Cumulus Names Big John Howell Morning Host at WLS-AM, Chicago. The arrival of longtime Chicago market personality Big John Howell at Cumulus Media’s WLS-AM, Chicago had been rumored for some time and now it becomes official as Howell will assume the morning show duties effective next Monday (1/19). Most recently, Howell was morning host at Salem Communications’ news/talk WIND “AM 560 The Answer.” He also was a jock at CBS RADIO’s country WUSN for many years as well as morning personality on CBS’ WCKG. For seven years he hosted the Westwood One-syndicated “Country Gold” request show. Howell comments, “I’m looking forward to joining WLS-AM. It has been a longtime professional, as well as personal, goal. Growing up in West Michigan and listening to WLS influenced my initial decision to give the radio business a try. Now, all these years later, and on the heels of many WLS broadcast legends, including Larry Lujack and Don Wade, it is truly an honor and a privilege. I’m also looking forward to sharing the WLS airwaves with Steve Dahl, who taught all of us to ignore management and hate disco.” Howell takes over for the team of Dan Proft and Bruce Wolf.
Roe Conn to PM Drive at WGN, Chicago. There’s no official word from Tribune Media on this…yet, but Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that former longtime WLS-AM afternoon host Roe Conn will take over the afternoon drive show on WGN, Chicago from Bill Leff and Wendy Snyder – both of whom have been in the post since last May. Conn even appeared on WGN’s Steve Cochran show this morning (1/12), but chatted about issues and there was no mention of his joining the station. The hiring of Leff and Snyder was part of the makeover of the station orchestrated by president Jimmy de Castro. Feder reports that it’s expected that Leff and Snyder will stay on in some capacity.
Dr. Laurie Roth Show Joins USA Radio Networks. As part of a series of program rollouts, the USA Radio Networks announces Dr. Laurie Roth becomes part of the syndicated lineup, airing from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm ET effective February 2. USA Radio Networks describes the show as an “issues-driven program known to tackle politics, crime and corruption. Dr. Roth often visits with survivors and family members affected by crimes and conspiracies. How do they survive and come back after losing a family member, being smeared or a being a victim of crime in some way? Listeners learn the answers to such questions. Roth says, “I expose the bad guys, stand for the good guys and don’t get caught in-between.” Tim Maranville is chief content officer at USA’a parent company – Cross Platform Media Group – and he comments, “Dr. Roth covers the issues driving the conversation in America like no other radio host. Her life experience brings a realness to the radio that, sadly, is uncommon in the network industry. She is a welcome breath of fresh air.” Recently, USA Radio Networks announced the launch of new shows including “AMERICA CONTINUES with Jim Sharpe,” and the syndication of the Steve Deace show, “DAYBREAK USA with Angie Austin,” and the hourly USA Radio News.
Brooks Promoted at WTMJ, Milwaukee. At the Journal Broadcast Group-owned news/talker WTMJ, Milwaukee, Eric Brooks is upped to assistant program director. WTMJ VP/GM Tom Langmyer says, “Eric has grown tremendously as a leader at WTMJ. As producer of ‘Wisconsin’s Afternoon News with John Mercure,’ Eric has helped the program leapfrog into the top news/talk position with both listeners 6+ and 25-54. Eric has also deftly handled many day-to-day responsibilities in the programming department in his role as executive producer of WTMJ programming.” Brooks joined WTMJ in 2011 as a news anchor and producer before being elevated to executive producer, WTMJ programming in 2013.
Odds & Sods. This Friday (1/16), New Jersey Broadcasters Association president and CEO Paul Rotella will sit in for morning drive personality Harry Hurley on Townsquare Media’s Atlantic City, New Jersey news/talker WPGG…..Here’s an interesting show, now available to radio stations across the country that draws on Americans’ interest in the Old West: Dakota Livesay’s “Chronicle of the Old West.” It’s both a three-and-a-half minute show delivered five days per week and a weekly, one-hour show that features friends, authors and experts who chat with host Livesay about this romanticized period of American history. Check out OldWestRadio.com…..The WYD Media-syndicated “Huckabee Report” with Mike Huckabee and the Stephanie Miller program are both joining the lineup at CRN Digital Talk Radio. CRN states that “The Huckabee Report” will air throughout the day on CRN effective today (1/12) and CRN 4 channel will broadcast encore presentations of the Stephanie Miller show Tuesday through Saturday, beginning January 13.
Talk Pro Tom Becka Does ‘Friday Night Live.’ Longtime Omaha (not to mention Kansas City and Fargo) talk radio personality Tom Becka rhetorically asks TALKERS magazine, “What does a talk show host do when he’s on the beach? He keeps talking…” And that’s what you see in this photo. Recently let go from KOIL, Omaha in a cost-cutting move, Becka reports on his latest venture – a live version of the Tom Becka Radio Show. He says, “We set up a stage at a local watering hole, charged admission, and did an interactive audience participation show just like it was on the radio. A sold-out crowd came to talk about the hot issues of the day with ‘Honesty, Integrity, and a Sense of Humor.’ It was spirited, entertaining, and profitable. I used social media and my daily podcasts to promote the event and it turned out great. I’ll be doing these on a regular basis.” Becka can be reached at: 402-321-9590 or via Tom@TomBecka.com.
Remembering Nick (Bazoo) Ferrara. Word and condolences spread throughout social media on Saturday, January 10 about the passing of noted CHR programmer Nick Ferrara. Conspicuously absent though were specific details of when, where, or even if Ferrara had indeed passed. The Harrison County (Mississippi) coroner though has unfortunately confirmed that 59-year-old Gulfport resident Ferrara was killed Friday (1/9) in a two-vehicle accident on Interstate 10. According to officials, Ferrara was not wearing a seatbelt while driving his 2013 Honda Accord sedan; he died at the scene from blunt-force trauma. According to a report in the Biloxi-Gulfport Sun Herald, police responded at 6:05 pm to a report of a crash with injuries. Ferrara’s car apparently rear-ended another vehicle. The Gulfport Fire Department and American Medical Response were at the crash scene. Eerily, a Friday Facebook posting ostensibly made by Ferrara – known to many from his earlier top 40 programming days as Nick Bazoo indicated simply that at approximately 5:30 pm, he was at Biloxi’s Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. The previous day (Thursday, 1/8), Ferrara made 17 original Facebook posts. Tony Gray had the most succinct – yet possibly the most powerful comment on Ferrara’s home page, with the noted consultant simply writing, “B-97 New Orleans.” Specifically, WEZB “B-97″ is the New Orleans station (then owned by EZ Communications) at which operations manager Ferrara (Bazoo) rose to prominence in the early-1980s. He was famously linked to that Louisiana metro. NBC Sports Radio programmer Jack Silver though first met Ferrara in Mill Valley, California in 1984. “He was coming in to flip KMEL from rock to top 40,” Silver recalls. “He and Keith Naftalyhad the vision – I was in the right place to help them as well. Heaven is full of great program directors who touched us all – God rest your soul.” Media Monitors music manager Anita Bonita writes, “Godspeed Mr. Bazoo – you will be missed.” Renowned talk radio consultant Valerie Geller is “so sorry to hear this news – RIP.” According to Giant Records vice president Jean Johnson, Ferrara was, “The consummate Facebook poster. I shared many of your hilarious posts. Rest in peace Mr. Bazoo – taken way too soon.” Legendary voiceover/imaging talent Howard Hoffman sums it up perfectly by stating, “This hurts. Selfless, strong, and just a real honor to work with you, Nick. One of the best field marshals ever and you deserved so much better. I am glad you knew that before leaving us way too soon. Godspeed, friend – thanks for everything.” Longtime industry executive Rob Sisco laments, “Oh my dear sweet Bazoo. I am so profoundly sad to hear this news. You were one of the true good guys. I am proud and honored to have called you friend. You will be missed forever. Rest in peace, Nick.” Former New Orleans programmer Pat Matthews recalls, “Met you when you were just 18 and starting out at WIXO. A funny, talented, caring guy – wow, this is so unbelievable.” Veteran programmer Joel Burke remarks, “You were one of the smartest radio people I knew and had such a contagious laugh – RIP.” Consultant Dan Vallie comments, “Good man – good heart. Rest in peace my friend. Heaven is going to enjoy your sense of humor and big smile.” Yet another twist: A “Life Event” posted on Ferrara’s Facebook page less than two weeks ago – New Year’s Eve (12/31) – states he “started working at retired.” Commencing in 2001 and lasting approximately through 2013, Ferrara was an operations manager in State College, Pennsylvania at Forever Broadcasting and then doing similar duties at cross-town Results Radio (2006 – 2013). In addition to WEZB “B-97,” Ferrara (Bazoo) held the operations manager title at several other New Orleans outlets, including WLMG, WLTS, and WWL. In the mid- and late-1980s, he spent time in California as an OM for KMEL, San Francisco and then Gannett Broadcasting‘s properties in San Diego. Sandwiched between those stops was a two-year stint as operations manager in Pittsburgh for EZ’s WBZZ “B-94.” Information is not yet available regarding Ferrara’s funeral arrangements.
Bill McMahon: 14 Traits Inherent in Top Radio Personalities. In a piece published today (1/6) in TALKERS magazine, The Authentic Personality CEO Bill McMahon outlines what he calls “reasoned approach to evaluating talent.” McMahon says that in creating this list of traits he “wanted to create a framework to have a meaningful and productive conversation about why a prospective air personality will succeed or fail.” The traits fall into three categories: Personal, content, and performance. The personal traits predict listener appeal and talent motivation. The content traits predict the ability to generate distinctive, appealing and memorable content. The performance traits predict the ability to present attractive content with impact. Read McMahon’s full explanation here.
New Year’s Debuts from Westwood One and NBC Sports Radio. The first full week of the New Year marked the launch of new daily feature from former congressman and House Intelligence Committee chair Mike Rogers. Produced by Westwood One and titled, “Something to Think About with Mike Rogers,” the three, daily, one-minute features “provide listeners with an insider’s way of understanding critical issues and the most-talked-about topics of the day.” On the sports side, the new midday show on the NBC Sports Radio Network hosted by Mike Florio launched Monday. “ProFootballTalkLive with Mike Florio” airs from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm and, as its name implies, features Florio’s “critically acclaimed NFL insight and all-encompassing coverage of the league with the most current news, analysis, and thought-provoking debate.” Debut show guests included Denver Broncos EVP of football operations John Elway, NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino, and Tom Curran of CSN-New England.
WTMJ, Milwaukee Adds Daily Business Show. The program airs from 4:00 am to 5:00 am and is called “Wisconsin Business Today.” Hosted by Danny Clayton, the new program covers news on national and local business with special focus on agribusiness. Journal Broadcast Group Milwaukee Radio Operations VP Tom Langmyer says, “WTMJ is Wisconsin’s Radio Station and waking up to the business of our state and community is a good way to start the day. WTMJ is excited to add yet another hour of live and local programming to our daily lineup.” Clayton also serves as morning host at WTMJ sister classic hits outlet WLWK “94.5 The Lake.”
Odds & Sods. As tipped by Chicago media writer Robert Feeder, three of the former WGWG-LP, Chicago sports talk hosts – Jarrett Payton, Connor McKnight and Adam Hoge – have been given a weekend show on Tribune’s news/talk WGN. “The Game” airs from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Tribune shut down the sports talker after a year on the air…..SiriusXM announces the debut of a new channel called “SiriusXM Insight” that the satcaster says will be a “groundbreaking news, information, and entertainment radio channel offering listeners inspiring ideas and intelligent conversation with an edge. Designed to reach fans that enjoy the eclectic subject matter of public radio, SiriusXM Insight will feature an array of fresh, diverse voices addressing a new era of issues in a lively, smart, and sometimes humorous approach.” Personalities appearing on the channel include: Pete Dominick, Margaret Hoover, John Fugelsang, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Karen Hunter, Dean Obeidallah, Alan Dershowitz, Perri Peltz, Bob Roth, and many more…..The Conclave board of directors elects Lori Lewis board chairperson. Lewis is director of digital & social strategies for Jacobs Media. She takes over for Mark Bolke who served as chair since 2009…..Former Connecticut governor and WTIC-AM, Hartford talk show host John Rowland’s sentencing on campaign law violations has been postponed as he mounts the claim that prosecutors withheld evidence. Read the story in the Hartford Courant here.
Report from the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show. The big, international trade show taking place in Las Vegas this week officially opens today and radio consultant Holland Cooke is on the scene reporting back for TALKERS magazine. Cooke says two major keynoters are Ford Motor Company CEO Mark Fields, who can be expected to provide an update on the “connected car,” and CBS Corp CEO Les Moonves. Read Holland Cooke’s story here.
NYPD-De Blasio Standoff, Bill Clinton/Prince Andrew Palm Beach Pedophile Controversy, Hoodie/Mask Ban Proposal, 2016 Presidential Prospects, New Congress, Mario Cuomo Dies, Winter Cold Spell, Sinking Oil Prices/Eurozone Fears, and NFL Playoff Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/5). The ongoing feud between the NYPD rank-and-file and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio; allegations of Britain’s Prince Andrew and former President Bill Clinton being involved with underage girls in connection with accused pedophile Jeffrey Epstein; the proposal to outlaw the wearing of hoods or masks in public; chatter about the potential presidential candidates in the 2016 race; the influx of 71 new members of Congress; the death of liberal standard bearer Mario Cuomo; the blast of arctic air hitting much of the U.S. this week; the effects of sinking oil prices and the tumbling euro on the world’s financial markets; and the weekend’s NFL playoff action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Remembering Don Pardo. “It’s Saturday Night Live.” One extremely simple sentence, yet only one exceptional voice will forever be associated with it or capable of making it sing. Don Pardo. The elegant gentleman with the huge booming pipes passed away Monday night (8/18) at the age of 96. His nearly-40 year association with NBC-TV’s “Saturday Night Live” was only one part of a voluminous resume on the network for which he had a lifetime pact. Only Bob Hope had a similar arrangement deal with the network. Revered by virtually anyone who has been behind a microphone, the beloved — and yes legendary — Pardo began his career in radio. The off-camera announcer for a multitude of game shows from “Jeopardy” to “Jackpot,” Don Pardo truly achieved pop culture status. “SNL” hosts and cast members felt they arrived once they heard their names uttered by him. Click here for managing editor/West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian‘s brief retrospective salute to the Massachusetts native and 2010 inductee in the Television Academy Hall of Fame whose voice and persona were a staple for so many.
SAG-AFTRA Condemns Arrest/Detention of Reporters Covering Ferguson, Missouri Events. SAG-AFTRA represents more than 165,000 actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists, and other media professionals. It released the following statement: “As a union that represents broadcast journalists, including many local St. Louis broadcasters, we strongly support the rights of journalists not to be impeded in their efforts to report the news. Journalists have an obligation to report what is happening in their community, and the world. We ask that law enforcement in Ferguson permit journalists the freedom to do their jobs.”
Ferguson Unrest Tops Conversation on News/Talk Radio – KMOX, St. Louis is on the Scene. As the week develops, TALKERS research indicates the turmoil in Ferguson, MO tops the list of topics of conversation on news/talk radio. Taking advantage of their relative proximity, CBS’s heritage talker KMOX, St. Louis established a significant presence on the scene with mid-morning host Charlie Brennan and afternoon drive host Mark Reardon broadcasting their shows from the very heart of the troubled area amid the intense protests that have followed the police shooting of Michael Brown.
Marina del Rey Spotlighted As Next “KNX On Your Corner” Site. In addition to focusing on important issues and happenings in Marina del Rey (“The Marina”), the 14-hour (5:00 am – 7:00 pm) “On Your Corner” profile by CBS Radio all-news KNX, Los Angeles will feature nearby Playa del Rey, Del Rey, Playa Vista, and Westchester. Civic leaders will be interviewed throughout the special day of programming next month (Friday, 9/12) designed to give listeners insight into the unique attributes of the area. KNX will originate programming from Whiskey Red‘s in Fisherman’s Village. Dick Helton and Vicky Moore will anchor the news from 5:00 am – 9:00 am; Frank Mottek will host the “KNX Business Hour” (1:00 pm – 2:00 pm); and Jim Thornton and Diane Thompson will anchor the 2:00 pm – 7:00 pm news broadcast. “KNX On Your Corner” received a 2013 Golden Mike Award for “Best Feature News” from the Radio & Television News Association of Southern California.
SCBA Schedules Awards Luncheon for Outstanding Achievement in Radio Advertising. The special event of the Southern California Broadcasters Association (SCBA) and SCBA’s Sales Management Council will be held in approximately two months (10/16) at the Sheraton Universal Hotel in Universal City (Los Angeles). Selected regional advertisers will be honored with “Outstanding Achievement in Radio Advertising” awards. Former SCBA Lifetime Achievement Award winner – and current chairman and chief operating officer of U.S. International Media – Dennis Holt will be this year’s keynote speaker. SCBA president Thom Callahan explains that, “Based on last year’s sold-out event, we have expanded the nominating categories and our winning advertisers. We are absolutely thrilled by both client and agency response to this prestigious luncheon. This year’s winners represent the robust diversity and energy of Southern California radio advertisers; we are so proud to honor them. [This year's festivities] is on-pace to be another record sell-out. The enthusiasm and commitment to Southern California radio will be showcased by senior client management, their agencies, our member stations, and special guests – all coming together on this one special day to honor this year’s Southern California Radio Award winners.” Being recognized this year are: Children’s Miracle Network; First 5 California; Galpin Ford; Morongo Casino; WaBa Grill; and Westside Rentals. Awards in six categories of creative radio commercials, using both Southern California broadcast radio and its digital platforms, are voted on by the Sales Management Council.
Kelly Transfers to Clear Channel WPB as Director of Sales. Clear Channel Sarasota director of sales Bryan Kelly remains in the Sunshine State, but as of next Monday (8/25), he will traverse from the state’s west coast to West Palm Beach on the east coast in a similar capacity. West Palm Beach market manager John Hunt observes, “Bryan produced outstanding sales results in Sarasota and I know he will do the same in West Palm Beach.” Kelly comments, “I look forward to joining the exceptional West Palm Beach team assembled by John Hunt and [Clear Channel regional program manager] Dave Denver. It has been a goal of mine to represent Clear Channel in a fast-paced and competitive market.” Kelly will oversee the sales efforts for Clear Channel’s 10-station West Palm Beach cluster consisting of country WAVW; talk WAXE; talk WBZT; talk WJNO; classic rock WKGR; CHR WLDI; adult contemporary WOLL; oldies WQOL; Spanish contemporary WRLX; and talk WZZR. His previous Clear Channel assignments were in Tampa and Allentown.
WGN.FM To Air “The Big Payoff.” The Suzanne Muchin and Rachel Bellow-hosted show is for entrepreneurs and entrepreneur wannabes; it begins today (Tuesday, 8/19) at 11:00 am on Tribune Chicago’s WGN.FM. “The Big Payoff” will feature guest entrepreneur interviews and conversations about Chicago’s trending innovations and businesses. Video, full show podcasts and segments will be available on demand at WGN.FM. Beginning in roughly four weeks (9/15), segments will air on WGN-AM with Sirott & Murciano. President and general manager Jimmy de Castro advises listeners to, “Get ready for ‘The Big Payoff.’ Two seasoned business and media vets, Rachel Bellow and Suzanne Muchin, tell you like it really is out there in the new business world. It is absolutely worth a listen, whether you are a young entrepreneur; existing business looking for funding; or if you just want entertainment and to learn something.” According to Tribune Media president and chief executive officer Peter Liguori, “‘The Big Payoff’ could not be more timely, as entrepreneurship is a hot topic in Chicago right now.” Muchin remarks, “My roots are here, as are so many people and businesses that I want to bet on with my time, expertise, and network.” Bellow comments that, “Chicago is a special place where money and meaning are both valued which offers the perfect environment for entrepreneurs to launch and grow their businesses. This is the right place and time for us to land at WGN and WGN.FM.” Business partners since 1998, Muchin and Bellow have clarified the brand identity of an $8 billion philanthropy. Over the last seven years, they have founded three consulting agencies with client revenue topping $50 million. Three years ago through a partnership with New York-based 2MarketMedia, they launched “The Dirty Truth.” The two women will maintain a group of brand strategy clients through their consulting firm Mind + Matter Studio. Launched last September, WGN.FM focuses on content development, production, and digital distribution; “.FM” stands for “Freeform Media.”
“Billy Madison Show” and Nineball Radio Enter Syndication Deal. Owing to the just-signed pact with Nineball Radio, the weekday morning “Billy Madison Show” is now available for national distribution. Madison currently airs on Cox Media Group Tampa talker WHPT “The Bone, Real-Raw-Radio” and on CMG San Antonio rocker KISS. Nineball Radio president and chief executive officer Stefan Jones opines, “A show with such chemistry is rare, especially with the support of such a great company like Cox Media Group. Billy is a true professional who preps relentlessly and continually creates a show that is like nothing else being offered in rock syndication. He took KISS from 16th to number one, and he is number one at WHPT. I think the numbers speak for themselves. We are excited to be a part of it.” Madison’s show arrived in San Antonio in late-2011. Jones formed independent creator/clearance house for radio programming and services Nineball Radio as an underground prep service in 2005.
SiriusXM Now Airing “Back-To-School” Programming. The satcaster has a variety of such fare on multiple channels, including “SiriusXM Stars,” “Kids Place Live,” and “Doctor Radio.” Hosts and experts are offering parents practical advice for a stress-free back-to-school season. On “Stars” (SiriusXM channel 109), public health advocate Perri Peltz delves into cyber-bullying and the importance of talking to kids about it, while Denise Albert and Melissa Gerstein provide money-saving back-to-school shopping tips and efficient prepping shortcuts. Alexa Von Tobel shares recommendations to effectively tackle the process of planning/financing higher education and Jenny Hutt offers advice on how to prepare kids transitioning to high school. On “Kids Place Live” (SiriusXM channel 78), “Absolutely Mindy” has a special guest each morning as she encourages a love for school in young listeners, and she shares recipes for healthy lunches. On “Doctor Radio” (SiriusXM channel 81), gastroenterologist Dr. Ira Breite offers advice to prevent stomach problems caused by stress and anxiety related to the start of the school year. Psychiatrist Dr. Michael Aronoff explains how to differentiate the natural rollercoaster of teenage hormones and emotions from the warning signs of depression. For the older child, a cardiac surgeon will discuss sudden cardiac arrest in youth sports and screening kids for heart conditions.
WTMJ, WISports.com Set to Kickoff ”Preps Live.” Live streams of 26 Milwaukee-area high school football games will be available this fall on Journal Broadcast Group’s WISports.com. A Smartphone channel has been created under JBG Milwaukee heritage talker WTMJ’s “Radio League” application, so that listeners can hear the “Preps Live” channel anywhere. Journal Broadcast Group Milwaukee vice president and general manager Tom Langmyer remarks that, “As ‘Wisconsin’s Radio Station,’ WTMJ has a great tradition of sports broadcasting, starting with the Green Bay Packers in 1929. In 2014, we continue to grow in our commitment to play-by-play with the addition of key high school match-ups.” WTMJ sports executive producer Doug Russell declares, “The ability to bring these games to friends and families [who] can’t be in the stands is what WTMJ sports is all about.” Meanwhile, J. Pat Miller, director of marketing & innovation for WTMJ and co-owned adult hits WLWK “The Lake,” points out the “Radio League” app features 10 music formats. “We are excited to add this Wisconsin-based preps sports station to our growing line-up of stations,” Miller notes. Matt Menzl and Alex Uhan headline the team of “Preps Live” football announcers; Journal Broadcast Group Milwaukee plans to offer a full schedule of prep basketball games in the winter.
Odds & Sods. All this week, WHO, Des Moines afternoon drive personality Simon Conway is broadcasting his program from Jerusalem. “The situation in Israel is something my audience comes back to again and again,” remarks Conway, who lived there for a year as a teenager. “I will be bringing some very powerful radio to Iowa.” Conway is part of the “Solidarity Israel” trip organized by former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.
Affiliate Roundup. Talk Shows USA-syndicated/Tom Gresham-hosted “Gun Talk” adds the following affiliates: KARN-FM, Little Rock; WBRN, Big Rapids, Michigan; WNDA, New Albany, Indiana & WLRS, Eminence, Kentucky; and WINT, Willoughby, Ohio…. Most recent affiliates of “Free Talk Live” hosted by Ian Freeman and Mark Edge include: WPTK, Raleigh; WEZO, Augusta, Georgia, KZLS, Enid, Oklahoma; KSMD, Searcy, Arkansas; KAWW, Heber Springs, Arkansas; and WZTK, Alpena, Michigan.
WABC, New York Adds Larry Mendte to Weekend Programming Lineup. Joining the WABC, New York Sunday evening lineup is Larry Mendte, who will host a weekly 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm program beginning July 27. The station notes that Mendte is “a familiar voice to the New York metro area, having most recently been a contributor to WPIX-TV’s nightly newscast producing commentaries…Returning to New York on 77 WABC allows Mendte to expand upon these commentaries, talk about New York’s biggest stories, and speak to Tri-State listeners with warmth, wit, and honesty that New York listeners have come to expect from Mendte and 77 WABC.” Mendte co-hosted the morning program on WWIQ, Philadelphia during its time as a news/talk outlet operated by Merlin Media. Mendte also hosts a television news and public affairs show for Me TV in Philadelphia. The show will soon air in New York on Me TV.
Talkers New York 2014 Videos Being Posted. Up Today: Julie Talbott of Premiere Networks Receives the TALKERS “Woman of the Year” Award. Today (7/23) marks the seventh business day of TALKERS magazine’s video posting of speeches, sessions and presentations made during last month’s 17th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most important national convention – Talkers New York 2014. The presentation of these informative and historic recordings is sponsored by WYD Media Sales, LLC., the rep firm recently launched by Ron Hartenbaum and headed by John Murphy, that specializes in the advertising sales of spoken-word media on all popular platforms. The worldwide showing of these very special videos continues today with part 2 of the event’s traditional “Talkers Awards Ceremony” emceed by legendary Westwood One talk show host Jim Bohannon and featuring the presentation of the Judy Jarvis Memorial Award for Outstanding Contributions to Radio by a Woman (also known as the “Woman of the Year” award) by last year’s recipient Heather Cohen, EVP, the Weiss Agency to Julie Talbott, president, Premiere Networks. Talbott delivers an uplifting acceptance address in which she states, “This is really a fun business. But it’s a business…and it’s a tough business and we all have to continue to work together. I know we’re competitors – but we have to work together to really make something great happen.” Continuing on the theme of keeping radio work enjoyable, Talbott discusses her early days as a “pretty naive University of Kentucky small-town girl graduate” looking in New York City for a career area to enter and originally being attracted to the media field because the interviewers – unlike those in other areas of business she explored – seemed to be having fun in their work and were just as successful as the people she met in banking and other fields of business she encountered. She quickly realized, “That’s the creative business I want to be in!” She suggests, “We can’t forget the fun. We have to continually try to find some fun environment for the folks working for us.” To see this entire presentation, please click here. Coming tomorrow: part 3 of the Talkers Awards Ceremony in which Westwood One founder and Courtside Entertainment Group/Podcast One CEO Norm Pattiz receives the TALKERS Lifetime Achievement Award. The TALKERS conference videos were recorded by Art Vuolo.
Entercom Chief David Field Asks Employees to Embrace Change, Lists Accomplishments in Mid-Year Memo. In his twice-annual memo to staffers, Entercom president and CEO David Field writes that everyone in the radio business must embrace change and innovate and challenges employees to do so within the guidelines of what Entercom believes in. He goes on to list those beliefs which start with its dedication to “building the best local radio stations with the best local personalities.” Also, Field speaks about the company’s accomplishments and points to the launch of new radio stations, the debut of its SmartReach Digital local marketing arm, and the “two-minute” promise at Seattle’s alternative “The End” which limits spots to six minutes per hour on the station with never more than 2 minutes of commercials at one time. Read his entire memo here.
WTMJ, Milwaukee to Debut Non-Sports Show Featuring Packers. The show is called “Tauscher and Kuhn” and will feature former Green Bay Packers lineman Mark Tauscher and current Packers fullback John Kuhn. It will air from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm on eight select Tuesdays beginning in September. The Journal Broadcast Group news/talk station has the show sponsored by Associated Bank. The program is not a sports talk show and will instead revolve around the two discussing current events, pop culture and more. Journal Milwaukee VP/GM of radio operations Tom Langmyer says, “WTMJ is committed to developing original, live, local programming and talent for our listeners. Mark and John have great chemistry. This is a chance to hear them unplugged discussing all areas of life, beyond the Xs and Os of sports. We look forward to have Mark and John on our team!” Tauscher says, “One of my favorite things while playing in the NFL was debating and arguing a wide range of topics in the locker room. John was and is always ready for a lively discussion, so I am looking forward to bringing our unique perspectives to the airwaves and having lots of fun along the way.”
Sabo: Five Steps to Managing a Problem. Media consultant Walter Sabo writes that because talk radio’s very purpose is to nurture controversy and opinion, there are ways to handle what might be perceived as a too-controversial event that help avoid “bad” PR and, worse, loss of advertising revenue or the decision to fire employees. Sabo notes that talk radio practitioners should be prepared to combat advertiser boycotts by arming themselves with examples of “controversial programming” on television on which they advertise because, most “family oriented” advertisers do air spots on TV shows that could be considered just as controversial – perhaps more so – than talk radio programming. For examples of this and more of Sabo’s five-step prescription, click here.
Odds & Sods. WPHT, Philadelphia mid-morning personality Dom Giordano is being inducted into the Philadelphia Area Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame in a ceremony that will take place on November 21 at the Hilton Philadelphia. See a complete list of inductees and honorees here…..Former San Francisco Giants pitcher and current team broadcaster Mike Krukow is suffering from a degenerative muscle disease called inclusion-body myositis. Krukow is part of the broadcast team for Comcast Sports Bay Area and for Cumulus Media’s KNBR, San Francisco. The disease is not life-threatening but there is no cure or treatment and it’s forced Krukow to use a cane for balance and to ride in a motorized cart at times…..Jake McCann is named vice president of sales for Cumulus Washington which puts him in charge of the sales effort for news/talk WMAL-AM/FM…..Digital Syndicate Network-owned sports talker WDKT, Beulah, North Dakota re-brands as “KDKT SportsRadio 1410” with the change in network affiliation from Fox Sports Radio to CBS Sports Radio. The station keeps Fox Sports Radio/DirecTV’s Dan Patrick and brings CBS’ Jim Rome back to the market after a year’s absence…..John Harper is named host of Relevant Radio’s “Morning Air” program. Harper joins the Catholic broadcaster after a career that includes time spent with ESPN building the sports giant’s “SportsCenter” into the iconic sports news programming that it’s become.
Bringing the Flight 17 Story Home to Listeners. Reporting from Kiev, Ukraine, ABC News Radio correspondent Aaron Katersky (left) speaks with US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt (right) in Kiev about the downing of Flight 17 and the political ramifications of Russia’s involvement in arming the Ukraine rebels.
ObamaCare Court Rulings, Flight 17 Investigation-Russian Responsibility, Gaza Strip Violence, Tony Dungy-Michael Sam Comments Controversy, Primary Races, Western Drought-California Water Shortage, Bill Clinton’s ‘Energizer’ Flap, and Illegal Child Immigration Crisis Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/22). Two separate and different Appeals Courts rulings on tax credits for citizens signing up for the Affordable Care Act; the ongoing investigation into the downing of Flight 17 and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s battle with the West over blame; the escalating violence in the Gaza Strip and Western airlines’ cessation of flights into Tel Aviv; the controversy over Tony Dungy’s comments about not drafting openly gay footballer Michael Sam because of the “distraction” it would cause; the mid-term primary races held on Tuesday; concern over the ongoing Western drought and Southern California’s low water supply; the latest published allegations about Bill Clinton’s paramour dubbed “Energizer”; and the influx of child illegals into the Southwest were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Journal Broadcast Group Milwaukee Announces Promotions. From Tom Langmyer, VP/GM of radio operations for Journal Broadcast Group’s Milwaukee stations – news/talk WTMJ and adult hits WLWK “94.5 The Lake” – come the following promotions: Tom Sheridan is promoted to director of sales from his GSM position. The company says in this role, Sheridan has a more clearly defined, overall responsibility and accountability for all top-line revenue at Milwaukee’s radio operations. With his promotion it has eliminated the previous dual reporting structure for interactive and national sales and streamlined the sales organization. Jason Bjorson is elevated from local sales manager to general sales manager. Bjorson will continue to oversee local sales, with additional leadership responsibilities across all other top-line revenue streams. He will oversee sales training, recruit to expand the sales organization, develop general revenue strategies, lead the company’s growing events business and expand local relationships. Katie O’Connell is promoted to executive producer, digital content and social media. This new lead position will drive the company’s content and social media strategies across all platforms. Prior to her current role at Milwaukee’s radio operations, O’Connell served with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, WTMJ-TV, and Journal Interactive. Collin Roth has been promoted to managing editor for Right Wisconsin, working with WTMJ personality Charlie Sykes and leading his content team for this growing digital/subscription-based product. Additionally, Bryan Shore and Steve Frank have been named digital sales associates. Langmyer says, “This solid new structure and excellent team will lead us in product development, cross-platform content and revenue growth. These promotions represent a new leadership structure to drive further growth at Journal’s Milwaukee Radio Operations.”
“Brent & Meg” Graduate from TalkersRadio to Launch New Terrestrial Midday Show on GCN. The husband/wife talk radio team “Brent & Meg” (legendary rock radio personality/newsman Brent Seltzer and award-winning public relations veteran Meg McDonald) have signed a deal with Genesis Communications Network (GCN) to launch a Monday-Friday midday show (1:00 pm – 3:00 pm ET) on Monday, July 7. This development marks the first time a program conceived and launched on TalkersRadio has made the leap from the experimental platform operated by TALKERS magazine to terrestrial radio. “We couldn’t be more delighted,” states TalkersRadio GM David Bernstein, adding, “This marks an exciting milestone for TalkersRadio and is a wonderful testimony to our initial success in carrying out our ongoing mission to be a laboratory where new concepts in talk radio can be developed. I am personally proud of Brent & Meg because I believe what they’ve got to offer midday talk radio has been – with rare exceptions – a missing element from our medium for many years. They are, simply put, sensationally fresh!” TalkersRadio officially began streaming on Talkers.com in September of 2013 and Seltzer and McDonald were among its charter performers. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison (who “discovered” Brent & Meg) adds, “Brent & Meg couldn’t be in better hands than with entrepreneurial visionary Ted Anderson who has done such a fantastic job of developing GCN into a budding powerhouse syndication firm. He reminds me of the old record company and studio heads who understood how to build and develop new talent and acts from the grassroots markets up. We sure need more of that in today’s network radio scene.” Harrison goes on to describe “Brent & Meg” as “the newest thing ‘old school’ has to offer – perfect, contemporary husband/wife chat for the midday position…where yesterday meets tomorrow.” To read TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian’s fascinating in-depth account of the Brent & Meg saga posted today (6/18), please click here.
Clear Channel to Put New Audience Targeting Tool to Use for 2014 Political Buys. The new tool is called AuDiO – short for Audience Delivery Optimizer – and what the company calls “a groundbreaking, proprietary radio targeting tool developed specifically for political advertisers.” Clear Channel goes on to say, “This first-of-its-kind radio optimization tool enables local and national political campaigns across the country to precisely target key voter segments using radio — which was confirmed by recent research to be one of the most effective and efficient consumer advertising vehicles.” How does it work? The company says AuDiO matches key information about 245 million Americans who listen to Clear Channel’s 840 U.S. terrestrial radio stations to leading political databases to make actionable predictions about which desired voter segment is listening to which stations at which times. The launch of AuDiO means that Clear Channel is now uniquely able to match broadcast listener data – for any of its 840 stations, at any time of day and in any political district nationwide – to multiple third-party data sources to identify which listeners fall into any given political district and, within that district’s listening audience, which segments are present and in what numbers. CCM+E EVP for political strategy Nathan Daschle comments, “Ninety-two percent of Americans listen to radio every month — but despite radio’s incredible reach, campaigns have never had a tool like AuDiO for radio before. AuDiO takes the guesswork out of radio buying by replacing wild hunches with actionable and precise models so that campaigns know which of their desired target audiences are listening, when and to whom. This means that campaigns, political parties and other groups across America have the ability to use radio in a much smarter way to reach their target voters.”
Nielsen Releases Revised Los Angeles PPM Data. After the controversial case of one Univision Los Angeles programming staffer (who’s been fired) being involved in a PPM household, which delayed the release of May PPM data for the market from last week to this week, the ratings company releases the Los Angeles numbers and revises the April PPM data for the market as well. Those numbers can be found at TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo here. Also, see managing editor and West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian’s “Takeaway” from the LA ratings here.
Reality Star Nicole ‘Snooki’ Polizzi Podcast Debuts on PodcastOne. Add another colorful celebrity to the lineup of podcasts available through Norm Pattiz-founded PodcastOne as former “Jersey Shore” reality series cast member Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi begins producing a weekly on-demand show for the service. Pattiz comments, “Sometimes I feel like we’re on the Starship Enterprise going where no man has gone before! Taking a star of one medium like Nicole and exposing – in every sense of the word – her on another is what makes this all fun. PodcastOne is pleased to welcome Nicole’s audience to our platform and expose her to the additional hundred million monthly listeners who currently consume PodcastOne programs.”
AdLarge, KMG and Harris Media Partner for Control Room Pro Distribution. Three firms are teaming up to sell and distribute the new Control Room Pro suite of digital production field and studio tools. AdLarge Media will lead the national advertising sales effort, while KMG Networks will spearhead radio station distribution. The two firms share a similar relationship on behalf of several radio and digital products and services. Harris Media founder Lee Harris says, “Most of the new digital and mobile programs for broadcast radio are consumer-facing. We focused on the development of cutting-edge newsroom and radio station field tools that expedite the gathering of news-related material for anchors and streamlined the field reporting process.” Krantz Media Group president and CEO Gary Krantz adds, “Control Room Pro tools already are proven winners in the news/talk marketplace, including top stations like WINS, New York; WCBS-AM, New York; and KYW-AM, Philadelphia. News/talk stations have a high overhead on field equipment and in-studio production programs. These digital products fill a clear marketplace need by increasing productivity and decreasing equipment and production library costs. Radio station affiliates will experience positive bottom line results.”
WIP-FM, Philadelphia and Personality Angelo Cataldi Sell Bobbleheads to Benefit Police Survivors Fund. In cooperation with local business Cottman Transmission & Total Auto Care and the Philly Team Store, CBS RADIO sports talker WIP-FM, Philadelphia and morning drive personality Angelo Cataldi are selling Cataldi bobble-head dolls, a portion of the proceeds from which will benefit the Philadelphia F.O.P. Lodge #5 Survivors Fund. The dolls are being sold for $20 via the station’s website. Both Cottman Transmission and the Philly Team Store are giving dolls away with major purchases. The F.O.P. Lodge #5 Survivors Fund, since its inception, has been invaluable to the members of the lodge who have experienced the most devastating tragedies. The losses incurred by the families of deceased and extraordinarily injured officers cannot be recovered but can be eased through financial support or assistance. This fund continues to be able to provide help for families due to the charitable donations of police family, friends and business partners.
Cromwell’s Bud Walters to Receive National Radio Award. At the coming NAB Radio Show in Indianapolis in September, Cromwell Group founder and president Bud Walters will receive the NAB’s “National Radio Award” during the Radio Show Luncheon on September 12. NAB EVP of radio John David states, “Bud Walters’ exemplary leadership and his enthusiasm for radio have had a positive impact on the industry. We salute Bud for his tireless devotion to serving local communities through the power of radio.” Walters founded his company in 1972. He currently owns and operates 28 radio stations (six AM, 17 FM and five HD2+ translators) in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee.
Iraq Turmoil, Primary Results/State of the GOP, Hillary Clinton Memoir, Benghazi Suspect Prosecution, Child Immigrant Influx, IRS Scandal-Missing Lerner Emails, Soaring Food Prices, and World Cup Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/17). The violence in Iraq as a militant Muslim group vies for power in the state; the victories of Tea Party-backed candidates in the primaries and the future of the GOP; former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s memoir; the plans to prosecute a suspect in the deadly Benghazi attack; U.S. immigration policies and the large numbers of child immigrants pouring across the Southwest borders; the IRS scandal and the loss of Lois Lerner’s emails; the dramatic hike in U.S. meat prices; and American interest in World Cup action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Changes in Evenings at WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte; Krantz & Whitmire Exit. The duo of Brad Krantz and Britt Whitmire are out at Greater Media’s news/talk WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte where they hosted the 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm show for the past two years. The station moves late evening host Doc Washburn up to the 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm slot and is airing the newsy “Charlotte at Six” from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Krantz and Whitmire worked together at Curtis Media’s former talk outlet WZTK-FM, Greensboro, North Carolina and at WPTF, Raleigh. Krantz worked at WBT from 1999 through 2003 alongside Richard Spires in afternoon drive. The Charlotte Observer’s Mark Washburn reports that Krantz is unhappy with the lack of support he believes the duo received from station management over the course of their two-year stint. He also says he believes the reason the show didn’t track well with WBT listeners is because of the swerve toward the far right the station took in recent years. “We were hired to break the WBT noon-to-6:00 pm right-wing sewer that had been led by Jeff Katz, Tara Servatius and Vince Coakley. We did that, got high ratings but got no support from management.” Read Washburn’s entire piece here.
Al Gardner Partners with Marty Hurney at ‘ESPN 730’ in Charlotte. Longtime Charlotte talk personality Al Gardner – 14 years as morning drove co-host at crosstown WBT-AM/FM – is paired up with former Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney for the mid-afternoon program (1:00 pm to 3:00 pm) on HRN Broadcasting’s sports talk WZGV “ESPN 730.” The “Hurney and Gardner” show moves to the earlier time slot beginning Monday, June 16 and “The Pulse with Bobby Rosinski and Chris Allison” moves into the 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm slot. In addition to his stint with the Carolina Panthers, Hurney also worked for the Washington Times as a sports writer.
Final Round of May PPM Data Released. PPM data from the final round of four groups of 12 markets for the May 2014 period (April 24 – May 21) has been released by Nielsen Audio. Those markets include: Austin, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Providence, Raleigh, Norfolk, Nashville, Greensboro, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, Memphis, and Hartford. TALKERS magazine’s sister publication, RadioInfo, has all the (subscriber) numbers here. Managing editor and West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian offers his “Ten Takeaways” from the report at RadioInfo.com here.
Journal News/Talk WTMJ, Milwaukee Credits Ratings Growth to ‘Broader Appeal.’ The just-released PPM numbers for the Milwaukee market show Journal Broadcast Group’s news/talk WTMJ in the top spot (Persons 6+) with a 9.4 share in Nielsen Audio’s May 2014 PPM survey. Vice president and GM of radio operations for the Milwaukee market for Journal, Tom Langmyer, comments, “We returned WTMJ to its roots of being broad in appeal and have seen strong results.” Milwaukee market media observers tell TALKERS the “broader approach” is evident in numerous dayparts, including morning and afternoon drive where hosts Gene Mueller and John Mercure, respectively, are entertaining a wider variety of topics during what had been a more tight rotation of hard-news issues. The station usually sees a summer ratings surge due to its position as flagship station for Milwaukee Brewers baseball, but Langmyer hints recent ratings growth doesn’t appear to be just the result of baseball cume. Meet Tom Langmyer at Talkers New York 2014 on Friday, June 20.
Odds & Sods. Even being on vacation won’t stop WHO, Des Moines afternoon drive personality Simon Conway from cracking the mic when he’s in demand. Today, Conway filled in as morning drive personality on Clear Channel’s WFLF, Orlando “Newsradio 102.5 WFLA” and he’ll be back behind the mic this evening sitting in for Andy Dean on Premiere Networks’ syndicated “America Now” program…..Morning drive host and general sales manager Brian Collamore is taking time away from his on-air duties at Catamount Radio-owned news/talk WYSB, Rutland, Vermont to run for state senate. According to WCAX.com, Collamore will continue his sales duties while running. Collamore says he believes his years of experience on the air have given him the opportunity to interact with the people of the region and learn what their needs are.
ABC News Radio’s Vic Ratner Honored. Longtime ABC News Radio newsman Vic Ratner (left) was honored by the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association on Thursday evening (6/12) Washington, DC. Ratner, pictured here with ABC News Radio’s Cheri Preston (right), was honored with the Career Achievement Award for Distinguished Reporting on Congress.
Watch Out for Your Ear, Marc! Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson visited the Marc Hochman show in Beasley Broadcasting’s WQAM, Miami studios yesterday prior to attending game four of the NBA Finals. He spent almost an hour on air chatting about the Heat and his own life. Pictured here are (from left to right): Victor Bermudez, Sha Tabb, Hochman, Tyson, and Zach Krantz.
Eric Cantor Defeat Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of June 9-13. The primary election defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and related discussion about the looming mid-term elections was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week. Landing at #2 on the Talkers TenTM was talk about Hillary Clinton’s latest memoir. At #3 was the 2016 presidential race followed by the political instability in Iraq at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio. It is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Three Eagles Communications to Sell Stations to Dean Goodman’s Digity. The growing media portfolio of Dean Goodman continues to grow as his Palm Beach, Florida-based Digity Companies agrees to purchase Three Eagles Communications’ 48 stations in markets in Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota. Pending FCC approval, the transaction is expected to close during the third quarter. Three Eagles founder and CEO Rolland Johnson says of the deal, “I think it is an excellent time to be buying stations. Radio seems to have survived the perfect storm and should come out stronger than ever. While on the NAB Board with Dean Goodman 10 to 12 years ago, Dean talked about his vision of buying stations and rolling them up into a diversified company. It is great to have a vision like Dean’s and to be able to follow through with it. Dean is getting a group of hard-working people with award-winning stations who deserve a chance to participate in something as exciting as what Digity offers. I congratulate him on an excellent purchase.” Goodman comments, “Digity is on-air, online, on-demand, on-location, and on-the-go. It connects today’s busy consumers with content they want, people they trust, products they enjoy and things that matter. We are very pleased to have signed the Three Eagles purchase and Digity intends to continue to grow in all areas of its operations.” Digity, through Palm Beach Broadcasting, operates four FM stations in the Palm Beach market. GoodRadio.TV operates 26 radio stations in Midwestern markets. Digity earlier this year purchased 33 radio stations from NextRadio and operates those stations in San Jose, Chicago, suburban Dallas, Saginaw, Canton, Greenville and Myrtle Beach.
Rush Limbaugh Awards Grants in Essay Contest; Tennessee School Reacts. The essay contest Premiere Networks nationally syndicated talk star Rush Limbaugh conducted earlier in the 2013-14 school year has been completed with three schools receiving a package of books and a cash gift from Limbaugh and his wife Kathryn. At Hawkins Elementary School in Rogersville, Tennessee, principal Barry Bellamy and first grade teacher Danee Collette are still reeling after receiving a shipment of books from Limbaugh that included American classics The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Where the Red Fern Grows as well as copies of his own bestseller Rush Revere and the New Patriots. According to the Rogersville Review, Bellamy and Collette were even more shocked to receive a check for $15,000 to use as the school sees fit. Collette tells the paper her father is a big Limbaugh fan and told her about the essay contest. She dutifully wrote it and didn’t think much more about it until a Limbaugh staffer called to ask for a shipping address for the books. Collette says the money will probably be used for white boards, desks and tables for the library. She tells the paper, “This is so awesome! I graduated last May, got a job here for the school year, and now this!”
Remembering Ben Hoberman. Very briefly worded mentions of talk radio pioneer Ben Hoberman‘s passing dotted the internet Saturday and Sunday, but precise details regarding his death are not readily available. What we do know though is that the longtime ABC Radio executive was 92 when he died on Saturday (5/3). General consensus within the industry indicates that – with Hoberman at the helm in 1960 – Los Angeles’ KABC-AM was one of the first fulltime talk stations in the country – if not the first. On John Rook‘s Facebook page, the well-known programmer posted that, “When all of the ABC-owned radio stations were introducing Top 40 programming, [Hoberman] envisioned a new kind of format featuring talk. KABC would become top-rated in Los Angeles for decades, a format that gave birth to KGO’s talk format in San Francisco. His success elevated him to the presidency of ABC Radio. Ben Hoberman was a role model for managing radio stations, a total gentleman, and one of the real class guys I have known. My sincerest condolences to all who mourn his passing.” In the early-1970s, John Mainelli was a 20-year-old NABET vacation-relief news writer for KABC and the talk radio consultant recounts, “I had just learned what ‘fortnight’ meant and decided to use it in a script the next chance I got. Mr. Hoberman walked into the newsroom after [KABC morning drive talent] Bob Arthur read the story, saw my name on the filed script, dropped it on my desk and said, ‘If you mean two weeks ago, say it.’ That was ‘Mr. H’ – attention to detail and follow-through.” Hoberman had been with ABC for close to 40 years, much of that time in Los Angeles, where he had been KABC-AM’s general manager. He later was based in New York, running the network’s radio division, then consisting of six AM stations and six FM outlets, as well as syndicated programming as “American Top 40″ – then hosted by Casey Kasem. Hoberman, ex-ABC-TV president Elton Rule, and several other investors attempted to raise enough money to take over the entire ABC Radio division. Hoberman is pictured here at right in an undated photo with President Ronald Reagan.
SiriusXM’s Chris Russo Stirs Controversy Over Race on Sports Talk Radio. The flashpoint for a controversy over race and radio was SiriusXM sports talk personality Chris “Mad Dog” Russo’s recent comment to a caller when asked about why there are no black sports talk hosts on his channel. Russo replied that he has not found one “worthy of doing a national talk show.” That started a social media flap. In the New York Daily News’ coverage of the story, Bob Raissman reports that Russo was not apologizing for his comment and told his paper, “The idea that I wouldn’t hire a black talk show host, a Korean talk show host, or a talk show host from Mars is absurd. If there is any person of any ethnicity who wants to get a job at ‘Mad Dog Radio’ and we feel he or she is capable of doing a national talk show at the highest level, I’d put them on in a second. Let’s just say we are not being overwhelmed by resumes.”
Five Simple Engagement Actions. Media consultant Walter Sabo, in a column published today (5/5), writes that it’s very important for listeners to feel that your radio station is “special.” Sabo notes, “It is so important to examine every single second of our programming in every format and ask, ‘How can this be better?’ Too much time is wasted on learning new rules from ‘corporate’ and new organizational structures. If your company is ‘afraid’ of Pandora and other web companies, the solution is better programming. It’s always better programming. Fresh programming ideas come from external sources, solid research and by paying close attention to what audiences do.” And with that in mind, Sabo offers five ways to better engage your audience. Read his piece here.
Journal Broadcast Group’s News/Talk WTMJ and Adult Hits WLWK in Milwaukee Honored with WBA Awards. In the large market category, Journal Broadcast Group’s news/talk WTMJ and adult hits WLWK were recently honored with Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Awards. WTMJ won the following honors: News & Talk Station of the Year; News Operation of the Year; Best News & Talk Radio Show (AM drive) for “Wisconsin’s Morning News with Gene Mueller”; Best News & Talk Radio Show (9:00 am to 5:00 pm) for “Wisconsin’s Afternoon News with John Mercure”; Best Live On-Scene Reporting, Jodi Becker and the WTMJ News Team (Carroll University Lockdown); Best Spot News, Shooting at Children’s Hospital, WTMJ Radio News Team; Best Feature, “Preserving WWII History,” Erik Bilstad; Best Sportscast, Greg Matzek; Best Continuing Coverage, “Say it Ain’t So, Ryan Braun,” WTMJ Radio News & Sports Team; and Best Use of Audio, “Rain, Rain, Go Away,” Erik Bilstad. WLWK was honored for: Best Newscast – Music Format, Lake Mornings with Danny Clayton, Vince Vitrano & Andi Miller; Best Promotional Announcement, “Free Fun Night Out,” “The Lake” staff; Best Commercial – Music Station, Flanners/Just Press Play – Jim Gilles; and Best Humorous Commercial Music Station Love Finds A Way – Jim Gilles.
KTSA, San Antonio Morning Host Trey Ware Mourns Death of 28-Year-Old Son. At Alpha Media-owned talk outlet KTSA, San Antonio, Trey Ware has handled morning drive for the past 21 years – almost half of his broadcasting career. But last week Ware and his wife Nancy suffered the devastating loss of their 28-year-old son Justin who died under circumstances that are being kept private at this time. This is not the first such tragedy for the couple. Ware and his wife lost their daughter Rebekah in 2009 at age 20. In the San Antonio Express-News, writer Jeanne Jakle spoke with Ware who said, “We’re taking it day by day, minute by minute, that’s all we can do…They were the only two we had. April is not a good month for us. We want to expunge April from the calendar.” Other KTSA staffers are sitting in for Ware during this time. Local radio personality Adam McManus has subbed the past few days.
SCBA Goes on the Offensive in TV vs Radio Ad Spend. If there’s a radio trade organization doing more to make the case for radio as an advertising vehicle, we’re not aware of it. The Southern California Broadcasters Association has been very focused on consistently reaching out to the media to present radio’s case versus its competition and in this case, the competitor is TV. The SCBA is releasing a white paper titled, “Traditional Appointment Television’s Technology and Viewership Crisis,” and it zeroes in on the decline in appointment viewing replaced by on-demand viewing that largely allows consumers to skip through commercial sets. SCBA president Thom Callahan states, “The imbalanced ratio of radio to TV ad spending in Southern California is completely unjustified when one looks closely at this SCBA report. Traditional appointment television is under direct attack from a variety of technology giants such as Google TV, Netflix, Amazon TV, YouTube, Hulu, as well as the ominous DVR.” Callahan says the report goes on to show that “radio remains the only real time medium with no tape delay or commercial skipping.” He adds, “Southern California Radio has grown its listenership of Adults 18+ over the past six years by an impressive 7.4% while local general market TV viewership has spiraled downward by -6.5% for early fringe programming and -8.5% for any local news. We are urging every general market TV advertiser to look at their ad spending and decide if they want to invest in the power of radio and our solid growth trends and commanding reach in Southern California vs. the eroding viewership of traditional appointment TV.”
Jeff Katz Honored with Journalism Award. Multi-media personality Jeff Katz was honored recently with an Editor’s Choice Award for his column that appears in the New England-based publication The Valley Patriot. Katz currently is host of the afternoon drive show at Clear Channel-owned news/talk WRVA, Richmond. He also writes for the Boston Herald and self-syndicates the nationally distributed “Katz Commentary.” He is also a public speaker having delivered keynote addresses all over the country. Katz tells TALKERS all of his media ventures embrace his unique philosophy of life, “Not Left. Not Right. Just Real.” Katz (left) is pictured here accepting his Editor’s Choice Award from The Valley Patriot publisher Tom Duggan (right).
Sharp-Dressed Men. The annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner took place in Washington, DC on Saturday evening (5/2) and there was no shortage of media players at the who’s who of news and politics gathering. Pictured here are (from left to right): Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey; ABC News president James Goldston; and ABC News Radio VP/GM Steve Jones. Photo by Jay Snap, LaDexon Photographie.
Don Geronimo Goes Digital. After exiting CBS RADIO last month and promising he’d be back with a vengeance after his contract expired, radio pro Don Geronimo announces he’s joining the digital RELM Network to produce his new show that will be available via subscription only. The new show will be presented live, Monday through Friday, starting in early April, at www.DonGeronimoPodcast.com . The company says the exact launch date will be announced soon. A recorded version of the show will be available on that website, shortly after each live show ends. The cast of the new show will be Geronimo, co-host Drew Hoffar, their sidekick, Joe Ardinger and will feature regular appearances by Geronimo’s longtime pal and newsman Buzz Burbank. A statement from the RELM Network, says, “As changes in the radio industry continue to disappoint listeners, Geronimo looks forward to doing the show he’s always wanted to do, without interference from corporate radio executives or the FCC rules that quashed the medium’s spontaneity and fun. Longtime listeners especially won’t want to miss the show’s opening week, in which Geronimo will talk about the events that — and people who — led him to do this podcast.” Burbank, who will panel on the show and bring bits of his news, worked with Geronimo nearly thirty years in their days at CBS Radio. Burbank will continue his daily newscast at www.BuzzBurbank.com. Burbank is a partner in, and co-founder of, The RELM Network, along with Marc Ronick and Lowell Melser. The RELM Network now features 17 shows, including “Buzz Burbank News and Comment,” “The Kirk McEwen Show,” “The Marc & Lowell Show,” plus shows focusing on gaming, the arts, interviews, sports, politics — left and right — and more.
Len Weiner to Program Lincoln Financial Media’s WAXY, Miami. South Florida sports talker WAXY-AM/FM, Miami “FM 104.3/AM 790 The Ticket” has a new program director as Lincoln Financial Media announces Len Weiner will join the company beginning March 24. The company parted ways with PD Tod Castleberry last November. Weiner most recently was vice president of programming for Genesis Communications’ stations in the Tampa, Orlando and Melbourne markets. He’s also served at WGN, Chicago; ESPN Radio Network and KMPC, Los Angeles. LFM SVP and general manager Maureen Lesourd comments, “I am excited that Len’s joining our ‘Ticket’ team. His depth of experience as a sports radio programmer, producer and talent developer plus his solid track record for strengthening big brands makes him the perfect choice.” Weiner adds, “I can’t wait to get started at ‘The Ticket.’ It’s a thrill and honor to join the team and continue to build and grow this great brand. I would also like to thank Maureen and [LFM SVP of programming and operations] John Dimick for this opportunity.”
Geraldo Rivera Strikes Deal with Blast Applications for Digital Projects. It’s not clear whether his new deal with Cumulus Media allows him to control his own digital endeavors or whether Cumulus is a silent partner in this but Geraldo Rivera and Blast Applications, Inc. are partnering to bring his radio show live to listeners via mobile devices. Under the terms of the agreement, Rivera’s 10:00 am to 12:00 noon WABC, New York show will be distributed digitally and Blast Applications is responsible for promoting Geraldo’s upcoming online store that will feature innovative and one-of-a-kind products that will be available for purchase nationwide. Blast Applications CEO Dino Luzzi states, “It is incredibly exciting to announce our joint revenue agreement with the Geraldo Rivera team to promote their popular radio show and online store. This agreement is another key milestone in our growth for 2014 as we continue to expand Blast Application’s opportunity to create more revenue in the near future.” Rivera comments, “With the help of Blast Application, we expect the Geraldo Rivera radio show to experience new growth and revenue opportunities.”
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Featured at WTMJ’s “Insight 2014.” The annual live event produced by Journal Broadcast Group’s WTMJ, Milwaukee and talk host Charlie Sykes that features important figures in public policy and media takes place this evening and will be re-broadcast tomorrow (3/20) from 8:30 am to 12:00 noon on the station. “Insight 2014 with Charlie Sykes” is an annual political state of the state event and this year includes Governor Scott Walker, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, WTMJ talk host Jeff Wagner and numerous Wisconsin political and media figures.
Dave Ramsey to Present Fall ‘Business Gets Personal’ Event in NYC. Nationally syndicated talk radio superstar, best-selling author and live event producer Dave Ramsey sells out theaters and arenas across the country targeting individuals and families as well as businesspeople with his “Legacy Journey LIVE” and “EntreLeadership” events. Now, Ramsey is presenting a new businessperson-focused program to take place in New York City on October 2 titled “Business Gets Personal.” The new event entails Ramsey teaming with marketing experts and best-selling authors Seth Godin and Gary Vaynerchuk to give businessmen and women valuable insight they can use to take their business to the next level. Ramsey’s Lampo Group says the one-day event will allow attendees the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the business through keynote speeches, Q&A sessions and networking opportunities. The daylong program takes place at the Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall, Time Warner Center. Godin’s latest book is titled, The Icarus Deception (Portfolio Hardcover 2012). Vaynerchuk works in the family’s liquor sales business and launched Wine Library TV, a daily video blog about wine to much success in 2006.
KGMZ Adds Aubrey Huff to Morning Show. The new morning show at Entercom’s KGMZ, San Francisco “95.7 The GAME” hosted by Ric Bucher and Chris Townsend adds retired San Francisco Giants star Aubrey Huff to the program’s cast beginning March 31. Program director Jason Barrett says, “Last week, we announced a new lineup for ‘The GAME.’ Since then, we’ve been fortunate enough to add one of the most entertaining sports personalities in the Bay Area to our team. It’s hard to improve on the ‘perfect team in the perfect time slot,’ but adding Aubrey Huff does just that. Make no mistake — this morning show will be different, more informed, and more colorful than any other in the market.” Huff adds, “I couldn’t be more excited to join ‘95.7 The GAME.’ I had an incredible experience in San Francisco, being a part of two World Championship Giants teams, and now I’m looking forward to joining my brand new team in the Bay Area.”
Michael Harrison Encourages Talk Radio to “Organize Communities, Not Sides.” In a guest appearance this morning on the Harry Hurley morning show on Townsquare Media’s WPG, Atlantic City “Talk Radio 1450,” TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison – when asked by the popular, long-running AM drive star about the present state of talk radio in America – stated, “Although talk radio continues to be one of radio’s most successful formats and the platform that gives rise to the medium’s biggest stars, it might need to adjust its mission and style to perhaps a more positive mode in the days ahead for the sake of improving its image in the advertising community and maintaining influence in the arena of public policy. I suggest that talk show hosts think more about organizing ‘communities’ that bring people together – especially on the local level where left and right ideology plays less of a defined role – than galvanize ‘sides’ that turn people and communities against each other.” Harrison added, “There are many ways to target audiences and create critical, marketable masses. Going forward it is important that news/talk radio explore all its options in this regard and not rely exclusively on the ‘us against them’ paradigm.”
Odds & Sods. At Journal Broadcast Group’s news/talk WTMJ, Milwaukee, Erik Bilstad is promoted to the role of executive producer, news, effective immediately. The company says that in addition to his current duties as a reporter and news anchor on “Wisconsin’s Afternoon News with John Mercure,” Bilstad’s responsibilities will now include day-to-day management of the news department and personnel, along with story assignments and directing special news and severe weather coverage…..Former Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo joins Tribune’s WGWG-LP, Chicago “The Game 87.7 FM” for a weekly football insider role on the midday show hosted by David Kaplan and David Haugh, according to Chicago media writer Robert Feder…..The Florida Times-Union reports the Jacksonville Jaguars will switch from Cox Media Group‘s WOKV, Jacksonville to Seven Bridges-owned WJXL for play-by-play of the team’s games beginning with the 2014 season. According to the report, games would also air on Renda Broadcasting‘s country WGNE-FM. The deal has not been officially announced by the NFL club.
Minneapolis Sports Talker Jack Jablonski Nabs Prom Date with ESPN’s Michelle Beadle. Twin Cities sports talk personality Jack Jablonski made headlines in 2011 when, as a high school hockey player, became paralyzed from the chest down after being checked into the boards. Jablonski was hired the following year at Cumulus Media’s “Sports Radio 105 The Ticket” (WGVX and WGVZ, Minneapolis) to host the weekly “Hockey Night in Minnesota” program that airs Wednesdays at 5:15 pm. During his show last Wednesday, Jablonski joined former Vikings offensive lineman Mike Morris and Pioneer Press columnist Bob Sansevere. ESPN anchor Michelle Beadle was also on the air with them, having been booked for the second time by Jablonski. After some hockey talk, the mood changed as Barry White‘s “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe” started to play. The 18-year-old Minneapolis celebrity asked Beadle to his high school prom — and she accepted!
Second Round of February PPM Data Released. PPM data from the second of four groups of 12 markets for the February 2014 period (January 30 – February 26) has been released by Nielsen Audio. Those markets include: Washington, Boston, Detroit, Miami, Seattle, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo has all the (subscriber) numbers here. Managing editor and West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian offers his “Ten Takeaways” from the report at RadioInfo.com here.
George Wallace Visits KDWN, Las Vegas. Comedian George Wallace (c) is pictured here in Beasley Broadcast Group’s Las Vegas studios with KDWN program director John Shaffer (l) and KDWN morning drive host Alan Stock (r). Wallace spoke with Stock about the 10th anniversary of his engagement at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino on the strip.
Obama vs. Putin/Crimea-Ukraine Case, ObamaCare Criticism, Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 Mystery, and Mid-Term Elections/2016 Presidential Race Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/18). Analysis of the motives of Russian president Vladimir Putin and his battle with President Obama over Russian interests and the Crimea-Ukraine case; scrutiny of the rollout and effects of the Affordable Care Act; the deepening mystery of the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370; and speculation about changes in Congressional power possible after the mid-term elections and the possible candidates for president in 2016 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Journal’s WTMJ and ‘The Lake’ Name J. Pat Miller to Marketing Post. At the Milwaukee properties news/talk WTMJ and adult hits WLWK “94.5 The Lake,” Journal Broadcast Group ups J. Pat Miller to the new position director of marketing & innovation. The company says that in his new role, he’ll be responsible for the overall marketing activities of WTMJ and WLWK as well as designing and implementing new brand programs. VP and GM Tom Langmyer comments, “J. Pat has demonstrated his ability to create and develop new revenue streams. He will focus more of his attention on additional initiatives to grow our business.” Miller adds, “This new role is vital to our growth and the industry as a whole. The incredible team here at Journal’s Milwaukee Radio Operations can effortlessly pull off most anything we create.” Miller is overseeing the promotions department and the company announces that Alison Helf is named promotions manager.
Tribune’s WGWG-LP, Chicago Brings McKnight Aboard. The fledgling sports talk station Tribune’s WGN is building and airing on LMA’d WGWG-LP “The Game 87.7” adds another local sports talk personality to its staff. Connor McKnight – who’s served with CBS RADIO’s WSCR “The Score” for the past four years – joins “The Game 87.7” for an on-air role. According to Chicago media writer Robert Feder, McKnight will “make his first appearance Thursday (2/27) on Mark Carman’s show, which airs from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm.” Feder reports he’ll become part of the daily lineup. At WSCR, McKnight hosted the “Hit and Run” baseball show as well as having been an anchor and reporter at the station. Read Feder’s story here.
Chris Dimino Set to Join ‘680 The Fan’ for ‘Rude Awakening’ Show. As reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho, former WQXI sports talk personality Chris Dimino will become part of WCNN “680 The Fan” in an on-air capacity as his non-compete clause from WQXI expires on March 17. Dimino has been working for the station in an off-air capacity since last September but Ho reports he’ll join Christopher Rude and Perry Laurentino on the morning show soon. Dimino was part of the WQXI morning program – including fellow hosts Steak Shapiro and Nick Cellini – that was fired in the wake of the poorly thought out bit poking fun at former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason who is suffering from ALS. Read Ho’s entire piece here.
NAB Rejects Elimination of Advertising Tax Deduction. As part of a comprehensive tax code overhaul proposal being spearheaded by House Ways and Means Chairman David Camp (R-MI), the deduction that businesses can claim for advertising expenses would be eliminated and this oft-considered-but-never-enacted change has the NAB letting legislators know how it feels about it. NAB EVP of communications Dennis Wharton states, “NAB strongly opposes any job-killing proposal that would limit the ability of thousands of large and small businesses from fully deducting their annual advertising expenses. Advertising on local radio and television stations is a key driver of the American economy – indeed, a recent study found local broadcast advertising generates $1.05 trillion in GDP and supports 1.48 million jobs. NAB will work with lawmakers and other stakeholders to ensure the advertising tax deduction continues to create economic prosperity and well-paying jobs.” Since ad deduction elimination is just one part of a comprehensive tax overhaul proposal, it’s difficult to say how it would affect a company’s bottom line in the long run. Camp has stated his goal is to simplify the tax code – not to increase anyone’s tax burden – and there are other proposed changes that promise to help the bottom line of corporate and individual taxpayers. This is an election year so it’s unlikely there will be any action on this front any time soon.
FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn Defends CIN; Implies It’s Misunderstood. During a speech at Washington, DC’s Media Institute on Wednesday (2/26), FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn defended the controversial Critical Information Needs (CIN) study that would have researchers quizzing journalists and managers about how they choose news stories and information for dissemination to the public. Her speech came the day after Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) promised legislation to put the FCC’s study to rest for good, citing its potential intrusion into First Amendment areas and its scope being beyond the purview of the Commission. Clyburn explained that the Commission needs to understand the markets it regulates. She said that she would never be a part of anything that seeks to chill free speech or shape news gathering and that the goal was to “gather data and other information about whether there are any market entry barriers, preventing local communities from receiving important information…I am about facilitating ownership and opportunities and making sound decisions about our most critical industries based on solid research and not rhetoric.” Still, critics of the study argue that neither Clyburn nor FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler have adequately explained the connection between interviewing news people about story selection policy and barriers to station ownership for minorities.
Valerie Blackburn to Step Down at CBS RADIO Los Angeles. The word from Los Angeles is Valerie Blackburn – currently serving as controller for the CBS RADIO Los Angeles cluster and general manager of news/talk KFWB (residing in the KFWB license trust) – is resigning from her positions and is planning to take some time away from radio and work to travel and be with family and friends. Her exit will not be immediate and it’s assumed CBS is already working on finding her replacement.
Schultz Honored by Arizona Progressives. Nationally syndicated talk show host and MSNBC personality Ed Schultz is pictured here speaking at the annual Arizona Advocacy Network dinner on Saturday, February 22. Schultz was honored by the group for his work on key progressive issues and he addressed the attendees. He was clearly in the right state at the right time with the controversy over the Arizona religious freedom bill such a hot-button issue. (Photo: Josselyn Berry)
RAB: Radio’s Digital Revenue Expected to Rise 22%. That’s from the just-released Benchmarking: Local Radio Stations’ Online Revenues report from Borrell Associates and the Radio Advertising Bureau. The report states that digital revenues went up 15% in 2013 and the total figure for 2014 could be as high as $520 million. Some figures from this year’s report: the average radio station brought in $166,490 in digital advertising – about 3% of its total revenue; some large-market stations report making millions; the average revenue for four-station clusters is approaching $750,000. The data for the study is culled from three sources: ad revenue reported by the stations, local business ad spending, and a survey of radio managers. RAB president and CEO Erica Farber states, “We’re experiencing year-over-year, double-digit growth in radio; and to truly maximize this revenue stream this survey continues to provide us with areas to improve upon and ultimately grow our overall revenue share. Most notably, sales managers are looking for continued training for their sales staffs and a better understanding of the digital buying community. The RAB is poised to help in this area through our professional development programs and outreach.”
Odds & Sods. Talk show host Stephanie Miller‘s “Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour” hits Fort Lauderdale, Florida Saturday, March 1. The progressive talker, whose show has played in theaters to sold-out crowds across the country, is appearing at the Parker Playhouse along with John Fugelsang, Carlos Alazraqui, special panel guest Judy Tenuta and more surprises…..“SportsRadio 94” WIP-FM, Philadelphia is presenting the “Great Birds Debate” remote broadcast today at Chickie’s and Pete’s in South Philadelphia. The station says it is one of the few times all year that the WIP airstaff is on the same stage together. Personalities Angelo Cataldi, Rhea Hughes, Michael Barkann, Ike Reese, Anthony Gargano, four-time champion Rob Ellis (also a member of the CBS 3 Sports Team), Josh Innes, Howard Eskin, CBS 3 Sports Director Beasley Reece, and Philadelphia Eagles insider Dave Spadaro will all be present to discuss and debate questions about the Eagles present and future. The event is free and open to the public…..At Detroit urban talker WCHB, John Mason leaves that Radio One outlet to take over the morning slot at sister urban AC WDMK where Reach Media’s Tom Joyner has been airing. Joyner moves to mornings at WCHB and that bumps talk host Mildred Gaddis from AMs to afternoon drive in Mason’s old slot…..A couple of notes from SiriusXM: U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will appear on the next installment of the “SiriusXM Leading Ladies” series, “candid conversations with influential and inspiring women who have forged their own paths to leadership and success.” SiriusXM P.O.T.U.S. host and veteran White House correspondent Julie Mason will host the program on March 4 before a live audience at The Newseum in Washington, D.C. In addition to the one-on-one conversation between Leader Pelosi and Mason, the one-hour town hall style event will have an interactive element featuring questions from an audience of SiriusXM listeners, female students from D.C. universities and Newseum members. Also from SiriusXM, sports talk host Casey Stern re-ups with the satcaster for his daily hosting spot on the MLB Network Radio channel, as well as for expanded duties on additional SiriusXM sports channels. Stern will continue to host “Inside Pitch” alongside his co-host, former Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden, every weekday afternoon…..Cumulus Media’s WABC, New York is bringing the world of fashion to its airwaves as it takes a look back at NY Fashion Week with an exclusive interview with Kenneth Cole. Hosted by Cristina Cuomo, editor of Manhattan magazine, from the Modern Luxury arm of Cumulus Media, the interview digs into Cole’s ambitions and inspirations. He also shares details of his groundbreaking advertising campaigns, views of fashion, social media, and much more. WABC program director Craig Schwalb says, “It was a real honor to work with our sister publication Manhattan and Cristina Cuomo to bring the iconic designer to WABC Radio. We are already making plans for this fall’s Fashion Week.”
Broadcasters Foundation of America Raises More Than $200,000 at ‘Golden Mike’ Event. At Monday evening’s black tie 2014 Golden Mike Award Dinner honoring BMI president Del Bryant, the Broadcasters Foundation of America raised more than $200,000 for its mission of helping broadcasters in need. More than 200 television, radio, and music industry executives and celebrities were in attendance. The evening was hosted by CBS News’ Bob Schieffer. Presenters for the evening were longtime personal and professional friends of Bryant’s: Michael Bolton, performer and BMI songwriter; Jack Sander, former chairman of the BMI board of directors; and Sandra Lee, internationally acclaimed culinary and home style expert and host of four highly rated programs on the Food Network and the Cooking Channel, plus HGTV. Legendary singer, songwriter, musician, and actor Kris Kristofferson performed, as did songwriter Brenda Russell, who sang her top 10 hit “Piano In The Dark,” and “Get Here.” Dolly Parton opened a very moving video that provided a glimpse into Bryant’s amazing life — from his early years growing up as the son of songwriters Boudleaux and Felice Bryant through his incredible 42-year career at BMI where he championed the works of some of the biggest songwriters in entertainment. Pictured above are (from l-r): Jim Thompson (president of the Broadcasters Foundation), Michael Bolton, Sandra Lee, Del Bryant, Bryant’s son Thaddeus, Kris Kristofferson, Brenda Russell, Bob Schieffer, and Phil Lombardo (chairman of the Broadcasters Foundation).
Brewer Vetoes ‘Religious Rights’ Bill, ObamaCare Criticism, U.S.-Russia Tensions Over Crimea-Ukraine, Immigration Legislation, Bitcoin Controversy, and Hillary Clinton in 2016 Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/26). Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoes legislation that would have allowed businesses to refuse service to some based on religious beliefs; scrutiny of the rollout and effects of the Affordable Care Act; the political tensions between the U.S. and Russia over the strife in Ukraine and Crimea; new immigration legislation that includes an amnesty component; the bitcoin movement and recent events questioning its value; and speculation about Hillary Clinton running for president in 2016 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Cuts at Cumulus-Owned WestwoodOne Happening; SVP Amy Bolton Exits. The names of those being let go are coming out as Cumulus Media begins the cuts at WestwoodOne that have been expected since the acquisition of then-Dial Global closed. Numerous high-level executives are being shown the door – in many instances where there are duplicative positions between WestwoodOne and the Cumulus Media Networks. Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey is promising investors he can realize $40 million in synergies and eliminating these positions is one of the ways he hopes to accomplish that. WestwoodOne SVP and general manager of news & talk Amy Bolton – who’s been with the organization going back when it was Jones Radio Networks – is let go. Also reportedly out in this round of cuts are: chief marketing officer Christina Albee; EVP/Eastern director Eileen Decker; and SVP of research Paul Bronstein.
Lionel Joins TalkersRadio in Development of New Show to Launch This Weekend. One of the most original personalities in the business, radio talk show host Lionel, is launching a new program on TALKERS magazine’s online radio station, TalkersRadio, tomorrow morning (2/1). The self-titled show “Lionel” will air live on the “experimental” talk show platform Saturday mornings between 9:00 am and 10:00 am ET and run as a regular weekly series. It will feature the intellectually stimulating talk media star in an hour of free-form conversation and reflection about the wide variety of topics that fall within his realm of interest. Lionel describes his plans for the new program as “spoken thought not spoken word” telling TALKERS, “The show will be the editorial cartoon versus the editorial. Broadcast idea topiaries. Stream of consciousness meets targeted subject selection. No left-right paradigm blather. No bumper sticker, playbook, echo chamber drivel. As I feel, as I want, as I please.” A veteran of such major outlets as WABC and WOR, New York among others, as well as being a podcast pioneer at lionelmedia.com, the quirky, satirical and extremely original observer of the human condition has been enjoying tremendous success conceiving, writing, producing and performing daily commentaries on the heritage WPIX-TV, Channel 11 in New York City. The ex-prosecutor Lionel has also added his insight and experience as its resident legal analyst. However, he has not forgotten his roots in and love for radio and promises that his 9:00 am to 10:00 am Saturday show will provide Lionel enthusiasts around the country with a version of his work that is “like nothing they have ever heard before. This will truly be Lionel unchained!” On making the announcement of Lionel’s joining the station, TalkersRadio general manager David Bernstein says, “Lionel joining this ‘audio workout space’ is a perfect example of what TalkersRadio is about and hopes to achieve – and that is to provide select people in this business as well as potentially outstanding newcomers with the opportunity to try and develop things that are not being done in the traditional on-air space for the sake of moving the industry forward.”
Cox Flips KONO-AM, San Antonio to Sports Talk. The AM side of the KONO-AM/FM simulcast flips to sports talk using the CBS Sports Radio Network after more than 20 years airing the classic hits format of sister KONO-FM. Cox Media Group San Antonio vice president and market manager Dan Lawrie states, “We’re excited to bring this level of quality sports programming to San Antonio. Additionally, South Texas sports fans should be glad to welcome the return of the Jim Rome show after a two-year absence in the market.” CBS Sports Radio program director Eric Spitz adds, “We’ve put together a tremendous lineup of experienced hosts with strong opinions and personalities who perfectly capture the passion and excitement of the sports fan. With sports, the action never stops, and CBS Sports Radio provides listeners with cutting-edge analysis, high-profile interviews and late breaking news.”
WCKG-AM, Chicago Names Leslie Harris Director of Community Programming. At the Matt Dubiel-run DuPage Radio LLC, market personality Leslie Harris is named director of community programming and host at the suburban talk station. Harris recently exited NextMedia’s suburban rocker WERV “95.9 The River” and Dubiel comments, “Leslie was the full addition I made at WERV and I am over the moon excited to have a Downers Grove rock mamma as part of our local team.”
Good Karma Sells Janesville, Wisconsin Stations to Local Operator. Two stations in the Janesville, Wisconsin market – rock WWHG “105.9 The Hog” and sports talk WTJK “ESPN Radio 1380” – are being sold by Craig Karmazin’s Good Karma Broadcasting to Scott Thompson who operates stations in nearby Monroe, Wisconsin and Freeport, Illinois. The Janesville Gazette reports that Thompson plans to keep the staff already in place at both stations and possibly add an employee. He tells the paper WTJK may air less ESPN content and more local news. Thompson takes over under an LMA while the transaction works its way through the FCC approval process.
WEEI-FM, Boston Begins Friday Night Promotion. In a partnership with local watering hole The Greatest Bar and local media sources Dirty Water TV and DirtyWaterNews.com, Entercom sports talk WEEI-FM begins broadcasting the “Planet Mikey” show with Mikey Adams live from The Greatest Bar Friday, February 7 from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm. The show will feature celebrity guests from the world of sports and entertainment. WEEI brand manager Kevin Graham, citing the bar’s proximity to the TD Garden, states, “It’s a natural fit to partner with the Dirty Water brand and The Greatest Bar. Combining Mikey’s unique entertaining style, the Dirty Water connections for guests and content, and the proximity to the TD Garden will make for a fun atmosphere and a great listen on ‘93.7FM WEEI’ and the WEEI Sports Radio Network.” Bill Fairweather is co-owner of The Greatest Bar and creator of Dirty Water TV. He says WEEI-FM is the perfect radio partner for Dirty Water’s growing array of media entities. “When we decided to add radio to the growing menu of media options that our brand delivers to Greater Boston and beyond, WEEI – with its strong sports focus – was a natural partner for us. Entertainment and celebrity mix very well with sports and The Greatest Bar is the perfect location to bring those topics together. We’re excited to have the opportunity to add these new dimensions to WEEI’s radio offerings.”
Odds & Sods. In honor of Rosa Parks Day on February 4, the Premiere Networks-syndicated Comedy 24/7 format will air special clips of comics of the civil rights era talking about the issue. African American comedians including Dick Gregory, Godfrey Cambridge and Slappy White were outspoken about necessary changes to be made in our society during that time and the format will air special tracks by these comedians and others as they spoke out in the language of the times at :57 after the hour all day on February 4…..Former NFL coach and executive Mike Holmgren will serve as a football analyst with Clear Channel’s sport talk KJR, Seattle next season after handling the same duties in 2013…..Milwaukee Brewers radio play-by-play voice Bob Uecker will step back a little bit from his duties with the team beginning this season as he’ll call fewer road games for flagship WTMJ, Milwaukee. Uecker, who turns 80 this year, will still call all home games and be present for spring training in Arizona.
Joy and Hope Amidst the Misery. Pictured here with children in Port Au Prince, Haiti is Salem Radio Network VP/news & talk programming Tom Tradup. He tells TALKERS he is there with Salem Radio News documenting conditions in Haiti on the fourth anniversary of the devastating 2010 earthquake that left 300,000 dead and millions homeless. He’s embedded with the relief organization Food for the Poor and has been visiting slums, orphanages and feeding centers for the news network’s five-part special series on “The Poorest of the Poor.” Tradup reports that Salem VP/director spoken word format Phil Boyce (who also is serving as operations manager of the New York stations) is there working on documenting the trip for a New York market broadcast.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. New York-based XtreMEDIA announces a number of affiliates joining three of the company’s offerings. First, the daily Kevin McCullough show is added to the program schedule at WCIS-AM, Morganton, North Carolina; WCST-AM, Berkeley Springs, West Virginia; WGEA, Geneva, Alabama; and KNLB-FM, Blythe, California. The nightly Steve Deace program joins the lineup at WGTK-AM, Louisville; WTOH-FM, Columbus; and WWTC, Minneapolis. Finally, the weekend “Baldwin/McCullough” show is now heard on WMRC, Milford, Massachusetts and WYPV-FM, Mackinaw City, Michigan…..The GCN-syndicated “America Tonight” with Kate Delaney joins the program schedule at WKVL, Knoxville.
The State of the Union Address Top Talk Radio Story This Week. According to the Talkers TenTM, the president’s State of the Union Address was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week of January 27-31. At #2 this week was criticism of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. Following at #3 was new immigration legislation and the prospect of amnesty and at #4 was the extreme winter weather affecting much of the nation. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week. It is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Eyes (and Ears!) on News/Talk Radio as Recent Ratings Trends Spur Criticism. As the September PPM data continues to roll out, industry watchers and mainstream media writers and analysts are scrutinizing talk radio’s numbers – as well as its programming. Citing a perceived slow-but-steady decline in ratings for the news/talk format in general, critics are wondering if the political “right-versus-left” programming philosophy has become tiresome to all but the staunchest news/talk radio fans and is resulting in the generally lower numbers in Nielsen Audio’s PPM and diary ratings. Some high-profile cases have been cited, including KFI, Los Angeles’ decline in 6+ PPM ratings over the past year from being one of the country’s best-performing news/talk stations in one of America’s most vibrant markets. Just today (10/2), Chicago media writer Robert Feder writes about the state of Cumulus Media’s WLS, Chicago and its declining place in the ratings race. The reasons for the states of these stations are open to analysis – including, but not limited to, the possibility that Nielsen Audio’s PPM methodology is less than perfect – and could easily vary from market to market. When talking ratings, what are usually not included in the recent criticism of news/talk as a format are: the #1 showing for Cox Media’s WSB-AM, Atlanta (which carries the oft-maligned Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity); Cumulus’ WMAL, Washington’s rise in the September PPM; CBS Radio’s high-flying KMOX, St. Louis; Bonneville’s steady-performing KIRO-FM, Seattle; Cox’s WOKV, Jacksonville; and the two Milwaukee news/talk outlets that have consistently performed as two of the top six stations over the last year – Clear Channel’s WISN and Journal’s WTMJ. Constant awareness and analysis of the sound and perception of one’s stations are the hallmarks of good operators and effective programmers should care about how the format is perceived. But discovering what’s “wrong” with a format or a station is not easy and not always possible given the limited information available. In the words of TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, “The first people out there ready to proclaim news/talk radio as being dead are usually people who see the world primarily through a political lens who disagree with the ideology of the hosts they dislike. Political news/talk radio is cyclical and will always come back from the brink when there’s inevitably a new chapter in contemporary issues. Regardless, the good thing that hopefully will come out of this ratings down-tick will be some of the major operators giving consideration to different forms of talk and even news/talk that are just being ignored. There are so many potential ways of doing ‘talk radio’ it is crazy for so many stations to bunch up around one predominant style. Everyone should spread out and claim and develop new territory on the spectrum of possibilities.” This topic will be one of those addressed at the Talkers Los Angeles 2013 conference taking place next Thursday, October 10 at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood.
Nielsen Begins Synergies; Sean Creamer and Debra Delman to Exit Ratings Giant. Nielsen responded quickly to TALKERS last week after we reported that the “$20 million in synergies” the company hopes to realize with the acquisition of the former Arbitron would cost jobs. The company stated it had “no plans to reduce headcount at this time.” Perhaps that applies to the rank and file and not the executive strata because it’s now being reported that former Arbitron CEO Sean Creamer and CFO Debra Delman will leave Nielsen at the end of the year. Though Nielsen has not released a statement about the changes, it’s expected that other executives may also be headed for the door. Both Creamer, Delman and most of the other high-level execs who might follow the two have clauses in their contracts that will give them very nice golden parachutes. Creamer could realize almost $7 million in total compensation and Delman’s take is just shy of $2 million.
ESPN Deportes Radio Extends NFL Deal. Sports giant ESPN reports that its ESPN Deportes Radio unit has reached a new multi-year agreement for media rights to the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 National Football League seasons. Under the agreement, the network will have exclusive Spanish-language rights to Monday Night Football, the 2013-2014 National Football Conference Playoffs, the 2014 Super Bowl, 2015 Pro Bowl and the 2014-2015 American Football Conference Playoffs. ESPN Deportes Radio general manager Oscar Ramos says, “We’re incredibly excited to add NFL to our diverse roster of programming. U.S. Hispanics are becoming avid NFL fans and this new deal allows us to deliver the content they want in the language they prefer.”
MEDIA BROKER SPOTLIGHT: Diane Warren and Jean Robinson - MMTC Media Brokers (run by Bounceology). In this week’s installment of Media Broker Spotlight, Sandi Bergman of RadioTVDeals.com interviews media brokers Diane Warren and Jean Robinson of MMTC Media Brokers (run by Bounceology) located in San Antonio, Texas. MMTC Media Brokers specializes in locating properties and selling them to potential minority, multicultural and women buyers. In addition to telling their fascinating story, they share several outstanding opportunities that they have among their listings that would be of interest to first-time buyers. To read the entire installment of Media Broker Spotlight, please click here.
CNBC’s Jim Cramer Featured on SiriusXM ‘Town Hall.’ CNBC “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer (left) recently took part in SiriusXM’s “Town Hall” series for a Q&A with SiriusXM personality Pete Dominick (right). The program will be aired on Friday, October 4 on its Indie channel. The conversation – which took place before an audience of SiriusXM listeners – covered financial markets, fiscal trends, the economic state of the nation, and the story of Cramer’s personal road from hedge fund manager to popular CNBC host. Dominick is a stand-up comedian who has opened up for Cramer on his “Mad Money Back to School Tour.”
Two Weeks in a Kennel Reaps Rewards for KIDO’s Kevin Miller. KIDO, Boise morning drive host Kevin Miller (right) is pictured here with ASPCA senior director Tami McReynolds (left) and Canyon County Animal Shelter director Barb Hutchinson (center) showing off the check for $35,000 the CCAS received after Miller helped get more than 300 animals adopted. To achieve that and win the $35,000 prize, Miller spent two weeks living in a makeshift kennel from which he broadcast his morning program. The contest is national in scope and – with Miller’s help – the CCAS is the only shelter to win the prize twice.
Government Shutdown, ObamaCare Enrollment Begins, Scrapped Hillary Clinton Programs, U.S.-Iran Relations, and Financial Markets Activity Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/1). The battle between the GOP and the Obama Administration and the government shutdown; the enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act begins; two television projects on the life of Hillary Clinton are scrapped; possible diplomatic relations between Iran and the U.S. and the former’s nuclear program; and the effects of the government shutdown on the U.S. financial markets were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Radio Show Leadership Breakfast. Radio consultant Holland Cooke was on the scene for TALKERS Thursday morning at the NAB/RAB Radio Show Leadership Breakfast to report all of the great one-liners delivered by some of the industry’s most outspoken leaders. Alpha Broadcasting and L&L Broadcasting chief Larry Wilson’s brutally frank assessment of the concept of voice tracking and the state of radio commercials were some of the highlights. Wilson was joined by Cumulus Media’s Lew Dickey, NRG Media’s Mary Quass, and Connoisseur Media’s Jeff Warshaw as the group heads were interviewed during the program. Read Holland Cooke’s coverage of the Leadership Breakfast here.
NAB/RAB Radio Show Day 1. Radio consultant Holland Cooke reports from Orlando and sales was on HC’s mind as he sat in on sessions throughout the day yesterday. Sales expert Paul Weyland’s session on producing better commercials was chock-full of useful tidbits that sales people and production personnel can take to the bank. Plus, get Holland’s summary of some of the key speeches – RAB CEO Erica Farber’s presentation at the Advertiser Luncheon, NAB CEO Gordon Smith’s speech and acting FCC chairman Mignon Clyburn’s address. Read more here.
Consultant Valerie Geller Wows at “Art of Storytelling” Session. Geller Media International consultant Valerie Geller presented a session targeted largely, but not exclusively, to talk radio talent and programmers titled, “The Art of Storytelling.” In addition to Geller, talk show host Turi Ryder (recently of WGN, Chicago and heard nationally on Envision Radio Network’s “America Weekend”) and nationally syndicated personality Phil Hendrie (who appeared via phone from L.A. due to illness) took part. The session focused on developing the skills of effective storytelling – a skill crucial to pulling in and keeping listeners. Geller stated, “The key to growing an audience one by one by one is to engage them. And the crack cocaine of engagement is, ‘Let me tell you a story, once upon a time…’ and the moment you think in your heart of hearts, ‘and then what happened?’ we have now hooked the fish and that is the essence of human communication. It is the essence of the pleasure in connection with other people, the essence of humor…the story is the goal of the power of radio.”
‘105.3 The Fan’ in Dallas Moves ‘G-BAG Nation’ to Middays. KRLD-FM, Dallas’ Gavin Spittle says, “We are excited to move Gavin and Chris and the ‘G-BAG Nation’ to middays, as well as to welcome the newest Nation member, (former Rangers pitcher) Mike Bacsik. The Nation has great entertainment value; it makes you feel like you’re part of a big, fun, crazy family.” Spittle is vice president of news/talk/sports for CBS Radio Dallas-Fort Worth and he’s talking about Gavin Dawson’s (left) and Chris Arnold’s (right) program and the new lineup. The other change is “K&C Masterpiece” taking over the 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm timeslot at the station, moving in from the weekend schedule. Spittle says, “’K&C Masterpiece’ is a natural fit for the evening timeslot as Kevin Hageland and Cory Mageors have done a great job for us. They’re both native North Texans who have followed our local teams their entire lives.”
WTMJ, Milwaukee Host Charlie Sykes and Journal’s RightWisconsin.com Name Margaret Thatcher Award Winner. Former Wisconsin Lt. Governor Margaret Farrow is honored with the first annual Margaret Thatcher Award celebrating Farrow’s “contributions, courage and leadership as one of Wisconsin’s ‘Iron Ladies.’” RightWisconsin.com is a business unit of the Journal Broadcast Group and WTMJ, Milwaukee midday personality Charlie Sykes serves as editor-in-chief. Farrow will receive the award at a black-tie dinner on October 18 at which Wisconsin Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and Sykes will host the awards event.
Odds & Sods. Greater Media’s sports talk WPEN-FM, Philadelphia “The Fanatic” announces “The Peter Laviolette Show,” featuring Philadelphia Flyers coach Peter Laviolette will debut on October 1 from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm and air weekly throughout the season with co-hosts former Flyer and radio play-by-play color analyst Chris Therien plus Jason Myrtetus…..Hubbard Radio’s sports talk WXOS, St. Louis “101 ESPN” signs a contract extension to air St. Louis University men’s basketball games through the 2014-15 season with an option for a third season. Bob Ramsey and Earl Austin, Jr. will continue to call the games…..Digital content aggregator TuneIn announces a partnership with Radio Disney that will bring the kids- and tweens-friendly radio format to the TuneIn platform. TuneIn CEO John Donham says, “TuneIn strives to make the best content available to people regardless of where they are. With Radio Disney on TuneIn, millions of people can enjoy some of the best family friendly programming available, for free.”
NAB Announces ‘Unprecedented’ Support for ‘OK2Talk’ PSA Campaign. The National Association of Broadcasters announces local radio and TV stations across America have donated airtime valued at over $12 million for its ‘OK2Talk’ mental health public service announcement campaign that includes over 106,600 airings on local TV and radio stations. NAB president and CEO Gordon Smith says, “NAB salutes the efforts of broadcasters across America to make a real difference on the issue of mental health. As stewards of the airwaves, local radio and television broadcasters and our network partners have a unique megaphone and a remarkable capacity to change attitudes in a positive way. Mental health issues are often the common thread in tragedies like the Navy Yard shooting this week. We thank our broadcast brothers and sisters for their support for the NAB campaign, and urge them to continue carrying these pro-social messages that encourage a meaningful dialogue on mental health.” The PSA campaign, launched on July 23, directs people to OK2TALK.org, a Tumblr-based community where teens and young adults struggling with mental health problems can share personal stories of recovery, tragedy, struggle or hope. By inviting young people, their families and friends to add their voice in a safe, moderated space, the campaign encourages an organic conversation about mental health challenges and recovery stories. The site also includes resources for those seeking help.
KNX, Los Angeles to Report Live from Sunday’s Primetime Emmy Awards. CBS Radio all-news KNX, Los Angeles boasts its coming coverage of the Primetime Emmy Awards show from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday. KNX says it will be the only radio station reporting live from the Emmys beginning at 3:00 pm PT featuring news anchors Jim Thornton and Brian Ping along with KNX’s entertainment reporter Ross Crystal.
Talk Host Tom Donahue Takes on New Roles. Talk radio pro Tom Donahue is named program and promotions manager at Talk Stream Live. Donahue has served TSL as a media consultant previously. At the same time, Donahue is debuting a new program called “TSL Talks” – a joint venture “teaming the digital and social media platform of Talk Stream Live” with Donahue’s experience. The interview-formatted program will “seek to engage our political and media guest newsmakers and elicit their candid comments for dissemination in micro clips and long form interviews through TSL’s cutting edge social and new media venues.” Also, Donahue is returning to Orion Talk Radio to host a weekly talk show beginning Sunday, September 22 at 7:00 pm ET.
Big Changes Coming to WGN, Chicago; Cochran to AM Drive and an FM Signal in Tribune’s Future. The Chicago Tribune lays out some of the changes that will take place at Tribune Company’s legendary radio property on September 3. With the hiring of radio executive and former WLUP-FM chief Jimmy de Castro in the spring of this year, industry watchers knew changes were afoot. De Castro wasn’t hired to run things as they were. And now we know some of the ideas de Castro has been considering over the summer. Former midday host Mike McConnell – a WLW, Cincinnati alum brought in by former bosses Randy Michaels and Kevin Metheny – has already moved to the company’s online effort WGN-2. Now, Tribune reveals that air personality Steve Cochran – ousted from the station in 2010 – will return to host AM drive. Current AM drive host Jonathon Brandmeier will move to a digital property dubbed wgnfm.com until the company can acquire an FM signal on which to build a new station. The paper reports that husband-and-wife team Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano will likely host the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm show and overnight host Bill Leff will be partnered with a player-to-be-named-later for the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon show. Garry Meier remains in the 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm slot but is expected to take on a name partner soon. Another return of talent from the pre-Randy Michaels days are Kathy O’Malley and Judy Markey (former midday “Girlfriends”) who will do a weekend program on WGN. The AM radio property will also build using blocks from its WGN-TV sibling, starting with the branding slogan “Chicago’s Very Own.” De Castro says the station will use WGN-TV personalities more often, including Dean Richards and Tom Skilling. As for the future FM property that will start as a digital station, de Castro says, “We’re going to create it as a radio laboratory. We’re going to build it up until we get an FM and then we’re going to put them all on a talk FM.” The story notes that any purchase of an FM will come after the company sheds its newspaper division. That may happen in 2014 if a buyer (or buyers) can be found.
Jim Watkins Returns to Talk Radio Network. Radio pro Jim Watkins served with Talk Radio Network for 13 years as director of affiliate relations and executive producer for the syndication company. Now, TRN Syndications, Ltd. announces it is engaging Watkins “to spearhead several new projects within TRN and to assist in the growth of the existing affiliate base of the multiple TRN networks and many radio stars that TRN syndicates.” The company states Watkins will oversee new business development and growth-strategy projects for the TRN Networks that distributes Andrea Tantaros, Jerry Doyle, Rusty Humphries, Erich “Mancow” Muller, Monica Crowley, “America’s Morning News,” Michio Kaku, Louie Anderson, Roy Masters and America’s Radio News Network, and a complete weekend lineup of a variety of talk programming. CEO Mark Masters says he’s thrilled to have Watkins leading his affiliate department at this most crucial time. “Jim is deeply entrenched in talk radio and has developed alliances with key programmers across the country. As the country ramps up into the mid-term elections, talk radio has never been more vital to facilitating the national debate. Jim really understands the vitality of talk radio better than most people in the industry today.” Watkins previously programmed news/talk stations for Clear Channel, as well as South-Florida based Meridian Broadcasting, and also served as producer for some of the top air talent in the country, including Michael Savage, Mike Gallagher, Barry Farber, and others. He adds, “Talk radio reaches the most affluent and loyal audience of any format, and it does so by allowing for a free exchange of ideas which can and does influence public policy in a big way. To have one of the best rosters of talent to be found anywhere gives me a great sense of pride.”
Nationally Syndicated Host Thom Hartmann Debuts Daily Caller Column. Liberal talk media star Thom Hartmann begins writing a weekly column for the conservative digital publication Daily Caller in which he addresses an issue from his own perspective followed by a conservative or libertarian rebuttal. In his first column – dubbed “Liberally Yours” – Hartmann asks the question: Should the Post Office be in charge of your e-mails? You can read the piece here. Hartmann – whose radio program is syndicated by WYD Media Management – was recently honored by TALKERS magazine ranked at #7 on the Frontier Fifty 2013 – A Selection of Outstanding Talk Media Webcasters (see that entire feature here). In addition to his AM/FM radio program, Hartmann’s digital efforts have earned him recognition by TALKERS for his forward-thinking business model that pushes his content into exciting new areas.
Scott Webb Joins Beasley South Florida as Production Director. Beasley Broadcast Miami announces the appointment of Scott Webb as production director for its three-station cluster that includes hip hop WPOW “Power 96,” country WKIS “99.9 Kiss Country” and sports talk WQAM “560 Sports Radio.” In this new post, Webb will be responsible for overseeing the voicing and production of commercials for the stations. Webb owns Scott Webb Radio Imaging based previously in Washington/Baltimore that he founded in 2001. Prior to launching his own firm, he was creative services director and morning co-host at WJMO, Washington, D.C. He has also served as creative services director at WHUR, Washington, WMMJ, Washington and KRBV, Dallas. WKIS operations manager Ken Boesen states, “Scott brings exceedingly strong production skills, top-quality voiceover abilities and a fun work ethic to Beasley Miami. He’ll be a great addition to the team and will help make our production department the strongest in South Florida.”
Boston Celtics and WEEI/WRKO Part Company; Will CBS Radio Swoop In? The Boston Globe’s Chad Finn reports that Entercom and the NBA’s Boston Celtics have ended negotiations to continue airing games on sports talk WEEI-FM and news/talk WRKO this season after being unable to come to terms. Now the question is will CBS Radio’s WBZ-FM “98.5 The Sports Hub” be able to secure the play-by-play rights? In the ongoing and bloody battle between the two sports talk stations, a snare of Celtics hoops would give WBZ-FM three of the four major sports in town: Patriots football, Bruins hockey and Celtics basketball – leaving WEEI-FM with Red Sox baseball (no small potatoes, obviously). As Finn notes in his piece, CBS Radio owns enough stations in the market to cover any conflicts between the several teams’ games. Finn writes that Entercom and the Celtics had a revenue-sharing agreement under the old deal but it’s unknown if there was also a rights fee. Historically, CBS Radio has been willing to pay big dollars for play-by-play rights if it believes it can justify the expense down the road.
Good Karma Lets Three Go at WKNR, Cleveland. In a report on Cleveland.com, Good Karma trims its staff by three as sports talk outlet WKNR “ESPN Cleveland” says goodbye to sports talk host Kenny Roda, Browns beat reporter Will Burge and Indians beat reporter T.J. Zuppe. Burge tells the news outlet that although he was a little surprised by the changes, he says, “I guess you can never be too surprised in this business when they say they want to meet with you about some big-picture changes.” Roda Tweeted to fans, “Thanks to all who have made the last 21 years at WKNR a remarkable, unforgettable & amazing journey. I enjoyed sharing it with you all.”
Art Versnick Named GM at WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Resort Broadcasting news/talk WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware “The Talk of Delmarva” announces Art Versnick joins the station to serve as general manager. In making the announcement, company president David Schoumacher states, “Art is a seasoned broadcast professional who brings great knowledge to our very important heritage radio station. It was imperative to secure the future of this franchise with a pro, and we’ve done that by bringing his talent to work with our staff.” Versnick comments, “I’m thrilled to be joining this heritage station – with its local air staff – almost unheard of today in news/talk radio. The dedication of this staff and ownership to provide Sussex County with quality and local programming will continue and move to the next level in providing listeners and advertisers a local forum.”
Journal’s WTMJ, Milwaukee Begins Sponsored Live Broadcast Series. Journal Broadcast Group’s news/talk WTMJ, Milwaukee announces the debut of the “We Love Wisconsin Tour” that will see the morning show broadcast live from sites across the state. Sponsored by All American Window & Door, the first live broadcast event will be Friday, August 23, at the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend where “Wisconsin’s Morning News with Gene Mueller” will broadcast from 5:00 am to 8:30 am. The tour will continue in Wauwatosa in September, Madison in October and Green Bay in November. Journal Broadcast Group vice president of news/talk programming Tom Langmyer says, “As ‘Wisconsin’s Radio Station,’ WTMJ is excited to celebrate individual communities that make our region so special as a whole. Gene Mueller and his team will explore the history of each town, introduce listeners to special people and discover fun things to do along the way. We’re pleased to partner with All American Window & Door on this adventure.” During the live broadcast event, Terri Lodwick, owner of All American Window & Door, will present a $1,000 donation to a local charity.
Odds & Sods. Hubbard Radio Washington D.C. properties WTOP and Federal News Radio are honored with the 2013 Alfred P. Sloan Award for Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility for the use of flexibility and other aspects of workplace effectiveness as a workplace strategy to increase business and employee success…..Hubbard Radio’s WXOS, St. Louis “101 ESPN” agrees to a deal through Learfield Sports to carry University of Illinois football play-by-play for this season…..NFL Hall of Famer Joe Namath guests on Sports USA’s “Conversations with Joe Morgan” this week. Morgan’s program is heard on some 80 affiliates across the country. Namath’s podcast, produced by Sports USA, debuts next week…..Indiana Radio Watch tips TALKERS that Zach Bonahoom exits Federated Media’s news/talk WOWO-AM/FM, Fort Wayne where he hosted a Saturday talk show.
NSA Surveillance Program/UK Threatens Guardian, Egypt Violence, ObamaCare Implementation, OK Ballplayer Slaying, and Clinton Foundation Expenses Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/20). The scope of the NSA surveillance program and the UK’s threats against the Guardian paper; continuing violence in Egypt and the U.S.’s relationship with its government; the implementation of the Affordable Care Act; the killing of an Australian baseball player by teens in Oklahoma; and the report of the Clinton Foundation’s travel expenses were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Pioneering Talk Radio Host Gene Burns Dead at 72. Longtime talk radio host and broadcasting pioneer Gene Burns has died, succumbing to a long illness marked by a series of strokes. In the words of TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison, “Gene was one of the greatest of the great and classiest of the classy – a true ‘wordsmith’ and gentleman who symbolized everything good about talk radio and served as one of the major engines that drove the ascent of its modern era.” Until recently forced by illness into retirement from on-air performing, Burns had spent a decade and a half as a key host on KGO, San Francisco where he did a general news/talk program as well as a very popular restaurant and entertainment show. The veteran of a number of great stations, he made his mark in the late-1980s and early-1990s as a member of the legendary lineup at WRKO, Boston that also included the late Jerry Williams. That was followed by a brief but high-profile stint at WOR, New York and national syndication on the WOR Radio Network. Harrison adds, “Gene Burns practiced a brand of libertarian-based, intellectual populism in his approach to political news/talk that set the standard for the format’s emergence as a voice for the average person to stand up to big government, big business, big media and big anything. Although ‘conservative’ in his orientation, he eschewed blatant partisanship, avoided banal cookie-cutter left-versus-right talking points and dealt with each issue in an academically probing and credible manner.” Burns’ ground breaking work in the early-1990s stood as the inspiration for TALKERS magazine’s annual Freedom of Speech Award and the tradition of the annual State of the First Amendment Address delivered at the publication’s conventions. He is ranked the 23rd most important radio talk show host of all time by TALKERS in its “Heaviest Hundred” feature which is updated twice a decade. Harrison concludes, “His rich, baritone voice coupled with the artistry of his word selection and ability to construct a logical argument was about as close to music as one could hear within a spoken word context.” A special honoring the life and work of Gene Burns aired on Sunday, May 26 on KGO hosted by David Weintraub and a special tribute will be presented honoring his legacy at Talkers New York 2013 on Thursday, June 6.
Adult Contemporary is a Relatively Low-Involvement Format on Facebook. According to digital radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller, “There are several major-market adult contemporary stations on Facebook who have a ton of followers, but very little interaction going on. As a former AC programmer, I absolutely feel their pain; AC is a low-involvement format. At the same time, most of these stations have fallen into a rut about what they post. The quality of the post is in the level of engagement you get from it. When thousands or tens of thousands follow you, and you get two or three ‘Likes’ on your posts, you gotta shake up your thinking.” In a new column posted today (5/28) Miller suggests that although consistency is basically a good and necessary thing, there is a dark side to it and to avoid falling into a rut, radio broadcasters of all formats should make changes to approximately 10% of their posts on a regular basis. To read the details and Miller’s entire piece, click here.
Kent Sterling Returns to Indy on Sports Talk WFNI. News/talk and sports radio pro Kent Sterling re-surfaces on the air at Emmis’ sports talk WFNI, Indianapolis for a weekend program with Chris Hagan called, “Ahead of the Curve with Hagan and Sterling.” He most recently served with Bonneville at its St. Louis sports talker WXOS but exited that post to return to Indianapolis. Prior to his work at WXOS, Sterling served as program director at Emmis’ news/talk flagship WIBC-FM, Indianapolis. Sterling’s and Hagan’s weekend program airs from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm on Saturdays.
NBA on Radio Is a Different Breed of Sports Play-by-Play. Major League Baseball is the sport that could be called radio’s best friend and the NFL’s astounding popularity makes its games and surrounding programming popular with listeners. While the NBA’s regular season games are not generally thought of as “programming gold” across the country, it appears that having even a moderately successful team combined with a flagship station with a strong nighttime signal, can be a recipe for success with basketball play-by-play. According to information from Arbitron based on PPM data from 27 NBA teams in 25 PPM markets, certain places are simply basketball towns – the Los Angeles Lakers rule Los Angeles on KSPN with average game estimates larger than the Dodgers, Angels, Kings and Ducks grabbing a 4.0 share with Men 25-54 (average of all 82 games). And perennial contenders the San Antonio Spurs dominated on WOAI with a 9.8 share with Men 25-54. However, less successful teams on strong flagships performed well during the regular season: the Milwaukee Bucks just squeaked into the playoffs but on heritage WTMJ garnered a 10 share with Men 25-54; the Cleveland Cavaliers missed the playoffs yet grabbed a 9.7 share (M 25-54) on WTAM; and the Detroit Pistons also missed the playoffs but notched an 8.0 (M 25-54) share on the highly rated WXYT-FM. Considering games in the East and Midwest air in the evenings, numbers for the stations cited above – and others not cited here – are impressive nighttime ratings.
Flagship Stations Should Capitalize on Cross-Promotional Opportunities within Baseball PBP. According to Bonneville Seattle creative director Chris Pendl, “If you’ve made the investment on play-by-play sports on your station, it’s important to maximize the return on your investment by trying to recycle that audience to another daypart on your station.” Arbitron reports that MLB drives cume increases as much as 50% to 65% during baseball season. Pendl tells TALKERS, “This influx of audience is one of the reasons we pay rights fees, share revenue, or give up inventory to carry this programming. In a climate with little or no external marketing dollars, I’ve often joked that our promotional time within baseball play-by-play is the closest thing we’ll get to an interstate billboard or TV campaign.” In an exclusive article posted today (5/28) Pendl describes and shares a production/promo technique conducted by Bonneville to cross-promote the station via the baseball audience that he calls “situation baseball return liners.” To read the entire piece and hear examples of its execution, click here.
Buckley to Sell KYZZ, Salinas, California to Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters. Buckley Communications announces it is selling sports talk KYZZ, Salinas, California to Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters. The price is yet to be announced. KYZZ is the FM side of the sports talk simulcast that also airs on Buckley’s KIDD, Monterey and Buckley says it will continue with its ESPN Radio affiliation on KIDD. Mt. Wilson has not announced its format plans for KYZZ. Saul Levine’s Mt. Wilson also owns country KKGO, Los Angeles and classical simulcast KMZT-AM, Beverly Hills and KMZT-FM, Big Sur, California.
WTOP Hacking: Why You Should Worry. TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman writes about the recent hacking of the websites of Hubbard Broadcasting’s WTOP, Washington and its sister WFED “Federal News Radio.” Weisman is one of the nation’s foremost experts on scams, he operates the website Scamicide that presents up-to-date information about scams, fraud and identity theft, and is the author of The Truth About Avoiding Scams (FT Press 2008). In this column, Weisman explains the methods used by the WTOP hackers and explains the steps users can take to avoid becoming the victim of similar attacks. Read Weisman’s entire piece here.
Odds & Sods. Martz Communications’ WPDM, Potsdam, New York flips from a simulcast of FM sister WSNN to sports talk using CBS Sports Radio Network…..Wilks License Company’s sports talk WZOH, Columbus becomes part of the Cleveland Browns radio network based at CBS Radio’s WKRK, Cleveland…..WTOP, Washington crowns Nathan Stanford from Harrington, Delaware the 2013 winner of “Commuter Idle” – an “extreme commuter” competition for listeners experiencing the daily horrors of commuting in and around Washington. Stanford’s commute begins with a 3:00 am alarm and a one-hour drive. He then boards a commuter bus for a 90-minute ride from Kent Island to Foggy Bottom, rides the Metro, and hustles on foot to his office in Rosslyn. Stanford’s travels from Delaware to Virginia average more than five hours a day, though the commute can be much longer in the summer months with Friday beach traffic. He receives $1,000 in gas money and will enjoy a limo ride to and from work from Reston Limousine. WTOP program director Laurie Cantillo says, “The question that we hear most often is, ‘Why do these people do it?’ It’s fascinating to hear their personal stories and accompany them on their crazy commutes. We feel their pain, and as DC’s traffic authority we’re here to help.”
KOIL, Omaha’s Mulberry Lane Meets the Beach Boys and John Stamos. Musical act Mulberry Lane opened for the Beach Boys (which includes actor and musician John Stamos) in Council Bluffs, Iowa on Saturday, May 25. Pictured here are (from l-r): Bo Mulberry, Bruce Johnston, Rachel Mulberry, Mike Love, Allie Mulberry, and John Stamos. The Mulberry sisters – based in Nebraska – also host a weekend talk show on NRG Media’s KOIL, Omaha called the “Mulberry Lane Radio Show.” The station describes the ladies’ program saying the sisters “decided to bring their busy lives to live radio with a show based on sisterhood, womanhood, motherhood, and the humor and mishaps of trying to juggle it all – woven together with music, harmony and a dash of wit.” It airs Saturdays from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon.
Longtime KNX, Los Angeles Anchor Harry Birrell Dies. Longtime Los Angeles news personality Harry Birrell died on May 26 after a battle with lung disease at age 85 in Thousand Oaks, California. Birrell was an anchor at all-news KNX, Los Angeles for more than three decades – beginning in 1968 when the station flipped to the all-news format and ending with his retirement in 1999. Birrell switched from his anchor role at the station to Ventura County correspondent in 1993.
Kevin Miller Stops By TheBlaze. KIDO, Boise morning drive talk show host Kevin Miller was visiting Dallas – home of Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze – and took some time to stop by the studios to check out the production of the Glenn Beck program. Here’s a shot of Beck (l) and Miller (r) inside the spacious former movie/TV studios that are home to Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts production facility.
Former WGN and KMOX Exec Tom Langmyer to Consult Journal’s WTMJ, Milwaukee. The Business Journal of Milwaukee reports that former WGN, Chicago vice president and general manager Tom Langmyer has been hired to consult Journal Broadcast Group’s news/talk WTMJ, Milwaukee as it transitions from programmer Joe Scialfa, who has left the post. WTMJ EVP Steve Wexler tells the publication, “I can confirm that we have made a change and are recruiting for a new program director. Tom Langmyer is working with us during the transition to help recruit a new program director and work with our staff.” Langmyer worked his way up from program director to general manager of KMOX, St.Louis. After years in that post he moved to Tribune’s WGN, Chicago where he served as VP/GM until last October.
Todd Schnitt and Bubba the Love Sponge Settle in Mediation. After a jury found Bubba the Love Sponge (Todd Clem) not guilty of defamation in the case brought against him by former crosstown rival Todd Schnitt, Schnitt got a new lawyer and prepared to take Bubba back to court claiming misconduct on the part of Bubba’s attorneys as a result of the DUI and misappropriated briefcase of his former lawyer, Phillip Campbell. But, after a 12-hour mediation session before mediator Jim Murman, the sides have agreed to end their spat – sort of. According to TampaBayOnline, Bubba has agreed to leave Schnitt’s wife and children out of any future radio attacks, incurring a $5,000 fine per mention if he fails to keep his word. Schnitt himself is fair game. Bubba had intended to go after Schnitt to recoup his nearly $1 million in legal fees from the first trial but will withdraw that bid. Bubba is heard in morning drive on WHTP, Tampa and was a rival of Schnitt’s when Schnitt – as MJ Kelli – held down mornings on WFLA-FM. Now, Schnitt does only the PM drive show on news/talk WFLA-AM in the market. But there is still some acrimony and possible legal action – between Phillip Campbell and Schnitt. After Schnitt fired Campbell, the latter went to court seeking about $1 million in legal fees from Schnitt. But Schnitt’s new lawyer, Wil Florin, tells TampaBayOnline that Schnitt should not have to pay the money and that Campbell should have to refund almost $1 million previously paid because Campbell assured the Schnitt’s, after a 2008 DUI, that it would not happen again.
NBC Sport Radio Network Names Newy Scruggs Midday Host. As the NBC Sports Radio and Dial Global 24/7 sports talk radio format is prepared for its round-the-clock debut on April 1, the network announces that KXAS-TV, Dallas sports director and former KRLD-FM, Dallas personality Newy Scruggs will host the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart with his program, “Voices of the Game with Newy Scruggs.” The theme of the show is Scruggs will be joined each day by a major renowned and recognizable sports “voice” during the entire second hour of the show. Personalities will include Chipper Jones, Adrian Wojnarowski, Stan Van Gundy, Bobby Valentine and Chris Mannix. Jones will begin baseball season in this hourly role on Tuesdays and then move into a weekly major contributor role as NBC Sports Radio’s MLB senior analyst once baseball season is fully underway. Mannix, Valentine and Van Gundy are already part of the NBC Sports Radio roster and are expanding their roles. Dial Global EVP and general manager Chris Corcoran states, “Hands down, ‘Voices of the Game’ is going to be special. Not only is Newy one of the smartest and most reputable personalities around, but our unmatched and incredible daily guest hosts are going to deliver such a unique and informative show for affiliates, listeners and advertisers.”
News/Talk Format Back to Place as Leading Format in February PPMs. With Arbitron’s February PPM data set to be released after 5:00 pm today (3/18), some of the conclusions we can draw are that the news/talk format is coming back from its usual holiday lull and – across all 48 PPM markets, not any market in particular – the format is back to its spot as the leading format. Industry pros who’ve been watching the performance of stations by format over the years are aware that formats in general can be said to be affected by seasonal factors. The biggest and most obvious is how AC stations are buoyed by the public’s affection for Christmas music during the holiday period. News/talk has historically – going back to the days prior to the PPM as well – performed well in the fall and spring periods and dipped a bit in the winter and summer periods. Obviously, baseball tends to help news/talk stations avoid the summer drop. With the recent uptick of concern about news/talk’s future – being aired in both the consumer and trade press – no doubt market managers and corporations will be eager to see how their individual news/talk stations performed in the PPM markets during the February period.
KXTG-AM, Portland’s John Canzano Re-Ups with Alpha Broadcasting. Midday sports talk personality John Canzano, host of “The Bald-Faced Truth” signs a multi-year extension with Alpha Broadcasting’s “750 The Game.” He currently airs in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot. Canzano is a popular sports media figure in the market serving as lead columnist for The Oregonian and as a regular commentator on KGW-TV. He is also the co-founder of the Bald Faced Truth Foundation, a 501(c) 3 non-profit that helps children participate in music, art, sports and other co-curricular activities. Alpha Broadcasting director of programming Scott Mahalick states, “John’s deep connection to the community through his Bald Faced Truth Foundation is just one of many reasons we are proud to have him on board with Portland’s premiere sports radio ‘750 The Game.’”
Sabo Says Radio Stations Are Becoming More and More Like TV Stations. In a provocative article posted today in TALKERS (3/18), noted radio consultant Walter Sabo points out that the radio station of the not-too-distant future will appear similar in many ways to the television station of today. As a matter of fact, this is a trend that is already becoming quite apparent. To read Sabo’s column – which also includes insights into the danger of radio’s economic dependency on retail, the importance of bringing back research, and (for music programmers) the pitfalls of letting labels tell you when the songs they promote are at the peak of their hit potency – click here.
Chad Adams to Exit Wilmington, North Carolina Talk Duo. Hometown Wilmington Media general manager Beau Gunn announces morning drive personality Chad Adams will leave his position as morning host on March 29. Adams is heard on WLTT, Bolivia, North Carolina and WNTB, Topsail Beach – stations branded “The Big Talker.” Gunn states, “Chad has served the community and our company with hard work and dedication for the past three years. We are sad to see him go and wish him the best in all of his new endeavors.” In addition to hosting the morning show, he has appeared as a regular featured commentator on local cable news channel News 14 Carolina‘s ‘Capitol Tonight’ and as a guest political analyst on WWAY-TV.
Americom Las Vegas Shutters Progressive Talk KJFK, Reno. After eight years as a progressive talk outlet, Americom Las Vegas announces it has been losing money on the station for some time – “thousands of dollars a month” – and its hand is being forced. The station says on its website, “Since we launched the station with an appearance by Al Franken in 2005, when nearly 500 people joined us at the Atlantis for now-Senator Franken’s appearance just days after we hit the air, we’ve known a passionate audience has been with us all along. Unfortunately, this station was never able to generate the revenue necessary to sustain, and we simply cannot absorb the financial loss any longer.” The station will continue to make some shows available online for now.
“Brent Seltzer, Still at Large” Syndicated Short-Form Series Picked Up by XM. The quick-witted, two-minute commentary series hosted by legendary Southern California-based news personality Brent Seltzer is now heard daily on XM Satellite Radio talk channels 165, 166 and 168 in all dayparts. Premiere Networks brokered the deal and describes the series as ‘funny, informative, creative and well-produced’. The series, designed to air on both talk and music formats, is heard on KSRO, Santa Rosa, CA and is one of the most popular features on PodJockey.com.
Odds & Sods. Talk about being in the right place at the right time, pictured here is WNDB, Daytona Beach talk show host Marc Bernier (right) interviewing Florida State Senate President Don Gaetz during his annual “Legislative Listening Tour” from the Capitol in Tallahassee on the very day Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll resigned amidst a federal probe of internet cafes statewide…..Hubbard Broadcasting’s WTOP, Washington this week begins a special series called “Spy In The Sky” – an exclusive multimedia series that takes an in-depth look at the use of drones worldwide. A federal appeals court has ruled that the CIA must provide a more detailed response to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU, seeking records about drone attacks. This decision from a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is part of an ongoing national debate about the use of drones. “Spy In The Sky” is a 10-part series that’s airing on WTOP this week. Each report is also available on WTOP.com accompanied by exclusive photos and video. In the piece, WTOP focuses on the use of drones both abroad and at home and how policy makers, police, and civil rights advocates are shaping their future…..In sunny Arizona, “Rosie on the House,” the home improvement talk show that has reached out to Arizona homeowners for almost 25 years, has added another radio station affiliate KGVY, Green Valley, south of Tucson. The show was founded by Rosie Romero and his son Romey in 1988 and is heard on KTAR-FM, Phoenix; KNST, Tucson and several others across the state. It’s syndicated by the Skyview Network.
KNX, Los Angeles Director of News Programming Andy Ludlum Honored. CBS Radio’s Andy Ludlum was honored at the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2013 awards banquet on March 14. The KNX director of news programming is pictured here (right) alongside KNX news anchor and longtime friend Bill Polish (left) who presented the award to Ludlum. SPJ/LA presents the Distinguished Journalist awards to members of the profession who demonstrate good news judgment, a strong sense of ethics and a passion for getting the story right. Honorees are journalists who have achieved a record of accomplishments over the course of several years.
Talk Radio Network Signs Sun Broadcast Group as Rep Firm. Boca Raton, Florida-based Sun Broadcast Group and Talk Radio Network agree to have the former provide national advertising sales representation and assist in station affiliation for all products of Talk Radio Network effective immediately. Sun CEO Jason Bailey says, “In this day of safe, personality-driven radio, the stable of talent that TRN continues to expand is something we are very proud to present to our agency partners. From new entertaining talk products to amazingly produced long-form news, I believe the iconic brands that have put their faith and trust in Sun over these last several years will be excited to become part of this new direction in network programming.” Talk Radio Network CEO Mark Masters states, “We look forward to a long and prosperous alliance with Sun Broadcast Group. Jason and his team understand what it takes to succeed in radio today. We are pleased that our products will be well represented with Sun as we continue to grow each and every one of the TRN companies.”
Clear Channel Simulcasts New Hampshire News/Talk Outlets. With the arrival of New Hampshire news and talk pro Jack Heath for mornings at WGIR, Manchester and WQSO, Rochester-Portsmouth, New Hampshire two weeks ago, the stations are now a complete simulcast and WQSO re-brands as “News Radio 96.7” It had been branded “96.7 The Wave.” Heath joined the stations from WTPL, Concord, New Hampshire where he’d been for the past five years.
KOGO, San Diego Moves LaDona Harvey to AM Drive with Chip Franklin. Early afternoon talk host LaDona Harvey moves to the AM drive show alongside Chip Franklin at Clear Channel’s news/talk KOGO, San Diego. Taking Harvey’s place in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot is evening host Bob “Sully” Sullivan.
Odds & Sods. Omaha talk show host Tom Becka, who recently returned to the market at NRG Media’s KOIL after a year heading up an FM talk station in Fargo, is profiled in the March/April edition of Omaha Magazine…..WGN, Chicago “Noon Show” host Carol Roth is hired by cable business news/talk network CNBC as a regular on-air contributor. Roth says she will contribute written pieces for CNBC.com. She will continue her role at WGN…..Journal Broadcasting’s WTMJ, Milwaukee brings Jon Meerdink aboard as a news reporter. He comes to Brew Town Bliss Communications’ Janesville, Wisconsin stations.
Broadcasters Foundation of America Raises $375,000 at “Golden Mike Award” Ceremony. The Broadcasters Foundation of America raised $375,000 to help broadcasters in need at the BFoA 2013 Golden Mike Award ceremony honoring David J. Barrett, chairman and CEO of Hearst Television, Inc at the Plaza Hotel in New York City on Monday evening. The event was hosted by legendary sports broadcaster and voice of the San Francisco Giants Jon Miller. Joining him as presenters were popular media personalities Steve Harvey and Dr. Mehmet Oz along with Barrett’s son Casey, former president and CEO of Post-Newsweek Stations. Also taking part were 2011 Golden Mike winner Alan Frank and Hearst Television president Jordan Wertlieb. Ellen DeGeneres provided some laughs via a video presentation, as did Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan. Singer Darlene Love provided entertainment. Pictured here are (from l-r): Phil Lombardo, chairman, Broadcasters Foundation of America; Steve Harvey; Jim Thompson, president Broadcasters Foundation; Dr. Mehmet Oz; Darlene Love; 2013 Golden Mike Award Recipient David J. Barrett and Jon Miller. The Broadcasters Foundation has provided millions of dollars in aid to colleagues who lost their livelihood through a catastrophic event, debilitating disease, or unforeseen family tragedy. Individual membership is only $150 a year. Donations also can be made to the Guardian Fund, and corporate contributions are accepted through the Angel Initiative. For more information, to apply for a grant, or to make a contribution, please visit www.broadcastersfoundation.org or call 212-373-8250.
Dan Patrick Show at Buffalo Wild Wings. KLAC, Los Angeles “AM570 Fox Sports LA” listeners and DIRECTV viewers turned up nearly 2,000-strong to meet sports media personality Dan Patrick and the cast of his DIRECTV/Fox Sports Radio program at Buffalo Wild Wings in Huntington Beach, California on Saturday, February 23. Fans lined up to meet Patrick and the Danettes, who spent three hours shaking hands, taking photos, and signing memorabilia during the event. Attendees were treated to the restaurant’s infamous wings and Patrick even stepped behind the bar to serve a few drinks. Patrick is pictured here posing with the staff of the restaurant.
Sequestration Battle, Manti Te’o Gay Controversy, ICE Undocumenteds Release, BP Civil Trial, and Cannibal Cop Case Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/27). The Washington PR battle over the looming sequester; the issue of football star Manti Te’o and homosexuality in pro sports; the release of undocumented aliens in response to the sequester; the BP civil trial; and the cannibal cop case were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Old Pals. KIDO, Boise morning show host Kevin Miller (right) poses for a shot with HLN star Nancy Grace (left). Miller has contributed to Grace’s program over the years and had the opportunity recently to catch up with her.
TALKERS Spotlight: THE WATCHDOGS
By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief
LOS ANGELES — Contrasted to national talk radio hosts who can sometimes get deeply mired in a monotonous right against left (or vice versa) onslaught, many of their local counterparts emerge as bona fide folk heroes for standing up against a coterie of injustices inflicted on their fellow residents.
Actions taken by this band of “watchdogs,” in the overwhelming number of instances, have nothing to do with political leanings or a partisan playbook.
Legendary for rooting out the “bad guys,” afternoon talk hosts “John & Ken” (John Kobylt & Ken Champiou) expose what they consider dirty dealings to their very large audience on Los Angeles’ KFI. Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, WRKO, Boston’s Howie Carr is a thorn in the side of the “powers that be” in New England. Everywhere in between, intense professional satisfaction comes when they go toe-to-toe with pit bull-like tenacity against the establishment. In that same sort of imagery, “hold their feet to the fire” has actually become a talk radio slogan as on-air talents attempt to expose and defeat “the bad guys.”
KFI, Los Angeles’ John and Ken Appear on WOR, New York. New WOR, New York owner Clear Channel Media and Entertainment has begun airing talk radio duo John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou in the evenings on the station. On Wednesday night, a simulcast hour from the final hour of the pair’s highly rated KFI, Los Angeles program aired at 9:00 pm followed by a 10:00 pm hour of custom programming for the New York station. John and Ken are no strangers to the region having grown up in the New York area and having gotten their start on radio stations in the Tri-State Area. They rose to prominence during their stint at Trenton-based “New Jersey 101.5” (WKXW). John and Ken have been syndicated in the past. During a brief period in the late 1990s, the duo began a national syndication effort under Fisher Entertainment but that ended when they moved to KABC, Los Angeles to take the morning drive slot.
Peacock Sports Network Playing the Hits. In TALKERS magazine’s second part of its three-part series on the new sports talk radio players (and the growing field in general), managing editor/West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian gets inside the heads of those involved in the new NBC Sports Radio Network that is launching its weekend programming this weekend and its full daily slate in April. NBC Sports Radio programmer Jack Silver tells TALKERS his network is focusing on finding talent it believes is the next generation. “The weekday and weekend lineups mirror the network’s mission statement, which is to be a new wave of sports talk. We did not hire the more traditional names. The developmental mindset we have is to find new sports talk talent. CBS Sports Radio has veterans like Jim Rome and Scott Ferrall. We are looking for the next versions of people like that, as well as Dan Patrick and [ESPN Radio morning personalities] ‘Mike [Greenberg] & Mike [Golic].’ We are producing this sports network like a rock station, with in-your-face production. To my ear, it feels like an FM talk station – which is my specialty. It is based on opinions and talk show topics.” Read Mike Kinosian’s entire piece here.
Cumulus Media Returns 44 Markets to Arbitron Diary Service. After three years with no Arbitron diary ratings service, Cumulus Media-owned stations in 44 markets will resume subscription to the service effective immediately. Cumulus Media and Arbitron announce they have agreed to a multi-year contract that brings Cumulus stations in the 44 markets back into the fold and renews the company’s PPM ratings service deal in the 17 PPM markets in which it operates. Arbitron states that the deal covers all 450 Cumulus stations in the 100 Cumulus radio markets currently surveyed by Arbitron. It also renews ratings agreements in 39 diary markets. In addition to diary and PPM local market ratings, the agreement also provides Cumulus with access to Arbitron software applications, Scarborough consumer profile services, and national and network radio ratings for Cumulus Media Networks. Cumulus has also agreed to collaborate with Arbitron on cross-platform services that would quantify the total impact of the Cumulus radio brand. Cumulus chairman and CEO Lew Dickey says, “With this agreement, Arbitron and Cumulus are demonstrating a long-term commitment to collaborate for the benefit of the radio industry. We will work closely with Arbitron on its ongoing quality and service enhancement initiatives. Specifically, we look forward to participating in the development of an integrated, total radio audience service that gives broadcasters full credit for our audiences regardless of how listeners access our content.”
Herman Cain is Coming and Consultant Holland Cooke Predicts Success. Businessman, talk show host and one-time presidential candidate Herman Cain is prepping to take over the WSB, Atlanta and Cox Media syndication of the Neal Boortz program when Boortz retires this month. Radio consultant Holland Cooke predicts Cain will succeed and offers eight reasons why, beginning with: “He’s a radio natural, as we heard when he filled-in for Sean Hannity last summer. Even if Cain’s primary run hadn’t made it so familiar, his voice jumps-out-of the speaker. And he speaks in sound bites that are made for AM radio.” There’s more. Read Cooke’s piece here.
Larry Mendte Exits Merlin’s WWIQ, Philadelphia. Announcing his departure from the Philadelphia talk outlet via his Facebook page, talk personality and former market TV news anchor Larry Mendte states the reason was not due to ratings as his show was “by far the highest-rated local show.” But Mendte, who joined the station in May of last year, says in his post that he believes his exit will spur rumors the station is for sale. He says he hopes that’s not true as he believes the station “fills an important void.” Mendte was hired to work the morning show alongside programmer and co-host Al Gardner. Earlier in the fall, New York-based multi-media star Lionel was brought in to work with Gardner for a portion of the morning program. WWIQ’s website lists both Gardner and Lionel as co-hosts of the 5:00 am to 9:00 am program.
Clear Channel to Flip WOKY, Milwaukee to Sports Talk. Beginning Monday, January 7, Clear Channel-owned classic country WOKY, Milwaukee will become a sports talk outlet as “The Big 920.” The station will feature regional sports talk personalities as well as Fox Sports Radio Network syndicated programming including Dan Patrick and Jay Mohr. According to a report in The Business Journal, the station will run the same programming that airs on CC’s Madison sports talk station WTSO “The Big 1070.” The station will air a talk show featuring morning drive hosts Mike Lucas and Matt Lepay from 6:00 am to 8:00 am. It will be in competition in the market with Good Karma’s WAUK and Entercom’s WSSP.
WQRT, Cincinnati to Drop Talk; Station Will Go Dark, Launch New Format in February. The Cincinnati market sports and talk station WQRT “Real Talk 1160” will go dark after the broadcast of the BCS National Championship game on January 7 and take the rest of the month to prepare for a new format. Christian Broadcast System owner Jon Yinger tells the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Kiesewetter the station did not perform as the company had hoped despite hiring numerous local personalities over the course of the past few years to challenge competitors in the market. Local staffers including morning host Dean Miuccio, news staffer T.C. Summers, afternoon sports talk hosts Dennis “Wildman” Walker and Jeff Piecoro have been let go and the station will air syndicated programming until it signs off. The station recently lost operations manager Rob Williams and sports talk host and producer Rick Ucchino who left to join Cumulus Media’s crosstown WCFN which debuted the CBS Sports Radio Network format on Wednesday, January 2.
Al Gore’s Current TV Bought by Al Jazeera. The Al Gore- and Joel Hyatt-owned Current TV cable news/talk channel has been purchased by the Qatar-based Arab world cable news operation Al Jazeera for a reported $500 million. Bloomberg reports Gore and Hyatt paid $60 million for the media outlet in 2004. Bloomberg notes in its report that Time Warner Cable Inc., the second-biggest U.S. cable company, said it would stop carrying Current TV with the ownership change. “Our agreement with Current has been terminated and we will no longer be carrying the service…We are removing the service as quickly as possible.” Time Warner Cable currently carries the Al Jazeera English-language programming in New York City however it does not offer Al Jazeera in the Los Angeles market. The Associated Press reports the acquisition will give Al Jazeera access to about 40 million more homes. It also states that Al Jazeera – owned by the government of Qatar – plans to gradually transform Current TV into a network called Al Jazeera America by adding five to 10 new U.S. bureaus beyond the five it has now and hiring more journalists. More than half of the content will be U.S. news and the network will have its headquarters in New York City.
Fox Sports Radio Network’s Jay Mohr Debuts on 70-Plus Stations. The new late-morning program on the Fox Sports Radio Network hosted by long-time FSRN fill-in host, comedian and actor Jay Mohr hit the ground running with about 70 affiliates yesterday. Fox Sports reports the show aired in markets including: Los Angeles, Atlanta, Detroit, Miami, Seattle, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Portland and Pittsburgh. Mohr’s program fills the slot held for so many years by Jim Rome who left Premiere Networks for the new CBS Sports Radio Network.
Bill Keeler to Host Mornings on WIBX, Utica. Local media personality Bill Keeler will begin hosting the morning drive program on Townsquare Media’s news/talk WIBX, Utica, New York on Monday, January 14, according to WKTV-TV, Utica. Keeler, who has been hosting a restaurant program on WKTV-TV, has also worked in the market in radio at CHR WSKS and rock WXUR. He says, “I am so excited about doing mornings on WIBX. This is a heritage radio station that’s been around for 87 years and it remains one of the top stations in the market. I can’t wait to get on the air and get started.” Keeler will be joined by news anchor Kristine Bellino.
WMVP, Chicago Personality Steve McMichael Pulled from Broadcasting After Equal Time Request. Former Chicago Bears great and WMVP, Chicago sports talk personality Steve “Mongo” McMichael was yanked from Sunday’s program prior to the final Bears game of the season after the mayor of Romeoville, Illinois filed an equal time request with the station. McMichael filed papers on December 26 to get on the ballot to run for mayor of Romeoville in April and one of his opponents, current Mayor John Noak, filed the request citing equal time regulations. McMichael tells the Chicago Tribune, “I was ready to go on and talk football. I by no means used that pre-game show as a political platform this year. But if that’s the law, it’s the law and I have to accept it.”
Journal’s WTMJ, Milwaukee Announces Record Results for Holiday Toy Drive. WTMJ, Milwaukee program director Joe Scialfa announces the Journal Broadcast Group station collected more than 19,000 toys during its 2012 “Kids to Kids Christmas” Scialfa says more than 50 schools in the region participated in the charity drive that encouraged children to shop with their parents for toys to donate to those less fortunate. Scialfa states, “The listeners of Newsradio 620 WTMJ are amazing. Again this year, they have shared the message of giving with their kids in a record setting way! We couldn’t be prouder to come to work each day to inform and entertain this great audience.”
‘Fiscal Crisis’ Bill Signed, Hurricane Sandy Aid Controversy, Financial Markets Activity, Hillary Clinton Health Status and Gun Control Debate Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/2). The aftermath of the bill signed to avert the “fiscal crisis”; the anger over Congress’ bypassing Hurricane Sandy aid; financial markets respond to “fiscal crisis” legislation; the health status of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; and ongoing debate of gun laws in the United States were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Holiday Season Provides Opportunities for Seasoned Talk Pros. The holidays hold ample opportunities for pro talkers looking to get that on-air “audition,” to hone their skills and keep their name out there. A great example of this is talk show host and former Republican Congressman from Arizona J.D. Hayworth who has a busy holiday week schedule on the fill-in circuit. On Wednesday he’s in for Sirius XM’s Mike Church from 6:00 am to 9:00 am and for Pete Kaliner at WWNC, Asheville, North Carolina from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. On Thanksgiving Day he’ll sub for WPHT, Philadelphia’s Buzz Bissinger from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Friday J.D. is in for WPHT, Philadelphia’s Chris Stigall in AM drive, for Cumulus Media Networks’ Mike Huckabee from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm and in for Sirius XM’s David Webb from 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight. On Saturday, he’ll do the evening shift from 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm at WPHT. Hayworth – who hosted a popular program at KFYI, Phoenix in his home town – can be contacted at 602-615-6956.
ESPN Audio and Lincoln Financial Media’s WQXI, Atlanta Bring Colin Cowherd Back to the Market. LFM’s sports talk outlet WQXI “790 The Zone” creates some relief for its local talent in the middle of the day by adding ESPN Audio’s “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon beginning December 3. The station’s “Mayhem in the AM” morning show has been airing until 11:00 am with the “Red Zone” midday program airing from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. The station also will be carrying select weekend programming from ESPN beginning on Saturday, December 1. WQXI program director and Atlanta Falcons Radio Network executive producer Bob Richards says, “‘790 The Zone’ is proud to become the new home for ESPN Audio and Colin Cowherd in Atlanta. Combining ESPN and Colin with being the flagship station of the Atlanta Falcons Radio Network, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, the Chik-Fil-A Bowl and our top-rated local drive-time shows creates an unbeatable combination of local and national talent and content.”
Social Media Rant Earns WNWS, Jackson, Tennessee Host Suspension. Mid-morning talk host Bill Way – host of the “It’s Your Turn” program on The Wireless Group’s WNWS, Jackson, Tennessee – is suspended for “a few days” after writing a derogatory Facebook post about President Obama. The Jackson Sun reports that Way wrote, “A short message to Obama voters. To vote for him with a 9.2 unemployment rate, a (expletive) of Benghazi lies, $16,000,000,000 in debt and an israeli war, (a derogatory reference to the sex scandal involving David Petraeus), a pimp walking prez married to cheetahs daughter…expect what you will most certainly get. bye bye medicare. hello homeless.. I love America except for the idiots.” Way did not finish his program on Monday morning. He apologized on the air before another host finished the program. Station general manager Larry Wood stated, “WNWS-FM learned about the comments Bill Way made on his personal Facebook page. In no way do they reflect the positions or thoughts of any of us at WNWS-FM. We certainly don’t condone the comments from Bill and appreciate his public apology. We’re discussing his comments and apology. Considering the gravity of the situation, for now, by mutual agreement, Bill is taking a few days off.”
Marijuana Radio Show Celebrates 5th Anniversary. The Lanny Swerdlow-hosted “Marijuana, Compassion and Common Sense” program aired its 5th anniversary program on Broadcast Management Services’ KCAA, Loma Linda, California (Riverside/San Bernardino market) on Monday evening. Discussion on the unusual program centers on medical marijuana issues and the reform of marijuana laws. When station CEO Fred Lundgren was approached by Swerdlow with the show concept, he consulted his attorney who advised him the show could not promote the sale of anything illegal in California or be heard in a state where medical marijuana is illegal. Lundgren says that even though the issue is a thorny one in the market, the First Amendment was his guide and he allowed the show to air on his station. He reports it to be one of KCAA’s most popular programs. Monday’s anniversary show featured Dennis Peron, “father” of the medical marijuana movement in California, and Anna Boyce, a retired nurse who was the public face of Proposition 215 back in 1996 when the issue was placed before the voters.
Journal’s WTMJ, Milwaukee Sponsors “Kids 2 Kids Christmas.” The holiday charity promotion “Kids 2 Kids for Christmas” encourages families in Southeastern Wisconsin to take their children shopping for toys for kids in the region who are less fortunate. Journal Broadcasting’s news/talk flagship WTMJ, Milwaukee is operating the campaign now through December 15 with locations throughout the city where toys can be dropped off. During last year’s campaign, more than 10,000 toys were collected and the station has set the same goal for this year.
Odds & Sods. “Grease” stars John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John will take part in Sirius Satellite Radio’s “Town Hall” program on December 12 where the two will answer fan questions about their careers, including their roles as Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsen in the movie “Grease” as well as their new holiday album “This Christmas.” Travolta and Newton-John will donate the artist proceeds from the album equally to their respective charities – the Jett Travolta Foundation and the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Melbourne, Australia…..Cumulus Media’s WPRO & 99.7 FM, Providence goes live with its web feature documenting Rhode Island’s top “turkeys” of 2012 – the most infamous newsmakers of the year. The station says WPRO reporter Dee DeQuattro created “this interactive click-through that features the most infamous newsmakers of 2012 and some of their failed schemes that have earned them a place on the turkey list…From people who gobbled up your tax dollars to those who got the stuffing knocked out of them this year, 630WPRO.com will have all the juicy details.”
‘Fiscal Cliff,’ Petraeus-Broadwell Scandal, Israel-Hamas Violence, Obama Cabinet Status, and San Francisco Public Nudity Ban Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/19). The challenge Washington faces avoiding broad tax hikes and automatic spending cuts before the New Year; the state of the David Petraeus-Paula Broadwell scandal; escalating violence between Israel and Hamas; changes in the Obama Administration Cabinet; and proposed legislation to limit public nudity in San Francisco were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Praise Pours In for Los Angeles Talk Conference - Video Coverage to Come. It was a packed house sold out two weeks in advance as some 275 talk media broadcasters from across the country, with a distinct emphasis on the Western states, rocked the old Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood this past Thursday (10/11). Approximately 50 speakers — including Robin Bertolucci, Phil Boyce, Kevin Casey, Holland Cooke, Jerry Doyle, Skip Essick, Ian Freeman, Bill Handel, Heidi Harris, Michael Harrison, Ron Hartenbaum, Sam Hasson, Michael Horn, Rusty Humphries, Karel, Mike Kinosian, Kraig Kitchin, Lars Larson, Kevin LaRue, Garret Lewis, Tom Leykis, Andy Ludlum, Carole Marks, Don Martin, Mike McVay, Stephanie Miller, Bob Moore, Bill Moran, Patt Morrison, Harvey Nagler, Norm Pattiz, Ken Rutkowski, Walter Sabo, Brent Seltzer, Dave Sniff, Eric Stanger, Doug Stephan, Shadoe Stevens, Alan Stock, Chuck Tyler, Jeff Wasserman, Eric Weiss, and Michael Zwerling – tackled a variety of hot industry topics including the economic, technological and cultural challenges facing talk radio broadcasters in 2012. This full day event was part two of TALKERS magazine’s new 2012 format in which the New Media Seminar was broken into east and west coast segments. The first was a sellout event held in New York on June 7. The event has drawn praise from numerous attendees including the following quotes:
“Everybody’s talking about what a great day it was!”
- Norm Pattiz, CEO Courtside Entertainment
“A very interesting day of conversation and revelation from a whole lot of people.”
- Kraig T. Kitchin, CEO, Sound Mind
“I was glad I attended.”
- Ron Hartenbaum, CEO, WYD Media
“It struck the perfect balance of schmooze and panel-news and talk!”
- Patt Morrison, KPCC, Los Angeles
“Thanks very much for putting on a great event.”
- Jerry Doyle, TRN
“ It was well worth the trip from England.”
- Graham Mack, BBC, Wiltshire
“An awesome day. It was superb. Can’t wait till the next one.”
- Eric Stanger, VP Operations, Sean Hannity Show/Premiere Networks
“It was great and you know I will be there next time around.”
- Alan Stock, KDWN, Las Vegas
“A hell of a show! Outta da park!”
Dr. Gina Loudon, Host, PolitiChicks
“What a great time I had. The event was a total success.”
- Shadoe Stevens, Host, MentalRadio, SiriusXM
“Great Event !”
- Steve Lehman, Business Rock Stars
“It was a memorable occasion!”
- Sam Hasson, CEO, LATalkRadio.com
TALKERS magazine will provide extensive video coverage of the event including including panels, special presentations and additional interviews conducted on site beginning tomorrow. The photo above is of the “Big Picture” panel featuring (from l-r): Don Martin, Ron Hartenbaum, Phil Boyce, Kraig Kitchin, Mike McVay, Harvey Nagler and moderator Michael Harrison. View a gallery of more photos from the TALKERS New Media Los Angeles here.
Syndicated Talker Lars Larson Say Companies Need to Put Money Back into Programming. In an exclusive audio interview conducted by consultant Holland Cooke at the recent New Media Seminar in Los Angeles, talk show host Lars Larson says that the most important thing he and all talk show hosts need is to have additional resources to bolster the sound and quality of their on-air product. The successful host heard in Portland, Oregon on KXL and nationally via Compass Media Networks says, “If you take care of your listeners they will take care of you, ratings-wise.” Larson also discusses the tenets of what he describes as “talk journalism,” positioning what he does as “information and opinion built from today’s news — solid information, no insanity.” Listen to the complete conversation here.
Journal Broadcast Group Announces “RightWisconsin” Digital Initiative. With WTMJ, Milwaukee talk show host Charlie Sykes taking a leadership role in the new venture, Journal Broadcast Group announces it will soon debut a new blog dedicated to conservative political thought called RightWisconsin. According to a story by Duane Dudek in the Journal-owned Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sykes describes the effort as a “digital community, a rallying point, a one-stop source for conservatives on the front lines here.” Sykes says the blog will have a full-time staff and “multiple platforms including mobile tablet and social media applications.” It also promises commentary from around the state, as Sykes says, “key stories that other media won’t cover.” In the story, Sykes is quoted saying, “We can do all of this because we have the resources of a major media company behind us, including the state’s biggest radio station and top-rated television station. In other words, we have built-in platforms for promotion as well as the infrastructure.” Media Matters called the new venture a “small-scale version” of Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze digital media effort. Journal VP of radio and television Steve Wexler says of Sykes and WTMJ, “One of the reasons we are successful is because of the many things we are able to do…that have nothing to do with politics. The talk shows in the middle of the day are right of center, because that’s where the demand is…I am agnostic as a broadcaster about politics. I look for where there is a demand, and the demand in talk radio is for a more conservative point of view.” There is no start date announced for RightWisconsin but already, the company reports interest from the community based on early reports of the project.
Townsquare Media Flips WENJ-AM, Atlantic City to Talk. The Atlantic City market gets a news/talk outlet as Townsquare Media’s WENJ-AM, drops its simulcast of FM sister 97.3 ESPN South Jersey. According to the Press of Atlantic City, the station will feature regional media personality Harry Hurley in morning drive followed by a slate of syndicated programs that include: Premiere Networks’ Glenn Beck from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm and Sean Hannity from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm; Cumulus Media Networks’ Mark Levin from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm; John Batchelor from 9:00 pm to 1:00 am and “Red Eye Radio” for overnights. The station will also return to its roots by taking back its original call letters WPG. Hurley tells the paper, “The idea is that we are going to have a healthy blend of live and local that people enjoy and some of the biggest names in the country…Glenn Beck is not in this market. Sean Hannity is not in this market. People are going to notice…We just love the idea of going back and reclaiming the heritage of WPG – for a new generation.” The station plans to add more local programming between 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm.
KTRH, Houston Talk Host Michael Berry Fires Up Florida Campaign Effort. Conservative talk show host Michael Berry is responsible for a call-to-action for conservative-minded people who want to spend time in Florida helping those who support Mitt Romney for president get out and vote. Berry states, “I just threw the idea out there, and listeners across the country responded with an overwhelming willingness to do it. I was half kidding, because the logistics of such a trip are a nightmare. But we brought in 50 listeners to volunteer to coordinate this, and what they’ve done is nothing short of amazing.” The leadership created a website within a couple of days — www.WinFlorida2012.org. Since Berry’s flagship station KTRH is in Houston, the group will caravan from there beginning on October 28 and arrive in Pensacola, Florida that night. They will spend the week driving vans to assist locals in voting for Romney during early voting. One KTRH listener, Kyle Coplen, was tapped by Berry to be a vice chairman for the committee, but he was unable to pay his own expenses. With a pregnant wife, and a new business cleaning swimming pools, he wasn’t able to spare the $1,000 from his family’s finances for the trip. Berry offered to pay his expenses for him, but he decided instead to use this as a “teachable moment” and earn the funds through hard work. Coplen says, “I just made a simple flyer, saying ‘Will Work for Romney,’ which I thought was catchy. I put the flyer on the doors of houses that had Romney signs in the yards.” Requests for his work came pouring in, mostly by people impressed by his work ethic and unique need for money. He says he turned down every offer of a donation, explaining that he wanted to earn his way there, “just as we need to earn our way out of our nation’s problems.” Michael Berry states, “The stories of people like Kyle amaze me. There are plenty more. People want to make this country great. They refuse to lose this election. It’s truly inspiring.”
WPHT, Philadelphia’s Chris Stigall Hosts Debate Viewing Parties. On the heels of a successful debate viewing party at the Philly sports bar Chickie’s & Pete’s, WPHT morning host Chris Stigall is taking it one step further for tomorrow’s presidential debate at Hofstra University. WPHT listeners and political debate fans will converge upon the Xfinity Live entertainment district in the sports complex area of Philadelphia (where the Wells Fargo Center, Citizen’s Bank Park, and Lincoln Financial Field are located) to watch the debate on a 32-foot, high definition screen. Stigall and WPHT hosted the previous party at Chickie’s & Pete’s (Stigall is pictured here speaking to KTW-TV from the event) and said it was fun watching presidential debates as you’d watch Sunday afternoon football – complete with bartenders, free appetizers, prizes, and of course wall to wall TVs with the sound blaring. Stigall says the Xfinity Live center is designed for concertgoers and sports fans to gather pre- and post-event and is hopeful for a big, raucous turnout tomorrow night.
Tom Leykis Shows Off Impressive September Online Numbers. No, Tom Leykis won’t actually be playing the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California as the press release teases – but the number of people who sampled the show during three weeks in September – 115,684 – is enough to practically fill the iconic football stadium. Leykis began employing Triton Digital’s Webcast Metrics, which measures unique ip addresses, on September 8. Leykis states, “It’s great to have accreditation for what we are doing. Everyone else who does a show on the net brags about having hundreds of thousands of listeners, but they never put their money where their mouth is.” Leykis, who spoke about his web-based radio program at the TALKERS New Media Seminar in Los Angeles last Thursday (stay tuned for more from that event, including coverage of Leykis’ participation), began his new show on April 2 after a 37-month hiatus from radio. He says, “I figure at the rate we are going, we should have over 175,000 unique people listening to our show every month. Again, these will be accurate and honest numbers, not some random Arbitron sample.”
Beasley Talk Hosts Honored by Street Name; Raise Funds for Military Families. WRXK, Ft. Myers, Florida talk hosts Stan and Haney had the street leading to the Beasley Broadcasting facility in Southwest Florida named after them. More than 200 loyal fans of the program turned out to christen “Stan and Haney Boulevard” and share in live music, food and celebration. The duo turned the event into a worthy cause as proceeds from the sale of “Stan and Haney Blvd.” t-shirts raised $2,100 for the Stan and Haney D.R.A.F.T. Fund. Stan says, “Haney and I started the DRAFT Fund nearly nine years ago along with Captain John Lazzaro (USNR). Thanks to our listeners and the Southwest Florida community we have distributed nearly $40,000 in assistance to local troops and their families.” The duo are pictured here drinking champagne and announcing the unveiling of the new street sign.
Odds & Sods. KDWN, Las Vegas takes home some awards from the Electronic Media Awards held in conjunction with the Nevada Broadcasters Foundation. KDWN morning host Alan Stock is recognized with the “Best Radio Talk Show Host” honor and KDWN program director John Shaffer picks up the “Program Director of the Year” honor as well as the “Best Morning Newscast” award…..SiriusXM broadcast live from New York Comic Con 2012 this weekend. The broadcasts included celebrity interviews, exclusive panels hosted by SiriusXM hosts and fan reactions from the floor – inviting listeners and fans nationwide inside the biggest comics and pop culture convention on the East Coast…..Premiere Networks’ “Coast to Coast AM” broadcast an interesting program over the weekend on Saturday hosted by John B. Wells that included four of the most influential musicians from the dawn of rock and roll. Paul Rodgers of Bad Company and Free, Leslie West of Mountain, Jack Casady of Jefferson Airplane and Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull spoke with Wells discussing living through the heyday of rock and what it was like being at the forefront of a musical movement that is still significant today.
Live from South Bend, Indiana. ESPN Radio’s nationally syndicated morning team Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg broadcast their program from the campus of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana on Friday, October 12. Golic played football at Notre Dame serving as captain of the team during his senior year. His sons Jake and Mike, Jr. currently play for the Fighting Irish and his daughter Sydney is a freshman on the swim team. The duo broadcast in advance of Saturday’s contest between Notre Dame and Stanford from which ESPN’s “College GameDay Built by The Home Depot” also emanated. In the photo, Golic and Greenberg are holding a pair of swim trunks – a gift from Golic’s daughter Sydney’s swim coach.
Bomb Scare Empties CBS Radio Los Angeles for More Than Two Hours. The Wilshire Boulevard studios of CBS Radio’s Los Angeles stations, including all-news KNX and news/talk KFWB were evacuated from about 8:15 am to 10:45 am PT this morning after a promotional clock sent to the station raised suspicions, sent the staff into precautionary mode that brought police and medical personnel to the scene. According to the Orange County Register’s Gary Lycan KNX and K-Earth simulcast sister all-news station in San Francisco, KCBS/740 AM. The other stations switched to alternative programming from servers. Shortly before the all-clear was given, KNX returned to the air full-time from emergency studios on the Paramount Studios lot.
WLS, Chicago’s Don Wade to Undergo Brain Surgery. The morning duo of Don Wade and his wife Roma have been off the air at Cumulus Media’s WLS, Chicago for the past week and now Chicagoans know why. The 71-year-old WLS AM drive host suffered a seizure on September 13 while in New York for his daughter’s wedding. Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder reports Wade will have the surgery to remove a growth from his brain during an operation scheduled for this Thursday and the duo will remain off the air for the next four to six weeks. In the meantime, late-morning hosts Bruce Wolf and Dan Proft will sub on the morning show and Jake Hartford and John Kaas will host the 9:00 am to 11:00 am program.
Northern California Hosts Armstrong & Getty Dive into Islam Controversy. KSTE, Sacramento-based morning drive hosts Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty are putting out a call for not less but more criticism of Islam and the prophet Muhammad on the internet — in a move that runs contrary to the wishes of the Obama Administration. Jack Armstrong, responding to the riots and violence in the Muslim world in response to the short film titled, “Innocence of Muslims,” said on the program, “The only response to this is to flood YouTube and flood the world with cartoons, movies and songs saying bad things about Muhammad until they finally grow up. In other words, free speech.” He questions why the U.S. government is spending money airing ads with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton denouncing the video. “I’m horribly disappointed that there are not thousands of Muhammad mocking videos out there on YouTube right now.”
Journal Broadcast Group Promotes Jeff Falconio to Full Time on WTMJ, Milwaukee. Jeff Falconio has been hosting the “Wisconsin Sports Weekend” show on Journal’s WTMJ, Milwaukee. Now, he’s upped to a full-time position with the station taking over for Trenni Kusnierek (who left for a TV gig at Comcast SportsNet Boston) beginning October 1. Falconio will handle sports anchor duties on the PM drive show on WTMJ and co-host the evening “Sports Central” program with Greg Matzek. In a statement, program director Joe Scialfa says, “We are excited to have Jeff join the sports department in a full-time capacity. Jeff has been a regular fixture covering Wisconsin sports for 15 years. His passion for sports and knowledge of our Wisconsin teams make him the perfect person to continue the strong WTMJ sports tradition.”
More Staff Layoffs at Merlin Media’s Chicago Offices. According to a report in Chicagoland Radio and Media, Merlin Media let go of most of the rest of its off-air staff that had been working at WIQI “FM News 101.1” prior to its return to a music format in July. The site reports writers, reporters and producers Brad Robinson, Safa Eshmawy, Sarah Engel, James Edwards, Michael Cronin, Megan Buckley, Shannon Beverly and Shannon Ward were all released from their positions on Friday, September 21.
WSB-AM/FM, Atlanta Announces Weekend Program for Belinda Skelton. The nationally syndicated Neal Boortz program – emanating from Cox Media’s news/talk giant WSB-AM/FM – is produced by Belinda Skelton (who calls it the “perfect job”). Now Skelton will put her interest (and degree) in interior design and more into play as she hosts “Belinda Skelton’s Atlanta Lifestyles” beginning in January. Cox Media Atlanta market manager Ben Reed defines the show: “Think of Pinterest, Martha Stewart or the Oprah brand where lifestyle can be defined by everything from food, wine and design to family, entertainment, and local events.” On the new show, Skelton says, “I can’t think of something more perfect for me than this show. This speaks to my core being and everything that excites me!” Although Neal Boortz is retiring from full-time radio work in the new year, Skelton will remain his executive producer managing his daily commentary, appearances, and guest hosting duties.
Odds & Sods. WHO, Des Moines afternoon drive talk host Simon Conway fills in this Wednesday through Friday for Premiere Networks’ “America Now with Andy Dean.”…..Talk radio pioneer Bruce Williams, who has been hosting a pre-produced program on the internet via his Made in America Broadcast Network, announces he’ll begin hosting live shows from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET starting tomorrow (9/26) and running for “a couple of weeks.”
NBC Radio’s “Miss Monitor” Dies at 89. Dorothy Ruth “Tedi” Thurman passed away in Palm Springs, California at age 89 on Saturday, September 22. Thurman was a model who came to fame as the sultry “Miss Monitor” on the old NBC Radio Network. She held that position doing the weather from 1957 to 1961. She also was featured as the weather girl on “The Tonight Show” with Jack Paar beginning in 1957.
CNN Stevens Diary Controversy, Obama ‘View’ Appearance, Ahmadinejad Speaks at UN, and Presidential Polls Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/24). The controversy over CNN’s reporting from the journal of slain U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens after telling his family it would wait for permission; President Obama’s planned appearance on ‘The View’; Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the United Nations; and the latest in presidential contest polls were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Chick-fil-A Controversy Fires Up Conservative Talk Hosts; Sparks Movement to Support Fast Food Chain. The issues of gay marriage and First Amendment rights have been front and center on news/talk radio this week in the wake of Chick-fil-A COO Dan Cathy’s comments in a Baptist publication about his support for the Biblical definition of marriage that’s grown into a major news story. Some view his statement as bigoted and divisive while others see this as a free speech issue. The case has spurred planned demonstrations by same-sex couples and their supporters as well as conservative media personalities who have encouraged their listeners and viewers to support the fast food chain. Salem Radio Network talk host Mike Gallagher is pictured here (at left) in his studio preparing to enjoy his Chick-fil-A lunch and has been encouraging listeners to post pictures of themselves eating at the restaurant on Facebook. Salem Communications O&O WNYM, New York – AM 970 The Answer – organized a call for support at the Paramus, New Jersey Mall where the station reports some 200 listeners had lined up by lunchtime to support the store. At right is talk show host Kevin McCullough (l) – whose weekend talk show is heard on WNYM – with Salem VP/director of spoken word format Phil Boyce (r) as they prepare to enjoy a sandwich. In the panoramic photo below. The Answer morning drive host Curtis Sliwa can be seen at the far right speaking with a listener while the line of customers spreads across the photo to the left.
Bill Handel’s “Cash Mob” Supports SoCal Toy Store. A “cash mob” organized by KFI, Los Angeles morning drive host Bill Handel put some $9,000 in the register of struggling Corona del Mar toy store Toy Boat, Toy Boat, Toy Boat. Handel appeared at the store from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm but Handel’s listeners patronized the store all day long after hearing Handel speak on the air about the state of the struggling local business. Handel show executive producer Michelle Kube reports many of the people who bought toys donated them to Children’s Hospital of Orange County. Kube states, “This was just the first. We plan to do more of these across all day parts on KFI over the next few months all over the Southland as our amazing listeners have responded with so many requests to help local small business owners!”
Clear Channel Reports Radio Revenue Up 3%. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment – of course, now a private company but one that still publicly reports financials – gives its 2012 Q2 financial report and states revenue was up from $771.8 million in the second quarter of 2011 to $793 million in the second quarter of this year. CFO Tom Casey reports much of that increase was due to national and in categories including automotive, telecommunications, financial services, political and entertainment. Casey noted that national business rose at roughly double the rate of local business.
Comedian and Stephanie Miller Show Cast Member John Fugelsang Gets Current TV Show. Regular Stephanie Miller radio show cast member – and one third of Miller’s “Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour” – John Fugelsang will have his own Current TV program beginning in the fall. Talk radio host Stephanie Miller’s show is simulcast on the Al Gore-founded cable TV network in which Fugelsang gets some face time, but now he’ll have a solo gig there. In a statement, Al Gore says, “We at Current are eager to bring John’s unique perspective on politics and the world around him to primetime. He’s been a part of the Current family for a while now and we see just how much his voice resonates with our audience. His new show will nicely complement our growing lineup.” Fugelsang has guest-hosted prime time shows on the network including Eliot Spitzer’s and Jennifer Granholm’s programs. The network has not announced what time the show will air.
WQSC, Charleston, South Carolina Flips to Talk. The Kirkman Broadcasting station drops oldies for news/talk and airs largely syndicated programming with the exception of local PM drive host Rocky D. Programming consists of: Cumulus Media Networks’ Imus in the Morning; Salem Radio Network’s Mike Gallagher; Talk Radio Network’s Laura Ingraham; Dial Global’s Dennis Miller and Jim Bohannon; and CBS Radio’s “Overnight America” with Jon Grayson.
California Couple Sentenced in Real Estate Ponzi Scheme; Infomercials Aired on KVTA, Port Hueneme. It’s almost a mystery how stations keep selling infomercials to “investment gurus” who go on to swindle people out of their life savings…but they do. The latest case in this oft-repeating story is that of Kenneth Powell and Kathryn Rose who pleaded guilty to numerous counts of felony fraud related to a real estate investment Ponzi scheme that scammed some $3 million out of 15 people in Southern California. The two broadcast shows called “Academy of Real Estate,” “Money Intelligence” and “The Ken & Katie Show” on KVTA. Investors were asked to put money into real estate development or loans secured by real estate but all investment cash went to pay off previous investors until the scheme went bust. 59-year-old Powell received 18 years in prison and 63-year-old Rose will serve 12 years, 8 months.
Odds ‘n’ Sods. Journal Broadcasting’s news/talk WTMJ, Milwaukee gave away a fully restored 1969 Chevy Camaro (pictured here) to winner Aaron Guenterberg in its annual “Free Ride” promotion that saw more than 10,000 people enter the contest…..A Saturday morning talk show hosted by Tony Stiles debuts on news/talk KOIL, Omaha this Saturday…..Jacksonville-based sports talk show “Courts and Sports,” hosted by attorney John Phillips, moves from WOKV to crosstown WFXJ, Jacksonville on August 9. Phillips’ regular co-host for the program is Jacksonville Jaguars running back Rashad Jennings…..SiriusXM presents “College Sports Nation Camp Tour” on its College Sports Nation channel beginning today. Hosts Eddie George, Gino Torretta, Rick Neuheisel, Houston Nutt, Randy Cross, Gil Brandt, Jack Arute and Mark Packer will visit 13 camps in 16 days and report to listeners.
20 Gallons of Hat. WLAC, Nashville-based talk host Steve Gill (r) is pictured here with music legend Charlie Daniels (l). Daniels appeared on Gill’s syndicated talk program on Tuesday, July 31 and the two talked politics and the state of the country.
Presidential Race, Chick-fil-A Case, Ted Cruz Texas Primary Victory, Fed Economic Report/Financial Markets Activities, and London Olympics Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/1). The campaign for president, the outpouring of support for Chick-fil-A and the issue of same-sex marriage; Tea Party candidate Ted Cruz’s Republican primary victory for U.S. Senate in Texas; the Fed’s economic report and financial markets activities; and the London Olympics were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
WFAN, New York Announces On-Air Schedule for 25th Anniversary. CBS Radio’s pioneering sports talk station WFAN, New York prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary as a sports talk station this Sunday, July 1 with a lineup of many of the personalities who have graced the station’s airwaves over the past quarter-century. Prior to that evening’s Mets-Dodgers game, the station begins its celebration at 9:00 am ET. Here’s the schedule: 9:00 am to 11:00 am — Ed Randall (an original WFAN personality) hosting ‘Talking Baseball’ which will include a look back at 25 years of Mets and Yankees. Mets have been on WFAN since day one, July 1, 1987; 11:00 am to 1:00 pm — The Schmoozer and the Sweater: Steve Somers and Russ Salzberg; 1:00 pm to 1:30 pm — Dave Sims (live from Seattle) with a special guest appearance from his former partner and current Mets beat reporter and Mets pre-game host Ed Coleman; 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm — Chris Carlin with special guest Kim Jones (they co-hosted a 5:00 am to 6:00 am show for a year and Chris also did solo shows plus did sports reports on ‘Imus in the Morning’ and ‘Boomer and Carton’ programs at WFAN); 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm — Len Berman long-time WNBC-TV sports anchor and a former midday host at WFAN; 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm — Spencer Ross (also a former WFAN midday host) currently does weekend sports on CBS Radio sister station 1010WINS. Spencer is well known for calling play-by-play of many New York teams including the Jets, Yankees, Knicks, Rangers and the original New Jersey Americans (later to become the Nets); 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm — Richard Neer, current WFAN host (and TALKERS magazine sports editor) who has been with the station since 1988. Richard has hosted a Saturday morning 6:00 am to 10:00 am show continuously since 1992 and also hosts a variety of other shifts on the station; 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm — Howie Rose and Ed Coleman. Howie hosted nights on The Fan from 1987-1995 then went off to do Mets baseball on TV. He returned to WFAN as the radio play-by-play man for the Mets. Howie called Rangers games on The Fan for a number of seasons and has been doing Islanders play-by-play on TV for the past 17 years; and finally, from 7:00 pm to 7:25 pm — A countdown, in order of the ‘Top New York Sports Moments of the Past 25 Years’ as voted by listeners this past March.
Wisconsin Man Cited for Threat Against Talk Host Vicki McKenna. It’s not unusual for radio talk show hosts to get threats at some point in their careers but this one has an interesting legal twist as the Milwaukee County Sheriff disagrees with the Milwaukee County District Attorney on the charge. According to WTMJ.com, Timothy Demeuse admits to writing about WIBA, Madison-based talk host Vicki McKenna (also heard on Clear Channel’s WISN, Milwaukee) via Facebook the following: “Here’s your real ‘expletive’ death threat ‘expletive.’ Come get me. I don’t even own a gun. I can make as many threats as I want. I hope someone kills you. I am going to shoot you in the face and rape your dead corpse.” District Attorney John Chisholm cited him with disorderly conduct for the threat but Sheriff David Clarke believes the level of the threat requires more than a “parking ticket.” But D.A. Chisholm states, “With Facebook — the difference between posting and sending is significant — it’s legally significant.” He suggests the state legislature needs to change the law for Demeuse’s words to be a greater crime.
Tom Joyner’s Reach Media, Inner City Broadcasting and NABOB Among Groups Promoting Advertising to Blacks. Radio legend Tom Joyner and his Reach Media organization, the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters and Inner City Broadcasting are three of a number of businesses and organizations comprising a black media and marketing consortium involved in launching the #INTHEBLACK campaign to encourage increased investment in the African American consumer marketplace. The consortium states, “African Americans represent over 42 million strong consumers, product talkers and brand influencers with a buying power of nearly $1 trillion annually. By 2015, African American buying power is estimated to gain a whopping 35%, hitting $ 1.2 trillion, up from $913 billion in 2008.” Nielsen reports in its 2011 State of the African American Consumer study, “Between 2000-2009, African American homes have experienced significant growth among households earning $75,000+ (up 63.9%) and households earning $100,000+ (up 88.7%).” The consortium ran a full-page ad in The New York Times on June 25.
Odds ‘n’ Sods. WOAI, San Antonio morning drive host Charlie Parker re-signs with the Clear Channel Media and Entertainment station. Parker has hosted the “San Antonio’s First News” show since 2007…..WPHT, Philadelphia morning personality Chris Stigall hosts former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell in a live event at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Wednesday evening at 7:00 pm. The two will discuss Rendell’s new book A Nation of Wusses: How America’s Leaders Lost the Guts to Make Us Great (Wiley 2012)…..Doug Stephan has a new co-host/producer for his nationally syndicated “Good Day” program. Former WILD, Boston producer Heather Bachman joins Stephan MultiMedia immediately…..Clear Channel Media and Entertainment announces Ryan Clune is named director of sales for the Tucson cluster. He comes from the company’s Denver operations where he served as local sales manager…..Independently syndicated talk show host Leslie Marshall is named one of the ‘Top 30 Hottest Political Women of 2012’ by the WashingtonTimes.com. Editor Eric Golub’s feature is in its fifth year and he writes of Marshall, “She may be the hottest liberal radio host, but with competition from Ed Schultz and Alan Colmes that is not too tough. She is a fierce debater. Her verbal combat skills are matched only by her pleasant nature and warm smile.”….. WPHT, Philadelphia talk host Dom Giordano takes the station’s Charlie Manuel show on the road to The Shops at Liberty Place in Philadelphia today from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm ET. The Philadelphia Phillies manager’s regular appearance on flagship WPHT will also include former Phillies pitcher Ricky Bottalico…..WOR, New York afternoon drive host and former Governor David Paterson hosted two of the three candidates in today’s Republican Senatorial primary election on his show yesterday afternoon. Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos and Congressman Bob Turner appeared on the program. The victor in today’s primary hopes to unseat Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in November.
Holiday Shows Available from Fisher House Foundation. The Fisher House Foundation has two programs available for the Fourth of July holiday season. First, “A Grateful Nation,” the organization’s Memorial Day program has been retrofitted with a Fourth of July theme and is ready for air. The one-hour program features interviews with Medal of Honor recipient Leroy Petry among others. Second, there’s a Fourth of July edition of the Fisher House’s 30-minute weekend public affairs show as well. For information, contact Randall Bloomquist at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Supreme Court Immigration Ruling, Euro Zone Debt Crisis/Financial Markets Activity, 2012 Presidential Race and Syria-Turkey Clash Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/25). The U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s illegal immigration law; the Euro Zone debt crisis and its effect on global financial markets; the 2012 presidential race; and Syria’s downing of a Turkish warplane were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Outstanding Station. WMVP, Chicago – ESPN 1000 – program director Adam Delevitt (r) is pictured here with Illinois Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 5 James Gaddis (l) at the recent Illinois Broadcasters Association awards ceremony. The ESPN O&O was named the Illinois Broadcasters Association’s Major Market National Guard Station of the Year for outstanding service to the National Guard and the Illinois community.
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.”
By Steven J. J. Weisman
BOSTON – With the national political season really heating up now that Mitt Romney has secured sufficient votes to win the Republican nomination for president, a Milwaukee talk radio controversy may have far-reaching implications into the media’s role in the upcoming elections at all levels around the country.
Sue Wilson of the organization Media Action Center has complained to the FCC that five conservative local talk hosts on Milwaukee news/talk stations WISN (Clear Channel) and WTMJ (Journal Broadcasting) have been providing time to and actively promoting Republican candidates, including recruiting volunteers for Republican Governor Scott Walker who faces a recall election tomorrow (6/5).
Latest Cable News/Talk Ratings Not Good for CNN. The April Nielsens are not being kind to cable news/talk network CNN. The channel’s total-day viewership average was 357,000 – down 21% compared to the same period in 2011. Ratings in that category haven’t been this low for CNN since August of 2001. “Anderson Cooper 360” led the decline in shows down 26% with 522,000 total viewers in the 10:00 pm ET slot. Other CNN shows with declines in April were: “John King USA” – down 24%; “Erin Burnett Out Front” – down 22%; and “Starting Point” – down 26%. Fox News Channel remains firmly in first place for April with a total-day viewership average of 1.1 million (up slightly) and MSNBC stays in second place with an unchanged 425,000.
Keith Larson Stays with WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte After All. Last week WBT-AM/FM Charlotte late-morning host Keith Larson told his listeners his days with the Greater Media station may be numbered because the station was unwilling to extend his contract but was willing to keep him on the radio as an at-will employee. At the time he said he wasn’t sure he wanted to do that. A week later, he tells the Charlotte Observer he and WBT management have struck a deal to keep him with the station, though he wouldn’t give details about their agreement. He does say, “I’m very happy to be plugging away at WBT. We had a good conversation this week. I’m happy to continue eye-poking at WBT and looking forward to developing Larson Advertising and Media as well.”
WQXI, Atlanta Merges Two Midday Shows into One. Lincoln Financial Media sports talk outlet 790 The Zone – WQXI – combines the “Two Live Stews” show featuring Doug and Ryan Stewart with the Tony Barnhart and Wes Durham show to make “The Red Zone” airing from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. This move comes a week after the station announced it was extending “Mayhem in the AM” to 11:00 am and moving Archer and Bell up an hour to the 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm time slot. As the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho reported last week, Barnhart and Durham have been the highest-rated show on the station lately but they have other professional obligations which make them all but unavailable during May and June. The “Stews’” ratings haven’t been what they once were and they are not as prominently featured by the station as they used to be. The Stewarts’ agent, Norm Schrutt, acknowledges to the AJC that he’s not happy with the new arrangement but says Doug and Ryan are “team players” and are doing what they are asked. The new show is expected to have a rotating cast of characters along with the four principal hosts. WQXI general manager Andrew Saltzman tells the paper, “This is more topic driven and less specifically host driven.”
Wisconsin Group Seeks Conservative Talk Radio’s Help in Preventing Recall of Governor. An ad hoc group of Wisconsin business people has formed an organization called Businesses for Wisconsin Jobs with the goal of getting conservative talk radio shows from Milwaukee and Madison to be aired in the northern and western parts of the state in hopes those shows will reach enough people to prevent the recall of Governor Scott Walker and other politicians. An article by Brien Farley for Heartland.org, points out how Walker and others have credited conservative talk shows such as WTMJ, Milwaukee’s Charlie Sykes and WIBA, Madison’s Vicki McKenna helped them get elected via their conservative messages. The group hopes to convince other stations in the state to add such shows to their lineups in order to get a conservative message to key voters. WISN, Milwaukee program director Jerry Bott is quoted in the piece saying, “Hosts on conservative talk radio affect public opinion by making a convincing case that conservative principles are powerful, proper and effective. This has an effect on public opinion in areas where conservative talk radio can be heard which, in turn, provides a fertile environment for conservatives seeking public office to be elected.” So far the group claims to have had success getting Vicki McKenna’s program added to WMEQ, Menomonie in the northwestern part of the state. The recall election of Governor Walker takes place June 5.
Stitcher Launches 2012 Election Center to Serve Demand for Political Audio Content. Digital spoken-word content provider Stitcher Smart Radio is targeting users interested in the 2012 political season with the creation of the 2012 Election Center. Stitcher says the channel allows “users to easily follow, listen and engage with political candidates, commentators, pundits and topics that interest them most. From podcasts and candidate speeches, to exclusive content on hot trending topics, listeners can now stay up-to-date on all things election related from one central audio hub.” Stitcher CEO Noah Shanok says, “There’s an avalanche of coverage during election season and it can be tough to get the best information when you need it. We’re rolling out trending topics on demand, a first in the industry. We see this as part of our mission to further the evolution of radio by making it more relevant and accessible than ever.” The service features audio messages directly from the campaigns, commentary from major broadcasters such as Fox News Channel, NPR and CBS News plus the service is integrated with Facebook. Stitcher is employing a transcription technology so users can literally search the bevy of available audio for specific topics by typing in key words. Content creators get feedback from Stitcher about the about the most-sought-after topics.
Nikki Sixx’s Personality-Intensive Show to Air Mornings on KEGL-FM, Dallas. The Premiere Networks distributed “Sixx Sense with Nikki Sixx” show will be heard in AM drive on Clear Chanel Media and Entertainment’s KEGL-FM, Dallas beginning May 7. The talk-intensive rock radio show featuring Motley Crue star Nikki Sixx and Kerri Kasem airs in evenings on 90-plus affiliate stations. Now, Premiere will create a customized morning show for KEGL-FM. In a statement, Premiere says, “Each morning on “Sixx Sense,” Sixx will discuss music and lifestyle topics as he gives listeners an exclusive look at the world and mind of a rock star…Sixx will provide his unique perspective and attitude as the duo welcomes celebrity guests, recording artists and fascinating characters from all walks of life.” Sixx himself is quoted saying, “Bringing ‘Sixx Sense’ to mornings has always been our goal. Who better to start your morning with than a rock star and a hot chick? It’s a dream come true to have a morning show on one of America’s best rock stations.”
Odds ‘n’ Sods. Sports WBNS-FM, Columbus promotions director Todd Reigle takes his bicycle on a five-day ride from Sylvania, Ohio to Cincinnati – an event called the Honor Ride Ohio – to try to reach his goal of raising $100,000 for six veterans’ organizations. The ride will take place from June 30 to July 4…..ESPN’s Mike Greenberg pays his “gambling debt” to co-host Mike Golic on May 8 as loser of the “Mike & Mike” show’s March Madness “Sheets of Integrity Challenge.” Greenberg will dance to “Livin’ the Vida Loca” live on the ESPN Radio program (simulcast on cable’s ESPN 2) with professional dancer Anna Trebunskaya who’s appeared on the “Dancing with the Stars” franchise…..Former University of Florida quarterback Chris Leak (who led the team to a National Championship) joins SiriusXM’s College Sports Nation sports channel where he’ll host “College Sports Coast-to-Coast” along with Chris Childers several nights a week…..Clear Channel Media and Entertainment partners with the Ad Council to promote the anti-childhood obesity campaign We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition). The effort involves airing and making visible online a number of public service announcements…..Attorney Ed Gadrix debuts a new weekly talk show on WNJC, Washington Township, New Jersey called “The Eddie Esq. Show.” Gadrix says the goal of his show is to involve more fathers in custody after divorces. Gadrix states, “Divorce courts and the legal system are destroying the next generation of Americans and I hope our new talk show opens up an entirely new dialogue toward changing that system…unless we take a different approach to handling divorce and custody matters, we’re doomed to continue creating children who grow into dysfunctional adults and families.”
2012 Presidential Race, U.S.-Afghanistan Security Agreement, John Edwards Trial, Chinese Activist Case, Junior Seau Death, French Political Situation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/2). The 2012 presidential race; the newly signed U.S.-Afghanistan security agreement; the testimony from John Edwards’ trial on campaign corruption charges; blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng’s appeal to the U.S. to leave China; former NFL star Junior Seau’s apparent suicide; and Nicolas Sarkozy’s fight for his political life in France were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Fox Sports L.A. Meets New Dodgers Owners. KLAC, Los Angeles – AM 570 Fox Sports L.A. covered yesterday morning’s press conference with the new Los Angeles Dodgers ownership — Guggenheim Baseball Management Team. PM drive hosts Petros Papadakis (r) and Matt “Money” Smith (l) are pictured here interviewing L.A. Lakers great Magic Johnson (c), a member of the new ownership group.
“Olbermann, You Blew it!” Those are the word of TALKERS columnist Mona “The Lip” Lipschitz as she castigates former Current TV talent Keith Olbermann for his messy exit from Current and his mega-million dollar suit against the fledgling network. Lipschitz calls Olbermann out stating, “At least Al Gore is attempting to widen the commercial media platform available to progressive talkers in this country, not to mention sign you to a big fat friggin’ contract with enough dough that could keep countless of the families you claim to be so concerned about under their roofs and fed through this economic and political crisis.” Read more of Lipschitz’s searing analysis of the Olbermann-Current blow-up here.
Dallas Talk Radio Institution Mark Davis at Contract Loggerheads with Cumulus Media. WBAP-AM/FM, Dallas talk radio host Mark Davis writes on his blog that his status with the Cumulus Media-owned news/talk station is “not departure, but impasse.” He confirms his contract with the station has expired and he has been off the air all this week – his contract expired last Friday – as a result of his and the company’s inability to come to terms on a new deal. Cumulus Media is not responding to requests for comment. Davis hosts the late morning program between AM drive and Rush Limbaugh’s midday show. Cumulus operates both WBAP-AM/FM and news/talk KLIF in the market and industry watchers are wondering how the debut of Cumulus Media Networks’ Mike Huckabee program will affect the programming on the stations. One would assume Cumulus wants to see Huckabee’s show in a major market like Dallas although WBAP carries Limbaugh – aired live at the same time as the new Huckabee show – and it’s not clear how much time is left on the Premiere Networks program’s contract with WBAP. Mark Davis, with WBAP since 1994, also writes a weekly column for the Dallas Morning News and appears on local TV on “Inside Texas Politics” on WFAA-TV and KDFW-TV.
Les Brown Exits KFWB, Los Angeles. Motivational speaker Les Brown has exited his role with KFWB, Los Angeles after a little more than a year on the air. Program director Andy Ludlum confirms his exit to the Orange County Register’s Gary Lycan. “Les Brown came to us and said he wanted to leave his KFWB show when his contractual term expired at the end of March. While Les has enjoyed his role as host of one the nation’s only positive radio shows, he’s been feeling his calling is beyond that of a local radio show host. He is being asked by number of companies and organizations to re-energize his role as an international motivational speaker and Les has come to the conclusion that is a better route to the national and international stage he has in mind. There may be more media in his future but he’s thinking national syndication rather than local radio.” Brown’s program aired from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm and the station has extended Dave Ramsey’s show by one hour and is beginning its PM drive news programming an hour earlier to make up the difference.
Journal Broadcasting’s WTMJ, Milwaukee Deals with Controversy as Staffers Sign Governor Walker Recall Petition. Journal Broadcasting is acting swiftly to quell the controversy over some of its news staffers having signed the petition to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Journal issued a statement that says: “TODAY’S TMJ4 and Newsradio 620 WTMJ discovered that several members of our staff signed the recall petitions for Governor Walker. Some of those employees play a role in our news gathering and editorial process. Several of them also work on-air: One at TODAY’S TMJ4; four at Newsradio 620 WTMJ. We want you to know that we consider this a serious issue. We are in the process of dealing with it internally. Our reputation of being a fair and unbiased news source is of paramount importance to both TODAY’S TMJ4 and Newsradio 620 WTMJ. We expect anyone involved in the production of news to avoid situations that could compromise our integrity. We don’t allow news employees to sign nomination papers for candidates, display yard signs or take part in a political campaign. However, many employees told us that they felt signing the recall petition was not a political act, but instead felt it was similar to casting a vote. WTMJ does not agree and we want to assure you, our listeners, that we are taking measures to make sure all of our reporting is fair, balanced and to ensure something like this does not happen again.”
Tom Leykis Fans Crash Website as Talk Icon Debuts Internet Program. Tom Leykis got back behind the microphone for the first time in more than three years after CBS Radio blew up his old home base of KLSX-FM, Los Angeles. This time Leykis is broadcasting via the internet on his longtime blowmeuptom.com domain and the response from Leykis fans was enough to crash the servers during its debut broadcast on Monday, April 2. Leykis e-mails the OC Register’s Gary Lycan to report, “It was amazing. Fortunately, each 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm show repeats until the next one airs. The easiest, fastest solution to listen right away is to go to TuneIn.com and search for ‘Leykis.’”
SiriusXM Signs Multi-Year Deal with Major League Baseball to Broadcast Games. MLB has had a deal with the original XM Satellite Radio since its inception. This new contract allows MLB games to be heard via the SiriusXM Internet Radio App, via SiriusXM.com and, for satellite radio listeners who have the XM Satellite service. Major League Baseball Advanced Media senior vice president Kenny Gersh states, “SiriusXM has been a valuable partner in connecting its subscribers with the tradition of baseball on the radio and this agreement adds an important distribution platform, alongside our own products including Gameday Audio and At Bat, for fans to enjoy listening to the radio broadcasts of Major League Baseball games via the internet.”
ESPN’s Mike & Mike to Broadcast from World Champion St. Louis Cardinals’ Home Opener. ESPN Radio’s Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic will broadcast the national radio and cable TV simulcast of their morning drive program live from Busch Stadium in St. Louis on Friday, April 13. Local affiliate, Hubbard Broadcasting’s WXOS-FM, St Louis – 101 ESPN – will be holding a listener contest in conjunction with the special “Mike & Mike” broadcast so that local fans can be a part of the television and radio broadcast. This intimate broadcast is not open to the public; however, five lucky 101 ESPN listeners can win a pair of VIP passes to attend this event by entering to win at the station’s website.
WZIM-FM, Bloomington, Illinois Flips to Sports. Zimmer/Great Plains Media drops classic hits on WZIM-FM (licensed to Lexington, Illinois) and uses programming from Fox Sports Radio Network plus Premiere Networks’ Jim Rome. That station also will air Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox baseball and plans to carry Indianapolis Colts football. Robert Rees is serving as program director for the station.
“Afternoon Constitutional” Show Features Local GOP Debate Series. The WCHV, Charlottesville, Virginia-based “Afternoon Constitutional” program – hosted by Joe Thomas and syndicated regionally – is airing weekly shows on Mondays beginning April 9 through that state’s GOP primary in June featuring candidates for U.S. Senate. Thomas tells TALKERS magazine, the show is called “4 Your Approval” and the four candidates for the Senate nomination (former Governor and Senator George Allen, former TEA Party chair Jamie Radtke, General Assembly Delegate Bob Marshall and former radio show host and bishop E.W. Jackson) will answer a four-question gauntlet from himself, co-host Nikki Lewis and listener submissions. Thomas states, “We have a difficult choice but we believe that honest competition will bring forth the best candidate for our listeners.”
GOP Primaries/2012 Presidential Campaign Returns to Top of Talkers TenTM Weekly Chart. The Republican primary race and the greater 2012 presidential campaign were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio during the week of April 2-6, according to ongoing research from TALKERS. Following at #2 was the Supreme Court’s review of President Obama’s Patient Accessibility and Affordable Care Act. At #3 was the federal budget proposed by Congressman Paul Ryan and at #4 was skyrocketing gas prices. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio and is published at Talkers.com every Friday. View the entire chart here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. WBSM, New Bedford, Massachusetts adds Salem Radio Network’s Mike Gallagher show…..Dr. Daliah Wachs gets her daily program added to WFAS-FM, Bronxville, New York…..The Wall Street Journal Radio Network’s “The Daily Wrap with Michael Castner” picks up KPUA, Hilo, Hawaii…..WYD Media’s Thom Hartmann joins WGUN, Atlanta…..Ed Schultz is added to Rivers Radio’s WGUN, Atlanta…..Tom Gresham’s “Gun Talk” is added to the program lineup at WZFG, Fargo; KEUN, Eunice, Louisiana; and KMAM/KMOE-FM, Butler, Missouri.
WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte Prepares to Celebrate 90th Anniversary on April 10. If you think you’ve been reading about a lot of 90th anniversaries here at TALKERS lately, it’s not your imagination. The government handed out a lot of radio licenses in 1922 when the popular new commercial medium was really taking off. Greater Media’s WBT signed on April 10, 1922 from its original studio location in a chicken coop behind the Charlotte Country Club. The station has claimed to be the second commercial station in the country and the first in the Southeast. The accompanying photo seen here is one of the station’s first control boards. There is a cool video presentation on the history of WBT at the station’s website here.
Surprise Cuts Across the Board at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment. In the past when Clear Channel or other big broadcasters have made sweeping reductions in their workforces there have been hints they were coming. This one seems to have surprised industry watchers. Clear Channel vice president Angel Aristone released the following statement about the cuts. “We are constantly evaluating our organization and structure to make sure we are as well positioned as possible to continue to lead in the evolving marketplace. We’ve been looking closely at our business to ensure that we are properly staffed and operating as efficiently as possible with the right balance of services and personnel to meet the needs of our listeners/consumers. Like every successful business, our strategy continues to evolve as we move forward as a company and that creates some new jobs, and unfortunately eliminates others. In the process, some employees were affected. These are never easy decisions to make; we thank them for their service and wish them all the best for the future.” This round of cuts affected mostly mid-sized markets including Columbus, Jacksonville, Nashville, Cincinnati, Portland, Louisville, West Palm Beach and Minneapolis. There was also a restructuring of the company’s Total Traffic operation. Some of the folks from the news and talk formats ousted include: WTAM, Cleveland weekend host Bob Becker; WTOK, Oklahoma City news director Jerry Bohnen; WISN, Milwaukee producer Jason Booth; WPOP, Hartford producer Richard Cooke; WTVN, Columbus news staffer Matt Demczyk; KEX, Portland news staffer Jeff Kirsch; KEX, Portland news anchor Mary Loos; WTOK, Oklahoma City talk host Greg Moore; WLAC, Nashville program director Tom Peace; and WTVN, Columbus sports anchor Dan Watson.
Cumulus Media Ousts Michael Damsky from WLS, Chicago President/GM Post. Cumulus Media COO John Dickey flew into Chicago to deliver the news to Michael Damsky in person that the company is “going in a different direction.” Damsky was brought on board by Citadel in the fall of 2008 as director of sales and promoted to GM in 2010 and charged with turning around news/talk WLS and sister classic hits WLS-FM. Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder reports he was apparently largely successful but also notes that both sales and ratings have declined over the past six months since Cumulus took over the former Citadel stations. Damsky is quoted saying, “I’m extremely proud of what we were able to accomplish in three-and-a-half years. When I took over as general manager, WLS-AM was without direction. We brought in great talent and worked hard to showcase them. And WLS-FM withstood the attack of a serious competitor a year ago and is stronger now than ever before.” Cumulus has not named a successor for Damsky.
Former Clear Channel Exec Dave Crowl Hired by Cumulus. Dave Crowl will be based out of Cumulus’ Chicago offices as he comes aboard to take the regional vice president post in which he’ll oversee operations and sales in the Midwest region. Crowl served as senior VP of operations with Clear Channel until being let go in a surprise restructuring of executives in May of last year.
Tom Leykis Preps Fans for Monday Return. Monday, April 2 will mark the return of Tom Leykis to a regularly scheduled talk program for the first time since CBS Radio blew up his home base of hot talk KLSX-FM, Los Angeles in February of 2009. Since that time, Leykis has been busy creating music programming and other content for the web via his company The New Normal. He’ll be broadcasting the new Tom Leykis program at 3:00 pm PT on the web on Monday. Leykis is streaming his show via a number of urls including his blowmeuptom.com. He’s signed with TuneIn for delivery to smartphones and tablets and will also offer archived and special content to premium subscribers, although he says the live show and repeats of the previous day’s show will remain available for free.
Journal’s WTMJ, Milwaukee Extends Deal with MLB’s Brewers. The story from the Journal-owned Milwaukee Journal Sentinel doesn’t give a lot of contract details but reports both the baseball club and WTMJ were very interested in continuing their relationship and the team wasn’t even interested in going out to bid when the contract expired. Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger tells the paper they had meetings with WTMJ management about the direction of the relationship, “The conversations were, I would say, spirited. We had a lot of thoughts, as they did, about what they wanted to see out of the relationship. It’s not just economics these days. There is a whole range of marketing, branding, programming, production and financial arrangements. From those discussions we found enough common ground that we were able to forge a new extension. It was somewhat of a different environment than the last time.”
KGMZ-FM, San Francisco Adds Giants Posey and Cain for Weekly Appearances. Entercom’s FM sports talker KGMZ-FM, San Francisco announces the regular weekly appearances of San Francisco Giants players Buster Posey and Matt Cain on the afternoon show “The Drive” with Brandon Tierney and Eric Davis. The Giant Connection will take place every Tuesday at 4:30 pm. Program director Jason Barrett states, “Buster Posey and Matt Cain will give San Francisco Giants fans the superstar perspective they crave, from the pitcher’s mound to behind home plate and definitely inside the clubhouse. They’ve made the switch to FM and we’re so proud to be the only radio station in the Bay Area where Giants fans can hear Buster and Matt talking Giants baseball.”
KILT, Houston Adds Texan Arian Foster for Weekly Show This Fall. Houston Texan Arian Foster will be heard on CBS Radio’s sports talk KILT this fall for his weekly radio show. He’s jumping from crosstown Yahoo! Sports-affiliated KGOW where he co-hosted the show last year with Bob Berger. Beginning in September, he’ll appear with Texans director of radio broadcasting Marc Vandermeer. KILT is the team’s flagship station. Foster’s Tuesday evening show is one of the media offerings the NFL team is programming and selling since its new deal with KILT in which the team takes its media programming and sales in house.
ObamaCare Supreme Court Arguments Top News/Talk Story for Week of March 26-30. This week’s Supreme Court hearings of arguments about the constitutionality of President Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act were the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS. The issue landed atop the Talkers TenTM chart of the week’s most-discussed stories and people on news/talk radio. At #2 this week was the Trayvon Martin case. At #3 was the GOP primary and the 2012 presidential campaign and at #4 was rising gas prices tied with President Obama’s attack on big oil. The Talkers TenTM chart is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View the entire chart here.
Support for Captured Soldier. KIDO, Boise morning drive talk show host Kevin Miller recently broadcast live from a local Krispy Kreme store where more than 300 listeners stopped by to sign the giant birthday card (pictured here) for Hailey, Idaho native Bowe Bergdahl. Military authorities believe Bergdahl is still being held by the Taliban in Pakistan and he is believed to be the only POW from the Afghanistan conflict. Bergdahl made news late last year after reports of his attempted escape from captivity in late August or September of 2011. He was free for three days but was recaptured. Bergdahl was taken by the Taliban in June of 2009.
Cumulus Reports Net Revenue Down 5.6% in Fourth Quarter of 2011; Company High on Geraldo and Huckabee. Cumulus Media Group CEO Lew Dickey and chief financial officer J.P. Hannan appeared together on yesterday’s conference call to tell analysts the company’s plans for consolidating the former Cumulus Media Partners (former Susquehanna stations) it brought into the fold in August and the former Citadel stations it closed on in September are coming together allowing them to realize the “synergies” — $10.5 million worth — within the time frame originally predicted. As far as revenue is concerned, the company saw revenue down only 1% if you exclude political advertising from Q4 one year prior. Dickey told analysts there was growth in the automotive, financial services and retail sectors in Q4 and he – like many – expects this to be a big year for political dollars. Dickey addressed the coming launch of the Mike Huckabee program and stopped short of saying Cumulus could capitalize on Rush Limbaugh’s current PR challenge but told analysts his company sees a real upside for the April launch of Huckabee’s program for which it says it has about 110 affiliates lined up already. Dickey also said that Geraldo Rivera – currently heard on WABC, New York and KABC, Los Angeles only – is ripe for national syndication and calls the New York and Los Angeles placement a “precursor” to a national rollout.
Rush Limbaugh Takes Monday Off; Premiere Networks Suspends Airing of Barter Spots for Two Weeks. Things are quieting down with regard to the Rush Limbaugh-Sandra Fluke controversy but El Rushbo took yesterday (3/12) off to play golf with regular fill-in Mark Steyn sitting in the host’s chair. Public relations and crisis management expert Brian Glicklich is working with Limbaugh’s team and it sounds as though the day off was probably his idea. At the same time, Premiere Networks issued a memo to traffic departments at news/talk affiliates and is suspending the requirement that stations run barter spots – the ones that air in addition to the network spots actually contained within Limbaugh’s and other Premiere shows – for this week and next. Premiere gives no reason for this but one could surmise it doesn’t want to have any clients’ spots air within “controversial programming” and a cool down period like this will allow it to get a handle on where these spots are to air and where they should not.
Curtis Media Blows Up “FM Talk 101.1” WZTK-FM; Programming Changes Affect WPTF, Raleigh and WSJS, Winston-Salem. Curtis Media shocks the news/talk world with the sudden announcement that eight-year-old FM talker WZTK-FM, Burlington – serving both the Triad and Triangle markets of North Carolina is signing off its talk format and will re-emerge within a few weeks. But some of the talent heard on WZTK-FM is being spread out among Curtis Media’s other news talkers in the Raleigh-Durham and Winston-Salem/High Point/Greensboro markets. Here’s what’s happening: First, in the Triangle market of Raleigh-Durham, Curtis drops country on WKIX at 850 AM and will operate two outlets – NewsRadio 680 WPTF and TalkRadio 850 WPTF. WPTF VP/GM David Stuckey states, “NewsRadio 680 WPTF is where people will hear about the big events of the day, while TalkRadio 850 WPTF is where they’ll talk about those stories.” Stuckey says that while WPTF has proudly conservative roots dating back to 1924, the two stations will strive for balanced news coverage and an open exchange of all opinions across the ideological spectrum. “Unlike some media outlets, we’re not going to force-feed the same political agenda ad nauseum. We’ve seen ratings slippage on stations and channels with a hard-leaning approach, and more advertisers are telling us they want media platforms that are less toxic and more civil.” As far as talent is concerned, Brad Krantz and Britt Whitmire survive the cut at WZTK-FM and will host PM drive on WPTF and WSJS. Dial Global’s Neal Boortz and Clark Howard are also landing on WPTF and WSJS. Shows that “didn’t make the cut” include local host Allan Handelman, TRN’s Michael Savage and Phil Hendrie and Fox News Radio’s Alan Colmes.
Larry King to Host Show on Internet TV Network. American television and radio icon Larry King is returning to the interview desk with a start-up online TV network called Ora.TV being financed by Mexican media mogul Carlos Slim. A debut date for the site has not been announced yet but the Ora.TV website says it’s coming this year. The site states, “From its inception, Ora is an internet-based on-demand network producing a wide range of programs that transcend traditional formats. Our programs will resemble broadcast TV in terms of quality, but viewers will watch when and where they like with interactive capability.” Former News Corp. president of digital journalism Jon Housman will lead the network.
Journal Broadcasting’s WTMJ, Milwaukee Holds “Insight 2012” with Major Political Guests. The annual “Insight 2012” program hosted by WTMJ, Milwaukee talk host Charlie Sykes has become a must-listen for Wisconsin political aficionados the morning after it takes place. The actual event is a ticket-holder-only live event the night prior – in this year’s case, last night. Sykes hosted fellow WTMJ host Jeff Wagner and other journalists plus Wisconsin State Senate candidates Jeff Fitzgerald, Tommy Thompson, Mark Neumann and Eric Hovde. Also appearing were U.S. Representatives Paul Ryan, Reid Ribble and Sean Duffy along with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Last evening’s event is being re-broadcast this morning from 8:30 am to 12:00 noon on WTMJ.
Tribune’s WGN, Chicago Signs on with TuneIn. The “Voice of Chicago” can now be heard around the world via the free, internet service TuneIn, which boasts 30 million monthly active listeners. TuneIn vice president of programming Kevin Straley says, “WGN is known all over the country and has a rich history in Chicago. Our goal is to share all of the best programming from around the world with over 30 million monthly listeners, and partnering with WGN brings us one step closer to that goal.”
KDKA-FM, Pittsburgh Announces Pirates Broadcast Talent. CBS Radio’s KDKA-FM, Pittsburgh announces former Chicago Cubs third baseman Kevin Orie will be paired with radio host Dan Zangrilli to handle the game-day shows before and after each Pirates baseball game throughout the season. The two will host a one-hour preview program and a one-hour post-game show. Pirates broadcasters (Greg Brown, Tim Neverett, Steve Blass, Bob Walk, and John Wehner) will continue to be featured during the pre- and post-game shows, as well as calling all the action during the games.
Report: 3MTR Abandons Talk Format in Melbourne. TALKERS Australia bureau chief Trevor Smith reports on the demise of talkback radio 3MTR in Melbourne. Smith notes the station had been having financial difficulties for months and was unable to compete with Melbourne’s talk 3AW. Read more here.
Afghan Civilian Massacre, 2012 Presidential Race, HBO Palin Movie, Rush Limbaugh Controversy and Iran Nukes Issue Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/12). The case of a U.S. Army sergeant who killed 16 civilians in Afghanistan; the GOP candidates’ battle to win the nomination to face President Obama in November; HBO’s “Game Change” film about Sarah Palin and the 2008 presidential race; the ongoing controversy surrounding Rush Limbaugh; and the Iran nuclear weapons issue were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Phil Hendrie Walks the Red Carpet. Sure, he’s not wearing a glitzy, designer gown but he is walking on a red carpet! That’s Talk Radio Network personality Phil Hendrie at the Los Angeles Animation Festival on Saturday, March, 10. Hendrie – whose voice appears in numerous animated films and TV programs – was a cast member in Trey Parker’s and Matt Stone’s “Team America” film. Hendrie states, “I was happy to be involved in any way that I could, because that was a great work experience for me…Every time that it’s mentioned that I was in ‘Team America,’ people instantaneously recognize it. They know the voice of I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E., they know the voice of the terrorist, they know the film, so it’s like my instant credibility button.”
Unapologetic Progressive Talk Media Star Ed Schultz Wins Hubert Humphrey Award from Teachers Union; Forging Ahead Undaunted in Election Year. Progressive talk media icon Ed Schultz – seen nightly on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show” and heard daily on his nationally syndicated Dial Global radio program – recently accepted the 2012 Hubert Humphrey Humanitarian Award from the United Federation of Teachers at the organization’s Social Studies Conference on February 4. Schultz was recognized for his work backing the stance of teachers unions in 2011. Schultz says, “I’m just excited to receive this award and I’m very appreciative of the recognition. We’ve worked hard in supporting teachers and public education and to have my name on the same plaque with Hubert Humphrey is certainly an honor.” Schultz tells TALKERS magazine he makes no apologies for the fact that he operates a political talk show and he sees his role as disseminating the truth about President Obama’s record. “I think people listening to liberal talk want to see the president defended. There’s been so much negativity…I think we end up becoming a filtering house on what is the truth and what is the record.” From an industrial standpoint, Schultz says he believes his program has all the elements it needs to keep an audience interested and he points to his nine years of success as proof. He takes the opportunity to question the political motives of major broadcasting operators. “There are companies out there that will not program any type of progressive talk. You have a ceiling of maybe 100 stations, you have some independent owners out there…it’s still a right-wing industry. Whether it’s Obama’s re-election campaign, no candidate is going to change the landscape of who owns signals.” Schultz’s anger about the misconceptions he believes the radio industry holds about the potential of progressive talk is hard to miss. He tells TALKERS, “Don’t give me this garbage that we don’t sell because we do, and I’m tired of that conversation. I was supposed to last 90 days; I’m in year number nine.”
KFI, Los Angeles Suspends John and Ken for Whitney Houston Comments. The Orange County Register’s Gary Lycan tips TALKERS that Clear Channel’s KFI, Los Angeles is suspending PM drive duo John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou for comments about Whitney Houston. The station says, “Effective immediately, KFI AM 640 hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou have been suspended for making insensitive and inappropriate comments about the late Whitney Houston. KFI AM 640 management does not condone, support or tolerate statements of this kind.” John Kobylt says in the statement, “We made a mistake and we accept the station’s decision. We used language that was inappropriate and we sincerely apologize to our listeners and to the family of Ms. Houston.” During a discussion of Houston’s passing and reported drug abuse John Kobylt said, “At some point you’re just sick of it all, and so is everybody else in the industry. All her friends and hangers on, everybody who knew had to deal with her. It’s like ‘Ah Jesus…here comes the crack ho again, what’s she gonna do? Ah look at that she’s doin’ handstands next to the pool. Very good crack ho…’ After while everybody’s exhausted. And then you find out she’s dead. It’s like, ‘Really? Took this long?’” The station reports John and Ken will return to the air on February 27.
Clear Channel Houston Talk Host Michael Berry Embroiled in Bizarre Legal Tangle Stemming from Alleged Hit-and-Run. KTRH, Houston talk show host and former Houston city councilman Michael Berry is being accused of hitting another car outside a bar in Houston and taking off. The accuser is the owner of the car that got hit but the complicating circumstances are the pub in question is a well-known gay bar in the city and the establishment’s security cameras appear to confirm the conservative Berry was inside the bar. What’s complicating the issue further is the allegation the city’s hit-and-run division did not investigate the incident fully, perhaps because it involved Berry. KPRC-TV reports the Harris County District Attorney’s office met with Houston Police Department officials for three hours on February 16 asking officers involved why a full investigation wasn’t done. Police are being asked to reinvestigate the matter. Berry said on his radio show that he can’t talk about it but that listeners should “just trust that there are two sides to every story.” At issue according to KPRC-TV is that several witnesses say they told police they saw Berry behind the wheel but authorities maintain they were not told that during the initial investigation after which they decided not to file charges.
The Fox News-Media Matters Battle Heats Up; The Daily Caller Reports MM’s Tax Exempt Status Under Scrutiny. The non-profit Media Matters for America organization makes no bones about its campaign against Fox News and its programming. In May of last year the organization created the DropFox.com website designed to convince advertisers to end marketing campaigns on the cable news/talk channel. Now, The Hollywood Reporter writes that Tucker Carlson and Neil Patel-founded The Daily Caller is supplying Fox News with “ammunition” from its own reporting alleging Media Matters “coordinates its messages with the White House, a no-no for a tax-exempt organization that claims to be nonpartisan.” The Daily Caller also claims Republican lawmakers are looking into the tax status of Media Matters. Tucker Carlson is a regular contributor to Fox News Channel and this relationship led the news and opinion blog Mediaite to ask if Fox and The Daily Caller are working to together to which Fox told Mediaite, “There is absolutely no coordination with The Daily Caller” and Fox doesn’t know what is motivating Carlson’s timing on the reporting. The Daily Caller promises the next in the series about Media Matters alleges the organization has written scripts for NBC News.
Stacy Taylor Weekend Program to Leave KGO, San Francisco. Rich Lieberman 415 Media reports San Diego-based talk host Stacy Taylor is off the weekend schedule at Cumulus Media Group’s KGO, San Francisco. Lieberman says Taylor told him, “I’m disappointed, but that’s the way the business is today.” Taylor’s Saturday and Sunday afternoon program – which will air the final editions this weekend – is reportedly being replaced by a newsier program hosted by the station’s Pat Thurston. Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story stated that Christine Craft was a co-host of the Stacy Taylor program and was also let go from KGO. Craft is a fill-in host at KGO — not affiliated with Taylor — and remains at the station in that capacity. TALKERS regrets the error.
“Coast To Coast AM” Host George Noory Helps Raise Funds for Contributor’s Medical Bills. The host of the Premiere Networks late night program learned that frequent expert guest Mitch Barros – a weather/earth science reporter and creator of the “Earth Changes Media” podcast – was dealing with dreadful medical bills due to his newborn daughter Sophia’s heart complications. George Noory enlisted the help of his loyal listeners and helped raise more than $18,000 to help Barros pay the outstanding bill. Noory states, “I want to thank the “Coast to Coast AM” listeners for their generosity. Thanks to them, Mitch and his family can focus on what matters most – Sophia’s continued health and wellness.”
WOR, New York Celebrates 90 Years on the Air. Buckley Broadcasting’s WOR, New York is celebrating its 90th year on the air in the New York City area. The station first signed on February 22, 1922 from Bamberger’s Department Store in Newark, New Jersey. Vice president and general manager Jerry Crowley says, “From the moment we first signed on the air with a broadcast of Al Jolson’s ‘April Showers,’ generations of listeners have counted on WOR for the best in information and entertainment. We are not only proud of our rich history, but also of our present stature as one of the top talk stations in the country and home of New York morning radio’s top-rated show. The years ahead look brighter than ever for WOR.” The station says it will commemorate its 90 years of continuous broadcasting by airing a series of archival audio pieces over the next week and a half, as well as remembrances and reflections from its current air staff. A larger celebration is being planned for later this year.
Ronnie “Night Train” Lane Exits Genesis’ WHBO, Tampa. Afternoon “Prime Time” co-host Ronnie “Night Train” Lane has been let go by Genesis Communications’ sports talk WHBO, Tampa. Lane tells the Tampa Bay Times he was very surprised by the move. “I asked if the decision was performance based. And all I was told was ‘We’re taking the show in another direction.’ That’s all I got. That’s all I was told.” Host Tom Krasniqi continues hosting the PM drive show solo. The two had been together co-hosting the show for the past 18 months. Last summer the station let third personality, former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Mark Carrier, go from the program.
Conservative Talk Radio Documentary Getting Attention (and Ratings!) on Public TV in Milwaukee. Former talk radio producer and talk show host Brien Farley’s new documentary film “Liberty or Lies?” examines the popularity of conservative talk radio in the Milwaukee market. The film was initially a graduate level independent study that took off and eventually found a home on Milwaukee Public Television where a two-hour version of the film premiered on January 30 from 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm and aired again on February 4. Interestingly, Farley’s work on the film began just before Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Republican state officials faced recall elections in 2011 that put the state in the center of the national discourse about public policy relative to public workers’ labor rights. Farley’s film covers talk radio in the market from the perspectives of its biggest local stars, its biggest media critics and many perspectives in between. He tells TALKERS that local response to the film has been excellent noting that public television audience research firm TRAC Media Services reported the film garnered a 2.7 share for the January 30 airing. Farley is an admitted fan of the format and says he believes the Milwaukee news/talk stations serve the market well. “I think the Milwaukee market is a fantastic example of the vibrancy and power of news/talk radio when done right. The programmers at WISN and WTMJ are very tuned into their audiences and responsive to what the people want…which is the real power of the news/talk format. They’ve also corralled some excellent homegrown talent which means a lot to local listeners.” The question, “Why is conservative talk radio successful?” is an ongoing curiosity among many mainstream journalists. In fact it’s a question TALKERS editors are asked almost daily by journalists working in the consumer media. Farley says he believes his film, in many ways, shows Milwaukee to be a microcosm of news/talk’s success on the national level. “AM radio is perhaps the lowest rung of the broadcast venues and yet the impact of the genre is huge! In Wisconsin, this was manifest in the November 2010 election results in which we saw the most comprehensive turnover in power – from Democrat to Republican – of any state in the country. This would not have happened without Milwaukee’s conservative talk radio. And now with the attempted recall of Republican Governor Scott Walker, conservatives, right-leaning independents and converted Democrats are flocking to talk hosts like Jay Weber and Vicki McKenna of WISN and Charlie Sykes and Jeff Wagner of WTMJ to hear the latest and find out what they can do to join the fight. Like it or not, Wisconsin is becoming a very different place because of conservative talk radio. I believe the same can be said of our nation thanks to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin et al.” Read more about Farley’s film and watch it here.
Phil Valentine’s “An Inconsistent Truth” Premiers in Memphis Tonight. The independently produced film by Nashville-based talk show host Phil Valentine and director Shayne Edwards that challenges contemporary theories of global warming, premiers in Memphis after several weeks in Nashville where Valentine calls it the “top-grossing event in theatres” there. Valentine is getting sponsorship and promotional help from MPS Broadcasting which operates news/talk WMPS, Memphis. MPS Broadcasting president Mark Skoda – who also hosts his own show on the station – says, “Phil’s new film is both entertaining and informative. It not only offers insights into the scientific skepticism of the global warming debate, but entertains as well. I have to say that after watching a copy of the film, this is a completely enjoyable 90 minutes of fun. And Phil brings his wit and sarcasm to the movie as few can. I hope our listeners will come out and join us for some fun in this premier event.”
Jacqueline Cohen Named National Account Manager at Dial Global. Jacqueline Cohen comes to Dial Global after 11 years with Cumulus Media Networks. She’ll be based in Los Angeles. Dial Global EVP of national sales Chris Long states, “It’s exciting whenever you can add someone as talented as Jacqueline to your team. She is a perfect fit for Dial Global and will do a great job representing us to the major agencies and advertisers on the West Coast.”
GOP Primary/2012 Presidential Race Top News/Talk Story for Week of February 13-17. The GOP primary race and the larger 2012 presidential campaign was #1 on the Talkers TenTM chart of the week’s most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio. At #2 was the violence in Syria and America’s response. Coming in at #3 was the Iran-Israel tensions and at #4 was President Obama’s 2013 budget. The Talkers TenTM chart is the result of ongoing research by TALKERS and is published at Talkers.com every Friday. See the entire chart here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. Dial Global’s “Overnight America” with John Grayson is added to the lineup at WMPS, Memphis…..WSJM, Benton Harbor, Michigan adds “Free Talk Live” with Ian Freeman and Mark Edge to the weeknight lineup and WKZO, Kalamazoo, Michigan adds FTL’s live Sunday edition…..The independently syndicated Armstrong Williams show recently debuted on WTNT-AM/FM, Washington and WGNU, St. Louis.
Study: More than 22 Million Americans Tuned in to NFL Championship Games. A study by Edison Research and commissioned by Dial Global indicates 22.9 million people tuned in to either the Patriots-Ravens AFC Championship or the Giants-49ers NFC Championship game – or both – and most did it via AM or FM radio. The data comes from a telephone poll conducted by Edison Research on Monday, January 23. Obviously, the result is an estimate extrapolated from a sample but as a sales tool for sports on the radio – especially the red-hot NFL – could be very effective. It’s also good news for the affiliate department as more and more sports talk outlets – not to mention other formats that carry sports as a specialty – are being convinced by these types of studies and by PPM data that play-by-play is a high-cume programming event. The study reported that some respondents reported listening to the games via Sirius XM or the Verizon smartphone app but it indicates the bulk of listening was done via terrestrial radio.
Santita Jackson Leaves WVON, Chicago Midday Show. According to Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder, the eldest daughter of Jesse Jackson is leaving the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon talk show at Midway Broadcasting’s WVON after more than five years. She became a full-time talk show host after producing TV and radio shows for her father. This was a budget issue as WVON GM Melody Spann Cooper tells Feder, “I have encouraged her to pursue a national platform, which she desires and so deserves. It is my hope that she will rejoin us in a more visible capacity.”
Sports Talk Host Jeff Cameron Exits WNLS, Tallahassee. PM drive sports talk host Jeff Cameron exits his role at the Clear Channel-owned sports talk outlet to “pursue other opportunities” according to the Tallahassee Democrat. Cameron has been with the station for the past 12 years. CC has not commented on Cameron’s exit nor has it outlined its plans to fill his shoes at the station.
Packing ‘em in in Atlanta. Nationally syndicated money talker Dave Ramsey took his “Total Money Makeover Live” event to the Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Georgia in the Atlanta metro on Saturday, January 21 and delivered his message to a crowd of some 8,000. The event was in conjunction with Cox Media Group-owned affiliate WSB-AM/FM. Program director Pete Spriggs comments, “The WSB team and Atlanta saw the power of Dave Ramsey and his team. TWO sold-out events in TWO days, and thousands of listeners – and POTENTIAL listeners – who were perfectly in our target audience. WSB is proud to have Dave Ramsey as part of our team and family!”
Passings. Several talk and sports personalities passed away in the last few days: Albany market talk pioneer Steve Fitz died on January 22 after a brief illness at age 84. Fitz began his career at what was WSNY, Schenectady (currently WVKZ) and started the talk show “Party Line” in 1952. He also worked at WGY, Albany and WQBK, Albany (currently WGDJ…..Longtime Philadelphia sportscaster Andy Musser died on January 22 at age 74 after suffering from a heart ailment. He broadcast live coverage of numerous Philadelphia sports teams including a 26-year stint as color analyst alongside Harry Kalas for Phillies games…..Milwaukee sportscaster Jim Irwin died from kidney cancer on January 23. Irwin covered Wisconsin sports for his entire career but is remembered most for his work as the voice of Green Bay Packers football on flagship WTMJ, Milwaukee from 1975 until 1998.
Cathy Carnegie Passes Away After Brief Illness. The wife and business partner of radio and TV trade publisher Jim Carnegie died on January 19 while in hospice care after suffering a brain aneurysm on January 14. She was 59. Cathy and Jim met in 1984 while she was working for American Airlines and he was flying to Las Vegas for the NAB Show. Less than five months later they married. Cathy worked as vice president of the publications and helped Jim build them into what they are today. Memorial gifts can be sent to: LifePath Hospice, 12973 North Telecom Parkway, Suite 100, Temple Terrace, FL 33637.
Romney-Gingrich Primary Battle, Obama State of the Union Speech, Paterno Funeral and Iran Nuclear Ambitions Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/24). The heated battle between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney to capture the GOP nomination, President Obama’s State of the Union Speech, the death and funeral of Joe Paterno and Iran’s nuclear ambitions were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Westwood One Founder Norm Pattiz Describes Beginnings of Westwood One. During his special remarks at last week’s historic Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum (10/20), Westwood One founder (and current CEO of Courtside Entertainment) Norm Pattiz shared the story of the early days of the ground breaking syndication firm that he started in one office in Westwood back in the late 1970s. Telling the packed house of talk media professionals that he launched the company with “$10,000 and a working wife,” Pattiz describes how his background as a well-connected former L.A. television sales manager served to bring sponsorships to packaged radio programs — thus shifting the network radio business model from a direct cash to barter system and opening the door to the tremendous growth that followed. He talks about Westwood One’s first show being an urban radio cross-over Motown special stating, “Being a television guy and not a radio guy, I didn’t know the rules of radio and if you don’t know the rules, you can’t be limited by them.” Pattiz’s speech can be seen exclusively on TALKERS TV. If you are using a mobile device, click here to view the video.
Cumulus Budget Ax Chops Through Chicago. Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder reports Cumulus corporate dictates have taken a toll on the producer staff at news/talk WLS, Chicago and the programming and airstaff at sister oldies WLS-FM. Afternoon drive “Roe & Roeper” executive producer Jock Hedblade and “Don Wade & Roma” morning drive show producer Zack Christenson both have been let go along with WLS-FM program director Michael LaCrosse and Chris Papendick, producer of the Greg Brown PM drive show on WLS-FM. The other change includes operations director Drew Hayes remaining solely responsible for WLS and no longer overseeing WMAL, Washington as he has for the past several years. Bill Hess was recently promoted to PD at WMAL. Hayes’ oversight began when WMAL was without a programmer.
Q3 Reports: Arbitron Up; Journal’s Radio Bright Spot in Down Quarter. Arbitron reports third quarter revenue up 6.1% over the same period one year ago and states it expects revenue for the entire year to be up somewhere between 6% and 8%. During a conference call, Arbitron CEO Bill Kerr noted that the company’s completion of the rollout of the Portable People Meter in the 48 top radio markets helped the company achieve its goals. He also gave an update on the status of its Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement-sponsored project to develop a “single-source panel” for measuring TV, internet and mobile usage. Kerr says they expect to present their work to CIMM during the fourth quarter. At Journal Communications, while TV and publishing are languishing, radio has been pretty good to the Milwaukee-based company. Radio was up 2.7% year-over-year while the company posted a 4.4% loss overall for the quarter. Flagship news/talk WTMJ, Milwaukee posted record ratings under the PPM as the station benefitted from the success of the NFL’s Green Bay Packers, MLB’s Brewers and the recall elections across the state that brought in political dollars in a non-election year.
Michigan Sports Talker Sean Baligian Exits Clear Channel. The “Sean and Terp Show” aired in PM drive on Clear Channel’s WDFN, Detroit and was simulcast to Grand Rapids on WMAX-FM. With Baligian’s departure from the company, Ryan Terpstra continues to host the afternoon show on WMAX-FM, Grand Rapids and WDFN will feature a series of guest hosts as the station seeks its next permanent host for the daypart. Via Facebook, Baligian says farewell to fans and hopes to announce a new gig soon. The program was originally “Sean, Terp and Killer” and recently lost co-host Tom “Killer” Kowalski who died unexpectedly in August of heart failure at age 51.
Journal Names J. Pat Miller Promotion and Marketing Manager in Milwaukee. Journal Broadcast Group’s Milwaukee operations announces classic hits WLWK-FM midday host and program director J. Pat Miller moves to a new position as promotion and marketing manager for the company’s WLWK-FM and news/talk WTMJ. Journal states Miller “will work with the radio sales departments and programming teams to coordinate promotions, events and interactive platforms and will assume day-to-day oversight of the stations’ promotions department, as well.” Programmer John Roberts joins Journal to handle programming at WLWK-FM.
Town Hall Takes on Los Angeles. KRLA, Los Angeles’ sold out NTR event on Saturday evening (10/22) pulled a crowd of 1,400 into the Alex Theatre in Glendale, California. The Salem Communications station produced the annual “Town Hall” event that featured Salem Radio Network talk show hosts plus special guests. Pictured here (from l-r) are: SRN’s Mike Gallagher, columnist, author and pundit Ann Coulter, SRN’s Dennis Prager, KDWN, Las Vegas AM drive host Heidi Harris (who served as moderator for the program), and SRN personality Michael Medved. The panelists batted around the current hot news stories including the 2012 presidential race. They also fielded questions from the audience.
‘Occupy Wall Street,’ 2012 Presidential Race, Libya/Middle East Stability and Euro Zone Economic Tension Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/25). The ongoing ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement, the GOP candidates for president, political strife in Libya and the Middle East and the shaky state of the Euro Zone’s economy were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.