulus Media, and soon, Greater Media radio stations as well. The company is clearly putting forth the iHeartRadio internet site and mobile and tablet application as its primary weapon in the battle for ears being waged by Pandora, Slacker, Spotify and others. John Hogan states, “Radio is both our history and the foundation upon which we will grow our company moving forward. That will not change. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment represents our evolution as we prove our relationship with our listeners is so much more than just our transmitters and towers. We will continue to serve our increasingly diverse audiences and local communities with the best content – music, news, emergency information, and public service – wherever they expect it, while supporting advertisers, strategic partners, music labels and artists with creative, multi-platform marketing opportunities that reach, activate and engage target audiences like no one else.” It clearly appears that this move on the part of the largest owner/operator of terrestrial radio station licenses crystallizes the reality of TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison‘s forecast originally published in 2007 that the entity known as the “radio station” would evolve into something more aptly described as the “media station” — a multi-tiered broadcasting entity the ranks of which are comprised of both licensed and unlicensed outlets operating on the even playing field of the internet. According to Harrison, “Hogan’s statement that ‘radio is both our history and the foundation upon which we will grow our company moving forward’ is quite revealing and says it all… basically that a ‘radio’ station that defines itself as being just that — a ‘radio’ station – is behind the times. An audio-only media brand in this new era is as incomplete as a newspaper without photographs or a motion picture without sound and as limited in its accessibility as the old yellow pages.” Harrison goes on to comment, “Stick owners should beware of this inevitable development. Although strategic use of the internet and digital distribution expands the radio station’s brand and evolves it into the media station, it also serves as a catalyst for non-licensed media stations to share the same space and compete for the same audience while unencumbered by the debt of stick ownership.”
Boston Herald Blasts Entercom Chief David Field’s Memo. This is one of those motivational missives that some will think is right on and others will shake their heads at, but the Boston Herald’s Jessica Heslam pulls no punches in criticizing a memo from Entercom CEO David Field in which he uses his recent African safari vacation as a backdrop and the animal kingdom as a metaphor for the working world. Field writes about the need for all employees – including himself – to bring their “A-game” to work because the tough business world is a survival-of-the-fittest place just like the African savannah he witnessed on his trip. He alludes to American society as pampering us and not always holding us accountable as the wild of Africa does to its inhabitants. He beckons the reader to strive for greatness at every moment of each workday generously stating his belief in everyone’s “untapped potential.” Critics of this memo will point to Field’s elitist use of a transcontinental holiday as the basis of his memo, an unwitting comparison of his employees as animals, the assumption that they are not “giving it their all” in the first place, and that they are quick to blame others for any lack of success. Some might go so far as to point to Field’s naiveté in needing to witness the wild close up to be reminded that life and the business world are both challenging and unforgiving. Still, supporters of Field’s action will state that he’s only trying to point out that harnessing our talents and pushing ourselves to succeed is what makes great companies great, and that whining about tough circumstances will achieve nothing. Heslam’s criticism could also cause managers and employees alike to debate – either internally or out loud – whether this type of motivational memo is truly effective. How do the majority of employees see it? As a thought-provoking pep talk…or an insulting memo from “corporate?” See Heslam’s story and the entire memo here.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to Impact Talk Radio Conversation. Most Federal holidays cause slow-downs in the normal processes of running live radio in the form of fill-in hosts, repeats and a diversion from the serious issues of the day. However, MLK, Jr. Day has a history of doing just the opposite. Although Federal agencies and a number of private business offices close today – it is even more than “business as usual” on the radio talk show airwaves of America as the holiday inspires discussion of a wide variety of compelling issues including civil rights, social justice, race relations and more.
Former New Jersey 101.5 Host Tommy G Launches Internet Show. As a growing number of terrestrial broadcasters who find themselves off the air are doing, former WKXW-FM, Trenton overnight host Tommy G (Tom Gordon) is taking his talk host talents to the internet. Gordon says he wants to cut out the “middleman” and bring his programming straight to the listener digitally. In an exclusive piece for TALKERS magazine, Tommy G explains his mission and how he’s making it happen. Read it here.
Merlin Media CEO Randy Michaels Beats OVI Rap. Media executive Randy Michaels pled guilty to driving improperly in a construction zone and the prosecutor agreed to drop the charge of operating a vehicle while impaired after Michaels’ attorney Steve Adams argued successfully that the officer had filled out the citation incorrectly and failed to fix it within the allotted 90-day period. Michaels was charged in October of 2011 after Middletown, Ohio police found his car disabled in a road construction area during a rain storm. The officer recorded that Michaels smelled of alcohol and failed roadside sobriety tests although he declined to take a breathalyzer.
Talk Radio Network Names Dave Nourie National Affiliate Consultant. TRN CEO Mark Masters makes the announcement that Dave Nourie is joining his team to grow Talk Radio Network programs that include Michael Savage, Laura Ingraham, Rusty Humphries, Jerry Doyle, Phil Hendrie, Mancow and the America’s Radio News Network news blocks. “We are all very happy to have Dave join the Talk Radio Network family of companies, with the incredible growth of the news network, we needed someone with his skills and expertise to help serve our ever-growing list of affiliated stations.”
KOA, Denver Talk Host Dave Logan Loses High School Football Coaching Job. The former Denver Broncos great and current Broncos radio play-by-play voice and PM drive host on Clear Channel’s KOA, Denver is out of his football coaching gig after independent Catholic high school Mullen High chose to take a different road. It wasn’t for lack of victories or Dave Logan’s popularity with the students and team – in nine years at Mullen, Logan’s teams won four state titles with a record of 110 – 12. School CEO Ryan Clement tells the Denver Post that the issue was Logan’s celebrity combined with the school’s desire to have a full-time staff member serve as coach. Logan worked the gig with no pay. But the Post reports Clement said Logan “had become the face of the school and that’s not what the new administration wanted, especially from someone who didn’t work at the school full time.” Some students protested the firing and the paper notes Logan may surface to coach somewhere else as other schools are already seeking to talk to him about coaching.
Newsman Kevin Patrick Leaves Chicago for Washington, DC. Chicago Radio and Media is reporting that Kevin Patrick is leaving Merlin Media’s WIQI-FM, Chicago – FM News 101.1 – to take a position with CBS Radio’s new all-news outlet WNEW-FM, Washington. Though the move hasn’t been officially announced by either CBS or Merlin, the site reports WIQI-FM overnight anchor Mike Wilson will move onto the daytime schedule to fill Patrick’s role. It’s unclear exactly what Patrick’s new position at WNEW-FM will be.
Arizona Broadcasters Hold Two-Hour Tribute to Bill Heywood. A little more than two weeks after Phoenix-market radio legend Bill Heywood and his wife Susan took their lives in a Scottsdale hotel room, numerous Arizona broadcasters who knew and worked with Heywood took part in a two-hour tribute broadcast to him on Bonneville’s KTAR-FM, Phoenix. Hosts and jocks taking part in the Friday afternoon broadcast included: Pat McMahon, Preston Westmoreland, Bruce Kelly, Tim Hattrick, Jeff Scott and Michael Dixon. Susan Heywood had been ill for some time and friends say the couple had been beset by financial troubles. A memorial service was held on Saturday for Heywood and his wife.
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.