Talk Radio Observes Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Although an official federal holiday, most talk radio personnel are working today and many are honoring or simply acknowledging the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his work leading the civil rights movement of the 1960s. For example, the first hour of iHeartMedia superstar Sean Hannity’s national radio show is devoted to talking about the historic civil rights leader’s legacy and relevance to today’s headlines. Given the racial tensions brought about by recent high-profile cases involving fatal confrontations between police and African American men, this year’s observance of Dr. King’s birthday is even more relevant than in recent years. Sirius XM Satellite Radio “Urban View” host Karen Hunter says, “Every day I honor the legacy of Dr. King on my show. So every day we do something special to honor him. Today I will be playing snippets from a speech he gave at UCLA in 1965. I will also be talking about Selma. And I have already spoken to someone who marched today in New York to the UN.” African American news/talk hosts have a variety of perspectives on Dr. King. Charles Butler who hosts a daily syndicated show on Genesis Communications Network writes on his daily blog, “Today is the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday and since 2008 I have conducted a show called ‘The Other Side of MLK,’ and on this eighth show I added several new perspectives. Dr. King evolved over the period he was actively involved in the civil rights movement…I have a very difficult time listening to people that use the sanitized and domesticated version of Dr. King, ‘my children would be judged by the content of their character…,’ while ignoring his call on America to end racism. Today, the prevalence of black high unemployment, income and health disparity, poor schools and environments, criminalization of black Americans, institutional racism, and systematic undermining of the attainment of the American Dream.” At Salem Communications’ secular news/talk stations, many hosts are devoting a segment or two to Martin Luther King. Salem SVP/spoken word format and Salem Radio Network Phil Boyce tells TALKERS magazine, “‘The Morning Answer’ in Los Angeles [KRLA] presented a great segment discussing the difference in the language and rhetoric of MLK vs the race baiters of today. I think conservative hosts are generally more appreciative of Dr. King now, as we have seen what others have said and done who are attempting to take his place.” Much of the commentary planned by hosts has been designed to specifically address their criticism of “so-called” civil rights leaders who have come after the late Dr. King – described to TALKERS by Cumulus heavyweight host Mark Levin as “people who exploit race by putting forth their own attitudes and wrongly use Dr. King’s good name to back up their own take and self-interests.” WFTL, Fort Lauderdale/Miami afternoon star Joyce Kaufman tells TALKERS, “I will be spending today’s show listening to excerpts of his speeches…asking listeners to weigh in on when and why the relations between the black community and the white community fell apart. Jews, for instance, natural allies, now arch enemies. Black pastors who have stopped preaching the gospel to preserve the first black President’s relationship. Would Dr. King have embraced Kwanzaa? I think not. He was a Baptist preacher.” Westwood One/WYD Media syndicated progressive opinion leader Thom Hartmann reports, “We did three hours on it today. The movie ‘Selma’ was perfectly timed, and clearly demonstrates the importance of citizens’ movements. From the Tea Party pushing Republicans to Occupy pushing Democrats; from John Quincy Adams leading the anti-slavery movement in the House to the Suffrage movement nationwide; from the labor movement (with the Ludlow massacre and the Flint Sit Down Strikes) to the gay rights movement – every time America has moved, it’s moved because of an informed, motivated, and activated populace. And the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the greatest teachers of that in modern times.” Fox News Radio syndicated liberal icon Alan Colmes tells TALKERS, “Today’s news cycle proves how prescient Martin Luther King, Jr. was. King, in his most controversial speech, ‘Beyond Vietnam,’ delivered at the Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967, spoke these words:
‘This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind… I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John: “Let us love one another (Yes), for love is God. (Yes) And every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love. . . . If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us.” Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day.’”
Colmes concludes, “On our show, we’re are talking about the relationship between the Bible and the Koran, to show that no one religion is superior to another, that there are more similarities than differences, and that tolerance is a key tenet of our republic. That is how we are honoring the legacy of this revolutionary.” Joe Madison of Sirius XM Satellite Radio – consistently one of the most influential thought-leaders in talk radio on the subject of race relations and civil rights — shares, “We aired the results of an essay contest that asked young high school students to assess the political climate in the world today, analyzing the racial challenges that exist and to compare to Dr. King’s life and deeds.” Madison adds, “I actually spoke this morning in Tampa, Florida at the 35 annual Tampa Organization of Black Affairs Breakfast (I was their first speaker 35 years ago). I addressed the three-year gap between the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965 and his assassination in 1968. I asked the question: ‘How would talk radio portray Dr. King?’ His last three years on earth, he alienated many of his allies and antagonized his enemies further. He was portrayed as an extremist and an arsonist as he waged war on poverty, racism and militarism. I suspect most talk radio would not be very supportive of Martin Luther King, Jr.” TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison responds to Madison’s last statement by telling him that “a number of conservative hosts interviewed for this story say they have been increasingly appreciating and respecting Dr. King as the years go by – especially when compared to some of his high-profile successors in the civil rights movement.” Madison fires back, “I wonder which King they respect? Certainly not the MLK that encouraged the redistribution of wealth, affirmative action and voting rights, especially Sections 4 and 5 which were recently struck down by the SCOTUS.”
Entercom Greenville-Spartanburg Sets New Roles for Hendrix, Stone, McLain. Several noteworthy personnel moves take place at Entercom-owned stations in Greenville-Spartanburg, a South Carolina cluster the company refers to as “Entercom Upstate.” For openers, rock WTPT “93.3 The Planet” and WROQ “Classic Rock 101.1” operations manager/program director Mark Hendrix takes on additional duties as operations manager for talk WYRD-FM “Word 106.3,” as well as the sports simulcast of WORD-AM and WYRD-AM. He will continue to program WORD-AM and WYRD-AM, both branded as “ESPN Upstate.” He succeeds Bob McLain as OM for “Word 106.3”; however, McLain carries on as the station’s 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm talent and is named operations manager emeritus. Meanwhile, “Classic Rock 101.1” assistant program director Jay D. Stone is boosted to program director. Stone continues as APD of “The Planet” and maintains his “Classic Rock 101.1” 12:00 noon – 6:00 pm “The Stoneman” on-air shift. According to Entercom Greenville vice president and market manager Steve Sinicropi, “Mark Hendrix has done an outstanding job programming ‘Classic Rock 101.1’ and ‘93.3 The Planet/WTPT-FM.’ He has coached ‘The Rise Guys’ on ‘The Planet’ to the top of many key morning demos. Hendrix will build on Bob McLain’s excellent work on ‘Word 106.3,’ developing stimulating local talk. I am also pleased that Bob will continue his very popular show. I am happy Jay D. Stone has been elevated to the well-deserved position of program director at ‘Classic Rock 101.1.’ He is the heart and soul of that station.” Hendrix comments, “I am thankful for the great opportunities that Entercom has afforded me over the years. I look forward to working with our talented staffs to deliver exceptional, locally focused programs to our upstate audiences.” McLain remarks, “Entercom Upstate has given me great opportunities to engage with listeners, discuss controversial and important issues, and establish a thought provoking radio brand.” Stone declares that, “Having the opportunity to head up the legendary call letters of WROQ is a big deal. All I can say is that, after working with the top-shelf staff at Entercom Upstate for the past 12 years, the winning tradition will continue at ‘Classic Rock 101.'” Hendrix has been with the company since August 2001, when he became program director of WTPT. McLain began his career at Winston-Salem’s WTOB. Stone was named music director of “Classic Rock 101.1” in 2003, after holding similar duties at Des Moines classic rocker KGGO.
Marshall’s Multiple Roles with MacDonald Garber. Simultaneous with being named operations director for all MacDonald Garber Broadcasting AM stations, Greg Marshall is appointed general manager for the company’s Cadillac, Michigan cluster. President and chief executive officer Trish MacDonald Garber comments, “Greg’s vast experience with broadcasting and his great passion for it can only contribute to our continued success. As the current acting general manager in Cadillac, I am leaving Greg in capable hands with an upward trajectory that I know he and the team will capitalize on.” Marshall states, “I am delighted to have the opportunity to work with the great staff at the Cadillac stations and the AM radio stations in the company. I am looking forward to this amazing opportunity.” Among the stations in the Cadillac group are hot AC WLXV “Mix 96,” sports WKAD “93.7 FM The Ticket,” and talk WATT “Rush Radio 1240.” Over and above these two new duties, Marshall will continue doing his daily 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm talk show on the company’s WMKT “The Talk Station,” Traverse City-Petoskey, Michigan; the program will soon be simulcast on WATT as well.
Salem Re-Brands Christian Talk WMCA. As had been predicted based upon some recent domain name acquisitions by Salem Communications, Christian talk WMCA, New York – for the past 25 years called “New York’s Christian Talk” – takes on the new slogan “AM 570 The Mission.” The company put together a short video to highlight the charitable work done by the station and its listeners that underscores the reason for taking on the “Mission” moniker. You can view the video here.
Odds & Sods. A report in the Boston Globe by Chad Finn indicates current WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” midday personality Andy Gresh will exit the station soon. He co-hosts the program on the sports talk outlet with former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak and hosts the pre- and post-game shows for Patriots football, for which WBZ-FM serves as flagship. Finn reports that Marc Bertrand of the PM drive “Felger and Massarotti” show will join Zolak on the midday show…..CBS RADIO’s Los Angeles all-newser KNX is presenting special programming this week surrounding the State of the Union Address. In addition to airing the address live at 6:00 pm PT, the station will present a special program on Wednesday (1/21) titled, “Healthcare Uncovered,” from 10:00 am to 11:00 am. The show will examine “the state of Obamacare as the Affordable Care Act enters its second year,” hosted by KNX anchor Tom Haule and chief investigative reporter Charles Feldman.
Bob Wilson: Former Bruins’ Radio Voice Passes. Rabid New England sports fans are known for embracing their professional sports franchises, as well as developing a fondness for those who call the games on radio. For well over two decades – including a 1971 – 1972 Stanley Cup-winning campaign – Bob Wilson was behind the radio microphone for the Boston Bruins. The Arlington, Massachusetts native, who retired in 1995, has passed away. Boston Bruins president – and former Bruins’ star player – Cam Neely comments, “For a generation of New England hockey fans, Bob’s legendary voice was synonymous with the Bruins. He will always be a part of our club’s history. Our thoughts are with [Wilson’s widow] Nancy and their children during this difficult time.” Jack Edwards is the club’s play-by-play announcer on cable television’s NESN and he remarks that Wilson was “my greatest inspiration.” Entercom sports WEEI-FM, Boston personality/NESN Bruins host Dale Arnold states that Wilson was “one of the iconic sports voices of our time. He was a kind and classy gentleman – my hero.”Dave Goucher has been the team’s radio voice the past 15 seasons, but Goucher insists that Wilson “is the radio voice of the Bruins.” In 1987, Wilson received the Foster Hewitt memorial award, earning him a place in the broadcasters’ wing of the Hockey Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2007. Wilson was at the TD Garden (home of the Bruins and the NBA‘s Boston Celtics) nearly four years ago (March 26, 2011) when the Bruins officially named the home radio facility “The Bob Wilson Radio Booth.” Bob Castellon (his real name) was 85.
Your Note to “Radio’s Best Friend” Couldn’t Hurt. One of the genuinely great people in the industry isn’t doing well. Just like giving a bowl of chicken soup to someone with a cold or the flu, sending a get-well wish to Art Vuolo certainly couldn’t hurt, and based on a message he posted today (Sunday, 1/18) on his Facebook page, it might go a long way in boosting the spirits of the man widely-regarded as “Radio’s Best Friend.” Coming off organizing yet another wildly successful Los Angeles radio get together, Vuolo underwent knee replacement surgery this past Tuesday (1/13), but he admits, “I hurt a lot. It is difficult for me to sit up in bed to type these words. Hoping I will feel better soon, but right now, my pain level is elevated. All prayers are welcomed.” One of radio’s greatest ambassadors and a countless times videographer of record, Vuolo is in room #154 of the Maple Manor Rehabilitation Center,31215 Novi Road, Novi, Michigan 48377.