Archive for May, 2013
By Lisa Wexler
WFAS-AM, Westchester, NY
Talk Show Host
WESTCHESTER, NY — “Honey, you’re famous,” my husband Bill called upstairs to me on Saturday morning. Really, why so? “Rick the shoe man says he read your op-ed in the Connecticut Post and he agrees with you. He wants me to tell you that. He thinks you are right, told me to thank you for writing it.” Made my day. I haven’t seen Rick the shoe man in about three years. He doesn’t live or work within my radio range. Unless he takes the trouble to find me on iHeartRadio or on-line, I don’t reach this man. Not unless I make the effort to write as well as speak.
Cumulus Media Raises Close to $4 Million for Oklahoma Tornado Relief. This number could keep changing as more pledges come in after the Wednesday effort that saw all 525 Cumulus Media-owned stations soliciting funds for tornado relief via the United Way of Oklahoma City that so far has totaled $3.77 million. Cumulus SVP of programming Mike McVay reports the company’s 84 country outlets aired a special, one-hour edition of “American Country Countdown” hosted by Kix Brooks live from the “Healing in the Heartland” concert on Wednesday evening that aired on NBC-TV. Numbers aren’t final for pledges received during the televised concert fundraiser but are reported to be in the $6 million range.
Emergency Alert for Cell Phones PSA Violates FCC Regulations. TALKERS columnist and broadcast engineer Tom Ray of Tom Ray Consulting reports a public service announcement touting emergency alerts sent to cell phones that some stations may be airing violates FCC regulations. Ray tells TALKERS, “A PSA was released today about the emergency alerts you can receive on your cell phone. It uses the EAS two-tone alert. Airing this PSA would be a blatant violation of FCC regulation 47CFR11.45 which specifically prohibits the use of the EAS code bursts or the two-tone alert signal unless they are transmitted as part of an actual EAS alert or EAS test. And according to the Ad Council website…this PSA is sponsored by FEMA. Shame on them! They should know better.” Ray advises stations not to air the PSA.
Patent Holder Personal Audio Targets Podcasters; EFF Takes ‘Patent Troll’ Fight to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. If you’re a podcaster and you’ve been approached by a company called Personal Audio claiming you’re using patented technology and you have to pay up, you’re not alone. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), podcasters including Adam Carolla and “How Stuff Works” have been “shaken down” by Personal Audio which claims it holds a patent on technology used by podcasters. The EFF is fighting back, saying it is “is mounting a new, focused campaign to bust the dangerous patent” the company has been employing against end users – including podcasters. Here’s what EFF says: “Claiming it owns the patent that broadly covers podcasting technology, Personal Audio is the classic example of a patent troll that neither makes nor sells anything, but uses its patent as a weapon to threaten lawsuits and extort settlement fees.” EFF staff attorney Julie Samuels says, “Patent trolls have been wreaking havoc on innovative companies for some time now. But this particular breed of troll — targeting end users, small businesses, startups, and even individuals like podcasters for simply using everyday products — is a disturbing new threat.” Wondering what part of the process on which this company claims to hold the patent? The TALKERS legal department tells us that the patent generally relates to a system whereby a server provides media content to client devices over the internet. On the server, the provider maintains a ‘compilation file,’ which is essentially a list of available media files. The compilation file generally includes the URL for each available media file in a series and may also include descriptive text. This compilation file may be static, such as a simple web page with links to each available file to which new files are added, or may be customized for a particular user, perhaps only showing them content from feeds to which they have subscribed. The claim that has been asserted against podcasters to date is called Claim 31. The EFF goes on to say, “As with so many patent troll cases, the troll is asking for money despite having contributed nothing to the industry. By its own admission, Personal Audio tried and failed at its attempt to make an audio player. Having failed at actually making something, it became a shell company that does nothing but sue on its patents. And now it wants a handout from those who worked hard to create popular podcasts.” EFF is organizing a Help Save Podcasting campaign. You can find that information here.
Former KQRS, Minneapolis Personality Michael Gelfand Sues MetLife and Cumulus Media Over Disability Claim. Michael Gelfand was formerly part of the Tom Barnard morning show on Cumulus Media’s classic rock KQRS, Minneapolis. He exited the station after his medical condition made it impossible to function and now he’s suing Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and Cumulus Media for long term disability benefits. Gelfand suffers from delayed sleep-phase syndrome – a condition that throws off the body’s circadian rhythm – and prevents him from functioning well or maintaining physical health working the early morning drive shift. In brief, MetLife denied the claim and Gelfand is suing both companies seeking retroactive long term disability benefits.
Inga Barks Exits KMJ-AM, Fresno. Bakersfield-based talk show host Inga Barks recently joined the program schedule at Buckley Brodcasting’s KNZR, Bakersfield for the 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm program but she’s no longer with Peak Broadcasting’s KMJ-AM, Fresno where she’s been hosting a show since 2005. The Fresno Bee reports Peak management is not commenting on Barks’ exit but notes the station added Cumulus Media Networks’ Mark Levin show in place of it.
Gracie Award Winning Talk Host Advises Colleagues to Add Writing to their Communications Toolbox. WFAS, Westchester host Lisa Wexler says that writing op-ed pieces for newspapers is an excellent way for talk show hosts looking to expand their net and make a difference. In a piece posted today (5/31) Wexler says, “If you are going to be a thought leader, then simply speaking on the radio is not enough. The written word carries a different kind of weight. Radio is a rush — there is nothing like the spontaneity of an actual conversation, the nuance and humor of the human voice communicating through the airwaves to the lone listener on the other end. But radio is also ephemeral; despite podcasts and the ease of reaching audio files, people rarely re-listen to the same broadcast. They do, however, read an article more than once, and pass it on to friends. Your column has the potential to go viral in a way your radio show may not.” To read Lisa Wexler’s entire article, click here.
KFWB, Los Angeles Sports Anchor Bret Lewis Retires. Today is the last day at KFWB, Los Angeles for sports anchor Bret Lewis who is retiring from the station. The longtime Los Angeles broadcaster will be replaced by Bill Seward, currently afternoon sports anchor. Bob Harvey will assume Seward’s afternoon role. During his career, Lewis has served as a sports anchor on the TV side at KNBC-TV and KCBS-TV. He also hosted a talk show at crosstown KLAC.
KNTK, Lincoln Names John Gaskins Program Director. Home Field Communications announces “Gaskins and Stephens” show co-host John Gaskins is named program director for sports talk KNTK, Lincoln “93.7 The Ticket.” The station also fills its PM drive slot with former KCSP, Kansas City personality Mike Welch who will host his “Drop the Mike” beginning June 5.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. “Free Talk Live” hosted by Ian Freeman and Mark Edge adds new affiliates WPNN, Pensacola; KYRO, Troy, Missouri; and KCAA, Loma Linda, California…..Talk Radio Network-syndicated “Watchdog on Wall Street” with host Chris Markowski is added to the program lineup at WLEE, Richmond…..Cumulus Media Networks’ “Red Eye Radio” with Eric Harley and Gary McNamara reaches the 200-affiliate mark with the help of recent partners KTAR-FM, Phoenix; KBET, Las Vegas; WTMJ, Milwaukee; WFTL, West Palm Beach; and KJCE, Austin.
DOJ Investigation of Journalists Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of May 27-31. The Department of Justice’s investigation of journalists – from Fox News’ James Rosen to the Associated Press – and Attorney General Eric Holder’s request for an off-the-record meeting with news organizations was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week. At #2 this week was the IRS’ targeting of conservative organizations seeking tax exempt status. Following at #3 was the rise in the number of Americans on disability and at #4 was the Chinese hacking of U.S. weapons systems. The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top stories and people discussed on talk radio during the week, is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s entire chart here.
Melissa Etheridge Brandishes Her Gracie. Musician and radio show host Melissa Etheridge (r) is pictured here with Rory Kennedy (l) (who won for her documentary film “Ethel” about her mother) at the annual Gracie Awards Gala in Los Angeles where she won a Gracie Award for her nationally syndicated program, “The Melissa Etheridge Show.” Etheridge won in the Outstanding Talk Show – Entertainment/Information category. Etheridge says, “I have won Grammys and an Oscar, but there is something especially meaningful about being recognized with a Gracie. I love radio, and it’s important to me to bring the voices of women to our audiences, as they share their respective truths about life, love and family—and as I share the same with them. It’s also a great pleasure to provide a forum where we can connect with each other about the music that moves us. I’m honored that people are responding to the show across the country and I thank the AWM Foundation for this award.” Etheridge’s five-hour daily show is syndicated by Benztown.
By Jeff McKay
Special Features Correspondent
NEW YORK — While conservative political talk radio still dominates the AM/FM commercial spoken word air waves, pharmacist Ben Fuchs proves syndication, and talk radio in general, can come in many forms. In the case of Fuchs, the host of the nationally syndicated Genesis Communications Network (GCN) radio program “The Bright Side,” he has become a thorn in the side of the pharmaceutical industry by becoming an advocate for better nutrition and a natural healing approach, because, as he says, “I look at the human body as a healing and regenerating system.”
Jacobs Media’s Techsurvey9: Sports Talk Radio Users Big on New Media. There’s a logical trend among frequent users of sports talk radio: being comprised largely of younger men, they are very attached to their smartphones/cell phones and they are far more likely to be regular Twitter users than primary users of other radio formats. While this may not surprise sports talk programmers, the numbers, according to Jacobs Media’s Techsurvey9 are impressive. When it comes to technology usage, 69% of sports talk fans own a smartphone – up 14% over last year’s study; 42% own a tablet device – up 55% over last year; and 24% subscribe to SiriusXM – a hike of 16% compared to a year ago. Other takeaways from the study:
- Sports talk radio users are far more likely to check their email or turn on the TV as their first media occasion of the day than those who listen to other radio formats.
- Twitter usage increased among sports talk users compared to the previous year and continues to be the preferred social media platform for sports talk fans.
- Sports talk fans are heavy internet users.
- When it comes to reasons why sports talk fans give for listening to less AM/FM radio and throwing out the #1 response (lifestyle change), the second most cited reason is not enjoying the programming (25%) and third, listening to SiriusXM (23%).
- Linked In is also a very popular social media site for sports talk radio users.
Employing Digital-Only Sales Reps: Radio Business Lags Behind Other Media. From the recently released Borrell Research “2013 Update: Assessing Local Digital Sales Forces,” comes the news that radio stations are last among media in employing digital-only account executives with merely 11% of respondents to the study saying they employ such sellers. For perspective, among television station respondents, 44% state they have digital-only sales people. It appears some in radio have a less-than-rosy feeling about selling digital as one respondent stated, “We should be focusing on our strength, audio advertising, not selling our clients the pipe dream of ‘interactivity’ that digital has promised but seldom delivers.” The following is for all media – not just radio – but Borrell states it appears local media companies with digital-only reps: 1) average twice the online revenue of those without digital reps; 2) have a sales staff that exhibits greater ability to consult with and educate advertisers; and 3) have a sales staff with stronger capabilities to understand and sell digital products. Respondents to the study also indicate that having digital-only account executives allows them to respond and that those reps perform very well “with a ‘consultative approach’ to fit our products and services to the needs of our advertisers,” as well as having a very good “understanding of how our digital products and services can serve an advertiser’s needs.”
TALKERS Spotlight: Pharmacist Ben Fuchs Emerging as Interesting, “Alternative” Talk Host on the Rise. As host of the nationally syndicated Genesis Communications Network (GCN) radio program “The Bright Side,” Ben Fuchs has become a thorn in the side of the pharmaceutical industry by being an outspoken-but-charming advocate for better nutrition and a natural healing approach, because, as he says, “I look at the human body as a healing and regenerating system.” In an article posted today (5/30), TALKERS special features correspondent Jeff McKay writes about this unusual host whom a number of radio movers from Michael Zwerling to Ted Anderson to Michael Harrison all think is worthy of being on the industry radar. Read the entire piece here.
TALKERS Freedom of Speech Award to be Renamed in Honor of Gene Burns. The editorial board of TALKERS magazine has announced that it has unanimously voted to rename the publication’s long-running annual Freedom of Speech Award to “The Gene Burns Memorial Award for Freedom of Speech.” The award, one of the most prestigious and high-profile honors presented to individuals in the talk media industry, has a colorful (and often controversial) history that goes back to the early 1990s when the modern era of talk radio began to emerge and the format became recognized as an influential forum of public policy and social change following the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine. In making the announcement, TALKERS VP and executive editor Kevin Casey states, “Gene Burns was the model by which the Freedom of Speech Award and the Annual State of the First Amendment Address delivered at our national convention were developed. It is only fitting that this institution bears the name of this great champion of the ideals and foundation upon which contemporary spoken-word radio is built.” The 2013 edition of the award and the first to bear the name of Gene Burns will be presented to Premiere Networks host Glenn Beck on Thursday, June 6 at Talkers New York 2013. SiriusXM talk show host Michael Smerconish will deliver the Annual State of the First Amendment Address at that same ceremony.
Compass Media Networks Announces Expanded Football Schedule. The slate of college and NFL football play-by-play available from Compass Media Networks this fall is being expanded with company general manager of sports Michelle Salvatore saying, “We will broadcast at minimum one Saturday college game each week plus a minimum of three NFL games every Sunday afternoon. If there are additional NFL games of interest, then we will add broadcasts as we deem necessary.” Compass opens the NCAA football season with Georgia at Clemson on August 31 and begins coverage of the NFL season on September 8 with three contests: Seattle at Carolina, Oakland at Indianapolis and Green Bay at San Francisco. Compass founder and CEO Peter Kosann says “The schedule speaks for itself. We are pleased to offer radio stations, our listeners, and our national advertisers such compelling games and breadth and depth of coverage.”
United Stations Radio Networks Ups Margaret Verghese to VP of Comedy and Prep Services. Margaret Verghese has been with United Stations Radio Networks since 2001 when she joined as an executive assistant. Most recently she’s been the managing director of Pulse content — the division that provides prep services, talent tours and web content — but now moves up to vice president/comedy and prep services. In this new role, Verghese will also lead the creative team that generates the dozens of comedy services produced by USRN. USRN president and COO Jim Higgins states, “Margaret has been single-handedly responsible for much of the growth in both our comedy product and our prep services over the years, and this appointment is well deserved. She is a tireless executive who brings creativity and dedication to her efforts every single day, and we’re thrilled to hand the reigns of these important areas of content creation over to her.”
More Investor Money for TuneIn. Audio content aggregator TuneIn announces it has raised another $25 million led by Institutional Venture Partners, with participation from existing investors Sequoia Capital, Google Ventures and General Catalyst Partners. At the same time, the company reports that it surpassed one billion listening hours in the first four months of 2013, with more than 227 million listening sessions in the month of March alone, “solidifying the company’s position as the world’s number-one service for listening to live, online radio.” TuneIn CEO John Donham states, “This investment gives us the capital to accelerate the development of new technologies and support our ongoing expansion. We will use this funding to leverage our momentum, with a particular focus on growing ad revenues for our broadcast partners.” The company recently announced the release of its TuneIn Live, a major platform redesign that it says “provides a personalized way to find relevant radio stations, songs and live events from all over the world.” It also reports that “since its launch in March 2013, TuneIn Live has spurred a large uptick in listener engagement.” The company released TuneIn Live for its popular iPhone apps last week, making the updated interface available across all Android and iOS devices and web browsers.
WFAN, New York Morning Co-Host Craig Carton to Publish Book. The digital edition of Craig Carton’s new book Loudmouth: Tales (and Fantasies) of Sports, Sex, and Salvation from Behind the Microphone (Simon & Schuster 2013) comes out on June 4 and tells the story of Carton’s youth, his entry into the radio business and the career that brought him to WFAN’s morning show alongside Boomer Esiason in 2007. Like Carton’s radio personality, the book promises to pull no punches. According to a preview at BobsBlitz.com, Carton has plenty of WFAN stories to share, including how both midday host Joe Benigno and PM drive legend Mike Francesa both wanted Carton and Esiason to fail.
KYZZ, Salinas Deal Worth $1.15 Million. The sale of KYZZ-FM, Salinas, California that sends the station from Buckley Broadcasting to Saul Levine’s Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters is for $1.15 million in cash. Buckley has been simulcasting sports talk on KYZZ and KIDD. Buckley is keeping KIDD and it’s expected that Mt. Wilson will change the format of KYZZ to music but it’s not known at this time what Saul Levine’s plans for the signal are.
Odds & Sods. Doug Urbanski sits in for Rush Limbaugh on his Premiere Networks nationally syndicated talk show today and tomorrow (5/30 & 31)…..Cable news/talk TV ratings are seeing dramatic changes from a year ago. The Hollywood Reporter, citing Nielsen numbers, indicates there’s been a big slide for MSNBC and much-needed gains for CNN. For Total Day, MSNBC drops 10% (Total Viewers) from May 2012 to May 2013 while CNN rises to second place behind first place Fox News Channel with a 61% increase. In Prime Time, MSNBC falls 20% during the same period (Total Viewers) and CNN is up 70%. The 8:00 pm ET slot was down 32% in Total Viewers for MSNBC. The network now airs “All in with Chris Hayes” where “The Ed Show” hosted by Ed Schultz used to air.
Cumulus All-News 106.7 Atlanta Celebrates One Year Anniversary. Pictured here is the programming, production and news staff of Cumulus Media’s WYAY, Atlanta “All-News 106.7” enjoying a lunch party to celebrate the station’s one-year mark as an all-news outlet. In May of 2012, Cumulus flipped classic hits WYAY to all news to capitalize on the lack of such a station in the Atlanta market with CEO Lew Dickey stating at the time, “As big a city as we’ve got and as diverse and cosmopolitan a community, not to have an all-news product creates a huge opportunity.”
New Jersey Broadcasters Association Annual Conference to Feature Programming Roundtable. The two-day 66th Annual Conference and Gala produced by the New Jersey Broadcasters Association in Atlantic City June 18 and 19 will feature, among its enticing agenda items the “Super Programming Session: The Future of Broadcast!” The session is being moderated by NJBA board member Salem Communications vice president/director spoken word format Phil Boyce. The roundtable will include: Scott Herman, EVP operations CBS Radio; Joe Puglise, president and market manager Clear Channel New York; Eric Johnson, program director Townsquare Media; Jeff Smulyan, CEO Emmis Communications; Walter Sabo, chairman of Sabo Media; Joseph Kerry, chief of staff, Mercury Radio Arts and the Glenn Beck Show; Steve Jones, SVP ABC News Radio and Gordon Borrell, CEO of Borrell Associates.
Cool Job Opportunity. Marshalltown Broadcasting seeks a news director – theirs is retiring in July. Marshalltown Broadcasting operates news/talk KFJB, Marshalltown, Iowa and sister country outlet KXIA “Kix 101” in the Des Moines market. If you are ready to be a news director at a strong small market news operation and maybe do a little sports, too, call Clark Wideman at 641-753-3361 or send your information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
DOJ Journalists Investigation/Holder Off-the-Record Meeting, IRS Scandal, Arizona Mom Held in Mexican Prison, Syria Tensions, and Jobless Claims Rise Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/29). Attorney General Eric Holder’s offer to meet off-the-record with news organizations about the DOJ’s investigation of journalists; the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups seeking tax exempt status; an Arizona mother being held in Mexico on allegedly manufactured drug charges; tensions over the ongoing violence in Syria; and the rise in jobless claims were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.