Talk Personality & Breitbart Editor Ben Shapiro and Reporter Michelle Fields Resign After Alleged Assault by Trump Campaign Manager. Two Breitbart News staffers have resigned from the conservative news organization, citing lack of support from management after reporter Michelle Fields was allegedly assaulted by Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Both Fields and editor-at-large Ben Shapiro have resigned. The alleged incident happened at a Trump campaign rally on March 9. Fields says she was grabbed by the arm and yanked away while trying to ask a question of Trump after his speech. She did not see her attacker but Fox News reports Washington Post reporter Ben Terris identified Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski as the assailant. Lewandowski has denied the accusation. Fields says the Trump camp then began a “character assassination” campaign on her and received little support from Breitbart. Further, both Fields and Shapiro (who also is a personality on KRLA, Los Angeles’ AM drive show), say Breitbart itself wrote skeptically about Fields’ allegation and even encouraged other staffers – under threat of termination – to stop supporting Fields in the matter. Read Shapiro’s resignation statement in the Buzzfeed story here.
Michael Harrison Participating in Radiodays Europe. TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison is playing a role in the international radio convention, Radiodays Europe, taking place yesterday, today and tomorrow (3/13-15) in Paris, France. Harrison is participating in two capacities. Yesterday, he moderated a fast-paced roundtable discussion with approximately 25 broadcasters from all over the world focused on the subject, “Making Radio Indispensable.” Tomorrow, he addresses the conference on the subject, “Lessons Learned by American Radio at the Dawn of the Digital Era.” According to Harrison, “The conversation was based on the premise that in order for radio to continue its relevancy in the 21st century, it must provide programming and services that a critical mass of listeners find indispensable.” Participating radio professionals represented such diverse countries as France, Italy, the UK, Switzerland, Germany, Russia, Argentina, South Africa, and Australia. Harrison says, “It became very clear, very quickly, that the concerns facing the American industry are also being experienced by radio broadcasters around the world – the challenge of new exotic forms of unregulated media spawned by changing technology as well as a significant generational divide in appealing to younger listeners.” Among the commonly cited solutions suggested by participants include: “highlight live and local programming,” “maintain pressure on the auto industry to continue prominently including AM and FM availability in cars,” “activate the radio chip in smartphones,” and “provide programming of great importance to younger listeners to stimulate interest in the medium by Millennials.” Harrison says, “The conversation – aside from the flavorful accents and colorful array of personal styles displayed by the wonderful people I met – was not all that different than conversations you would hear at an American radio convention.” However, Harrison points out, “The biggest, obvious difference between the radio industries in many of these countries and the American model is government ownership. In countries where a large percentage of stations and networks are government owned and state funded, there is significantly less pressure on both management and talent to deal with budget cuts, ratings obsession and the pain imposed by consolidation-induced smothering debt. A highlight of the discussion came when Harrison engaged in a conversation about Freedom of Speech with Russian broadcaster Yuri Fedutinov, co-owner of privately held radio station “Echo of Moscow.” According to Fedutinov (pictured here, far left, speaking with Harrison, far right), the amount of leeway Russian talk radio has in terms of expressing general opinion is in ratio to how much audience loyalty it has earned by consistently being engaged in community involvement. Due to barriers in language and cultural differences, it was difficult for Fedutinov to be specific as exactly what you can and cannot say on the air in terms of political speech at this point in Russian societal evolution – but it was clear that Fedutinov had to be “fired” from his role as an on-air commentator because of things he opined, but was allowed by the government (and his co-owners) to remain as a principal of the station.” Harrison admits, “I found the conversation with my new Russian friend both fascinating and frustrating. Frustrating – because of the language barrier that made discussion about a nuanced subject prone to misunderstanding as well as my reluctance to push him into saying something publicly that might get him into further trouble. After all, there are no longer any ‘off the record’ conversations at events where microphones and cameras are prevalent.” In a lighter vein, Harrison learned from young Australian radio entrepreneur Ed Hooper that one of the fastest-growing cultural trends in the ‘land down under’ is interest in the NFL and American-style football. Hooper is a self-proclaimed fan of the New England Patriots. He and Harrison got along very well, to say the least. Pictured at left is Harrison (left) with German broadcaster Jorg Stelkins (right). More from Radiodays Europe tomorrow.
Legal Analysis: What the Hulk Hogan Sex Tape Case Means to You. TALKERS magazine legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman writes today about the impact the verdict in Hulk Hogan’s suit against Gawker could have on a radio station’s ability to use material recorded unknowingly or that which is highly personal. This case involves the sex tape of Hogan and Bubba the Love Sponge’s ex-wife Heather Clem that was recorded, without his knowledge says Hogan, and of which a portion was published to the Internet by Gawker. As Weisman writes, the ruling could affect how stories like this are covered in the news. “It is reasonably clear that the lives of celebrities have become valid topics for discussion, but when it comes to invasive videos and photographs, a right to privacy may trump the First Amendment rights of the media.” Read more here.
The Presidential Race, Syrian Civil War, Ivory Coast Terror Attack, Germany Migrant Issues, Obama SXSW Speech, and NCAA Tourney Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The activities of the candidates for president; al Qaeda attacks on Syrian U.S.-backed, rebel-held strongholds; the deadly shootings at an Ivory Coast resort by militant Muslims; Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party loses to anti-immigrant parties in German elections; President Obama states case for giving police access to smartphones during speech at SXSW festival; and the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament bracket is announced were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
FrancesaCon3 Draws Fans to Irving Plaza; ‘Mike & the Mad Dog’ Reunite. It was the third annual “convention” held in New York City to honor sports talk giant Mike Francesa. What started three years ago in a bar in the Big Apple, has grown so that the event was held for the second year in a row at the Irving Plaza and Francesa’s former WFAN partner, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, joined him for the first reunion of the two since 2009. The event was founded by Rockville Centre, New York’s Michael Leboff and New Jersey’s Ron Haraka. Proceeds went to the Dr. Theodore Atlas Foundation, a charity assisting children in need. Francesa tells Newsday, “This kind of outpouring is just unbelievable. It’s so much different than anything else. It’s so spontaneous…It’s just wild, it really is. I went through it last year and [Russo] saw it this year for the first time.” Image: Newsday.
Odds & Sods. At Hearst’s news/talk WBAL, Baltimore, afternoon news anchor Mary Beth Marsden has exited her role after a five-year stint. The Baltimore Sun reports that Marsden would only say that it was time to move on and the parting was amicable…..Sports media personality Stephen A. Smith will sit down with SirusXM host Karen Hunter for a special “SiriusXM’s Town Hall with Stephen A. Smith: The State of Sports, Media and Culture Today.” The satcaster says Smith and Hunter will go into Smith’s career and the path that led him to become one of America’s more polarizing television and radio personalities. It will premiere on March 18 at 12:00 noon ET on the Urban View channel…..Westwood One is presenting exclusive coverage of the 2016 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship beginning Tuesday, March 15 and will carry all 67 men’s basketball games includes the First Four, games from all eight first-round and second-round sites, plus the regional semifinals and finals. In addition, Westwood One will broadcast the NCAA Men’s Final Four on Saturday, April 2, and the National Championship Game on Monday, April 4, live from NRG Stadium in Houston.
Detroit Public TV to Air J.P. McCarthy Documentary. Detroit market radio legend J.P. McCarthy is being remembered in a documentary produced by Detroit Public TV. McCarthy hosted the morning drive show on WJR, Detroit from 1965 through 1995. The program, titled “J.P. McCarthy – The Voice of Detroit,” is an hour-long documentary that tells McCarthy’s story, “the ultimate local-kid-done-good tale.” DPTV says it worked “extensively with the McCarthy family and conducted more than 20 interviews with J.P.’s friends, family, co-workers and contemporaries.”