Archive for October, 2011
Severe Nor’easter Cuts Power to Millions in Northeast; Radio’s Response to Disaster a Mixed Bag. Many TALKERS readers are aware that the bulk of our editorial staff is based in Springfield, Massachusetts and we are smack dab in the middle of the massive power outages and road closures so many in the Northeast are dealing with in the wake of the Nor’easter that dumped more than a foot of wet snow on the region on Saturday. As the region digs out, deals with the tremendous amount of downed trees, and utilities crews work to get power back TALKERS editors have been able to do a preliminary analysis of how radio handled the storm and its aftermath. There were stations that did an exemplary job providing round-the-clock information about road closures, dangerous areas due to fallen trees and power outages. We must recognize CBS Radio’s WTIC, Hartford whose morning drive host Ray Dunaway manned the overnight Saturday on the air with meteorologist Joe Furey keeping listeners up to date. However, there were many stations and station clusters that – due to manpower issues, in many cases caused by previous decisions to cut staff – were able to provide little local content and defaulted to syndicated programming. It is times like these that it becomes tragically clear that – apart from some shining examples of excellent public service – most radio groups have surrendered radio’s position as the first destination for news and information in exchange for bottom-line efficiency.
WWNC, Asheville, North Carolina Talk Host Matt Mittan Exits. The popular local Asheville, North Carolina talk host may not have been part of the mandated staff cuts Clear Channel handed down last week. The Asheville Citizen-Times indicates it appears Matt Mittan left of his own accord, citing a statement from CC Asheville to that effect. Mittan is tight-lipped about his exit but Citizen-Times writer Jason Sandford hints it might have been done in protest of the cuts that affected his show and other co-workers in the cluster. Sandford goes on to compliment Mittan for the excellent work he’s done in the past handling public emergency situations that affected the station’s listenership.
Rush Limbaugh to Play Town Hall in NYC. Premiere Networks superstar Rush Limbaugh makes no bones about his disdain for New York City’s politician and public policies but he’s returning to the Big Apple for a live event on November 29 at the historic Town Hall on West 43rd Street. Dubbed “Rush Live,” tickets go on sale today at 12:00 noon for the 90-minute show. A press release from Cumulus’ WABC, New York states, “The last time El Rushbo visited his New York audience was in 2005 to a sold out crowd. While Rush isn’t bashful about criticizing New York politicians and tax policies, he jokes that he’s going ‘behind enemy lines’ because he loves his New York listeners and his flagship station.”
Radio One to Put All-News FM on in Houston. This is the first time Radio One has programmed an all-news format and they’re doing it with the help of consultant Ed Shane. Radio One will drop the gospel music on KROI-FM at 92.1 and debut “News 92 FM” around November 14. The station has reportedly hired a stable of news pros including the former crosstown KTRH morning news team of J.P. Pritchard and Lana Hughes. Denise Bishop has been tapped to serve as the news director.
WCBS, New York Inks the Yankees to One-Year Extension. MLB’s New York Yankees will remain on all-news WCBS, New York for the 2012 season. The New York Post’s Phil Mushnick speculates that the one-year deal gives the two sides time to explore a long-term deal but he also states that the Yankees’ $14 million-per-season pact has not been profitable. Whether CBS Radio views Yankees baseball as a cume-building loss leader or a drain on its finances may be answered if and when the two sides agree to a longer extension or the Yankees broadcasts come onto the open market.
WWRL, New York Adds LGBT-Targeted Programming. Access.1 Communications’ WWRL, New York adds programming called “Equality Pride Radio” to serve the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered community. The programming airs from 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight and debuts this evening (10/31) following the Al Sharpton program. WWRL general manager Adriane Gaines states, “WWRL 1600 has created ‘Equality Pride Radio,’ a media platform where the LGBT community will convey information and be celebrated for their ideas, energy and accomplishments. We take great pride in the culturally diverse audience we serve with our current liberal talk line-up. With the addition of ‘Equality Pride Radio,’ we further reinforce ‘RL’s format of informative and entertaining radio.”
Jim Ladd to Host “Farewell Show” on KFI, Los Angeles. Southern California radio legend Jim Ladd will get a chance to say goodbye to his many listeners this Saturday afternoon from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm – although not on Cumulus classic rock KLOS-FM from which he was let go last week. Ladd tells the Orange County Register’s Gary Lycan that KFI program director Robin Bertolucci asked him to do the show to give him the chance to say goodbye. Regarding Ladd’s one-time show, Bertolucci says, “Jim is synonymous with great music and Southern California and I know a lot of his friends and fans want to connect with him. Jim is a legend and it will be an honor to hear him rock KFI.”
Clear Channel Promotes Keriann Worley to Market Manager for Melbourne, Florida and the Keys. Keriann Worley moves from her general sales manager post at Clear Channel’s West Palm Beach cluster to become market manager for the company’s Melbourne, Florida and Florida Keys markets. Worley says, “I’m really honored that Hartley Atkins and Sherri Sanchez chose me to lead our Melbourne and Florida Keys markets. It’s an exciting time to work at Clear Channel, and we have a tremendous opportunity to expand our market share with integrated solutions and iHeartRadio. I am fortunate to lead a team that will embrace and utilize all our resources for continued growth and development.”
Foreground Nature of Talk Radio and Emotional Intensity of Content Make it Desirable Environment for Advertisers. Continuing with a fall tradition, the latest numbers have been compiled for TALKERS magazine’s annual release of its Talk Radio Research ProjectTM (TRRP). Primarily designed as an in-house vehicle to provide the TALKERS editorial staff with intelligence about the national talk radio audience as a resource for general background and to help answer basic FAQs from the press (such as “What kind of people listen to talk radio?”), the publication began honoring requests from radio stations to share this information. It has proven extremely valuable as a supplemental sales tool that provides a thumbnail qualitative overview of several leading spoken word formats’ audience profiles including demographics, political orientation, income, education and consumer tastes, habits and disposition. These include the mainstay news/talk format as well as the recent additions of the sports talk and pop culture talk genres. The latest figures indicate that news/talk radio maintains its historic position as the most reliable attraction to draw adult audiences and inspire them to action in all audio broadcast media. So do the relatively recent additions of sports talk radio and pop culture talk radio (with several specific differences indigenous to these formats). These spoken-word genres also deliver attentive and highly desirable audiences that consume foreground radio with passion and attention. The people who regularly listen to news/talk, sports talk and pop culture talk radio are more than listeners –– they are radio fans! In a nutshell, the foreground nature of commercial spoken word radio indicates that sponsors receive approximately three times the bang per advertising buck on talk radio than they do on music radio. Other interesting aspects of this illuminating information include: sports talk listeners are culturally (and ethnically) diverse. Caucasians constitute only slightly more than half the sports talk audience (51%) followed by African Americans (26%) and Hispanics (19%) making it one of the most multi-ethnic/racial buys in radio. This is a crucially important aspect/asset of the sports talk audience that for the most part is lost on advertising agencies and radio sales departments which are still glued to selling demos as opposed to mindsets. The ethnic diversity of sports talk radio’s listenership is a rare and valuable quality of the format that sets it apart from the rest of radio! And if advertisers wish to reach “younger demos” via the power of spoken word, they simply need to turn to popular culture talk radio (still erroneously referred to as “shock jock” radio) strewn across the FM dial as talkative morning shows on otherwise music-formatted stations. See the complete data here.
Clear Channel Announces National Programming Platforms Personnel. In concert with its latest round of company-wide layoffs of staff at the station level, Clear Channel introduces the corporate staff that is charged with creating programming for multiple platforms for its stations that is ostensibly designed to “improve local programming in smaller markets by using assets and resources in those markets that their competitors don’t have.” Recently, Tom Poleman and Darren Davis were brought aboard to serve as president of national programming platforms and SVP/GM of national programming platforms, respectively. They will be joined by the following staff: Guy Zapoleon, vice president of digital music programming; Dennis Clark, vice president of talent development; Zena Burns, VP of digital programming platforms; Darren Pfeffer, VP of music & entertainment marketing; Alissa Pollack, EVP of integrated music marketing at Mediabase, expands her role to include national programming platforms; Marissa Morris is manager, artist relations and promotions; and Melissa Webb, senior director at National Programming Platforms. Tom Poleman states, “Clear Channel already has unmatched scale and promotional power. Our competitive advantage is strengthened by our mission to be everywhere our listeners are with the products and services they want and expect. Now, I’m proud to say that we’ve assembled an equally unmatched group of talent to lead our new National Programming Platforms division. This division will enable us to be even more relevant and effective for our audiences, partners and advertisers, and build our national scale and reach by putting together products, events and relationships that nobody else can.”
KABC, Los Angeles PD Jack Silver to Program Sister KLOS-FM. With the recent firing of KLOS-FM, Los Angeles PD Bob Buchmann, KABC PD Jack Silver tells Orange County Register columnist Gary Lycan he’s been named PD of KLOS-FM. There’s no indication the assignment of duties to Silver is temporary but the rumors are starting in Los Angeles that changes may be coming to the classic rock outlet. Those kinds of rumors often start after a round of firings but AM drive team Mark & Brian are very successful and although the production directors for both stations were also let go, it may just be that Cumulus has other plans for saving money in the production department at the stations.
Talk Host Michael Smerconish Signs with WYD Media; Renews Distribution and Sales Deal with Dial Global. The effect on affiliates – as well as listeners – should not be noticed at all as talk host Michael Smerconish’s program is now produced by Ron Hartenbaum’s WYD Media Management while Dial Global continues to handle affiliate sales and ad sales for the show. Smerconish says, “We’re entering the most fascinating election cycle ever. And yet, despite the intense media coverage, there remains a void when it comes to clear thinking and independent viewpoints. I’ve been charting a course to fulfill that role. I know Ron Hartenbaum shares my outlook. For several months we’ve been speaking about the need to grow the talk radio tent by offering a forum not predicated on ideology or anger, and now we’ve decided to pursue that goal together. I intend to rely heavily on his vast experience over the span of many years. Industry-wide he is known for being smart, engaging and personable, and I think big things are about to happen to us both.”
Dave Ramsey Clears 500th Affiliate; KTTH, Seattle. Independently syndicated financial talker Dave Ramsey announces his national program has hit the 500-affilliate mark with a deal to air on Bonneville International’s KTTH, Seattle from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am daily. Vice president of affiliate relations Suzanne Simms says, “The fact that the Dave Ramsey show now has 500 radio affiliates indicates the staying power that we have and have been touting all along. The loyalty of our listeners coupled with the growth of our brand on a national level has contributed to this milestone. The future bodes well for the Dave Ramsey show!” Ramsey is currently touring the country promoting is latest book, EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches (Howard Books 2011).
Lars Larson Flips Seattle Affiliates. Compass Media Networks’ Portland, Oregon-based Lars Larson show moves to a new affiliate in Seattle. As Dave Ramsey takes over the late-night slot at Bonneville’s KTTH, Seattle, Larson’s program takes up residence in the 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm time slot at Inspiration Media’s “Freedom 1590” – KLFE, Seattle. Station general manager Andrew Adams says, “All of us at ‘Freedom 1590’ are excited to have Lars as part of the station. Lars Larson has a larger-than-life persona in Seattle and we are already getting positive listener response to the move.”
On the Campaign Trail. Salem Radio Network nationally syndicated talk host Mike Gallagher is pictured here to the left of presidential candidate and former U.S. Congressman Newt Gingrich (at center) as he’s interviewed on the campaign trail. Gallagher is “embedding” with several GOP candidates during the run-up to the primary elections in order to give his listeners a taste of the campaign trail. Gallagher broadcast “from the road” in Cedar Rapids, Iowa yesterday (10/27) and will host Gingrich for a “live-from-the-campaign-trail” interview at High Cotton Restaurant in upstate South Carolina today on his program. Salem Radio Network VP/news and talk programming Tom Tradup says, “Mike Gallagher’s unique, up-close-and-personal approach to the candidates will give SRN listeners a better understanding about the people seeking to become the next President of the United States. This will go beyond sound bites and photo ops and take our audience behind the scenes for a perspective unavailable anywhere else in American broadcasting.”
Alan Stock to Emcee Las Vegas Veteran’s Day Parade. For the past 12 years, Las Vegas talk show host Alan Stock has emceed the nation’s second largest Veteran’s Day parade in Sin City and he’ll do it again this year on Friday, November 11. Stock hosts the late-morning show on Beasley’s news/talk KDWN, a corporate sponsor of the parade.
OWS Movement Top News/Talk Story for Week of October 24-28. The ongoing ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement is number one on the Talkers TenTM chart of the most-talked-about stories heard on news/talk radio this week, according to ongoing research from Talkers. The Talkers TenTM chart is published every Friday at Talkers.com. Coming in at #2 this week is the 2012 presidential race. At #3 is the Euro Zone stability/financial markets activity and following up at #4 is the Obama Administration’s economic policy. View the entire chart by clicking on the banner below.
Harsh Reality of Today’s Radio Business Forces Clear Channel’s Major “Reduction in Force.” This latest round of firings is focused on Clear Channel’s small and medium markets and is affecting primarily on-air and programming staff. Internally, Clear Channel stations are broken down into three categories: the majors, the mids and the small markets – the latter sometimes referred to by insiders humorously as the stations that are for sale. But in this economy those small stations – many of which were purchased in the late 1990s as the then-Randy Michaels-led radio group was buying stations at an astounding pace – are for all intents and purposes under water. The company analyzed each station in an hour-by-hour fashion to determine how much it costs to program and execute the product versus how much it is making. Programs and hosts whose shows are in the black are likely to be retained; those in the red are those about whom you are reading today. The company is not describing this strategy as cost cutting but leveraging the quality programming it owns and distributing it to the small – or regional – markets. The reality is that Clear Channel has a lot of debt it must pay off and – not unlike the homeowner who bought before the housing bubble burst and owes more than his house is worth – must make drastic cuts and hope that it can continue to engage listeners and serve advertisers with “Premium Choice” programming from afar and managers doing more jobs within the same work day. This situation is unique to neither Clear Channel nor the radio business. The following list of people working in news or at talk stations for CC are reported to have been let go. This list is not complete and doesn’t include those from music-formatted stations. Reports indicate several hundred employees will be out when all is said and done. The list: KFAB, Omaha PM drive host Tom Becka; Clear Channel Hudson Valley news director Cameron Hendrix; WERC, Birmingham, Alabama news director Mark Evans; WHAM, Rochester news anchor Beth Adams; WSYR-AM/FM, Syracuse talk host Jim Reith; KWTX, Waco, Texas PD and morning host Shane Warner; WJBO, Baton Rouge, Louisiana mid-morning talk host Clarence Buggs; and WGY and WOFX, Albany assistant PD Steve Bleznyk.
Cumulus Los Angeles Cuts Include Legendary Jock Jim Ladd. So far the cuts at Cumulus’ Los Angeles stations have not affected any air talent at news/talk KABC. Production directors at both KABC and KLOS-FM – Howard Hoffman and Mike Sherry, respectively – are out as is KLOS-FM program director Bob Buchmann. But Southern California radio fans are shocked to find legendary jock Jim Ladd – ironically, the subject of Tom Petty’s “The Last DJ” – has been sacked. The 63-year-old Ladd received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005.
Lionel Expands Role at New York’s WPIX-TV. What began as his doing a short form commentary running once per day on the evening news has expanded to multiple roles and appearances for the iconoclastic talk radio veteran and podcasting pioneer on the Tribune Company-owned Channel 11 in the Big Apple. Lionel has just debuted his weekday “5@5” segment on the daily newscast in addition to being featured on PIX 11 seven nights a week with fresh video commentary on its 10:00 pm newscast. Lionel, an ex-prosecutor and criminal defense trial lawyer, has also inaugurated his “Lionel’s Law School” segment. Plus, he appears weekly as PIX 11’s resident “News Decoder” on its Monday morning news broadcast and at pix11.com. Lionel’s commentaries are also broadcast nationally through Tribune Company’s affiliates including KPLR 11 in St. Louis. Lionel, a regular TALKERS columnist, has gained national attention as a talk “media station” groundbreaker with his lionelmedia.com.
Rusty Humphries Named National Radio Spokesman for Vietnam Memorial Effort. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is spearheading a campaign to build a multi-media education center adjacent to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. In addition to his duties as national radio spokesman, Talk Radio Network host Rusty Humphries is leading the “Veterans Day Challenge” to raise funds for the center. He will also serve as emcee at a gala benefit at the Capital Hilton in Washington, DC on November 11 that will feature actor Tom Selleck. Humphries’ father died in Vietnam in 1969 when Rusty was just three years old. Humphries says, “Every time I’m in Washington, I visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, gaze up at my father’s name on Panel 34W, Line 84, and wish that I’d have gotten to know the man whose name appears there, my father. The Education Center at the Wall will provide a living memorial to these heroes – not just the men and women like my dad whose names appear on the Wall, but all veterans, from Bunker Hill to the present day.”
Tom Marr’s Contract at WCBM Extended Again. Veteran talk show host Tom Marr of WCBM, Baltimore has been given another extension of his unique contract until 2015. Marr first signed a no-cut deal with the independently owned heritage station in September of 1977. It was then extended until 2009. Marr reached an agreement on July 3, 2008 with the late owner of WCBM, Nick Mangione, Sr., to extend through 2012. Now Marr has signed an extension with WCMB president Mary C. Mangione that will run until 2015. Upon signing the deal, WCBM VP Nick Mangione, Jr. tells TALKERS, “Ownership is very pleased to have Tom’s commitment to remain on WCBM’s team. Tom performs a public service that is informative, beneficial, and entertaining for our listeners.” Marr comments, “I am delighted that my career will end with WCBM and the Mangione Family Enterprises.” Pictured here at the signing ceremony are: WCBM VP Nick Mangione, Jr. (standing); seated (l-r) are Mangione Family Enterprise attorney Joe LaVerghetta, Mangione Family Enterprise president Mary Mangione, and host Tom Marr.
Clear Channel Adds FM Simulcast to WVOC, Columbia, South Carolina. The victim this time is urban WXBT-FM at 100.1 and, of course, the entire staff of the music station as CC gives news/talk WVOC an FM presence.
Ric Edelman’s “Truth About Money” Public TV Show Heads into Season Two. Author, broadcaster and financial advisor Ric Edelman will produce a second season of his public TV show that shares the same name as his nationally syndicated talk radio show – “The Truth About Money with Ric Edelman.” Season one hit public TV stations across the country earlier this spring and season two will be ready for air in April of next year. Executive producer Russ Hodge says, “Public Television executives and viewers around the country were so taken with the solid financial guidance they received from Ric, they wholeheartedly endorsed the notion of our coming back for another season. It’s no secret Ric is recognized as one of America’s top financial advisors, and in these uncertain economic times, viewers gravitate to his expertise and know-how.”
USRN Offers Kim Iversen Show in New Format. “Your Time with Kim Iversen” has been available in syndication via United Stations Radio Networks talk-intensive music show for Hot AC stations since 2007. Now, after partnering with Entercom – the company that created the show – to bring it into wider syndication earlier this year, USRN announces that show is available as a live feed or a “build your own show” format. Beginning November 13, the live feed will be a two-hour, personality-driven talk show airing live from 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight ET. Stations wishing to continue airing music in the show can use the show segments around music to build a five-hour program. USRN EVP of programming Andy Denemark says, “Kim is an amazing talent, but we found that programmers had varied opinions on how they wanted her show to air. Some wanted strictly a talk block, others were happy with the Hot AC show and still others wanted her content mixed with CHR or alternative music. Now, every affiliate gets their wish!”
ABC Digital Clients Now Get News from ABC Sports. Stations subscribing to ABC Digital for news feeds for their websites now can get sports content from ABC Sports, according to ABC News Radio VP/GM Steve Jones. “By adding sports headlines to our lineup of ABC Digital choices, we’re enhancing our radio customers’ websites at no additional cost to them. Several of our partners have expressed an interest in adding a recognized sports brand and we’re pleased to make ABC Sports – a name steeped in tradition – a new category they can add to their station’s website with the simple click of a button.” ABC Digital service was recently launched by ABC News Radio and Cumulus Media Networks. The ready-to-post online content is produced and updated 24 hours a day and includes breaking news, exclusive stories, photos and graphics. Stations also have the option to brand the service locally, monetizing the content through local sponsorships.
Barb Yoder Moves into GM Seat at Salem Communications’ Tampa Cluster. A series of management promotions at Salem Communications means a promotion for Tampa and Sarasota cluster general sales manager Barb Yoder and an open GSM post at the stations. Yoder moves into the GM post as former GM Chris Gould moves to the corporate level in the vice president of program development position based in Camarillo, California. Gould replaces Ron Walters who is promoted to senior vice president, ministry relations.
Affiliate Relations Pro Rich Rapiti Victim of Dial Global-Westwood One Merger. New York-based affiliate relations pro Rich Rapiti lost his position as part of the consolidation of Dial Global and Westwood One. He’s available for his next challenge and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 973-809-3049.
Former Cap Cities/ABC COO Dan Burke Passes Away at 82. Dan Burke and partner Tom Murphy are credited with building Cap Cities into a major broadcasting force and buying ABC to create Cap Cities/ABC. The two ran the company for a decade before selling it to Disney in 1996. Salem Radio Network VP of news/talk programming Tom Tradup remembers working for Burke when he was GM of WLS, Chicago. “I will always remember Burke’s steely eyes and his tough questioning (especially at this time of the year during budgeting!) as we s-l-o-w-l-y turned WLS from the 23rd station in Chicago and put it on track to become a top-five news/talk giant. He was firm but fair, and if people in Chicago enjoy WLS in 2011…they probably can thank Dan Burke more than anyone else for showing patience and for keeping others within the company from panicking as WLS grew and ultimately prospered in the #3 radio market in America.”
Westwood One Founder Norm Pattiz Describes Beginnings of Westwood One. During his special remarks at last week’s historic Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum (10/20), Westwood One founder (and current CEO of Courtside Entertainment) Norm Pattiz shared the story of the early days of the ground breaking syndication firm that he started in one office in Westwood back in the late 1970s. Telling the packed house of talk media professionals that he launched the company with “$10,000 and a working wife,” Pattiz describes how his background as a well-connected former L.A. television sales manager served to bring sponsorships to packaged radio programs — thus shifting the network radio business model from a direct cash to barter system and opening the door to the tremendous growth that followed. He talks about Westwood One’s first show being an urban radio cross-over Motown special stating, “Being a television guy and not a radio guy, I didn’t know the rules of radio and if you don’t know the rules, you can’t be limited by them.” Pattiz’s speech can be seen exclusively below on TALKERS TV.