Newsmax TV to Launch on DirecTV Next Month. Wider distribution is ahead for Newsmax Media Inc’s Newsmax TV channel as the conservative news and talk outlet will be available on DirecTV beginning in mid-June. Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy says the deal that will put Newsmax TV in the homes and businesses of 20 million subscribers will start with nine hours of live programming. Currently, Newsmax TV is available online at Newsmax.com. Ruddy states, “Our launch will benefit from the existing Newsmax.com audience that is already in place. This audience will naturally be drawn to our brand of news, features and useful information and consist of one of the highest concentrations of baby boomers on the web. We will immediately plug into that audience to participate in the development and the evolution of the channel prior to a national launch.” Newsmax says that in addition to planned cable and satellite distribution, the new channel will be available via a wide range of “TV Everywhere” platforms just as the “crucial 2014 mid-term election coverage commences.” Ruddy adds, “Newsmax was born online and as the lines between TV and the web blur, we will attract a growing audience that doesn’t differentiate between the two. As a result, we are also well positioned to maximize the opportunities provided by ‘TV Everywhere’ platforms to reach tens of millions of Americans.”
Becker Becomes L&L Broadcasting’s VP/Programming. Former Oasis Radio Fort Wayne, Indiana general manager Phil Becker is appointed vice president of programming for L&L Broadcasting. “As a continuation of our rapid growth, we have been searching for the ideal candidate to help our programming teams execute strategies for on-air, online, and mobile audience growth,” comments L&L Broadcasting president and chief executive officer Bob Proffitt. “Phil is the absolute perfect fit for us and will not only be a dynamic addition to our corporate structure, but a welcoming face to our markets as he helps them continue to evolve.” Senior vice president/director of programming Scott Mahalick states, “We are thrilled to have such a visionary programmer join our team with a winning track record; great passion for the art of the product; business sense; and stellar leadership traits.” Becker remarks that the L&L Broadcasting team is “truly focused on their brands, as well as hiring the best people. The direction and vision of the entire corporate team is an exciting and refreshing approach to the industry that I love.” Prior to becoming Oasis Radio Fort Wayne’s GM, Becker was its operations manager and director of programming. His previous background includes programming tenures at Cox Radio Group Orlando rhythmic CHR WPYO “Power 95.3”; CKEY, Fort Erie Ontario (Buffalo-Niagara Falls); and in Dothan, Alabama for New South Communications. In April, Larry Wilson announced that Alpha Broadcasting and L&L Broadcasting would merge into one company – Alpha Media. When that merger is complete, the company will operate 68 stations.
Apple-Beats Deal Overshadows iTunes Radio’s Non-Music Deals. The just announced deal that Apple is acquiring Beats Music and Beats Electronics for $3 billion is the subject of a lot of chatter in the financial and music/radio sectors. While the music angle is what Apple CEO Tim Cook appears to be focused on, spoken-word audio programming is not escaping Apple’s eye. Almost buried under the Beats acquisition news is Apple’s announcement that it is creating an ESPN channel for iTunes Radio that will make its ESPN Radio content – Mike & Mike, Colin Cowherd, SVP & Russillo, and SportsCenter – available to iTunes Radio listeners. This comes on the heels of the March addition of the NPR channel to the service. Also, 9to5Mac is reporting that the ESPN station will carry this year’s World Cup live. While analysts are speculating largely about how this will affect SiriusXM, obviously this is another platform to compete with AM/FM radio, as well.
Marc James Moves from Charlotte to Atlanta for CBS RADIO. The sudden disappearance of afternoon drive sports talk host Marc James from the lineup at CBS RADIO’s WFNZ, Charlotte “The Fan” is explained as he moves southwest to Atlanta to partner up with Carl Dukes on WZGC “92.9 The Game” to co-host “Game Time” from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm effective Monday, June 2. The station also brings Mark Zinno in from its WJZ-FM, Baltimore “105.7 The Fan,” as TALKERS reported yesterday. WZGC program director Terry Foxx states, “Both Marc James and Mark Zinno bring unique perspectives to the Atlanta radio market. Marc James’ strong opinions will be a solid addition to Carl Dukes’ ability to objectively deliver content and Mark Zinno provides a global vision and a powerful punch to the Night Show.” Back in Charlotte, local blogger Randy Inman writes on his Panther Lair blog that he hears the candidate most likely to replace James on the PM drive show at WFNZ is Chris Kroeger.
South Central Properties Dealt to Midwest Communications. Some extremely successful sticks are about to exchange hands as Wausau, Wisconsin-based Midwest Communications is acquiring South Central Communications’ radio stations. (SummitMedia had announced intentions to buy the group for a rumored price somewhere in the range of $75 million, but that obviously fell apart.) Among the facilities involved are adult contemporary WJXA “Mix 92.9” and adult hits WCJK “Jack-FM” (both in Nashville); adult contemporary WJXB “Today’s Soft Rock,” rock WVRX “The X,” and classic rock WIMZ (all in Knoxville); and adult contemporary WIKY, country WLFW “The Wolf,” CHR WSTO “Hot 96,” and classic rock WABX (all in Evansville, Indiana). According to South Central chief executive officer J.P. Engelbrecht, “We have found a great steward for our radio stations in Midwest Communications. They are good broadcasters who will build upon the legacy created by our outstanding team.” Midwest Communications chief executive officer Duke Wright comments, “We feel extremely fortunate to be acquiring one of America’s best-run radio groups. South Central and Midwest are entirely family-owned with both families being in the radio business for well over 50 years. We feel there is a lot of commonality between the companies – I am certain we will have much to share with each other.” Nashville AC “Mix 92.9” is that market’s perennial top-ranked powerhouse (6+): In April’s PPM, it registers an 11.8 (#1, 6+). A similar ratings prowess exists for Evansville AC WIKY, which was #1 (12+) in the fall 2013 book with a robust 16.3. WSTO finished third (9.1); WABX was fifth (5.0); and WLFW ranked seventh (4.1). Nashville’s WCJK ranks eighth in April (6+) with a 5.1. South Central did not subscribe for the latest Knoxville numbers, so its three stations there are not listed. The Wright Family formed Midwest Communications in 1958. Midwest Communications presently owns 63 radio outlets in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Terms of the transaction – for which Kalil & Company was the exclusive broker – were not disclosed.
Jenkins to Enter New Mexico Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame. News pro Judith Jenkins will be inducted into the New Mexico Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame on June 7. The longtime KKOB, Albuquerque morning news anchor also worked at KKOB-TV during her career. In addition to her duties on KKOB’s morning program alongside Ed Hartley, Jenkins also handles news duties for Cumulus’ FM stations in the Albuquerque cluster. She will be the first African American elected to the New Mexico Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame.
Madison Rising Official National Anthem Performer for Talkers New York 2014. When the Talkers New York 2014 conference opens on June 20, at the India House in the Financial District, the band Madison Rising will serve as the official performer of the national anthem. You can check out this band’s rendition of the Star Spangled Banner in the Talkers TV box on the upper right side of this page. Talkers VP/executive editor Kevin Casey says, “Not since Jimi Hendrix laid down his iconic (and controversial!) rendition of the national anthem at Woodstock in 1969 has such a tremendously soul-stirring version of this song, performed in the rock idiom, been recorded. Not only is Madison Rising an extremely talented band, their version of the Star Spangled Banner puts you on the edge of your seat!” For more information about Talkers New York 2014, click here.
Odds & Sods. Omaha talk show host Tom Becka says he’s not looking for a fight with SiriusXM but says, contrary to the satcaster’s claim that host Maggie Linton did the last radio interview with author Maya Angelou before her death on Sunday, he actually did. The KOIL talk host tells TALKERS magazine he did what he believes is her last radio interview on May 13. You can hear that here…..As part of a promotion to operations manager for Great Plains Media’s Lawrence-Topeka, Kansas clusters, programmer and air talent Tabatha Levrault gains operations manager duties for news/talk KLWM…..Sports USA is announcing its 18-game college football schedule for the 2014 season. Defending National Champion Florida State, Auburn, Michigan State, Alabama, Ohio State, Oregon, LSU, Stanford, and UCLA will be among the teams featured this year. Sports USA president Bob Moore states, “We are pleased to offer college football’s biggest matchups to our 400-plus affiliates, advertisers, and fans nationwide. Our schedule is second to none.”…..“This American Life” will be distributed by Public Radio Exchange when the show’s deal with PRI expires on July 1. Host and executive producer Ira Glass says in a press statement, “They’ve been a huge innovative force in public radio, inventing technologies and projects to get people on the air who’d have a much harder time without them. They’re mission-driven, they’re super-capable and apparently they’re pretty good with computers.”
Thom Hartmann to Receive 2014 Freedom of Speech Award. The TALKERS editorial board has named progressive radio and television talk show host Thom Hartmann as the 2014 recipient of The Gene Burns Memorial Award for Freedom of Speech. The award recognizes broadcasting achievement in raising consciousness and awareness of the First Amendment, displaying courage and commitment in exercising First Amendment rights and contributing to the viability of the First Amendment through deed and example. 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 emerged and the format became recognized as an influential forum of public policy and social change following the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine. It was re-named in honor of talk radio pioneer Gene Burns upon his death in May 2013. TALKERS VP/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 conventions 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.” Last year’s recipient of the Freedom of Speech Award was Glenn Beck. Recent recipients include Rush Limbaugh, Al Franken, Sean Hannity, Alan Colmes, Jim Farley, Juan Williams, Joe Madison, Michael Savage, Norm Pattiz, Bill O’Reilly, Matt Drudge, G. Gordon Liddy and Brian Lamb among many others. Upon making the announcement of Thom Hartmann’s selection as this year’s recipient, TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “It is about time the industry recognizes the enormous contributions Thom Hartmann makes in keeping our industry representative of the spectrum of legitimate political ideologies at play in the American marketplace of ideas. Not only has he effectively kept the voice of liberalism alive in this arena with intellectual clarity, poise and civility for more than a decade — he has, in the process, developed and pioneered effective new, multi-media platform models and has amazingly bridged the artificial programming and business gap between commercial and public broadcasting.” The Thom Hartmann Program, launched in 2003 and represented by WYD Media, is on the radio live weekdays 12:00 noon – 3:00 pm ET, and is syndicated by WestwoodOne, Pacifica, and CRN Digital Talk. It’s heard nationally on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio, American Forces Radio, and is simulcast as television on the Free Speech TV network – which airs on both Direct TV and the Dish satellite TV systems, and several hundred cable systems, from Manhattan Neighborhood Networks to smaller systems from Burlington, Vermont to Seattle, Washington. The show is carried online by Progressive Voices on the TuneIn app, by NetRootsRadio, and streams live on its own YouTube and LiveStream channels. Close to 200 commercial and non-commercial radio stations carry Thom Hartmann’s show in the U.S., Ghana, Aruba, and Canada. In addition to radio, this entrepreneurial broadcaster also hosts “The Big Picture” TV show, that is owned and produced by Thom Hartmann and represented by WYD Media. It airs live nationwide on cable and satellite TV at 7:00 pm ET and 10:00 pm ET in an estimated 60 million-plus U.S. households via his licensing agreement with Free Speech TV, and is available in 107 countries in more than 600 million homes around the world via his licensing agreement with RT TV. The Big Picture is also carried by 200-plus community cable systems. It’s also available on Hulu and via Roku on the internet, and has its own YouTube channel. Hartmann’s website this year has had over a million unique visitors, and has an active community with its own user blogs, message board, and chat room. He has over 65,000 Facebook followers, and 37,000 Twitter followers, and over 15 million YouTube views just this year with over 60,000 subscribers to his YouTube channels. He’s the New York Times bestselling, four-time Project Censored Award winning author of 24 books in print in 17 languages on five continents. TALKERS named Thom Hartmann as the eighth most important talk show host in America in 2011, 2012, and 2013 (10th the two previous years), and for three of the past five years the #1 most important progressive host, in its “Heavy Hundred” ranking. The Freedom of Speech Award will be presented to Thom Hartmann at Talkers New York 2014. There will be more than 65 industry leaders in speaking roles at the conference which takes place on Friday, June 20 at the iconic India House in the heart of New York City’s historic Financial District. Registration is only open to professionals (and broadcasting students) working in radio and related media. The cost is $249 per person which includes all sessions, receptions, food and refreshments. Registrations can only be booked over the phone with credit card. Call 413-565-5413. Again, a sellout is expected shortly. For up to the minute agenda information and further details please click here.
Gabe Hobbs Arrested! Noted media consultant Gabe Hobbs is appealing to friends and colleagues to help rescue him from the MDA lockup – he needs $3,500 to be set free. Hobbs tells TALKERS he’s dedicating his efforts to return to civil society to late Clear Channel Omaha/Lincoln operations manager Jim Steel who was lost to ALS in 2007. He says he’s been humbled by the number of people who actually want to see him on the outside and have donated. “But I need more. Prison life just doesn’t suit me and I have no idea how to make a shiv so the best thing would be for me to make bail.” To free Gabe and donate to the MDA click here.
UCSB Killings/U.S. Gun Laws, VA Hospitals Scandal, Prince Charles Anti-Capitalism Speech, Marine Held in Mexico Case, Kerry-Snowden Spat, U.S. GDP Dips, and NBA-NHL Playoffs Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/28). The aftermath of the deadly shootings at the University of California Santa Barbara and discussion about gun legislation; the continuing investigation into the scandals reported at VA hospitals; reaction to Prince Charles’ speech in which he advocates a new “inclusive capitalism”; the case of the U.S. Marine being held in Mexico on gun charges; Secretary of State John Kerry’s reaction to the Edward Snowden interview; the dip in the U.S. gross domestic product; and the NBA and NHL playoff action were among the top news/talk stories yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.