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.