KSCO, Santa Cruz Is an Independent Talker that Flies in the Face of Corporatism. The news/talk radio station in question is not owned by a hedge fund or multi-billion dollar conglomerate. Nor is it in debt. Its ownership group doesn’t occupy the top floors of a big-city skyscraper. You will not see the morning or afternoon show brandishing seven-figure contracts, nor the corporate PD flying into town on the company Lear jet, or the “brand manager” moving from market to market implementing new strategies to grow the market cluster. The fact of the matter is none of the above elements – which have become somewhat commonplace in today’s radio industry – exist at this station. 10k KSCO (1080 AM) is located in Santa Cruz, California, in a neat stand-alone building (that also houses its smaller sister station KOMY 1340 AM – a facility that its owner uses as a developmental farm club) on a piece of land that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. It would be the envy of any real estate developer in a town known for its college, its beach and boardwalk, liberalism, the state park land and forests that surround it, and is an 80-minute drive from San Francisco. KSCO is also one of the last “mom & pop” radio stations left in the United States. It has not only survived the Telecommunications Act of 1996, it has thrived despite consolidation based upon several key factors, including vision by its family ownership, a shocking format change by a chief competitor, along with a non-traditional revenue approach, and a solid and real commitment to a local audience. To understand KSCO, how it operates and its success, you have to understand the people who run the highly successful news/talk station. TALKERS correspondent Jeff McKay writes a special feature about a special station. To read it, click here.
Al Gardner Gone from WWIQ, Philadelphia Morning Show. At Merlin Media’s WWIQ, Philadelphia “IQ 106.9,” morning co-host Al Gardner is out and, though TALKERS has not had a response yet to its inquiry from management about the move, chatter in the Philly radio scene is they want to take the morning show in a less “conservative” direction. Morning show co-host Lionel and news director Michelle Murillo are still listed on the station’s web page, but it’s unclear what the station’s plans are for the future of the daypart.
NBC Sports Radio and Dial Global Name McNabb and Malone PM Drive Hosts. Six weeks after teasing the former NFL quarterback would be part of the NBC Sports Radio Network 24/7 lineup, it’s announced Donovan McNabb, and another former NFL QB Mark Malone, will pair up for the network’s 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm program called, “Under Center with McNabb & Malone” beginning April 1. Mark Malone has been serving as an analyst for Dial Global Sports‘ Sunday afternoon NFL package and he also hosts “NFL Insider” each week. Dial Global EVP/GM Chris Corcoran says, “We’ve got two quarterbacks, two leaders, two competitive former professional athletes and two current media personalities who know all sports – you know this is going to be a fun ride for sports fans!”
Salem Chicago Confirms New Joe Walsh Show. As Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder reported last week, one-term Republican Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh begins a new 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm talk show on Salem Communications’ WIND beginning Monday, March 25. General manager Jeff Reisman states, “There are few politicians in Illinois or anywhere in the country that garner as much attention as Joe Walsh. Joe is an outspoken defender of freedom, and because of his firsthand experience in Congress, he brings a unique perspective to the national conversation as our country searches for answers during these challenging times.” Walsh’s arrival bumps Salem Radio Network’s Hugh Hewitt to the 2:00 am to 5:00 am slot. Feder quotes Walsh saying, “We’re at a crucial point in this country, and I’m excited to take the debate right to listeners throughout Chicagoland via the airwaves. The radio program will be a great platform to help grow a freedom movement which is already gaining momentum right here in Illinois. I intend to do with this program what I did as a U.S. congressman — speak plainly, speak directly, not worry about political correctness, and engage in respectful, engaging debate with all viewpoints. This is just too important of a time for all of us to do anything less.” Walsh’s agent tells Feder if things go well the show could go national.
‘Phil’s Gang’ Returns to Denver on KRCN. The nationally syndicated business talk show “Phil’s Gang” – hosted by nationally recognized investor and entrepreneur Phil Grande – returns to the Denver airwaves on KRCN 1060 “The Biz” at 1:00 pm beginning Monday, March 18. Radio Colorado Network general manager Les Haber states, “We are excited and very pleased that Phil Grande is back in Denver because he is one of the best investment talk show hosts in the country. Phil Grande brings insightful information that is very current and very cutting edge to an audience that will benefit from his program.” Grande’s show is independently syndicated to stations across America and he describes his program as providing “all the information that Wall Street and the government doesn’t want you to know.”
CBS Radio’s “92.9 The Game” Atlanta Adds Kristen Ledlow to AM Drive Show. The five-month-old Atlanta CBS Radio sports talker brings Kristen Ledlow aboard the “Opening Drive” morning show with Rick Kamla and Randy Cross. Ledlow takes over for CJ Simpson who leaves the program to be the in-game host of the WNBA’s L.A. Sparks broadcasts. Ledlow comes to the station after serving as the Southeast field reporter with Fox Sports NEXT in Atlanta. She’s also worked as television host and sideline reporter with ABC News in Tallahassee and as co-host on ESPN Radio in Tallahassee. WZGC program director Terry Foxx states, “We were very fortunate that Kristen was available. She has tremendous passion, an incredible personality and a love for sports.”
Fisher House Foundation Offers Second Annual Memorial Day Program for News/Talk Stations. For the second year in a row, the three-hour “A Grateful Nation” program is being offered for broadcast by news/talk stations this Memorial Day weekend. The program is a project of the Fisher House Foundation which provides no-cost housing and other support for the families of wounded warriors while their loved ones are being treated at military and VA hospitals. The radio special debuted last year as a one-hour program, but was expanded to a three-hour format in its second year due to popular demand. The program includes profiles of several wounded warriors who have overcome serious injuries to build full and happy lives. It also looks at how today’s America remembers her fallen heroes and cares for the loved ones left behind. It’s hosted by Scott Slade, award-winning host of “Atlanta’s Morning News” on Cox Media Group’s WSB-AM/FM. Slade states, “It’s so important that we continue to remember and support our volunteer military and their families. These folks make incredible sacrifices to protect our freedom and keep us safe. I’m honored to tell their stories.” Produced by Bloomquist Media and distributed by Premiere Networks, interested stations can get more information and sign-up for “A Grateful Nation,” by contacting Kurt Kretzschmar at 602-374-6351 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Russillo and Ryan Come Off the Bench for Celtics Broadcast. ESPN Radio personality Ryen Russillo and Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan will sub for Cedric Maxwell alongside Sean Grande in the radio booth for WEEI, Boston’s broadcast of Saturday’s Boston Celtics vs Charlotte. Russillo co-hosts ESPN Radio’s SVP & Russillo show.
Herring Broadcasting and The Washington Times Partnering on New Conservative Cable News/Talk Channel. Various media reports indicate a new conservative-slanted cable TV news/talk channel is scheduled to hit cable systems beginning around July 1, 2013. Deadline.com reports it’ll be called One America News, and be a combined effort of The Washington Times and Herring Broadcasting, owner of WealthTV. President Charles Herring is quoted saying his family’s company has invested “hundreds of millions of dollars” into the San Diego-based media outlet that will broadcast a combo of news and conservative talk and expects to be available in about 10 million to 20 million homes to start. The story also quotes Herring saying he plans “to open up another front and give independents, libertarians and all kind of different voices under the conservative umbrella an opportunity to express themselves.”
Chuck Wilder Returns to CRN Digital Talk Radio Show. Veteran radio host Chuck Wilder will be back behind the mic of his “Talkback with Chuck Wilder” program on March 18 on CRN Digital Talk Radio after being on medical leave since late January. With Wilder out, a number of top radio personalities have been sitting in including: Barry Farber, Frank Morano of New York City’s WNYM AM 970, actor P.J. Ochlan of the TV series “Castle,” Jennifer Horn, of “Doug Stephan’s Good Day,” Larry Van Aalst of CRN’s “What’s Cookin’ on Wine: Sonoma Report,” and actor and radio host Fred Dryer, among others. Wilder says, “I’m extremely pleased to have such great talent filling in for me during my leave and I’m especially happy to hear how great our audience has responded to them in the interim. It’s been a great experience to listen to the show these last two months, but I’m looking forward to returning to the studio and getting back to work.” The show airs 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm PT on CRN and its affiliates across the country.
Eclectic Group of Visionaries Set for “Big Picture” Panel at Talkers New York 2013. The stellar roster of speakers at the forthcoming Talkers New York 2013 continues to be unveiled. The lineup is being set for this year’s “Radio: The Big Picture” panel. Moderated by TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, the panel’s speakers include (in alphabetical order): Jeremy Coleman, SVP/talk and entertainment, Sirius XM; Steve Goldstein, EVP, Saga Communications; Ron Hartenbaum, CEO, WYD/WYM Media; Mike McVay, SVP/programming, Cumulus Media; Tom Ray, president, Tom Ray Consulting; Walter Sabo, chairman, Sabo Media; and Dennis Wharton, VP/communications, NAB. ”It is always an invigorating challenge to moderate these ‘Big Picture’ panels because of the diversity of specialties brought to the table by the movers and shakers participating,” says moderator Harrison. “The idea is to create a lightning-fast informal chat session giving serious insights to at least 15 burning issues relevant to the industry.” Talkers New York 2013 takes place Thursday, June 6 and is on track to being an early sellout. Because of space limitations, registration is only open to working members of the media and can only be taken via telephone at 413-565-5413. Stay tuned to Talkers.com for more agenda details about speakers, panels, presentations and award recipients coming in the immediate days ahead.
Mike Gallagher Live from CPAC. Salem Radio Network syndicated talk host Mike Gallagher is in Washington, DC broadcasting his program live from the site of CPAC 2013. He’s pictured here talking on the air with former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich and oil industry expert Scott Noble about energy policy. CPAC 2013 takes place through this weekend.
Sequestration and Budget Battle Stay Atop Talkers TenTM for Fourth Straight Week. The debate in Washington over the sequestration and the nation’s budget deficit and national debt was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, according to ongoing research from TALKERS. Coming in at #2 was the naming of Pope Francis as leader of the Catholic Church. At number #3 was the costs of the Affordable Health Care Act followed by North Korea’s military threats 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 published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s chart here.
Glenn Ordway to Exit WEEI, Boston. Addressing the story of his departure that leaked to Boston.com’s Chad Finn, longtime personality — and one of the original architects of the sports talk station – Glenn Ordway announced on Wednesday he is leaving the station because management wants to make changes. The original story from Finn reports Boston native and current KIRO, Seattle sports talk personality Mike Salk will join Michael Holley on the PM drive show. That has not been confirmed, although WEEI vice president of programming and operations Jason Wolfe says in a subsequent press release that the station will announce Holley’s new co-host soon. In discussing his departure on the air – a very cool thing for WEEI management to allow him to do, in the opinion of TALKERS editors — Ordway said, in part, “I have great admiration for that brand on the wall. I was part of the beginning of it…I’ve been meeting [programmer] Jason Wolfe…It’s obvious we are not getting the ratings on this show that are necessary…I didn’t do a good enough job recently and the company decided to make a change…The ratings are the issue. In the Spring they were through the roof but they haven’t been good enough recently… I’m not gonna lie [and say I’m happy about it]…They have a right to make that decision. You wanna say I got fired? Say I got fired…I am so lucky that I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the greatest people in the business – some of them went to other places and are the reason I’m having this conversation right now (laughed). I’ve been here 27 years going back to their deal with the Celtics.” Wolfe says Ordway will finish out the week on the program. He says of his time with Ordway, “Glenn and I have been together since day one. He is an icon in this business and he helped build WEEI into arguably the most successful sports station in history. I am so thankful to have been able to work alongside Glenn for the past 20-plus years and I hope that all Boston sports fans realize how important his contributions have been to this station, to the market and to this industry. He’s a true professional and that was clearer than ever in his comments today (2/13).”
Talk Radio Network and Fox News Channel Star Andrea Tantaros Gets “Love” from the New York Observer. The paper calls Andrea Tantaros ”Fox’s new ‘It’ girl” in a piece that highlights her rise as one of the ensemble members of the very popular “The Five” program on FNC as well as her new gig as host of her own radio talk show syndicated by Talk Radio Network. Writer Kara Bloomgarden-Smoke writes of Tantaros, “And although she is solidly conservative, she represents a departure from the old Fox News mold of firebrand yellers and bubbly blondes. Ms. Tantaros lives in Manhattan, talks with equal enthusiasm about reality shows and budget hearings, and is laughingly sarcastic rather than loudly belligerent when decrying a liberal viewpoint. And she will occasionally depart from the party line. She is, in short, the perfect standard-bearer for Fox’s recent subtle shift to a less-divisive model of conservative news.” Tantaros’ talk radio program on TRN filled the gap left by the departure of Laura Ingraham from the network and CEO Mark Masters says the accolades being given to Tantaros don’t surprise him and are indicative of why he is so high on her show. “This is why the Andrea Tantaros show is the most successful nationally syndicated launch in our history.”
EAS LESSON: Protect Your Station from Hackers. By now, you have obviously heard that there was an EAS hack at a TV station the other day. It is the buzz of the industry. An alert went out about a zombie attack. Now, before anyone goes off about EAS, it should be noted that the CAP feed was not affected. This appears to be strictly a case of computer network security. And before we go deeper, it should be stated that when something like this happens, it is only natural that it becomes a news story. And news stories require actualities. If something goes awry with EAS, please keep in mind that it is okay to play the actual audio message that went out (although not advisable) – but it CANNOT contain the EAS data bursts or the two-tone alert signal. It is illegal to transmit those outside of an actual EAS activation or test, per FCC regulation 47 CFR 11.45. Back to the hack. It appears that someone hacked into the computer network of the TV station where the zombie alert originated. More disturbing, the hacker logged into the EAS encoder/decoder, planted an audio file, and sent the test. Consider the implications of this if the hacker had originated a National Emergency code. Any station monitoring the TV station would have had their air seized because of the nature of the alert – and, besides disconnecting the equipment, could not do anything about it. You do not have the option to abort a National Emergency. Noted radio engineer Tom Ray, president of Tom Ray Consulting, – who joins TALKERS today (2/14) as technical editor - offers his educated take on the “Zombie Hack” and offers counsel on how to protect your station from similar breaches in computer security. Read Tom Ray’s article here.
KLBJ-AM, Austin’s Barbara McCarley Dies in Auto Crash. The KLBJ-AM news staffer was driving in a station vehicle when her car was involved in a three-car crash in which her vehicle was hit head on. Forty-eight year old Barbara McCarley had been with KLBJ-AM for the past 14 years. She was a wife and mother of two. Upon learning of her death, Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan stated, “It saddens me to tell you that we’ve lost a dear member of the Emmis family today. We just received word from Scott Gilmore that long-time Emmis Austin news associate and reporter Barbara McCarley passed away this morning after being involved in a tragic car accident yesterday. Barbara has been a valuable member of our Austin radio team for over 14 years. As Scott said to his team this morning, ‘Barbara was well loved by her co-workers and we will all miss her bright personality terribly.’ Please keep Barbara’s husband, Robert, and her two children, John and Katherine, in your thoughts and prayers. This will be a very difficult time for them, her friends, and her Emmis family in Austin.”
Do You Sound “CompuServe” to Smartphone Users? Radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Holland Cooke says that in his travels he hears radio stations all across the country talk about their websites and digital activities in archaic 1990s terms. He advises that promos for your station’s website should end, not begin, by plugging the site. He points out that many stations still discuss their website as if simply having a website is a big deal. Most importantly, he explains that people are way too busy with increasingly shortened attention spans to go to a website to peruse it for its own sake. You MUST give them a specific reason to go there every time you mention it. Find out more about placing your station’s website in a 2013 context by reading Holland Cooke’s article here.
TALKERS TV Spotlights Localism. Today (2/14) TALKERS TV debuts a brief interview conducted by Michael Harrison with KSCO, Santa Cruz, California PD and morning host Rosemary Chalmers who discusses the benefits of local talk radio broadcasting from her dual perspective as a programmer and a talent. Chalmers has been with the station for a long time – 15 years on the air, 22 as a programmer – and has strong ties to the community. She says the local factor is at the heart of what makes KSCO very special. See the video in the TALKERS TV box in the upper right column of this page.
Fox News Radio’s Todd Starnes Added to WWIQ, Philadelphia. The daily feature will air at 7:55 am on the “Philly’s Morning News” program hosted by Al Gardner and Lionel. Todd Starnes’ Fox News Radio-syndicated commentary is already heard on some 250-plus stations around the country. He says of his addition to Merlin Media’s WWIQ, “I am so excited to be a part of such a fantastic radio station. ‘IQ 106.9 FM’ is a perfect home for my commentaries and I look forward to sharing real American stories with our new friends in Philadelphia.”
Larry Wert to Oversee WGN, Chicago as President of Local Broadcasting. Tribune Company announces the NBC TV executive with tons of Chicago media experience will assume the role of president of local broadcasting, putting him in charge of Tribune’s 23 local TV properties as well as its lone radio station – WGN, Chicago. He’ll report to Tribune CEO Peter Liguori. Wert served as president and GM for WLUP-FM and AM 1000 beginning in 1989 when they were Evergreen properties. He was president of the merged Evergreen and Chancellor companies and moved on to the president/GM role at WMAQ-TV “NBC5” in 1998. Since September of 2011 he has been EVP of station initiatives for NBC. Liguori says of Wert, “Larry’s talent, creativity, and broad television, digital and radio experience make him the ideal person to lead our local broadcasting and radio businesses. Larry is also a skilled manager of people, an innovative programmer, and understands the important role our local TV news operations play in the communities we serve.”
Longtime Boston Talk Personality Paul Benzaquin Dies at 90. The native of Quincy, Massachusetts, one-time Boston Globe and Boston Herald reporter and Boston radio personality passed away on February 13 at age 90. The Patriot-Ledger notes that Paul Benzaquin made his radio debut on WEEI in 1960 and in 1963 began doing talk radio. In addition to working at WEEI, Benzaquin hosted radio programs on WBZ, WHDH and WITS in Boston. He also penned a best-selling book about the 1942 Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire in the city that took the lives of 492 people.
COOL JOB OPPORTUNITY. Newsmax Media is looking for a Content Manager, Traffic Coordinator Online TV. Newsmax Media, a national news organization, is seeking a dynamic, self-motivated, and highly organized individual with experience in broadcast, cable or online TV with the gathering, managing, scheduling, and archiving of content for the new position of Content Manager and Traffic Coordinator. Responsibilities include: Gather, develop, and manage content for organization’s web TV channel presence (requires working with content management software); Coordinate programming projects across departments; Track incoming programming/advertisements and ensure complete production functionality; Working with a cross-departmental team, including maintaining and developing the master content calendar for all TV channel properties; Review potential content to determine if it meets company standards; Work cooperatively with key team members, clients, and vendors. Minimum Qualifications: Candidate must have a minimum of 3 years working as a content manager/traffic coordinator at the network or major online/broadcast outlet level; Exceptional communication and organizational skills with a strong attention to detail; Advanced knowledge of HTML and experience utilizing the latest content management/traffic systems; Ability to efficiently manage multiple projects in a fast-paced, deadline-driven environment; Bachelor’s degree in English, Journalism, Digital Media or related field a Plus, Not Required. Salary Range: TBA, Location NY or FL. Please submit resume to Ted Goldenberg at email@example.com
ANOTHER COOL JOB OPPORTUNITY: “Help wanted, news/talk, Texas, owner-not insane!” TALKERS columnist and radio consultant Holland Cooke shares this with our readers. “My client is a proud indie, hell-bent-on doing big-city radio in a comfortably small market.” Immediate opening - PD with PD and news experience and demonstrated production and people skills. Sales savvy would make you extra-attractive. You will have an on-air presence to-be-determined.
Yes, we will build-this-job-description-around the right person. No beginners, no calls. Send resume, references, aircheck, and links to web content you’ve created to firstname.lastname@example.org. Send audio files to that address via free YouSendIt.com, or send a DropBox link. Tick-tock. My client is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
Obama State of the Union Aftermath, Christopher Dorner Case, Marco Rubio Water Flap, Jack Lew Hearings and European Horsemeat Scandal Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/13). The discussion and dissection of President Obama’s state of the union speech; the controversy surrounding the Christopher Dorner pursuit; the Marco Rubio water-drinking flap; the Jack Lew treasury secretary confirmation hearings; and the European horsemeat scandal were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
November PPMs Generally Good to Talk Radio. You can call it the “election bounce” if you like but some of the news/talk stations that did well in Arbitron’s November 2012 PPMs were ramping up in October and before. Plus, the fall has traditionally been a good ratings period for news/talk whether there’s an election or not. Of course, Hurricane Sandy played a major factor for stations in the New York and Middlesex-Somerset-Union markets. Some of the stations worth noting include CBS Radio’s New York all newsers WCBS and WINS which jumped from a 3.8 to a 5.3 and a 4.0 to a 4.8, respectively. Clear Channel’s Los Angeles talk juggernaut KFI continues to thrive inching up to a 5.3 from a 5.1 the month prior. Cumulus Media’s Chicago news/talker WLS bounced back up to a 4.1 after posting a 3.7 in October. Likewise in Dallas-Fort Worth for Cumulus as WBAP-AM/FM pops up a half share to a 3.9. Clear Channel’s KTRH, Houston rose from a 3.4 in October to a 4.1 in November. In Washington, DC Cumulus’ WMAL-AM/FM jumped from a 3.4 to a 4.2. In Philadelphia, Merlin Media’s WWIQ hopped from 2.7 in October to a 3.6 in November. Cox Media’s WSB, Atlanta – which has been maintaining healthy numbers in the PPM for some time – vaults from a 6.8 to an 8.3 this month. Cumulus’ Detroit talker WJR rose more than a full share from a 4.8 to a 5.9. Public radio outlet KUOW, Seattle claimed the top spot in the November PPMs with a 5.5 share. Clear Channel’s KFYI, Phoenix went up a full share from a 4.9 to a 5.9. Mixed results in Baltimore as Hearst’s WBAL fell from a 5.7 to a 5.0 while WCBM rose from a 3.0 to a 3.8 share. Good news for pubcaster KOPB, Portland which went from a 5.3 to a 6.2 while Alpha Broadcasting’s KXL jumped from a 4.8 to a 5.5 share. Clear Channel’s WPGB, Pittsburgh leaped a full share from a 6.9 to a 7.9 share while its Sacramento sister KFBK also enjoyed a significant rise from a 5.6 to a 6.8 share. In the New Jersey market of Middlesex-Somerset-Union, Townsquare Media’s New Jersey 101.5 (WKXW, Trenton) posted an outstanding 8.6 – up from a 6.2 in October – with help, no doubt, from Hurricane Sandy. TALKERS’ sister publication RadioInfo has all the PPM data including Mike Kinosian’s analysis of the numbers. You can find that here.
Laura Ingraham Back on Radio “Soon.” That’s what the author, pundit and talk show host told Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly. During one of Laura Ingraham’s regular appearances on Fox News Channel with O’Reilly, he questioned her status in the talk radio world and she told him she will be back on the radio with another syndicator (she left Talk Radio Network at the end of her contract on Tuesday) very soon. “I’m close to signing a new deal. I’m very, very close. But I’ll be back on the air probably in the next several days.” Ingraham told O’Reilly she informed TRN she would be “terminating the deal” months ago and that it was time to move on.
Talk Host Tom Becka to Exit KRWK, Fargo “101.9 Talk FM.” Talk radio pro Tom Becka has been serving as program director and talk show host at KRWK, Fargo since it flipped from rock to talk in March of this year. Becka tells the Fargo Forum he’s returning to Omaha where he’s worked for years and has family. Becka says any notion his departure has anything to do with the performance of the new format is not correct. “The station has grown every month. My experience with Radio Fargo-Moorhead was great and I’m proud of what we accomplished here in a short time. To say I’m leaving because of ratings would be erroneous.” Radio Fargo-Moorhead is selling its cluster of stations to Midwest Family Communications. The FCC has approved the license transfers but according to one source, the actual takeover may not happen until the spring.
Todd Schnitt Show to Leave Flagship WFLA, Tampa. Compass Media Networks nationally syndicated talk host Todd Schnitt Tweets that his program – airing live from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm – will be off longtime flagship WFLA, Tampa after the December 18 program. Schnitt further Tweets that the national syndication continues and is expanding under syndicator Compass. No word what CC has in mind for afternoons at WFLA. Currently, it delay-broadcasts Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm but may have plans to move Hannity to the live PM drive slot.
Jim Isabella Named Evening Host at WNIR, Akron. Journalist Jim Isabella has been doing fill-in work for WNIR for the past two years. He now takes over the evening show formerly hosted by the late Tom Erickson who died on November 3 after a long illness. Isabella most recently worked for the Akron Beacon Journal. Station owners Bob and Bill Klaus note in a press release that Isabella, who was a frequent caller to the show hosted by the late Howie Chizek who passed away suddenly in June, made them more aware of his talents during his fill-in time in addition to receiving positive response from the station’s listeners.
Odds & Sods. Watch for Premiere Networks nationally syndicated talk host Andy Dean from the network’s “America Now with Andy Dean” on Fox News Channel’s “America’s News HQ” this Sunday at 4:45 pm ET as he sits in a panel discussing the latest headlines in news and politics…..SiriusXM brings the Major League Baseball winter meetings to listeners via its MLB Network Radio and SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio channels. The meetings take place in Nashville December 2 through 6 and the satcaster will have front office experts Jim Bowden, Jim Duquette and Steve Phillips there hosting various programs with other special expert guests including former pitcher Jeff Nelson.
Bubba the Love Sponge Offers Reward for Arrest of Animal Abuser. After hearing about the case of a dog found in the Bradenton, Florida area that had been attacked by someone with an axe, radio star Bubba the Love Sponge put up $1,000 of his own cash on top of the $500 being offered by the Animal Network for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible. After hearing about the case, Tampa-area philanthropist Gary Kompothecras of the legal and medical referral service 1-800-ASK-GARY added another $1,000 to the reward to make the total $2,500. Bubba reports to TALKERS that the dog, named Axel, is recovering from his injuries and will be available for adoption once he is healthy again.
Los Angeles Broadcaster David Courtney Dies at 56. The Southern California radio community is mourning the loss of omnipresent “big voice” David Courtney, who passed away on Thursday, November 29. Many considered Courtney the voice of Los Angeles sports, since for the past 23 years, he was the public address announcer of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. He performed similar duties for MLB’s Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for 18 years and NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers since October 2008. Greater Los Angeles area radio listeners knew him for his frequent traffic and sports updates as part of the Total Traffic Network. Over the last 20 years, Courtney was heard on a number of major Los Angeles radio outlets including KABC and KSPN, as well as KOLA in the Inland Empire. His other radio background included stints at Houston’s KULF as executive producer of sports programming and that market’s KTRH, where he was weekend news anchor before landing a nightly, three-hour news/talk program. New York City-born Courtney moved to Los Angeles in 1963 when his father, Alan, became president of MGM Television. According to Courtney’s Twitter feed, he needed to miss Wednesday night’s Clippers game against Minnesota owing to the fact he was in the hospital awaiting an angiogram. The 56-year-old Courtney is survived by his wife, Janet Fisher-Courtney.
‘Fiscal Cliff’ Battle Remains Top Talk Radio Topic for Second Straight Week. The struggle between the Obama administration and GOP congressmen to deal with impending tax hikes and spending cuts was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the Benghazi investigation tied with the Susan Rice-GOP leaders meetings. Following at #3 was the Israel-Gaza tensions with the clean-up of Hurricane Sandy 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. See this week’s entire chart here.
Merlin Media Ends FM News Operations in New York and Chicago. Industry watchers are beginning the post-mortem on Merlin Media’s all-news formats at WIQI, Chicago and WEMP, New York after yesterday’s announcement by the company that it is flipping the two signals to classic hits and alternative rock, respectively. In making the announcement, Merlin president Randy Michaels stated, “It was a difficult decision to make, but after a year of minimal audience engagement, coupled with the format’s inherent expense, I felt it was time to make a change.” Perhaps the most obvious challenge to the endeavor was the fact that in both Chicago and New York, Michaels’ stations were going up against entrenched news stations in markets that didn’t seem to be crying out for more radio news, primarily because they are already being served by well-respected and well-listened-to all-news outlets. WBBM-AM/FM, Chicago and WCBS and WINS in New York were tough opponents to challenge in the radio news game – not to mention the public radio stations in both markets that have loyal audiences and dedicate resources to covering local news. The ratings for the two stations seemed to bear that out. The initial concept of trying to reach women with a news product fell flat. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison told the Chicago Tribune, “When you say, ‘This is for women and here’s what we’re talking about,’ it can come across as insulting. It’s presumptuous.” Harrison also told the paper, “To reinvent the wheel, when in fact the wheel is not broken, is difficult.” He said the station’s focus on stereotypically female topics like cooking, fashion and child rearing also turned off listeners. There are reports 27 staffers are out in Chicago with a similar number in New York, leaving a host of veteran radio news people looking for their next opportunity this morning. Meanwhile, another wrinkle to this story pertains to industry rumors and speculation that Merlin had plans to eventually morph its New York and possibly Chicago all-newsers into traditional news/talkers. The recent addition of Rush Limbaugh to Philadelphia property WWIQ after his departure from CBS Radio‘s WPHT had tongues wagging about the possibility of such a move happening in New York when Cumulus Media‘s contract with Premiere Networks for Limbaugh on WABC ends – especially with Cumulus developing Mike Huckabee (currently airing on crosstown competitor WOR) as a more “civil” alternative to Limbaugh. This brings up another question: Are the Merlin moves to music just a temporary measure?
Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk Draws Intense Traffic to Talkers.com; Testament to Sports Talk Format’s Popularity. The recently published Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk – The 100 Most Important Sports Talk Radio Hosts in America, has generated so much traffic to Talkers.com that – at times – navigation on the site slowed to a crawl, forcing the IT staff at Talkers.com to increase the site’s bandwidth to accommodate the visitors. This massive interest in America’s sports talk radio personalities is indicative of the format’s popularity with both consumers and from within the media industry. TALKERS VP/managing editor Kevin Casey states, “Sports talk radio is off-the-charts popular in so many markets across the country – reflecting the importance of sports in American popular culture. The interest in the Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk from people working within the business is one thing, but the attention from consumers of sports talk and the rabid sports blogosphere is astounding. The passion that exists for the format, the personalities, as well as the games and athletes themselves, shows why this talk radio genre is such an effective marketing tool for businesses at the local and national level.” The 2012 Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk can be found here.
Cumulus Media’s WPRO, Providence Names Craig Schwalb Program Director. Craig Schwalb comes to Cumulus Media’s news/talk WPRO and 99.7 (and sister WPRV) in Providence from SiriusXM where he served as senior director of talk programming. He’s also worked at WKRK, Detroit; WNEW, New York; WRBZ, Raleigh; and EZ Communications, St. Louis. He replaces Paul Giammarco who recently resigned from the station. Cumulus SVP Mike McVay states, “We are excited to have Craig join Cumulus. We want the freshest and best minds in the industry…and he is clearly among the best.” Speaking about his new opportunity, Schwalb says, “The chance to program one of the country’s legendary radio stations, complete with great talent, a great news presence and great influence in a terrific city was a no brainer for me and my family. I am looking forward to working with Providence market manager Barbara Haynes and of course John Dickey, Mike McVay, Jim Mahaney, and everyone at Cumulus.”
Recent Affiliate Adds Push America’s Radio News Network Past 300 Mark. In fact, when combined with the TRN/Washington Times’ “America’s Morning News” program, the affiliate total jumps past 320 for the news programming offered by Talk Radio Network’s ARNN. The content syndicator notes that recent affiliate additions in Columbus, Ohio; Phoenix; Memphis; Ft. Myers/Naples; Charleston, South Carolina; and others for the five three-hour news block programs are indicative of the strong demand for quality news-oriented radio content.
Talk Host Andrew Wilkow to Host Prime Time Show on TheBlaze. The online TV network TheBlaze – a digital product of Glenn Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts company – announces SiriusXM talk personality Andrew Wilkow will host a new, one-hour news and talk show to debut later this summer. TheBlaze says the exact start date and the name of the program will be announced later. TheBlaze president and chief content officer Joel Cheatwood states, “TheBlaze is building a primetime lineup filled with both established talent and the voices of the future. Andrew Wilkow’s strong independence and ‘no sacred cows’ approach to the news, issues and events of the day are perfect fits for TheBlaze as we continue to expand our programming.” TheBlaze notes it already produces three hours of prime time shows including “the comedy news show ‘The B.S. of A,’ the reality show ‘Independence USA’ and other programming throughout the day led by Glenn’s show, the news show ‘Real News’ and the kid’s show ‘Liberty TreeHouse.’ The network airs over 35 hours of original programming per week and will soon provide video content on a 24/7 basis.”
Talk Icon Larry King’s Internet TV Show Debuts. Larry King’s new internet TV show – a 30–minute news and interview show – debuted last night with Seth McFarlane as his first guest. The program is a joint venture between Hulu and Ora TV. Ora TV is a digital venture being funded by Mexican media magnate Carlos Slim Helu. In a statement about the new program, Larry King says, “I have always been driven to innovate, from my time on radio, to the first call-in show on national television to being an early adopter of online columns and Twitter…I love being able to interact directly with audiences and digital TV allows me to do this in new and powerful ways.” This evening, King’s guest will be Meghan McCain with actor Matthew McConaughey on tap for Thursday’s show.
2012 Presidential Campaign, Summer Heatwave/Crops Threatened, Negative Economic Forecasts, Global Debt Crisis and Financial Markets Activity Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/17). The 2012 presidential campaign; the nationwide summer heat wave and the threat to the corn and grains crops; negative economic forecasts; the global debt crisis and the financial markets activities were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
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.