TALKERS Magazine Compiles News/Talk Radio’s Most Talked-About Stories and People of 2013. As is customary at year’s end, the research editors of TALKERS magazine compile the most-talked-about stories and people of the just-concluded 12-month period. According to TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey, “2013 was an extremely colorful year with a diversity of subjects and people being discussed. There was the usual mix of partisan politics, foreign affairs, economic policy and, of course, the shockingly unexpected such as the Boston Marathon tragedy.” Casey continues, “The President of the United States has always been the most talked about person going back to the very beginning of this publication 24 years ago and George Bush’s involvement in the first Persian Gulf War. Barack Obama, like his predecessors in the modern age of talk broadcasting, has not left talk show hosts wanting for hot material on a daily basis.”
1) ObamaCare Rollout
2) Benghazi Attack Investigation
3) IRS Accused of Targeting Conservative Groups
4) Debt Ceiling/Govt. Shutdown/Sequestration Battle
5) NSA Domestic Spying/Edward Snowden Case
6) Boston Marathon Bombing
7) GOP 2014 and 2016 Strategy
8) Gun Legislation Debate
9) Iran Nuke Threat
10) Syria Civil War
11) Fed Stimulus Policy/Dow Surpasses 16,000
12) DOJ Journalist Investigations
13) Immigration Reform
14) George Zimmerman Trial
15) Afghanistan Security Withdrawl
16) Egypt Violence/Instability
17) N. Korea Nuke Threat
18) Detroit Bankruptcy
19) Pope Francis Replaces Benedict
20) SCOTUS Gay Marriage Ruling
1) Barack Obama
2) John Boehner
3) Nancy Pelosi
4) Harry Reid
5) Hillary Clinton
6) John Kerry
7) Rush Limbaugh
8) Ted Cruz
9) Chris Christie
10) Paul Ryan
11) Kathleen Sebelius
12) Edward Snowden
13) Vladimir Putin
14) George Zimmerman
15) Trayvon Martin
16) Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev
17) Kim Jong Un
18) Pope Francis
19) Ben Bernanke
20) Eric Holder
Radio Industry Sees Major Developments and Changes in 2013. The combined editorial staffs of RadioInfo and TALKERS magazines have posted the 10 biggest stories of importance to the entire radio industry (music and talk) that took place in 2013. They are as follows in order of importance:
1) Nielsen Acquires Arbitron
2) Developments in Emergence of the Connected Car
3) Network Sports Talk Radio Growth Explosion
4) Radio Company-Label Deals/Digital Royalty Rate Issue
5) Cumulus Acquires (Dial Global) WestwoodOne
6) Growth of Digital Music Service Providers
7) Limbaugh and Hannity Station Realignment Deals Negotiated
8) FCC Announces AM Band Revitalization Strategy
9) Progressive Talk Outlets Continue to Disappear
10) Country Music Format Enjoys Resurgence
Industry Mourns WINS, New York Senior Correspondent Stan Brooks. Legendary WINS, New York newsman Stan Brooks passed away yesterday (12/23) at his home at age 86. He’d been serving as senior correspondent for CBS RADIO’s WINS, New York – the station he’d been with for the past 50 years. Brooks started working for the station in 1962 when it was a top 40 station and stayed with it through its transition to all-news. WINS director of news and programming Ben Mevorach says of Brooks, “Like every challenge he has ever faced, Stan met this final one with the same class, dignity and humility that defined every day of his almost 87 years on this earth. There will never be another one like him.” EVP of operations for CBS RADIO Scott Herman adds, “Not only was Stan Brooks a walking encyclopedia on NYC politics he was one of the finest, decent and most dignified men who ever lived. We were lucky to have him on 1010 WINS for the past 51 years and we will never ever forget him.” Read about Brooks’ life and career in a piece from CBS New York here.
JVC Broadcasting Prepares for Launch of ‘Long Island News Radio 103.9’ on Thursday. Long Island-based JVC Broadcasting announces the lineup for its soon-to-be former rock outlet WRCN, Riverhead, New York branded “Long Island News Radio 103.9.” TALKERS reported two weeks ago that the station’s studio will be located in the terminal of the Long Island MacArthur Airports – a physical reminder of the local intentions of this new station for the Long Islanders who use the facility. Now to the lineup: morning drive is being hosted by Jay Oliver; the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon show is Fox News Radio’s Brian Kilmeade and Friends; local host John Gomez is handling the 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm slot followed by the local, one-hour show “Breaking it Down with Frank Mackay.” Premiere Networks superstar Sean Hannity is in the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm slot and Cumulus Media Networks’ Mark Levin airs from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
Robby Bowen Upped at CBS RADIO’s ‘105.3 The Fan.’ Sales pro Robby Bowen is promoted to general sales manager for CBS RADIO sports talker KRLD-FM, Dallas “105.3 The FAN.” Bowen joined CBS RADIO Dallas-Fort Worth in February 2005 as an account executive for the station, which was at that time KLLI-FM. During his time there he has served as local sales manager and most recently was senior account director.
Changes in Middays at WJFK-FM, Washington Raise Questions. According to Dan Steinberg’s column in the Washington Post, the midday lineup at CBS RADIO’s sports talk WJFK-FM, Washington, DC is in flux after the station announced Holden Kushner will be moving to other duties including weekends, fill-in and participating in Washington Nationals coverage. Kushner was paired up with Danny Rouhier who reportedly will host the show solo today (12/24) and then be on vacation through December 30. What happens after that is uncertain. The station is expected to announce plans for the 10:00 am to 2:00 pm daypart in the New Year but already the news is cause for speculation. With the arrival of Don Geronimo from the company’s KHTK, Sacramento earlier this fall (currently hosting evenings), DC radio fans are wondering if he’ll return to a daytime show on the station. Geronimo and former partner Mike O’Meara held down afternoon drive at the station when it was a hot talker from 1991 through 2008.
Matt Walsh Exits WLAP, Lexington; Sean Hannity to Air in PM Drive. Writer and talk show host Matt Walsh announces that his contract with Clear Channel’s WLAP, Lexington, Kentucky is up and as the station is filling the afternoon drive slot with Premiere Networks star Sean Hannity, he’s leaving AM/FM talk radio for good. In a post on his blog, Walsh explains that although he has nothing but good things to say about his time at WLAP, he’s going to focus on his blog that he says has “between three and five million people” reading it every month. As for his time at WLAP, he says, “WLAP took a chance on me, gave me a show, gave me the freedom to handle the topics in my own way, and surrounded me with a highly intelligent and passionate supporting cast. I’m grateful for that, as these things are certainly not a given in this industry.”
NAB Acquires Two Events: CCW and SATCON. The National Association of Broadcasters announces it has purchased the assets of the Content and Communications World (CCW) and Satellite Communications Conference and Expo (SATCON) events from JD Events. The two events are held annually in November and are co-located at the Javits Convention Center in New York City. In a press statement, the NAB says that “CCW is the leading media, entertainment and communications technology event of its kind in New York with a focus on content creation, management and delivery technologies. SATCON offers education and exhibits serving companies in the satellite-enabled communications and content delivery industry.” EVP of NAB Conventions and Business Operations Chris Brown comments, “We have made these additions to the NAB event family with the goal of growing both the attendee and exhibitor base of what has emerged as an important East Coast venue for the content community. We look forward to developing this event and serving the unique needs of this very important media market.”
Nieslen Audio December PPM Data Released. The December 2013 PPM ratings data is being released by Nielsen Audio – currently numbers for the first 12 markets have been made public – and that information can be found at the site of TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo. Check out the main page for managing editor and West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian’s “Ten Takeaways” here or go straight to the full ratings data here.
Odds & Sods. Premiere Networks-distributed 24/7 Comedy – the 24-hour, all-comedy format – will ring in the New Year with a countdown of the top 247 comedy bits from the top 247 comedians. The program is compiled by staff and listeners who voted on 24/7 Comedy’s Facebook page or called the laugh-line at 218-Chuckle. The countdown will air nationwide all day New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day and will feature Chris Rock, Louis C.K., Bill Cosby, George Carlin, Aziz Ansari, Bill Engvall, Jerry Seinfeld and Rodney Dangerfield…..KFMB, San Diego weekend program “It’s Your Money and Your Life” picked up three first place awards from the San Diego Press Club for “Excellence in Journalism.” The show currently originates from La Jolla’s prestigious La Valencia Hotel and airs Saturdays from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm, hosted by Richard Muscio (left) and Joe Vecchio (right).
Tornado Damage Reported Via Multi-Media on McGraw Milhaven Show. The series of tornadoes that swept across the Midwest on Sunday left serious damage in New Minden, Illinois – about an hour East of St. Louis. The photo you see here is from the video component of KTRS, St. Louis morning host McGraw Milhaven’s online platform. Since the spring, Milhaven has been partnering with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s StlToday.com site to present his program in a video format. Today, he used that medium to his advantage as reporter Michael Golde was able to report back to the studio via Skype and show viewers scenes from the storm-damaged town and converse with Milhaven and news anchor Kelly Jackson. In posting the video on YouTube, Milhaven comments, “KTRS Radio in St Louis is the only radio station in the country to show live video of storm-damaged areas of Ill. to listeners on laptops, desktops and smartphones as well as the radio.”
JVC Media to Flip Rock WRCN, Long Island to News/Talk After Christmas. Longtime rocker WRCN, Riverhead, New York has stopped playing “everything that rocks” and has gone Christmas music through the holidays. But after Christmas, the station will emerge as a news/talk outlet dubbed “LI News Radio 103.9.” JVC Media president and CEO John Caracciolo explains the company’s thinking in a statement: “WRCN has a long history and heritage on Long Island – many of us have grown up with the station and it has become an intricate part of our lives. But as our lives change so does our soundtrack. What we listened to growing up is not necessarily what we listen to now and what was important to us as teenagers maybe doesn’t seem so important anymore. That’s why we made the decision to change WRCN and develop and program a radio station that fits the needs of Long Island…Long Islanders are starving for local news and information. Why should we have to wait 22 minutes to hear about the world when all we really want is Islip to Southampton? What’s the traffic like on the 347 merge or Sunrise Highway in Oakdale? This station will not only serve as your information source but it will be your sounding board for issues that influence your life, your community and your business.” Talent that has been announced to be part of the new format includes Premiere Networks nationally syndicated star Sean Hannity and Cumulus Media Networks personality Mark Levin as well as local hosts Ernie Fasio, Vic Fusco, John Gomez, Kevin Law, Steve Levy, Frank McKay, and Jay Oliver.
Linda Thomas to Exit KIRO-FM, Seattle. Morning news anchor and reporter Linda Thomas announces she will be leaving Bonneville’s news/talk KIRO-FM, Seattle at the end of the year for a new opportunity that, as she says, “doesn’t involve being at work by 2:00 am.” In a blog post at the company’s Mynorthwest.com, she writes, “My Bonneville Seattle bosses understand and support my decision too, even though they don’t want me to leave. That’s what family members do. I’ll always be grateful for them, and for you.” Thomas first worked at KIRO in 1988 as an overnight editor and became morning drive anchor in 1993. She left the station to work as a freelancer but returned to KIRO-FM as morning anchor in 2010. She adds, “KIRO’s news, talk and online teams are the best in the business. It’s been an honor to work alongside amazing talent. I’ve learned a lot from all my co-workers. They encourage me, challenge me, and make me laugh on a daily basis. I really do love them.”
Michelle Wright Let Go from All-News WYAY, Atlanta. The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho tips us that morning drive co-anchor Michelle Wright has been let go from Cumulus Media’s all-news WYAY, Atlanta “All-News 106.7.” Andy Rose remains in AM drive solo. The speculation is that the recent hiring of Kim “The Kimmer” Peterson to host a talk show in middays and the acquisition of Atlanta Braves baseball required some cuts in other areas of the station and Wright was the unfortunate victim. She was one of the original staffers when Cumulus decided to turn WYAY into an all-news station in May of 2012. She had previously worked at Atlanta-based CNN Radio before joining Cumulus.
CEOs Make the Grade. Clear Channel’s Bob Pittman and Emmis’ Jeff Smulyan were both the subjects of feature stories in newspapers over the weekend – Pittman in The New York Times and Smulyan in the Indianapolis Star. In a Q&A titled, the Value of Dissent, Pittman says he encouraged dissenters in his organization because they serve a valuable purpose. “I want us to listen to these dissenters because they may intend to tell you why we can’t do something, but if you listen hard, what they’re really telling you is what you must do to get something done. It gets you out of your framework of the conventions of what you can and can’t do.” Read that piece here. Jeff Smulyan tells the Star in his Q&A that the best piece of advice he’s received has to do with employer-employee relationships, “Attract the best people, treat them well, and let them do their job. If you want people to go through walls for you, you have to go through more walls for them.” Read that story here.
The View of Radio from the Digital World’s Perspective. Noted radio digital consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller writes, “Those of us in digital media know that our world will continue to change drastically, over and over again. We also know that we will be bigger and better three years…five years…10 years from now. Plus, we hear how radio compares itself to online listening choices, and we see how you use your digital platforms. And here’s what we think.” In a new column posted today (11/18) Miller goes on to state that digital-only people still have “transmitter envy” and that even though more and more people and media are moving online, the stick is still a formidable asset. Regardless, he points out that many digital-only professionals think that over-the-air radio companies are “crazy” for cutting talent, still selling 60-second commercials, and not being cognizant of just how much entertainment is changing. He clearly explains what digital pros see as radio’s “dangerous assumption.” He observes, “I look at a lot of different radio social media, websites, database emails and texting programs, and it’s clear you’re making some dangerous assumptions. Digital content doesn’t work like you think it should. It doesn’t work like you wish it did. It works like it works. We see you on Facebook and Twitter talking about almost anything…except what people really love about you. Your websites are a mish-mosh of broad-based content, but if you look at your web stats, there are fewer than half-a-dozen features at your site that, combined, get the lion’s share of your page views. There is nothing special or exclusive about the emails you send your listeners, and your open rates prove it. Radio people know a lot about how people use radio. Meanwhile, you are using all these other media as if knowing how they work doesn’t matter. One key thing we’re doing to drive our online success is to track everything we can to see what really makes a difference. We don’t have the luxury of having opinions about what should work. Either the clicks are there, or they aren’t. What we do either works, or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, you dig in, diagnose the problem, and adjust.” To read Chris Miller’s entire column, please click here.
Premiere Reverses Course; Keeps Randi Rhodes on Syndication Menu. There are no reports indicating just what happened between Randi Rhodes and syndicator Premiere Networks but the latter is confirming the widely reported news that Rhodes will continue to be syndicated by Premiere, at least through 2014. Premiere SVP of affiliate relations Peter Tripi emailed affiliates, “In a happy turn of events, we are pleased to announce that Premiere Networks will continue to produce and distribute the Randi Rhodes show. In an industry of constant change, it’s a pleasure to provide good news about a talk talent we think so highly of. We apologize for any inconvenience the previous announcement caused, but look forward to a very successful 2014 with the Randi Rhodes show.” Several weeks ago, Rhodes began telling her audience she was foreseeing the end of her program and later Premiere notified affiliates the relationship would be ending.
It’s Pop-Up Time. No, not the kind of pop-up we associate with websites – pop-up ads – but those retail stores that “pop up” in vacant storefronts during the holiday shopping season. Sales maven and H&H Communications president Al Herskovitz writes about getting these seasonal businesses advertising on your station this year. He notes that many of these retailers are big name brands that choose to expand their physical space during this time of year and they include Vera Bradley, Louis Vuitton and the National Football League. Read Al Herskovitz’s entire column here.
ABC News Radio Offers Kennedy Assassination Programming. As the nation marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, ABC News Radio is offering a two-hour special broadcast, “Three Shots Rang Out: An ABC News Special – The JFK Assassination 50 Years Later,” anchored by ABC News’ Diane Sawyer. It’s an audio-only program that will be heard by ABC News Radio affiliates. In addition, a special expanded show will be available via download at Audible.com as part of a new digital audio relationship between ABC News Radio and Audible. The Audible.com version of this program will include an additional 40 minutes of historical audio available exclusively to Audible listeners.
Ron Ruth Passes. Former 19-year Radio Advertising Bureau executive vice president of stations Ron Ruth died early Saturday (11/16) in Florida of a heart attack. The 75-year-old Ruth had been struggling with health issues the past two months. CBS Radio president and chief executive officer Dan Mason was among those quickly noting their sympathies regarding Ruth’s passing. “I just spoke with him at the Radio Show this past September in Orlando,” Mason writes on Facebook. “He was so up and happy – I am sad tonight.” Also on that social media platform, Tom Birch notes, “Ron lived life to its fullest and was a joy and inspiration to everyone who had the opportunity to know him. Ron was the midwife to Birch Research. He opened doors for me, encouraged me and guided me. I am deeply honored to have worked for Ron at WQAM, Miami in the 1970s, and to have remained friends with him for the next three decades.” According to former RKO General eastern vice president Perry Ury, “Ron Ruth was a friend and our house skeptic at RKO.” Former Tele Media Broadcasting vice president and chief operating officer Ira Rosenblatt adds, “We’ve lost a friend and true broadcaster.” Doing afternoon drive in Boston early in his radio career, Ruth roomed with two other on-air talents who went on to stardom – George Carlin and Jack Burns of Burns & (Avery) Schreiber. He held sales manager positions for Unistar Radio Networks, as well as at the local level in markets such as New York (WOR-FM), Chicago (WNUS), Washington, DC (WGMS), and Buffalo (WYSL). Ruth left Unistar to join the RAB in 1992. Most recently, he was consulting the Radio Advertising Bureau.
A Man of His Word. The man having his head shaved live on the air on Cumulus Media’s WMAL, Washington, DC is former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino. Not too long ago, Bongino said on the WMAL airwaves that he would shave his head if President Obama apologized for the gaffes in the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. And since the president did offer an apology of sorts, Bongino agreed to honor his statement live on the air and did so on Friday, November 15.
KIRO-FM, Seattle’s Tony Miner Gives Up Full-Time Position. Longtime KIRO-FM, Seattle news anchor Tony Miner has ended his full-time afternoon news anchor position with the Bonneville news/talk outlet but will continue to do fill-in and other part-time work at the station. In a piece on Bonneville-owned MyNorthwest.com, Miner says he’s not calling it semi-retirement, “I look upon it as a transition to more of a part-time thing here, filling in across the board, doing some commercial work, and just not doing the five day a week grind and coming down all the way from the Miner Ranch in the Skagit Valley every day.” Miner had been commuting more than an hour each way from his home to the studios. He was heard daily during the afternoon drive Ron & Don program.
Randy Galloway to Exits ESPN 103.3 in Dallas as Cumulus Begins Operations. Dallas sports media personality Randy Galloway’s “Galloway and Company” program will air for the final time on KESN, Dallas today (10/7) as Cumulus Media takes over the operations of the Disney/ESPN-owned station. Galloway’s contract with ESPN runs out at the end of this year and the Dallas Star-Telegram reports that Galloway’s lawyer advised him that his ESPN contract is non-transferable so he gets paid for the rest of the year by leaving the program. If he were to say on with Cumulus, ESPN would be off the hook. Galloway – a Star-Telegram columnist – says he’s had discussions with ESPN about contributing on national issues but doesn’t say if anything has been agreed to.
Islanders Renew with Hofstra; Add Signal on Eastern Long Island. The NHL’s New York Islanders renew their deal for Hofstra University’s non-com WRHU, Hempstead to serve as the flagship station for the team’s games this season. In addition, Long Island-based JVC Broadcasting enters into an agreement with the club to air games on its rock WRCN, Riverhead, New York. The addition of WRCN gives the Isles a radio presence in the central and eastern Long Island areas. Hofstra dean of the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, Evan Cornog, tells Newsday, “WRHU is a college radio station that holds itself to the highest professional standards, so we are delighted to enter into a fourth year as the flagship radio station for a great professional sports franchise, the New York Islanders.” JVC’s Matthew Goldapper adds, “JVC Broadcasting is incredibly proud to partner with Hofstra University and the New York Islanders to carry the games in Suffolk County. Residents from Islip to Montauk will now have the ability to listen to all of the action on 103.9 FM.”
Bruce DuMont to Seek New Executive Director for Museum of Broadcast Communications. After founding the Chicago-located Museum of Broadcast Communications, Bruce DuMont says he will recommend to the board of directors that it consider hiring an executive director or general manager to oversee the day-to-day operations of the organization. According to a story by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, the 69-year-old DuMont will continue to serve as president and CEO of the non-profit that he founded in 1983. DuMont, who still hosts his weekly “Beyond the Beltway” political talk show from studios in the Chicago facility, says he intends to spend more time raising visibility and funds for the organization. The museum on North State Street re-opened last year after being closed for almost 10 years due to state funding and other fiscal problems that impeded construction of the $27 million building.
Odds & Sods. United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia tells New York Magazine that his favorite talk show host is (former Secretary of Education) Bill Bennett. In the piece, Scalia is asked about his media consumption and he says he gets most of his news while driving and cites Salem Radio Network’s Bennett as his favorite, “My good friend Bill Bennett. He’s off the air by the time I’m driving in, but I listen to him sometimes when I’m shaving. He has a wonderful talk show. It’s very thoughtful. He has good callers. I think they keep off stupid people.” Bennett says of Scalia’s comments, “I couldn’t be happier to know that ‘Morning in America’ is a part of Justice Scalia’s morning routine. Now, if we can just get four more of his colleagues to tune in before they put their robes on, maybe the country will be in better shape.”…..Sports talk personality Steve Hayward returns to Good Karma’s WAUK, Milwaukee hosting his daily 6:00 pm program after a year away from the mic due to health reasons. WITI-TV, Milwaukee reports Hayward has been suffering from cardiomyopathy, diabetes and kidney failure…..WTAG, Worcester morning drive host Paul Westcott sits in for Andy Dean on Premiere Networks‘ “America Tonight” show this evening (10/7).
WEEI Red Sox Radio Network “Believes” in Castiglione for Two More Seasons. With their team just one win away from advancing to the American League Championship Series in a miraculous turnaround campaign, Boston Red Sox fans are being made aware that play-by-play caller Joe Castiglione will be infusing his trademark “Can you believe it?” exclamation for at least two more years. The popular Castiglione has been a Red Sox fixture for 31 years. He will continue in his current role alongside Dave O’Brien through the 2015 season, in what Castiglione describes as, “the best job in New England.” Previous Red Sox play-by-play announcers have included such outstanding stalwarts as Curt Gowdy, Ned Martin, and Ken Coleman; however, Castiglione is the longest-tenured announcer in the team’s illustrious history. “From spring training, to opening day, to that famous final out in St. Louis in 2004, I have had the best seats in the house,” he remarks. WEEI brand manager Kevin Graham adds, “Joe is more than a just broadcaster; he’s become as iconic as Fenway Park or the Green Monster. One of the reasons the Boston Red Sox are such a part of the fabric of New England is because of the work and the voice of Joe Castiglione.” Nominated earlier this week by The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum for the Ford C. Frick Award, Castiglione has broadcast some of the most memorable moments in Red Sox history. He called Carl Yastrzemski’s last game in 1983; Roger Clemens’ 20-strikeout game; Dave Roberts’ steal in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees; and the Red Sox 2004 and 2007 World Series Championships.
Former CBS Radio Broadcaster W. Ron Sailor, Sr. Passes. Bishop W. Ron Sailor, Sr., Pastor of Christ the King Baptist Church and former radio personality at CBS Radio’s talk WAOK and urban contemporary WVEE “V-103” passed away on October 6 at age 63. Sailor originally worked for WAOK in 1971 and returned to the station in 2002 when it flipped to a news/talk format. Sailor won accolades for his television works as well winning local EMMYs Outstanding Commentator in the Southeastern United States three-times. He was the first African-American to serve as commentator for the evening news for a major southern television station on WSB-TV and also the first African-American to host an afternoon television program in Atlanta, when he hosted the “Backtalk” program on WXIA-TV.