By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief
LOS ANGELES — In just an approximately six-week period, Americans have:
• Relished our freedom by participating in our democracy’s fundamental building block – the electoral process – which this year happened to include another historic presidential election
• Helplessly watched parts of our country’s northeast region savagely pounded by the storm of a lifetime
• Attempted to aid our neighbors regroup from “Sandy,” while simultaneously starting the annual tradition of gathering families to give thanks; anxiously began the official start of the holiday season; and heard (many adult contemporary) stations maintain their ritual of playing continuous Christmas favorites
• Been shocked, horrified, and in a state of speechless disbelief as deranged gunmen ended the lives of defenseless victims in a Portland shopping mall and a Connecticut school
Lionel Joins Morning Show at Merlin Media’s WWIQ, Philadelphia. Talk media personality Lionel – known for his years of expanding talk radio’s dimensions with successful stints in national syndication and in local markets gigs including New York City – joins the morning drive show at Merlin Media’s WWIQ, Philadelphia beginning today. Lionel, who anchors Tribune’s WPIX-TV, New York’s “Morning News” from 4:00 am to 6:00 am and produces commentaries for the station that air on its 10:00 pm news, will join the program with Al Gardner from 6:00 am to 8:30 am. In addition to these “traditional media” gigs, Lionel has been operating the digital media station LionelMedia.com for the past several years.
Gregg Henson Named PD at WPGB and WBGG, Pittsburgh. Sports talk and news/talk pro Gregg Henson takes the programming reins at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s news/talk WPGB, Pittsburgh and sister sports talk WBGG “970 ESPN.” Henson most recently served as director of programming operations at Federated Media’s WOWO, Fort Wayne, Indiana. Henson says, “I’m excited to return to the Clear Channel family and I look forward to working with the excellent staff at ‘FM News Talk 104.7’ and ‘970 ESPN.’ Pittsburgh’s passionate and loyal Steelers and Penguins fans make this an exciting new opportunity.” CC Pittsburgh OM David Edgar states, “Gregg has the skills and passion to lead our sports, talk, and news programming on all of our brands in Pittsburgh to new levels of success. His past experience will be a great asset to the Clear Channel Pittsburgh team.” Henson replaces Jay Bohannon who exited the cluster last month.
Dave Ramsey Celebrates 20th Anniversary in Radio with Big Nashville Bash including Affiliate Meetings and Gala Live Broadcast. This past Friday, September 28, nationally syndicated radio talk show host Dave Ramsey marked his 20th year in radio with a special episode of “The Dave Ramsey Show.” The program took place before a live audience of more than 2,000 listeners in a huge tent in the parking lot of Ramsey headquarters in suburban Nashville. It included calls from long-time listeners and well-wishes from friends and celebrities such as Brad Paisley, George Stephanopoulos, Mark Cuban, Billy Gibbons, Piers Morgan, Zac Brown, Neil Cavuto, Darrell Waltrip, and Glenn Beck. Video of the show was streamed live online. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam declared September 28, 2012 Dave Ramsey Day in the state of Tennessee. He presented the proclamation to Ramsey during the first hour of the radio show (see photo). The show was the culmination of Ramsey’s fifth annual Affiliate Executive Council (AEC) meeting held last week between Wednesday and Friday (9/26-28) in which he and his staff provided some 60 executives from his affiliates across the country with seminars, workshops breakout sessions and entertainment activities experienced in true Nashville fashion. A highlight of the AEC event was an industry trade panel featuring professionals who have never been on one stage together. The panel focused on current industry issues and events and was moderated by Radio Advertising Bureau CEO Erica Farber. Al Peterson from NTS Media Online, Gene McKay from Inside Radio, and Michael Harrison from TALKERS and RadioInfo participated on the panel (see photo). According to Harrison, “Attending the Ramsey event was an eye opener into how this amazing broadcaster and his superb staff have created a viable, productive partnership with their affiliate radio stations as well as a personal bond with them on a level unmatched by any other syndication company or network in the business. Ramsey has created a business model and success story worthy of emulation, indeed!”
Syndicators Hit the Deck Running Today to Promote Shows to Stations Left Unprepared for Savage Exit. After a weekend during which approximately 300 radio station managers who were affiliated with TRN’s Michael Savage Show (“The Savage Nation”) were trying to figure out what to put in the gaping vacancy left in their schedule by the sudden exit of Michael Savage from the airwaves this past Friday, the syndication and network community are readying a mad dash to get to them and have them consider taking any of a number of their available programs as its replacement. Savage left the airwaves without warning after scoring a victory in a fierce legal battle with TRN to get out of his existing contract (see story below). Talk Radio Network has teased that it will name Savage’s replacement (as “radio’s October surprise”) – at least within its stable of available hosts – sometime today.
Talk Host Michael Savage Produces First Internet-Only Broadcast. Former Talk Radio Network nationally syndicate host Michael Savage – who won his arbitration case against the company last week to get out of his contract and left terrestrial immediately thereafter – produced his first Ustream-hosted webcast on Sunday evening (9/30). Savage broadcast for about an hour. His website encourages visitors to check back for announcements of future broadcasts. The video is not being archived for repeat views at this time – so it must be watched live – and chatter on Ustream’s message board reveals some Savage fans are irked by that move. Could it be that Savage is trying to create an appetite for a pay model? The arbitrator’s decision voided Savage’s contract with TRN and allows him to work anywhere he likes. Stay tuned!
TRN’s America’s Radio News Network Inks with Armed Forces Radio Network. Talk Radio Network-owned America’s Radio News Network announces it has signed an agreement with Armed Forces Radio Network to serve as the top-of-the-hour news on the broadcast service for American military personnel. American Forces Radio Network Worldwide director Jef Reilly, tells ARN, “The troops want news, not agendas, and I think you’re delivering that.” ARN/ANN vice president for news John McCaslin says, “Our expanding team of news anchors, producers and board operators is extremely proud to enlist the trust of the millions of men and women of America’s armed forces, who every day put their lives on the line and sacrifice so much for those of us here at home.”
Hubbard Radio’s WTOP, Washington Brings Del Walters Aboard Full Time. Washington, DC’s all-news WTOP announces broadcast journalist Del Walters is promoted to a full-time position with the station. WTOP states, “For more than two decades, Walters has been broadcasting in the Washington/Baltimore area, working as an anchor and investigative reporter for various stations including WJLA in Washington and WMAR in Baltimore. Walters joined WTOP in 2010 as a part-time anchor and reporter but will now step into a full-time role.”
Clear Channel Flips WGST, Atlanta to Spanish Sports Talk. Last week we reported that Clear Channel Media and Entertainment would be dropping the news/talk at heritage WGST, Atlanta and flipping to either a Spanish-language format or all-comedy. CC chose to go with Spanish sports talk and debuted 640 ESPN Deportes on Friday afternoon.
Radio Vet Ron Cutler Shares Secrets of his Financial Success in New Radio Biz Book. Radio veteran Ron Cutler turned a $15,000 investment in this industry into a $10 million payoff and now he’s written a book explaining how he did it. The colorful radio and business book is titled How I Turned $15,000 into $10,000,000 (HIT) and You Can Too, and it serves up a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse into the radio business. The advice is based on Cutler’s colorful experience as a top-rated Philadelphia DJ “Ron Diamond”; as the original owner and creator of the legendary KOME, the San Jose FM radio station that he sold to Michael Wiener and Gerald Carrus who formed Infinity Broadcasting making KOME Infinity’s first station; as the creator of 15 hit radio shows and services, Cutler was instrumental in launching the national shows of Rick Dees, Tom Joyner and Cousin Brucie; as the owner of Cutler Comedy Networks, a leading comedy programming company that serviced more than 4,000 radio stations and was acquired in 1996 by Premiere Radio Networks; and as an entrepreneur in numerous entertainment ventures. He tells TALKERS, “My path wasn’t an easy one. At this stage in my life, I’d like to help others get a leg up, particularly during this challenging economy. Perhaps the lessons that taught me resilience, determination and self-reliance will resonate with others.” For more information visit www.roncutlerbooks.com. To interview Ron Cutler contact Amir Forester at 310-857-6207 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Harsh Reality of Today’s Radio Business Forces Clear Channel’s Major “Reduction in Force.” This latest round of firings is focused on Clear Channel’s small and medium markets and is affecting primarily on-air and programming staff. Internally, Clear Channel stations are broken down into three categories: the majors, the mids and the small markets – the latter sometimes referred to by insiders humorously as the stations that are for sale. But in this economy those small stations – many of which were purchased in the late 1990s as the then-Randy Michaels-led radio group was buying stations at an astounding pace – are for all intents and purposes under water. The company analyzed each station in an hour-by-hour fashion to determine how much it costs to program and execute the product versus how much it is making. Programs and hosts whose shows are in the black are likely to be retained; those in the red are those about whom you are reading today. The company is not describing this strategy as cost cutting but leveraging the quality programming it owns and distributing it to the small – or regional – markets. The reality is that Clear Channel has a lot of debt it must pay off and – not unlike the homeowner who bought before the housing bubble burst and owes more than his house is worth – must make drastic cuts and hope that it can continue to engage listeners and serve advertisers with “Premium Choice” programming from afar and managers doing more jobs within the same work day. This situation is unique to neither Clear Channel nor the radio business. The following list of people working in news or at talk stations for CC are reported to have been let go. This list is not complete and doesn’t include those from music-formatted stations. Reports indicate several hundred employees will be out when all is said and done. The list: KFAB, Omaha PM drive host Tom Becka; Clear Channel Hudson Valley news director Cameron Hendrix; WERC, Birmingham, Alabama news director Mark Evans; WHAM, Rochester news anchor Beth Adams; WSYR-AM/FM, Syracuse talk host Jim Reith; KWTX, Waco, Texas PD and morning host Shane Warner; WJBO, Baton Rouge, Louisiana mid-morning talk host Clarence Buggs; and WGY and WOFX, Albany assistant PD Steve Bleznyk.
Cumulus Los Angeles Cuts Include Legendary Jock Jim Ladd. So far the cuts at Cumulus’ Los Angeles stations have not affected any air talent at news/talk KABC. Production directors at both KABC and KLOS-FM – Howard Hoffman and Mike Sherry, respectively – are out as is KLOS-FM program director Bob Buchmann. But Southern California radio fans are shocked to find legendary jock Jim Ladd – ironically, the subject of Tom Petty’s “The Last DJ” – has been sacked. The 63-year-old Ladd received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005.
Lionel Expands Role at New York’s WPIX-TV. What began as his doing a short form commentary running once per day on the evening news has expanded to multiple roles and appearances for the iconoclastic talk radio veteran and podcasting pioneer on the Tribune Company-owned Channel 11 in the Big Apple. Lionel has just debuted his weekday “5@5” segment on the daily newscast in addition to being featured on PIX 11 seven nights a week with fresh video commentary on its 10:00 pm newscast. Lionel, an ex-prosecutor and criminal defense trial lawyer, has also inaugurated his “Lionel’s Law School” segment. Plus, he appears weekly as PIX 11’s resident “News Decoder” on its Monday morning news broadcast and at pix11.com. Lionel’s commentaries are also broadcast nationally through Tribune Company’s affiliates including KPLR 11 in St. Louis. Lionel, a regular TALKERS columnist, has gained national attention as a talk “media station” groundbreaker with his lionelmedia.com.
Rusty Humphries Named National Radio Spokesman for Vietnam Memorial Effort. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is spearheading a campaign to build a multi-media education center adjacent to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. In addition to his duties as national radio spokesman, Talk Radio Network host Rusty Humphries is leading the “Veterans Day Challenge” to raise funds for the center. He will also serve as emcee at a gala benefit at the Capital Hilton in Washington, DC on November 11 that will feature actor Tom Selleck. Humphries’ father died in Vietnam in 1969 when Rusty was just three years old. Humphries says, “Every time I’m in Washington, I visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, gaze up at my father’s name on Panel 34W, Line 84, and wish that I’d have gotten to know the man whose name appears there, my father. The Education Center at the Wall will provide a living memorial to these heroes – not just the men and women like my dad whose names appear on the Wall, but all veterans, from Bunker Hill to the present day.”
Tom Marr’s Contract at WCBM Extended Again. Veteran talk show host Tom Marr of WCBM, Baltimore has been given another extension of his unique contract until 2015. Marr first signed a no-cut deal with the independently owned heritage station in September of 1977. It was then extended until 2009. Marr reached an agreement on July 3, 2008 with the late owner of WCBM, Nick Mangione, Sr., to extend through 2012. Now Marr has signed an extension with WCMB president Mary C. Mangione that will run until 2015. Upon signing the deal, WCBM VP Nick Mangione, Jr. tells TALKERS, “Ownership is very pleased to have Tom’s commitment to remain on WCBM’s team. Tom performs a public service that is informative, beneficial, and entertaining for our listeners.” Marr comments, “I am delighted that my career will end with WCBM and the Mangione Family Enterprises.” Pictured here at the signing ceremony are: WCBM VP Nick Mangione, Jr. (standing); seated (l-r) are Mangione Family Enterprise attorney Joe LaVerghetta, Mangione Family Enterprise president Mary Mangione, and host Tom Marr.
Clear Channel Adds FM Simulcast to WVOC, Columbia, South Carolina. The victim this time is urban WXBT-FM at 100.1 and, of course, the entire staff of the music station as CC gives news/talk WVOC an FM presence.
Ric Edelman’s “Truth About Money” Public TV Show Heads into Season Two. Author, broadcaster and financial advisor Ric Edelman will produce a second season of his public TV show that shares the same name as his nationally syndicated talk radio show – “The Truth About Money with Ric Edelman.” Season one hit public TV stations across the country earlier this spring and season two will be ready for air in April of next year. Executive producer Russ Hodge says, “Public Television executives and viewers around the country were so taken with the solid financial guidance they received from Ric, they wholeheartedly endorsed the notion of our coming back for another season. It’s no secret Ric is recognized as one of America’s top financial advisors, and in these uncertain economic times, viewers gravitate to his expertise and know-how.”
USRN Offers Kim Iversen Show in New Format. “Your Time with Kim Iversen” has been available in syndication via United Stations Radio Networks talk-intensive music show for Hot AC stations since 2007. Now, after partnering with Entercom – the company that created the show – to bring it into wider syndication earlier this year, USRN announces that show is available as a live feed or a “build your own show” format. Beginning November 13, the live feed will be a two-hour, personality-driven talk show airing live from 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight ET. Stations wishing to continue airing music in the show can use the show segments around music to build a five-hour program. USRN EVP of programming Andy Denemark says, “Kim is an amazing talent, but we found that programmers had varied opinions on how they wanted her show to air. Some wanted strictly a talk block, others were happy with the Hot AC show and still others wanted her content mixed with CHR or alternative music. Now, every affiliate gets their wish!”
ABC Digital Clients Now Get News from ABC Sports. Stations subscribing to ABC Digital for news feeds for their websites now can get sports content from ABC Sports, according to ABC News Radio VP/GM Steve Jones. “By adding sports headlines to our lineup of ABC Digital choices, we’re enhancing our radio customers’ websites at no additional cost to them. Several of our partners have expressed an interest in adding a recognized sports brand and we’re pleased to make ABC Sports – a name steeped in tradition – a new category they can add to their station’s website with the simple click of a button.” ABC Digital service was recently launched by ABC News Radio and Cumulus Media Networks. The ready-to-post online content is produced and updated 24 hours a day and includes breaking news, exclusive stories, photos and graphics. Stations also have the option to brand the service locally, monetizing the content through local sponsorships.
Barb Yoder Moves into GM Seat at Salem Communications’ Tampa Cluster. A series of management promotions at Salem Communications means a promotion for Tampa and Sarasota cluster general sales manager Barb Yoder and an open GSM post at the stations. Yoder moves into the GM post as former GM Chris Gould moves to the corporate level in the vice president of program development position based in Camarillo, California. Gould replaces Ron Walters who is promoted to senior vice president, ministry relations.
Affiliate Relations Pro Rich Rapiti Victim of Dial Global-Westwood One Merger. New York-based affiliate relations pro Rich Rapiti lost his position as part of the consolidation of Dial Global and Westwood One. He’s available for his next challenge and can be reached at email@example.com or 973-809-3049.
Former Cap Cities/ABC COO Dan Burke Passes Away at 82. Dan Burke and partner Tom Murphy are credited with building Cap Cities into a major broadcasting force and buying ABC to create Cap Cities/ABC. The two ran the company for a decade before selling it to Disney in 1996. Salem Radio Network VP of news/talk programming Tom Tradup remembers working for Burke when he was GM of WLS, Chicago. “I will always remember Burke’s steely eyes and his tough questioning (especially at this time of the year during budgeting!) as we s-l-o-w-l-y turned WLS from the 23rd station in Chicago and put it on track to become a top-five news/talk giant. He was firm but fair, and if people in Chicago enjoy WLS in 2011…they probably can thank Dan Burke more than anyone else for showing patience and for keeping others within the company from panicking as WLS grew and ultimately prospered in the #3 radio market in America.”