Cumulus Makes Change at CFO Role; Abbot Succeeds Hannan. There has been chatter in the industry lately about looming personnel changes in the corporate tier at Cumulus Media and now the company reveals a new face in the chief financial officer post. John F. Abbot is appointed executive vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer effective July 1. He replaces Joseph P. “J.P.” Hannan, who the company says resigned his position after six years in order to pursue other interests. Hannan will assist the company for several months to ensure a smooth transition. Abbot comes to Cumulus from his most recent position as EVP and CFO of Telx Holdings Inc., a provider of connectivity, co-location and cloud services in the data center industry. Abbot’s experience also includes spent as EVP/CFO for cable’s Insight Communications Company, Inc. and as managing director for the Global Media and Communications Group of the investment banking division at Morgan Stanley. Abbot says, “I am excited to join Mary [Berner] and the senior leadership team at this important juncture in the company’s evolution. I join Cumulus with an appreciation for the headway that has already been made around the company’s four key strategies as well as a keen understanding of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. I look forward to using my skills and experience to help maximize value as we work to deliver on the turnaround.”
Day One of FAIR’s Immigration Radio Row Underway. This year’s “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” radio row in Washington, DC is the ninth annual such event and this Federation for American Immigration Reform production is comprised of 50 talk show hosts from all over the country broadcasting their shows and debating immigration policy while interviewing members of congress, law enforcement officials, experts, activists and citizens who live along the border. FAIR says that “this year’s event will focus on the aftermath of President Obama’s amnesty and his continued abuse of executive power, the GOP’s internal battle over how to tackle immigration and the ongoing border crisis with its implications for national security risks.” TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison is at the event today speaking with hosts about talk radio’s role in the national discussion of immigration issues. He reports back that “it’s very apparent from the very beginning of this event that there is a more thoughtful attitude toward immigration reform among the hosts and expert guests this year. It seems to be understood that, even among Republicans and conservatives, there are many points of view with regard to the issues surrounding the security of our nation’s borders.” Pictured here at today’s event are some of the talk show hosts taking part in day one – Rob Carson from KCMO, Kansas City; Gary Sutton from WSBA, York; and Tom Marr from WCBM, Baltimore. At bottom left are Michael Harrison (left) and FAIR’s Bob Dane (right).
WEEI, Boston Parts Ways with Evening Personality Mike Adams. Longtime WEEI, Boston personality Mike Adams – host of the evening “Planet Mikey” show on Entercom’s sports talker – exits the station after almost 11 years in the daypart. The Boston Globe’s Chad Finn reports that Entercom Boston VP and market manager Phil Zachary did not cite ratings or any other specific measuring stick regarding the decision to change the evening show, but said, “We made a tough call on Mike but, at the same time, we feel there are some innovative opportunities we’d like to explore over the next few months. As you know, WEEI has extensively – and successfully – revamped every major weekday show over the last three years. The time is right to extend that thinking to nights.” During baseball season, Red Sox baseball airs in the evening daypart most nights, so the station has some time before unveiling anything permanent. Read Finn’s Globe piece here.
The Presidential Race, Former Secret Service Agent’s Clinton Book, ‘Brexit’ Vote, Battle Against Islamic State, Orlando Massacre Investigation/Gun Legislation, and Olympics-Zika Virus Concerns Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/22). The activities of the candidates for president; former Secret Service agent Gary Byrnes’ tell-all book about the Clinton White House; tomorrow’s vote by Britons on whether to leave the European Union or not; the ongoing military campaign to fight Islamic State in the Middle East and the charge domestic authorities face in preventing attacks in the U.S.; the ongoing investigation into the events at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub massacre and the attempts at gun legislation changes in Washington; and the increasing number of athletes choosing not to compete in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics over concerns about the Zika virus were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Fashion Figure Mark Weber to Host WABC, New York Weekend Show. This Saturday (6/25) is the debut of the new weekend program “Always in Fashion” on Cumulus Media’s WABC, New York. Hosted by fashion industry business leader Mark Weber, WABC says, “The one-hour weekly business talk program features luminaries from fashion’s most successful and innovative brands. Weber and his guests share insights from the heights of the glamorous, fast-paced and highly competitive business of fashion in an exciting, engaging and highly entertaining talk format.” The show is airing on 77 WABC at 10:00 pm ET. Weber says, “Throughout my entire career I worked and commuted to New York City. 77 WABC was my pre-set on my radio and people like Don Imus and Michael Savage are my role models. I listened and learned from these storytellers, and now I have my own stories and lessons that can teach, inspire and entertain listeners interested in business and fashion. I am thrilled to be on the air at 770 WABC!” WABC is the first station of a planned syndication rollout through KMG Networks, a division of Krantz Media Group, in association with Sungate Partners, Inc.
More Murrow’s to Announce. Yesterday, TALKERS magazine wrote about a number of winners of Edward R. Murrow Awards bestowed in 2016. Here are a couple of more: For the fourth year in a row, CBS Radio News wins the Murrow award for “Best Newscast.” The RTDNA recognizes excellence in numerous categories. This award is for CBS’ “World News Roundup” from June 19, 2015, covering the aftermath of the Charleston church shootings. The first section of the broadcast was anchored from Charleston by CBS EVENING NEWS anchor Scott Pelley. It was a comprehensive look at the investigation, the suspect, the victims and how the city was coping. The rest of the broadcast was anchored from New York by CBS Radio News anchor Steve Kathan and covered the Colorado movie shooting trial and the manhunt for two escaped prisoners in Northern New York. Also, CBS RADIO O&O WBZ-AM, Boston – in the Large Market category – received the top honor for “Best Newscast” for its morning report, which included updates on the 2015 snow storm. The company’s WBBM-AM, Chicago was awarded “Best Breaking News Coverage” for its continued coverage following the public release of the video capturing the shooting of Laquan McDonald.
WABC’s Joan Hamburg Honored with Lifetime Achievement Gracie. The 41st Annual Gracie Awards Luncheon took place at Cipriani on 42nd in New York yesterday (6/21). The ceremony was presented by The Alliance for Women in Media Foundation. Host Robin Meade led the program alongside presenters Beverly Bond, Emme, Erica Hill and Ginger Zee. The Gracie Awards were presented to honorees which were previously announced on March 21 in recognition of their successes in the media industry. Lifetime Achievement Honoree Joan Hamburg was presented her award by close friend Alan Alda (pictured at right). Ginger Zee was not only a presenter but an acceptor for Good Morning America’s win for Outstanding Talk Show- News. In presenting Hamburg with her honor, Alda said, “In a media industry where talk radio is overwhelmingly dominated by men, Joan is a woman’s voice that is graceful and lively but authoritative.” As part of the program, Canadian singer/songwriter Ruth B performed her viral hit “Lost Boy” and her unreleased single “In My Dreams.”
Odds & Sods. According to a report in the New York Daily News, radio personality Zev Brenner was hit with a fine of $2,500 and will serve a year’s probation for failure to file income tax returns. Brenner hosts an online radio show. He was previously with WMCA, New York hosting his “Talkline” program. The Feds charged Brenner with failure to file for tax years 2003 through 2011. He’s already paid $63,764 in restitution…..The audio of NBC Sports Radio – the NBC Sports Group/Westwood One joint venture – is now available for live-streaming via Apple Music. NBC Sports Ventures SVP Rob Simmelkjaer says, “Now, through Apple Music, with its broad reach and immediate availability, NBC Sports Radio content is even more accessible.”…..Lisa Gillespie joins Louisville Public Media’s WFPL, Louisville as the station’s health and innovation reporter. She was most recently working in Washington for Kaiser Health News. Her beat with WFPL will be public health and health care policy…..Pictured here is nationally syndicated “Gun Talk” host Tom Gresham (right) with the host of television’s “Into the Wild,” Jack Hanna (left). The two appeared at the Professional Outdoor Media Association’s annual conference in Kalispell, Montana where Hanna spoke about the role of hunting in conservation and his belief that hunters are the original conservationists.
Jim Horn to Retire from WSBA, York. One of the most well-liked and admired broadcasters in news/talk radio, Jim Horn, is announcing he will be retiring from his dual position as program director and morning co-host at Cumulus Media‘s WSBA, York, Pennsylvania effective August 1, after serving nearly 34 years at the station. For the past four years, he and co-host Gary Sutton have presided over mornings at the station and have earned a spot in the Talkers 250 during each of them. Sutton will remain with the station as Cumulus searches for a new PD and morning co-host. Horn tells TALKERS, “After being with WSBA for almost three and a half decades, I want to take a very long vacation – something I do not remember ever doing – and then take the time to explore new opportunities both inside and outside radio and see if something interesting comes along. I am very excited about entering this new chapter of my life.”
Speculation About FM Sports Signal in New York Heats Up. There’s almost always chatter in the Big Apple about when CBS Radio’s WFAN will finally get an FM signal, but a recent story at FishbowlNY is fueling even more. Jerry Barmash’s piece cites a former CBS Radio employee who indicates the upcoming rights battle for New York Yankees baseball may be the catalyst for CBS Radio to drop “Fresh 102.7” and give The Fan an FM signal. Another factor cited is the coming CBS Sports Radio Network. The company will certainly want to have a New York outlet for its national programming and the source tells Barmash, “I wouldn’t be surprised if CBS uses 660 as a clearinghouse for the CBS Sports Network while 102.7 maintains a local angle.” Getting back to the Yankees, it’s believed this will be the last year for Yankees baseball on WCBS and if CBS wants to try to keep both the Yankees and the Mets (currently on The Fan), it’ll need two sports signals. FishbowlNY’s source says the Yankees are likely to want to buy the time from their next radio outlet and take production and sales in-house.
Programmer Lee Feldman Exiting Beasley’s WQAM, Miami. A plum sports program director position is opening up as WQAM, Miami PD Lee Feldman is preparing to exit the station in two weeks. Assistant PD and Dan Sileo show executive producer Andy King will be serving as the interim program director but the word is the station is seeking a permanent replacement for Feldman.
St. Louis’ Grand Slam Sports Changes Calls, Image of KSLG. The station formerly known as SportsRadio 1380 KSLG in St. Louis becomes KXFN, St. Louis with the handle “The Fan 2” – indicating its position as sister station to “The Fan,” KFNS at 590. The change takes place today and general manager Katy Pavelonis states, “We will now have 590 The Fan and 1380 The Fan 2. This will allow us to cross promote our programming as we continue to be ‘The Voice of the St. Louis Sports Fan.’ Sports fans have become accustomed to the coverage and entertainment we offer as the heritage sports station with 590 The Fan. 1380 The Fan 2 is simply an extension of our brand.” Pavelonis says Grand Slam Sports conducted a study, led by a Saint Louis University MBA class, that revealed most sports fans associate “The Fan” with 1380 sister station KFNS.
Eliot Spitzer Joins NY1’s Political Roundtable Show. Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, who replaced Keith Olbermann on the Al Gore-founded cable channel Current TV, will become a regular panelist on NY1’s “Inside City Hall.” NY1 is Time Warner’s local cable news channel for people living in the Tri-State area. Regular panelists on the program include former New York Mayor Ed Koch and former U.S. Senator Alfonse D’Amato.
Chris Vernon Takes Over Middays at WMFS-AM/FM, Memphis. Sports talk host Chris Vernon moves from KQPN, Memphis to crosstown WMFS-AM/FM to host the 11:00 am to 2:00 pm show on the Entercom sports talker beginning today. Entercom vice president and market manager Dan Barron says, “92.9 FM ESPN is the number one sports and spoken-word station in the market. Adding Chris Vernon enhances that already strong position. Chris is a top talent who brings a high-energy approach and national experience. He’s a perfect fit for Entercom/Memphis and our advertisers.”
Odds ‘n’ Sods. Dial Global nationally syndicated talk host Jim Bohannon will be the announcer for CBS Television’s “Face the Nation” on July 22…..Country singer Hank Williams, Jr. has a new album out with free song downloads for radio stations coming this week. PR maven Janet Fallon says there are a couple of political songs on the disc and the country legend is none too pleased with President Obama…..Illinois talk host Michael Koolidge hosts his annual “Michael Koolidge Show Summer Party” at Perry Rock Restaurant in Rockford, Illinois on Thursday, July 26. Koolidge, whose show is syndicated to numerous markets in Northern Illinois, is throwing the party that’s free and open to the public to thank his listeners for their support for the growing program…..Local Focus Radio president Kay Olin is named chair of the board of directors for the Alliance for Women in Media. Olin will lead the AWM board in its mission to “harness the promise, passion and power of women in all forms of media to empower career development, engage in thought leadership, and drive positive change for our industry and societal progress.”…..Bloomquist Media receives a 2012 Finalist Award from the New York Radio Festival for the Christmas radio program “The Gift, A Holiday Tribute to Military Families.” The program won in the Social Issues/Current Events category and helped raise awareness and funds for the Fisher House Foundation.
Paul Ihander Named News Director at Bonneville’s KTAR-FM, Phoenix. Paul Ihander leaves his role as director of news, talk and sports programming at Clear Channel’s Albany cluster to take on the role of news director and assistant program director at Bonneville Phoenix Media Group’s “News/Talk 92.3 KTAR.” Ihander states, “My career’s taken me to some incredible stations and cities across America, and my family and I are truly blessed to have the opportunity to join another first-class media organization. I’m looking forward to joining the talented Phoenix crew – continuing KTAR’s rich traditions and establishing new ones.” Bonneville Phoenix vice president of news and sports content Ryan Hatch says, “Paul is a team leader who raises the level of everyone around him and has been a proven winner everywhere he’s been. His innovative spirit and vision of news for a new generation of consumers on radio, online, and on-the-go, make him the perfect fit for the KTAR brand.”
Rhode Island Supreme Court Clears WPRO, Providence Talk Host Dan Yorke of Slander Charge. The state Supreme Court in Rhode Island upheld a lower court ruling that dismissed a slander charge against WPRO, Providence midday talk host Dan Yorke leveled by local restaurateur Robert Burke. The case also involved a libel charge against the Providence Journal and writer Katherine Gregg. Here’s the basic story: Gregg wrote a piece in the Journal about a St. Patrick’s Day roast of local dignitaries and politicians that was held at Burke’s restaurant. The press was invited but was told – unlike in previous years – that all jokes would be “off the record.” On his radio show, Dan Yorke read Gregg’s article about the event, obviously critical of the “off the record” request, and teed off on Burke in what the court called “an acrimonious and childish on-air rant.” Yorke himself referred to his rant as “a bit of a bender.” Regardless, ultimately the court wrote that, “the plaintiffs failed to allege any intentional acts by Yorke or Citadel that were aimed at interfering with a potential client relationship. The plaintiffs have pointed to nothing to suggest that the effect of Yorke’s comments – if any – was more than ancillary or incidental. Because the plaintiffs did not allege any intentionally disruptive conduct by Yorke or Citadel, the count was correctly dismissed by the motion justice.”
Spoken Word Radio: The Big Picture. One of the hottest panels at the recent TALKERS 2012 New Media Seminar/NYC was this discussion involving eight key industry leaders seen in the video in the Talkers TV box on this page. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison presented topics including the precarious nature of radio ratings, dealing with advertiser boycotts, employing damage control in the face of controversy, negativity about the formats’ ad models and more. Taking part in this sizzling presentation were (from l-r in banner above and as you watch the video): Tom Langmyer, VP/GM, WGN, Chicago; Phil Boyce, VP/director, spoken word format, Salem Communications; Nancy Abramson, executive director, The Wall Street Journal Radio Network; Chris Oliviero, SVP programming, CBS Radio; Steve Goldstein, EVP, Saga Communications; Mark Masters, CEO, Talk Radio Network; Mike McVay, SVP programming Cumulus Media; and Kraig Kitchin, CEO, Sound Mind, LLC. The June 7 New York event was the first installment of the TALKERS bi-coastal 2012 New Media Seminar. The second installment takes place October 11 in Los Angeles. Details coming soon. (Videography by Art Vuolo of Vuolo Video.)
WGN, Chicago Promotes Judy Pielach to Managing Editor of News. Award-winning news pro Judy Pielach has been with Tribune’s WGN, Chicago since 1986 and she now moves up from her newsroom coordinator role to managing editor. In her new post she’ll be leading day-to-day operations of the WGN Radio news department, handling news assignments, coordinating coverage and setting and implementing newsroom policy and procedures in conjunction with WGN’s director of programming and news, Bill White. She will also continue to be heard as the station’s midday news anchor. Her 2008 series on her struggle with breast cancer, “Why Not Me?” and her 2007 series on suburban teen heroin addiction, “Smack in the Suburbs,” earned her two Edward R. Murrow awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association. In 2007, she was also named best reporter by the Illinois Associated Press.
Mancow to Simulcast Radio Show on Chicago TV. The Chicago Tribune reports Erich “Mancow” Muller is in the process of finalizing a deal to have two hours of his nationally syndicated Talk Radio Network morning radio show simulcast on Fox Television’s WPWR-TV channel 50. The show will begin in the fall and air from 6:00 am to 8:00 am. The Tribune story notes the Mancow show will replace infomercials and the national “Better TV” lifestyle program.
“Coast to Coast AM” Host George Noory Launches Anti-Obesity Campaign. Premiere Networks personality George Noory is announcing the beginning of his campaign to encourage his listeners to lose 15 million pounds. Noting that the Centers for Disease Control states one-third of adult Americans are obese, Noory will dedicate the first hour of his Thursday evening program in July to encouraging his millions of late-night listeners to improve their health, shed excess pounds and help fight weight-related diseases. As part of the effort, he’ll welcome special guests to give advice on nutrition, weight loss, health benefits and much more. Noory says, “Listeners of ‘Coast to Coast’ know that in addition to exploring the mysteries of the universe, I’m also interested in improving my health and wellness. This ‘Shape Up’ campaign is a great opportunity for America to encourage and inspire each other to increase our longevity and live better lives.”
Talk Host Laura Smith and Cumulus Debut New Show on AC WFAS-FM, White Plains, New York. Radio personality Laura Smith hosts “Living Better with Laura Smith” on Cumulus Media’s WABC, New York on Saturday afternoons. Now, Smith is resurrecting a show she hosted on SiriusXM back in 2008 called, “Above and Beyond with Laura Smith.” Smith tells TALKERS the show is “a hybrid of psychics, mediums and self-help experts with the best music variety, in a Sunday night soiree.” She says her guests will include the best and most renowned in the category, like John Edward, Susan Miller, Thomas John, James Van Praagh, Lisa Williams, The Feng Shui Guy, The 30-Second Therapist and countless others. Smith goes on to say, “The country and world are starving for comfort, love, and advice and the number of people seeking it in ways that are a little less conventional, such as with psychics, mediums, astrologers, or life coaches, is unprecedented.” It airs at 9:00 pm ET.
ABC News Radio Announces Olympic Coverage. The 2012 Summer Olympics begin in London on July 27 and run through August 12 and ABC News Radio announces its schedule for affiliate stations. The network is delivering one-minute updates at :10 and :40 from 5:10 am ET to 6:40 pm ET. In London covering the games for ABC are news correspondents Alex Stone, Tom Rivers and Todd Ant. ABC News Radio VP/GM Steve Jones says there is no additional inventory for ABC News affiliates and ABC Sports affiliates to air the coverage that is being delivered for the duration of the games.
The Supreme Court’s ObamaCare Decision Aftermath Claims Top Spot on the Talkers TenTM. The aftermath of the SCOTUS ruling on President Obama’s Affordable Care Act was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week of July 2-6. Coming in at #2 was the 2012 presidential campaign. At #3 was the Mid-Atlantic storm damage tied with the Colorado wildfires and at #4, the Fourth of July holiday tied with the summer weather. The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published at Talkers.com every Friday. View the entire chart here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. “Free Talk Live” featuring Ian Freeman and Mark Edge adds WVKO, Columbus and WAMM, Woodstock, Virginia to its roster of affiliates…..The George Jarkesy show is added to the program schedule at KDOW, San Francisco; KYCR, Minneapolis; and KVCE, Dallas/Ft. Worth…..The Wall Street Journal Radio Network’s “The Wall Street Journal Reports” are now airing on the American Forces Radio Network’s “The Voice” channel as part of the top-of-the hour newscast…..“On the House” with the Carey Brothers and Rebecca Cole adds KPSI, Palm Springs, California to its affiliate list.