Rush Limbaugh Celebrates 25 Years in Syndication Today. It was 25 years ago today that Rush Limbaugh began his national syndication based at WABC, New York. When Ed McLaughlin’s EFM Media Management began producing and distributing the Rush Limbaugh program in August of 1988 on 56 affiliate stations, many in the industry thought the idea of a midday national talk radio program was absurd and would fail. But Limbaugh’s EIB Network flourished and the rest is history. Of course, Premiere Networks now syndicates the show that’s heard on close to 600 radio stations. In a statement, Limbaugh says, “The relationship we’ve established here – between the audience and myself – is everything. It’s meant more to me than I’ll ever be able to fully describe. It’s the best three hours of the day! We’re going to do this for a long time to come.” Premiere Networks notes, “Mr. Limbaugh also pioneered an entirely new model for talk radio. Defying industry convention, he does not book guests on his program. Centered on the news of the day, he describes his unique approach as ‘a serious discussion of issues, combined with irreverent humor.’ He has enjoyed uninterrupted status since the early 1990s as the leading talk radio host in the U.S., and the program continues to expand its reach. In the past year alone, ‘The Rush Limbaugh Show’ has experienced an 11% audience increase (Source: Arbitron, Nationwide).
Media Biz Buzzing About Newspaper-Online Radio Ventures. Pictured here is Sabo Media (r) CEO Walter Sabo appearing on Fox Business with “Markets Now” host Dennis Kneale (l) discussing the Boston Herald’s online talk radio station project, “Boston Herald Radio.” Kneale quizzed longtime radio executive and consultant Sabo about what the two media bring to the table in joint ventures such as these. Sabo stated that the talk radio programs can help deliver a younger and more engaged audience to the newspaper world (which has suffered circulation and revenue declines) and the radio shows benefit from working with an experienced news gathering organization. “It allows them to bring those stories to life instantly, which has always been their (the newspaper’s) biggest challenge.” Watch Sabo’s appearance on Fox Business here.
CBS Reports Q2 Revenue for Radio ‘Even.’ CBS quarterly investors’ conference calls have always been pretty much about television and yesterday’s 2013 Q2 call was no different. It’s not that CBS doesn’t care about radio. President and CEO Les Moonves has stated in previous calls that they like radio. He doesn’t gush about it like he does about TV but CBS has no debt on the radio side and therefore it’s a cash business for the company. During yesterday’s call CBS COO Joseph Ianiello termed radio “even” during the second quarter compared to the same period a year ago and told investors the division is pacing flat for Q3. For CBS, total revenue was up 11% year-to-year due mostly to fees paid by television operators to carry CBS TV stations as well as international syndication deals and digital streaming revenue.
Journal Broadcast Group’s Radio Division Up 2.3% in Q2. Journal Communications announced 2013 second quarter financials yesterday and the Journal Broadcast Group breaks out the radio division from the television segment. It reports that, compared to the same quarter a year ago, revenue from radio stations increased 2.3% to $19.9 million, or 4.7% excluding political revenue. Radio political advertising revenue was $0.1 million, compared to $0.5 million. Local advertising revenue — excluding political — increased 5%, primarily due to an increase in retail advertising. National advertising revenue — excluding political — decreased 4.9% to $1.8 million, primarily due to a decrease in media advertising. Operating earnings from radio stations were $3.8 million compared to $4.4 million, a decrease of 13.8% or a decrease of 19.0% excluding acquisition costs in both years. Radio operating expenses increased 7.1%, or 9.3% excluding acquisition costs in both years, primarily due to employee-related expense increases and the impact of credits received from an industry-wide music licensing fee settlement in 2012.
TALKERS Magazine’s Frontier Fifty 2013 Will Be Posted on Wednesday, August 7. The new installment of one of the most popular and certainly important TALKERS magazine annual features — “The Frontier Fifty” — is set to be unveiled this coming Wednesday, August 7. The Frontier Fifty is officially described as a Selection of Outstanding Talk Media Webcasters. This year’s format will depart somewhat from the features’ early approaches by including executives who have built valuable platforms for internet talk broadcasting as well as talent who do talk shows and/or podcasts on the web. In addition it will be a numbered list in which designees are ranked according to importance as determined by the TALKERS editorial board. As followers of this feature know, TALKERS did not publish a 2012 installment of the feature because as the publication’s VP/executive editor Kevin Casey puts it, “This arena has evolved and grown at such a dizzying speed, we wanted to be sure that we presented this important snapshot of the state of the internet talk radio’s movers and shakers as accurately and relevantly as possible. We took an extra year off to study the scene and get it as close to being right as possible…no easy task.” This year’s Frontier Fifty is being sponsored by Broadcasters General Store.
Red Zebra Shucks Two Signals in Norfolk-Virginia Beach for $1.2 Million. Dan Snyder-owned Red Zebra sells sports radio combo WXTG-AM/FM “The Game” to local operator Local Voice Media which will flip the duo to a triple A format soon. The price of the stations and seven acres of property in Hampton is $1.2 million and according to the Daily Press, the stations will continue to air Washington Nationals baseball through the rest of the season and will be Washington Redskins affiliates during the 2013 season. Additionally, the paper reports that two staffers – AE and air talent Greg Bicouvaris and production director Brock Briggs will remain employed with the new owners. Local Voice Media also operates triple A WTYD, Williamsburg, Virginia “92.3 The Tide.” The Daily Press notes Richmond, Virginia investment firm Blue Heron Capital recently completed a $3 million investment in Local Voice Media, formerly known as Davis Media. The firm began investing in the company two years ago and has helped it expand into Columbia, South Carolina and Wilmington, North Carolina.
Quick-and-Dirty Three-Minute Sound Conditioning. Large corporations and government bureaucrats will often spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on soundproofing and sound conditioning for an audio studio. They’ll even spend tens of thousands of dollars simply on the consultants to tell them how to soundproof and sound condition a studio. That may make sense to you if you’ve got venture capital money to burn and don’t mind being out of business in a few years. It may also make sense if you’re working for the government because the money is someone else’s and you think you’ll never go out of business. But according to syndicated talk show host Michael W. Dean, co-host of GCN‘s “The Freedom Feens,” “The rest of us have to make do with what we have.” In a new column posted today (8/1), Dean writes, “The advent of ip hardware codecs has allowed talk radio hosts to produce nationally syndicated shows from our homes. And people working for corporate radio are often called to do remotes in a variety of environments. You can buy portable devices that acoustically isolate a microphone, but using one is basically like sticking your head in a small box. That is not conducive to doing a good show, especially if you’re doing on-the-spot interviews with a variety of guests. Today I’ll show you how to temporarily sound condition a room in three minutes at no cost. This will vastly improve the audio reaching your microphone, and thus, your audience. First, you have to understand the difference between soundproofing and sound conditioning. Many people use these two terms interchangeably. However, they are not the same thing. Soundproofing keeps outside sounds out and inside sounds in. Sound conditioning dampens native reverberation in a room. Effective soundproofing is a lot more expensive and complicated than sound conditioning.” To read Michael W. Dean’s entire column, please click here.
PodcastOne Adds Sports USA Programs to Offerings. Yesterday, TALKERS reported that NFL Hall-of-Famer Joe Namath would begin producing podcasts for Sports USA throughout the 2013 football season. Now, Norm Pattiz-founded PodcastOne and Sports USA announce the Namath podcast as well as “Conversations with Joe Morgan,” “The Ross Tucker Football Show” and “Against the Grain with Dave Miller” will be available via PodcastOne. Pattiz states, “Joe Namath invented the sports media icon as we know it. He knows what it means to break new ground and likes to do things his way. We’re a guaranteed perfect fit. I am looking forward to working with Bob Moore and the talented team at Sports USA as we create great experiences for listeners and opportunities for advertisers.”
MLB Great Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez to Contribute to ‘ESPN Dallas 103.3.’ “Pudge” Rodriguez played for the hometown Texas Rangers twice during his MLB career (he won a World Series ring with the Florida Marlins in 2003) and he and his family are putting down roots in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. ESPN O&O KESN and sister Spanish sports talk “ESPN Deportes Dallas” (KZMP-AM) have brought Rodriguez aboard to serve as a baseball contributor through the rest of the 2013 season. ESPN says Rodriguez will serve in several capacities for both stations including a bi-weekly call-in segment, the voice of featured “Pudge’s Eye” vignettes, as well as personal appearances. ESPN Dallas VP/GM Pete Dits states, “We are extremely excited and proud to have one of the greatest catchers in MLB history as a part of our team. As the radio flagship of the Texas Rangers in English and Spanish, this only solidifies our commitment to bringing the best Rangers and baseball coverage to the sports fans in DFW.”
Journal’s Sports Talk KXSP, Omaha Adds New PM Drive Show. Joe Quinn and Nick Handley are the new afternoon drive sports talk team at Journal Broadcast Group’s Omaha sports talker “590 ESPN Radio” (KXSP). Quinn was producer and co-host for the past three years on Des Moines’ KXNO. Handley, a 14-year sports veteran who most recently co-hosted the “Hail Varsity Radio Show” airing in Lincoln and Columbus, Nebraska was the sports director for the Three Eagles cluster of stations in Columbus. KXSP program director Kurt Owens says, “The new show will be called ‘The Drive’ and will bring a fresh new approach to afternoon sports talk in Omaha. Joe and Nick’s combined experience of covering sports in Nebraska and Iowa mirrors our huge AM 590 signal. AM 590 listeners will really enjoy these two young-yet-experienced broadcasters bringing their perspective to sports each afternoon.”
NBC Sports Radio Network Passes 300-Affililate Mark. The nationally syndicated sports talk radio programming initiative NBC Sports Radio Network – a cooperative effort of Dial Global and NBC Sports – announces it has passed the 300-affiliate mark. Dial Global Sports EVP and general manager Chris Corcoran says, “Signing more than 300 affiliates so quickly is a true testament to the mass appeal of our talent and programming, creativity of our producers, and hard work of our exceptional sales and affiliate teams. We are especially honored to partner with such great radio stations across the country as we work together to connect avid sports fans, consumers, and advertisers. We continue to be motivated to reach more audiences by the amazing feedback we regularly receive from our local station owners, program directors and listeners.”
WEEI-FM, Boston Staffers Take Part in Pan-Mass Challenge. “93.7 FM WEEI” morning drive co-host Gerry Callahan (r) and Entercom Boston vice president and market manager Jeff Brown (l) will take part in the Pan-Mass Challenge – a two-day bike ride across Massachusetts that can be as long as 190 miles – to benefit the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. WEEI will help recognize and celebrate this year’s event with a live broadcast of the Salk & Holley show on Friday, August 2 from 2:00 – 6:00 p.m. from the PMC’s opening ceremonies in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. Billy Starr, founder and executive director of the Pan-Mass Challenge says, “Entercom and WEEI have both been fabulous friends and partners. They have ensured that the PMC message is heard – and understood – far, wide and often.” Jeff Brown comments, “I am proud to continue Entercom’s support of the Pan-Mass Challenge and we are also proud to be raising additional money through our dedicated team of riders and virtual riders. Our own Gerry Callahan will be taking part in his sixth ride and it is such an honor, both for WEEI and for all of us at Entercom Boston, to be a part of this dynamic cause and help the dedicated Dana-Farber doctors and researchers discover cures for cancer.”
ObamaCare Implementation Battle, Anthony Weiner Scandal, NSA Surveillance Program, Chris Christie-Rand Paul Feud, and Looming MLB Suspensions Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/31). The fight in Washington over the implementation and funding for the Affordable Care Act; the political fallout from the Anthony Weiner scandal; reports of the vast nature of the NSA surveillance program, Republican in-fighting over policy and the Chris Christie–Rand Paul feud; and the expected suspensions of numerous MLB players were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.