Former Connecticut Governor and WTIC, Hartford Talk Host Found Guilty of Campaign Law Violations. He’d already served 10 months in prison for a 2004 conviction on corruption charges when CBS RADIO’s news/talk WTIC, Hartford hired John Rowland to host a daily afternoon drive radio talk show. Now, after Friday’s conviction on seven counts of campaign finance law violations, it appears that Rowland is likely headed back to prison. Sentencing is scheduled for December 12 but his attorneys plan to appeal. According to the Hartford Courant’s account, Rowland, who resigned from WTIC in April just before being indicted on the charges, chose not to take a plea deal for 18 months jail time and tested his luck with the jury. It didn’t work as the jury found him guilty of all charges related to his scheme to consult a Republican political candidate in 2012 and hide the fact that he was accepting the cash for those purposes. Read Edmund Mahony’s Courant story here.
Local On-Air Talent CAN Become Indispensable. Media consultant Holland Cooke revisits (and expands upon!) the point he made the “pages” of TALKERS four years ago that “if you’re in RADIO, you’re in SALES” in a column published today (9/22). It’s easy to pick apart the effectiveness of another medium’s advertising components but radio must look in the mirror for, as Cooke writes, criticism of a lot of radio’s not-so-great spots is justified because “at many stations, including some in major markets, there’s no creative department. Reps write their own copy, a task that’s not sellers’ core competency.” Effectiveness is directly related to quality, so how to up the quality? Cooke offers some suggestions and you can check them out here.
Consultant Fred Jacobs Encourages Radio Talent to Learn and Exploit Expanded Array of Available Media Tools. Reaction and commentary continues to buzz throughout the industry on the topic of the role of the aural media arts (non-visual radio and music) in the increasingly multi-media/visual environment of the digital era – instigated largely last week by comments made by TALKERS and RadioInfo publisher Michael Harrison in the aftermath of the Clear Channel name/branding change to iHEARTMEDIA. According to Harrison, “I am delighted by the enormous number of responses – mostly overwhelmingly positive – that my comments sparked. Of course, there were those who immediately jumped to the conclusion that I am against the word ‘media’ or that I do not believe radio should be involved in internet, satellite or visual media at all. This is, of course, preposterous! The name of our company that owns TALKERS is Talk Media, Inc.; the name of our convention was the New Media Seminar way back in 1998; TALKERS magazine’s slogan is The Bible of Talk Radio and the New Talk Media; I have championed a concept known as “The Media Station” for more than a decade and the list goes on. All I am saying is we should remain sensitive and respectful to the idea that there is a very important place in this emerging mix for pure audio-only radio and music in terms of the fundamentals of these processes – and that by doing so, we will be serving the best interests of our industry, the people who work in it and the consumers who love radio and music on their basic terms.” Harrison continues, “My friend, noted radio consultant/researcher Fred Jacobs, CEO of Jacobs Media, — also an industry voice who is outspoken on this most compelling issue — has written and posted a blog today (9/22) that I believe adds an important dimension to the subject that warrants attention. Jacobs makes a case, somewhat counterpoint (but not contradictory) to mine, that I find inspirational.” In the blog, Jacobs writes, “I started thinking about this notion that the proliferation of screens will narrow the field for talkers, DJs, and hosts who are great with words, but not so wonderful visually. As he [Michael Harrison] notes, screens of all sizes are becoming dominant parts of how people consume media. Thankfully, radio has been able to participate on most of those screens, whether on smartphones or tablets. Over time as autonomous driving becomes more common, those who ride in these cars will gravitate to entertainment that is visual in origin – at least at a higher percentage than they are able to consume now while dangerously texting and driving. So is this the beginning of the end for radio, or is it simply the beginning of the beginning? Because as we have explored in this blog during the past few years, disruption forces old stars to adapt while bringing new ones to the center stage. Notably, two of the “Best Motion Picture” Oscars in just the past few years have focused on this topic. The King’s Speech starring Colin Firth was a story about changing technology, as the King of England was forced to learn how to communicate on the radio. Of course, he struggled, but in the end he was able to adapt. And in The Artist, the film’s silent film star refused to adapt to ‘talkies’ and is eventually displaced by a new brand of movie icons. Change is uncomfortable and it can be bitter, as depicted in this amazing film. The ending eventually become a happy one, but the road was arduous and difficult because of the tech disruption caused by the advent of movie sound. Change is hard, especially for those who have enjoyed the status quo. It tests everyone in all strata of the organization and the industry. Accepting, adapting, and adjusting is hard work. It can be quite uncomfortable in workplaces that were once always fun and even kind of easy. But these are the necessary skills that radio people need to exude in order to make the transition. We see signs of this every day in broadcast radio. Those who have the ability to connect with audiences – in person and in social spaces – have a unique edge. The old paradigm of the DJ hermit, locked down the hall in the air studio, is breaking apart. Today’s air talent need to be able to mix it up with listeners, clients, and community leaders. Not every film star is handsome. The public appreciates an interesting face, whether it’s Peter Dinklage on Game of Thrones or Linda Hunt on NCIS. They may be exceptions, but they stand out because they’re different, captivating, and worthy of our attention. They’re also immensely talented actors. And the same will be the case on the radios of the future. While good-looking DJs like Ryan Seacrest or Bobby Bones may have inherent advantages, Howard Stern proves that must-hear content trumps a pretty face. And he’s not alone. Words matter, and they will continue to in a media ecosphere that is now dominated by visuals. Screens or not, it’s the thought that counts. These are changes that radio need to roll with. Let’s open up new visual doors, new avenues, and new paths for our content. And let’s embrace them because it’s truly a media world.” To read Fred Jacobs’ entire blog, please click here.
Radio Management Pro Warren Named VP/MM for Cumulus Nashville. Jumping from the Austin cluster of Entercom where she was director of sales and taking on the vice president and market manager role at Cumulus Media Nashville is Allison Warren. Cumulus SVP Jeff Brown comments, “Allison was a key part of my team in Denver some years back. She did great work there and has since built a portfolio of successes in vibrant radio markets including Austin, Madison and Milwaukee. Her results-driven, collaborative leadership style will infuse our Nashville operations with the energy and focus needed at this pivotal point in the cluster’s growth. Allison will be an incredible asset to Cumulus’ leadership team.” Warren also served with Entercom at its Madison and Milwaukee clusters as well as with CBS RADIO in Denver. Cumulus operates six stations in the market including news/talk WWTN-FM “SuperTalk 99.7,” sports talker WGFX “104.5 The Zone,” as well as the Tennessee Titans Radio Network.
Cross Platform Media Acquires IRN/USA Radio Network. The president and CEO of Cross Platform Media, Sam Hassell, says the acquisition of IRN/USA Radio Network “rounds out the services of Cross Platform that is already deeply embedded in the national media space.” Hassell continues, “We are very excited to make this announcement. We look forward to fulfilling the original vision of USA Radio Network by providing audience-engaging news and content to the independent and group station owners around the country.” Christian and conservative broadcast pioneer Marlin Maddoux launched the USA Radio Network in 1985 and Hassell adds, “We are very respectful of the Maddoux legacy and proud to continue syndicating ‘Point of View,’ ‘Daybreak USA,’ IRN/USA News and so many other significant programs.” IRN/USA Radio Network currently produces and/or distributes more than 20 nationally syndicated radio programs with audience-targeted formatting primarily for news/talk and Christian radio (both commercial and non-commercial).
BIA/Kelsey Forecast for 2015 Local Media Revenue: Up 1.6%. But, of course, the increase comes as beneficial for those in the online/digital media realm (+13.1%) and, not surprisingly, traditional media is expected to see another dip (-1.7%). BIA/Kelsey is presenting these results and more at its Leading in Local: SMB Digital Marketing conference in New Orleans this week. The company predicts that in 2015, online/digital will account for more than one-quarter (25.2%) of total local media revenues in 2015. Revenues for online/digital are expected to grow from $31 billion in 2014 to $35 billion in 2015, representing a 13.1% growth rate. Other forecasts include: Mobile local ad revenues will grow from $4.3 billion in 2014 to $6.6 billion in 2015; Local social media revenues will grow from $2.5 billion in 2014 to $3.6 billion in 2015; Local search revenues will grow from $7.1 billion in 2014 to $7.2 billion in 2015; Local display revenues will grow from $4.3 billion in 2014 to $4.9 billion in 2015; and Local online video revenues will grow from $2.3 billion in 2014 to $3.0 billion in 2015.
Dolans and Seaview Radio Hit Home Run with Live Event in South Florida. Proving there is life after WOR, New York, the legendary husband/wife money media team of Ken & Daria Dolan (pictured here, Daria at left, Ken at right) joined forces with WSVU (960 AM/95.9 FM/ 106.9 FM), North Palm Beach “Seaview Radio” this past Saturday (9/20) presenting a successful, day-long listener/sponsor event titled, “South Florida Wealth & Health Expo 2014,” at the prestigious Jupiter Maltz Theatre in Jupiter, Florida. The event brought local businesses and services from the fields of health, finance and better living together highlighted with on-stage financial advice presentations by the Dolans. Seaview Radio general manager Chet Tart tells TALKERS, “The event gave us a wonderful opportunity to establish new and heightened relationships with sponsors from one of the most dynamic business sectors in the market. We immediately received positive response with attendees and vendors already asking about next year’s event. I think we might have to find a larger venue, next time around.” The Dolans, now based in Jupiter, are best remembered for their stunning run of success at WOR, New York and the WOR Radio Network in the 90s and early-2000s – supplemented by their hosting hot shows on CNN, MSNBC and other cable news/talk networks as well as penning best-selling books on the topic of personal finance. Known for their entertaining banter and solid advice both on air and on stage, the Dolans went into semi-retirement several years ago – but have had difficulty steering clear of offers that keep coming their way for live appearances and their broadcast sales consulting services. The result has been the birth of the increasingly active firm Dolan Media. CEO Ken Dolan tells TALKERS, “There are huge revenue and promotional opportunities for local radio stations in live events – especially in the areas that strike home to most people – health and money. The two go together beautifully as we have just proven at this event in Florida. Daria and I are strongly considering taking this show on the road and helping stations around the country create a very exciting form of financial and PR synergy so dearly needed by small and middle-sized operators at this time.” Perennial members of the TALKERS Heavy Hundred during their run at WOR, the Dolans have been ranked #75 on the prestigious Heaviest Hundred list of the “100 Most important Radio Talk Show Hosts of All Time.” WSVU, North Palm Beach was recently sold by North Palm Beach Broadcasters to JVC Media. GM Chet Tart – one of the most connected broadcast executives in the market – will stay on as GM of the new expanded operation planned by the acquiring owners, telling TALKERS, “With this transition to JVC, I find myself even more focused than ever… offering leadership, encouragement and inspiration to the staff. That’s my focus!” Chet Tart can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ken Dolan can be contacted at email@example.com.
Odds & Sods. At the iHeartMedia Des Moines cluster, alternative KXDA PD Mike Killabrew takes on the programming responsibilities for sister sports talker KXNO, leaving WHO programmer Van Harden to focus on his duties with the heritage news/talker…..Radio personality Denny Schaffer – most recently with iHeartMedia news/talker WRNO, New Orleans and former host at the company’s WSPD, Toledo – is back in Toledo as morning jock on Cumulus Media’s hot AC WWWM “Star 105.”…..Dallas news pro Jim Ryan joins ABC News Radio full time. Ryan — a current staffer at WBAP, Dallas and part-time contributor to ABC News Radio, makes the switch starting November 1.
Carl Wolfson Back in the Talk Media Business. The former KPOJ, Portland morning drive host returns to the talk media game on Inauguration Day via the internet after raising $52,000 and counting via Kickstarter. Carl Wolfson was the morning host on Clear Channel’s former progressive talk outlet KPOJ, Portland before it flipped to sports talk in the New Year. Wolfson decided to use Kickstarter to fund a new avenue to get his brand of talk to the public and the “Elect ‘Carl in the Morning’ to a Second Term” campaign raised more than $52,000. So, beginning on January 21, Wolfson will stream live from 7:00 am to 8:30 am and make his show available via podcast. Wolfson says the money will go to buy office space, utilities, equipment, server costs and more. KPOJ was one of the country’s longest-running and more successful progressive talk stations and the news of its flip to sports talk that broke in November was disappointing to progressive talk fans in the market. As morning drive anchor and the local host, Wolfson attracted a loyal following on KPOJ. Now, he’ll get the chance to make a go of it in the digital realm.
WLS-AM, Chicago’s Jake Hartford Dead at 63. Chicago talk radio personality Jake Hartford (Jim Edwards) passed away after suffering a heart attack. Hartford was a longtime weekender and fill-in host on WLS, beginning his career there in 1989. Most recently he had been co-hosting the late morning show with John Kass from 9:00 am to 11:00 am. His family, via the WLS-AM website, gives the following statement: “We’re currently mourning the loss of Jake Hartford, a husband, father, and friend. This is devastating news for everyone in our family, and we greatly appreciate all of the kind words that have been offered to us during our struggle. It’s truly incredible how many people he has affected positively through pursuing the work that he loved so dearly. Thank you for keeping us in your thoughts as we do our best to ‘spring forward.’”
The Todd Schnitt-Bubba the Love Sponge Case Goes to Trial Today. Actually the jury selection process begins today in Hillsborough County, Florida. The real interesting part will follow and is expected to last about three weeks. Todd Schnitt – who then battled Bubba the Love Sponge in morning drive in Tampa – filed suit against Todd Clem (BTLS) in 2008 claiming “false, highly offensive and defamatory statements” made by Clem about Schnitt and his wife Michelle. Specifically, Schnitt’s suit claims that Clem’s attacks on him and his wife – an assistant state attorney – went beyond name calling between public figures. He alleges Clem accused him of illegal activities including rigging the Arbitron ratings and taking “plugola.” Schnitt also claims Clem encouraged his listeners to physically attack him and his wife and that led to four encounters with Bubba listeners including being forced off the road by another car, being harassed at dinner and having their house egged. Schnitt’s claims are going to be hard to prove. First, he’ll have to show actual malice on the part of Clem plus he’ll have to prove some real harm came to himself and his wife. But the cast of witnesses should prove interesting in and of itself. The Tampa Bay Times reports Randy Michaels, Hulk Hogan, Cowhead, and other local media personalities are listed as possible witnesses.
Platform Plays Huge Influence on Public’s Perception of Content. According to noted radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Holland Cooke, the stage upon which a production is delivered plays a significant role in shaping the potential audience’s expectation of its content and value. Keeping this important piece of media theory in mind, FM and AM radio still have a tremendous advantage over podcasting and internet radio in giving its content instant gravitas simply because it is “on the radio.” Of course, as time goes by, this psychological advantage will dissipate unless radio continues to deliver product worthy of high expectations. Cooke illustrates this point by citing the fascinating story of the world-class concert violinist, Joshua Bell who performed as a non-descript street musician playing a $3.5 million Stradivarius in the Washington, DC subway system. If you don’t know the story, you should — especially if you are a podcaster. To read Holland Cooke’s piece, click here.
Truth is More Effective than Hype in the Online Space. According to noted radio digital consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller, broadcasters should be mindful that the kind of hyperbole that marks the tone of on-air promotion doesn’t translate well on the internet. Radio broadcasters should tone down the sizzle and hype when translating on- air messages to their websites. In an exclusive article for TALKERS, Miller writes, “For anyone old enough to tell truth from fiction when the internet first really got hot, there is still a stigma about online information. It’s automatically suspect. What you say online (especially on your site) needs not only be true; you also need to present it in a way that convinces your fans that you are telling the truth. On the air, we like to add sizzle and excitement to what we promote, so we write promos and liners in call-to-action language and we gloss over important detail points. That’s fine on the air. When I was a PD, I would not have accepted a promo that was just a laundry list of rules for a particular promotion. When you go online with that info, your tone needs to change.” To read Chris Miller’s entire piece click here.
The Wall Street Journal Radio Network to End “The Daily Wrap” Program. Launched in the spring of 2011, the early evening program hosted by Michael Castner will end in 90 days as The Wall Street Journal Radio Network has decided to pull the plug on “The Daily Wrap.” WSJRN brought Castner to the show from Clear Channel’s WRNO, New Orleans where he’d been hosting the morning drive program. “The Daily Wrap” is a newsy look at the top stories of the day airing from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET. Whether the end of the program is the result of intense competition in the syndicated talk radio marketplace or the inability to have it make financial sense at a time when ad sales in the news and talk radio realm are extremely challenging, either way the show’s departure from the landscape will leave one less well-produced, newsy product on the air.
The DirecTV-Produced “Nick & Artie Show” Becomes “The Artie Lange Show.” Affiliates of the “Nick & Artie Show” – featuring comedians Nick DiPaolo and Artie Lange – will hear just Artie Lange when the DirecTV-produced late night talk show returns this evening. On the show’s Facebook page, it simply states that Nick DiPaolo is pursuing “some great opportunities” and the show becomes the Artie Lange show immediately. The program airs on DirecTV’s Audience Network channel and is distributed to radio affiliates via Premiere Networks. The program has a handful of radio affiliates including Cox Media’s WHPT, Tampa “102.5 The Bone,” Beasley’s hot talk WRXK, Ft. Myers and Americom’s sports talk KBZZ, Reno “The Buzz.”
Americom Flips KBZZ, Reno to Sports. The former hot talk outlet adopts the sports talk format using CBS Sports Radio Network. It will continue to air the Don Geronimo morning program (imported from CBS Radio’s KHTK, Sacramento) and the local Panama show in middays.
Hubbard Broadcasting Brings Jeff Dubay Back on KSTP, Minneapolis. Twin Cities sports talk personality Jeff Dubay returns to the radio after an absence of more than four years due to a high profile drug bust and his rehabilitation. Dubay worked at Clear Channel’s crosstown “KFAN” for 14 years before his dismissal in 2008. Now, Dubay joins Judd Zulgad for the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon program beginning today. Dubay had been very open about his arrest and subsequent rehab for substance abuse. He appeared on numerous Twin Cities media outlets over the past year or so to talk about his rise and fall. KSTP makes other lineup changes set to take effect in February: Patrick Reusse and Phil Mackey move to 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm and Joe Soucheray’s “Garage Logic” slides to the 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm slot. Soucheray and Reusse continue to host the 3:00 pm hour together.
WPHT, Philadelphia’s Dom Giordano Featured in Philly Magazine Piece. Late morning WPHT, Philadelphia talk host Dom Giordano is the subject of a full-length feature piece by Sandy Hingston in Philly Magazine this month. The piece is written with the November election as its backdrop and with a hint of admiration for Giordano by the writer who is clearly far to the left of Giordano on the political spectrum, but who finds his success and his story fascinating. Read the piece here.
WGN, Chicago and Northwestern Agree to Three-Year Sports Extension. Wildcats football and Men’s basketball will continue to air on Tribune’s WGN, Chicago through the 2015-16 season the two sides announce. The Big Ten school’s football and Men’s basketball play-by-play have been heard on WGN since 1996. The school’s vice president for athletics and recreation Jim Phillips states, “The Northwestern athletics brand has experienced substantial growth over the past several years due in part to the massive reach and presence of WGN radio. We’ve been extremely proud to call the station home for 17 years, and to have a wonderful partner in telling the stories of our world-class student-athletes.”
Dave Ross to Host One Hour with Luke Burbank on KIRO-FM, Seattle. In TALKERS magazine’s report about Seattle radio personality Dave Ross moving to the news-intensive morning drive daypart (1/11/13), we stated that Ross is giving up his talk show with midday host Luke Burbank on Bonneville’s KIRO-FM, Seattle. That’s not exactly true. Ross and Burbank will work on the air together for the 9:00 am to 10:00 am hour before Burbank goes solo from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon.
On a Blustery Seaside California Day. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison paid a visit last week to the Monterey Bay area of California and the good folks at Zwerling Broadcasting’s AM talk siblings KSCO/KOMY, Santa Cruz as part of a fact finding tour on the effectiveness, importance and future of local radio in America. According to Harrison, “KSCO and KOMY are exceptional examples of the magic and special place that the good old-fashioned local radio station maintains in our culture. I came away from my visit there invigorated and optimistic about the future of this industry.” Pictured seated on what is affectionately referred to as the “corporate bench” overlooking Monterey Bay and the blue Pacific are (l-r) Michael Zwerling, owner and CEO, Zwerling Broadcasting; Harrison; and Rosemary Chalmers, PD of KSCO/KOMY and morning host of KSCO.