Holland Cooke: Start Your Own Media Station. Noted radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Holland Cooke says getting laid off during this year’s pre-Christmas industry bloodbath, though painful and scary, might not be the worst thing that can happen to enterprising broadcasters. In a boldly worded opinion piece, the forward-thinking programming advisor connects numerous dots and cites fascinating examples painting a positive picture of just how much opportunity now exists in the digital world for radio people daring enough to go “stickless.” He points to a number of telling signs in the changes in our culture – such as Larry King’s new online show being listed in a larger font on the USA Today television listings page than his former home, CNN. Cooke writes, “Anyone who uses Twitter online can click-to-listen. Those who Tweet on smartphones or iPad simply touch-to-listen. Voila! You’re in-the-pocket, where AM/FM radio used to be.” Read his piece here.
Rumors of Format Change at WTKK, Boston Rampant. The Boston media is all over the rumors that Greater Media will flip the news/talk station to a different, music-based format in the near future. The local media picked up on domain name registrations such as 969BostonsBeat.com, 969TheBeat.com, and Power969.com. The Boston Herald speculates the change is coming because “’toxic’ all-talk formats aren’t attracting enough younger listeners.” Greater Media spokesperson Heidi Raphael states, “We deal in a business of attitudes and being responsive to the preferences of our audiences and the needs of our advertisers and communities. We are continually exploring our options, looking for ways to improve our product and brands. No decisions have been made on any changes to the format.” Radio operators register domain names that go unused frequently so the actions by Greater Media don’t necessarily mean a change is coming but it certainly means the company is considering it.
Dave Ramsey Changes Affiliates in Home Town of Nashville; Jumps from WWTN to Sports WPRT. The nationally syndicated Dave Ramsey show will move to Cromwell Radio Group’s sports talk WPRT “102.5 FM The Game” beginning January 1. Ramsey’s program has aired on Cumulus Media’s WWTN, Nashville since the program debuted in the early 1990s. Ramsey states, “After 20 years on WWTN it is very difficult to leave. Unfortunately, we couldn’t come to terms with Cumulus on a simple renewal agreement. There are a lot of great people at WWTN and we’ll miss them. But we’re excited to have the opportunity to work with an independent radio station owner the caliber of Bud Walters.” It appears as though the move is being precipitated by Cumulus’ desire to give its own talk programs more exposure – in this case, giving Mike Huckabee a full three hours on WWTN. The new schedule at WWTN puts Huckabee on live from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm and allows Phil Valentine a 3:00 pm start to his PM drive show. At the same time, Cumulus announces its newly acquired Michael Savage will air live from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am. Cumulus Nashville market manager Mike Carpenter states, “We believe in the Mike Huckabee show and anticipate that this change will accelerate the governor’s popularity in Nashville. Mike is a man of such character that we feel our clients will appreciate the opportunity to make him a key part of their marketing plans. His on-air interest in music expands our talk repertoire and will play extremely well in a city where the music industry is the number three employer. As for Savage, we assure you that a large number of our listeners will be happy to learn that their pleas have been heard and that Michael Savage is back on in Nashville.”
FCC Approves Transfer of WFAN-FM, New York to CBS Radio. The $75 million deal that sends Merlin Media’s former WRXP, New York to CBS Radio as WFAN-FM, New York is approved by the Federal Communications Commission. The station changed its call letters to WFAN-FM and CBS began operating it under an LMA on November 1 simulcasting sports talk WFAN-AM on the signal.
More on Changes at XEPRS, San Diego. Yesterday, TALKERS reported sports talk XEPRS, San Diego “XX1090” let morning hosts Dave Palet and Jeff Dotseth go. But now we’ve learned more as midday hosts Josh Rosenberg and Charod Williams have also been let go. Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton is now on mornings and the San Diego Union-Tribune is reporting that former morning hosts Scott Kaplan and Billy Ray Smith will return to the station in AM drive soon and Darren Smith will move to the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot. Kaplan and B.R. (Smith), who were fired after Kaplan made disparaging comments about a female sportscaster, have been hosting the San Diego Union-Tribune’s online TV morning show and, according to the report, would continue in that role.
Dave Wheaton Exits WOWO-AM/FM, Fort Wayne. As tipped by Indiana Radio Watch’s Blaine Thompson, news director Dave Wheaton leaves his position at Federated Media’s WOWO-AM/FM, Fort Wayne to take the assignment editor post at Granite Broadcasting’s WPTA-TV, Fort Wayne (channel 21) and WISE-TV, Fort Wayne (channel 33).
Envision Radio Network Names Paul Harris “America Weekend” Host. Talk radio pro Paul Harris is named the host of the new “America Weekend” program from Envision Radio Networks. Executive producer Kipper KcGee says, “I’m thrilled to be working with Paul again. We will be announcing the remainder of the ‘America Weekend’ lineup in coming weeks, and look forward to demonstrating that news/talk radio can enjoy weekend ratings and revenues!” McGee worked with Harris in St. Louis and at WLS, Chicago. Harris states, “I’m excited about launching ‘America Weekend’ to give both affiliates and listeners something more compelling, with great stories, interesting interviews, and my own perspective on what’s happening.”
Clear Channel Donates WDTW, Detroit to the Minority Media and Communications Council. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment is donating progressive talk outlet WDTW, Detroit – a 5,000-watt Class B signal – to the MMTC under the Clear Channel-MMTC Ownership Diversity Initiative. Clear Channel CEO and chairman John Hogan states, “We applaud MMTC for creating a program that helps minority broadcasters develop the skills and experience necessary to become successful broadcasters. We’re pleased that the donation of these resources will give the opportunity for enthusiastic new entrepreneurs to own and operate their own radio station.”
Main Street Radio Network Launches New Weekly Program. “The RichLife Show” with host Beau Henderson is a weekly one-hour program that, according to syndicator Main Street Radio Network, is “a fast-paced hour with a BIG mission to help listeners live healthy, wealthy, fulfilled lives on purpose by combining a highly engaging mix of education, entertainment, inspiration, and motivation. The format of the show is financial Q&A, discussion around listeners’ biggest questions and concerns, and relevant expert interviews.” Henderson is a senior financial advisor, Master Certified Success Coach, and Certified Master Behavioral Analyst and author of the book, The RichLife – Ten Investments For True Wealth. Main Street president Jane Silk says, “We know ‘The RichLife Show’ will be a great addition to our current shows and our rapidly growing radio network. Beau Henderson is a caring, honest person who truly has the listener’s best interest in mind. Beau will cover a variety of topics such as all aspects of living rich: money, health, meaningful relationships, and living a fulfilled life of purpose. Beau and RichLife advisors have built an online community through a weekly newsletter and social media that now exceeds 35,000 committed to living their definition of a RichLife.”
KGO, San Francisco Partners with Good News in Oakland for News Feature. Cumulus Media San Francisco news/talker KGO announces a partnership with internet media outlet Good News in Oakland to create a feature that “will highlight a person or organization in Oakland that has made a difference in creating a positive image for the East Bay’s largest city.” Good News in Oakland is described as an “internet-based renewable psychological socially responsible environmentally focused media outlet.” Stories will be produced by KGO reporter Tihanna McCleese and Good News in Oakland founder Sean Kennedy. KGO program director Paul Hosley states, “We’re thrilled to enter into this partnership with Good News in Oakland. This collaboration will give KGO listeners an opportunity to hear about the positive side of the city…stories that have not been told before.” Features will air at 6:46 am, 1:46 pm, and 5:46 pm on Mondays and Wednesdays.
WNYM, New York Begins Picture Caption Contest for Lunch with Sliwa & Lichtman. Salem Communications-owned WNYM, New York’s PM drive team of Curtis Sliwa and Jeffrey Lichtman are enjoying their new street-level studio with the giant display window at the Hotel Pennsylvania on 7th Avenue. The station and hotel management say they are getting such a buzz from New Yorkers about the setup that they’re beginning a photo caption contest to capitalize on the publicity. WNYM is asking fans to take a picture of Sliwa and Lichtman broadcasting, give it a caption and post it via Twitter or Instagram or send it to the station via email. First prize is lunch with Sliwa and Lichtman. Other prizes include Broadway show tix, restaurant deals and more. WNYM general manager Sean O’Neill states, “The iconic Hotel Pennsylvania with Curtis Sliwa and Jeffrey Lichtman broadcasting live in the hub of midtown Manhattan is an extraordinary opportunity to personalize the radio experience in the digital age. Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers walk through this block daily and now have the opportunity to connect face to face with their favorite radio personalities.”
Quentin Tarantino Entertains Live Audience at SiriusXM. As part of the “Town Hall Series” on SiriusXM, noted filmmaker Quentin Tarantino (l) was interviewed by Village Voice film critic Scott Foundas (r) before an intimate, live studio audience. Tarantino, who also took questions from the crowd, discussed his new film “Django Unchained” and told stories about his career as a film director. Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur / WireImage for SiriusXM.
ESPN Radio Broadcasts 24 College Bowl Games. The college football bowl season will bring plenty of play-by-play to ESPN Radio affiliates as the sports media giant announces plans to broadcast 24 bowl games. Beginning with the Gildan New Mexico Bowl on December 15 and wrapping up with the National Championship game between Notre Dame and Alabama in Miami on January 7, ESPN Radio’s coverage will span 16 days. David Norrie and Bill Rosinski will call five of the games beginning with the S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl on December 20. Additionally, both the “Mike & Mike in the Morning” and “SVP & Russillo” programs will originate from South Florida on Monday and Tuesday, January 7 and 8.
Lotus Communications’ ‘SuperGol’ Soccer Show Scores Affiliates. The Spanish-language soccer show “SuperGol” recently snagged its 25th affiliate for the one-hour program targeted to younger Hispanic men. The show airs live from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm PT and is hosted by Halim Zadat and Erika Garza. The show is produced by Lotus’ KWKW, Los Angeles and station president James Kalmenson says, “The young US-born Latino is a growing segment of the sports audience that’s responding extremely well to the program. Latinos of all generations are avid soccer fans, making the soccer-themed talk show an ideal platform for younger audiences while maintaining the traditional sports target of men 25-54.”
Gow Broadcasting Acquires Sports Flash Radio Network. The service that specializes in sports updates is acquired by Gow Communications, the company that is operating Yahoo! Sports Radio. Gow announces at the same time that its affiliate base has grown to more than 360 stations. David Gow states, “We are really pleased with the ongoing expansion of our affiliate base. The acquisition of the Sports Flash Radio Network extends our reach to both sports-format and non-sports-format stations. And the additions of new shows we have introduced over the past year have enabled us to achieve industry-leading growth.”
‘Fiscal Cliff’ Battle, Looming ObamaCare Costs, Michigan Right-to-Work Bill Controversy, Hillary in 2016, and Aussie DJ Prank Fallout Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/10). The GOP versus Obama fight in Washington over avoiding the “fiscal cliff”; the costs associated with ObamaCare that will begin to take effect in 2013; the battle in Michigan over the union-busting right-to-work bill; the proposition Hillary Clinton will run for president in 2016; and the fallout after the Australian DJ prank call to Kate Middleton’s hospital in London were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Salem Builds Up the Morning Show at KRLA and KTIE in Southern California. Las Vegas-native Heidi Harris has been hosting the morning drive show on Salem Communications’ KRLA, Los Angeles and sister KTIE, Riverside/San Bernardino (positioned as 870 The Answer and 590 The Answer, respectively) since late April. Now, the company brings Brian Whitman and Ben Shapiro aboard to build a morning team. Salem VP/director of spoken word format Phil Boyce states, “We’re committed to providing L.A.’s morning commuters with a show that informs, entertains and makes them want to stay in the car once they get into the parking lot at work. We think that Heidi, Brian and Ben create a unique mix for L.A. that will do just that.” Brian Whitman is a 15-year Los Angeles resident who worked at CBS Radio’s KLSX-FM when it was a hot talk outlet. Ben Shapiro is an L.A. native, editor-at-large for Breitbart News and a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School. Boyce says, “Creating an on-air radio team is tricky, but these guys all developed chemistry and camaraderie instantly. You would think they had been on the air for years together. Heidi continues to drive the bus on the air, and the guys seem to bring out the best of her many talents.” KRLA/KTIE program director Chuck Tyler says, “When we threw these three people together we honestly weren’t sure what would happen, but we knew that each of them brought a unique and important element to the mix. After hearing a week of shows we realized that something very special was coming out of the speakers.”
George Plaster Returns to Nashville Sports Radio July 23. Nashville sports talk personality George Plaster and co-host Willy Daunic left WGFX, Nashville when Cumulus Media closed on the Citadel purchase back in September of 2011. Since then, the Tennessee sports talker has been off the radio due to a non-compete. Daunic joined Cromwell Group’s crosstown sports talk outlet WPRT in November of 2011. Now, the stage is set for Plaster (pictured here with Cromwell Group market manager Tincy Crouse) to rejoin co-host Daunic on the PM drive show on July 23. A report in The Tennessean says the program is headed for regional syndication as “Sports Night on The Game Radio Network,” although affiliates are not being announced just yet. Station manager Jeff Kolb tells the paper, “George has been the biggest radio sports personality in this market for 20 or so years and carries a huge fan base. We started this station last year by getting ESPN Radio (as the national network affiliate) and the Predators broadcasts, and then we added the Nashville Sounds. George is a staple of Nashville sports talk radio, so adding him is huge.”
Why Not Just Say, “Don’t Listen?” Consultant Holland Cooke cringes at amateur mistakes made by talk hosts bemoaning working during a holiday week. Are you (or your staff) making those same mistakes? Plus, a new study sheds some light on the public’s sentiments about civility in American political discourse (or lack thereof). Read Holland’s entire piece here.
Odds ‘n’ Sods. Genesis Communications sports talk WHOO, Orlando adds Central Florida News 13 sports anchor and reporter David Baumann to host the daily 9:00 am to 11:00 am show…..Grantland.com features another of its “oral histories,” this time writers Alex French and Howie Kahn write an oral history of sports talk pioneering station WFAN, New York. Grantland.com is a sports and pop culture website founded by ESPN.com writer Bill Simmons…..In response to the recent weather-related power outages, WTOP, Washington is hosting an “Ask the Utility Execs” live Q&A hosted by WTOP investigative reporter Mark Seagraves today at 10:00 am and will include reps from Pepco, BG&E, SMECO, NOVEC, Potomac Edison and Rappahannock….. WXKS, Boston morning drive talk host Jeff Katz is pictured here speaking at a Greater Boston Tea Party rally at Christopher Columbus Park at Boston Harbor to encourage the repeal of President Obama’s Affordable Care law…..Tampa-based Bubba the Love Sponge calls on his Bubba Army for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for the beating of a 17-year-old in Land O’ Lakes, Florida on July 2 that sent him to the emergency room with multiple injuries. Bubba is offering a $500 reward for information that leads to the arrest and prosecution of those involved…..Talk show host and candidate for Congress in Georgia’s 9th District, Martha Zoller, picked up some momentum in her bid for the seat as she won the Fannin County Tea Party Patriots’ Primary Preference Poll this weekend and earned the endorsement of the American Conservative Union PAC (ACU-PAC).
On a Pilgrimage. KARN-FM, Little Rock program director and PM drive host Dave Elswick (c) is pictured here with his wife Lynda (r) and Cumulus Media Networks talk host and Fox News Channel personality Governor Mike Huckabee (l) during a visit to a production of Huckabee’s FNC program. Elswick tells TALKERS he was in New York City with 50 listeners on his “Dave Elswick Patriot Tour 2012” and the group landed tickets to the taping.
ESPY Celebrity Golf Classic Raises $1 Million for V Foundation. The 12th annual ESPY Celebrity Golf Classic was held at the Industry Hills Golf Club in Industry Hills, California as part of the V Foundation events that happen in conjunction with the 2012 ESPYS which air tonight on ESPN. The golf outing helped raise $1 million for the V Foundation for Cancer Research. Pictured here are (from l-r): ESPN’s Mike Greenberg, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, ESPN executive chairman George Bodenheimer, ESPN’s Mike Golic, Olympic Skiing Gold Medalist Lindsey Vonn, actor Joe Mantegna and ESPN’s Stuart Scott.
House to Take Up ObamaCare Repeal, Bush Tax Cuts Repeal for Wealthy, 2012 Presidential Race, and Russia-Syria Connection Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/10). The U.S. House plans to vote on repeal of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act; the response to the president’s plan to repeal the Bush tax cuts for Americans making more than $250,000; the 2012 presidential campaign; and Russia’s sending of warships to aid Syria were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
WGN Informal Tour Now Playing on TALKERS TV. While TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison was in Chicago last week attending the NAB/RAB Radio Show, he ducked out briefly and headed across the street to the headquarters of the Tribune Company to pay a visit to his friends at WGN. With video camera in hand, and upon extremely short notice, Harrison was graciously given an informal, off-the-cuff, tour of the facility by the station’s program director Bill White. The video of that tour makes its TALKERS TV debut today. Although it offers just a quick and limited slice of the rich world that is WGN – a radio station with a historic pedigree stretching back to the early 1920s – it does capture a provocative glimpse of the heritage station’s unique specialness. Bill White takes us into the locked and almost forgotten — but still intact – record album and 45 rpm singles library, a fascinating reminder of big time radio as it was back in the day. We visit the green room where today’s news/talk radio air guests are greeted, seated and offered beverages…a room that has hosted an endless list of the powerful and famous including heads of state. We watch Leslie Keiling of WGN Traffic Central doing traffic reports and share a few words with her. We talk with Jackie Paulus, WGN director of marketing & digital strategies about the station’s digital sales initiatives. We meet assistant program director Alex Quigley in the WGN radio newsroom — situated against the dynamic backdrop of the main newsroom of the Chicago Tribune, located in the same building. We peek in on the huge main studios of the iconic radio station. A highlight of the visit is chatting with John Williams during a break during his midday show in the WGN street level Showcase Studio and barging in on the staff prep meeting conducted by afternoon drive star Garry Meier. View this must-see video in the TALKERS TV box on this page.
It’s Official: George Plaster Exits WGFX-FM, Nashville. Speculation over whether sports talk host George Plaster would stay with the company he sued for his freedom eight years ago (Cumulus) when it became owner of WGFX-FM is over. Plaster tells The Tennessean he made the decision on Friday, “It’s the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make in radio. It was very emotional for me because of the people that I’ve worked with. The people at 104.5 The Zone are as professional as any radio station that I have ever dealt with. These are friends and we’ve had unbelievable success at this station.” The new crosstown sports talk station owned by Cromwell Group – WPRT-FM – is a possible destination for Plaster but he says he’ll take some time to decide what he’s going to do next. There is probably a non-compete that Plaster will have to wait out before going back to radio in Nashville. At WGFX-FM, “The Allstate Sports Zone” continues on with Willy Daunic and Chad Withrow.
Premiere Networks Announces Goldline Exclusive Precious Metals Dealer Sponsor of Sean Hannity Show. Sean Hannity’s nationally syndicated radio show – heard on more than 500 affiliate stations – reaches an extremely dedicated core group of conservative talk radio listeners. That target demo must be exactly what Goldline International Inc. is looking for as it announces it is the exclusive precious metals sponsor of the Sean Hannity show. Goldline CEO Scott Carter states, “Sean Hannity clearly represents the pinnacle of talk radio with millions of loyal listeners following Sean’s unique take on politics, culture and current events. Goldline is thrilled to be a sponsor of the Sean Hannity show and help Americans across the country learn more about diversifying with precious metals.” Speaking about the exclusive advertising deal, Sean Hannity says, “I am looking forward to working closely with a gold company that has such a stellar reputation in the industry. For those who are thinking about investing in gold, the place I highly recommend is Goldline.”
KIRO, Seattle Extends Contracts of Kevin Calabro and Jim Moore. Bonneville’s 710 ESPN Seattle (KIRO) adds an hour to the Kevin Calabro show – now airing from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm daily – and gives contract extensions to host Kevin Calabro and co-host Jim Moore. Station GM Dave Pridemore notes the program is currently the #1-rated show in the Men 25-54 demo and says, “We are thrilled to have Kevin and Jim continue to anchor our afternoon drive into the future. Kevin’s connection to the Seattle sports audience, dedication to the craft and loyalty make him a true professional and advocate for this entire region.”
WTKK-FM, Boston Adds Pollster Scott Rasmussen for Weekly AM Drive Appearance. Rasmussen is the founder of Rasmussen Reports – the public opinion polling firm – and a frequent guest on cable news/talk TV shows as well as a talk show host in his own right. Now, Greater Media’s WTKK-FM, Boston announces Rasmussen will make a weekly appearance on its AM drive show with Jim Braude and Margery Eagan every Wednesday at 7:45. Braude says, “Scott Rasmussen is as good as they come, his insight on topics that Bostonians and New Englanders care about is unmatchable.” Eagan notes, “He knows what Americans are thinking about, everything from politics to laundry detergent.”
Pop Culture AM Drive Hosts Chaz and AJ Simulcast in New Haven and Norwalk, Connecticut. Cox Media Group gives talk-intensive rock WPLR, New Haven morning drive hosts Chaz and AJ another market as the duo’s program begins a simulcast on the company’s classic rock WFOX, Norwalk, Connecticut. The show is described as a mix of humor, politics and water cooler talk. Keith Dakin, who programs both stations, says, “This move just makes sense. I am extremely excited to extend the reach of Chaz and AJ to the residents of Fairfield County who have never been able to hear the show. These guys really deliver for Connecticut and I expect big things from them on WFOX.”
Marty Basch Joins CBS Radio Las Vegas as VP/Director of Sales. Basch has worked for CBS Radio in the recent past. He left two years ago to take the EVP/GM position with Kemp Broadcasting. Now he returns to the company as vice president and director of sales for the six-station cluster that includes news/talk KXNT-AM/FM.
Obama Deficit Reduction Plan, Palestinian-U.N. Issue, European Economic Jitters and 2012 Presidential Race Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/19). President Obama’s plan to cut the nation’s deficit, the Palestinian plea to the U.N. for statehood, continued jitters in Europe over Greek debt and the GOP contenders for president in 2012 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday.