Premiere Reverses Course; Keeps Randi Rhodes on Syndication Menu. There are no reports indicating just what happened between Randi Rhodes and syndicator Premiere Networks but the latter is confirming the widely reported news that Rhodes will continue to be syndicated by Premiere, at least through 2014. Premiere SVP of affiliate relations Peter Tripi emailed affiliates, “In a happy turn of events, we are pleased to announce that Premiere Networks will continue to produce and distribute the Randi Rhodes show. In an industry of constant change, it’s a pleasure to provide good news about a talk talent we think so highly of. We apologize for any inconvenience the previous announcement caused, but look forward to a very successful 2014 with the Randi Rhodes show.” Several weeks ago, Rhodes began telling her audience she was foreseeing the end of her program and later Premiere notified affiliates the relationship would be ending.
KABC and KLOS Could Fetch Roughly $90 Million. Before you start feverishly looking for loose change behind sofa cushions and envision putting together a consortium, that is the estimated price for (just) the real estate of the Cumulus-owned talk and rock combo. For decades, KABC and KLOS have operated from a 45,000-square-foot broadcast facility that sits on a 10-acre Los Angeles site at La Cienega and Jefferson Boulevard. It is close to a stop on the Expo Line rail route connecting downtown LA and Culver City. In an article in yesterday’s (11/14) Los Angeles Times, Roger Vincent notes that, “The area is considered ripe for mixed-use development that might include apartments, offices and stores. Real estate experts familiar with transit-oriented development say the Baldwin Hills site could command $200 a square foot, or more than $90 million,” although Cumulus reportedly has not officially set a price for the KABC-KLOS property. The LA Times piece quotes an unnamed Cumulus spokesperson who indicates company officials feel the Los Angeles property is a “greatly underutilized asset.” Cumulus has decided to sell it “to free up cash to redeploy in other areas of the business.” One option under consideration would be to have KABC and KLOS remain as tenants at the location following the sale.
Nielsen Trims Payroll by as Many as 500 Positions. The statement from Nielsen is vague company-speak – “As part of the integration of Nielsen Audio, Nielsen is implementing changes across the company to enhance growth and to align our resources to meet and exceed client needs. These changes will improve productivity and innovation for the benefit of our organization, clients and shareholders.” However, unsubstantiated reports swirling through the industry are that as many as 500 former Arbitron staffers are being let go as Nielsen brings the radio ratings division fully into the parent company. The move is not surprising – or shouldn’t be – to anyone who’s been in this business for a while. Nielsen reported to shareholders that it would be able to realize $20 million in “synergies” and that money has to come from somewhere. In late September, when TALKERS wrote that staffers at Arbitron are wondering how many jobs will be cut as a result of the acquisition, Nielsen was quick to issue a statement saying the company had, “no plans to reduce headcount at this time,” which we reported on October 2. TALKERS sees the dismantling of the Arbitron brand and all that it stood for in this clandestine manner as a red flag that should not go by without at least comment. Those who recall the sale of the iconic trade publication Radio & Records to Nielsen in 2006 will remember the company making similar statements about its intentions to use its formidable resources to grow the magazine and increase its services to the radio industry. However, in 2009, Nielsen shut the publication down. In a recent speech at the NAB Radio Show in Orlando, TALKERS and RadioInfo publisher Michael Harrison stated that for radio to thrive, let alone survive, in his new digital era — it must celebrate and protect its “radio-ness,” and avoid being assimilated into the multi-media soup of the 21st century at the expense of its unique industry and cultural identity. We hope that the powers-that-be at Nielsen show more respect for the specialness of radio in the days going forward and that they will be held accountable for significant discrepancies between their words and actions.
Glenn Ordway Lands Weekend Gig at SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio. Longtime WEEI, Boston sports talk personality Glenn Ordway will begin hosting “The Big Weekend Show with Glenn Ordway” on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio channel this weekend. Ordway’s show will air Saturdays and Sundays from 8:00 am to 11:00 am. Ordway – who spent the early part of his radio career as a Boston Celtics commentator – was instrumental in the building of Entercom’s WEEI, Boston where he created “The Big Show” afternoon drive program. His work in sports talk radio in Boston goes back to his days at talker WRKO where he hosted “Sportscall,” beginning in 1981. He worked at WEEI from 1987 until leaving the station in the spring of this year.
WXOS, St. Louis Renews with Chris Duncan; Announces New Program Schedule. Hubbard Radio’s WXOS, St. Louis “101 ESPN” announces it has signed a contract renewal with sports talk host – and former St. Louis Cardinals star – Chris Duncan. The term of the contract was not announced. Program director Chris “Hoss” Neupert states, “We are excited to have Chris continue with ‘101ESPN,’ he is a tremendously talented guy and a hard worker who prepares in great depth every day to entertain and inform the ‘101ESPN’ audience.” At the same time, the station announces its new post-morning drive lineup effective 11/25: Kevin Wheeler, 9:00 am to 12:00 noon; “The Turn” with Chris Duncan and Anthony Stalter, 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm; and “The Fast Lane” with Randy Karraker and D’Marco Farr (with Brad Thompson joining the show on Monday, January 6th, 2013) from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
FCC Approves Hiking Foreign Ownership Limit; NAB Approves. The mood at the Federal Communications Commission was ebullient as all five commissioners signed on to a policy change that would allow for foreign investment in U.S. broadcasting signals. The new policy would not put a strict limit on the percentage of interest allowed but would only kick in the FCC’s scrutiny if the stake goes above 25%. The days of concern over foreign control over content on American airwaves are long over and the NAB weighed in on the change, with president and CEO Gordon Smith stating, “NAB applauds the FCC for providing flexibility in commission rules allowing increased foreign investment in broadcast TV and radio stations. We are especially pleased the FCC recognized that local broadcasters routinely provide ‘local news, Amber Alerts and public safety information’ to serve our communities. Today’s vote provides broadcasters greater access to capital that will allow local stations to continue our indispensable role as the primary purveyor of news, entertainment and lifeline information to the American people.”
Talk Media Network Brings Weekly Satirical News Program into the Fold. “Now It’s the News with Derrick Blair” joins the Josh Leng-led Talk Media Network. The company says in a statement, “While many shows embrace talking points and are overly predictable, Derrick Blair brings a refreshing approach to ‘Now It’s The News,’ in the genre of ‘enlightened entertainment’ that includes ‘The Colbert Report’ found on Comedy Central.” Blair adds, “In the truest spirit of bipartisanship, ‘Now It’s The News’ will continue to mock the left, the right, the center, and all points in between.” Josh Leng comments on the one-hour, weekly program, “’Now It’s The News with Derrick Blair’ appeals to core radio listeners who love news and politics, but also to a much wider audience who simply enjoy a good laugh and quality entertainment. Derrick’s show is 100% original, and serves as a perfect bridge between political and non-political programming, giving listeners a humorous transition. It’s also a great way to laugh off some of the stress that can build up during the week.” The program has been in syndication since 2010.
Cumulus-Townsquare Deal Closes. Yesterday, Cumulus Media announced that it had completed the sale to Townsquare Media, LLC of 53 radio stations in 12 small and mid-sized markets for approximately $238 million in cash, and the swap with Townsquare of 15 radio stations in two small and mid-sized markets in exchange for five radio stations in Fresno, California (together, the “Townsquare Transaction”). Cumulus reports in an 8-K filing that it intends to use the cash proceeds from the Townsquare Transaction to fund a portion of the purchase price payable to complete its previously announced acquisition of Dial Global, Inc., now known as WestwoodOne. This acquisition is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2013.
WPHT, Philadelphia Celebrates 57 Years of Sid Mark’s Broadcast Career. The Philadelphia broadcaster is best known these days for his nationally syndicated weekly program “The Sounds of Sinatra.” Home base – news/talk station WPHT, Philadelphia – is celebrating the career of Sid Mark tonight at a special, sold-out event at Galdo’s in Philadelphia to celebrate his 57th year hosting “The Sounds of Sinatra.” The evening will feature Bobby Rydell and the sounds of the 17-piece big band City Rhythm Orchestra paying tribute to Sid Mark. CBS Radio Philadelphia SVP and market manager Marc Rayfield says, “Sid is not only a Philadelphia treasure, but a national treasure as well. His legendary voice has insured that another legendary voice has remained quite legendary. We are honored to have him as a member of our team at WPHT.” Sid Mark launched “The Sounds of Sinatra” in Philadelphia 57 years ago after a caller suggested that Sid spin one hour of Frank Sinatra songs. That tradition developed into “Friday with Frank,” as well as “Sunday with Sinatra” which presently airs on 1210 WPHT on Sundays from 9:00 to 1:00 pm. “The Sounds of Sinatra,” now heard on more than 100 radio stations from coast to coast, is the only radio program of its kind to have been personally authorized by Frank Sinatra.
Dave Ramsey Fills the House in Greenville. Nationally syndicated talk superstar Dave Ramsey is pictured here on stage in Greenville, South Carolina last night presenting his new “Legacy Journey LIVE!” The program discusses how to win with money, strengthen marriages and lead your children with confidence. His daughter, Rachel Cruze, joined Ramsey on stage. Ramsey combined forces with local affiliate WORD, to promote the event. Entercom Upstate director of news and programming Bob McLain states, “As a heritage partner with Dave Ramsey it’s a pleasure to be able to welcome Dave and Rachel Cruze to the Upstate…The opportunity for ‘WORD 106.3’ to partner with Dave in this venture, as we do on the air, just helps to cement the personal relationship our listeners have with Dave and the station.” Also, on Wednesday, Ramsey hosted his “EntreLeadership 1 Day Event” in Birmingham, Alabama with speaker Chris Hogan addressing how to run a business using the same common sense principles that Ramsey practices in his own company of more than 350 employees.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. Envision Radio Networks’ “America Weekend” featuring hosts Paul Harris, Turi Ryder and Rob Carson, is added to the program schedule at Blount Broadcasting Corporation’s talk WKVL and rock WNFZ in Knoxville, Tennessee…..Genesis Communications Networks-syndicated Dr. Daliah Wachs joins the program lineup at WZGM, Asheville, North Carolina.
ObamaCare Rollout Criticism Tops Talkers TenTM. The ongoing criticism of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio for the fourth straight week. At #2 this week was the GOP strategy for the 2014 and 2016 elections tied with analysis of the November 5 elections. Following at #3 was President Obama’s declining poll numbers tied with the new Benghazi allegations and at #4 was the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio. It is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s chart here.