Cumulus Media Reports 2016 Q4 and Full-Year Financials. The company had not been hiding the fact that the news of its revenue for the fourth quarter of 2016 or the whole year would not be positive, and the results were not surprising. Cumulus Media reports its Q4 net revenue was $299.5 million – down 3% from the same period in 2015, and the full-year net revenue was $1.14 billion – a dip of 2.3% compared to all of 2015. Separating the company’s two reportable segments – the radio station group and Westwood One – for the fourth quarter of 2016 the radio station group was up 1.3% on net revenue of $209.7 million. However, Westwood One was down 12.3% on net revenue of $89.1 million. For the whole of 2016, the radio station group’s net revenue was $802.3 million, an increase of 0.8%. Westwood One’s net revenue was $336.6 million, a decrease of 8.8% from 2015. Cumulus president and CEO Mary Berner comments, “We entered 2016 with a singular objective: to fix the core business problems – poor culture, poor ratings and poor operational execution – which was essential to establishing a foundation on which to build improved financial results. Throughout the year we made significant progress addressing each of these areas, most visibly in ratings growth where we’ve outperformed the industry for 15 straight months. In fact, with two back-to-back quarters of revenue share increases on the station side, a trend which continued through January, we have early evidence that, despite a tough industry environment, our foundational work is beginning to translate into improved financial performance.”
Legendary WSB-AM, Atlanta Celebrates 95 Years On Air. It was on the Ides of March in 1922 that WSB-AM began broadcasting to the citizens of North Georgia. On Wednesday, Cox Media Group celebrated the anniversary. WSB manager of program operations and community affairs Condace Pressley states, “In 1922, WSB was licensed to deliver weather reports. Today, delivery of accurate and dependable news, weather and traffic remains our calling card, but this station and its people are so much more. Service to the Atlanta community is in WSB’s DNA.” Station director of branding and programming Pete Spriggs adds, “The WSB brand of local news, weather and traffic has grown from being on AM only to now serving north Georgia on FM, mobile, and digital. It all boils down to our slogan – Depend On It!” See a cool presentation of WSB’s 95-year history here.
WVON, Chicago Adds Maze Jackson to the Matt McGill Morning Show. Local political commentator and strategist Maze Jackson is joining Midway Broadcasting Corporation’s morning program, the “Matt McGill Morning Show,” on WVON, Chicago, effective April 3. The station says this move is being made to secure WVON’s position as a contributing voice in the upcoming gubernatorial and mayoral elections, in addition to increasing the station’s overall rankings. McGill has been solo host of the morning show on WVON for the past six years – a role in which he’ll continue. Jackson joins the show after contributing for the past two years as a weekly commentator and guest host. WVON says, “Jackson has a diverse array of experience in the worlds of business, politics, and community engagement. Jackson spent over 20 years lobbying for high profile clients, creating community-based solutions and driving the discussions that shape impactful policies as former executive director of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus.”
TALKERS Magazine Publisher Michael Harrison Joins WPHT, Philly’s Rich Zeoli for His New Podcast. At CBS RADIO’s WPHT, Philadelphia, afternoon drive personality Rich Zeoli is launching a new podcast that features content not heard on the WPHT airwaves. TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison joined Zeoli for his inaugural show. In addition to addressing such topics as the Trump Administration’s impact on news/talk radio and the influence of politics on talk radio, the two delved into “inside” radio subjects including the evolution of the talk radio format, changing media technology, and the public’s evolving media habits. Listen to it here.
Desert Broadcasters Brings Palm Springs AMs Back to Life; KGX Branded ‘Real Talk.’ The two Palm Springs signals – KPSI-AM 920 and KWXY-AM 1340 – went dark last August after longtime owners Rozene and Ric Supple decided to exit the radio business. Enter Garry Wing and Desert Broadcasters who acquired the stations and just put KPSI – now KGX “Real Talk” – and KWXY back on the air. KWXY is a soft AC. The Desert Sun reports that Wing wants to create a talk station with less political vitriol (and less “fake outrage”). Radio America personality Chad Benson’s show is featured on the station. Wing says the station will air a combination of local and national talk shows. Both stations occupy the early 1960s-era broadcast facility pictured in the photo here, taken from the Desert Sun’s video report.
iHeartMedia Unveils ‘SmartAudio’ Advertising Product at ‘SoundFront.’ At Wednesday’s client-focused “SoundFront” up front event, iHeartMedia introduced its SmartAudio digital data advertising product, now a part of the programmatic solution SoundPoint. iHeartMedia says SmartAudio goes farther in leveraging the power of SoundPoint to help advertisers evaluate, plan and buy broadcast radio, enabling them to build innovative campaigns that target key audience segments. iHeartMedia president of national sales, marketing and partnerships Tim Castelli says, “We’ve been testing SmartAudio with some of the top brands and we’re already seeing additional impact for those using it. They’re able to leverage the product’s flexibility to decide which specific ad to run based on something as simple as whether the local sports team won or lost last night’s game…Industry response to our SoundPoint platform has been so well received that we’re now unveiling SmartAudio which allows audience segmenting and dynamic creative capabilities all in one planning and buying tool.”
TALKERS News Notes. Public radio outlet WBEZ, Chicago is debuting a new podcast series called, “Written Inside: Stories About Prison Cells.” The series consists of essays by inmates at Illinois’ Stateville Correctional Center about their prison cells – shedding light on the everyday experience of incarceration. The series was the idea of award-winning, Chicago-based author and journalist Alex Kotlowitz. He began working with the inmates through Northwestern University colleague Jennifer Lackey, who invited him to speak to a class she taught at the correctional center. Kotlowitz asked the 15 male inmates facing long sentences to complete a writing exercise describing their cells. He recognized the potential each story possessed to reveal the realities of life in prison…..“Motley Fool Money” host Chris Hill (left) is pictured here with CNBC’s Julia Boorstin (right) recording a segment for Hill’s program at SXSW in Austin, Texas earlier this week. Hill says, “We talked about the scene in Austin, what the major entertainment companies are doing to lure audience, Apple’s foray into original programming, VR in movies and a lot more.”
Trump Travel Ban Top News/Talk Story for Week of March 13-17. The second travel ban order by President Donald Trump and its block issued by a Hawaii judge was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the Trump Administration budget cuts. Coming in at #3 was the interest rate hike by the Fed, followed by the GOP health care plan at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame Announces Class of 2017. The Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame announces its class of inductees for 2017. They include: Johnny Dowd/Jaybeau Jones from “JB 105,” Providence; French-language broadcaster and current WNRI partner Roger Laliberte; WHJJ and WPRO personality Myrna Lamb; current WPRO-AM program director Tony Mascaro; former RAB SVP and Rhode Island radio manager Dick Rakovan; and former WICE personality Frank Kingston Smith. Also the Shepard Award – created to recognize the founders of radio in the Ocean State by John and Robert Shepard, owners of the Shepard Department Stores, and to honor present-day contributors to the industry through leadership, dedication, achievement, innovation and spirit – will go to Mowry Lowe –a pioneering New England newscaster, gifted announcer and premier radio executive. The Station of the Year Award will be presented to iHeartMedia Providence to commemorate a successful multi-station food drive to feed the hungry in Rhode Island. The Legacy Station of the Year award recognizes top 40 WICE-AM. A reunion with some of the station’s legendary Hall of Fame DJs, staff and listeners is planned.
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai Appears on WJR, Detroit’s Paul W. Smith Show. This morning’s WJR, Detroit live broadcast of the Paul W. Smith St. Patrick’s Day show was not the first appearance on the station by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. He’s been a guest on the show before. Pai (left) is pictured here with Smith (right) on stage at The Cube Theatre inside the Max M. Fisher Music Center.
PodcastOne Executive Chairman Norm Pattiz Guests on Harrison Podcast. The executive chairman of PodcastOne and noted industry pioneer, Norm Pattiz joins TALKERS founder Michael Harrison for an in-depth conversation about the general state of radio, podcasting and audio media on this week’s installment of the award-winning series, “Up Close and Far Out.” The compelling dialogue was recorded this past Friday, inspired by the Thursday release (3/9) of the annual Edison Research/Triton Digital 2017 Infinite Dial Study. Pattiz sums up his impression of the study as follows, “I was very encouraged relative to the audio medium as a whole by the information that came from the study. There’s good news in it for almost everybody that’s in the audio space.” Pattiz and Harrison cover a lot of ground touching upon advertising trends, the evolution of audience measurement metrics, in-car listening habits and much more in this conversation that is a must-listen for radio and audio media professionals. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the “Up Close and Far Out” player box located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Imaging, voiceover and production firm Benztown announces it has brought Katrina Woolverton, J.D., LL.M, aboard to serve in the newly created position of general counsel…..On Monday (3/20), WBBM-FM, Chicago “B96” is hosting Warner Bros. Records recording artist Bebe Rexha as its guest to host a cooking demonstration at the brand new CBS RADIO Chicago Culinary Kitchen. Rexha will show off her culinary skills while being interviewed by “B96” morning show hosts J Niice, Showbiz Shelly and Producer Gabe. The segment will take place in front of a live studio audience made up of about 20 station contest winners who also get tickets to Rexha’s concert that evening at the Metro theater.
Dave Ramsey’s Smart Money Event a Hit in Baton Rouge. Nationally syndicated talk radio superstar Dave Ramsey brought his “Smart Money” event to Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Thursday evening and packed the large Healing Place Church with fans eager to hear his presentation about how to win with money, get out of debt and invest for the future. Ramsey Solutions personality and speaker Chris Hogan joined Ramsey on stage. Ramsey partnered with local affiliate WBRP-FM “Talk 107.3” to promote the program. Gordy Rush is VP/market manager for the Guaranty Media-owned station. He comments, “We at ‘Talk 107.3 FM’ are absolutely thrilled that Dave has chosen Baton Rouge to host one of his ‘Smart Money’ events. It’s no surprise that Dave will have a sellout crowd on hand as, like the rest of America, he has a tremendous following here.”
WVON, Chicago Names Permanent Hosts to Evening Daypart. At the Chicago urban talk outlet, the 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm slot has been filled recently by a revolving group of hosts. Now, the station announces the new, permanent evening lineup. Effective Monday (9/21), “Real Talk, Real People,” hosted by Art “Chat Daddy” Sims, will be heard in early evenings Monday through Thursday and “Life and Love,” with Dr. Karla K. Ivankovich and Dr. Dan Ivankovich, will air on Friday nights. The station says Sims’ program is “a lifestyle magazine show that will offer listeners local and national lifestyle stories, relationship advice, celebrity interviews and more.” On “Life and Love,” Drs. Karla and Dan Ivankovich “will address building solid relationships, improving and enhancing communication and instilling and infusing love back into interpersonal relationships.”
Radio Host Alan Taylor Threatens Suit Against Time Inc. According to a story by Keith Kelly in the New York Post, radio host Alan Taylor plans to sue Time Inc. for the latter’s use of “The Drive” for its new digital venture. “The Drive with Alan Taylor” has been the name of Taylor’s radio program for two years. His car show goes back to 1992 but it had different names when it was affiliated with Motor Trend and then Car & Driver. Taylor tells Kelly he has worked with Time Inc., even to the extent he helped bring business from both Jaguar and Maserati to Time Inc. “They are literally stealing my name. They took something that I helped them build, and then they kicked me out of bed.” Taylor offered to change his show’s name for $500,000 but the company countered with $12,000. Alan Taylor is the brother of Talk Radio Network CEO Mark Masters and the son of TRN founder Roy Masters. Read the entire Post story here.
WOR’s Todd Schnitt Surprises Mets Fans. A trio of Mets fans was very pleasantly surprised when WOR, New York morning drive co-host Todd Schnitt appeared on the subway platform with a cardboard sign announcing he was giving away free tickets to the playoff-bound team’s Tuesday night game versus the Miami Marlins. Schnitt co-hosts the morning show with Len Berman and the iHeartMedia station is the flagship for New York Mets baseball. Schnitt is pictured here with one of the lucky recipients.
Odds & Sods. Suffice it to say, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is no fan of that markets conservative talk radio hosts on E.W. Scripps’ WTMJ or iHeartMedia’s WISN. Addressing the attendees at the Milwaukee Business Journal’s Downtown Milwaukee Renaissance luncheon on Tuesday regarding perceptions of safety in the downtown area, Barrett referenced critical talk hosts when saying, “In 2009 I made a conscious decision to turn off talk radio. “I thought, ‘For my mental health, I’m going to turn it down.’ There are people who love to hate the city. I’m ignoring them because there are more good things going on in this city than in any city in this state!” But, according to the Milwaukee Business Journal, Barrett cited WISN’s Mark Belling saying he agrees with Belling’s statement that your chances of being harmed are greatly reduced if you’re not involved in illegal activities…..iHeartMedia’s news/talk WRNO, New Orleans is the new flagship station for the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans. The team’s play-by-play broadcasts move over from Entercom’s WWL-AM/FM.on display.
Baseball Broadcasting Legend Milo Hamilton Dead at 88. Ford Frick Award-winning baseball play-by-play announcer Milo Hamilton died yesterday (9/17). Hamilton spent his 67 seasons calling baseball games on the radio with seven different teams – most notably with the Houston Astros where he worked from 1985 through 2012. Hamilton was in the booth for the Atlanta Braves in 1974 when he called Hank Aaron’s record-setting 715th home run.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. “The Dana Show,” featuring host Dana Loesch is now heard on Emmis-owned news/talk KLBJ-AM, Austin from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm CT…..The Radio America-syndicated Chad Benson show becomes part of the program lineup at Cox Media Group’s news/talk WDBO-FM, Orlando “News 96.5.”…..“Free Talk Live” featuring Ian Freeman and Mark Edge is added to the programming schedule on WZXI, Lancaster, Kentucky.
Trump Candidacy/GOP Primary Debate Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of September 14-18. The unexpectedly high-polling presidential candidacy of Donald Trump and the Wednesday evening GOP primary debate tied for the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio during the week. At #2 were the activities of the rest of the 2016 presidential candidates. Coming in at #3 was the immigration policy of the U.S. tied with the related migrant problems European nations are dealing with, followed by the Iran nuclear deal at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
HEADS UP: Talkers New York 2015 Is Nearing Sellout. Based on the diminishing number of registrations still open and the rate at which they are being filled, Talkers New York 2015 – the 18th annual installment of the talk media’s longest-running and most important national convention — will be sold out sometime next week. According to TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey, “We are gratified by the strong response this event is receiving and we clearly do not like to turn folks away – however, we must abide by New York City’s building codes, not to mention be sensitive to the comfort and safety of our attendees.” Casey continues, “There will be no registrations sold after 5:00 pm EDT next Friday May 15, if not sooner. That will be the absolute cut off point.” The event will be located at the historic India House Club dramatically situated at One Hanover Square in the heart of Manhattan’s financial district. It is an all-day event – 8:45 am to 6:15 pm. Registrations, priced at $299 per person and only open to professionals currently or recently employed in media-related industries, include all sessions, presentations, exhibits and breakfast/lunch/refreshment/and social networking activities. The heavyweight, non-stop agenda will include approximately 65 speakers and 500 attendees will be the allowed limit. Registrations can only be taken over the phone and paid for by credit card. They are not refundable or transferable. For registration, sponsorship and hotel information, please call 413-565-5413. To see the latest agenda, please click here.
Emmis Reports for Fiscal Q4 and Full Year; Net Revenue Flat in Q4, Up 1.6% on the Year. Reporting on its past fiscal year, Emmis Communications Corporation states radio net revenue for the fourth fiscal quarter was $38.8 million, up from $32.3 million from the prior year, an increase of 20%. On a pro forma basis, Emmis’ revenue reported to Miller Kaplan in the markets where Emmis competes (excluding barter and syndication revenue) were up 0.8% in markets down 2.5%. For the full year, radio revenues were $176.3 million, compared to $145.3 million in the prior year, an increase of 21%. On a pro forma basis, Emmis’ revenues reported to Miller Kaplan in the markets where Emmis competes (excluding barter and syndication revenue) were up 1.6% in markets down 3.7%. Emmis likes to frame its revenue in the context of how it performed against the markets. It goes on to say, “February marked the 15th consecutive month in which Emmis outperformed the markets in which it competes. Every measured Emmis market outperformed for full year fiscal 2015. Emmis stations in New York, Los Angeles and Austin all outperformed their markets in the fourth fiscal quarter.” President and CEO Jeff Smulyan comments on the company and the NextRadio platform. “Despite weakened markets and a challenged industry, Emmis once again outperformed. The radio industry needs a catalyst for growth, and we are convinced we have it with NextRadio, the Emmis-developed free smartphone app that marries over-the-air local FM broadcasts with visual and interactive features. The radio industry’s consumer awareness campaign for NextRadio has had remarkable results, further validating the promotional power of radio. Consumers exposed to NextRadio overwhelmingly love it. Average Time Spent Listening (ATSL) per session on NextRadio is nearly double traditional listening, all major radio companies are supporting the effort, and we are adding 350,000 activations each month. The momentum is tremendous.”
Townsquare Media Q1 Net Revenue Up 2.5%. That’s compared to the same period one year ago. The company’s 2015 first quarter net revenue was $81,118,000. The press release also notes Local Advertising net revenue was flat; Live Events net revenue increased 5.1%, and 59.7% excluding non-recurring festivals; and Other Media and Entertainment net revenue increased 29.%. Townsquare Media chairman and CEO Steven Price states, “In the first quarter of 2015, we delivered net revenue growth of 6.5% excluding political revenue and non-recurring festivals. We are pleased with our first quarter performance, in the face of challenges presented by harsh weather conditions which particularly affected our Northeastern markets. These challenges impacted our Local Advertising segment and were offset by the strength in our Live Events segment and in Other Media and Entertainment.”
Salem Media Group Flat for First Quarter of 2015. As a whole, Salem Media Group reports flat net revenue – down 0.8% revenue of $61.9 million — for the first quarter of 2015 compared to the same period a year ago. Breaking it down by sector, the broadcasting division saw net revenue dip 0.5% to $46.5 million from $46.8 million. The digital sector also reversed course and dropped 4.6% on revenue of $10.8 million. Publishing, on the other hand, rose 6.2% to $4.5 million from $4.3 million.
Schatz Back with Advantage Systems. The sales consultancy firm Advantage Systems Inc. brings Jeffrey A. Schatz back into the fold as director of integrated sales. Schatz comes to the company from Digity Companies where he was director of revenue development. Prior to that he was vice president of total marketing solutions for Townsquare Media from 2009-14. Schatz comments, “I am excited to be joining Advantage Systems Inc. again! I’ve spent the last seven years helping broadcast companies generate revenue through integrated selling. Advantage offers a variety of integrated sales platforms, which align perfectly with my experience in helping media companies maximize their sales efforts in broadcast, online, digital, and interactive. These platforms will generate an annual revenue base for our media partners in their local markets. I’ve also been involved with Musical Images and Custom Creative and am excited to be able to offer these services through Advantage Systems Creative to enhance local clients’ existing marketing efforts. It’s the perfect marriage!” Advantage president Mike Loconte says, “We are ecstatic to have a veteran like Jeff back on our team. Jeff knows the challenges experienced by our media partners first hand. He knows the ins and outs and he’s worn every hat, so he can relate to our clients in a very unique way. His experience in traditional and digital sales along with his creative experience makes him the perfect fit for this position.”
Sanchez Adds WLZL OM Duties. WNEW-FM, Washington, D.C. program director Robert Sanchez takes on further responsibilities as operations manager of CBS Radio Spanish tropical sibling WLZL “El Zol 107.9 FM.” He succeeds Pete Manriquez, who was the program director of “El Zol.” Senior vice president and market manager Steve Swenson comments, “We have a lot of talented people at ‘El Zol’ who will work with Rob in taking the station to new heights. The experiences of everyone will be of great help to Rob as the team works together. Rob is a straight shooter, he knows CBS Radio, and he is a winner. I would like to thank Pete for his work as one of the executives on my team.” Sanchez remarks, “Pete did a great job in creating a radio station that sounds wonderful. He has been incredibly supportive of his programming staff and it has shown in what comes out of the speakers.” Ever since all-news WNEW-FM debuted in November 2011, Sanchez has been the station’s only PD. Among persons 6+ in Washington, D.C.’s latest Nielsen Audio PPM report (March 2015), WLZL (1.9) and WNEW-FM (1.7) finish at #19 and #20, respectively; meanwhile, Hubbard all-news WTOP (9.1) is the market’s (6+) pacesetter for the third successive survey.
Chicago News, Talk and Urban Radio Pro Ty Wansley Dead at 63. A week after being admitted to a Chicago hospital suffering from congestive heart failure, Ty Wansley has died. Wansley’s career in Chicago spanned more than three decades and included success in urban, news, and talk formats. Wansley had been serving as the news and information director for iHeartMedia’s three urban outlets: hip hop WGCI, urban AC WVAZ and gospel WGRB. He began his career in his native St. Louis. He became news director at the old WBMX, Chicago, served as a talk host on urban talk outlet WVON and was famously paired up with former Chicago Alderman Ed Vrdolyak on news/talk WLS-AM in 1993 – a show that became a ratings smash. That show continued its success on crosstown WJJD.
Baltimore Aftermath, Prophet Drawing Contest Attack, Clinton Family Foundation Scrutiny, Tsarnaev Penalty Phase, Gay Marriage SCOTUS Case, Obama Trade Deal, Amnesty Issue, and Patriots Deflategate Report Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/6). The political repercussions of the Freddie Gray death in Baltimore; controversy over the Garland, Texas prophet-drawing contest that was attacked by purported ISIS sympathizers; the ongoing scrutiny of the Clinton Family Foundation operations; the penalty phase of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev; the case of four states with anti-gay marriage laws that went before the Supreme Court; President Obama’s foreign trade deal; the controversy over amnesty for illegal aliens in the U.S.; and the NFL’s report on the Patriots’ deflation of game balls were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Powers Exits WKZO, Kalamazoo Mornings. It was a four-month stint hosting the morning drive program at Midwest Communications’ WKZO, Kalamazoo for Wayne Powers, who tells the Kalamazoo Gazette that it ended in a contract dispute. Powers, who replaced longtime morning personality Lori Moore back in Otcober, tells the paper he’d been working 70 hours per week on the show and, when asked to handle more responsibilities, sat down with management to discuss his workload, but the two sides were unable to agree. Powers says, “I thought it could be resolved to be completely honest with you. I thought worse comes to worse, that I’d be able to finish out the week and say good-bye to the listeners.” The search for a new morning host has begun. Powers – who’s worked in television, animation and commercials during his career – had been doing part-time and fill-in work at WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte before relocating to Kalamazoo to work at WKZO. He says he hopes to remain in Kalamazoo.
Kovas Communications Acquires Global American Broadcasting. Chicago-based Kovas Communications – currently operating ethnic/talk hybrid WCGO – is acquiring Vero Beach, Florida-based Global American Broadcasting. That company has operated a technical ops center for the past 15 years that provides complete board opping, program services, and distribution of programming for radio program producers. It currently serves several syndicated radio programs. The five studios, satellite dishes, and all of the equipment is being relocated to Kovas Communications’ Evanston, Illinois studios. Kovas Communications will also employ the key technicians of GAB. Chicago media pro Tim Disa is consulting Kovas and he says the acquisition of what will now be known as GAB Radio Network will play well into the growth plans of WCGO. He says Kovas plans to operate several nationally syndicated radio programs from its facilities and will develop new programming as well.
Special Feature: Remembering Gary Owens. The iconic radio and television personality passed away in Los Angeles on Friday, February 13. TALKERS magazine managing editor and West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian writes about Gary Owens, “Blessed with an enduring ability to captivate a broad base demographic with droll, clever, sometimes-corny witticisms/puns that much sooner rather than later made you laugh, Gary Owens is being fondly remembered by those whose lives he touched by his character and one-of-a-kind classiness…Not character voices that helped to shape, mold, and define this often-honored broadcaster who passed away at the age of 80, but much more important personal qualities.” Read Mike Kinosian’s account of Owens’ career here.
Odds & Sods. The mayoral candidates in Chicago will appear on Matt McGill morning show on WVON all this week as the special mayoral forum airs at 7:00 am each day through Friday. McGill will speak with each candidate about issues important to the African American community…..Talk radio pro Mike Romigh is named program director for suburban Pittsburgh stations WBVP-AM and WMBA-AM, licensed to Beaver Falls. Romigh, who’s worked at KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh and WKBN, Youngstown, Ohio during his career, began his career at WBVP in 1976.
George Noory Co-Authors Flight 370 Book. Actor and comic Richard Belzer is the lead author but Premiere Networks personality George Noory and journalist David Wayne are co-authors of the new book investigating the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 titled, Someone Is Hiding Something (Skyhorse Publishing 2015). According to a press release, the book scrutinizes “the theories the media and politicians claim are the ‘most likely’ reasons the plane crashed, Belzer, Noory, and Wayne argue that if a year after a huge Boeing 777 has gone missing, and there’s still no sign of it whatsoever, it’s time to think outside the box. The public needs to stop being misled.”
CMG Houston Nabs Five Star Awards. At the 2015 Media Alliance of Houston Star Awards Gala that took place on Thursday, February 12, Cox Media Group of Houston was honored with five awards by the organization that recognizes outstanding industry professionals while supporting the continuous education of media students. The honors were as follows: Laura Filippone as Local Radio Account Executive of the Year; Cherolyn Johnson as Local Radio Assistant Traffic of the Year; Judy Lakin as Director of Sales of the Year; Mike Murray as National Sales Manager of the Year and Courtney Jenkins as Rising Star of the Year. Pictured here (from l-r) are CMG Houston staffers: Cherolyn Johnson, Kali Gipson, Judy Lakin, Courtney Jenkins, Laura Filippone, Mike Murray, Mark Krieschen, Sheryl Grigsby, Johnny Chiang and Lisa Searcy.
KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh Helps 1,115 Area Families Via 2015 Warmathon. This year’s edition of the “NewsRadio 1020 KDKA Warmathon” to benefit Dollar Energy Fund raised $404,558 during the two-day event, which will help 1,155 Pittsburgh-area families maintain basic utility service. The Warmathon was a live radiothon on CBS RADIO’s KDKA-AM that took place on February 12 and 13. With this year’s contributions, 6,550 local, limited-income families have benefited from the total of $2.25 million that has been raised since the first Warmathon in 2009. KDKA-AM SVP and general manager Michael Young comments, “Helping our community is part of the DNA of KDKA. The kindness of Southwestern Pennsylvanians is overwhelming and continues to impress us at KDKA year after year.”
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.
WHAM, Rochester’s Bob Lonsberry Reprimanded for Transgender Benefits Criticism. Just a week after Entercom fired Kimberly Rae and Barry Beck from rock WBZA “98.9 The Buzz” for their on-air criticism of the City of Rochester’s health care plan that offers health care specific to transgendered employees, WHAM talk show host Bob Lonsberry also criticized the policy in a blog post. We don’t know what happened between the Clear Channel station and Lonsberry – he hasn’t been fired – but the company, through VP and market manager Bob Morgan, did offer the following statement: “Though Bob Lonsberry is entitled to his opinion about the City of Rochester’s health care plan, his blog post and comments about members of the transgender community were insensitive. His remarks do not reflect the position or attitudes of the station or its management. We cannot discuss employee personnel matters, but I can tell you that the station has removed the post and is extending an invitation to local leaders of the LGBT community to meet with Bob Lonsberry and speak on the topic.”
WVON, Chicago Adds ‘Chat Daddy’ to Friday Night Programming. In announcing the addition of Art ‘Chat Daddy’ Sims to the Friday evening schedule at urban talk WVON, Chicago, Midway Broadcasting says the new 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm program “is a lifestyle magazine show that will offer listeners local and national lifestyle stories, relationship advice, celebrity interviews and more.” The station says that Sims has “more than 19 years of media experience in radio, television and print.” Executive producer for the program is Daveda Flute.
Clear Channel Adds ‘This Little Parent Stayed Home’ Show to iHeartRadio Talk Lineup. Bringing a weekly podcast to the iHeartRadio digital platform, Clear Channel and Premiere Networks announce Ally Loprete’s “This Little Parent Stayed Home” program will air on iHeartRadio’s extreme talk radio channel live at 3:00 pm ET on Tuesdays. Clear Channel says it has acquired the program “as part of its newest campaign to reach a more modern listenership.” Loprete is the founder of OurMilkMoney.com, an online search directory that lists the products and services of self-employed parents in more than 120 cities across the nation. Loprete has used her own passion to create a society where parents are given an alternative to expensive daycares and long hours away from home, inspiring a movement that has parents everywhere realizing their power as consumers, and uniting together to rebuild a broken economy with home-based businesses. CCM+E VP of programming Ken Charles states, “Ally Loprete brings a fresh and vibrant perspective that will consistently bring in listeners within the hottest consumer demographic.” Premiere Networks VP of programming Bill May adds, “Ally Loprete has provided us a great opportunity to broaden our reach to a progressive and innovative demographic. Women with children and small business entrepreneurs are making significant progress with the stay-at-home workforce. The listeners of ‘This Little Parent…’ have been extremely loyal and dedicated to the educational and motivational content that Ally had been providing on her digital weekly podcast. She was looking to cast a wider net and we were thrilled to offer her show a new home.”
KIRO-FM, Seattle to Award $10,000 Scholarship to Area High School Student. The culmination of a promotion that began at the beginning of the school year wraps on June 6 as Bonneville’s KIRO-FM, Seattle honors one local student with a $10,000 dollar scholarship live on “Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross.” The Standout Student Awards promotion has been a partnership with Comprehensive Wealth Management and the Rotary Club of Lynnwood designed to honor Western Washington students who stand out in the classroom, school and community. Nine students were selected as monthly winners during the course of the school year and each received a $1,000 scholarship. They are eligible for the $10,000 educational scholarship grant.
Odds & Sods. The new “Middays with MFB” debuted on Entercom’s WEEI-FM, Boston today. The show – starring incumbent host and former Red Sox infielder Lou Merloni, former New England Patriots tight end Christian Fauria and talk show host Tim Benz – replaces the Mut & Merloni show in the 10:00 am to 2:00 pm slot…..Cumulus Media’s KSFO, San Francisco helps raise more than $100,000 for the Fisher House Foundation during a pre-holiday radiothon held on Friday, May 23. Talk host Brian Sussman broadcast from the Fisher House at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System.
Beckman Honored for College Football Work. He still does the daily, late morning talk show at Cumulus Media’s WJR, Detroit, but just seven months after retiring from his 33-year stint as play-by-play announcer for Michigan Wolverines football, Frank Beckman is being honored with the 2014 Chris Schenkel Award from the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame. In a press release from the University of Michigan, the school notes that this honor is among several he’s received over the years including Top Michigan Sportscaster and Michigan Sportscaster of the Year.
‘Mighty 1290 KOIL’ Flashes Back! In Omaha, NRG Media’s “Mighty 1290 KOIL” returned to the glory days of the 1960s over the holiday weekend with a three-hour Sunday special looking back to when the station was a leading top 40 powerhouse. Legendary morning host Roger W. Morgan returned for the broadcast, featuring the biggest hits of the 60s, live from “Loessfest” in Council Bluffs. Among those joining the special were: singer Jimmy Clanton and former KOIL personalities Hal Widsten and Clay Michaels. Pictured here (from left to right) are: current KOIL talk host host Tom Becka, Morgan, and Michaels.
Memorial Day Holiday/VA Scandal, Deadly Santa Barbara Shootings, Russian Aggression in Ukraine, ObamaCare Effects, and NBA/NHL Playoff Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/26). The Memorial Day holiday and the ongoing scandal involving care at VA hospitals; the deadly shooting of six people in Santa Barbara by a UCSB student; Russia’s continued aggression in Ukraine; the effects of the Affordable Care Act; and the playoff action in the NBA and the NHL were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Can You Imagine Meeting These 47 People (and About 500 More) All in One Day? The roster of industry luminaries signed up to serve as speakers at the forthcoming Talkers New York 2013 has been announced and it reads like a who’s who of the talk radio industry. Not yet named on the list are several more “surprise” speakers including the yet-to-be revealed recipient of the 2013 Freedom of Speech Award which will bring the total to around 50. In making the announcement, TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey states, “In the 16-year colorful history of this national conference, I believe this is the best and most balanced lineup of speakers we’ve ever assembled. This power-packed gathering of management, programming, sales and technical leaders will directly address today’s most important issues, as the radio industry – not just spoken word – faces some of the most existential challenges of its century-long history.” Talkers New York 2013 takes place on Thursday, June 6 between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm at the Concierge Conference Center, 780 Third Avenue on Manhattan’s East Side. The event, which is on the verge of being an early sellout, is open exclusively to members of the working media. Registrations can only be booked by credit card over the phone at 413-565-5413. The following individuals will be speaking (in alphabetical order): Michael “Bax” Baxendale, Co-Host, “Bax & O’Brien Morning Show, WAQY “Rock 102”, Springfield, MA; Michael Berry, Host, KTRH, Houston (and syndication); Jim Bohannon, Host, Dial Global; Phil Boyce, VP/Spoken Word Format, Salem Communications; Spencer Brown, former CEO, Dial Global; Kevin Casey, VP/Executive Editor, TALKERS; Mark Chernoff, VP of Sports Programming, CBS Radio/OM, WFAN, New York; Jeremy Coleman, SVP, Talk & Entertainment Programming, Sirius/XM; Alan Colmes, Host, Fox News Radio; Holland Cooke, President, Holland Cooke Media; Jana Cosgrove, President, CBS Radio Sales/Entercom Radio Sales; Jerry Crowley, VP/GM, WNYM “AM 970 The Answer”, New York; Tom Cuddy, PD, WOR, New York; Andy Dean, Host, Premiere Networks; Dave Elswick, PD/Host, KARN, Little Rock; Erica Farber, President/CEO, Radio Advertising Bureau; Mike Francesa, Host, WFAN, New York; Ian Freeman, Co-Host, Free Talk Live; Dom Giordano, Host, WPHT, Philadelphia; Steve Goldstein, EVP, Saga Communications; Sean Hannity, Host, Premiere Networks/Fox News Channel; Michael Harrison, Publisher, TALKERS; Ron Hartenbaum, President, WYD/WYM Media; Thom Hartmann, Host, WYD Media; Bill Hess, PD, WMAL, Washington, DC; Clay Hunnicutt, EVP, Programming, Clear Channel; Kraig Kitchin, CEO, Sound Mind, LLC; Tom Leykis, President/Host, The New Normal; Lionel, Host, WWIQ “IQ 106.9”, Philadelphia; Steve Malzberg, Host, Newsmax.com; Carole Marks, CEO, Talk Media, Inc.; Kevin McCullough, CEO/Host, XtreMedia; Mike McVay, SVP, Programming, Cumulus Media; Dan Metter, SVP, Sales, Premiere Networks; Jon Miller, Director of Programming Services, Arbitron, Inc.; Trevor Oliver, former SVP/Operations, Premiere Networks; Norm Pattiz, CEO, Courtside Entertainment, LLC/Launchpad Digital Media; Tom Ray, President, Tom Ray Broadcast Consulting; Walter Sabo, Chairman, Sabo Media; Michael Smerconish, Host, SiriusXM Satellite Radio; Jeff Smulyan, CEO, Emmis Broadcasting; Doug Stephan, President/Host, Stephan Multimedia; Andrea Tantaros, Host, Talk Radio Network/Fox News Channel; Phil Valentine, Host, Cumulus Media; Paul Vandenburgh, President/GM/Host, WGDJ “Talk 1300 AM”, Albany; Lincoln Ware, Host, WDBZ (The Buzz), Cincinnati; Jeff Wasserman, President, Life Coach Media; David Webb, Host, Sirius/XM; Steven J.J. Weisman, Esq., Senior Partner, Harrison Strategies; Lisa Wexler, Host, WFAS, Westchester, NY; and Dennis Wharton, VP Communications, National Association of Broadcasters. The actual agenda of sessions and times will be posted here later this week.
WVON, Chicago to Celebrate 50th Anniversary April 5-6. Midway Broadcasting-owned WVON, Chicago commemorates 50 years on air tomorrow and Saturday with a two-day celebration kicked off with a special performance by musician Roy Ayers on Friday and culminating with the “IMPACT 50 Grand Gala” at the historic Chicago Theater featuring Toni Braxton on Saturday night. Those expected to be in attendance on Saturday include: media personality Roland Martin, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Radio One’s Cathy Hughes, Rev. Al Sharpton, and actor/activist Dick Gregory. Radio historians may be aware that the station was founded by Leonard and Phillip Chess, founders of the famous Chess Records that recorded so many black artists during the 1960s. Current Midway Broadcasting chief Melody Spann Cooper’s father, Pervis “Blues Man” Spann, bought the station and since that time it has morphed from an urban music outlet into the urban news/talk station it is today. Cooper tells the Huffington Post that two years ago she wasn’t sure the station was going to survive to see its 50th. “Being independently owned in the third largest market, we definitely faced some challenges to stay afloat. We have stood the test of time and worked through the challenges, so this makes it an extra special time for us.” The station’s calls originally stood for the “Voice of the Negro” but now, the station calls itself the “Voice of the Nation.” WVON’s being available on Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio digital delivery system certainly gives it a broader reach than its 1,000 watt Chicago signal can deliver. WVON prides itself on its ability to talk about local issues as well as issues germane to African Americans across the country with its lineup of largely live and local personalities. The station features Matt McGill in mornings, Perri Small in late mornings, the syndicated Rev. Al Sharpton in middays and Cliff Kelley in PM drive.
Nils Larsen Exits Tribune Broadcasting President and CEO Role. Chicagoland Radio and Media is reporting that Nils Larsen has left the Tribune Company and his latest role as president and CEO of the broadcasting division. The site states Tribune confirmed his exit but said there will be no formal announcement of the change. Larsen previously served as chief investment officer during the Sam Zell/Randy Michael’s era. It goes on to say that Larsen, who had no experience in the broadcasting field but was a financial analyst, was only put in the position overseeing the broadcasting division to watch over the finances as the company exited from bankruptcy. Larry Wert serves as president of local broadcasting in the Tribune Broadcasting division.
Financial Talker Phil Grande Signs with Genesis Communications Network. The move will allow Phil Grande to expand his “Phil’s Gang” program from the one-hour 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm ET live broadcast time to a new, 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm ET time. The new deal also includes the debut of a one-hour Saturday program airing from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm. “Phil’s Gang” partner and CEO Marta Grande says, “This is an exciting opportunity to join the Genesis Communications Network. Adding a strong network like Genesis is the perfect complement to our strong affiliate lineup.” Grande says the program is displaying an expanding affiliate roster, thus indicating unprecedented growth, especially in the major markets. This new partnership will add even more strength to the GCN affiliates, providing the best source of media for host Phil Grande to expand with his coined message of “I’m going to tell you what Wall Street doesn’t want you to know!”
Cromwell Broadcasting Flips WQZQ, Nashville to Sports Using NBC Sports Radio and Content from WPRT-FM. Cromwell Broadcasting’s WQZQ, Nashville drops the gospel format and goes sports on the AM 830 frequency using both NBC Sports Radio Network programming as well as the PM drive “Sports Night” show featuring George Plaster, Willy Daunic and Darren McFarland from sister sports talker WPRT “102.5 The Game.” The same format is also airing on translator W248BM, Murfreesboro on the 97.5 frequency. Cromwell general manager Tincy Crouse states, “We are excited to be a part of the brand new 24/7 NBC Sports Radio family from the beginning and looking forward to adding another quality sports talk product into the Nashville market.” The “Sports Night” program begins airing at 3:00 pm on WQZQ but not until 4:00 pm on WPRT due to the latter’s carriage of the Dave Ramsey program.
MSNBC Continues to Add to Weekend Lineup. MSNBC has already announced the move of talk media personality Ed Schultz from his nightly “Ed Show” to a new weekend program. Now, the network adds a new show as a lead-in to Schultz’s show. MSNBC gives political analyst, former Democratic National Committee spokesperson and Clinton White House staffer Karen Finney her own Saturday and Sunday 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm program. Schultz’s new program will air from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. In a statement, MSNBC’s Phil Griffin says, “Karen’s rich background in both education policy and politics will add a unique point of view to our expanding live weekend programming.”
Odds & Sods. WIBC-FM, Indianapolis talk personality Ed Wenck leaves the PM drive program on the Emmis news/talk station to enter the sales department at the cluster and sell for sports talker WFNI “The Fan.”…..CRC Media West’s KPSF, Desert Hot Springs, California brings Marshall Gilbert aboard to host the daily “Business for Breakfast” program that airs from 8:00 am to 9:00 am. Gilbert most recently served at crosstown KWNZ, Palm Springs…..Call letter changes take place at Clear Channel’s Raleigh cluster with news/talk “Rush Radio 106.1” giving up the WRDU calls to its classic rock clustermate at 100.7. The news/talker takes the calls WTKK (most recently held by Greater Media’s former Boston talk station) and adopts the brand “More Stimulating Talk.”
North Korea Threats, ObamaCare Costs, Gun Legislation Issue, Illegal Immigration, and Sequester Effects Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/3). The heightening threats against the U.S. by Kim Jong Un; the cost and effects of the Affordable Care Act; gun legislation proposals; the recent increase in illegal border crossings; and the effects of the sequester were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Les Moonves Tells Investors Network Sports Radio Biz is “Found Money.” That CBS is bullish on sports is not news – CBS CEO Les Moonves has said that before. But he reiterated his company’s dedication to the industry and – citing the new CBS Sports Radio Network venture – called it $10 million to $15 million worth of “found money.” Speaking at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference in Beverly Hills yesterday, Moonves told the conference the sports radio network business is a $150 million industry, “With our deal with Cumulus, we have reach. We’re in nine of the top 10 markets. We have the capacity to put on a lot of stuff. We think right away we’re going to get about 10% of the market. That’s going to be a significant hit right away and that should grow. It’s a great marketplace; rather easy to do. As far as we’re concerned it’s 10 or 15 million [dollars] of found money that we think will grow.” CBS is entering into a fast-growing marketplace already dominated by ESPN and with entrenched radio players Fox Sports Radio Network, Yahoo! Sports Radio and new entrant NBC Sports Radio – a partnership between NBC and Dial Global. Sure, there’s a ton of money in sports media right now, but how fast this market gets saturated is a question industry watchers are pondering.
Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze Gets Television Profile with DISH Network Deal. Talk show host and digital media pioneer Glenn Beck is soon to be seen on television after his TheBlaze, Inc. agrees to a deal with DISH Network to have his online 24-hour news, information and entertainment network available on the satellite TV provider. Under terms of the deal, TheBlaze will be available to DISH viewers on channel 212 as part of DISH’s America’s Top 250 package or a la carte for $5 a month. The channel launched Wednesday at 5:00 pm ET. It’ll be available as a free preview for all DISH customers through September 26. In a statement, Beck says, “TheBlaze has helped revolutionize television over the internet and now we are excited to bring the revolution back to traditional television. TheBlaze will be home to news, information and entertainment programming with the facts and stories people care about most and we look forward to kicking things off with DISH.” Mercury Radio Arts president Chris Balfe blogged about the success of Beck’s new venture and how this deal came to pass. “Prior to our initial launch I was often asked why we didn’t pursue a traditional cable channel. There were several factors, but the biggest was that we wouldn’t have been able to build the channel we wanted back then without giving up control. To get on the air we would have had to partner with a large media company that could provide us with the staff, infrastructure and distribution necessary to launch a new network. That was something that we simply were not willing to do. The whole point of starting our own network was to be free from outside influences — giving that independence up right away in exchange for distribution was a non-starter. And so we found another way. But now, a year later, everything has changed. Our subscribers’ enthusiasm and support has allowed us to make the necessary investments in programming and infrastructure, and we’re now in a position to launch a cable and satellite channel without losing control.”
Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Promotes Julie Talbott. The president of content and affiliations for Premiere Networks is upped to a new post – president of content and affiliations for CC’s National Media Groups. Talbott retains her oversight of Premiere Networks but adds new duties as she’ll answer to Kevin Dorsey, president of the National Media Groups who, in turn, reports directly to chairman and CEO John Hogan. A statement from Clear Channel notes Talbott’s “new role will include leading and maintaining key affiliate relationships to sell and service Premiere Networks, Total Traffic Network and iHeartRadio, Clear Channel’s industry-leading digital radio platform. The new position will provide the company’s affiliates with a simplified and streamlined point of contact for communicating and conducting business across Clear Channel’s diverse group of subsidiaries.” Talbott says, “I enjoy working with our clients and partners, and this alignment of our affiliate efforts will allow us to better serve and communicate with stations throughout the U.S. I’m looking forward to working with the amazing teams across the company as we continue to demonstrate the unique relationship CCM+E has with our audience.”
Cox Media’s KRMG-AM/FM, Tulsa Names Levi May Program Director. The PD post at KRMG-AM/FM, Tulsa opened up when long-time programmer Drew Anderssen moved to Cox Media’s Orlando news/talker WDBO-AM/FM. Levi May served as WDBO’s assistant PD prior to his new position in Tulsa.
Talk Radio Weekends: Two Sure Shots. Talk radio consultant Holland Cooke offers advice on weekend programming for talk radio stations that fits in with the P1’s weekend lifestyle and has the opportunity for bringing in revenue. Sure, it’s lifestyle-oriented stuff but while many of those categories are well-serviced by nationally syndicated programs, Cooke says these two suggestions are tailor-made for local professionals. Read Holland Cooke’s piece here.
WVON, Chicago News Pro Sharon McGhee Loses Battle with Cancer. Journalist, writer and radio news director Sharon McGhee died in Columbia, Missouri on September 11 at age 54 after a long battle with ovarian cancer. She joined urban talk WVON, Chicago in 1997 and was promoted to news director the following year. She left the radio business to focus on her love of the arts and entertainment and in 2007, wrote the critically acclaimed “The Pocketbook Monologues” and subsequently directed multiple staged performances across the United States. McGhee returned to WVON in 2008 as news director and resigned from that position in 2010 due to health reasons. WVON president Melody Spann Cooper states, “Sharon McGhee was one of the most creative people I’ve ever known. Her determination, passion and drive brought her to Chicago where she excelled in everything that was on her professional and personal agenda. She was a rare breed determined to do it her way, and she did.”
Former Merlin Media News Pros Land with Virtual News Center. News staffers Veronica Carter and Katherine Kelly were two of the news pros who worked at Merlin Media’s FM news outlet in Chicago and exited the station when it flipped formats. They join the team at Virtual News Center which describes itself as “the largest independent provider of local news for radio heard on over 175 stations in nearly 80 markets.” The company works on a cash direct basis or via barter through Envision Radio Networks. Veronica Carter spent her 25 year radio career in Illinois, Indiana, and California, heavily involved in all facets of news reporting and anchoring. On her Merlin experience she says, “Working for Merlin Media was short lived, but an adventure to say the least! Glad to be with Virtual News Center, it’s actually fun doing newscasts all over the country!” Katherine Kelly worked in Peoria, Illinois and the Quad Cities as well as in Seattle and Chicago. Kelly anchored news as a part of some of the country’s top morning shows. She also helped launch the Oprah Radio Network on Sirius XM. She states, “I am incredibly honored to be joining the team at Virtual News Center. Now I can cover just as many cities without leaving home!”
New Jersey 101.5 Reporter Honored for Series on Teen Drug Abuse. The New Jersey Governor’s Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse honors New Jersey 101.5 reporter Stacy Proesbtle with its Community Service Award. Proesbtle is pictured here (from l-r) with NJ 101.5 brand manager Eric Johnson, NJ 101.5 news director Eric Scott, Proesbtle, and Council executive director John Hulick at the Council’s 21st annual Summit at the Hyatt Regency New Brunswick, New Jersey. Proebstle’s five-part series about the abuse of heroin and other opiates among New Jersey’s youth focused on prescription drug abuse, accidental overdoses, how abuse often begins at home and the fact that prescription drug abuse can happen to anyone. Proebstle talked to recovering addicts, parents, prevention specialists, substance abuse professionals and law enforcement officers to address current trends and issues along with possible solutions. On receiving the honor, Proesbtle says, “I’m absolutely delighted to receive this honor on behalf of the station and most genuinely grateful. It validates the importance of community service and giving back to one’s community.”
Cumulus San Francisco Inks 49ers for 12-Year Extension. Appearing on sports talk KNBR, San Francisco’s Murph & Mac morning show, Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey joined 49ers CEO Jed York to announce the stations and the NFL clubs have agreed to a 12-year contract extension to keep the team’s games on KNBR, news/talk KGO and rock KSAN in the market. During that appearance on the program, Dickey said, “While the trend in radio has been for shorter deals with sports teams, this 12-year partnership demonstrates the commitment of KNBR and Cumulus to the 49ers, and further cements KNBR as the ‘Sports Leader in Northern California’ for almost 25 years.”
WEEI, Boston Helps Celebrate Red Sox Broadcaster Joe Castiglione’s 30th Anniversary. Prior to last night’s Boston Red Sox game, Entercom sports talker WEEI celebrated the 30th anniversary of play-by-play announcer Joe Castiglione with an appearance at the WEEI studios by Castiglione on the afternoon drive “Big Show” with Glenn Ordway and Michael Holley. The evening also featured a half-hour pre-game tribute show that included a video at Fenway Park and on-field recognition from the team.
Conservative Chuck Morse and Liberal Dr. Patrick O’Heffernan Split. Veteran Boston-based conservative talk host Chuck Morse and California-based liberal Dr. Patrick O’Heffernan have ended their left-right internet talk radio program, “Fairness Radio with Chuck Morse & Dr. Patrick O’Heffernan,” after it became impossible to work together, according to Morse. The two will host separate programs on the internet and affiliated radio stations.
Long-Running Speaker Series Continues with Author of ‘Fast and Furious’ Book. WNDB, Daytona Beach talk host Marc Bernier (at left) conducted his 80th “Town Hall” interview and live broadcast in The Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University “President Speaker Series,” with Townhall.com investigative reporter Katie Pavlich (at right) before a live audience on Wednesday, September 12. Pavlich is author of Fast and Furious: Barack Obama’s Bloodiest Scandal and the Shameless Cover-Up (Regnery 2012). Photo: Arthur J. Byrnes.
U.S. Ambassador Killed in Libya Strike, Cairo Unrest, Obama-Netanyahu Relations, and Chicago Teachers Strike Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/12). The death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens after a violent assault on the U.S. consulate; violent anti-American protests in Cairo; reports of President Obama’s snubbing of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Obama Administration’s Iran policy; and the continuing Chicago teachers strike were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Journal Broadcast Group Promotes Beverlee Brannigan to VP of Programming. Milwaukee-based Journal Broadcast Group promotes KFDI, Wichita operations manager and program director Beverlee Brannigan to vice president of programming for the entire broadcast group. In making the announcement, Journal EVP Steve Wexler states, “While Beverlee is best known for her country radio programming expertise, she has demonstrated her ability to apply sound strategic thinking across multiple formats and markets. I am thrilled to welcome her to our corporate team and look forward to her contributions. Many very talented programmers expressed interest in this position, so it is gratifying to be able to promote from within Journal. This is a well-deserved promotion for one of our brightest people.” Journal operates a number of news/talk and sports talk outlets including flagship news/talker WTMJ, Milwaukee.
Registrations Booking Fast for Talkers New Media Seminar/LA 2012. Registrations for the West Coast installment of this year’s innovative two-part Talkers New Media Seminar are now being booked. Based upon initial demand it will be an early sellout – just as the standing room-only New York installment this past June and last year’s experimental Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum. The gathering is following the new format consisting of one solid, power-packed day, a drastically-reduced recession-friendly registration fee of $99 (including breakfast, lunch, refreshments and all sessions) and a limited seating capacity in an intimate setting. Set for Thursday, October 11 between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm, the conference will take place at the historic Steve Allen Theater and again be presented by TALKERS in association with the Los Angeles Press Club which is based out of that colorful venue. According to TALKERS founder Michael Harrison, “Last year’s experimental Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum was a smashing success that set the stage for this year’s two-part bi-coastal national event. The first part of this new version of the convention that was held in New York this past June was one of the most productive and well-received conferences in TALKERS magazine’s history. LA will be equally if not more exciting a happening! Attendees will enjoy a memorable day of dynamic networking and exposure to the most sought-after views and information about the industry’s hottest challenges, opportunities and issues.” Full agenda details and hotel information will be posted here at Talkers.com in the coming days and weeks – but to assure registration, attendees are advised to sign up now. Because it is open only to working media, there will be no online registration — only by telephone. For registration and sponsorship information call 413-565-5413. Click here. for more details.
TuneIn Adds NPR Programming to Its Service. Online audio aggregator TuneIn strikes a deal with NPR to expand the reach of the public radio broadcaster’s programming across the internet. Users of TuneIn will be able to hear NPR programming – including “Morning Edition,” “All Things Considered,” and “Fresh Air” – live as they are broadcast on member stations as well as archived via TuneIn’s array of more than 2 million podcasts. NPR VP of digital media Zach Brand states, “The collaboration with TuneIn allows us and our member stations to attract more diverse audiences as audio streaming explodes across mobile devices. Through TuneIn, loyal and new listeners will be able to seamlessly enjoy their favorite programs and stations, and discover new NPR shows wherever they are and whenever they want.”
WTKK, Boston Hosts “Cocktails & Conversation with Jonah Goldberg.” That’s WTKK, Boston talk host Michael Graham on the left side of the dais speaking with author Jonah Goldberg on the right at a sold-out appearance by the author at the Café Escadrille in suburban Boston. Attendees of the three-hour event got to hear an “unedited and unplugged” conversation about Goldberg’s new book, Tyranny of Ideas: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas (Sentinel HC 2012). After the presentation, Goldberg autographed copies of his book for those in attendance.
Odds ‘n’ Sods. ESPN Radio is providing coverage of the British Open golf tournament beginning next Thursday, July 19 with a six-hour broadcast live from Royal Lytham & St. Annes beginning at 7:00 am ET…..New York talk host Steve Malzberg is busy this summer on the fill-in circuit. He recently sat in for Chris Krok at WBAP-AM/FM, Dallas. He’s in for Jack Riccardi at KTSA, San Antonio this week and he’ll be subbing for Chris Plante at WMAL-AM/FM, Washington next week…..KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh talk host Marty Griffin hosted a live broadcast in the borough of Bellevue combined with a “grillabration” at which more than 600 hot dogs and sausages were served to listeners protesting the borough’s new restrictions on outdoor grilling. In the picture here, Griffin is behind the grill with Ernie Ricci from Ricci’s Italian Sausage…..Twin Cities radio personality Tom Barnard announces he’s signed a new four-year deal to remain with Cumulus Media’s classic rock KRQS, Minneapolis…..WVON, Chicago’s morning drive personality Matt McGill had Tia Norfleet as his guest co-host on the program today (7/13). Norfleet is the only African-American female driver licensed to drive for NASCAR. Norfleet brought her race car to the studios of WVON for the public to come by and check out. After the program, she did a meet and greet with WVON listeners.
KTRH, Houston’s Michael Berry Hosts Premiere of Conservative Movie. Houston-based talk show host Michael Berry (l) is pictured here with the producers of the new movie “2016: Obama’s America” at a theater in the Houston area. Dinesh D’Souza (c) and Gerald Molen (r) appeared in town for the premiere at which more than 500 of Berry’s listeners attended. The three held a Q&A session for the crowd as well. Berry tells TALKERS this was the first showing of the movie to a public crowd and he says he believes the audience was encouraged and left the theater filled with the knowledge of where President Obama came from and where his vision for America was going to lead us. “2016: Obama’s America” opens in theaters across the country over the next few weeks and Berry will be hosting the Nashville premiere at the end of July for his affiliate station WLAC.
Why I Love The Fan. In light of the recent 25th anniversary of WFAN, New York, sports talk host Dan Sileo – afternoon drive host on Beasley’s WQAM, Miami – writes about why The Fan is such a special station and continues to be after all these years. Read Dan’s piece here.
2012 Presidential Race Returns to #1 on the Talkers TenTM. The 2012 presidential race was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week of July 9 – 13, landing it atop the Talkers TenTM chart of the week’s top stories. Coming in at #2 was the Obama tax cut extension proposal. At #3 was weak job numbers tied with financial markets activity and at #4 was the Euro Zone debt crisis. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from Talkers, and is published each Friday at Talkers.com. View the entire chart here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. Talk personality Leslie Marshall is added to the program schedule at WRVC, Huntington, West Virginia…..Fox Sports Radio Network is the affiliate network for WCCW-AM, Traverse City, Michigan as Fox Sports Radio 1310 will launch on August 30. The station will air the network’s entire lineup including: Fox Sports Daybreak, Dan Patrick, Jim Rome, Loose Cannons and Petros & Money.
All-Hannity Stunt Points to New FM Talker in Philly. Merlin Media dropped the Christian talk on its new WKDN-FM, Philadelphia and began airing Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity round the clock. The move seems to back the speculation that Merlin will not follow the footsteps of its New York and Chicago FMs with an all-news format but will go news/talk. It’s expected the station will soon clear Premiere’s Rush Limbaugh and possibly Glenn Beck as well as it builds an FM talk station with Philadelphia native son Al Gardner as PD and morning drive host. Merlin also changed the call letters of the station to WWIQ-FM.
News/Talk KFI, Los Angeles Wins March PPM Battle. It’s not often a commercial news/talk station is ranked the top station in a PPM market, but Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s KFI, Los Angeles topped sister Top 40 KIIS-FM by a tenth of a point to win the March PPM contest with a 4.9 share. A few news/talk stations have landed in the top spot in the monthly PPMs – Journal Broadcasting’s WTMJ, Milwaukee has a track record of dominance in that market as does Cox Media‘s WOKV-AM/FM, Jacksonville – but for the most part, the number one slot is usually nabbed by a music or all-news station. It goes to show the astounding cume KFI has in the market.
Clear Channel Reorganizes Marketing Structure; Tim Castelli Replaces Charlie Rahilly. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment makes a major move to “unify and align its marketing offerings under one umbrella” with the creation of a new, unified sales and marketing group led by former AOL executive Tim Castelli. CC states, “This move, the latest in the company’s transformation to a fully integrated, multi-platform media and entertainment company, creates an unprecedented opportunity for partners to tap into the company’s unparalleled reach of 237 million people a month (the largest of any radio or television outlet in America) and unmatched collection of media assets.” CCME chairman and CEO John Hogan says, “This is an entirely new way to leverage the unmatched national reach with local engagement capabilities of Clear Channel Radio Sales, Strategic Partnerships, Clear Channel Connections, Digital, event sponsorships and Premiere Radio Networks Sales supported by innovative programs and world class custom marketing insights.” In addition to Castelli’s hiring, Clear Channel announces Condé Nast’s Holly Lang joins the company as senior vice president, marketing solutions. Lang is responsible for conceiving and implementing innovative marketing programs for national advertisers, with a special focus on consumer brands. Also, Chris Monteleone, formerly vice president of partner strategy at Madison Square Garden, has been named senior vice president, event sponsorship sales and development.
New Jersey 101.5 Gives Steve Trevelise the Evening Show. Townsquare Media’s WKXW-FM, Trenton – New Jersey 101.5 – announces part-time staffer Steve Trevelise is named permanent host of the evening show on the station. Trevelise has been sitting in hosting the evening program since the station parted ways with Michelle Jerson. Now, brand manager Eric Johnson states, “There are few in radio that I know who sound more Jersey than Steve! We are thrilled he is bringing his passion and knowledge of the state to weekday evenings on New Jersey 101.5. Having been here part-time for a few years now, he has worked hard to earn this position and knows how to relate to our more than 1 million listeners.” In addition to his radio career, Trevelise is a stand-up comic and has performed at comedy clubs throughout New Jersey. He currently owns and operates Sarcasm Comedy Club in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
Midway Broadcasting’s WVON, Chicago Joins iHeartRadio. The Windy City’s urban talk outlet, WVON, is the latest station to join Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s mobile/digital radio service iHeartRadio. Midway Broadcasting chairman Melody Spann Cooper states, “I think this is a win-win for both WVON and iHeartRadio. We’ll reach a national audience, our listeners will have the benefit of taking the station wherever they go by using their smart phones, and iHeartRadio gets the benefit of our best-in-class urban talk format.” The station says it is embarking on an aggressive promotional campaign to introduce iHeartRadio and to educate its listeners on its usage.
Gabe Hobbs Named Strategic Advisor at Listener Driven Radio. Former Clear Channel news/talk and sports corporate programmer Gabe Hobbs joins Listener Driven Radio to spearhead the company’s LDR.TopicPulse – what the company describes as “a new system that offers real time social media topic tracking, so news/talk stations can see what local audiences are talking about up-to-the-second.” LDR further describes LDR.TopicPulse as “valuable real-time information to show producers and hosts on which topics and news stories are ‘getting buzz’ in their market on social media. The system scans all available news sources, local blogs, Facebook posts, Tweets and other social media. Then, producers can see a report – which is updated to the second – on the hottest trending topics and their shelf life.” On his new position, Hobbs states, “LDR’s team is the finest group of interactive innovators in the country. I’m proud to join the team to translate the success LDR is having at music radio to the news/talk/sports formats.”
Salem Radio Network Host Dr. Richard Land Responds to Plagiarism Accusations. Southern Baptist Dr. Richard Land – host of the “Richard Land Live” Saturday program syndicated by Salem Radio Network – responds to accusations he pulled direct commentary for a monologue about the Trayvon Martin case from an editorial by Jeffrey Kuhner of the Washington Times. Land admits he failed to provide verbal attribution on the program for using some content and apologizes. Land states he did not intend to deceive and always posts his source material on his program’s website. SRN VP of news and talk programming Tom Tradup tells TALKERS, “SRN stands firmly behind Dr. Richard Land, whose ethical standards and intellect are recognized around the world. An oversight in giving an on-air mention to a source he clearly posted on his website hardly rises to the level of ‘plagiarism.’ That standard is reserved for individuals like Vice President Joe Biden, who was forced to abandon his 2008 presidential campaign when it was revealed he was recycling entire speeches from British Labour Policy figure Neal Kinnock. Or President Obama himself, who was found to be lifting entire sections of speeches formerly delivered by his friend DeVal Patrick, the Governor of Massachusetts. It says a lot about Richard Land that he has acknowledged that he can do better…and that he has pledged to do just that.”
Dial Global Names Michael Schreck SVP/Director of Corporate Sports. In his new position as senior vice president and director of corporate sports, Michael Schreck will be responsible for sports sales and marketing as well as league and team negotiations for Dial Global. Co-president and CEO David Landau states, “Michael has a proven track record of success in cultivating both advertiser and league partnerships. With his leadership, we are looking forward to continuing to define great moments for our advertisers and the millions of sports fans our broadcasts touch.”
Dave Ramsey Invades San Antonio. Nationally syndicated talk radio star Dave Ramsey (pictured here on stage in San Antonio) addressed more than 6,000 fans during the presentation of his “Total Money Makeover Live.” Ramsey also spoke before some 1,000 local business people as he presented his EntreLeadership 1-Day event. Affiliate KTSA, San Antonio benefitted from Ramsey’s appearance in town. General sales manager Coreena Hazelett says, “One of the invaluable things about Dave’s Live Event visit is the time he puts aside for our sponsors. The clients really get the opportunity to connect one on one with Dave, and they are moved by his desire to see their businesses succeed. He’s not just a host on the radio, he’s a true partner who’s committed to the success of our station and our advertisers.”
Secret Service Prostitute Scandal, 2012 Presidential Race, ‘Buffet Rule’ Blocked by Senate GOP, GSA Wasteful Spending and ObamaCare Status Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/16). The backlash against the Secret Service after agents found in prostitution scandal in South America; the 2012 presidential race including the flap over Ann Romney homemaker comments; the Senate GOP’s blocking of the ‘Buffet Rule’ to tax the super rich; the investigation into wasteful spending by the General Services Administration and the legal status of ObamaCare were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Cumulus Media Networks’ Mike Huckabee Debuts Today. The number of affiliates set to air the Mike Huckabee show is pegged at somewhere between 175 and 200. The eager anticipation of Huckabee’s debut would not be so intense were it not for the facts that the show airs live from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET – the same time period as Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh – and that the latter is recovering from the backlash and intense consumer media scrutiny that followed the Sandra Fluke controversy. Regardless, the industry will certainly be watching how Huckabee’s Cumulus Media Networks program takes off but the consumer media appears to be salivating at the notion that Limbaugh has “competition.” The fact, of course, is that every radio show has competition of one sort or another and Limbaugh has faced high-profile talent in his daypart in the past – most notably from Fox News Channel superstar Bill O’Reilly for a number of years. Mike Huckabee will succeed if he hosts a compelling program that grabs listeners. Broadcasters understand that will happen or not independent of what other talk show hosts are doing or whether they are facing a “crisis.” As TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison told Politico in a piece published over the weekend, “This isn’t an election, it’s an industry. There’s room for both, just like there’s room for Letterman and Leno. Yes, every competitor hurts Limbaugh. But Huckabee is basically just another competitor. If he takes a little away from Limbaugh, fine. But he also has the potential to expand the talk radio audience.”
Rumors of Major Syndication Changes in Philadelphia and New York; Smerconish to Bump Limbaugh from WPHT. And possibly more than that…but first things first. A very hot rumor out of Philadelphia has WYD Media-produced Michael Smerconish’s nationally syndicated program airing live 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm on CBS Radio’s news/talk WPHT– where Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh does right now. Smerconish is currently delayed to PM drive on WPHT. Radio-Info’s Tom Taylor wrote about the other part of this rumor in his morning blast on 4/6: Merlin Media may be planning to go talk and not all-news on WKDN-FM, Philadelphia – its new property which is still airing Christian programming from prior owner Family Stations. With former WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte morning drive host (and Philly native) Al Gardner hired to program and possibly host mornings at WKDN-FM and Rush Limbaugh possibly soon-to-be-available (plus Premiere’s Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck available, as Tom Taylor points out), a move to talk would be much less personnel intensive and would enjoy the ability to grab three of the biggest news/talk personalities in the business. But there’s more…other chatter coming out of New York is that Merlin Media has been talking to Premiere Networks about bringing Rush Limbaugh to its all-newser FM News 101.9 (WEMP-FM) if Cumulus Media decides to put new national syndication rollout Mike Huckabee on WABC in Limbaugh’s place. Then one would have to ask the question, “Would Merlin do the same with WWWN-FM, Chicago if Cumulus bumped Limbaugh in exchange for Huckabee on its news/talker WLS?” Stay tuned.
KFAQ, Tulsa Talk Host Pat Campbell Responds to Deadly Shootings. KFAQ, Tulsa morning drive talk host Pat Campbell tells TALKERS his program responded very quickly to a series of shootings in the city in which five citizens – all African American – were shot and three died. Campbell says he hosted a special Saturday noontime edition of his program to address the crimes and seek the public’s assistance in capturing suspects. He tells TALKERS, “I had the mayor in the studio urging calm but more importantly, cooperation with the police. We urged listeners that might have any information to call the Crime Stoppers Hotline and the good news is that a tip came in around 4:00 pm that led to the arrest of the suspects early Sunday morning. This is an example of talk radio at its best! Rather than becoming a wedge like we’ve seen in the Trayvon Martin case, 1170 KFAQ brought the community together and got the bad guys off the street.”
WQAM, Miami Standing By Sports Talk Host Sid Rosenberg After DUI Arrest Last Week. WQAM, Miami afternoon sports talk host Sid Rosenberg was back on the air on Friday after spending most of Thursday in jail following an early morning arrest on DUI and driving on a suspended license charges. Rosenberg, who has spoken publicly about past substance abuse issues and has talked of having twice been to rehab, is being supported by his superiors at the Beasley sports talk outlet. The Miami Herald reports WQAM program director Lee Feldman stating, for now, Rosenberg is not being suspended. WQAM general manager Joe Bell declined to comment to the paper.
Matt Lauer to Remain with NBC’s “Today.” The months of speculation about the future of television talk host Matt Lauer have come to an end as NBC announced Lauer has signed a multi-year contract to remain with the network’s morning news magazine program. The buzz in the industry included rumors Lauer would rejoin Katie Couric at rival ABC. Though Couric is set to begin a new chapter in her career at ABC with her own daytime talk show, ABC’s “Good Morning America” has been closing the ratings gap between it and “Today.” On Lauer’s signing, NBC News president Steve Capus tells The New York Times, “Matt is the franchise, and our franchise player has decided to keep leading our team.” The Times story notes that “Today” has been in first place in the morning news show ratings for the past 16 years.
Fox News Channel Brings Santita Jackson Aboard as Contributor. The daughter of Rev. Jesse Jackson left Midway Broadcasting’s WVON, Chicago due to budget cuts last fall. Now, Santita Jackson is named a contributor for Fox News Channel. Santita Jackson is also producer of Jesse Jackson’s weekly Premiere Networks-syndicated talk show “Keep Hope Alive.”
Raubin Pierce Leaves On-Air Position with WIBW, Topeka for Management Post at Manhattan Broadcasting. Raubin Pierce co-hosted the “On the Other Hand” talk show with co-host Megan Mosack at Morris Communications’ WIBW, Topeka and served as the company’s director of information technology. He’s left those duties to become operations director and head of new media at Manhattan Broadcasting in Manhattan, Kansas. The company operates four stations in the Manhattan market including news/talk KMAN. Pierce tells the Topeka Capital-Journal, “This was just a fantastic opportunity. There was just no way that I couldn’t do this.”
Longtime South Florida Broadcaster Patricia Anderson Dies from Cancer at 54. Trish Anderson was well known on South Florida radio. During her career she worked as a producer, voice-over talent, sports reporter and traffic reporter at stations including WINZ and WIOD, Miami. Anderson battled breast and bone cancer. She passed away on March 31.
Johnny B at Wrigley Field. That’s WGN, Chicago morning drive host Jonathon Brandmeier (center with sunglasses) surrounded by the Chicago band The Fold at the Captain Morgan club at Wrigley Field on Opening Day. The Fold won the station’s contest to write an original song celebrating the Chicago Cubs. The winning song – “Let’s Go Cubbies” – is being played at the beginning of each Cubs game broadcast on WGN this season. The band was with Brandmeier on Opening Day to perform the song live at WGN’s pre-game broadcast and live remote.
WLS, Chicago Puts Local TV News Brothers Together for Weekend Show. WLS, Chicago operations director Drew Hayes announces the debut of a new Sunday afternoon talk show co-hosted by local TV reporters Dan and Anthony Ponce. Anthony Ponce works at NBC O&O WMAQ-TV as a general assignment reporter while Dan Ponce is a general assignment reporter at Tribune’s WGN-TV. Dan also co-founded the nationally recognized a capella singing group Straight No Chaser. Together they will recap the top national and local stories and give listeners a chance to grade the media. “There’s always so much more to report beyond the time we have on TV. This is the perfect opportunity to tell the story behind the story,” says Dan. “We’re hoping to give listeners a peek into the world of Chicago journalism and hear their opinions about the week’s biggest stories and how they’re covered,” adds Anthony. Drew Hayes states, “Dan and Anthony have enormous energy, contacts and hands-on experience with Chicago’s biggest news stories which they combine with an organic sense of entertainment. More importantly, the Ponce Brothers bring an enthusiastic thirst for feedback giving WLS listeners a unique opportunity to talk back to the ‘news media.’”
CBS Radio Closes on Purchase from Family Stations Inc. Less than a week after firing up its all-news format on WNEW-FM, Washington, DC at 99.1 (licensed to Bowie, Maryland), CBS Radio closes on the station that made the format shift possible. CBS Radio bought WLWL-FM, Annapolis at 107.9 from Family Stations, Inc for a reported $8.5 million (CBS has not officially stated the purchase price) in November of last year. That allowed CBS to move its Spanish “El Zol” format to the 107.9 frequency and debut the all-news WNEW-FM on the 99.1 frequency.
Carolyn Polke Promoted to SVP of Digital at Glenn Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts. Glenn Beck’s production company, Mercury Radio Arts, announces Carolyn Polke is promoted to senior vice president of digital for the company she’s been with since 2006. She is responsible for the continued development and marketing of GBTV, GlennBeck.com and Mercury’s other e-commerce initiatives. Mercury president and COO Christopher Balfe says, “Mercury is leading the way in developing innovative digital platforms to connect with readers, viewers, and listeners around the globe. Carolyn is an incredibly talented leader and I’m thrilled to have her in charge of building and managing our most important products.” Polke works out of Mercury’s New York City headquarters.
WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange to Host Talk Show on RT Network. He’s reviled in some quarters and hailed as a hero of transparency in others and soon Australian national Julian Assange will be talking with “iconoclasts, visionaries and power insiders” on a planned 10-program series produced and aired by the former Russia Today cable channel known as RT. The network boasts a worldwide audience of 430 million people. There is no announced start date for the program but Assange is currently under house arrest in Great Britain as he fights extradition to Sweden on sex crime charges.
Urban, Female-Targeted “Café Mocha” Program Inks Ads Sales Rep Agreement with Cumulus Media Networks. The two-year-old, weekend syndicated variety program is currently heard in 20 markets across the country. It’s co-hosted by Grammy-nominated artist MC Lyte, actress/comedienne Loni Love and broadcast pro Angelique Perrin. The show was created and is produced by Sheila Eldridge who says, “It’s an exciting time for us as we grow our various brand extensions and answer the requests of our listeners to be everywhere and to go mobile. Our new ‘Café Mocha To Go’ on-demand app has been a huge success, offering listeners’ uncut content, exclusive celebrity interviews, social commentary, on-demand music mixes by MC Lyte, and inspirational messages. Our goal is to expand the on-air experience for listeners and increase our global presence!” The show is a blend of urban music, interviews with celebrities and newsmakers, conversations and advice. It’s produced by Miles Ahead Broadcasting.
Clarification. Yesterday’s piece on Santita Jackson’s program at WVON, Chicago needs a bit of clarification. According to Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder, Jackson’s late morning program has been off the station since December and she is working on developing a nationally syndicated program. Midway Broadcasting chairman and WVON GM Melody Spann Cooper tells Feder, “Santita’s goal is to have a national platform and I need some time to get over a little [financial] slump. When she rolls out on a national level, I will clear this market for her, let her use our studios and give her all the support I can give her.”
Gingrich-Romney Primary Battle, Obama State of the Union Aftermath and Euro Zone Tensions Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/25). The fierce battle between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney for votes in next week’s Florida primary, analysis of President Obama’s State of the Union Address and revived concerns about the economic stability of the Euro Zone were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
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.