News/Talk Radio Remembers JFK. As the nation commemorates the fateful, painful events of November 22 1963, the media at large – newspapers, television and, of course, radio — are focused across the board on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Obviously, the subject is dominating conversation on news/talk radio today in the form of historical documentaries, as well as live talk shows in which every aspect of the almost mythical story is rehashed, retold, analyzed and memorialized. Many shows are spending time giving listeners the opportunity to recall “where they were and what they were doing” when the horrible news was announced. As TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison points out, “This milestone serves as a powerful generational marker in our industry’s obsession with demographics that basically breaks audiences down to two significantly different categories — those who remember JFK and the events of November 22, 1963… and those who don’t.”
Compass Media Marketing Will Represent Tom Leykis. As of the first of next year (January 2014), Compass Media Marketing will be the advertising sales agent for “The Tom Leykis Show.” CMM will do similar duties for the talk show host’s NewNormalNetwork.com and BlowMeUpTom.com. “We are appreciative to the tens of thousands of listeners who are tuning in daily to our show,” Leykis remarks. “The time is right to start aggressively marketing the show to sponsors and we are thrilled to work with the Compass team.” Compass Media Marketing president of advertising sales Paul Gregrey comments that Leykis is a “creative genius” with a “highly engaged and loyal audience. There is limitless upside for growth, both in terms of listenership and sponsors.” Introduced last year, the latest version of Leykis’ talk show is a streaming internet-centric call-in program, which is broadcast daily at 3:00 pm (PT) from Burbank. This past Tuesday (11/19), we mentioned that Leykis put himself up for auction on eBay. The stunt raked in $7,800 for his company and Leykis tells TALKERS, “This promotion worked perfectly for us because it engaged our audience, it brought press attention to our growing brand, and it brought us substantial revenue. For The New Normal, it was nothing short of a homerun. [Furthermore, it] makes it hard to accept the whining of radio stations who say that they ‘can’t monetize’ digital.”
Reports of Renewed TRN Activity Circulating. There’s buzz in the industry that Talk Radio Network CEO Mark Masters is working to bring some of his talent back on the radio hosting live programs. TALKERS sources indicate Masters and talk personality Jerry Doyle have come to terms that have allowed Doyle to return to his program immediately. Doyle and other Talk Radio Network personalities have not been hosting regular live shows for most of the past month or so in the wake of a financial disruption at the company that involved staff layoffs at the Grants Pass, Oregon home offices and numerous legal actions between Masters and current and former employees. Other rumors circulating purported that talk host Rusty Humphries is also soon to be returning to the program schedule at TRN but TALKERS sources report Humphries and Masters have not come to terms that would bring Humphries back to TRN. TALKERS has reached out to Masters for comment but as of this posting there has been no response. Stay tuned.
Geraldo to Remain with Cumulus Media. Any rumors circulating the internet that Geraldo Rivera’s days with Cumulus Media are numbered are untrue says company COO John Dickey. Geraldo – who is based at the company’s WABC, New York and is also heard on its Los Angeles news/talker KABC as well as 45 other news/talk outlets – airs live from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon ET. Dickey tells TALKERS, “Geraldo is going to be working even more closely with us next year – still anchoring 10:00 am to 12:00 noon on WABC – as well as spearheading our Putting America Back to Work (PABTW) initiative.” Geraldo began his program on WABC, New York in January 2012.
Norm Pattiz Discusses Podcasting and the State of the Radio Industry on TalkersTV. An exclusive video of Courtside Entertainment, LLC/Podcast One CEO Norm Pattiz‘s presentation at the recent Talkers Los Angeles 2013 conference has been posted today (11/22) on TalkersTV (top panel of boxes on right hand side of this page). In what was billed as a “keynote conversation,” with TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, the noted industry pioneer, who founded the original Westwood One and created a veritable media empire from scratch, discusses the impact and meaning of podcasting as an extension of the radio industry as well as other important issues of the broadcasting business. During the presentation he asks the provocative question, “When was the last time you can think of a national star that was created on network radio? Been a while, hasn’t it!” He goes on to state, “There’s a demographic national star created in podcasting every week. That’s because in the podcasting world, the only people you have to satisfy are your audiences and consumers.” To view the entire video presentation, see TalkersTV on the upper right side of every page on Talkers.com.
RAB: Third Quarter Radio Spot Revenue Up 1%. The Radio Advertising Bureau reports its 2013 Q3 figures and states after two flat quarters, radio spot advertising rose 1% on sales of $3.684 million. The report also notes that network revenue was down 11% while digital rose 19% and off-air was up 3%. RAB president and CEO Erica Farber states, “The momentum we saw building at the end of Q2 has definitely translated into a positive Q3 for radio in many of our top 10 advertiser categories, led by communications/cellular with a healthy 24% increase. Among key categories, automotive, professional services, health care, home furnishings, all showed substantial increases, as well. Increases from these diverse ad categories illustrate radio’s cross-platform strength to drive traffic and sales – for large corporations to Main Street businesses.”
Chuck Todd Readies to Add Radio Duties. “Unscripted with Chuck Todd” is the name of the one-hour (9:00 am to 10:00 am) Saturday show the veteran journalist will launch in two weeks (12/7) on SiriusXM‘s “P.O.T.U.S.” channel. “In this day and age, people tend to think they have more access to newsmakers and politicians, when in many ways, they actually have less,” Todd comments. “We will aim to help listeners get to know powerful people in a different way – as human beings, not as sound-bite machines. I look forward to talking to many famous amateur political junkies out there who just happen to have day jobs in the worlds of sports, Hollywood, Wall Street and everywhere in between.” According to SiriusXM vice president/general manager of talk programming Dave Gorab, “Chuck will go outside his normal field of reporting and delve into the personal passions and interests of not just politicians but leaders from virtually every field of interest. This show is new territory for Chuck, but will be built on his journalistic savvy and experience.” Todd hosts MSNBC‘s “Daily Rundown” and is NBC News’ chief White House correspondent.
Atlantic City Talk Host Pinky Kravitz Celebrates 55 Years on WOND. Atlantic City talk radio legend Seymour “Pinky” Kravitz is celebrating his 55th anniversary on WOND this afternoon with a special broadcast from the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. The station notes that Kravitz has broadcast more than 169,000 hours of air time (that’s over 701 consecutive days!) from more than 20 remote broadcasting locations and more than a handful of time changes. It boasts that 1400 AM is where South Jersey still turns for “informative and provocative conversation. Pinky Kravitz has become one of the region’s most recognized, trusted and beloved media personalities through what has become the longest running radio program (on one station by one personality) in the country.” Longport Media president Dave Coskey states, “It’s amazing that in an industry where longevity is often measured in months or years that we measure Pinky’s career on WOND in decades. Pinky’s career spans not only decades but generations – generations of listeners all who have spent time in Pinky’s Corner. And his brand is even stronger today than it was in 1958.” Kravitz adds, “I’ve been blessed to not only have the support of my family, a radio station and city for all of these years but also the love and support of an entire region.” In addition to his daily radio show on WOND, Kravitz also hosts a weekly television program on WMGM-TV and writes a weekly column for the Press of Atlantic City.
Saga Communications to Pay Special Cash Dividend. Saga Communications, Inc. announces its Board of Directors is declaring a special cash dividend of $1.80 per share on its Classes A and B Common Stock to be paid on December 12, 2013 to shareholders of record on December 2, 2013. The aggregate amount of the payment to be made in connection with the special dividend will be approximately $10.3 million. This special cash dividend will be funded by cash on the company’s balance sheet.
Paul Finebaum Show to Air on SiriusXM’s ESPN Channel. The formerly Birmingham-based sports talker – now calling Charlotte home and produced and syndicated nationally via ESPN Radio – joins the ESPN Xtra channel on SiriusXM effective Monday, November 25. Paul Finebaum joined ESPN in August after years of success on Cumulus Media’s WJOX-FM, Birmingham. Finebaum’s show airs live from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET.
Honda Displays HD Radio Civic Pride. The Los Angeles Auto Show is not typically where you would expect to find something noteworthy about the radio business. That, however, is where HD Radio developer iBiquity Digital this week announced that the 2014 Civic is the first Honda vehicle to launch integrated audio and real-time traffic information using the HERE mapping service, BTC, and HD Radio technology. iBiquity Digital chief operating officer Jeff Jury comments, “Honda is showing real leadership in bringing the benefits of digital HD Radio data to their vehicles. This is another great example of a leading automaker integrating digital terrestrial technology as part of a connected vehicle strategy.” Honda Civic navigation systems incorporate HD Radio audio and data features, including a way for listeners to view album art and other images on their radio screens. There is subscription-free, real-time traffic information, showing flow patterns, construction alerts, and traffic incidents to drivers. In addition to Honda, other automakers integrating digital traffic and data services include Lexus, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Toyota. More than 30 automakers have announced plans to incorporate HD Radio in over 170 models by the end of this year. Nearly seven-dozen models will feature HD Radio receivers as standard equipment. The 2014 Honda Civic arrives at dealerships next month.
Ron Ruth Memorial Fund Announced. The Radio Advertising Bureau and the Broadcasters Foundation of America are announcing the creation of the Ron Ruth Memorial Fund in celebration of the life and work of Ruth and to benefit the Broadcasters Foundation of America. The BfoA’s mission is to help improve the quality of life of men and women in the radio and television broadcast profession who find themselves in acute need. Donations may be sent directly to the Broadcasters Foundation at 125 West 55th Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10019 and please make note that the donation is for the Ron Ruth Memorial Fund. Tentative plans by the RAB are underway to hold a celebration of life with Ron’s many friends sometime in the first quarter of next year and will be made public as soon as they are finalized. RAB CEO and president Erica Farber states, “Ron was an ardent supporter of the Broadcasters Foundation. We at the RAB couldn’t think of a more fitting way to honor and commemorate his life and work.”
Dave Ramsey Takes New York. The actual event took place right across the Hudson River at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark but Dave Ramsey’s New York affiliate – Clear Channel’s WOR – was a partner in promoting the event. Ramsey presented his “Legacy Journey LIVE!” last night (11/21) before a packed house speaking about how to win with money, strengthen marriages and lead your children with confidence. His daughter, Rachel Cruze, joined Ramsey on stage. WOR general sales manager Ron Russo says to the Ramsey team, “Thank you for creating an engaging event in an intimate setting where we have the opportunity to connect our listeners with our clients in a truly interactive environment.” WOR sales manager Chris Borelli adds, “The event is not only impeccably prepared and executed, but entertaining and enjoyable. We look forward to many more events like this as long term partners.”
ObamaCare Criticism Top News/Talk Story for Week of November 18-22. The scrutiny of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was President Obama’s sinking approval ratings. Following at #3 was the talks with Iran about its nuclear policy and debate over economic sanctions on the nation followed by the GOP’s 2014 and 2016 strategy 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. View this week’s entire chart here.
Entercom Reports Q1 Revenue Down 3%. Some format changes in several markets and the usual first quarter doldrums can be blamed for the down performance of Entercom in Q1 of 2012, Entercom CEO David Field told analysts during the Q1 conference call. Field states seven format changes that took place in 2011 – including three in major markets like Boston and San Francisco – have affected revenue. But Field sees positive things ahead as he tells analysts May and June are pacing up and the third quarter of this year looks healthy. Political ad spending is a major factor in improving revenue. Other points mentioned by Field: Entercom cut expenses by 4% and was able to pay down $17.4 million of its senior debt leaving $592 million in senior debt.
Emmis Revenue Down but Jeff Smulyan Promises Greatly Deleveraged Emmis. During his conference call with analysts, Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan reported net revenue down 11% — down just 3% when excluding the stations majority owned by Merlin Media – for the quarter ending February 29. But Smulyan says his company is paying down debt – some $1.5 billion to date – and when current transactions are complete Emmis will be one of the least-leveraged companies in the radio business. With recent transactions, Emmis is now a company operating clusters in Indianapolis, Austin, St. Louis, Terre Haute, and, of course its two major market signals: Hot 97 in New York and Power 106 in Los Angeles.
KILT, Houston Brings Nick Wright Aboard for AM Drive Co-Host Duties. Currently hosting at Entercom’s KCSP, Kansas City, sports talk host Nick Wright moves south to join John Lopez on the morning show at CBS Radio’s KILT, Houston. The position opened when Marc Vandermeer took a full-time position with the NFL’s Houston Texans, although Vandermeer will still be heard on the station doing Texans play-by-play. KILT program director Gavin Spittle says of Wright’s hire, “We’re really excited to welcome Nick to our talented roster of hosts. He has tremendous energy, passion and a history of ratings success. His excitement to pair up with John Lopez is equal to our excitement to add him to our number one sports lineup for many years to come.”
Dial Global’s Dennis Miller and Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly Play Town Hall in New York Saturday Night. As part of the duo’s “Bolder and Fresher Tour 2012,” Dial Global nationally syndicated talk show host Dennis Miller and Fox News Channel star Bill O’Reilly – also heard on the radio via his Courtside Entertainment Group-syndicated “Talking Points” commentaries, will appear at Town Hall in NYC tomorrow night. During the program each host takes a turn doing a monologue for the crowd. Then the two sit down together to discuss and riff on the big issues of the day. Upcoming shows include stops in Indianapolis, Chicago and Atlanta.
New Jersey Talk Host Found Shot Dead in Her Home. Authorities in Linwood, New Jersey report 47-year-old April Kauffman was found shot to death in the bedroom of her home in that town. She co-hosted a weekly talk radio show at WOND, Pleasantville, New Jersey during which she advocated for veteran’s causes and other issues. The Associated Press is reporting that authorities have not made any arrests in the killing.
Michelle Jerson to Host Talk Shows at WWIQ-FM, Philadelphia. Former New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Michelle Jerson is doing some fill-in work at Merlin Media’s new WWIQ-FM, Philadelphia. She begins today by hosting the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot – eventually to be the home of Rush Limbaugh when the Premiere Networks superstar migrates over from his current Philly home at WPHT. Jerson, who hosted a relationships program during her time at NJ101.5, tells TALKERS that she’ll do a non-political program today.
WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte to Air UNC Football and Hoops. Greater Media’s WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte is the official Charlotte affiliate for University of North Carolina football and basketball play-by-play after agreeing to a deal with the university’s rights holder, Tar Heel Sports Properties. WBT will carry all games plus coaches’ shows featuring football coach Larry Fedora and basketball legend Roy Williams. Tar Heels Sports Properties general manager Gary Sobba states, “We’re excited about this new partnership and bringing two terrific brands back together. WBT has a very strong signal and will provide excellent coverage for the Tar Heel faithful in the Charlotte metro area.”
2012 Presidential Race Top News/Talk Story for Week of May 7-11. The 2012 presidential race landed atop the Talkers TenTM chart of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio for the sixth consecutive week. Close behind at #2 was President Obama’s gay marriage stance. At #3 was longtime Indiana Republican Senator Dick Lugar’s loss in the primary election and at #4 was Russian President Vladimir Putin’s snubbing of President Obama by backing out of the G-8 at Camp David. The Talkers TenTM is based on ongoing research by TALKERS and is published at Talkers.com every Friday. View the top 10 stories and people as discussed on news/talk radio here.
Dave Ramsey Broadcasts from Tucson. Nationally syndicated personal finance talk show star Dave Ramsey is pictured here in Tucson conducting his EntreLeadership Master Series at the Westin LaPaloma in Tucson. Keeping with the theme of the week, today’s broadcast will focus on business and leadership questions from callers to the radio program. Ramsey’s organization explains that EntreLeadership “combines the innovative spirit of an entrepreneur with the passion and drive of a leader. This philosophy is how Ramsey has run his highly successful company and trained his leadership team since day one. At EntreLeadership Master Series, Ramsey condenses 20 years of business and leadership wisdom into a seven day event. Business owners and leaders who attend walk away with practical ideas that can improve their communication, organization, team culture, finances, negotiating and selling skills, marketing, advertising, and ability to make tough decisions.” Last September, Ramsey’s latest best-seller, EntreLeadership, debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list.