SiriusXM Reports Positive Q1 with Revenue Up 12%; Company Involved in Digital Dashboard Technology Rollout. That 12% percent increase over the same period a year ago is on revenue of $897 million. New permanent CEO Jim Meyer had every reason to be bubbly during his first investor conference call as official chief executive officer of the satcaster. He reports the company grew its subscriber base to a new record high on new subscriptions of 453,000 during the quarter. From a financial perspective he stated, “We are proud to have achieved the highest suggested EBITDA margin in the history of the company in the first quarter. We expect to achieve a 30% adjusted EBITDA margin this year, up from 27% last year and we continue to target 40% plus margins over time. You will see us move over the next few years to become one of the highest margin businesses among major media companies in the United States. Our ability to convert the bulk of that EBITDA in the free cash flow is also unmatched in the subscription media world.” He said the company is riding the “tailwind in the new car market as it recovers.” Meyer told investors the company is committed to having the best content, spoke about new channel additions as well as new talent joining the company and mentioned talk host Michael Smerconish. Addressing the specific question about GM’s plans for its future “digital dashboard,” Meyer said he couldn’t talk about any one manufacturer’s plans but was able to state, “I believe GM is on a leadership strategy in terms of where I believe the auto industry will go in general. And that is, I believe, over a mid and long period of time — you can define how many years that is — you will see automakers move to what I will call embedded connectivity that will be LTE-based that will give them lots of options for what they want to do for their customers and their vehicles. I think it’s very important that Sirius XM participates in that rollout of technology as it occurs over the next three to seven years and that’s exactly what we’re all about when we referred to our connected-car strategy. This is something that…I want to reiterate again today, that we’re moving and reprioritizing a lot of our technical resources and frankly now our commercial programming resources towards making that goal happen as we go out over time.” Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the conference call transcript. You can read the whole shebang here.
Tom Wheeler Gets Nod from Obama for FCC Chief. On the political side of things, many Democrats wanted to see President Obama select a woman for the post being vacated by Julius Genachowski, but the president nominated a man with a telecommunications background who was very helpful in getting him elected. Politico reports that managing director of Core Capital Partners, Tom Wheeler, (along with his wife) worked Iowa for six weeks straight during the president’s first campaign. Although Wheeler will get some grief from those who are suspicious of his past tenure as a lobbyist with both the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and the CTIA (Cellular Telephone Industry Association), he has experience in the industry having founded numerous cable and communications services businesses. National Association of Broadcasters president and CEO Gordon Smith states, “NAB welcomes the nomination of Tom Wheeler as chairman of the FCC. He has the experience and temperament to serve the agency with distinction, and we look forward to working with him.”
Talkers New York 2013 Approaching Sellout Today. At the present rate of registration bookings, all available seats to the forthcoming Talkers New York 2013 will be sold out by the end of business today (5:00 pm ET). The 16th annual installment of the talk industry’s longest-running and most important annual convention has broken the record for reaching advance registration earlier than ever before. TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey states, “We are amazed and gratified that this conference has reached a sellout almost five weeks in advance of its actual date, which is a testimony to the vibrancy of the talk format and the enthusiasm of the industry that produces it.” The one-day, power-packed event takes place on Thursday, June 6 in New York City between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm. It features a speaker roster of more than 50 industry leaders from programming, sales, talent, management, technology and ownership. Registration ($199 for all events and food services) is open exclusively to members of the working media and can only be booked by phone with credit card. Call 413-565-5413. For complete registration and sponsorship information including an up-to-the-minute agenda, click here.
Walton & Johnson Take Over Mornings on KPRC, Houston. Just four months after the Walton & Johnson [John Walton (left) and Steve Johnson (right)] morning show was dropped from Clear Channel’s classic rock KKRW, Houston “97.3 The Arrow,” the program is brought back to the Houston airwaves as the new morning program on the company’s news/talk KPRC. The duo was replaced on “The Arrow” by longtime St. Louis radio personality J.C. Corcoran. Clear Channel Houston director of AM programming Bryan Erickson says, “We are thrilled to have Walton & Johnson back on KPRC. They have a proven track record of great ratings and we look forward to them continuing that success on KPRC.” Walton & Johnson made KPRC their flagship beginning in 2007 but moved to “The Arrow” in 2009. Off KPRC as a result of the move is Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo who is based at Clear Channel’s WOAI, San Antonio and is heard there and on other Clear Channel news/talk stations.
Armstrong & Getty to Join KFMB, San Diego in June. Morning show duo Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty will be heard in the San Diego market beginning June 3 as their program bumps current morning host Mike Slater to the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon slot. Armstrong & Getty are based at Clear Channel’s KSTE, Sacramento and heard in other markets in Northern California including San Francisco on KKSF. This is a big move for the duo as they are added to a non-Clear Channel station – Midwest TV’s KFMB. Program director Dave Sniff states, “Like any great radio morning show, Armstrong and Getty have that unique ability to not only connect with the listener but to become their companions. They fit in amazingly well among the great storytellers that are part of 760 KFMB’s character and lineage. They’re not so much a ‘talk show’ as a ‘mock show.’”
Cox Media’s WOKV, Jacksonville Adds 104.5 FM Signal. Market news/talk powerhouse WOKV got a little more powerful as Cox Media Group gives the 104.5 FM signal long-occupied by now-defunct rock station WFYV to the station to boost its coverage of the region. WOKV program director Mike Dorwart says, “Our listeners told us loud and clear that we needed more power. Moving to 104.5 FM means that, for the first time, our listeners can hear us crystal clear, everywhere in northeast Florida, both day and night. The most noticeable improvement will be heard by listeners in Baker, Clay, St. Johns, and Nassau counties. They now have full coverage from WOKV, 24/7, on 104.5 FM. Duval residents will also hear a big difference, especially those who listen at work. Our new signal also gives reliable coverage to listeners in Flagler, Putnam, Bradford, Union and Columbia counties in Florida, as well as Camden and Charlton counties in Georgia.” The station has been simulcast on the 106.5 FM frequency but that class A FM is much smaller. WOKV will continue to be heard on 106.5 as the company directs listeners to the new 104.5 frequency.
Five Critical Steps for Radio to Achieve Success with Online Video. Noted media consultant and TALKERS columnist Walter Sabo outlines five crucial pointers that radio broadcasters should keep in mind when utilizing video in their digital initiatives. In a column posted today (5/1) he suggests: 1) bad equipment is usually the best; 2) online video is NOT television (TV); 3) 80% of all videos are watched within 72 hours of posting; 4) most of the biggest stars of the internet (“webstars”) are self-cast; and 5) late evening is the best time to post. To read the entirety of this timely and informative article, click here.
The End of an Era for Knoxville News/Talk; Country to Take Over 100.3 Frequency. With Journal Broadcast Group’s acquisition of Oak Ridge FM’s news/talk WNOX, Knoxville about to close, the company is preparing to move the country format currently heard on its WCYQ to the much stronger 100.3 signal currently occupied by news/talk on WNOX. A country simulcast will begin tomorrow on the two FMs (5/2) and the news/talk programming now on WNOX will move to Blount Broadcasting’s WKVL, a daytime AM at 850.
KTRS, St. Louis Newest Affiliate for Envision’s ‘America Weekend.’ The weekend news/talk radio program being nationally syndicated by Envision Radio Networks announces CH Holdings’ KTRS, St. Louis is the latest station to add the programming to its weekend offerings. Envision calls “America Weekend” “the winning antidote to bad brokered programming and tiresome ‘Best-of’ shows. Hosted by Paul Harris, Rick Roberts, and Turi Ryder, ‘America Weekend’ is designed to increase ratings while providing an innovative system for maintaining or even increasing revenue from brokered programs. The flexible ‘America Weekend’ system provides the perfect platform to break away for sports and other special programming as needed. Since ‘America Weekend’ is broadcast live via satellite, it is able to stay current by addressing breaking and developing stories of national interest as they happen. The program airs live each Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon ET.”
Fargo Stations Sales Close: Fargo-Moorhead Radio Cluster to Midwest Communications; Triad Broadcasting Group to Larry Wilson’s L&L. The sales of both of these Fargo market station groups were announced last year and were approved by the FCC months ago. Now the transactions close with Wausau, Wisconsin-based Midwest Communications taking ownership of the former Fargo-Moorhead Radio cluster that includes: news/talk KFGO, sports KVOX, CHR WDAY “Y-94,” country KBVB “Bob FM,” talk KRWK “101.9 Talk FM,” and adult hits KMJO “Popster FM.” Midwest Communications vice president of programming Jeff McCarthy tells the Forum of Fargo Moorhead he doesn’t anticipate any immediate programming changes. Larry Wilson, whose Alpha Broadcasting operates stations in Portland, Oregon, also is a principal in L&L Broadcasting and his company is closing on Triad Broadcasting’s stations that include: oldies KQWB “True Oldies,” classic rock KPFX “The Fox,” hot AC KLTA, country KVOX “Froggy 99.9,” full service KBMW, and rock KQWB “Q98.” Triad vice president and market manager Michael Brooks also tells the paper he does not anticipate any immediate changes.
WEEI Names John Ryder to Red Sox Broadcast Team; Grande and Merloni to Handle Fill-In Role. In announcing John Ryder’s ascension to a permanent role on Red Sox broadcasts as host of pre- and post-game coverage, the company says, “Ryder has been with WEEI since 1998 and is a regular contributor to the ‘Planet Mikey’ show, in addition to hosting ‘Red Sox Review’ and ‘Celtics Rewind’ after Sox and Celtics games.” The company is also announcing that Sean Grande and Lou Merloni will join the broadcasts filling in for Dave O’Brien, who will miss Monday night games during the season due to his responsibilities for ESPN. Grande has been the voice of the Boston Celtics since 2001, after having served as the TV voice of the Minnesota Timberwolves for three years. Merloni is currently co-host of the “Mut and Merloni” show on WEEI 93.7 FM. Merloni also enjoyed a nine-year professional career in Major League Baseball, the first five with the Red Sox. Entercom Boston vice president of programming Jason Wolfe says, “John has done a stellar job in every role we’ve had for him and has absolutely earned this promotion. He’s hosted the pre- and post-game shows for the Sox many times before and was a natural choice for us to fill this important job. Sean’s play-by-play experience speaks for itself. He’s one of the greats in the industry right now, and Lou’s expertise is second to none. There’s no baseball man in Boston who knows the Sox better than Lou.”
Odds & Sods. Result Radio’s Christian contemporary KJJK, Fargo will flip to sports talk on Monday, May 6 using programming from Fox Sports Radio Network including Dan Patrick, Jay Mohr and the “Loose Cannons” with Pat O’Brien and Steve Hartman. The station will continue to serve as a Minnesota Twins affiliate…..Personality J.D. Hayworth – co-host of the “Hacksaw & Hayworth” show on sports talk XEPRS, San Diego – does some news/talk fill-in work this week when he sits in for Cumulus Media Networks host Michael Savage tonight through Friday from 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight ET. He’ll also sit in for the company’s Mike Huckabee tomorrow from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET…..Bouyed by coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing and the Texas fertilizer warehouse explosion, cable news/talk channel CNN has improved in the ratings compared to the same period a year ago. Based on April Nielsen numbers as reported in Deadline.com, CNN saw its total day viewers number rise 79% compared to April 2012. CNN was also up in prime time, achieving an 81% increase in total viewers over the same period a year ago. The network was able to climb over MSNBC into second place behind Fox News Channel in both ratings categories.
Benghazi Cover-up Investigation, ObamaCare Effects, Boston Marathon Bombing Aftermath, Slow Job Growth Reports, and Immigration Legislation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/30). New inquiries into the Benghazi attack; the effects of the Affordable Care Act; the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing and the search for possible co-conspirators; newly released reports indicating slow job growth in the United States; and debate over immigration legislation were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Power-Packed Sales Panel Set for Talkers New York 2013. The agenda for the forthcoming 16th annual installment of the talk radio industry’s largest and longest-running convention – Talkers New York 2013 – continues to grow as the speakers for a major sales panel have been named. Titled “The State of Radio Advertising and Sales,” the session will be moderated by RAB president and CEO Erica Farber and feature (in alphabetical order): Spencer Brown, CEO, Dial Global; Jeff Smulyan, CEO, Emmis Broadcasting; Jerry Crowley, VP/general manager, WNYM (The Answer), New York; and Dan Metter, SVP/network advertising and sales, Premiere Networks. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “We always try to bring the element of sales and revenue generation into these conferences, but this year with advertising and the element of ‘monetization’ being such a crucial issue not only in talk radio – but the entire spectrum of radio – we organized a panel that we are proud to say covers all bases. It should be enlightening and certainly productive.” 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. Among those already announced as speakers include morning keynoter, Sean Hannity; sports keynoter, Mike Francesa; special guest speaker, Norm Pattiz; “State of the First Amendment” address presenter, Michael Smerconish and Arbitron‘s Jon Miller who will deliver a special report on “The PPM and Spoken Word Radio.” Stay tuned to Talkers.com for more agenda details about speakers, panels, presentations and award recipients coming in the immediate days ahead.
Traffic Reports on Radio Attract Listeners Says Research Director. A study of five PPM markets in Canada done by Research Director, Inc. and commissioned by the Canadian Traffic Network indicates “traffic reports on the radio attract listeners and boost ratings during the time that the reports air,” the company says. Research Director says this is the fourth study of PPM data in the five Canadian markets and the most recent study continues to show positive results for traffic reports. The company says some the highlights of the study include: 1) The three minutes around the traffic report have higher listening levels compared to non-traffic periods; 2) This was the case in each of the five markets examined; 3) On average for Persons 18+, Canadian Traffic Network’s reports deliver 20% greater audience than when traffic is not being broadcast; and 4) Among Adults 25-54, traffic reports deliver an even greater audience (+20%) than non-traffic times. This data comes as the industry debates the future value of general traffic reports in an era when smartphones and other in-car services are able to deliver real-time traffic information for specific routes to commuters.
Is Radio Losing Audience or Gaining It? And What About the Kids? If you add in the HD multicasts and AM/FM/HD streaming stations, as Arbitron did for its just-released March 2013 RADAR 116 National Radio Listening Report, “radio’s audience increased year over year, adding more than 1.6 million weekly listeners. Radio now reaches 242.8 million listeners on an average weekly basis.” Furthermore, Arbitron states, “Teens aged 12 to 17 shows the largest gains among the major age demographics. Radio now reaches nearly 23 million teens in an average week. Radio listening also remains steady among Adults aged 18 to 34, reaching 66.5 million people, or 92%, in this demographic.” The ratings company reports that “the data shows that radio is using new platforms effectively to reach more listeners. According to the RADAR March 2012 report, HD multicasts reach nearly 3.6 million persons aged 12 and older. Streams of AM/FM/HD radio also reach a broad audience. More than 5.4 million persons aged 12 and older tune into AM/FM/HD streams during an average week. Adults aged 18 to 49 make up the majority of this audience, with more than 3.5 million people in this demographic accessing streaming AM/FM/HD stations in an average week.”
The CBS Radio Product “World News Roundup” Celebrates 75 Years on the Air. The longest-running radio newscast – CBS Radio News’ “World News Roundup” – celebrates 75 years on the air this month. The company will honor the occasion tomorrow and Wednesday with special programs. The network will look at that first broadcast in 1938, its significance at the time and how the “Roundup” has evolved to remain an important source of information three-quarters of a century later. Vice president of CBS News, Radio, Harvey Nagler, states, “In an era with so many choices for the latest news, 75 years is truly a remarkable milestone. We are so proud that this broadcast that started it all is still something millions of Americans depend on every day. By combining the great traditions of CBS News with technology, our affiliates and their listeners receive relevant, accurate, immediate information they can trust, every day. From shortwave to satellites and from the Murrow Boys to multimedia platforms, ‘The World News Roundup’ is still setting the standard for quality journalism.” CBS says the program made broadcasting history on March 13, 1938 when it aired a riveting 38-minute program, anchored by Robert Trout, that reported the Nazi invasion of Austria. Revolutionizing news coverage, “The World News Roundup” gave listeners access to live reports from multiple reporters on the field, including a young CBS executive making his on-air debut in Vienna that night, Edward R. Murrow. In the following decades, the program was anchored by legendary CBS journalists, including Douglas Edwards, Dallas Townsend and Christopher Glenn. The current program is anchored by Steve Kathan and is produced by Paul Farry. Bill Whitney anchors the Late Edition of the “World News Roundup” which is produced by Greg Armstrong.
J.D. Hayworth to Co-Host AM Drive on Sports “The Mighty 1090” in San Diego. Former Arizona congressman and longtime issues talk host J.D. Hayworth takes an interesting turn in his radio career as he joins Broadcast Company of the Americas’ sports talk XEPRS, San Diego “The Mighty 1090” to co-host the morning drive show with Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton beginning March 18. The station says the pairing of Hayworth with Hamilton completes a three-month search that spanned “six time zones.” Program director Mike Shepard states, “We really appreciated all the ‘players’ who gave their time to this search and in the end, J.D.’s extensive background in radio, and true chemistry with Hacksaw made the difference. When the two of them were on together it was what we call ‘lean forward and listen’ radio. San Diego’s sports fans will truly be entertained every morning.” Hayworth, who’s been doing a lot of fill-in work in issues talk radio over the past year or so, says, “Hacksaw and I go way back. As a TV sportscaster in Phoenix, I got to know Lee during his days at KTAR, which was his radio home before he came to San Diego years ago. The preparation and dedication that Lee brings to his broadcasts impressed me then, and inspires me now. What an honor to become his partner. We will not rest until we are the best sports morning show in the country!”
Loan Investigation Ends for WWL-AM-FM, New Orleans Talk Host Garland Robinette. Federal prosecutors are ending a probe into allegations the River Birch company paid bribes to close two New Orleans landfills so that its own facilities could receive the bulk of debris from Hurricane Katrina. WWL-AM/FM talk host Garland Robinette became involved in the probe after he received a personal loan from River Birch owner Fred Heebe. Robinette had also used his program to criticize the re-opening of the landfills that would have taken business from Heebe’s company. According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Friday’s announcement puts to an end the investigation that included scrutiny of Robinette’s $250,000 interest-free loan from Heebe. Robinette’s attorney issued this statement: “I’m happy to announce that we’ve received notice that the Department of Justice in Washington has concluded their investigation regarding Garland as it relates to the River Birch case…and the matter is now closed. We want to thank the Public Integrity section for reaching the right result and for considering all the information. As Garland said from the beginning he never had done anything wrong. Garland and his family are glad they can now put this behind him.”
St. Louis Sports Stations KFNS and KXFN to Flip to Guy Talk and Ladies Talk in May. The Grand Slam Sports-owned AM stations will take a different programming tack in May under the leadership of new company president Dan Marshall. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, KFNS will alter its programming to reduce the sports talk content to about 30% with “guy talk” comprising the other 70%. Marshall tells the paper’s Dan Caesar the announcement of who will be the new morning host on KFNS will be made on SiriusXM’s Howard Stern show today, leading to the conclusion that Stern pal Bubba the Love Sponge’s Tampa-based program will take over mornings. Other show hosts will be announced between now and May 1. Marshall is owner of a wireless communications company in the St. Louis area that’s been buying time on sports talk. Marshall’s company made an investment in Grand Slam Sports under the condition he would take over as general manager with control over programming. Current GM Katy Pavelonis stays on as sales manager. As for KXFN, how the move to female-targeted talk will be realized is less clear, although Marshall says, “I’ve already interviewed a few people who seem excited. And I believe our future advertisers will be excited to reach a women’s audience.” The current morning show at KFNS is hosted by Tim McKernan, Jim Hayes and Doug Vaughn and is owned by insideSTL Enterprises LLC and apparently brokers the time on KFNS. McKernan tells the paper insideSTL Enterprises is investigating the possibility of working with outside investors to put a new station on the air. The company operates insideSTL.com.
Strategizing Facebook’s Plans to Decrease Clutter. On Thursday, the social media giant announced a new format for their news feed, which Mark Zuckerberg referred to as “the best personalized newspaper in the world.” The big change? Pictures are going to get even bigger. That’s a bigger change than it sounds like. The headline Facebook puts on it is, “Goodbye, clutter.” According to radio digital consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller, “This is good news for radio stations and other brands that are doing a good job using social media as loyalty content marketing. It will be easier for your fans and their friends to see what you post and enjoy it!” Today in TALKERS Miller offers five quick guidelines to help you make the most of your Facebook posts, especially once the new news feed kicks in for everyone. To read Chris Miller’s piece, click here.
Is Michael Smerconish’s Departure from AM/FM to Satellite the Canary in Talk Radio’s Coal Mine? Radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Holland Cooke thinks it might very well be the case. In an extremely candid look at the meaning behind the highly profiled defection, Cooke advises industry professionals how to read the message this move conveys in addition to dissecting the impact it will likely have on Smerconish’s career. To read this article by Holland Cooke, click here.
A Not So High-Tech Solution to a High-Tech Headache. Sometimes the remedy to what seems like a complex technical disaster can be found in cleverly utilizing the services of a commonly found, everyday low-tech product. Noted radio engineering wizard and TALKERS technical editor Tom Ray had one such situation pop up recently and he shares how he solved it using…would you believe it…cat litter! Check out the story by clicking here.
Holland Cooke: Start Your Own Media Station. Noted radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Holland Cooke says getting laid off during this year’s pre-Christmas industry bloodbath, though painful and scary, might not be the worst thing that can happen to enterprising broadcasters. In a boldly worded opinion piece, the forward-thinking programming advisor connects numerous dots and cites fascinating examples painting a positive picture of just how much opportunity now exists in the digital world for radio people daring enough to go “stickless.” He points to a number of telling signs in the changes in our culture – such as Larry King’s new online show being listed in a larger font on the USA Today television listings page than his former home, CNN. Cooke writes, “Anyone who uses Twitter online can click-to-listen. Those who Tweet on smartphones or iPad simply touch-to-listen. Voila! You’re in-the-pocket, where AM/FM radio used to be.” Read his piece here.
Rumors of Format Change at WTKK, Boston Rampant. The Boston media is all over the rumors that Greater Media will flip the news/talk station to a different, music-based format in the near future. The local media picked up on domain name registrations such as 969BostonsBeat.com, 969TheBeat.com, and Power969.com. The Boston Herald speculates the change is coming because “’toxic’ all-talk formats aren’t attracting enough younger listeners.” Greater Media spokesperson Heidi Raphael states, “We deal in a business of attitudes and being responsive to the preferences of our audiences and the needs of our advertisers and communities. We are continually exploring our options, looking for ways to improve our product and brands. No decisions have been made on any changes to the format.” Radio operators register domain names that go unused frequently so the actions by Greater Media don’t necessarily mean a change is coming but it certainly means the company is considering it.
Dave Ramsey Changes Affiliates in Home Town of Nashville; Jumps from WWTN to Sports WPRT. The nationally syndicated Dave Ramsey show will move to Cromwell Radio Group’s sports talk WPRT “102.5 FM The Game” beginning January 1. Ramsey’s program has aired on Cumulus Media’s WWTN, Nashville since the program debuted in the early 1990s. Ramsey states, “After 20 years on WWTN it is very difficult to leave. Unfortunately, we couldn’t come to terms with Cumulus on a simple renewal agreement. There are a lot of great people at WWTN and we’ll miss them. But we’re excited to have the opportunity to work with an independent radio station owner the caliber of Bud Walters.” It appears as though the move is being precipitated by Cumulus’ desire to give its own talk programs more exposure – in this case, giving Mike Huckabee a full three hours on WWTN. The new schedule at WWTN puts Huckabee on live from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm and allows Phil Valentine a 3:00 pm start to his PM drive show. At the same time, Cumulus announces its newly acquired Michael Savage will air live from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am. Cumulus Nashville market manager Mike Carpenter states, “We believe in the Mike Huckabee show and anticipate that this change will accelerate the governor’s popularity in Nashville. Mike is a man of such character that we feel our clients will appreciate the opportunity to make him a key part of their marketing plans. His on-air interest in music expands our talk repertoire and will play extremely well in a city where the music industry is the number three employer. As for Savage, we assure you that a large number of our listeners will be happy to learn that their pleas have been heard and that Michael Savage is back on in Nashville.”
FCC Approves Transfer of WFAN-FM, New York to CBS Radio. The $75 million deal that sends Merlin Media’s former WRXP, New York to CBS Radio as WFAN-FM, New York is approved by the Federal Communications Commission. The station changed its call letters to WFAN-FM and CBS began operating it under an LMA on November 1 simulcasting sports talk WFAN-AM on the signal.
More on Changes at XEPRS, San Diego. Yesterday, TALKERS reported sports talk XEPRS, San Diego “XX1090” let morning hosts Dave Palet and Jeff Dotseth go. But now we’ve learned more as midday hosts Josh Rosenberg and Charod Williams have also been let go. Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton is now on mornings and the San Diego Union-Tribune is reporting that former morning hosts Scott Kaplan and Billy Ray Smith will return to the station in AM drive soon and Darren Smith will move to the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm slot. Kaplan and B.R. (Smith), who were fired after Kaplan made disparaging comments about a female sportscaster, have been hosting the San Diego Union-Tribune’s online TV morning show and, according to the report, would continue in that role.
Dave Wheaton Exits WOWO-AM/FM, Fort Wayne. As tipped by Indiana Radio Watch’s Blaine Thompson, news director Dave Wheaton leaves his position at Federated Media’s WOWO-AM/FM, Fort Wayne to take the assignment editor post at Granite Broadcasting’s WPTA-TV, Fort Wayne (channel 21) and WISE-TV, Fort Wayne (channel 33).
Envision Radio Network Names Paul Harris “America Weekend” Host. Talk radio pro Paul Harris is named the host of the new “America Weekend” program from Envision Radio Networks. Executive producer Kipper KcGee says, “I’m thrilled to be working with Paul again. We will be announcing the remainder of the ‘America Weekend’ lineup in coming weeks, and look forward to demonstrating that news/talk radio can enjoy weekend ratings and revenues!” McGee worked with Harris in St. Louis and at WLS, Chicago. Harris states, “I’m excited about launching ‘America Weekend’ to give both affiliates and listeners something more compelling, with great stories, interesting interviews, and my own perspective on what’s happening.”
Clear Channel Donates WDTW, Detroit to the Minority Media and Communications Council. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment is donating progressive talk outlet WDTW, Detroit – a 5,000-watt Class B signal – to the MMTC under the Clear Channel-MMTC Ownership Diversity Initiative. Clear Channel CEO and chairman John Hogan states, “We applaud MMTC for creating a program that helps minority broadcasters develop the skills and experience necessary to become successful broadcasters. We’re pleased that the donation of these resources will give the opportunity for enthusiastic new entrepreneurs to own and operate their own radio station.”
Main Street Radio Network Launches New Weekly Program. “The RichLife Show” with host Beau Henderson is a weekly one-hour program that, according to syndicator Main Street Radio Network, is “a fast-paced hour with a BIG mission to help listeners live healthy, wealthy, fulfilled lives on purpose by combining a highly engaging mix of education, entertainment, inspiration, and motivation. The format of the show is financial Q&A, discussion around listeners’ biggest questions and concerns, and relevant expert interviews.” Henderson is a senior financial advisor, Master Certified Success Coach, and Certified Master Behavioral Analyst and author of the book, The RichLife – Ten Investments For True Wealth. Main Street president Jane Silk says, “We know ‘The RichLife Show’ will be a great addition to our current shows and our rapidly growing radio network. Beau Henderson is a caring, honest person who truly has the listener’s best interest in mind. Beau will cover a variety of topics such as all aspects of living rich: money, health, meaningful relationships, and living a fulfilled life of purpose. Beau and RichLife advisors have built an online community through a weekly newsletter and social media that now exceeds 35,000 committed to living their definition of a RichLife.”
KGO, San Francisco Partners with Good News in Oakland for News Feature. Cumulus Media San Francisco news/talker KGO announces a partnership with internet media outlet Good News in Oakland to create a feature that “will highlight a person or organization in Oakland that has made a difference in creating a positive image for the East Bay’s largest city.” Good News in Oakland is described as an “internet-based renewable psychological socially responsible environmentally focused media outlet.” Stories will be produced by KGO reporter Tihanna McCleese and Good News in Oakland founder Sean Kennedy. KGO program director Paul Hosley states, “We’re thrilled to enter into this partnership with Good News in Oakland. This collaboration will give KGO listeners an opportunity to hear about the positive side of the city…stories that have not been told before.” Features will air at 6:46 am, 1:46 pm, and 5:46 pm on Mondays and Wednesdays.
WNYM, New York Begins Picture Caption Contest for Lunch with Sliwa & Lichtman. Salem Communications-owned WNYM, New York’s PM drive team of Curtis Sliwa and Jeffrey Lichtman are enjoying their new street-level studio with the giant display window at the Hotel Pennsylvania on 7th Avenue. The station and hotel management say they are getting such a buzz from New Yorkers about the setup that they’re beginning a photo caption contest to capitalize on the publicity. WNYM is asking fans to take a picture of Sliwa and Lichtman broadcasting, give it a caption and post it via Twitter or Instagram or send it to the station via email. First prize is lunch with Sliwa and Lichtman. Other prizes include Broadway show tix, restaurant deals and more. WNYM general manager Sean O’Neill states, “The iconic Hotel Pennsylvania with Curtis Sliwa and Jeffrey Lichtman broadcasting live in the hub of midtown Manhattan is an extraordinary opportunity to personalize the radio experience in the digital age. Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers walk through this block daily and now have the opportunity to connect face to face with their favorite radio personalities.”
Quentin Tarantino Entertains Live Audience at SiriusXM. As part of the “Town Hall Series” on SiriusXM, noted filmmaker Quentin Tarantino (l) was interviewed by Village Voice film critic Scott Foundas (r) before an intimate, live studio audience. Tarantino, who also took questions from the crowd, discussed his new film “Django Unchained” and told stories about his career as a film director. Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur / WireImage for SiriusXM.
ESPN Radio Broadcasts 24 College Bowl Games. The college football bowl season will bring plenty of play-by-play to ESPN Radio affiliates as the sports media giant announces plans to broadcast 24 bowl games. Beginning with the Gildan New Mexico Bowl on December 15 and wrapping up with the National Championship game between Notre Dame and Alabama in Miami on January 7, ESPN Radio’s coverage will span 16 days. David Norrie and Bill Rosinski will call five of the games beginning with the S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl on December 20. Additionally, both the “Mike & Mike in the Morning” and “SVP & Russillo” programs will originate from South Florida on Monday and Tuesday, January 7 and 8.
Lotus Communications’ ‘SuperGol’ Soccer Show Scores Affiliates. The Spanish-language soccer show “SuperGol” recently snagged its 25th affiliate for the one-hour program targeted to younger Hispanic men. The show airs live from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm PT and is hosted by Halim Zadat and Erika Garza. The show is produced by Lotus’ KWKW, Los Angeles and station president James Kalmenson says, “The young US-born Latino is a growing segment of the sports audience that’s responding extremely well to the program. Latinos of all generations are avid soccer fans, making the soccer-themed talk show an ideal platform for younger audiences while maintaining the traditional sports target of men 25-54.”
Gow Broadcasting Acquires Sports Flash Radio Network. The service that specializes in sports updates is acquired by Gow Communications, the company that is operating Yahoo! Sports Radio. Gow announces at the same time that its affiliate base has grown to more than 360 stations. David Gow states, “We are really pleased with the ongoing expansion of our affiliate base. The acquisition of the Sports Flash Radio Network extends our reach to both sports-format and non-sports-format stations. And the additions of new shows we have introduced over the past year have enabled us to achieve industry-leading growth.”
‘Fiscal Cliff’ Battle, Looming ObamaCare Costs, Michigan Right-to-Work Bill Controversy, Hillary in 2016, and Aussie DJ Prank Fallout Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/10). The GOP versus Obama fight in Washington over avoiding the “fiscal cliff”; the costs associated with ObamaCare that will begin to take effect in 2013; the battle in Michigan over the union-busting right-to-work bill; the proposition Hillary Clinton will run for president in 2016; and the fallout after the Australian DJ prank call to Kate Middleton’s hospital in London were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Michael Savage Tells San Francisco Chronicle His Return to Radio is Imminent. The San Francisco Chronicle reports former Talk Radio Network nationally syndicated talk star Michael Savage (who won his freedom from TRN in arbitration recently) plans to be back on the radio within two weeks. Savage tells the paper, “I’ve got to get back before these (presidential) debates are over. And when I do, it will be bigger than ever.” Savage’s attorney, Daniel Horowitz, says Savage is in negotiations with three “major players” but wouldn’t say which ones or what station might serve as a flagship.
President Obama Calls in to Tom Joyner Show this Morning. This morning (10/10) on the Tom Joyner Morning Show President Barack Obama called in and spoke to Tom Joyner and Sybil Wilkes about the debate, the importance of voting, his focus on the African American Community, and his thoughts on winning this tight election. In the opinion of the TALKERS editors, the President made several powerful news making comments. To read a key excerpt from this exclusive interview, click here.
Programmer Marshall Adams Exits All-News WYAY, Atlanta. Before joining the Cumulus Atlanta all-newser early this year, Marshall Adams served as program director at CBS Radio’s KDKA, Pittsburgh. Now, the word is Adams has exited the fledgling all-news operations. There’s no word from Cumulus who will take over the programming role at WYAY.
Mancow Show in Pre-Recorded Mode During Move to New Studios. The Chicago-based and TRN-FM nationally syndicated Mancow program is airing taped shows this week as the program prepares to launch in its TV-radio simulcast format on October 22, according to Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder. Mancow’s show will emanate from the studios of Fox TV-owned WPWR-TV, Chicago with the 6:00 am to 8:00 am hours being simulcast on TV. Also, Feder reports that former “Ebert & Roeper” program executive producer Don Dupree has been hired as director and produce of the Mancow show. Mancow’s program had been produced at Cumulus Media’s Chicago studios.
The Future of PDs: Brand Managers. Perhaps the headline of this story should read the “present” of program directors as an increasing number of companies are adopting the title “brand manager” to describe the role of the radio station/group position historically known as “program director.” With the likes of so highly respected and forward thinking a company as Saga Communications joining the ranks of those using this more expansive title RadioInfo recognizes the movement is shifting from trend status to a significant paradigm shift. The concept is articulated by Saga Communications executive vice president Steve Goldstein in the following memo received by the company’s program directors in all formats, talk and music:
I have some very important and exciting news…
We truly live in a multi-platform world. As a Program Director, you are now spending an increased amount of your time thinking about and working with our various digital platforms. Whether it be the station website(s), social media such as Facebook, Twitter or crafting emails and texts, it’s all now a part of the PD’s day. This is in addition to managing the external marketing feel and visual aspects of the brand.
And of course, all of this is on top of creating vital and compelling on-air radio with all of the moving parts of morning shows, music, talk programming, news, sports, etc.
So, we’ve been thinking a lot about how vastly different the job of the Program Director is in 2012 and where it is likely to go in the coming years.
We’ve been thinking about how successful programmers are morphing their skills to become proficient at not just managing the on-air product, but the overall brand. And conversely, it has exposed the vulnerability of Program Directors who are not learning and growing as we become more digital.
When you drill it all down, what it really means is that the PD is no longer just a PROGRAM DIRECTOR, but a multi-platform BRAND MANAGER.
And so with the notion that things will continue to evolve, we are making a formal title change for all of our PDs from Program Director to Brand Manager. This change is intended to not only reflect how people in our business think about the position of PD but how PD’s think about themselves.
Managing the assets of a brand is what you do today, and we think this new title better reflects the change in responsibility and overall outlook.
We discussed this during our recent General Manager meeting in Florida and it met with tremendous approval.
Congratulations BRAND MANAGER.
Saga Communications owns and operates more than 100 broadcast stations in 29 markets.
ESPN Confirms Central Florida Affiliates. ESPN Radio remains on the Central Florida markets of Orlando – on Cox Media’s WDBO-AM beginning November 12 – and in Tampa Bay on Clear Channel’s WDAE. The moves come after Genesis Communications elected not to renew its affiliation with ESPN radio on WBHO, Tampa and WHOO, Orlando. As we reported yesterday, Cox Media is flipping the AM side of WDBO-AM/FM to sports as “ESPN 580 Orlando” and will carry the ESPN Radio lineup including Mike & Mike, Colin Cowherd, and SVP & Russillo. WDBO has not announced a local PM drive talent as this time. ESPN senior vice president, production, business divisions Traug Keller says, “We’re pleased to team with Cox to broadcast ESPN Radio content on WDBO-AM 580, one of the strongest signals in the Southeast, and with Clear Channel to provide ESPN programming on 620 WDAE. Our new affiliates in both Tampa and Orlando are a huge step up in signal strength, business acumen and our drive to grow our business with the best in the business.”
Tom Bauerle Re-Ups with Entercom’s WBEN, Buffalo. Buffalo talk host Tom Bauerle is becoming synonymous with talk radio in the market as the Buffalo native signs a long-term contract extension to remain with WBEN hosting the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon program. Bauerle has been with WBEN since 2002. He started his career in the market at Entercom sister WGR in 1982. We worked for a few years outside the market at WTKN, Tampa-St. Pete and KMOX, St. Louis before returning to Buffalo in 1991.
XEPRS, San Diego “ESPN Radio 1700” Renews with ESPN for Three Years. San Diego sports outlet ESPN Radio 1700 announces it strikes a deal with ESPN Radio to continue airing its programming in the market for another three years. XEPRS is owned by Broadcasting Company of the Americas and carries Mike & Mike, “The Herd with Colin Cowherd,” Hill & Schlereth, overnight and weekend programming as well as MLB and college sports play-by-play. Broadcasting Company of the Americas VP/market manager Norman Feuer states, “We’re thrilled to continue our partnership with ESPN Radio. As San Diego’s sports leader, it’s only fitting to have a strong bond with the ‘Worldwide Leader in Sports.’ Programming the quality of ESPN Radio deserves a home in San Diego. We are proud to have our stations as that home.”
WSSP, Milwaukee Adds Ted Davis to PM Drive Show. Ted Davis has served as the voice of Milwaukee Bucks basketball for the past 15 seasons. Now, he adds a regular role at Entercom’s sports talk WSSP “Sportsradio 1250” where he’ll be part of “The Big Show” afternoon program with Steve “Sparky” Fifer, Ramie Makhlouf and Gary Ellerson. Program director Tom Parker says Davis will begin during the basketball season adding hoops analysis. “Ted will weigh in on the day’s top Wisconsin sports stories. Of course he’ll share his unique perspective on Milwaukee basketball. Ted is a sports talk pro who knows what fans want and will tell it like it is.”
Odds & Sods. Entercom promotes WEEI-FM, Springfield, Massachusetts and WEEI-AM, Worcester, Massachusetts general manager David Oldread to director of sales and operations for the Worcester, Springfield and WVEI-FM Providence outlets for the Boston-based WEEI sports talk brand…..SiriusXM will broadcast a special “town hall” broadcast with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell live from SiriusXM studios on October 22. NFL great Michael Strahan (also co-host of ABC TV’s “Live with Kelly and Michael” and analyst on “Fox NFL Sunday” ) will interview Goodell and the commissioner will take questions from the live studio audience…..CBS Radio’s WIP-AM/FM, Philadelphia donates $5,000 to Michael Vick’s Team Vick Foundation. Vick says, “The city of Philadelphia embraced me, welcomed me here when the Eagles signed me – giving me a second chance to play the game that I love. We at Team Vick Foundation are thankful to CBS Radio for supporting our work in the community and look forward to lasting partnership.”…..Tribune’s WGN, Chicago will air abbreviated editions of its “Sports Night” program to carry the two remaining presidential debates as well as the vice-presidential debate. The VP debate is Thursday, October 11 and the two presidential debates are on October 16 and 22.
KDKA, Pittsburgh Hosts Marcellus Shale Expo. The possibility of large natural gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale is a major ongoing story for Western Pennsylvania and CBS Radio’s KDKA is hosting a Marcellus Shale Expo on Thursday, October 11. The event is sponsored by Range Resources, a developer of natural gas extraction technology. The day’s events will include panel discussions hosted by KDKA’s Mike Pintek and Robert Mangino and will include representatives: Frank Brooks Robinson, Jr., of the Governor’s Action Team; Petra Mitchell from Catalyst Connection and Rep. Jim Christiana from Beaver County. Afternoon session panelists include Alan Eichler of District Oil & Gas Operations; Rep. Marc Gergely from Allegheny County and John Ubinger from PA Environmental Council. Matt Pitzarella from Range Resources will serve on both panels. Mike Pintek will broadcast his program on site from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
Hearst Television President David Barrett to Receive Broadcasters Foundation of America’s 2013 Golden Mike Award. Awarded annually to a broadcasting executive who has championed the BFoA’s mission, the 2013 Golden Mike Award will be given to Hearst Television president and CEO David Barrett at a gala black-tie fundraiser at the Plaza Hotel in New York City on February 25. Broadcasters Foundation of American chairman Philip J. Lombardo states, “David has been a vigorous champion of the Foundation’s mission to help broadcasters who are in desperate need. David’s exemplary leadership at Hearst, his commitment to the Foundation’s charitable cause, and his dedication to community service have earned him this acknowledgement. We are proud to honor him.”
Newt Talks Politics with Alan Stock. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (and recent presidential candidate) poses for a photo with KDWN, Las Vegas morning drive host Alan Stock at the Beasley news/talk station’s studios. Gingrich appeared on Stock’s program to talk about the presidential race and took calls from listeners.
Presidential Race Polls, Obama ‘Big Bird’ Ad Controversy, Romney Foreign Policy Speech, and Jerry Sandusky Sentenced Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/9). New polling data showing Mitt Romney gaining on or pulling ahead of President Obama; the controversy of the use of the Children’s Television Workshop’s Big Bird in an Obama ad; Mitt Romney’s recent foreign policy speech; and the sentencing of former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Arbitrator Rules in Favor of Former XEPRS, San Diego Hosts Scott Kaplan and Billy Ray Smith. Sports talk hosts Scott Kaplan and Billy Ray Smith were fired by XEPRS, San Diego – XX Sports Radio 1090 – in February after Kaplan made derogatory comments about the appearance of Mountain West TV Network sports personality Andrea Lloyd. Kaplan and Smith contended they were let go in violation of their contract which outlined a process by which the station was to address content issues in case of a disagreement. An arbitrator – retired Superior Court Judge Linda Quinn ruled in the hosts’ favor and has awarded the two more than $490,000 in damages based on their respective salaries, commissions, endorsements and incentives as provided by their contracts. U-T San Diego (for which Kaplan now works co-hosting an online TV show called “Scott, B.R. + Amber”) reports Kaplan and Smith feel vindicated with Kaplan stating, “I feel vindicated. They breached the contract. I knew that from the beginning. There was a lot of embarrassment that came with the termination. I spent 11 great years on the radio…I loved what I did and I loved who I worked for.” XEPRS has not paid the duo yet and has filed a motion asking Quinn to reconsider her decision.
NPR Hires Lobbying Firm to Fight GOP Effort to Defund CFPB. Congressional Republicans are again organizing efforts to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and NPR is hiring the lobbying firm Navigators Global to help shut that down. The Hill reports NPR spokesperson Dana Rehm says that the organization is a content provider but is also a trade organization representing member stations. “It is part of our mission to represent the interests of NPR member stations to Congress, executive, regulatory and judicial bodies. At a time when the federal government is running a large deficit, every program and function of the government deserves to be scrutinized, and a review of federal funding to public broadcasting is fair and to be expected.” Rehm says the firm’s job is to explain “how the federal investment in public radio stations and larger public broadcasting system provides one of the most effective returns of any program authorized by Congress.”
Talk Radio Rises to the Occasion in Covering Aurora Massacre Aftermath. The natural progression of the analysis and coverage of the killing of 12 and wounding of dozens of others at the Aurora, Colorado premiere of “Dark Knight Rises” continues and talk radio is rising to the occasion to serve its listeners with compelling and responsible discussion. Examples of talk outlets rising to a high level of performance through the use of experts in the fields of psychology, law enforcement, media violence, gun control and more are being reported to TALKERS from all over the country. Here two examples of similar coverage: Compass Media Networks nationally syndicated talk host Todd Schnitt featured an interview with shooting victim Pierce O’Farrill, who was hit three times by bullets from the shooter’s gun. O’Farrill described live on the air the chilling events at the theater, his perspective on the gunman, the death penalty, and his visit with President Obama. XtreMedia president Kevin McCullough tells TALKERS several of his company’s programs – his own Kevin McCullough show, the Saturday evening “Baldwin/McCullough LIVE” broadcast and the Sunday night Dani Johnson show spent the bulk of their collective platforms allowing hurting, confused and stunned listeners to respond to the attacks. Actor Stephen Baldwin took time out from a publicity tour in neighboring Cheyenne, Wyoming (90 minutes from Aurora) to meet with those in Aurora whose lives have been touched by the shootings. While there, CNN‘s Don Lemon asked Baldwin (see photo) to weigh in on his perspective of the events. Baldwin told CNN, “It may be time for those of us in the Hollywood community to re-examine how we advance violence through films, television, and video games. It also blows my mind that someone could purchase 6,000 rounds of ammo in 45 days. I’m a gun enthusiast but a red flag should’ve gone off somewhere.”
Progressive Town Hall Forum in Seattle. Premiere Networks syndicated talk host Randi Rhodes (center) was one of eight panelists who took part in “Showdown 2012: Recapturing Democracy,” a progressive town hall forum presented by Seattle’s Progressive Talk AM1090 (CBS Radio’s KPTK) at the ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington on Saturday, July 21. Rhodes appeared on a panel focused on the evolving role citizens play in the political and public policy process, including strategies to protect our role in democracy and to build a better future for everyone. Panelists in this picture are (from l-r): Congressman Jim McDermott, WYD Media talk host Thom Hartmann, talk host Mike Papantonio, Compass Media Networks talk host Norman Goldman, Rhodes, talk host Sam Seder, talk host Ron Reagan, and panel moderator David Postman, former chief political reporter for the Seattle Times.
KESN, Dallas Renews Contract with Cowboys Great Drew Pearson. ESPN O&O KESN, Dallas – ESPN Dallas 103.3 – announces it is renewing its deal with Dallas Cowboys great Drew Pearson for another season. Under the terms of the contract, Pearson will join “Ben & Skin” co-hosts Ben Rogers & Jeff “Skin” Wade on Mondays from 11:00 am to 12:00 noon, do Friday call-ins to the “Galloway and Company” show, and co-host the “5th Quarter Cowboys” post-game show. Pearson will act as the “go-to guy” for any breaking Cowboys or NFL news, and do a weekly video segment with “Galloway and Company.” Pearson states, “I am very happy and excited to be joining the ESPN Radio team for my third season as Cowboys/NFL analyst. My role with ESPN provides a platform for me to express my sports opinions and it also allows me the opportunity to continue my association with the ‘Worldwide Leader in Sports’ – ESPN – which to me is priceless.”
Old Friends. Dial Global nationally syndicated talk host Dennis Miller (r) poses for a shot with former “Saturday Night Live” cast member and co-star David Spade (c) and show promoter Bill Blumenreich (l) at Miller’s recent live concert at Boston’s Wilbur Theater. Spade snuck into the theater and found his way to Miller’s dressing room where they chatted and caught up.
Fox Sports Radio and Yardbarker Enhance Content Relationship. The latter is described by Fox Sports Radio as a sports opinion site and blog network. It’s a property of Fox Sports Interactive Media and now it and Fox Sports Radio Network will begin working together more closely beginning with incorporating FSRN’s “Loose Cannons” into Yardbarker’s content. FSRN states “‘Loose Cannons’ will feature a daily segment with co-hosts Pat O’Brien, Steve Hartman and Vic ‘The Brick’ Jacobs as they take listeners into O’Brien’s ‘backyard’ for all the dirt from Yardbarker. Fox Sports Radio will soon add similar segments across other network programs. In addition, Yardbarker will feature select content from Fox Sports Radio on its website and social media platforms.” Yardbarker VP of operations Jack Kloster states, “Yardbarker is incredibly excited to partner with Fox Sports Radio and to introduce our content to the loyal listeners of ‘Loose Cannons.’ The partnership is a natural fit. Our content is inherently conversational and Fox Sports Radio is home base for sports conversation.”
Geoff Neuhoff Passes Away at Age 59. Neuhoff Communications president and CEO Geoff Neuhoff died Sunday after falling ill suddenly on Saturday. Neuhoff owned and operated stations in rural Illinois including clusters in Springfield and Decatur. The company operated news/talk WSOY, Decatur and sports talk WFMB, Springfield. Neuhoff COO Mike Hulvey tells the State Journal-Register, “Geoff Neuhoff was a giant among small- and medium-market broadcasters. Geoff demanded from all of us a dedication of greatness and excellence no matter the market size or the power of the station. Geoff believed strongly that innovation was the way forward and he embraced new technologies with enthusiasm. He will be missed by his team, but the legacy he leaves behind will last for years to come.” Neuhoff is survived by his wife and three children.
Aurora Movie Theater Massacre, Penn State Penalties, Syria Instability, and European Debt Worries/Financial Markets Activities Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/23). The aftermath of the massacre at the “Dark Knight Rises” showing in Aurora, Colorado; the severe penalties levied against Penn State in the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal; Syria’s political instability and threat to use weapons of mass destruction; and ongoing concerns over the debt of some European nations and the effect on world financial markets were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Cumulus Media Networks to Syndicate Daily Mike Huckabee Talk Show in Same Time Slot as Rush Limbaugh. Former Arkansas Governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has been producing a daily feature for Cumulus Media Networks and hosting his weekend show on Fox News Channel since shortly after the 2008 presidential race. Now CMN decides to develop a three-hour talk show for Huckabee – based out of Florida – airing live from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET and beginning April 2. Already, industry watchers are viewing the move as Cumulus “taking on” Premiere Networks’ syndication dominance in the time slot with Limbaugh while Cumulus COO John Dickey tells The New York Times that it is positioning the show as an alternative to Limbaugh. Huckabee himself defers to Limbaugh’s success telling Times writer Brian Stelter he doesn’t feel like a competitor, “He’s going to have an audience that will be very loyal and has been for over 20 years. I doubt that will change.” Within the industry, the big question is will Cumulus push Huckabee onto its news/talk stations that currently carry Limbaugh, especially at such major market stations as WABC, New York; WLS, Chicago; WJR Detroit; WBAP-AM/FM, Dallas and WMAL-AM/FM, Washington? All are markets where Premiere parent Clear Channel Media and Entertainment doesn’t have a news/talk outlet (or a strong-performing talk outlet) on which to move Limbaugh. Huckabee is a good broadcaster with a personality all his own, great name recognition and is adept at taking on subjects outside the realm of politics. He’s likeable and smart. But Limbaugh has performed well for the aforementioned stations and it would be a gamble to make a change of such significance. Perhaps far more concerned than Premiere are local talk hosts at the Cumulus stations not mentioned above who understand Cumulus is not making this move without a plan to roll Huckabee out onto as many of its O&Os as possible.
Sports Talk Host Scott Kaplan Admits Fault in Comments About Female Broadcaster. Former XEPRS, San Diego morning drive talk host Scott Kaplan tells the San Diego Union Tribune that he needs to apologize to Mountain West sports broadcaster Andrea Lloyd for comments he made about her appearance that may have led to his and co-host Billy Ray Smith’s departure from the station. Kaplan called Lloyd a “beast” and a “sasquatch of a woman” on the program and was let go from the station more than a week later. Broadcast Company of the America’s VP/GM Tex Meyer had told the Union Tribune he’d spoken with Kaplan in the past about similar issues. But Kaplan’s comments to NBC San Diego prior to being fired strike at the heart of the issue for edgy, sports talk hosts trying to reach a younger, male demo when he stated, “I don’t apologize for the fact that we’re a guy show, a locker-room kind of show. There’s no apology for that. This is what we do.” The reality is that radio hosts targeting young men often comment on the appearances of women – often positively, but sometimes not. It’s certainly the right of any operator to tolerate it or not but points to the fine line such hosts must walk in creating an edgy show and being savvy enough to realize who is “fair game” and who the public will perceive as an innocent undeserving of such criticism. As for Kaplan, he says he can’t talk about his actual firing but tells the paper he doesn’t believe he was validly terminated from the station.
CNN Suspends Roland Martin for Super Bowl Tweets. Numerous media reports indicate CNN is suspending commentator Roland Martin for tweets he sent during the Super Bowl – one of which in response to the David Beckham H&M underwear ad is being perceived by gay rights activists to have been homophobic. In the tweet, Martin wrote, “If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him! #superbowl” Martin responded that he was only making fun of soccer. The Washington Post reports CNN issued the following statement about Martin’s status: “Roland Martin’s tweets were regrettable and offensive. Language that demeans is inconsistent with the values and culture of our organization, and is not tolerated. We have been giving careful consideration to this matter, and Roland will not be appearing on our air for the time being.” TALKERS recently addressed the issue of talent using social media in a feature piece titled, “Social Media: Handle with Care.” If you haven’t read it yet, check it out here.
WTKK-FM, Boston Talk Host Michael Graham Sponsors Candidate’s School. Local talk show host Michael Graham broadcasts on Greater Media’s WTKK-FM, Boston but he’s also an experienced GOP consultant. Last night, Graham sponsored a non-partisan workshop at the Café Escadrille in suburban Boston in which Republican, Democratic and independent political professionals donated their time to help educate and train private citizens on becoming candidates in the 2012 election and beyond. Graham says of the event, “We’re answering the question I’ve been asked thousands of times: ‘What can I do to make a difference?’ Here’s what you can do: Run.” This is not Graham’s first workshop. Since 2010 more than 500 New Englanders have attended Graham’s Candidate’s School.
Former Blue Star Media Group Exec “Doesn’t Own Feature Concepts.” That’s the position of Blue Star Media Group president and CEO Michael Metter after former EVP Jeff Weber sent out an industry-wide press release on 2/7 accusing – though not by name – Blue Star’s Business TalkRadio Network and Lifestyle TalkRadio Network of not having the rights to a news feature and a music history vignette. In the release, Weber references the music vignette “Pop Quiz” and the news feature “Heard Around Town” which he says are still available through his company, Jeff Weber Marketing. Metter tells TALKERS when Weber left the company in December he asked that his name and voice be removed from all Blue Star content and the company complied. Metter says his new features – “Heard Across America with Wendy Lowy Sloane” and “Rhythm & Pop with Tony Legg” – are “totally different names with the new content written by the talent. These concepts are as old as radio itself. What ownership does he have?”
Maryland Brewer Makes Beer to Honor the Late Ron Smith; Proceeds Benefit Cancer Research. Brewer Jay Lampart at Johansson’s Dining House in Westminster, Maryland has created a beer call Reason Saison to honor the late WBAL, Baltimore talk host Ron Smith. Lampart tells WBAL, “Ron has been part of my ride home since 9/11, which was also the time I moved to Maryland. I learned a lot about Maryland politics and critical thinking from Ron.” Lampart says proceeds from the brew will go to the Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center where Smith was treated for pancreatic cancer. It’ll remain on sale at the restaurant through the end of the month or until supplies run out. The name of the beer stems from Smith’s calling himself the “voice of reason” combined with the Belgian style of beer known as saison.
Deer Creek’s KCKS-FM, Chico, California Simulcasts Sports AM. KEWE, Chico is Deer Creek’s “Fox Sports Radio 1340” and after a year of trying a CHR music format, the station returns being a simulcast for the company’s sports talk outlet. Although San Francisco and Sacramento AMs get into the market, Chico doesn’t have another local sports talk outlet.
Syrian Violence Escalates, GOP Primary Race/2012 Presidential Election, Iran Nuclear Ambitions, and L.A. School Sex Abuse Case Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/8). The international community’s growing conflict over the escalating violence in Syria; Rick Santorum’s victories complicating the GOP primary race and the beginning of President Obama’s campaign; Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the Los Angeles school sex abuse case were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Cumulus Media CEO Lew Dickey Addresses “Inherently Inefficient” Nature of Old-Line Media Business Model in Bain Capital News Story. The chief executive officer of the second largest radio station operator in America is one of several Atlanta-based business executives to speak to the Atlanta Journal Constitution about his business and the role private equity firm Bain Capital played in its progress. The piece ran Sunday (2/5) online and in print and was written from the perspective of giving insight into Bain Capital – the company formerly run by presidential candidate Mitt Romney. However it also probes the nature of corporate radio as it rides the rough surf of an economic downturn and a dramatically changing media business – complete with layoffs and job consolidation. The story notes Cumulus CFO Joseph Hannan explained to investors at a recent conference that they had to “wholesale re-engineer the way these operations work” in order to cut costs and that the company learned this process while working with the private equity firms. Hannan said the company was able to cut $70 million in costs. Lew Dickey tells the AJC the business has to work that way to survive. He says old-line media companies have become “inherently inefficient. We run the business as efficiently as technology permits us to do.” Interestingly, Bain Capital took a loss on its involvement with Cumulus. Cumulus ended up buying out Bain and the other private equity partners. It worked with other private equity firms to engineer the Citadel Broadcasting deal and it remains to be seen whether that will turn out to be a wise investment for them or whether they will suffer the same fate as Bain. Through it all, Dickey remains confident and tells the AJC he believes his company will add jobs – albeit in different sectors – during this year. “By the end of the year, we’ll have a net increase in jobs. They’ll be different jobs. That’s how business evolves.”
Exit of CBS Radio CHR Programmer and 92.3 Now PD Dom Theodore Fires Up Speculation About Sports or News Moving to the New York Signal. There was big news in the CHR world yesterday as CBS Radio’s format captain and PD of 92.3 Now (WXRK-FM, New York) Dom Theodore left the building. For those awaiting the (some say) way overdue addition of an FM signal for sports talk WFAN, this move gives them plenty to talk about. Still others believe one of CBS Radio’s all-newsers – WINS or WCBS – could end up with an FM simulcast. Right now it’s all guesswork but rumors that the rest of the on-air staff at 92.3 Now may have received news of its imminent demise along with Theodore’s departure have the message boards in the Tri-State area red hot with chatter.
Courtside Entertainment Group Names Rich Rapiti Senior Director of Affiliate Relations. Longtime affiliate relations pro Rich Rapiti is reunited with Westwood One founder Norm Pattiz in his new role as senior director of affiliate relations for Pattiz’s Courtside Entertainment Group. Rapiti will be based in New York City. Courtside president Bob Moore says, “Rich Rapiti is a unique guy. He has worked in the radio business his entire adult life and has mastered the art of working with radio stations in providing quality programming. We are extremely excited about having Rich on our team.” Speaking about his new position, Rapiti states, “I am thrilled to be the newest member of the Courtside team. Rarely does the opportunity occur where you can work with the likes of a Norm Pattiz and his executive team.”
XEPRS, San Diego Makes AM Drive Changes; Scott Kaplan Exits, Dave Palet and Jeff Dotseth In. After 11 years at the station, morning drive host Scott Kaplan and co-host Billy Ray Smith are out as hosts of the program. Station VP/GM Tex Meyer says in a press release the change was made “after very careful consideration and evaluation of several important factors.” However, many San Diego media observers are saying Kaplan’s recent unflattering on-air comments about Mountain West broadcaster Andrea Lloyd put management over the top and forced its hand. Broadcast Company of the Americas brings San Diego market veterans Dave Palet and Jeff Dotseth in to take over the morning drive show.
WGN, Chicago Holds “Cubs Song” Contest. Musically inclined Chicago Cubs fans are being encouraged to write a tribute song to their favorite baseball team and have the chance for it to become part of Cubs radio broadcasts all season long. Tribune Company’s WGN – flagship for Chicago Cubs baseball – will be the judge of the winning submission for this unique promotion. Here are the rules: Write an original song about the Chicago Cubs and e-mail it as an .mp3 file attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org by February 29, 2012. The lyrics must mention the Cubs and WGN Radio, but may not mention names of individual players, coaches or Cubs management. Songs longer than four minutes will be disqualified. You must also include your name, address, daytime phone number, e-mail address, and age in the e-mail. Entries on behalf of a group must provide the required information for each member of the group. WGN will post up to 10 finalists on its website and give fans the chance to vote on the winner. The writer/performer of the winning entry will have the chance to get the song recorded in a professional studio and perform it live during Jonathon Brandmeier’s Opening Day broadcast on WGN.
WBNS-FM, Columbus Debuts “Off-Season with Bobby Carpenter.” The NFL season is over – more or less – until the draft in April and RadiOhio sports talker 97.1 The Fan (WBNS-FM) is taking advantage of the year-round interest in the National Football League by creating a weekly, Friday afternoon show co-hosted by former Ohio State standout and current Detroit Lions linebacker Bobby Carpenter and WBNS-TV’s Beau Bishop. Director of programming and operations Jay Taylor announces the one-hour show airs from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm featuring talk about the NFL, the upcoming draft and Buckeye football and debuts this Friday, February 10.
CNN Names Jim Acosta to National Political Correspondent Role. The cable news channel announces Jim Acosta is promoted to national political correspondent where he’ll appear regularly on several CNN programs including “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” and “John King, USA,” according to TVWeek. CNN SVP and Washington bureau chief Sam Feist states, “Jim has been an outstanding addition to the political team. He has emerged as one of the key reporters on the campaign trail and his astute reporting skills will only help to position the network to dominate this important election cycle.”
CBS Radio Renews with MLB’s Phillies; Games to Air on WIP-FM. CBS Radio’s news/talk WPHT, Philadelphia has been the longtime flagship for Philadelphia Phillies baseball and the company and team just struck a new multi-year deal to keep the team with CBS Philadelphia. This season the games will also air on sister sports WIP’s new FM signal as well. CBS Radio Philadelphia VP/market manager Marc Rayfield states, “It’s a very exciting time for WPHT and WIP, and this partnership with the Philadelphia Phillies only adds to the interest audiences have in these two leading radio stations. We look forward to the future with the most thrilling team in baseball.”
Talk Host Steve Cochran Ready to Return to Action After Health Scare. Chicago-based talk host Steve Cochran – who handles the afternoon program at Salem Communication’s WIND, Chicago and hosts the late morning program for KTRS, St. Louis (which is rerun in the evening) from his home in the Chicago area – took himself off the air last week and went to the hospital after feeling chest pains, according to Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder. Cochran underwent some tests and was prescribed medication and reports he hopes to be back on the radio soon. Cochran tells Feder, “The doctor said I’ll be 125 percent, which is great news unless you really hate my show.”
More TV Work for TRN’s Phil Hendrie. Los Angeles-based, nationally syndicated talk radio personality Phil Hendrie scored a recurring role on the hit Fox TV show “New Girl.” Hendrie says, “The entire cast and crew is so hard working, gracious and welcoming. It’s an honor to get to work with them.” Last year, Hendrie taped an episode of the ABC-TV hit show “Modern Family” in which he plays the recurring character “Boots.” That episode is to air soon. Pictured here is the cast of “New Girl” – from left to right: Max Greenfield, Lamorne Morris, Hannah Simone, Hendrie, Zooey Deschanel and Jake Johnson.
Romney Surges in GOP Primary, Super Bowl Aftermath, Syria Violence and Closure of U.S. Embassy and New Iran Sanctions Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/6). Mitt Romney’s victory in Nevada over the weekend and his continuing lead over competitors, the aftermath of the Giants’ victory in Super Bowl XLVI, continuing violence in Syria and the U.S.’s closure of its embassy there and new sanctions levied against Iran were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.