Report: Laura Ingraham Considering Run for Virginia Senate Seat. According to a report in the Washington Examiner, talk show host – and Trump adviser – Laura Ingraham is seriously debating whether to throw her hat into the ring for a run for the Virginia U.S. Senate seat currently held by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 running mate, Tim Kaine. The Examiner’s Paul Bedard writes that “several party insiders have approached the media giant to run and that she is considering it. In preparation for a bid, her business partner, Peter Anthony, has begun buying website domains for Ingraham to use should she decide to move forward. It includes: ingrahamsenate.net, ingrahamsenate.com, ingrahamforvirginia.com and ingraham2018.com.” The story also notes that Virginia U.S. Representatives Barbara Comstock and Dave Brat – both Republicans – are considering challenging Kaine. See the Examiner story here.
iHeartMedia Execs Nab Big Bonuses. These bonuses – approved last Tuesday by the iHeartMedia board of directors – are retention bonuses. Here’s what the board approved: chairman and CEO Bob Pittman gets $1.75 million; COO and CFO Rich Bressler gets the same; and SVP of corporate finance Steven Macri is awarded $750,000. Because they are retention bonuses, the three must remain employed by the company for two years after the effective date of January 12, 2017 or they must repay 100% of the after-tax value of the bonus. If either is terminated without cause, leaves for a “good reason,” or due to death or disability before the first anniversary of the effective date, they must pay back 50% of the after-tax value. Additionally, the board of directors approved the 2017 Key Employee Incentive Plan in which Pittman and Bressler can earn bonuses of up to $7,000,000 and $3,000,000 respectively during the year for hitting quarterly performance goals set by the compensation committee of the board of directors.
Cumulus Media’s Mary Berner Pockets $1 Million-plus Bonus. Unlike the retention bonuses paid to iHeartMedia’s Bob Pittman and others (see story above), this payment to Cumulus Media president and CEO Mary Berner is a “one-time discretionary cash incentive compensation award” of $1,087,500 for “her exceptional efforts and contributions during 2016, both individually and as a member of the management leadership team, in the initial phase of the company’s operational turnaround plan and ongoing operational and financial restructuring.” The board of directors notes that this award is in lieu of any award she may have received under its annual incentive plan for 2016.
Charlie Sykes to Take Part in Public Radio Show. The Milwaukee radio icon retired from E.W. Scripps’ WTMJ at the end of 2016 after a 23-year career with the news/talk station. Now, Charlie Sykes is part of a new, national call-in talk show being produced in what is a cooperative venture by WNYC, New York, Minnesota Public Radio and The Economist. According to a story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sykes will be one of four co-hosts of the program titled, “Indivisible.” The other hosts are: WNYC’s Brian Lehrer, The Nation features editor Kai Wright, and MPR’s personality Kerri Miller. Sykes will not be heard on the radio in his home market because his non-compete prevents local pubcaster WUWM from airing the show. Under the terms of Sykes’ deal with WTMJ, any radio show on which Sykes appears during the term of the non-compete must air on WTMJ. The station asked to air the new show but NPR is not giving consent.
Will Talk Show Hosts Get Access to Trump Press Conferences? On Sunday (1/15), Trump Administration Press Secretary Sean Spicer told FOX News that the president-elect is considering moving press briefings to a larger location due to “off-the-charts” interest in the new administration. Spicer said, “There’s a lot of talk radio and bloggers and people that can’t fit in right now and maybe don’t have a permanency because they’re not part of the Washington elite media, but to allow them an opportunity to ask the press secretary or the president a question is a positive thing. It’s more democratic.” The Brady press room (pictured) in the West Wing only holds 49 people. However, the White House Correspondents’ Association is concerned about the move, in part because it fears the media could be moved from the press work space behind the Brady press room, according to a statement from WHCA president Jeff Mason. He says that space is important because it is close to West Wing staffers whom the press rely on for news. Spicer says he’ll work with the WHCA on any changes.
Trump Inauguration Protests, ObamaCare Replacement Plans, U.S.-Russia Relations, Orlando Cop Killer Search, Davos Economic Forum, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Ringling Brothers Circus to Close, and NFL Playoffs Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The planned protests and Democratic members of Congress planning to skip Donald Trump’s Inauguration on Friday; the GOP’s plans to replace the Affordable Care Act; the relationship between Vladimir Putin’s Russia and the United States with Trump set to take office; the search for the man police believe killed Orlando police officer Debra Clayton; this week’s meeting of world leaders at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland; today’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday; Ringling Brothers’ decision to shutter the 146-year-old circus; and the NFL playoff games were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend.
Odds & Sods. Nationally syndicated “Free Talk Live” with Ian Freeman and Mark Edge adds new affiliates to its roster, including: WNIX-AM/FM, Greeneville, Mississippi; KLKS-FM, Brainerd, Minnesota; KHMO-AM, Hannibal, Missouri; and WBNW, Concord/Boston…..Teenage conservative talk show host Caiden Cowger announces his show is added to the program schedule at Kol Ami Havurah-owned WDUQ-LPFM, Benwood, West Virginia “Beautiful Music 99.1.” This is the fourth affiliate station for Cowger’s program. The one-hour show airs evenings at 9:00 pm…..In the San Antonio market, Cox Media Group drops the sports talk programming on KONO-AM after three years as a CBS Sports Radio affiliate and is now airing an oldies format.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. In San Diego, air personality Sam Bass moves from middays to weekends on hot AC KYXY for personal reasons. Moving into his slot on the CBS RADIO station is Joe Rosati, who slides over from sister CHR KEGY “Energy 103.7.” Program director Chris Patyk promotes evening personality Alexia Gloria to middays on KEGY to fill Rosati’s old slot…..There are a few promotions to report at the Nashville operations of Midwest Communications. First, Barbara Bridges – currently adult contemporary WJXA brand manager – is upped to operations manager for the entire cluster. Second, afternoon drive host Joe Breezy is adding brand manager duties to his work at CHR WNFN “i106.7.” Finally, WNFN midday personality Butter Harper takes on assistant brand manager responsibilities for the station…..Chad Valentine exits iHeartMedia’s CHR WHYI, Miami “Y100” as the result of his position being eliminated. He was assistant program director and music director there…..Alexa Smith exits her role as program director at Sierra H Broadcasting’s hip hop KNRJ, Cordes Lakes, Arizona and rhythmic oldies KAJM, Camp Verde, Arizona after three months in the position. Prior to that, she’d been APD at CBS RADIO’s rhythmic AC KTWV, Los Angeles “94.7 The Wave.”
National Radio Hall of Fame Voting Starts Today. After a five-year hiatus, listeners again have the opportunity to participate in selecting National Radio Hall of Fame inductees. For the next two weeks (through Wednesday, 8/26), voters can text 36500 with their one vote for the four nominees (each) in the “Music Format On-Air Personality” and “Spoken Word On-Air Personality” categories. National Radio Hall of Fame chair Kraig Kitchin declares, “These eight personalities are beloved by their listeners. Giving the audience an opportunity to participate in the process of acknowledging their favorite hosts for their contributions over the years just makes sense.” Nominees and text info for the “Music Format On-Air Personality” are Delilah (text “DELILAH” to 36500); Elvis Duran (text “ELVIS” to 36500); Steve Harvey (text “STEVE” to 36500); and Ryan Seacrest (text “RYAN” to 36500). Nominees and text info for the “Spoken Word On-Air Personality” are Sean Hannity (text “HANNITY” to 36500); Clark Howard (text “CLARK” to 36500); Jim Rome (text “ROME” to 36500); and Dr. Laura Schlessinger (text “DR. LAURA” to 36500). Listener-chosen winners will be announced at the end of this month (8/31), and we cannot forget that all-important fine print that “message and data rates may apply.” In addition to the two listener-voting categories, four categories are being voted on by a panel of 400 industry professionals. The induction ceremony takes place November 5 at the Museum of Broadcast and Communications in downtown Chicago.
IAB Gears Up For Debut Podcast Upfront Showcase. The one-day marketplace for advertisers and media buyers to preview podcast programming will be held next month (9/10) in New York City. Scheduled to present at Interactive Advertising Bureau‘s inaugural podcast upfront showcase include representatives from AdLarge Media, Midroll, NPR, Panoply, Podtrac, and WNYC. Industry Initiatives, IAB vice president Carl Kalapesi explains, “More and more advertisers are incorporating audio programming into their digital marketing strategies. The individual and intimate listening experience enjoyed by podcast listeners provides a unique vehicle for brands to connect with consumers. IAB is excited to bring so many digital audio leaders together to discuss their upcoming programming and the wide array of advertising opportunities available through podcasts.” Invited executives will get to preview content developments from each presenting company in 20-minute segments.
Cassell (Posthumously) Wins SCBA Radio Personality of the Year Award. The “State Television And Radio” (STAR) awards of the South Carolina Broadcasting Association honor “exceptional accomplishments of the state’s stations and their broadcast professionals.” Entercom-owned talk WYRD-FM, Greenville-Spartanburg host Russ Cassell (left), who passed away last year, won the “Radio Personality of the Year” award. Entercom market vice president and general manager Steve Sinicropi declares, “The broadcasting legacy of Russ Cassell lives on; our entire team is grateful for the SCBA recognizing Russ with this important award.” The cluster’s production director Stan Fisher received STAR recognition for best production-multi spot campaign on rock WTPT “93.3 The Planet” for local attorney Rob Ianuario. In the station’s first year in the format, WYRD-AM “ESPN Upstate” sports broadcaster Greg McKinney was recognized with a “Sportscaster of the Year award of merit at the event, which was held in Columbia, South Carolina over the weekend.
McCollim Heads to Colorado Springs as iHeartMedia’s Senior VP/Programming. Transferring from Spokane where he programmed iHeartMedia talker KQNT and KKZX “The Classic Rock Station,” Jason McCollim is appointed senior vice president of programming for the company’s Colorado Springs and Pueblo stations. Senior vice president of programming/regional markets Tony Coles states, “McCollim is one of our rising stars. He has done an incredible job for us in Spokane. His leadership skills and passion for programming will allow him to ramp up quickly and build immediate relationships with the programming and sales teams.” Colorado-Pueblo market president Darci Ewell comments, “Jason’s proven track record in Spokane and his versatile experience will make him an incredible asset to the Colorado Springs-Pueblo cluster. Jason brings a high level of energy and creativity that will greatly benefit our team.” McCollim remarks, “I am very excited about working with the fantastic iHeartMedia team in both Colorado Springs and Pueblo; thanks to Tony Coles and Darci Ewell for the opportunity to work in one of the most beautiful parts of our country.” McCollim spent more than 14 years at KQNT and KKZX; he is vice president of the Inland Empire Bloodhounds Search & Rescue. The Colorado Springs stations he will oversee are rhythmic CHR KIBT “The Beat”; hot AC KVUU “My-99.9”; adult contemporary KKLI “Sunny 106.3”; country KCCY “Y-96.9; and classic rock KDZA “Z-107.9.” The three Pueblo facilities are classic hits KPHT; KCCY “Fox Sports 1350″; and talk KCSJ.
Rdio Debuts Live Broadcast Radio. The global music streaming service begins with nearly 500 U.S. stations. Listeners can mark songs they like as a favorite, share the song, start a custom station based on the song or view more music by the artist. Paying subscribers to Rdio’s $3.99 and $9.99 plans can download songs for unlimited listening, add it to a custom playlist, listen to related songs from that artist or recently played songs on that station as often as they want. Rdio chief executive officer Anthony Bay comments, “We are committed to providing Rdio customers around the world with easy access to the audio content they want to hear through innovative features that enhance listening. Broadcast radio brands and talent continue to be the dominant tastemakers in music, so integrating live broadcast radio into Rdio’s critically acclaimed customer experience is an exciting development that we are thrilled to introduce.” Through a September 2013 partnership with Cumulus Media, Rdio has access to Cumulus’ programming and is promoted on Cumulus stations. Cumulus Media chief executive officer Lew Dickey states, “Bringing our national platform of stations to Rdio allows us to instantly create broader access for our listeners and new opportunities for advertisers to reach their target audiences. The combination of our premier broadcast assets with Rdio’s acclaimed user experience and music discovery features creates a full-service listening experience that is unparalleled.” In addition to music, live broadcast programming includes sports content from local stations as well as through Cumulus Media’s Westwood One. Featured stations include Cumulus Media-owned country WNSH, New York; rock KLOS, Los Angeles; triple-A KFOG, San Francisco; urban-rhythmic oldies WRWM, Indianapolis; and country WSM-FM, Nashville. Additional stations will launch later this year.
WOWO Producing 90-Year Retrospective. The Fort Wayne (Indiana) talk outlet is observing its 90th anniversary and – appropriately enough – is putting together a 90-minute documentary. Station executives are in the process of gathering interviews from former employees for the special, which will cover WOWO’s impact and reach. In addition to audio samples of historic and comical moments, Bob Sievers, Jack Underwood, Jay Gould, and Bob Chase are among those who will be featured. Program director Ryan Wrecker (Wrecker@WOWO.com) is seeking station memorabilia that can be displayed during the ongoing celebration, as well as memories past staffers or listeners would like to share. Those contributing will receive a preview edition of the special, which is scheduled to air on Federated Media-owned WOWO (Thursday) November 19.
KNX Schedules Second Annual Blood Drive. In light of the fact that blood donations typically dip during summer months, KNX, Los Angeles is joining the American Red Cross for the CBS Radio all-news outlet’s second annual blood drive. The five-day event at participating Red Cross blood centers starts two weeks from Saturday (8/29) and concludes the following Wednesday (9/2). CBS Radio vice president/Los Angeles market manager Dan Kearney comments, “KNX is proud to team up with the Red Cross once again as we expand our blood drive effort. We know summer is a challenging time for people to think about donating blood, and we hope to raise awareness so our listeners will lend their support and help the Red Cross maintain a safe and stable blood supply.” American Red Cross Southern California blood services external communications manager Tony Briggs notes that although many donors stepped up to give following a pressing call issued earlier this month, “The American Red Cross continues to have an urgent need for blood donors of all blood types to give before Labor Day.” Last year’s inaugural two-day KNX blood drive produced 834 pints of blood, which helped 2,502 patients. Greater Los Angeles/Southern California donation locations include Arcadia, Glendale, Santa Monica, Claremont, Downey, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Granada Hills, Los Angeles, Laguna Hills, Long Beach, Pasadena, Pomona, Rancho Cucamonga, Santa Ana, Santa Clarita, Thousand Oaks, Torrance, West Covina, Woodland Hills, and Yorba Linda. As an incentive (and while supplies last), blood drive sponsor – The Southern California Gas Company – will give blood donors a KNX emergency preparedness guide; two tickets to Hollywood’s Laugh Factory; a ticket to Madame Tussauds Hollywood; and a sample of Hawaiian Host chocolates.
Maranville Departs USA Radio Networks. One-year USA Radio Networks chief content officer-director of channel development Tim Maranville exits. He expresses thanks to “everyone at USA for all the hard work, especially show hosts Steve Deace, Kevin Jackson, Steve Noble, Jim Sharpe, Joe Messina, Chris and Emilee, Angie Austin, and Tony Perkins. The future is bright and I hope to have one, maybe two, announcements about my next contribution to the planet by mid-September.” Maranville joined USA after a nearly six-year run as vice president of programming at Westwood One. He previously was vice president and director of operations of the Denver Radio Company; vice president and director of operations of Sun City Communications; director of operations at KFRC, San Francisco; and director of operations of Phoenix stations KMLE, KOOL, and KZON. In addition, he owns/operates Mutations Media and he co-owns The Show Must Go On, an independent syndication consulting and affiliation company.
Donald Trump Continued to be the Second Most Talked About Person on News/Talk Radio Yesterday — a VERY close second to Barack Obama (8/11). Top topics include the Presidential Race, the Iran Nukes Deal, Immigration Reform and the Chinese Economy. According to TALKERS research, fallout from last week’s audience record-breaking GOP debate on Fox News Channel continues to dominate conversation on news/talk radio across America and people (and the media) remain fixated on Donald Trump. Other hot topics include the presidential election in general, Hillary Clinton’s email controversy and the global economic impact of China’s devaluation of its currency.
Special to TALKERS magazine
By Larry Gifford
MILAN — Milan, Italy may seem distant and irrelevant as you sit behind your desk in New York, Columbus, Atlanta, Houston, Santé Fe, Bakersfield, or wherever you are. But, the messages being delivered at Radiodays Europe 2015 could not be any closer to home or more relevant.
“What I find fascinating here is there is a lot of conversations about the future.” iHeartMedia’s VP of Talent Development Dennis Clark said. “I’m really thrilled with people engaged into the ‘what’s next?’ instead of more congratulatory and celebratory, you know the pat-on-the-back sort of radio conventions that we’ve seen in the past.”
Los Angeles Regional Talk Seminar Set For Thursday. It is being described as “a new kind of industry gathering” — accessible, short and free (including breakfast and lunch) with a power-packed line up of speakers and agenda that could rival the largest of national conferences. Set for Thursday, October 20th between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm, the one-day event, being presented by TALKERS in association with the Los Angeles Press Club, promises to bring together a diverse variety of factions, formats and companies comprising the Southern California talk radio community and tackle a number of the hottest issues facing the industry today. Filled to capacity within two weeks of being announced, the event will feature 30 leading industry speakers including solo presentations by the legendary Larry King of CNN; Westwood One founder Norm Pattiz of Courtside Entertainment; Don Barrett of LARadio.com; consultant Holland Cooke of McVay/Cook Media; and a special guest appearance by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The keynote speaker is KFI morning titan Bill Handel. Eight major Southern California talk radio station programmers will be on panels including Cliff Albert of KOGO, San Diego; Robin Bertolucci of KFI, Los Angeles; Skip Essick of KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno; Don Martin of KLAC, Los Angeles and Fox Sports Radio; John McMullen of Dessert Radio Group, Palm Springs; Jack Silver of KABC, Los Angeles; David Sniff of KFMB, San Diego; and Chuck Tyler of KRLA/KKLA, Los Angeles. Some of the radio personalities speaking will include Andy Dean of Premiere Networks; LaFern Cusack of SCBA and ESPN, Los Angeles; Charles Feldman of KNX, Los Angeles; Roger Hedgecock of KOGO, San Diego and Radio America; Tom Leykis of the New Normal; Stephanie Miller of KTLK, Los Angeles and Dial Global; Doug McIntyre of KABC, Los Angeles and Cumulus Media; Patt Morrison of KPCC-FM, Los Angeles and Southern California Public Radio; John Phillips of KABC, Los Angeles; Josefa Salinas of Hot 92.3 FM, Los Angeles and Doug Stephan of Stephan Multimedia. Rounding out the line-up of presenters and moderators are Jason Insalaco of KFI, Los Angeles; Bill Moran of Bill Moran and Associates; and Kevin Casey, Mike Kinosian and Michael Harrison of TALKERS. There will be displays of the latest remote broadcasting equipment by Comrex Corporation and the latest radios by C. Crane Company. Although the event has reached maximum registration capacity there will be ample opportunity for broadcasters around the country to see and hear much of the event’s activities in the form of stories, photos and videos at Talkers.com shortly after the event. For the complete LARTF agenda, click here.
Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio to Distribute WNYC, New York Programs. Hot on the heels of the launch of its new iHeartRadio, Clear Channel announces it will begin making three of the more popular public radio talk programs from WNYC, New York available to users of the mobile phone app. “WNYC News and Conversation” will feature “The Brian Lehrer Show,” “The Leonard Lopate Show” and the WNYC-Public Radio International production “The Takeaway.” New York Public Radio vice president and chief digital officer Thomas Hjelm says, “We are delighted that Clear Channel will offer a selection of programming from WNYC on iHeartRadio. We are committed to making our programming available to the widest possible audience. Given iHeartRadio’s affinity with talk radio fans, it is an effective platform to extend the reach of our programming among news/talk listeners across the country.”
Sean Hannity Announces Holiday Concert Series to Benefit Troops. Premiere Networks and Fox News Channel superstar Sean Hannity is hosting an exclusive four-city concert series to benefit the Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund. “Sean Hannity’s Holiday Concert Salute to the Troops” includes three-time Grammy winner Michael W. Smith, Oliver North and John Ondrasik of the group Five for Fighting, and more. Concerts will take place at New York City’s famed Hammerstein Ballroom on November 27; Pittsburgh’s Byham Theater on December 2; Washington, D.C.’s Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill on December 3; and Atlanta’s Cobb Energy Centre on December 18. Hannity says, “At this time of year it is so important that we not only recognize the sacrifices the men and women of our Armed Forces make, but we also take time out to honor them and pay tribute to the freedoms we’ve been given through their service to our country. These concerts are a great avenue for us to be able to come together as families, enjoy the holiday season and celebrate our troops. I’m honored to have some extremely talented friends join me on stage for what is sure to be a series of very special nights honoring some very special people.” The concert series is being produced by Townsquare Media and benefits Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund which goes to the education of children of U.S. service members who have been killed or permanently disabled in an operational mission or training accident.
Chicago Legend Steve Dahl Returns to Windy City Airwaves on WJJG. Since exiting CBS Radio’s WJMK-FM, Chicago, Steve Dahl has been producing podcasts available at his own dahl.com website. Now, the “Dahlcast” will be part of the lineup at WJJG, Chicago. WJJG general manager Matt Dubiel says, “Steve Dahl is a radio genius and I couldn’t be more pleased to be working with him and his team. This is a huge victory for Chicago radio listeners. These are Steve’s listeners. I’d be delighted if 1530 WJJG reacquaints Dahl fans with Steve and perhaps introduces new fans. That’s what radio is supposed to do! And if you like Steve on 1530, you’ll LOVE getting the Dahlcast Daily.” WJJG recently added Talk Radio Network’s Michael Savage and Mancow to its daily program schedule.
WBAL, Baltimore Midday Host Rom Smith Has Cancer. Ron Smith announced to his listeners today (10/17) that he went to the doctor after experiencing abdominal pain about two weeks ago and tests revealed a tumor on his pancreas. His doctor said the cancer has spread to his liver and lungs. When Smith asked his doctor if it was worth trying to fight, he replied that is was and he’s seen worse cases successfully treated. Smith will undergo chemotherapy and will remain on the air as long as he is able. The 69-year-old Smith has been at WBAL for more than a quarter century.
Cumulus Promotes Two. Stu Gorlick moves from his post as vice president of sales at the company’s Poughkeepsie-based Hudson Valley station group to VP/market manager for the Danbury market. Aaron Hyland leaves his position as VP/market manger at the company’s Fort Walton Beach, Florida to become vice president and market manager at the Hudson Valley station group.