Conclusion of Election Raises Inevitable Questions. The dramatic and contentious election of 2012 has finally come to a conclusion. As President Barack Obama prepares to begin his second term as the nation’s chief executive with control of the House and Senate split between the parties, inevitable questions arise about the path and positioning of news/talk radio in the new political environment. How does the re-election of Obama impact the agendas of conservative and liberal talk radio? How long will it take before political presidential jockeying overtly begins as the periods between election cycles grow shorter? What are the economic implications of this election? How will the economy affect the radio industry in general? Will the current advertising agency hostility toward conservative talk radio intensify or dissipate? What will be the new, unexpected issues that dominate on-air conversation as we move beyond the deafening chatter of Election 2012? TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison has already begun fielding these questions from the nation’s radio-watchers in the mainstream press. According to Harrison very little will change in terms of the on-air party lines: “As much as I encourage talk radio to expand the menu of its subject matter and spread out into a diversity of formats and subjects – which I actually believe will happen in the coming year or two — don’t expect to see a sudden change or modification of positioning among the ranks of established, opinionated political hosts. These next two years will be no picnic for the president. If you look back at Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon – two polarizing figures in American politics – their second terms were far more turbulent generating more contentious media conversation than their first. Even Ronald Reagan had his Iran-Contra issue in his second term. You can probably expect the same with Obama.” Harrison expects the next congressional election to start immediately and the next presidential election to begin shortly thereafter. “Biden might be flirting with the idea of running in 2016 but you can count on all eyes and ears being focused on the Clintons and perhaps another Bush.” As far as the economic picture is concerned, Harrison is optimistic stating, “I think things are destined to improve regardless of who is president. Let us all do our best to make the radio industry relevant and prosperous in the exciting days and years ahead.” Of course there will be a spectrum of contrasting views on this subject. For example, TRN talk show host Jerry Doyle tells TALKERS that he plans to call out a number of his fellow conservative hosts on his show today for “being cheerleaders for the GOP and not questioning some of their positions that are tarnishing the Republican brand.” He uses the analogy, “I love Corvettes, but I won’t be buying one because of all the as***les driving them today. The same thing with the Republicans – I find it hard to call myself a Republican because of so many of their ridiculous opinions and terrible candidates that fly in the face of today’s reality.”
Will Obama’s Re-Election Cause Programmers to Reflect? Consultant Holland Cooke makes strong statements about what the re-election of Barack Obama should mean to talk radio hosts and programmers. He says, “Heavy early voting and long lines yesterday say ‘Hear me!’ to talk radio’s default I-talk-you-listen model,” and Cooke states that voters didn’t conform to the prevailing talk radio narrative. Do you agree or disagree that there’s a lesson in the election results for talk radio? Before you answer, read Holland Cooke’s entire piece here.
Radio One to Flip WMOJ, Cincinnati to Sports in January. Radio One’s rhythmic oldies WMOJ, Cincinnati “Mojo 100.3” has gone all Christmas but after the holidays the station will not return to “jammin’ oldies” but will be an outlet for CBS Sports Radio Network’s new 24/7 sports talk format. Program director Steve Harris tells the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Kiesewetter that the opportunity to do sports on FM was too great to pass up. The station is expected to carry the bulk of the national lineup – John Feinstein, Jim Rome, Doug Gottlieb and Scott Ferrall – but Harris says there has been no decision made about whether to do a local AM drive show or take what CBS Sports Radio Networks has to offer in that daypart. Cincinnati currently has two AM sports talk outlets – WSAI, a Fox Sports Radio Network affiliate, and WCKY, an ESPN Radio affiliate – in addition to news/talk WLW which airs a fair amount of sports programming as well.
New Jersey 101.5 Partners with Governor’s Office in Storm Relief. Townsquare Media’s WKXW, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5” is announcing its own “Restore New Jersey” and restorenewjersey.com are officially working with Governor Chris Christie’s and his wife Mary Pat’s “Sandy NJ Relief Fund.” The station’s group marketing director Ray Handel says the station is immediately beginning to inform listeners about donation efforts. He issues this statement: “New Jersey 101.5 will continue to be involved with restoring New Jersey from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. We informed millions of Jersey listeners on news and survival information before, during and after the storm. The station served as a lifeline to millions who lost power, and gave those millions a voice. Now as our attention turns to long term recovery, we introduce ‘Restore New Jersey,’ an on-going fundraising effort that will be featured on New Jersey 101.5 and nj1015.com for at least the next six months. We will be working with Governor and Mary Pat Christie so we can partner with their ‘Sandy NJ Relief Fund.’ Governor Christie is very much a part of NJ101.5, as he has a monthly show on our station. The governor has received much praise in his leadership during this crisis. This past Saturday the governor introduced this state wide charity, and we feel this will merge perfectly with the state wide help New Jersey 101.5’s ‘Restore New Jersey’ will provide. All funds raised will stay right here in New Jersey, and we think New Jersey 101.5 can really take the lead with this effort.”
NAB ‘Licensed to Serve’ Newsletter Recognizes Broadcasters Covering Sandy. The National Association of Broadcasters released its most recent “Licensed to Serve” newsletter detailing many of the efforts of broadcasters – both radio and television – that provided news and information to the regions affected by Hurricane Sandy. NAB EVP of media relations Dennis Wharton and his staff have put together an excellent summary of the work done by over-the-air broadcasters in serving the needs of their communities. Wharton is passionate about the role of radio and television broadcasters in times of crisis and the NAB’s work showcasing it in this regard serves the broadcasting community well. See the NAB’s “Licensed to Serve” page here.
Radio Personality Robinson to PM Drive on KCJF, Jonesboro, Arkansas. Tall Cotton Media’s new sports talk KCJF, Jonesboro, Arkansas “103.9 The Game” names radio personality Robinson PM drive host. He comes to sports talk radio after a career in rock radio at Entercom’s Rochester, New York music outlets classic rock WCMF and rock WBZA. Tall Cotton took over ownership of the outlet in September from Catherine Joanna Flinn. The station is a Fox Sports Radio Network affiliate.
Red Zebra Extends Play-by-Play Deal with Georgetown. The Hoyas will be heard on Red Zebra’s Washington, DC sports talk duo WTEM and WSPZ “ESPN 980 and SportsTalk570; Powered by ESPN” for seasons to come as the two partners extend their contract. Under the terms of the deal, Red Zebra will broadcast the school’s men’s basketball games. Red Zebra president and CEO Rick Carmean says, “We are excited to team with Georgetown University and Coach Thompson’s squad as they continue the tradition as one of the best teams the area has to offer.” The Hoyas open their season Friday, November 9 aboard the USS Bataan in Jacksonville against the Florida Gators. All Hoya games will be broadcast by Rich Chvotkin who is in his 40th season calling Georgetown games.
Longtime KSL, Salt Lake City Weekend Gardening Show Host Larry Sagers Dead at 63. Horticulture expert and radio talker Larry Sagers, whose weekend gardening program the “Greenhouse Show” co-hosted with Tim Hughes was a mainstay for years on KSL, Salt Lake City has succumbed to his long battle with mesothelioma, a form of cancer often associated with exposure to asbestos. Sagers was a horticulture agent with the Utah State University Extension and an extremely popular local figure.
The 2012 Election and Hurricane Sandy Aftermath Dominate News/Talk Radio Yesterday (11/6). As is usually the case on a presidential election day, the election itself – not only the presidential race but the Senate and House races as well as controversial ballot issues around the nation – dominated the discussion on news/talk radio on Tuesday. Additionally, there was still considerable talk about the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, especially in the Northeast where New Jersey and New York are still recovering from the storm.
Talk Media Personality Ed Schultz Reveals Wife Wendy is Battling Ovarian Cancer. Syndicated talk radio host and MSNBC personality Ed Schultz has been off of both of his programs for the past week and took the time yesterday to call in to his radio show to speak with guest host Mike Papantonio to announce that his wife Wendy is being treated for ovarian cancer. Schultz told his audience they received the diagnosis last Wednesday and Wendy underwent surgery on Tuesday of this week. “The doctors feel like they got all of it. It was a very successful surgery, but we got a long way to go.” Schultz took the opportunity to thank the staffs of both of his programs for their help in covering while he’s been away and said he will be missing from both programs for some time, although how long is not known. “Doing a radio and TV show isn’t exactly what I’m thinking about right now. I’m going to be with my wife through all of this…We both feel like we’ve been through the wringer and you lose track of time, you lose track of what you’re doing. And everything changes, but we’re going to be OK. We’re going to get through it.” The staff of TALKERS magazine wishes the best to Ed and Wendy at this challenging time in their lives.
Clear Channel Names Clay Hunnicutt EVP of Programming. This is a big move up for the SVP eastern region and VP of country as Clear Channel Media and Entertainment announces Clay Hunnicutt becomes executive vice president of programming for the company. The promotion also puts Hunnicutt in charge of programming in markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Washington, Baltimore and San Diego.
Morning Hosts, Former Employer Settle in Potentially Precedent-Setting Case. When Q92 (WDJQ, Canton, Ohio) morning hosts Pat DeLuca and Charlotte DiFranco left the D.A. Peterson, Inc.-owned station after their contracts expired in February of this year and began an internet radio show, Peterson demanded the two cease their project saying it was in violation of their non-compete. The two sued Peterson and in April Stark County Common Pleas Judge Charles E. Brown Jr. ruled the two forms of communicating – webcasting and terrestrial radio – were different enough that the duo were not in violation of their non-compete. Peterson responded by asking they be prohibited from webcasting or streaming within a 60-mile radius of the station (although TALKERS is not sure how that would be accomplished or enforced). Judge Brown denied that request but did rule DeLuca and DiFranco may not use tapes of programs they did while working for Peterson and that they must return the tapes. Also, Brown ruled Peterson owes the two back pay for vacation. As it stands the sides are agreeing to settle the dispute and Peterson says the two will be paid when all the tapes have been returned. Whether this case sets any sort of precedent regarding the difference between terrestrial and internet broadcasting in future disputes is obviously unknown at this point, but is nonetheless an interesting ruling as far as talent and employers are concerned.
Courtside Entertainment’s “One Minute Clinic with Dr. Drew Pinsky” Clears Boston. The twice-daily medical advice and “life enhancing insight” feature from Courtside Entertainment gets a major-market clear on Greater Media’s WTKK, Boston, adding the city to its other major markets — New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington DC. Courtside Entertainment Group president Bob Moore says the power of Dr. Drew Pinsky’s brand is astounding. “There are 15 million Google searches related to health and wellness every day, and 75 million related to celebrities. Calling Dr. Drew! Drew knows what listeners want and we are pleased to partner with the legendary WTKK to ensure they get it.”
Red Zebra’s WTEM, Washington Brings Fox 5 Washington Sports Director Aboard for Football Show. WTTG-TV, Washington, DC acting sports director Dave Ross will join Red Zebra’s ESPN980 — WTEM – for the month of August to fill in for Tony Kornheiser in the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon slot and host the “NFL This Morning” program. WTEM says the show will cover everything Redskins and the entire NFL. “Over the five weeks, Dave will have daily Redskins guests as well as live reports from all 32 NFL cites while going in-depth on every team in the league. The show will originate from Redskins Park, where ESPN980 has an exclusive studio.” WTEM president and CEO Rick Carmean states, “Redskins coverage is our wheelhouse and this show will continue our dominance in that area. There is no better way to begin that coverage than with Dave Ross at Redskins training camp.”
Delmarva Broadcasting to Debut FM Talk Station on September 4. The station will be positioned as Delaware 105.9 and former WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, Maryland program director and morning host Dan Gaffney – who just last week announced his departure from that station – will be part of the new station’s lineup. Delmarva is splitting the FM simulcast of country WKTT, Salisbury, Maryland – currently broadcast on both the 97.5 signal of WKTT and WZKT’s 105.9 licensed to Lewes, Delaware to the northeast.
WTKK, Boston Adds Andelmans for Friday Middays. The Andelman brothers – Dave, Dan and Michael – have hosted “The Phantom Gourmet Radio Show” on Saturdays on the station since April of 2007. Dave Andelman is CEO of Phantom Gourmet, Inc. which produces not only the radio show but a TV show of the same name that airs in Boston, Providence and in Maine in addition to some of Beantown’s biggest food-centric public events. Now, the three will host a Friday show from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm that will “cover anything that’s topical,” according to Dave Andelman. Program director Grace Blazer tells TALKERS, “The Phantom Gourmet and the Andelman Brothers are staples on Boston radio, TV, and genius at throwing big events all over New England. Over the past five-plus years, the Andelman brothers have connected on-air, online and in person with 96.9’s listeners and advertisers and we’re delighted to bring their family to yours on Fridays in addition to Saturdays. Let the fader begin.” The three are the sons of well-known Boston sports media personality Eddie Andelman. Doug Meehan continues to host the 10:00 am to 1:00 pm show Monday through Thursday.
Mark Tauscher Joins Journal’s Packers Broadcasts. Retired Green Bay Packers lineman Mark Tauscher becomes part of the broadcast team for Journal Broadcast Group’s radio and TV coverage of the team’s games this season. Tauscher will provide pre- and post-game analysis on the Packers Radio Network and pre-game analysis on the Packers TV Network. Journal director of network operations Carl Moll states, “Mark brings listeners and viewers a fresh perspective on how players think and react to game situations in the NFL. His knowledge adds dimension to the Packers coverage originated by Journal’s radio and TV networks.”
Midwest Communications Buys Backyard Broadcasting’s Sioux Falls Cluster. There’s no price on the transaction being disclosed yet but the seven-station cluster that includes news/talk KELO and sports KWSN but the stations will become part of Midwest Communications’ portfolio pending FCC approval. The sale leaves Backyard Broadcasting with stations in three markets: Muncie, Indiana; Williamsport, Pennsylvania; and Olean, New York.
Odds ‘n’ Sods. XtreMedia CEO Kevin McCullough, host of his own nationally syndicated daily talk radio program and co-host of the “Baldwin/McCullough Live” weekend program with Stephen Baldwin, announces his company is producing a new TV program beginning in September called, “Hannah Help Me.” The show stars former PBS personality and mother of seven Hannah Keeley who will help mothers who are wrestling with the mess of life to gain insight and strategies in coping with the worries of parenthood…..WFED, Washington AM drive co-host Francis Rose is filling in for Cumulus Media Networks talk host John Batchelor on his Saturday evening WABC, New York-based program this weekend…..Cloud-based advertising software company Abacast announces veteran media executives Ivan Braiker of Hipcricket and John Maffei of Playsino are named to the company’s board of directors…..The syndicated weekend automotive show “America on the Road,” hosted by Mike Anson and Jack Nerad, ends production this weekend after 23 years. Anson says, “Weʼve been contemplating shutting down for about a year, but wanted to wait until all of our current advertising contracts had concluded.”…..NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart will be guesting on the United Stations Radio Networks-syndicated program, “The Final Lap Weekly” this coming weekend. The program is produced and co-hosted by Kerry Murphey in California…..SiriusXM delves into the vast “Twitter-verse” with its newest program, “Politics Powered by Twitter,” heard on the satcaster’s POTUS political talk channel. The one-hour daily show airs live at 6:00 pm ET and is described as a “new radio format that reports to listeners exclusively what politics are being talked about on Twitter, including trends and Tweets from politicians, journalists and celebrities who have active voices on the key political issues, electoral races and breaking news.”
Overflow Crowds Attend Dallas Premiere of Obama Movie. The Dallas premiere of the Dinesh D’Souza-produced political film “2016: Obama’s America” was a huge hit as two theaters in a local multiplex were filled with viewers for the film that goes into national theatrical release the first week of August. Pictured here with D’Souza (c) are Salem Radio Network nationally syndicated talk host Mike Gallagher (r) and Salem Communications talk host Mark Davis (l) who is hosting morning drive on the company’s 660 The Answer – KSKY, Dallas.
Presidential Campaign, Aurora Massacre Aftermath, Syria Instability, and Jobs Market Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/25). The ongoing presidential campaign; the aftermath of the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting; the violence and political implications associated with Syria’s instability and the flat jobs market were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
“Independence Day Wednesday” Provides Talk Radio with Interesting Programming Opportunities. According to a TALKERS magazine survey of talk stations across the country, the rare occurrence of July 4th falling on a Wednesday this year and not lending itself to a convenient four-day weekend, gave talk radio programmers an array of options in filling the schedule. Many gave their star performers the day off and replaced them with their own “best ofs.” Others used fill-in hosts – some cleverly taking it upon themselves to create their own Fourth of July “specials.” Others just did their shows as per the usual schedule. Almost all report that they spent extra time and attention revisiting the meaning of the holiday and the historic roots of American independence. Independence Day gives radio stations the opportunity to become engaged with local military, public safety, emergency response, community service and charitable organizations in their regions. WHYN, Springfield, Mass. morning co-host Brad Shepard performs his annual ritual of serving as master of ceremonies at the local East Longmeadow Independence Day Parade – a major two-hour regional tradition in Western Massachusetts drawing thousands of people. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, a resident of the area who attends the event each year, states, “Brad Shepard does a wonderful job announcing the details and color of this superb local parade for a large crowd of people who line the sidewalks and pack the town square in an idyllic New England small-town setting. It is an example of a beloved hometown radio personality engaging in true community involvement and a joy to behold.” Harrison (l) is greeted by Shepard (r) at the parade reviewing stand during a break in the action for a quick TALKERS photo.
When Is a Death Threat Free Speech? TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman explains some of the legal background in the murky area of free speech and language that can appear to be a threat to someone’s health or life. In the wake of the case of Timothy Demeuse – a Milwaukee man charged with a misdemeanor for writing threatening language about WIBA, Madison-based talk host Vicki McKenna – Weisman says what is considered a punishable offense is not always easy to predict. Read his column here.
Red Zebra’s Washington Redskins Radio Network Re-Inks Sam Huff and Sonny Jurgensen. National Football League Hall-of-Famers Sam Huff and Sonny Jurgensen have both re-signed with the Washington Redskins Radio Network for the 2012-2013 football season. The two will be in the booth with play-by-play man Larry Michael and WTEM, Washington’s Rick “Doc” Walker will serve as sideline reporter. Due to the rigors of travel, the 78-year-old Huff will work 12 of the 20 games – all home games and two road contests. Sonny Jurgensen and Sam Huff have been broadcasting Washington Redskins games together since 1981 – a span of over 600 broadcasts, including 25 playoff games and all three Super Bowl victories.
Odds ‘n’ Sods. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment promotes programmer Tony Travatto who moves from his post as OM and PD at CHR WNCI, Columbus to Detroit where he’ll serve as operations manager for the cluster that includes progressive talk WDTW and sports talk WDFN…..Spanish-language broadcaster Univision unveils the Univision America national talk radio network lineup that debuted on July 4. The lineup – which is expected to be heard on all of the company’s AM talk stations – includes a morning drive news block; relationships expert Dra. Isabel; current events talk with Fernando Espuelas; political talk with Helen Aguirre; and a sports talk show featuring Rafael Hernandez Brito…..Carl Amari’s “Hollywood 360” weekly nostalgia and trivia show is being syndicated nationally via Syndication Networks Corp. and Salem Radio Networks. The WIND, Chicago-based show is expected to be carried on many Salem Communications-owned stations.
Newspaper Decline Spells Opportunity for Talk Radio Sales. The problems facing daily newspapers are opportunities for local talk radio sales executives writes H & H Communications president Al Herskovitz. In this column, Herskovitz explains talk radio’s proven ability to drive traffic to the web combined with the unique personalities on the stations give it a one-two punch of marketing effectiveness. Read Al’s column here.
Fourth of July Holiday, SCOTUS ObamaCare Decision Aftermath, 2012 Presidential Race, Mid-Atlantic Storm Damage, and National Malware Threat Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/4). Holiday topics discussed on news/talk radio on July 4th included the holiday itself; the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s ruling on President Obama’s Affordable Care Act; the 2012 presidential race; the lingering effects of the recent Mid-Atlantic storms; and the threat of a nationwide malware attack on internet users, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Tom Leykis and Lionel to Discuss Their High-Profile Pioneering Digital Efforts at NMS. Two questions (or variations thereof) regularly fielded by the TALKERS editorial staff these days are “How’s Tom Leykis doing with his new online talk show?” and “What’s Lionel up to these days with his online project?” Both will be answered in detail straight from the horses’ mouths at the New Media Seminar’s Digital Workshop in New York City this Thursday, June 7. As West Coast-based Leykis approaches the two-month mark into the launch of his “New Normal Network” online project and East Coast-based Lionel chalks up two years of operating “LionelMedia.com,” both individualistic graduates of the terrestrial talk show scene continue to gain traction on both the audience and revenue fronts as the industry watches with great interest. Leykis tells TALKERS, “We had over 1.1 million sessions from our debut on April 2nd until April 30th. That number would most closely approximate cume. In our first week of 24/7 streaming, we had exactly 401,180 listeners. That was more listeners than the weekly cumes of 14 L.A./Orange County radio stations in March.” On the revenue front, Leykis is also very pleased with immediate results saying, “At the current pace, we will make over 100K in revenue, but we are conservatively estimating 100K for the year.” Leykis explains the key to making an online radio operation work is to provide specific listeners something they cannot get anywhere else. He tells TALKERS, “You really have to super-serve your P1s…even in the process of selling advertising. We go out into the marketplace and ask radio-friendly businesses the question, ‘Are you being priced out of radio?’ Because our operating costs are so much lower than radio we can offer these small businesses very affordable deals. And when you specifically target business owners who are already in your audience as listeners, well it just makes a lot of sense. This is what we are doing and it is working.” Lionel describes his digital effort to TALKERS as follows: “This month is the second anniversary of the launch of LionelMedia.com, a paid subscription podcasting outlet. I podcast an hour daily of uninterrupted, unedited, commercial and break-free freeform-yet-structured spoken word. It, frankly, knows no peer. Every day I post news stories, columns, ideas, opinions and the like that supplement the subject or content of that day’s podcast. I’ll also attach a YouTube video of my latest PIX11 commentary on myriad subjects. To be most precise: I do exactly what I want. Let that sink in. My podcasts are not profane or blue in the least — in fact they could be played in their entirety on terrestrial radio. That, I feel, is a drawing point and basis for much of our success.” Although Lionel no longer does a terrestrial radio talk show, he does regularly scheduled commentaries on Tribune television stations including New York’s WPIX channel 11 and Merlin Media’s all-news FMs in New York, Philadelphia and Chicago in addition to appearing as a regular guest on a number of terrestrial radio talk shows…exposure that helps drive traffic to his online media station. The Digital Workshop will be moderated by Ellen Ratner of Talk Radio News Service and Dan Patterson of KoPoint. The June 7 industry-only New Media Seminar/NYC is an advance sellout. For information call 413-565-5413.
Wisconsin Recall Spurs Question of “Equal Time” on Milwaukee News/Talk Outlets – and Beyond. Progressive political groups are charging Clear Channel‘s WISN, Milwaukee and Journal Broadcasting‘s WTMJ, Milwaukee with violating the FCC‘s “Zapple Doctrine” which mandates “equal time” to all qualified political candidates within 60 days of an election under certain circumstances. TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman writes that talk hosts often benefit from exemption from the “Zapple Doctrine” by qualifying as a “news interview program.” But that exemption is not always a slam dunk. Read Weisman’s column about how the courts tend to interpret this section of FCC regulations here.
WPLJ-FM, New York OM Tony Mascaro to Program WABC? Some posts on the New York Radio Message Board indicate inside sources are reporting Cumulus Media New York is naming CHR WPLJ-FM operations manager Tony Mascaro program director of its news/talk WABC. As of the posting of this item, there is no confirmation or denying of the report from Cumulus. WABC APD Chuck Armstrong has been serving as interim program director for the station filling the role left vacant when Laurie Cantillo exited the post last fall. Stay tuned.
Tony Kornheiser Re-Ups with WTEM, Washington for Two Years. The Red Zebra Broadcasting station announces high-profile personality Tony Kornheiser renews his deal to remain host of the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon program on ESPN 980 WTEM, Washington, DC. As part of the new contract, Kornheiser will contribute to the Washington Redskins Radio Network‘s “Official Pre-Game Show” during the football season. WTEM CEO Rick Carmean states, “Tony’s unique brand of humor and entertainment fits perfectly into our strong and highly rated midday lineup.” Kornheiser is joined weekdays by a rotating cast of co-hosts including Gary Braun, Jeanne McManus, Torie Clark, David Aldridge and longtime producer Nigel. Frequent contributors include Tony’s “Pardon the Interruption”co-host Michael Wilbon.
WSB-AM/FM, Atlanta Gives Adam Goldfein Nightly Program. Local attorney and auto dealership owner Adam Goldfein has hosted a weekend program about cars on Cox Media‘s WSB-AM/FM for some time. Now, the station adds more air time to his schedule. The consumer issues expert begins hosting a program airing nightly from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Goldfein had been filling in for Clark Howard on the station and Cox Radio Atlanta VP and market manager Dan Kearney tells the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “He was doing a great job filling in for Clark Howard and his Sunday show was getting great ratings. We wanted him on more consistently.”
Stephen King’s WZON, Bangor Drops Local Sports Talk; Dismisses Two. Give WZON, Bangor owner Stephen King credit for manning up and personally delivering the news to sports talk hosts Dale Duff and Clem LaBree that they were being dismissed for financial reasons. Duff and LaBree hosted the 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm sports talk show on WZON-AM as well as covering a slew of local sports events, including high school and college games. The Bangor Daily News reports King told the two the change had nothing to do with the quality of their work but because the programming was losing money. WZON-AM had ceased being a full-time sports talk station in November of 2010 and was carrying much of the progressive talk format from sister WZON-FM - The Pulse. Duff had been with the station for 19 years. Both are receiving severance from the company. Duff and LaBree’s show will be replaced by a simulcast from WZON-FM although the station will continue to air sports play-by-play.
SRN’s Tom Tradup Makes Statement on End of “Richard Land Live” Program. The Ethics and Religious Liberty Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention issued two reprimands to Dr. Richard Land for comments he made about the Trayvon Martin case that it deemed “irresponsible, insensitive and racially charged.” It also ended his radio program that it produced that was distributed via Salem Radio Network. The controversy surrounding the statements was enhanced further by allegations Land read them from another published opinion that was not cited. SRN vice president of news/talk programming Tom Tradup tells TALKERS, “Theologians have a different perspective on talk radio than the rest of our industry does. What some see as “hurtful language” on the Trayvon Martin case is, in reality, part of a free and open exchange of ideas and opinions that is the keystone of talk radio. And by talk radio standards, nothing Dr. Land may have failed to “fully attribute” on the air or on his website rose to the level of so-called plagiarism. Nevertheless, we respect the ERLC’s decision and thus the final edition of ‘Richard Land Live’ aired Saturday, June 2.
Twin Cities Radio Personality Dark Star Dies at Age 66. Longtime Minneapolis radio personality Dark Star – real name George Chapple – was found dead in his home in Minnetonka, Minnesota. He co-hosted the “Sports Show” along with Sid Hartman on CBS Radio‘s WCCO, Minneapolis during part of his 25 years on the air there before accepting a buyout from the station in November of 2010. Recently he had been working at crosstown KFAN. He failed to show up for his Friday show there and authorities found him dead in his apartment.
Compass Media Marketing Named Exclusive Radio Sales Agent for Point-of-Purchase Service. This story is really about the acquisition of InStore Broadcasting Network by POP Radio and the new company becomes InStore Audio Network. It delivers in-store advertising messages to more than 33,000 retail outlets – grocery, drug stores, etc. – and provides music content to some 14,000 stores. The company is enlisting Compass Media Marketing as exclusive national radio sales agent. Compass CEO Peter Kosann says, “I have been a longtime partner with POP Radio and the expanded footprint of the new company creates an exciting and compelling media product that network radio buyers will need to consider.”
KSFO, San Francisco Listeners Help Raise $135k for Fisher House Construction. Cumulus Media‘s news/talk KSFO, San Francisco held a Memorial Day weekend fundraiser for the Fisher House Foundation that began with a live remote broadcast of Brian Sussman‘s morning drive show. Sussman (r) is pictured here interviewing Fisher House representative Cindy Campbell (l). Fundraising continued over the Memorial Day weekend and more than $135,000 was collected for the construction of the Palo Alto Fisher House which provides no-cost housing and the comforts of home for family members of military personnel while their loved ones rehab and recover from various injuries and ailments. Sussman states, “This gift of over $135,000 illustrates the abundant generosity of our KSFO radio family. The Fisher House provides our troops and their families with genuine American hospitality and it’s an honor to be associated with their vital endeavor.”
Iowa Farm News Broadcaster Mark Pearson Dead at 54. Mark Pearson worked at Iowa Public Television where he hosted the “Market to Market” show and at Clear Channel‘s WHO, Des Moines where he co-hosted “The Big Show,” a program that highlighted agricultural news. Pearson died of an apparent heart attack at his home on Sunday. WHO talk show host Jan Mickelson told the Des Moines Register, “Everyone at every level in the farm community respected the guy.”
Clark Howard Takes on Expanded Role at HLN. Consumer affairs expert and nationally syndicated talk radio host Clark Howard is going to get more face time at Time Warner’s HLN cable channel. Howard, who does a weekend program at HLN and contributes to the channel’s “Morning Express” program, will be part of an ensemble weekday afternoon news program titled, “Evening Express” airing from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm ET. Howard will be partnered with TruTV’s Ryan Smith, who will handle lead anchor duties, and British journalist Isha Sesay who has worked for CNN International and serves as a correspondent for CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360.” In a statement, HLN says the new program is designed to take a “solutions-oriented look at the day’s news, accompanied by deeper discussions and reporting on stories and issues that resonate in the American household – including parenting, education, health, personal finance and relationships.”
Utah Jazz Owner Confirmed to Buy Salt Lake City Sports Talk Combo. The reported sale of the former Simmons Media sports talk duo KZNS-AM/FM, Salt Lake City to the Larry H. Miller Group is being confirmed by broker Patrick Communications. The price for the two signals is $3.25 million. The deal means Utah Jazz play-by-play will move to the new stations after being heard on Cumulus Media’s KFNZ which the Larry H. Miller Group had been operating under an LMA. At the same time, Fox Sports Radio Network announces it will continue to provide programming for the stations under the new ownership with both the AM and FM sides airing “Fox Sports Tonight,” JT the Brick and the slate of weekend Fox Sports shows. Premiere Networks’ Jim Rome will also be heard on the stations. The FM side of the broadcast will also carry “Fox Sports Daybreak” and the “Petros & Money” show. Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment SVP of broadcasting Chris Baum states, “We are very pleased to continue our affiliation with Fox Sports Radio as we move to 1280 The Zone and Fox Sports Radio 97.5. The FSR shows complement our local lineup very well on our new 50,000-watt AM signal, and the additional coverage on our FM signal will allow us to better reach and serve sports fans, and Jazz fans in particular, all along the Wasatch Front.”
Kevin Sheehan Extends Deal with Red Zebra’s WTEM, Washington. Red Zebra Broadcasting announces midday co-host Kevin Sheehan – who co-hosts “The Sports Fix” with Thom Loverro – has signed a two-year deal to remain with the company. Sheehan also continues with the Washington Redskins Radio Network where he hosts the “Official Redskins Pre-Game Show.” Sheehan will also contribute to the Tony Kornheiser program and co-host the “Monday Morning Quarterback” after each Redskins game. Vice president of programming Chuck Sapienza says, “Kevin is as versatile as anyone in the field. He does so much for us. I look forward to working with him through 2014 and many years to come.”
Former New York Parks Commissioner Bernadette Castro Co-Hosting with WOR’s Governor David Paterson. As per New York Post gossip columnist Cindy Adams, former New York Parks Commissioner Bernadette Castro is sitting alongside former Governor David Paterson as he hosts the PM drive show on WOR, New York as a sort of tryout to see if a duo concept works for the program.
ESPN Hosts Affiliates at “Audio Avenue II” Day in Bristol, Connecticut. The outdoor quad at ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut will be busy today as the company hosts talent from its four O&O stations and from 12 affiliate stations for a daylong live broadcast event. ESPN Audio SVP Mo Davenport states, “Audio Avenue brings the concept of ‘ESPN Everywhere’ to life. Each of these shows and markets represent what our listeners love, the opportunity to hear from experts locally, nationally and globally.” Along with the hosts and producers broadcasting from “Audio Avenue,” participants will include network and affiliate management, account executives, program directors, clients, ESPN employees and those involved with ESPN Audio’s promotions, marketing and sales. The day will also include two “Block Party Breakout” luncheons focusing on the production of “Mike & Mike in the Morning” and listener demographic research.
Courtney Smith Promoted to Director of New Business at Beasley Las Vegas. The Beasley Broadcasting Las Vegas cluster names Courtney Smith director of new business development and marketing & events manager. Smith has served at the company since 2006 when she joined as a promotions assistant. She was promoted to marketing director and added events coordinator to her duties in 2009. Vice president and general manager Tom Humm states, “I’m constantly amazed with the promotions and events that Courtney conceptualizes from scratch and pleased by the successful results they achieve. She always makes Beasley shine. Courtney has earned this promotion and I’m very proud of her for that accomplishment.”
Facebook IPO Case, 2012 Presidential Election, Euro Zone Instability and Georgia Teacher Criticizes Student for Questioning Obama Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/22). Securities regulators investigate Facebook IPO; the 2012 presidential election and questions over whether Hillary Clinton will replace Joe Biden as vice presidential candidate; Greece’s status as a member of the European Union; and the case of the Georgia teacher who bullied a student for criticizing President Obama were some of the most talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
FM Talk Winning in PM Drive with Alan Cox Show on Cleveland’s Legendary Rocker WMMS-FM. The Alan Cox show is quietly defying the conventional wisdom about what talk targeting younger demos on FM is all about. Ensconced in afternoon drive on Clear Channel’s legendary rock outlet WMMS-FM, Cleveland, Cox’s success is not a widely told tale in the radio industry, in part because it doesn’t appear to be a piece of a corporately directed programming puzzle with companywide ambitions. Cox credits local management for daring to be innovative with spoken-word programming outside the realms of news/talk and sports talk. “’MMS, everybody knows, is a legendary station and management had the foresight to realize music on FM is kind of going away and to see if it can work with two talk products and it has worked amazingly well. The foresight that brought them to try this hybrid station also makes them realize that you have to honor the heritage the station has but everything has to move forward.” Read this entire story here.
Gil Gross Replaces Gene Burns in PM Drive at KKSF, San Francisco. Talk radio legend Gene Burns is not going away from Clear Channel Media and Entertainment San Francisco as he continues to rehab from a stroke he suffered last December but cluster director of operations Don Parker gives the PM drive slot to Gil Gross, who’s been one of those filling in for Burns since January. Parker states, “I’m thrilled to have Gil Gross aboard full time for the Bay Area’s only live and local afternoon drive talk show. With his extensive background in network news, everyone in news/talk radio knows the name Gil Gross. I couldn’t be happier to have KKSF be his new home. NewsTalk 910 has been very fortunate to have the highest caliber of talent filling in for Gene Burns since January. I’d like to thank John Rothman, Ed Baxter and Rosie Allen for their contributions and for continuing to play a role on NewsTalk 910 moving forward.” Burns will continue to blog at newstalk910.com and his Saturday “Dining Around” program will remain on the program schedule with Joel Riddell hosting . Additionally, John Rothman is named the station’s political analyst. He’ll contribute to the station’s talk shows and newscasts as well as serve as host for KKSF’s 2012 election coverage. Baxter and Allen will remain with the station for fill-in and blogging duties. On his new position, Gross states, “I am thrilled to keep the live, local talk flame alive in the Bay area. From the Occupy movement to Oscar Grant or the struggles of our economy, it’s important for the Bay area to have a platform to discuss today’s most pressing topics. I look forward to having my friend and colleague, Gene Burns, back in the line-up. I also look forward to building the future at NewsTalk 910, a unique station that will not be one point of view all day long.”
Tony Kornheiser Negotiating for Long-Term Deal to Remain on WTEM, Washington. Washington, DC-based sports media personality Tony Kornheiser tells his audience he hopes to be assured his radio talk show will be heard on Red Zebra’s WTEM – ESPN 980 for “another two years, at least.” The Washington Post reports director of programming Chuck Sapienza hinted the two sides are negotiating, quoting him saying, “Our goal has always been to have Tony with ESPN 980 long term, and we hope to have an official announcement soon.” Kornheiser will take much of the summer off from his radio show telling his audience he will do a few weeks of ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” but will not do radio in July or August.
Terry Gross Celebrates 25 Years of National Syndication for “Fresh Air.” Tomorrow “Fresh Air” host Terry Gross will celebrate her 25th anniversary in national syndication via NPR. Gross began the program on WHYY-FM, Philadelphia – where the show is still based – in 1975. Gross tells the Philadelphia Daily News’ Dan Gross (no relation), “I fell in love with radio the moment I started doing it. I still find it a privilege to be able to talk to and engage in a pretty personal level with people whose work I respect.” Surprisingly for some, Gross tells the paper she counts Howard Stern among those whom she’d like to interview but has not. She says she’s a fan of his radio show.
Carmichael Dave Out at KHTK, Sacramento. The producer and sidekick to morning host and PD Don Geronimo and host of his own midday show exits the CBS Radio sports outlet. His tweets about his exit are vague but it appears Carmichael Dave is the victim of a budget-related maneuver. He tweets, “As of today I am no longer a part of CBS Radio…I’m getting a lot of response that this was contract related. I asked for nothing. I can’t go into details. Just know that I love the station and the people.” The station is airing DirecTV/Premiere’s Dan Patrick show in middays.
Analysis: The Legal Basis for the Bob Lonsberry Decision. TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman reviews the recent ruling by the Appellate Division, Fourth Department of New York in the defamation case filed against WHAM, Rochester talk show host Bob Lonsberry. Weisman writes that for talk hosts who make a living expressing their opinions, it’s important to note that “not all opinion is protected, but when it is made about a matter of public concern, the speaker is protected by the First Amendment.” Read Steven J.J. Weisman’s piece here.
Odds ‘n’ Sods. CBS Radio names Brian Thomas vice president of programming for its Tampa cluster that includes sports talk WQYK – 1010AM Sports…..Syndicated Solutions, Inc. begins distribution of Chuck Woolery’s “Save Us Chuck” political commentary feature on June 4. The game show legend states, “I started in radio and just love it! During all my years on television, I’ve come to realize that radio is truly the only medium where I can connect one-on-one with the audience and help to create real change.”…..CBS Radio’s KNX, Los Angeles visits the foothill cities of the San Gabriel Valley as part of its “KNX on Your Corner” remote broadcast series. The broadcast will emanate from the Monrovia Coffee Company in the heart of Old Town Monrovia on June 1…..WTKK-FM, Boston midday talk host Doug Meehan’s listeners are launching a campaign to get the host an on-air audition with Kelly Ripa on ABC TV’s “Live! With Kelly.” Meehan has recorded his pitch to be on the show and posted it on WTKK’s website. He’s encouraging listeners to visit the “Live! With Kelly” website touting Meehan for a shot at a guest host appearance…..Former WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte regular fill-in host Wayne Powers wins his primary contest for a seat on the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners.
First Caller Puts Curse on New Talk Show Host. What a way to start a new gig! Gregg Henson, the station’s program director who replaced afternoon drive host Pat Miller on WOWO, Fort Wayne, was greeted with a first call that sounded like something out of a Steven King novel. Not only did the listener with a heavy accent voice his disapproval of Henson and insult him by saying he is “a snake” who “doesn’t bring anything to the table” — he went on to actually put a curse on him! Check THIS out. Listen to the audio here.
2012 Presidential Race, Obama Gay Marriage Issue, Feds to Sue Arizona Sheriff Arpaio, and Putin Snubs Obama Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/9). The 2012 presidential campaign, President Obama’s change of heart on the gay marriage issue, the federal lawsuit being filed against Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s backing out of meeting with President Obama and the G-8 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Media Veteran and Fenway Park Announcer Carl Beane Dies in Auto Crash. Fenway Park’s voice of the Boston Red Sox, Carl Beane, died Wednesday at age 59 after suffering a heart attack and crashing his car while driving. Beane won the Fenway Park gig after the 2002 season. He was a radio sports announcer, talk host, news reporter and more during his long career. In addition to stringing for AP, ESPN and SiriusXM, Beane had worked at WBZ, Boston and spent many years in the 1990s working at then talk/music hybrid WESO, Southbridge.
Entertainment Industry Mourns Passing of Dick Clark. The music, television and radio industries are mourning the passing of pioneer broadcaster Dick Clark, who died on Wednesday after suffering a massive heart attack at age 82. In addition to his numerous other contributions to the entertainment industry, Clark co-founded United Stations Radio Networks with Nick Verbitsky in 1981. Verbitsky says, “Dick was an icon to many, but a true friend, partner and mentor to those of us who worked closely with him. His impact on broadcasting is immeasurable, and his entrepreneurial spirit will be a part of our world at United Stations forever.”
Talk Host Scott Hennen to Purchase WZFG, Fargo. The conservative talk-formatted WZFG, Fargo – positioned as “1100 AM The Flag” – will return to the control of talk host and station manager Scott Hennen upon FCC approval and the closing. Hennen announces he’s struck a deal with Great Plains Integrated Marketing to buy back the station he founded in 2008. Hennen was fired by his investors as president and CEO of GPIM in the fall of 2010. His program remained on the air at WZFG until May of 2011. Hennen is currently hosting a nationally syndicated radio show but is not heard in the Fargo market at this time. His program will return to the station when the new deal begins.
Internet and Terrestrial Radio Are Different Businesses When it Comes to Non-Competes. That’s the ruling of Stark County (OH) Common Pleas Court Judge Charles E. Brown in the case of two Canton jocks who started a radio show on the internet and were sued by their former employer for violating the non-compete. Radio hosts Patrick DeLuca and Charlotte DiFranco (pictured here) left their highly rated morning program at WDJQ-FM, Canton after failing to agree to terms on a contract renewal with station owner Don Peterson III. They started their own station at www.theradiosucks.com and began broadcasting three shows per week after exiting in February and Peterson sued, claiming they violated the non-compete. Attorney Steve Okey argued his clients were prevented from operating a business that was “the same or essentially the same as a radio station” and their venture does not fit that description. The judge agreed. Peterson tells the Youngstown Vindicator he’s disappointed with the decision and will review his options. This is a case others in the radio and internet radio businesses will be watching closely.
Red Zebra’s WTEM, Washington Inks Deal for Sports Content with Dial Global. Red Zebra Broadcasting announces it has signed a two-year deal with Dial Global Radio Networks to have exclusive rights to March Madness, the NFL package, the NFL playoffs, the Super Bowl, the NFL Draft, Golf’s Majors and the Olympics in the Washington, DC market. Vice president of programming Chuck Sapienza says of the deal, “We want to thank Greg Leader and Sean Thompson of Dial Global for being such great partners. We could not be more pleased with the relationship and all the great programming Dial Global brings to our listeners. When you team the Redskins Radio Network with Dial Global’s NFL Package, NFL fans in DC will receive extensive, exclusive coverage of the National Football League on ESPN980.”
Current TV to Add Show Hosted by California Lieutenant Governor. Former San Francisco mayor and current California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom will debut a new talk show on the Al Gore-founded Current TV network beginning in May. The New York Times reports the move is designed by Current TV to “keep its progressive agenda on track.” In a statement announcing the move, co-founder Al Gore states, “He touches many worlds – business, politics, entertainment and activism. We are honored that Current TV will be bringing his curiosity, intelligence, insights and enthusiasm to television.” Newsom will continue to serve as lieutenant governor of California. Current TV is rebounding from the high-profile battle – now in the courts – with former “Countdown” host Keith Olbermann. It also recently added video simulcasts of talk radio stars Stephanie Miller’s and Bill Press’ nationally syndicated morning radio programs.
TALKERS Publishes 2012 Heavy Hundred. The 2012 installment of TALKERS magazine’s signature feature, “The Talkers 250 featuring the Heavy Hundred,” is officially posted. This long-running talk radio industry institution also titled, “The 250 Most Important Talk Radio Hosts in America,” is compiled by the TALKERS editorial board based upon a compilation of both objective and subjective elements including (in alphabetical order): courage, effort, impact, longevity, potential, ratings, recognition, revenue, service, talent and uniqueness. Although the list is traditionally drawn from a wide variety of genres representing the breadth of spoken word radio from commercial to public and including everything from traditional news/talk to specialty programming, this year’s installment of the popular feature marks a departure from the custom of including sports talk hosts. According to TALKERS VP/managing editor Kevin Casey, “Because of the explosive growth of sports talk radio and the number of excellent hosts participating in it across the country, TALKERS will be publishing the genre’s own Heavy Hundred beginning in 2012.” The TALKERS Sports Talk Heavy Hundred is scheduled for publication this coming June. To see this year’s entire “Talkers 250 featuring the Heavy Hundred” click here.
23rd Annual Imus Radiothon Begins Today. 77WABC, New York-based Don Imus broadcasts the 23rd Annual Imus Radiothon beginning today and running through tomorrow. The Radiothon is airing on 77WABC, radio affiliates around the country and on the Fox Business Network. The two-day event benefits the Imus Ranch for Kids with Cancer, the Tomorrows Children’s Fund and the CJ Foundation for SIDS. Guests on the program for the Radiothon will include various sponsors and children/siblings who have visited and experienced the Imus Ranch in Ribera, New Mexico.
Warren Ballentine Interviews First Lady Michelle Obama. Syndication One nationally syndicated talk host Warren Ballentine is pictured here at the White House on April 16 interviewing First Lady Michelle Obama. Ballentine visited the White House as part of the Summit on Entrepreneurship for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions. The White House Summit offered the opportunity for Ballentine to provide a national African-American audience for small business owners, government experts and leaders from a variety of HBCUs/MSIs to discuss their numerous opportunities and facilitate solutions to challenges in underserved communities. Ballentine states, “Doing my show from the White House was such a great honor for me. The staff was outstanding and the chance to interview First Lady Michelle Obama was truly a blessing and honor. The First Lady is not only gracious, she is wise, funny, empathetic and truly in tune with the people of America. This is an experience that I will never forget!” Ballentine’s interview with the First Lady will be highlighted on his program today (4/19).
2012 Presidential Campaign, U.S. Soldiers Photos Scandal, North Korea Military Ambitions, Trayvon Martin Case Developments and Ted Nugent Comments Concern Secret Service Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/18). The 2012 presidential campaign; the problems being caused by U.S. soldiers taking photos with the bodies of dead Taliban insurgents; ongoing concerns over North Korea’s military ambitions; judge steps down from Trayvon Martin case; and Ted Nugent’s comments to NRA group draws concern of Secret Service were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Jim Graci Named Program Director at KDKA, Pittsburgh. CBS Radio announces the new program director for its news/talk KDKA, Pittsburgh several months after it chose not to renew its contract with former PD Marshall Adams. Jim Graci – who previously programmed crosstown WEAE – comes north from Cumulus’ KLIF where he’s been serving as PD. Also at KDKA, longtime KDKA news staffer P.J. Kumanchik is promoted to news director at the station.
WAXY, Miami Announces Tod Castleberry Takes PD Role at Station. Program director and Dan LeBatard show executive producer and cast member Marc Hochman is probably almost as happy about this hire as Tod Castleberry is. Hochman’s been handling both roles and agreed with Lincoln Financial Media to continue in both until a successor for his PD position could be found. Hochman wants to put his total concentration on the Dan LeBatard show and now he can do that. Tod Castleberry has worked at Red Zebra’s sports WTEM, Washington and most recently has been working as partner and executive producer of the John Riggins internet show.
ABC News Radio to Produce Special Program Sparked by Trayvon Martin Death. The special one-hour broadcast will take place tomorrow night (3/28) at 7:00 pm ET and will be hosted by “Good Morning America’s” Robin Roberts. Titled, “Race and Justice: A National Conversation,” the show will focus on the national dialogue that’s been spurred by the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. ABC News Radio says the show will feature “Robin Roberts leading a town hall discussion with prominent newsmakers and an audience of high school students and parents. The program will further the national discussion involving all racial and ethnic groups stirred by the circumstances of Trayvon Martin’s death.” The show is available to ABC News Radio affiliates.
TRN’s Michael Savage to Publish New Non-Fiction Book. Nationally syndicated talk sensation Michael Savage’s new book hits the bookstore shelves on April 3 – with major booksellers currently taking pre-orders. In Trickle Down Tyranny: Crushing Obama’s Dream of the Socialist States of America (Harper Collins 2012), Savage examines the state of the nation and especially how he believes the Obama Administration is on the wrong path. He writes, “Obama is actively creating a populace ever more slavishly dependent on the federal government.” Other topics include punishing success, “The president has openly declared war on those who have worked hard all their lives to achieve the American dream.” Savage discusses how we treat our enemies and allies, “He treats radical Islamists in the Middle East as friends, then stiffs Israel and our Western European allies.” He says that the military is used like pawns, “While Obama uses proud Navy SEALs for a publicity stunt, and the overall strength of the military has been decimated.” Other topics including the Southern border chaos and corporate cronyism are covered in a way that only Michael Savage could reveal. Savage is the author of 26 books including four New York Times bestsellers.
Arbitron and California Agree to Settlement in PPM Suit. The State of California and the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco are settling their suit against Arbitron for its practices regarding the Portable People Meter that the entities alleged underrepresented minorities and minority-targeted radio stations. Arbitron states, “As part of the settlement, Arbitron has agreed to continue a number of measures already an integral part of the company’s current PPM methodology and of its continuous improvement program for the Portable People Meter ratings services in all markets. These measures include the already completed transition to address-based sample frames, cell-phone-only sampling rates, reporting country of origin for Hispanic households and certain other sample performance and demographic information to subscribers by individual zip code, continuing efforts to maintain or achieve specific in-tab rates and Sample Performance Indicators, and continuing the company’s commitment to using all reasonable measures to achieve Media Rating Council accreditation for the data produced by the PPM ratings service in all California markets. These commitments are generally consistent with the company’s agreements with other states and are in force through December 31, 2014, or until MRC accreditation is granted, whichever comes first. The Company also agreed to pay a total of $400,000 in settlement of all claims and costs.” Arbitron states the settlement is not an admission of fault.
Dennis Miller Celebrates His 5th Anniversary Week with Special Guests. Dial Global talk show host Dennis Miller is celebrating his 5th anniversary hosting his nationally syndicated talk show this week and he’s scheduled some high-profile guests for the event. GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney joins the show today (3/27). Other guests this week include: AMC’s “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner, National Review editor Rich Lowry and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. On Thursday’s special anniversary show, good friend and “Saturday Night Live” alumnus Jimmy Fallon of NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” will join Miller. Also coming on the show that day will be actor/comedian David Spade, who’s currently on CBS’s “Rules of Engagement” and Adam Carolla, who’s on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice.” Dial Global EVP of news and talk programming Bart Tessler states, “Dennis consistently brings together such an eclectic and interesting group of guests. Only he could seamlessly switch from a compelling political conversation with a presidential candidate to tapping into the zeitgeist with a late night comic.”
Cumulus Media Networks to Syndicate Medical Feature with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. The vignettes to begin distribution in May through Cumulus Media Networks are broken into two target demos: one style for news/talk stations and another for a younger audience on music and entertainment stations. Two features per day for each variety will be available. Cumulus chairman, president and CEO Lew Dickey says, “Dr. Sanjay Gupta is a unique and profoundly talented individual. His insights and experience will bring compelling content to our affiliates and create powerful new vehicles for our advertisers. We look for Dr. Gupta to be an important component in our overall content strategy.” Dr. Gupta is a practicing neurosurgeon and serves as chief medical correspondent for CNN.
WOR, New York’s Former Governor David Paterson to Host Political Roundtable Event. Afternoon drive host former Governor David Paterson will moderate a special roundtable discussion from the famous Russian Tea Room broadcast live on WOR, New York on April 5. Taking part in this “State of the Tri-State” three-hour expanded edition (to be broadcast from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm on WOR) of the Governor’s show are: former New York Lieutenant Governor Betsy McCaughey, United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew, New York City Councilman Robert Jackson, New Jersey Association of School Administrators executive director Dr. Richard Bozza, Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), national security expert K.T. McFarland, and Abdur-Rashid, religious and spiritual leader of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood in Harlem. WOR VP/GM Jerry Crowley states, “There is no one more uniquely qualified than Governor Paterson to bring together these top names on one radio broadcast to discuss the issues that are most important to our listeners and our community. Headlines are sure to be made during this very special program.” The broadcast is open to members of the press but not to the public.
Salem Communications Buys Detroit-Area Translator for News/Talk WDTK. Salem Communications is paying $250,000 for the FM translator currently at 97.5 and licensed to Harrison, Michigan. The seller is Tim Martz’s Radio Power and there’s currently a construction permit to move the translator to Detroit proper and to the 92.7 frequency. Salem intends to use the FM signal to assist its news/talk WDTK, Detroit.
ObamaCare Goes Before Supreme Court, Pressure Heightens for Charges in Trayvon Martin Case, GOP Primary Race and Obama-Medvedev Flap Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/26). The first day of arguments at the Supreme Court over aspects of President Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act; the growing pressure on authorities to arrest George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin; the GOP primary race; and the flap over President Obama’s remarks to Russian president Dmitry Medvedev were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Cumulus Makes Changes at KLIF, Dallas. The move toward more news in commercial spoken-word radio continues. Cumulus Media Group announces talk station KLIF, Dallas will add morning and afternoon drive news blocks and changes its slogan to “News & Information 570 KLIF.” The AM drive news block begins today (3/26) and features Amy Chodroff (from sister WBAP) and Dave Williams co-anchoring the program. Williams most recently worked at Merlin Media’s all-newser in Chicago. The PM drive news block is expected to begin on April 2. The changes mean morning drive talk host Jeff Bolton is out and PM drive talk host Chris Krok will move to sister WBAP-AM/FM for an evening talk show.
Current TV’s Bill Press and Stephanie Miller Simulcasts Debut Today. The new one-two punch of progressive radio talk stars hitting the air at Al Gore-founded Current TV begins this morning (3/26) as Dial Global syndicated talk hosts Bill Press and Stephanie Miller air TV simulcasts of their morning drive radio programs on Current TV. “Full Court Press: The Bill Press Show” airs from 6:00 am to 9:00 am ET and “Talking Liberally: The Stephanie Miller Show” follows from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm ET. The network announces that Senator Chris Coons, (D-DE); Nia-Malika Henderson of the Washington Post; Faiz Shakir of Think Progress; and Lara Setrakian of ABC News and Bloomberg are all scheduled to appear during the premiere week of “Full Court Press.” The first week of “Talking Liberally” will feature Senator Byron Dorgan (ND – Former U.S. Senator and Chairman of The Senate Committee on Energy), as well as comedienne Kathleen Madigan.
Hubbard Broadcasting Names Emily Kopp WFED Morning Anchor. Hubbard Broadcasting announces a permanent addition to the morning drive show on WFED, Washington – the station dedicated to serving the many federal government workers living in the region. Emily Kopp joins host Tom Temin on the morning drive program. Kopp joined Federal News Radio in 2011 after living in the Netherlands where she reported on a freelance basis for various radio network and print outlets. Prior to her promotion, Kopp served Federal News Radio as a federal workforce reporter. Since July 2011, Kopp has produced several compelling series that focused on key human aspects of working for the federal government. WFED program director Lisa Wolfe states, “Emily had been filling in as co-anchor while we’ve been conducting our talent search for the next morning anchor. Her talents were obvious and when we got together to discuss the possibility of making it permanent, it just made sense. I look forward to Emily bringing her well-crafted interview style to mornings. I think she will uncover a lot of news.”
WTEM, Washington Launches New Afternoon Sports Talk Show Today. Red Zebra-owned WTEM, Washington announces the debut of “Inside the Locker Room with Doc Walker and Brian Mitchell” today (3/26). The show teams up former Washington Redskins Doc Walker and Brian Mitchell along with broadcast pro Scott Jackson. Walker continues with the station after 15 years, most recently serving as co-host of the John Thompson show. Both Mitchell and Jackson return to WTEM after several years’ absence. VP of programming Chuck Sapienza states, “With Doc and B-Mitch, ESPN 980’s lineup includes the two most prominent former players in Washington, DC media today. Listeners of the show will receive opinions and insight from professional athletes that is rarely offered on local radio. In addition, Jackson gives the show a ‘point guard’ that every successful program needs.” The show airs from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
KXTG, Portland Re-Signs John Canzano. “The Bald Faced Truth” host re-ups with Alpha Broadcasting’s sports KXTG on a multi-year deal to remain with the station. John Canzano also writes a column for the Daily Oregonian and is a commentator for KGW-TV, Portland. Upon announcing the deal, Canzano commented, “Sports talk listeners of ‘The Bald Faced Truth’ radio show are smart, educated, good looking, influential and relevant. I love my audience, my sponsors and this station. I’m staying right here because ‘The Game’ is the place to be. Period.”
Southern California Public Radio Names Melanie Sill Executive Editor. The former editor at the Sacramento Bee and the Raleigh News and Observer takes over the executive editor role at Southern California Public Radio. Her duties include overseeing the daily news gathering operations across KPCC, Pasadena’s broadcast, digital and social media platforms. KPCC VP for content Russ Stanton states, “Sill brings a wealth of news and managerial experience to this new position. Most importantly, she has been a force of change in two newsrooms, leading efforts to restructure staffs to better compete in the digital age.” The Southern California Public Radio website announces the non-profit is aggressively working to build out its online news service with ambitions to become the region’s pre-eminent source for information across multiple media.
Jacksonville Gets FM Simulcast for Sports WJXL. Seven Bridges Radio LLC buys the former Gospel WFJO-FM, Jacksonville (a class A FM signal at 92.5) from receiver Scott Savage for $1.95 million and begins an LMA immediately simulcasting its sports station 1010 XL (WJXL). The station was formerly owned by Tama Broadcasting.
Smerconish Visits Boston. Dial Global nationally syndicated talk host Michael Smerconish (center, standing) chats with WTKK-FM, Boston listeners at a private meet & greet on March 20 prior to the national screening of his movie, “Book Club with Michael Smerconish Featuring Chris Matthews’ Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero.” In addition to the meet & greet, Smerconish conducted a curtain call speech before the showing of the film at the Cinema De Lux in Dedham, Massachusetts before a sold out theater. The film appeared at more than 100 theaters across the country on that evening.
America’s Radio News Network Develops Second Radio Network Featuring 24/7 News Reports. The long-form news venture crafted by Talk Radio Network known as America’s Radio News Network – which is successfully distributing three-hour blocks of all-news content to more than 275 affiliate stations – is announcing the creation of a second network dedicated to top- and bottom-of-the-hour news, breaking news bulletins, special reports and newsmaker interviews. ARNN executive vice president for news John McCaslin states, “‘Journalism Without Agenda’ is not just a marketing phrase at America’s Radio News – it’s a code we live by – and the marketplace has responded so strongly to our long-form, all-news product that the second news network of our short-form top- and bottom-of-the-hour news (plus audio actualities, special reports, news maker interviews etc…) was a natural outgrowth of this demand. We are honored to be the fastest-growing brand in news radio. We truly are ‘Journalism Without Agenda.’ This is something stations not only deeply appreciate, but have a need for like never before.” CEO Mark Masters says this means affiliate stations will not have to “break away” for news. “Bottom line, ARNN is now the complete ‘go-to’ radio news network for urgent breaking newscasts on the hour and half-hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, along with our intriguing and diverse lineup of newsmaker interviews in addition to our large array of three-hour, long-form weekday news blocks our listeners enjoy each weekday.” The new service begins April 2.
Dan Sileo Let Go from WDAE, Tampa After “Monkeys” Comment. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s Tampa Bay sports talk outlet has parted company with morning drive sports talk host Dan Sileo after he referred to three NFL free agents as “monkeys.” During an exchange with producer Darek Sharp about whether the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should go after Cortland Finnegan, Jonathan Vilma and Vincent Jackson in free agency, Sileo reportedly said, “No! No! If they get those three monkeys, I’m good! I’m ready, man. I’m ready. I want those guys. Those guys are great players.” WDAE program director Steve Versnick confirmed to the Tampa Bay Tribune that Sileo is no longer with the station but would not comment on why due to the station’s policy of not discussing personnel matters. The Tampa Bay Times reports the station apologized specifically for Sileo’s remarks. As for Sileo, he tweeted to the Times’ Eric Deggans that he didn’t even realize what he’d said until someone told him. Versnick told the Tribune Rock Riley will fill in for Sileo and the station is seeking a permanent replacement. Dan Sileo has written about sports talk radio for TALKERS in the past.
Aggressive Agenda Being Set for New Media Seminar. The first of several key panel rosters for the New York installment of this year’s New Media Seminar has been announced and it promises to provide a powerful overview of the state of talk radio. Titled “Spoken Word Radio 2012, the Big Picture,” the lineup includes (in alphabetical order): Phil Boyce, VP/director, Spoken Word Format, Salem Communications; Steve Goldstein, EVP, Saga Communications; Kraig Kitchin, CEO, Sound Mind, LLC; Mike McVay, senior VP programming, Cumulus Media; and Chris Oliviero, senior VP programming, CBS Radio. Michael Harrison, publisher of TALKERS will moderate. According to Harrison, “This year’s New Media Seminar will tackle a number of pressing issues facing the industry during this most transitional and turbulent year.” The 2012 version of the industry’s longest-running and most important national convention will feature a new, innovative format designed for the times – broken into two separate events: New York on Thursday, June 7 and Los Angeles on Thursday, October 11. Each will present a power-packed agenda and offer affordable, accessible registration fees to its attendees. Registration, however, is limited and only open to members of the working media. For details, click here.
Dial Global and Dennis Miller Celebrate the Host’s Five-Year Anniversary with a New Contract. The announcement from Dial Global doesn’t get specific – it calls it a long-term deal – but Dennis Miller’s gig as a nationally syndicated talk show host will continue. He began in 2007 with Westwood One and is currently heard on more than 300 affiliate stations and, according to DG, in 24 of the top 24 markets. Dial Global co-president/CEO David Landau says, “We are ecstatic about our relationship with Dennis and thrilled to be associated with a rock star and national treasure of this magnitude.” Miller is a regular contributor to Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor.” Miller and O’Reilly have been involved in a live event series dubbed the “Bolder & Fresher Tour 2011-2012” and have added new dates to that tour including June 22 in Indianapolis and June 23 in Chicago. Miller says of his radio success, “It has been a fine five years with a great and growing audience that I enjoy riffing with. As I bask in the glorious wake of modest achievement, I look forward to many more years behind the microphone.”
Saga Communications Reports Revenue Down 3.6% in Q4 of 2011. But for the entire year of 2011, Saga Communications was down just a hair – to $127.3 million in net revenue. The good news for Saga is free cash flow was up 3.6% for the quarter and 9% for the year. Also, Saga was able to reduce its debt by $27 million to $69.1 million. One thing Saga is enjoying that many other broadcasting companies surely covet is a healthy stock price. Saga’s stock closed at $41.40 per share on Tuesday – up 6.7%.
Red Zebra’s WTEM, Washington Locks Up Doc Walker for Three More Years. The midday sports talk host was most recently partnered with John Thompson at WTEM but Thompson left his daily talk show host role at the station last month. Now, Red Zebra vice president of programming Chuck Sapienza says the company has signed Rick “Doc” Walker to a three-year contract extension and the station will feature Walker in a new 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm program beginning March 26. Walker is also part of the broadcast team for the Washington Redskins Radio Network. Red Zebra CEO Rick Carmean states, “Doc has become an integral part of WTEM and its success for the better part of 15 years. We are excited for him to be a part of the new show and our Redskins broadcasts.”
Cumulus Media Networks Partners with APM Music for Production Library Services. Music library giant APM Music – a joint venture of EMI Music Publishing and Universal Music Publishing – partners with Cumulus Media Networks to offer its music library services to client stations. APM’s collection of music is described as offering “every imaginable genre including music from current indie bands to big sound orchestral trailer cues to a full classical music repertoire.” CMN SVP of affiliate sales and broadcast operations Dennis Green says, “Cumulus Media Networks is proud to add the APM music production library to its growing stable of products and services available to stations all over the country. APM’s library is the largest and best in the industry which will provide stations the foundation for outstanding commercial production.”
Dan LeBatard Show Markets Content via CDBaby. The WAXY, Miami PM drive show Dan LeBatard with Stugotz & Hochman is marketing some of its best-of material via CDBaby. The program has a sizable podcast following but this is the first foray in to digital media marketing. As the deal is structured, the show and station owner Lincoln Financial Media both share in the revenue. The “CD” is available through CDBaby.com, iTunes, Amazon and several other digital media sites. Marc Hochman (who is currently also program director of WAXY but is stepping down to focus on the LeBatard show) reports LeBatard’s national profile has “grown exponentially since the debut of his daily TV show, ‘Dan LeBatard is Highly Questionable,’ on ESPN 2 which is aired every day at 4:00 pm ET.” Pictured here is the “CD cover” of the digital download. Hochman says there will be no physical CDs, just the download.
GOP Southern Primaries/2012 Presidential Race, Soaring Gas Prices, Afghanistan Killings Aftermath, and Iran Nukes Issue Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/13). Yesterday’s southern primaries for the GOP contenders and the 2012 presidential race in general; the nation’s soaring gas prices and its impact on President Obama’s approval numbers; the aftermath of the killing of 16 Afghanistan civilians by a U.S. soldier; and the ongoing tensions over Iran’s nuclear weapons program were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Clear Channel Forges into Future of Entertainment; Names John Sykes President of Entertainment Enterprises. If there comes a time in the future when radio companies are forced to address why their business plans failed as technology and media tastes were changing all around them, for Clear Channel it certainly won’t be for lack of trying to use its enormous radio station base from which to move forward. On the heels of last week’s announcement of the name change – jettisoning the “radio” part and tacking “media” and “entertainment” onto its name – the company announces it is bringing entertainment pro John Sykes aboard to serve as president of entertainment enterprises. In announcing the hire, CC states, “Sykes will use the unparalleled assets of Clear Channel – including its 238 million monthly broadcast radio listeners, the 141 million people it reaches with Outdoor in the United States and the 374 million internationally, as well as the more than 75 million monthly listening hours for its digital properties – to develop new businesses for the company across a range of media, including television and live events, as well as create value for Clear Channel advertisers and key partners.” Sykes has served as president of VH1, president of network development for MTV, CEO of the old Infinity Broadcasting, president of Champion Entertainment, president of Chrysalis Records, and an agent for Creative Artists Agency. Most recently he was with the private equity firm Pilot Group – the connection to Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman. Pittman says of Sykes, “John’s experience and relationships in so many sectors of the entertainment and media business make him the perfect choice to lead this new initiative.” Clear Channel doesn’t have a lot of time. It has some $20 billion in debt hanging around its neck that comes due in chunks over the next four years and the pace at which media and technology is changing is faster than anyone can anticipate – including those new-tech operators who say they’re ahead of the game. But, in so many words, Clear Channel is making the statement it is bound and determined to use its large base of radio listeners to build something that will exist – and hopefully make money – in the future. And bringing in connected players from outside the traditional radio business could be the strategy that helps it survive.
CBS Radio Detroit Brings Bob Wojnowski and Jamie Samuelsen Back to the Airwaves on “The Ticket.” Detroit sports media pros Bob “Wojo” Wojnowski and Jamie Samuelsen are being paired up for a 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm show on WXYT-FM “The Ticket.” Both have worked on sports talk radio in the market previously on Clear Channel’s WDFN. WXYT-FM program director Jimmy Powers says, “We are extremely pleased to have Jamie and Wojo join our line-up. They are a natural fit. They have been dialed into the Detroit sports scene for many years, giving fans information on their favorite teams. Jamie and Wojo will continue to entertain listeners on their way home from work or to the stadium.” Wojnowski is also currently a columnist for the Detroit News and Samuelson is a regular blogger for the Detroit Free Press.
KMBZ, Kansas City Makes PM Drive Changes. Mike Shanin leaves his role on the “Shanin and Parks” afternoon show at Entercom’s KMBZ, Kansas City and takes the business editor role at the station. The station says it will continue to rely on Shanin’s “expertise and knowledge for political commentary.” Filling his seat alongside Scott Parks is KCTV-TV investigative reporter Dana Wright. She says of her new radio role, “This is really a dream opportunity for me. Journalism is my passion and I look forward to this exciting new step in my career.”
When Radio Was Insanely Fun. Beleaguered by the contemporary world of corporate radio? Pining for the days when radio stations were inhabited by creative and (quite possibly) unstable personalities? Talk radio host, WPIX-TV, New York commentator and LionelMedia.com “podcast titan” Lionel re-lives a bit of crazy radio history from his uniquely skewed perspective and personal experience. Prepare to laugh your tuchus off and click here.
CBS Radio’s WNEW-FM, Washington Launch Delayed. Various trade and consumer reports indicate the launch of CBS Radio’s new all-newser in Washington, DC will be Monday, January 23 and not tomorrow as had been planned. The cause is being reported as engineering issues related to the new studios.
Red Zebra’s WTEM, Washington, DC Adds College Hoops Expert. ESPN 980 (WTEM) announces former University of Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams joins the station to serve as its college basketball insider. Williams takes the temporary post through the NCAA finals during which he’ll join the station’s “Sports Fix” with Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro and “The Sports Reporters” with Andy Pollin and Steve Czaban for weekly college basketball reports. PD Chuck Sapienza says, “Adding Gary to our team solidifies our dominance in the area of college basketball coverage. He is ‘must listen-to radio’ and adding his expertise on the entire sport of college hoops is a big win for ESPN 980’s listeners.”
ESPN Audio Re-Aligns Management. At ESPN, Jim Roberts moves from his senior director, affiliate sales to senior director, Deportes local radio group. He’ll continue to lead the Deportes Dallas Radio station and in addition be responsible for the on-going relationship with all Deportes Radio affiliates. Patrick Polking, senior director audio national accounts, will transition to senior director II, distribution and business development. Polking will oversee the development and execution of strategies to further monetize ESPN Audio’s products. The company also says that because of the growth in usage of ESPN Audio properties, Scott Masteller, senior director II, radio content, will collaborate with Dave Austin, who was recently promoted to manager, ESPN Digital Audio Group, to ensure ESPN Audio is aligned in the production of its digital audio.
GOP Primary Race, Internet Anti-Piracy Bills, European Debt Crisis and Italian Cruise Disaster Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/17). The battle to win the GOP presidential primary race, the internet anti-piracy bills being debated in Washington, the continuing European debt problems and the Italian cruise ship disaster were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Filling in for the Holidays. Today marks the beginning of “holiday fill-in season” on talk radio which pretty much runs through the rest of the year. It is the time when a significant percentage of full-time hosts working at individual radio stations (and even syndicated hosts for that matter) take all or part of their annual vacations. This process provides fill-in hosts and part-time weekend and bench hosts with the opportunity to get out there and hopefully shine. It also has the potential to provide listeners with fresh voices and perspectives. And it always presents already overworked programmers with the challenge of keeping their schedules flowing and appealing. They want someone who is professional and interesting – but they also want someone who won’t upset the applecart of stationality or listener expectations. WGN, Chicago PD Bill White explains, “I equate a fill-in host to someone hosting a dinner party in someone else’s home. Fill-in hosts should be respectful of the regular host’s audience but not rearrange all the furniture. We also look for fill-in hosts who will be comfortable and compliment the regular host’s audience.” Thus, qualified substitutes are a valuable commodity at this time of year when the demand for their services is drastically increased, especially when most stations’ air staffs have been cut back or depleted due to the economy and PDs must look for help from outside. For example, one of the industry’s most popular substitutes, former congressman and KFYI, Phoenix talk host J.D. Hayworth is subbing for Compass Media Networks nationally syndicated host Todd Schnitt on 12/20 and 12/28. He’ll be heard on hosting local shows on KXNT-FM, Las Vegas on 12/23 and 12/29-30; WLS, Chicago on 12/24, 28-30; WGST, Atlanta on 12/26; KOGO-AM/FM, San Diego on 12/27; and WPHT, Philadelphia on 12/28-30. Demand for quality substitutes is so high that some hosts already doing full-time work use it as an opportunity to pick up extra income and exposure. As if he is not already doing enough on his “regular” gigs, hard working and extremely talented Clear Channel talk host Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo (KPRC, Houston; WOAI, San Antonio; KOA, Denver; and “The Weekend”) fills in for Premiere Networks syndicated star Glenn Beck on 12/20, 23, 28 and 30. This year’s holiday season coming in the thick of the big election cycle creates even more pressure to keep stations on track. Greater Media-owned WTKK-FM, Boston PD Grace Blazer tells TALKERS, “It’s important at 96.9 FM-WTKK to provide our audience with relevant shows throughout the holiday season that are timely and topical. Our host vacation schedules are scattered and their fill-ins are often regular participants to their shows and share similar philosophies. Since January 2012 is a huge month for presidential politics and New Hampshire is our neighbor, I think it’s imperative to keep 96.9 Boston Talks ‘primarily’ intact and compelling.” At Peak Broadcasting’s KMJ, Fresno, PD Skip Essick likes to avoid throwing curves to listeners, “I try and keep programming as normal as possible. This year it will not be as much of a challenge with Christmas Eve and Day on the weekend – same thing over New Years. But, for instance, the day after Thanksgiving – which was designated as a company holiday – I ran full staff with regular programming. I’ll do the same for Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, and the numerous Monday holidays throughout the year. In a nutshell – if our listeners are at work, so are we.” Some hosts prefer to work over the holidays and at Buckley Broadcasting’s WOR, New York, program director Scott Lakefield tells TALKERS that’s the case. “For instance, John Gambling began a ‘tradition’ of sorts of taking his ‘holiday’ vacation in January. He will be live 12/27-30. Generally speaking, though, my theory is to try to do ‘best-of’ compendium shows during vacation times, with the exception of drive-time when information is a bigger component and it is thus necessary to be live. Guest hosts in my experience drive far more listeners away than hearing some ‘classic’ moments from their favorite hosts does.” In the sports talk radio world this situation can be particularly compelling since so many outlets have a high percentage of local full-time hosts and thus more slots to fill. Plus, opinions and personality categories in sports talk are often more idiosyncratic than general news/talk, making it more challenging to find the proper fit. CBS-owned Sports Radio 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh PD Terry Foxx tells TALKERS, “Holiday fill-in for us is very important. I match up our part-time hosts based on how I feel they will entertain and incite opinions from our fans in certain day parts.” Some stations have fill-in hosts with a history at the station such as veteran TV/radio personality Wayne Powers who subs for Keith Larson on WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte 12/26-30… and the list goes on. J.D. Hayworth, who is looking to get back into the business on a regular basis as either a local or syndicated host, tells TALKERS, “As a genuine ‘broadcasting baby boomer,’ I remember the ubiquitous Robert Q. Lewis on TV game shows: most frequently, a panelist…but quite frequently, a guest host…and eventually a regular host! So, I’m being ‘Lewis-like’ over the holidays! During my years at N.C. State, the joke was Lou Holtz recruited me at right tackle, but I ended up ‘left out!’ So…I’m used to waiting on the the bench, but very happy to get loads of holiday airtime. I’m certain these appearances will help me leave the bench and get back in the game full time!”
John Thompson Ends Regular Talk Show at WTEM, Washington. The iconic former Georgetown University basketball coach and talk host in the DC market since 1999 will step away from his regular show on Red Zebra’s WTEM in February to pursue other interests. Red Zebra director of programming Chuck Sapienza says, “While a sad day for the station, we fully support Coach Thompson’s decision to move on to other projects. As Coach and I discussed at the time of his decision, this is not a retirement. His fans will still hear Coach Thompson on ESPN980 from time to time. Thompson’s program airs from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm daily with co-host Doc Walker. Sapienza doesn’t state what the station’s plans are after Thompson steps down.
Chattanooga’s Brewer Media to Drop News/Talk on WPLZ-FM Citing Expense of the Format. It’s been three years since the locally owned Brewer Media put a news/talk format on WPLZ-FM, Chattanooga. Owner Jim Brewer II tells the Chattanooga Times Free Press he would have needed more staff to be competitive in the market. “I think we offered a good product and I will miss having news/talk in our building…being a small, single market cluster, it’s exceedingly difficult to compete against national broadcasting companies who have so much syndicated programming and infrastructure.” The station will flip to an unspecified music format in the new year and will lay off talk hosts Robert T. Nash and David Karnes as well as PD Gary Poole, news director Louis Lee and a couple other employees. Brewer Media owns three other FMs in the market including sports talk WALV – ESPN 105.1.
Birach Broadcasting Flips WWCS, Pittsburgh to Sports; Affiliates with Fox Sports Radio. Birach Broadcasting has been airing a Spanish music format on the signal but flips to sports on January 1 as Fox Sports 540. It’ll take most of the Fox Sports Radio Network-distributed lineup – Zakk & Jack, the Dan Patrick show, “Loose Cannons,” Petros & Money, “Fox Sports Tonight” and JT the Brick plus Premiere Networks’ Jim Rome. FSRN vice president and general manager Don Martin states, “After a short hiatus, Fox Sports Radio is thrilled to be heard again in the great city of Pittsburgh!” The network was previously affiliated with Clear Channel’s WBGG. In addition to CC’s WBGG, CBS Radio operates sports KDKA-FM in the market.
Dr. Jenn Berman to Host New VH1 Program “Couples Therapy.” Los Angeles-based psychotherapist and host of the Sirius XM talk show, “The Love and Sex Show with Dr. Jenn,” is the host of a new cable TV show produced by Irwin Entertainment, the producers of “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.” The program will follow the travails of five celebrity couples and they go through therapy with Dr. Jenn Berman. Shows hit the air in the spring. Dr. Berman tells TALKERS magazine, “It’s such a pleasure to be a part of this exciting venture on VH1. I’m looking forward to being that connecting link between viewers and the process of examining the challenges of a celebrity relationship. I think people will be very surprised by how much they identify with these celebs and their personal struggles.” Couples taking part in the program are: DMX (Rapper) & Tashera Simmons, Linda Hogan (“Hogan Knows Best”) & Charlie Hill, Chris Nirschel (“The Next Food Network Star”) & Angelina Pivarnick (“Jersey Shore”), Kasey Kahl (“Bachelorette”) & Vienna Girardi (“The Bachelor”) and Reichen Lehmkuhl & Rodiney Santiago (“The A-List: New York”).
Michigan Talk Host Michael Patrick Shiels Named to State Travel Commission. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder announces WJIM, Lansing-based talk host Michael Patrick Shiels – heard throughout the state via the Michigan Talk Network – will serve on the Michigan Travel Commission. “One of the key components to building a better and stronger Michigan is to continuously promote all the attractions our state has to offer, including our beautiful lakes and great landmarks. Michael Patrick Shiels is a great addition and uniquely positioned to be a great asset to the commission.” In addition to his radio work, Shiels is a travel writer and founder of TravelTattler.com. Subject to approval by the Michigan Senate, Shiels will serve the remainder of Jim Berryman’s term through September 2014. Berryman recently resigned.
Ira Weintraub Takes PD Role at WTKA, Ann Arbor. Cumulus Media Ann Arbor names APD and morning show producer Ira Weintraub program director for sports talk outlet WTKA – The Ticket 1050. Market manager Matt Spaulding says, “Ann Arbor is a market with a tradition of providing compelling, passionate and relevant broadcast products to the listeners of southeast Michigan. Ira Weintraub has absolutely earned this promotion and we are confident that he will help lead WTKA to many more years of broadcasting success.”
WGN, Chicago’s Milt Rosenberg Hosts 2011 Retrospective Tonight. “Extension 720” host Milt Rosenberg hosts a special edition of his program this evening (12/19) titled, “WGN Year in Review” with fellow WGN personalities Garry Meier, John Williams and David Kaplan. The hosts will look back on the stories that made the year 2011 from the Rod Blagojevich case to the death of Osama bin Laden to the hiring of Theo Epstein as the Cubs’ general manager. The program airs at 10:00 pm.
Fisher’s Plans for KVI, Seattle Outlined. An e-mail to clients of Fisher Communications’ oldies-formatted KVI, Seattle announces the former talk stations will revert to talk – but not as a conservative talk station. After the holidays, KVI will be called “Smart Talk 570 KVI” and will be positioned as “Smart talk for a Sound life.” The memo states the station will feature “lifestyle, health, local and entertainment news.” In addition to Friday’s story about Dial Global’s Clark Howard joining the station, the morning show will be called “Sunrise Seattle” hosted by Mark Christopher and Elisa Jaffe of KOMO TV 4. TRN’s Phil Hendrie and The Wall Street Journal Radio Network’s “Daily Wrap with Michael Castner” are on the schedule along with a local program, “The Buzz” hosted by Scott Carty.
Political Influence of Conservative Talk Radio Analyzed in Timely Politico Article. A hard-hitting article posted this morning (11/18) on the popular political news and opinion website Politico presents a particularly insightful and fascinating analysis of the role conservative talk radio hosts play in the process of presidential elections. The story written by Keach Hagey and Glenn Thrush looks specifically at the meteoric candidacy of Herman Cain – a former radio talker – and examines the direct influence radio personalities such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity,Laura Ingraham, and Mark Levin have had and are still having on his unexpectedly prominent position in the polls and national conversation. The interesting and timely article appearing in one of the political world’s leading news websites poses the question, “How long will the love last now that Cain is on the rocks?” — referring to radio talk show hosts’ reaction to Cain’s propensity toward gaffes such as the Libya incident and embroilment in an alleged sexual harassment scandal. Read the Politico story here.
RAB/Miller, Kaplan, Arase Data Shows Radio Revenue Up 2% for Q3. That increase is due in large part to gains in digital for the radio industry. The Radio Advertising Bureau and Miller, Kaplan, Arase & Co. report data that shows spot revenue for the third quarter was flat, network revene up 2%, digital up 17%, and off-air up 10%. The data also indicates that total revenue for the first three quarters of the year is up 2% as well.
“Christopher Walken” Interview on WTEM, Washington Spooks AP After Natalie Wood Case Re-Opened. It wasn’t exactly a “War of the Worlds” situation but apparently WTEM, Washington producer Marc Sterne does a pretty good Christopher Walken imitation and someone at the Associated Press bit. The back story is that Sterne does a regular Friday segment on the Red Zebra Broadcasting sports talk station in which “Walken” talks fantasy football. With the re-opening of the Natalie Wood case in the news and Walken’s link to the case, Sterne referenced the investigation during the segment last Friday and the AP reported it as a real interview, then realized what happened and reported it as a hoax. However, the Washington Post writes that WTEM PD Chuck Sapienza says the “hoax” part bugs him because it implies underhandedness. “No one [from AP] called us to see if it was real, and then they call it a hoax,” he told the Post. “A hoax makes it sound like it’s our fault. We’ve been doing this [impersonation] for two years. They’re taking no responsibility for shoddy journalism.” The AP isn’t identifying the person who heard the segment and reported it as fact.
Howard Eskin and Wally Kennedy Inducted by Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia. The non-profit Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia honors people from every aspect of the broadcasting industry who’ve contributed to the business for at least 10 years. On Friday, the organization recognized WIP, Philadelphia sports personality Howard Eskin – WIP’s very first talk show sportscaster – and KYW news anchor Wally Kennedy. Eskin began hosting sports talk radio shows in Philly in 1986. He recently stepped down from his daily PM drive show to concentrate on Eagles game day coverage and other projects. Kennedy – who’s worked in Philadelphia radio and television for 30 years – is morning news anchor at KYW. CBS Radio Philadelphia SVP and market manager Marc Rayfield says, “CBS Radio is fortunate to showcase incredible talent on all of our properties. Legends like Howard Eskin and Wally Kennedy have been heard in the Philadelphia area for decades. It’s no surprise that they would be inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame. Both have contributed greatly to the success of our radio stations.”
Thom Hartmann Co-Authored Kennedy Book to Be Made into Movie by Leonardo DiCaprio. According to columnist Liz Smith, the book Legacy of Secrecy: The Long Shadow of the JFK Assassination (Counterpoint 2009), authored by Lamar Waldron with Dial Global talk host Thom Hartmann, will be made into a movie by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way film company. Smith reports that DiCaprio would play FBI informant Jack Van Laningham and Robert De Niro will play Carlos Marcello. According to its Amazon description, the almost 950-page book suggests three Mafia bosses used John F. Kennedy’s and Robert F. Kennedy’s plan to stage a coup against Fidel Castro to murder the president.
Dave Graveline’s “Into Tomorrow” to Be Produced in New, Street-Level Studios. Dave Graveline’s nationally syndicated consumer technology program will begin broadcasting and shooting video podcasts at new street-level studios in the Miami Lakes Broadcast Center. The move will allow passersby to view the program as it’s being produced.