Jason Dixon Exits ‘Detroit Sports 105.1.’ After a year and a half as the only program director WMCG, Detroit has known since flipping to sports in August of 2013, Jason Dixon announces he’s resigned from the station effective immediately. Greater Media’s “Detroit Sports 105.1” debuted 16 months ago to challenge the sports talk dominance of CBS RADIO’s crosstown WXYT-FM. Dixon tells TALKERS magazine he’s available for new opportunities and can be reached at: 919-999-6096 or via email at JasonDixonPD@Gmail.com.
Vinny G Show Comes to PodcastOne. Former “Jersey Shore” cast member Vinny Guadagnino is hosting a weekly podcast to be made available via PodcastOne. Dubbed, “Get Into It with Vinny G,” the show will feature the host, “alongside his crazy friends and family members, celebrity guests, and other people from all walks of life, as they ‘get into’ every topic imaginable, including sports, pop culture, politics, self-help, food, comedy, dating and relationships, and more. It debuts Thursday (2/12) and features a reunion with The Jersey Shore’s Pauly D. PodcastOne chairman and CEO Norm Pattiz says, “Though I’ve never been to the Jersey Shore, a heck of a lot of people have, and most of them are Vinny fans. That’s because he’s a unique guy who’s open about who he is and gives back to the community. He’s a really interesting guy with a huge social following, which usually means success when launching a new podcast. We’re delighted to add ‘Get Into It with Vinny G’ to the PodcastOne lineup.”
Western Massachusetts Radio Star Brad Shepard Launching Pioneer Valley Radio. Longtime Springfield, Massachusetts-area talk radio personality, commentator and prominent local arts & entertainment figure, Brad Shepard has announced the launch of Pioneer Valley Radio – an online platform designed to present talk shows and conversations specifically geared to “serving the civic and cultural interests of Western Massachusetts.” Pioneer Valley Radio – located at www.PioneerValleyRadio.com – will serve as a free online home for what Shepard describes as “a wide variety of talk shows and informative conversations about what’s happening here in Western Massachusetts.” According to Shepard, “There are so many things to talk about in the Pioneer Valley that are not being addressed today in contemporary on-air broadcasting. Hot issues like the casino. The economy. Public safety, Education. Race relations. Health services. The arts. Public transportation. The list is endless. This platform will fill a dangerously huge void and be dedicated to serving the public good. We will be doing audio shows (and some video) about politics, civics, health care, high school sports – you name it. The key is localness and the goal is to serve the interests of the people of this region across the board. We will not embrace or ‘target’ any specific political ideology or bias. We can leave that to traditional, on-air talk radio.” Shepard – who was heard the past 12 years in morning drive on iHeartMedia’s heritage outlet, WHYN-AM (and a number of local stations for years before that) will serve as general manager of the new “media station.” He will also personally host a variety of talk shows (available on demand 24/7) that will include interviews with a wide array of prominent local figures and every day folks, as well as his own commentaries — plus calls from listeners. Pioneer Valley Radio will also provide live coverage of special events considered too niche or “small” to be given time on traditional over-the-air stations. The station will also feature a variety of programs produced and hosted by other voices in the community including former radio, television and newspaper personalities who’ve been squeezed out of their jobs for reasons having nothing to do with their talent, skill or performance. Shepard tells TALKERS, “It is no secret that budget cutbacks have forced many of the local traditional media outlets in this area to cut back on programming which has tragically resulted in the loss of jobs for some mighty fine talents, not to mention live and local discussion programs. We will do our best to rectify that unfortunate situation.” Pioneer Valley Radio is being designed and powered by Michael Harrison’s Massachusetts-based, multimedia firm Goodphone Communications, Inc. Pioneer Valley Radio will be free to listeners and funded by local advertising. Shepard says, “Because we are online and not restricted by enormous technical and regulatory burdens, we will make amazingly affordable and effective advertising packages available to local businesses seeking to get their messages out to the public in a manner that won’t clutter up the programming while giving these good businesses clear sailing in really getting their full stories and services valuable exposure. This is the kind of thing to which intelligent, creative use of the internet lends itself.”
Kipper McGee Authors Book on Digital Disruption. Radio pro Kipper McGee is publishing a new book this spring in which the programmer and consultant examines broadcasting’s experience with the “digital disruption.” Titled, Brandwidth: How Big Broadcasting Missed the Mediamorphosis, McGee says the book “offers 7 ways YOUR brand(s) can avoid their mistakes…We live in a time when broadcasters are being attacked in ways not even dreamed about a decade ago. Many operators insist on acting penny wise and PPM foolish.” He says the book “reveals common traits of the biggest winners and losers and offers powerful takeaways for ANY brand planning to thrive in the ever-changing digital world order.”
Snowy Winter Puts New England Stations in Consistent Emergency Mode. Much of the Northeast has been battered by the series of winter storms affecting the region, and broadcast outlets have been in storm coverage mode pretty steadily over the past month. The Connecticut Broadcasters Association reports how some of its member stations have been serving their markets. Some examples from the January 26-27 blizzard, in particular, include: CBS RADIO’s news/talk WTIC-AM, Hartford made sure its generator was ready for multiple days of service. It arranged for announcers to broadcast from home and for staff to stay in nearby hotels in order to keep the station on the air; in Eastern Connecticut, Hall Communications‘ six radio stations provided storm updates twice an hour, carried the governor’s press conferences, and had the New London mayor and local Emergency Management directors on several times. Staffers stayed overnight at local stations or nearby hotels to remain on the air; WLAD-AM, Danbury put staffers up in a nearby hotel and expanded local programming with live weather and traffic information, and interviews with officials from Danbury, Ridgefield, Bethel and Brookfield; in the Connecticut River Valley, WMRD-AM and WLIS-AM stayed on the air by having someone sleep at the stations. They provided hourly weather updates and interrupted programming with storm-related news and information. Among other stories, they were able to report on a local power outage caused by a snowplow knocking down a power pole; WINY, Putnam gassed up an all-wheel-drive vehicle to get radio personnel to work, contacted local police to serve as potential back-up transportation, tested station generators and fuel levels, and provided meals for staff in nearby hotels. One employee stayed with his grandmother who lives two miles from the station.
Heather Cohen Named to Alliance for Women in Media Board of Directors. Named to the Alliance for Women in Media board of directors for 2015 is The Weiss Agency EVP Heather Cohen. The 1998 Hofstra University graduate, who also serves on that college’s Herbert School Advisory Council, joins the organization that is dedicated to advancing women in media and entertainment. The group also administers the national Gracie Awards, which recognize and honor excellence in programming by and about women.
Odds & Sods. Tax season is here and ABC News Radio is launching its annual Tax Tips series. The news service says the series tackles “all the tough tax topics to provide listeners with a wide range of helpful information when filing for returns this year.” ABC News correspondent Richard Davies and chief business and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis anchor the 30-part series…..Journal Broadcast Group and IMG have entered into a new radio partnership in Omaha that will expand the reach of University of Nebraska Cornhuskers sports, broadcast more games across the university’s entire sports lineup, and increase exposure for all Nebraska sports. Journal says the new, five-year Omaha affiliate agreement with KXSP, KKCD, and KEZO will provide better coverage for Huskers sports through a strong AM signal on an all-sports format radio station and additional new FM affiliates.
Brian Williams Case, 2016 Presidential Prospects, Battle Against ISIS/Bobby Jindal Flap, Bruce Jenner Saga, Snowy Northeast Winter, Net Neutrality Proposal Controversy, Fighting in Ukraine, and GRAMMY Awards Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/9). The status of Brian Williams at NBC after his apology for fabricating an Iraq War coverage incident; the potential candidates for president in 2016; the fight against ISIS and the flap over comments by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal about radical Islam; the gender transformation of Bruce Jenner and his involvement in a deadly auto accident in Malibu; the record snowfall being experienced by parts of the Northeast; the FCC’s proposal to regulate the internet; the ongoing fighting in Ukraine and Russia’s role in the unrest; and Sunday’s 57th GRAMMY Awards were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Nielsen’s March 2014 RADAR Report Says Radio Listening Up. According to the soon-to-be-released March 2014 RADAR 120 National Radio Listening Report from Nielsen, total radio listening has increased in the past 12 months by 1.2 million weekly listeners. Stating that radio now reaches 244.4 million Americans, Nielsen also breaks it down a bit adding that “the national audience aged 18 to 34 grew by more than half a million compared to the previous year, reaching 91.9% of all 18 to 34 year-olds.” As far as time spent listening is concerned, the report indicates the average total time spent listening to AM/FM radio is 2 hours and 41 minutes (persons 12+), a figure that remains steady from the time documented last March.
Don Geronimo Teases Fans About New Show. Radio pro Don Geronimo is Tweeting teasers to his followers about his next radio venture and it appears to include some old friends. Geronimo, who is still under the employ of CBS RADIO for another three weeks or so after exiting both KHTK, Sacramento and WJFK-FM, Washington, reports that his new show will also include former “Don & Mike” show newsman Buzz Burbank, “Slow Joe” Ardinger, and Drew Hoffar, with whom Geronimo worked at KHTK. Due to contract issues, Geronimo is keeping quiet about where the show will be available until April. It’s not certain the show will be aired on AM/FM radio and may be an internet venture.
‘Parker and The Man’ Returns to WDFN, Detroit. The sports talk duo of Rob Parker and Mark Wilson is coming back to its original Detroit signal on March 24 when “Parker and The Man” will take over the evening slot on Clear Channel’s WDFN, Detroit. Parker, who works for WDIV-TV, Detroit on its “Sports Final Edition” show, made the announcement of the pair’s return to AM/FM radio on Sunday. The duo have been hosting an internet version of their show since last summer but now, through Woodward One Media, the show is being reborn on the radio. It will also be available online via Premier Sports Talk Network. Parker and Wilson left WDFN in 1999 and jumped to CBS RADIO’s WXYT-FM and held down the evening slot through 2006 when they exited the station. Woodward One CEO Weston Silver tells the Detroit News, “‘Parker and the Man’ is a proven commodity in Motown. We’re thrilled to be able to put them back on the air. Sports fans will flock back to them because their show is both fun and informative.”
Odds & Sods. When the Big 10 Men’s basketball tourney begins on Thursday, all of the games will be made available to radio stations via Compass Media Networks. Compass says two of its crews will be in Indianapolis calling the games. Matt “Money” Smith (co-host of KLAC’s “Petros & Money,” NFL Network host, and Compass play-by-play man) and former NBA star Rick Mahorn will partner up and Drew Bontadelli and former Cal Poly star and Compass analyst Mike Wozniak will serve as the second crew. KLAC producer and host Tim Cates will announce the broadcasts and serve as studio host from Compass’ Los Angeles broadcast facility…..Clear Channel’s Minneapolis-based KFAN network has inked a deal with Learfield Sports to air University of Minnesota football for another three seasons…..American Public Media Group announces Morris Goodwin is the new senior vice president and chief financial officer for the corporation that is made up of Minnesota Public Radio, American Public Media, Classical South Florida, and Southern California Public Radio.
“Univision America de Costa a Costa” Debuts. The morning program is from Univision Radio‘s AM arm – Univision America. Translated as “Univision America from Coast to Coast,” the Ricardo Espinoza, Tsi Tsi Ki Felix, and Ricky Lopez-hosted show is a combination of news and talk programming, mixed with finance, health, and entertainment information. Univision America vice president/general manager Felix Perez comments, “These personalities reflect the diversity of their listeners’ world. Audiences crave 24/7 engagement with radio personalities who they can relate to – and – this team delivers.” Miami-based Espinoza was most recently co-host/news announcer for “Buen Dia New York” on WADO, New York. Chicago-based Felix is an air personality with “Al Aire con Tsi-Tsi-Ki,” her daily show on Chicago’s WRTO. New York-based Lopez is the voice of New York City’s WQBU. “Univision America de Costa a Costa” premiered yesterday (3/10) at 6:00 am on KTNQ, Los Angeles; WRTO, Chicago; KFLC, Dallas; KLAT, Houston; WQBA, Miami; KCOR, San Antonio; KLSQ, Las Vegas; KGBT, McAllen; and KQBU, El Paso.
Missing Malaysian Jet Mystery, Obama vs. Putin/Ukraine-Crimea Case, Snowden SXSW Appearance, and Global Warming All-Nighter Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/10). The mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370; the criticism of President Obama’s handling of Russian president Vladimir Putin and Russia’s incursion into Ukraine and Crimea; the appearance of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden via video at the SXSW festival in Austin; and the all-night session held by Congressional Democrats on the topic of global warming were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Hubbard to Buy 10 Sandusky Stations for $85.5 Million. The deal gives Hubbard Radio five stations in the Phoenix market and five in Seattle. It includes Phoenix outlets: classic rock KSLX, active rock KUPD, rock KDKB, oldies KAZG-AM, and sports talk KDUS-AM; and Seattle stations: standards, KIXI-AM, CHR KQMV, talk KKNW-AM, AC KRWM, alternative KLCK. Hubbard board chair Ginny Morris says in a statement, “This is an exciting opportunity to expand Hubbard Radio into two top 20 markets. We have known and respected the Rau/White family, Sandusky’s owners, for many years. We admire what they have accomplished and we are honored that they would agree to sell us these established stations. We are committed to maintaining the dedication to excellence and to community that Sandusky has made such an important part of their radio operations.” This sale signals the end of the radio business interests for Sandusky as the company turns its total focus to its print and digital operations. For Hubbard, it bumps the number of stations it will own from 20 to 30. Hubbard president and CEO Bruce Reese says, “Hubbard is excited about the chance to add these great stations to our existing operations in Chicago, Washington, DC, Minneapolis/St. Paul, St. Louis and Cincinnati. Sandusky runs very successful radio stations and we plan on continuing that precedent. We look forward to working with our new colleagues.”
Wait Is on to See if Greater Media Flips AC WMGC, Detroit to Sports Talk. Rumors have been heard in Detroit for a few months now that Greater Media is considering a format flip to sports talk for moribund soft rock “Magic 105.” Now, those rumors are getting hotter and Crain’s Detroit Business reports in a story by Bill Shea that sources say that switch could happen next month. The publication notes that WMGC’s ratings have been in decline since longtime morning host Jim Harper retired 19 months ago. But the switch would mean taking on CBS Radio’s highly rated WXYT-FM – no easy feat, even in a market most would consider a “sports town.” Shea’s report cites insiders saying Greater Media is talking with former employee Drew Lane who – along with partner Mike Clark – were not renewed for the morning show at the company’s rock WRIF two months ago, although they had good ratings and enjoy excellent credibility in the market. In his piece, Shea states that, “WXYT’s rating dominance is largely because it has the rights to air live all four of Detroit’s professional sports teams’ games. The radio contracts for the Detroit Lions, Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons don’t expire until 2015, meaning it would be more than a year before a flipped WMGC could theoretically pursue and air pro games.” Although the value of play-by-play is real, and there’s no doubt the combination of excellent talk show talent and game broadcasts is a winning formula, TALKERS would hesitate to say the station’s success is largely because of play-by-play. Ultimately it’s all about revenue and rights to those games are very expensive while WXYT’s personalities and the advertising rates they command are extremely valuable to the station.
Dave Ramsey Show Jumps to KXLY, Spokane. Nationally syndicated financial talk star Dave Ramsey’s program moves to Queen B-owned news/talk outlet KXLY, Spokane after years on Clear Channel’s crosstown KQNT. Dave Ramsey vice president of broadcast Brian Mayfield says, “We are excited to have the Dave Ramsey show as part of the lineup on KXLY in Spokane. We are equally excited at the opportunity to partner with the team at Queen B Radio in bringing Dave to town with his latest ‘Legacy Journey Live Event’ on October 17.” Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity show is moved from KXLY to crosstown KQNT and KXLY Radio Group VP Brian Paul Lubanski states, “We were one of the early adopters of Sean’s show and thank Sean for 12 great years on KXLY. I’m very excited to have Dave on our station, he’s kicked our butt in the ratings in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 timeslot the past couple of years!”
Larry Wilson’s L&L Broadcasting to Acquire YMF Media’s Jackson, Mississippi Cluster. The six-station Jackson station group Larry Wilson’s L&L Broadcasting is set to buy includes three FMs and three AMs: urban contemporary WKXI “Kixie 107 FM,” hip hop WJMI “99 Jams,” sports talk WRKS “ESPN 105.9 The Zone,” news/talk WJNT, gospel WOAD, and oldies WJQS. No price has been announced yet but in a statement, Wilson says, “The YMF Media cluster in Jackson will be a great addition to our Mississippi footprint. As the state capital, Jackson is an energetic and thriving city with endless opportunities for growth. We’re excited to bring these heritage stations into the L&L family.”
MEDIA BROKER SPOTLIGHT: George Kimble of Kozacko Media Services. In this week’s installment of Media Broker Spotlight, Sandi Bergman of RadioTVDeals.com interviews media broker George Kimble of Kozacko Media Services in Tucson, Arizona. Kimble has been in radio since he was 13, as his father was a station owner. By the time he was 17 and a senior in high school, he was also the morning man at his local hometown station. He went on to be a radio and television station owner himself for some 40 years. Kimble agrees with the editorial philosophy expressed in this trade publication that there are indeed opportunities for displaced, experienced radio management in local ownership if they are willing to roll up their sleeves and personally work all ends of it. He states, “There are plenty of good opportunities available. The prices have come down to the lowest in years — so NOW is certainly the time for action. While there are no national financial sources of money — local banks will still back an on-scene, experienced operator with the help of the SBA. And, seller financing is available in a number of smaller market opportunities.” Kimble shares several hot listings in this piece. To read the entire installment of Media Broker Spotlight, please click here.
Thom Hartmann to Receive Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Goddard College. Nationally syndicated talk show host Thom Hartmann will receive the honorary degree in September from the Plainfield, Vermont-located school. Goddard College president Barbara Vacarr writes to Hartmann: “This award is designed to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to both the worlds of academe and activism and who, through their work and study, help propel the ideals and aspirations of Goddard College: to advance cultures of rigorous inquiry, collaboration, and lifelong learning, where individuals take imaginative and responsible action in the world. By bestowing you with this honorary doctorate, Goddard College wishes to honor your lifelong work as an author, commentator, entrepreneur, philanthropist, activist, academician, radio talk show host and lifelong learner. Your impact is deep and far reaching in a wide array of areas. Your extensive and groundbreaking work and writing on the subject of ADD would by itself qualify you for this doctorate. Coupled with your lifelong activism and creativity in the fields of broadcast journalism, communications, progressive politics, and humanitarianism, you are truly an outstanding example of an American citizen actively engaged in engendering civil discourse that is provocative and designed to be.”
NBC Sports Radio Shows to Broadcast from Celebrity Charity Golf Tourney. The American Century Championship, the “premiere celebrity golf tournament,” is owned and produced by NBC Sports and sponsored by American Century Investments. The annual tournament (in its 24th year) features some of the sports and entertainment world’s biggest celebrities and raises funds for local and national charities including Expect Miracles Foundation and American Cancer Society‘s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. To date, American Century Investments and NBC Sports have raised more than $4 million through the American Century Championship. Celebrities scheduled to play for the $600,000 purse include: NBC Sports Radio host Rodney Harrison and NBC Sports Radio senior contributor Chipper Jones, as well as Emmitt Smith, Charles Barkley, Aaron Rodgers, Ozzie Smith, Ray Romano, John Elway, Jerry Rice, Marshall Faulk, Goose Gossage, and many more. Both “Under Center with McNabb & Malone” featuring Donovan McNabb and Mark Malone, and “Amani and Eytan” with Amani Toomer and Eytan Shander will be broadcasting live from the event this Thursday and Friday from the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.
Former Talk Host Patrick Kiley Sentenced in Ponzi Scheme. Seventy-five-year-old Patrick Kiley was the fourth of a group of defendants to be sentenced for his part in a Ponzi scheme that prosecutors say defrauded victims of $194 million. He was sentenced by a Minnesota judge to 240 months in federal prison. Kiley hosted a nationally syndicated radio program called “Follow the Money” distributed by the Worldwide Christian Radio Network. According to WCCO-TV, in Minneapolis, Kiley and co-conspirators “Trevor Cook, Jason Bo-Alan Beckman, Gerald Joseph Durand and Christopher Pettengill – were all solely and jointly ordered to pay $155,359,411 in restitution to their victims.” Kiley was convicted of 12 counts of wire and mail fraud.
Opie & Anthony Host Robert Zimmerman, Jr. In the aftermath of the verdict in the case of George Zimmerman, SiriusXM Satellite Radio hosts Opie & Anthony had Zimmerman’s brother Robert Zimmerman, Jr. in the studio for an extended interview. During the program, Zimmerman blamed the media for the way the story evolved, saying, “I think when this happened in the beginning, there was just George and Trayvon Martin — for about a day. And I think that after, in my view, Ms. Fulton and Mr. Martin had grief like any parent would. I think their grief was exploited — that’s really what I feel in my heart — by Mr. Benjamin Crump and Ms. Natalie Jackson. And they started a race narrative, a smear campaign that the media was all too happy to…[be a part of].” Pictured here are (from l-r): Opie Hughes, Zimmerman, Jr., Anthony Cumia, and Jim Norton. Photo: Erik Nagel
National Media Personalities to Star in Eighth Annual New York’s Funniest Reporter Show Sponsored by TALKERS. The eighth annual New York’s Funniest Reporter Show (www.nyfunniestreporter.com) will take place this Sunday, July 21 at 5:00 pm at Comic Strip Live comedy club on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. It will feature seven media professionals each doing five minutes of stand-up comedy in order to raise money for the Humane Society of New York. At the end of the night, a winner will be declared. Competing in the show this year will be: Peter Schiff of the Peter Schiff Radio Show, Magee Hickey of WPIX Channel 11, Laurie Dhue of Glenn Beck‘s TheBlaze TV, Charles Payne of Fox Business Channel, Janice Dean of Fox News Channel, Bob Bodwon of Choice Media, Chris Serico of Newsday, and Dr. Manny Alvarez of Fox News Channel. 2012’s NYFR Show Champion Clayton Morris of Fox News Channel will be performing but, not competing. Hosting the show will be comedian Mark Anthony Ramirez. Show judges will be Jane Velez-Mitchell of HLN, and Mark Goldman and Ryan McCormick of Goldman McCormick PR. All participants are offered the opportunity to work with a professional comedian and receive a crash course in stand-up comedy. The Comedy Mentor also helps them to prepare their material and iron out and pre-stage nervous jitters. The cost of admission is $20. To make a reservation, please call (212) 861-9386.
Zimmerman Verdict, Edward Snowden Status, Jenny McCarthy Joins ‘The View,’ ‘Glee’ Star Dies, and SyFy’s ‘Sharknado’ Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/15). The aftermath of the “not guilty” verdict for George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin; the uncertain status of former NSA consultant Edward Snowden; Jenny McCarthy replaces Elisabeth Hasselbeck on “The View,” “Glee” star Cory Monteith dies in Vancouver, BC hotel; and the sensation over SyFy channel’s “Sharknado” movie were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Pioneering Talk Radio Host Gene Burns Dead at 72. Longtime talk radio host and broadcasting pioneer Gene Burns has died, succumbing to a long illness marked by a series of strokes. In the words of TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison, “Gene was one of the greatest of the great and classiest of the classy – a true ‘wordsmith’ and gentleman who symbolized everything good about talk radio and served as one of the major engines that drove the ascent of its modern era.” Until recently forced by illness into retirement from on-air performing, Burns had spent a decade and a half as a key host on KGO, San Francisco where he did a general news/talk program as well as a very popular restaurant and entertainment show. The veteran of a number of great stations, he made his mark in the late-1980s and early-1990s as a member of the legendary lineup at WRKO, Boston that also included the late Jerry Williams. That was followed by a brief but high-profile stint at WOR, New York and national syndication on the WOR Radio Network. Harrison adds, “Gene Burns practiced a brand of libertarian-based, intellectual populism in his approach to political news/talk that set the standard for the format’s emergence as a voice for the average person to stand up to big government, big business, big media and big anything. Although ‘conservative’ in his orientation, he eschewed blatant partisanship, avoided banal cookie-cutter left-versus-right talking points and dealt with each issue in an academically probing and credible manner.” Burns’ ground breaking work in the early-1990s stood as the inspiration for TALKERS magazine’s annual Freedom of Speech Award and the tradition of the annual State of the First Amendment Address delivered at the publication’s conventions. He is ranked the 23rd most important radio talk show host of all time by TALKERS in its “Heaviest Hundred” feature which is updated twice a decade. Harrison concludes, “His rich, baritone voice coupled with the artistry of his word selection and ability to construct a logical argument was about as close to music as one could hear within a spoken word context.” A special honoring the life and work of Gene Burns aired on Sunday, May 26 on KGO hosted by David Weintraub and a special tribute will be presented honoring his legacy at Talkers New York 2013 on Thursday, June 6.
Adult Contemporary is a Relatively Low-Involvement Format on Facebook. According to digital radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller, “There are several major-market adult contemporary stations on Facebook who have a ton of followers, but very little interaction going on. As a former AC programmer, I absolutely feel their pain; AC is a low-involvement format. At the same time, most of these stations have fallen into a rut about what they post. The quality of the post is in the level of engagement you get from it. When thousands or tens of thousands follow you, and you get two or three ‘Likes’ on your posts, you gotta shake up your thinking.” In a new column posted today (5/28) Miller suggests that although consistency is basically a good and necessary thing, there is a dark side to it and to avoid falling into a rut, radio broadcasters of all formats should make changes to approximately 10% of their posts on a regular basis. To read the details and Miller’s entire piece, click here.
Kent Sterling Returns to Indy on Sports Talk WFNI. News/talk and sports radio pro Kent Sterling re-surfaces on the air at Emmis’ sports talk WFNI, Indianapolis for a weekend program with Chris Hagan called, “Ahead of the Curve with Hagan and Sterling.” He most recently served with Bonneville at its St. Louis sports talker WXOS but exited that post to return to Indianapolis. Prior to his work at WXOS, Sterling served as program director at Emmis’ news/talk flagship WIBC-FM, Indianapolis. Sterling’s and Hagan’s weekend program airs from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm on Saturdays.
NBA on Radio Is a Different Breed of Sports Play-by-Play. Major League Baseball is the sport that could be called radio’s best friend and the NFL’s astounding popularity makes its games and surrounding programming popular with listeners. While the NBA’s regular season games are not generally thought of as “programming gold” across the country, it appears that having even a moderately successful team combined with a flagship station with a strong nighttime signal, can be a recipe for success with basketball play-by-play. According to information from Arbitron based on PPM data from 27 NBA teams in 25 PPM markets, certain places are simply basketball towns – the Los Angeles Lakers rule Los Angeles on KSPN with average game estimates larger than the Dodgers, Angels, Kings and Ducks grabbing a 4.0 share with Men 25-54 (average of all 82 games). And perennial contenders the San Antonio Spurs dominated on WOAI with a 9.8 share with Men 25-54. However, less successful teams on strong flagships performed well during the regular season: the Milwaukee Bucks just squeaked into the playoffs but on heritage WTMJ garnered a 10 share with Men 25-54; the Cleveland Cavaliers missed the playoffs yet grabbed a 9.7 share (M 25-54) on WTAM; and the Detroit Pistons also missed the playoffs but notched an 8.0 (M 25-54) share on the highly rated WXYT-FM. Considering games in the East and Midwest air in the evenings, numbers for the stations cited above – and others not cited here – are impressive nighttime ratings.
Flagship Stations Should Capitalize on Cross-Promotional Opportunities within Baseball PBP. According to Bonneville Seattle creative director Chris Pendl, “If you’ve made the investment on play-by-play sports on your station, it’s important to maximize the return on your investment by trying to recycle that audience to another daypart on your station.” Arbitron reports that MLB drives cume increases as much as 50% to 65% during baseball season. Pendl tells TALKERS, “This influx of audience is one of the reasons we pay rights fees, share revenue, or give up inventory to carry this programming. In a climate with little or no external marketing dollars, I’ve often joked that our promotional time within baseball play-by-play is the closest thing we’ll get to an interstate billboard or TV campaign.” In an exclusive article posted today (5/28) Pendl describes and shares a production/promo technique conducted by Bonneville to cross-promote the station via the baseball audience that he calls “situation baseball return liners.” To read the entire piece and hear examples of its execution, click here.
Buckley to Sell KYZZ, Salinas, California to Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters. Buckley Communications announces it is selling sports talk KYZZ, Salinas, California to Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters. The price is yet to be announced. KYZZ is the FM side of the sports talk simulcast that also airs on Buckley’s KIDD, Monterey and Buckley says it will continue with its ESPN Radio affiliation on KIDD. Mt. Wilson has not announced its format plans for KYZZ. Saul Levine’s Mt. Wilson also owns country KKGO, Los Angeles and classical simulcast KMZT-AM, Beverly Hills and KMZT-FM, Big Sur, California.
WTOP Hacking: Why You Should Worry. TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman writes about the recent hacking of the websites of Hubbard Broadcasting’s WTOP, Washington and its sister WFED “Federal News Radio.” Weisman is one of the nation’s foremost experts on scams, he operates the website Scamicide that presents up-to-date information about scams, fraud and identity theft, and is the author of The Truth About Avoiding Scams (FT Press 2008). In this column, Weisman explains the methods used by the WTOP hackers and explains the steps users can take to avoid becoming the victim of similar attacks. Read Weisman’s entire piece here.
Odds & Sods. Martz Communications’ WPDM, Potsdam, New York flips from a simulcast of FM sister WSNN to sports talk using CBS Sports Radio Network…..Wilks License Company’s sports talk WZOH, Columbus becomes part of the Cleveland Browns radio network based at CBS Radio’s WKRK, Cleveland…..WTOP, Washington crowns Nathan Stanford from Harrington, Delaware the 2013 winner of “Commuter Idle” – an “extreme commuter” competition for listeners experiencing the daily horrors of commuting in and around Washington. Stanford’s commute begins with a 3:00 am alarm and a one-hour drive. He then boards a commuter bus for a 90-minute ride from Kent Island to Foggy Bottom, rides the Metro, and hustles on foot to his office in Rosslyn. Stanford’s travels from Delaware to Virginia average more than five hours a day, though the commute can be much longer in the summer months with Friday beach traffic. He receives $1,000 in gas money and will enjoy a limo ride to and from work from Reston Limousine. WTOP program director Laurie Cantillo says, “The question that we hear most often is, ‘Why do these people do it?’ It’s fascinating to hear their personal stories and accompany them on their crazy commutes. We feel their pain, and as DC’s traffic authority we’re here to help.”
KOIL, Omaha’s Mulberry Lane Meets the Beach Boys and John Stamos. Musical act Mulberry Lane opened for the Beach Boys (which includes actor and musician John Stamos) in Council Bluffs, Iowa on Saturday, May 25. Pictured here are (from l-r): Bo Mulberry, Bruce Johnston, Rachel Mulberry, Mike Love, Allie Mulberry, and John Stamos. The Mulberry sisters – based in Nebraska – also host a weekend talk show on NRG Media’s KOIL, Omaha called the “Mulberry Lane Radio Show.” The station describes the ladies’ program saying the sisters “decided to bring their busy lives to live radio with a show based on sisterhood, womanhood, motherhood, and the humor and mishaps of trying to juggle it all – woven together with music, harmony and a dash of wit.” It airs Saturdays from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon.
Longtime KNX, Los Angeles Anchor Harry Birrell Dies. Longtime Los Angeles news personality Harry Birrell died on May 26 after a battle with lung disease at age 85 in Thousand Oaks, California. Birrell was an anchor at all-news KNX, Los Angeles for more than three decades – beginning in 1968 when the station flipped to the all-news format and ending with his retirement in 1999. Birrell switched from his anchor role at the station to Ventura County correspondent in 1993.
Kevin Miller Stops By TheBlaze. KIDO, Boise morning drive talk show host Kevin Miller was visiting Dallas – home of Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze – and took some time to stop by the studios to check out the production of the Glenn Beck program. Here’s a shot of Beck (l) and Miller (r) inside the spacious former movie/TV studios that are home to Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts production facility.
Clear Channel Forges into Future of Entertainment; Names John Sykes President of Entertainment Enterprises. If there comes a time in the future when radio companies are forced to address why their business plans failed as technology and media tastes were changing all around them, for Clear Channel it certainly won’t be for lack of trying to use its enormous radio station base from which to move forward. On the heels of last week’s announcement of the name change – jettisoning the “radio” part and tacking “media” and “entertainment” onto its name – the company announces it is bringing entertainment pro John Sykes aboard to serve as president of entertainment enterprises. In announcing the hire, CC states, “Sykes will use the unparalleled assets of Clear Channel – including its 238 million monthly broadcast radio listeners, the 141 million people it reaches with Outdoor in the United States and the 374 million internationally, as well as the more than 75 million monthly listening hours for its digital properties – to develop new businesses for the company across a range of media, including television and live events, as well as create value for Clear Channel advertisers and key partners.” Sykes has served as president of VH1, president of network development for MTV, CEO of the old Infinity Broadcasting, president of Champion Entertainment, president of Chrysalis Records, and an agent for Creative Artists Agency. Most recently he was with the private equity firm Pilot Group – the connection to Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman. Pittman says of Sykes, “John’s experience and relationships in so many sectors of the entertainment and media business make him the perfect choice to lead this new initiative.” Clear Channel doesn’t have a lot of time. It has some $20 billion in debt hanging around its neck that comes due in chunks over the next four years and the pace at which media and technology is changing is faster than anyone can anticipate – including those new-tech operators who say they’re ahead of the game. But, in so many words, Clear Channel is making the statement it is bound and determined to use its large base of radio listeners to build something that will exist – and hopefully make money – in the future. And bringing in connected players from outside the traditional radio business could be the strategy that helps it survive.
CBS Radio Detroit Brings Bob Wojnowski and Jamie Samuelsen Back to the Airwaves on “The Ticket.” Detroit sports media pros Bob “Wojo” Wojnowski and Jamie Samuelsen are being paired up for a 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm show on WXYT-FM “The Ticket.” Both have worked on sports talk radio in the market previously on Clear Channel’s WDFN. WXYT-FM program director Jimmy Powers says, “We are extremely pleased to have Jamie and Wojo join our line-up. They are a natural fit. They have been dialed into the Detroit sports scene for many years, giving fans information on their favorite teams. Jamie and Wojo will continue to entertain listeners on their way home from work or to the stadium.” Wojnowski is also currently a columnist for the Detroit News and Samuelson is a regular blogger for the Detroit Free Press.
KMBZ, Kansas City Makes PM Drive Changes. Mike Shanin leaves his role on the “Shanin and Parks” afternoon show at Entercom’s KMBZ, Kansas City and takes the business editor role at the station. The station says it will continue to rely on Shanin’s “expertise and knowledge for political commentary.” Filling his seat alongside Scott Parks is KCTV-TV investigative reporter Dana Wright. She says of her new radio role, “This is really a dream opportunity for me. Journalism is my passion and I look forward to this exciting new step in my career.”
When Radio Was Insanely Fun. Beleaguered by the contemporary world of corporate radio? Pining for the days when radio stations were inhabited by creative and (quite possibly) unstable personalities? Talk radio host, WPIX-TV, New York commentator and LionelMedia.com “podcast titan” Lionel re-lives a bit of crazy radio history from his uniquely skewed perspective and personal experience. Prepare to laugh your tuchus off and click here.
CBS Radio’s WNEW-FM, Washington Launch Delayed. Various trade and consumer reports indicate the launch of CBS Radio’s new all-newser in Washington, DC will be Monday, January 23 and not tomorrow as had been planned. The cause is being reported as engineering issues related to the new studios.
Red Zebra’s WTEM, Washington, DC Adds College Hoops Expert. ESPN 980 (WTEM) announces former University of Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams joins the station to serve as its college basketball insider. Williams takes the temporary post through the NCAA finals during which he’ll join the station’s “Sports Fix” with Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro and “The Sports Reporters” with Andy Pollin and Steve Czaban for weekly college basketball reports. PD Chuck Sapienza says, “Adding Gary to our team solidifies our dominance in the area of college basketball coverage. He is ‘must listen-to radio’ and adding his expertise on the entire sport of college hoops is a big win for ESPN 980’s listeners.”
ESPN Audio Re-Aligns Management. At ESPN, Jim Roberts moves from his senior director, affiliate sales to senior director, Deportes local radio group. He’ll continue to lead the Deportes Dallas Radio station and in addition be responsible for the on-going relationship with all Deportes Radio affiliates. Patrick Polking, senior director audio national accounts, will transition to senior director II, distribution and business development. Polking will oversee the development and execution of strategies to further monetize ESPN Audio’s products. The company also says that because of the growth in usage of ESPN Audio properties, Scott Masteller, senior director II, radio content, will collaborate with Dave Austin, who was recently promoted to manager, ESPN Digital Audio Group, to ensure ESPN Audio is aligned in the production of its digital audio.
GOP Primary Race, Internet Anti-Piracy Bills, European Debt Crisis and Italian Cruise Disaster Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/17). The battle to win the GOP presidential primary race, the internet anti-piracy bills being debated in Washington, the continuing European debt problems and the Italian cruise ship disaster were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Radio Personality Tom Joyner Honors Tuskegee Airmen. As part of a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event, nationally syndicated “fly jock” Tom Joyner presented the Martin Luther King Jr. Day convocation at his alma mater Tuskegee University where he also saluted the Tuskegee Airmen, of which his father was one. Pictured here is Joyner (l), his son Oscar (r) and photos of Joyner’s father and the Tuskegee Airmen program. Joyner then joined others in a discussion about the Tuskegee Airmen as portrayed in George Lucas’ new film “Red Tails.” Joyner’s father was a flyer and his mother worked in the office at the program.
“Free Talk Live” Donates to St. Jude’s After Dare Offered to Michael Savage and Mark Levin. TALKERS readers may remember that in response to Talk Radio Network host Michael Savage’s offer of $1 million to Newt Gingrich to drop out of the race and of Cumulus Media Network host Mark Levin’s offer of $100,000 to Savage to end his radio show, “Free Talk Live” host Ian Freeman offered to donate $1,000 to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital if either Savage or Levin would have lunch with a Muslim or undocumented worker, do less than 40% of the talking and document the event with video. Freeman tells TALKERS, “As expected, neither Mark Levin nor Michael Savage took us up on our offer…they failed. Of course, why should they bother? If they actually listened to the people they appear to hate, they might learn something and discover they actually have the capability to empathize with other people.” Freeman says “Free Talk Live” held up its end of the bargain and is donating $1066 to St. Jude’s “in the name of peace, freedom, and compassion for other humans.”
WRKO, Boson Talk Host Howie Carr Publishes Crime Novel. Longtime Boston Herald columnist and Boston talk radio institution Howie Carr publishes another book, but this time, instead of being about real criminals like his previous tomes about famous Boston crime figures, this one is a fictional work in the spirit of the noir novels he consumed as a youngster. The WRKO, PM drive host appeared at a Boston-area Barnes & Noble over the weekend to promote Hard Knocks (Forge Books 2012) and chat with his fans about Boston crime legends. Carr tells the Hingham Patch, “I’ve been reading these things since I was a kid so I’ve always wanted to write something like this. I wrote it a while back but it was before I had anything published. Then I wrote the non-fiction books and they did really well. It’s easier when you’ve had some success, even in non-fiction, to get fiction published so I took advantage of my opportunity.”
Spike Eskin Returns to the CBS Philadelphia Operation. The son of Philadelphia sports talk legend Howard Eskin was a jock at CBS Radio’s rock WYSP-FM, Philadelphia until it met its fate as the FM simulcast of sports WIP in the fall of last year. Now, Spike Eskin returns to the CBS Philly operations as editor of the CBSPhilly.com sports section. He’ll also handle some sports duties for the company’s all-news KYW.
Connecticut AMs Strike Deal to Carry Hartford TV News Content. Two Crossroads Communications AM stations in Connecticut have agreed to a deal to broadcast Meredith Corporation’s WFSB-TV’s 12:00 noon and 6:00 pm newscasts. WFSB-TV is a CBS affiliate and the two stations to carry the programming are WMRD, Middletown, Connecticut and WLIS, Old Saybrook, Connecticut.
GOP Primary Race/Huntsman Drops Out, Iran Nuclear Ambitions, Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, Rising Gas Prices and Italian Cruise Liner Disaster Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday. Jon Huntsman drops out of the GOP primary race prior to last night’s South Carolina debate, Iran’s military and nuclear ambitions, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, prices continue to rise at the pumps as many experts predict high gas prices for some time and divers continue to search for missing people in the grounding of an Italian cruise liner. These were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.