Art Bell and Michael Savage/Westwood One Agree to Settle Defamation Suit. Back in December, Art Bell and his wife Aryn Ruiz Bell, filed suit against talk host Michael Savage and Westwood One for defamation after Savage said the following on his nationally syndicated program: “I generally avoid gun questions. I know this from the first day in radio. I learned you never do certain topics where you can destroy your show. Third rail… You say UFOs, you wind up in the Philippines with a 10-year-old hooker and you are off the radio after a number of years. You can’t do UFOs. That’s an in joke, by the way, for people who even understand the business. There are other topics you can’t do…” Now comes word from Bell’s attorneys that the two sides have agreed to a settlement, saying they are “currently in the process of memorializing the terms of the agreement and should be in a position to dismiss this matter with prejudice within thirty (30) days. This settlement will resolve this matter in its entirety.” We’ll never know the terms of the settlement, but if all goes as planned in the next 30 days, the matter should be resolved.
Variety Piece Spurs Industry Chatter about iHeartMedia’s Future. The recent Variety story by Gene Maddaus has renewed media industry speculation about the health of debt-laden iHeartMedia – or more accurately – speculation about not if but when the company enters bankruptcy reorganization. As Maddaus points in his story, iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman has been working to transform the company into a digital-era media force as the same time he’s been trying to refinance some of its $20.5 billion in debt. iHeartMedia has $8.3 billion in debt coming due in 2019 and, as Maddaus writes, “no realistic way to pay it off.” Industry icon Irving Azoff sits on the iHeartMedia board and – though he’s not officially speaking for the company – says something has to give in the near future, telling Maddaus, “There will be a deal of some kind, at some point, that is the best that can be achieved under the circumstances. You’re correct that a day of reckoning appears to be coming. That’s no secret.” Read the Variety story here.
Legendary Detroit Sports Figure Eli Zaret to Host Feature for WJR, Detroit. Sports broadcaster and author Eli Zaret begins hosting a daily sports feature airing on Cumulus Media’s news/talk WJR, Detroit during the Guy Gordon show weekdays at 4:36 pm. The new program is called “After Further Review.” Zaret comments, “I’m excited about the opportunity to play a role at one of America’s legendary radio stations that features a cast of hall-of-fame broadcasters. Before starting in television at WDIV in 1980, I loved writing radio sports commentaries. Now, over 40 years later, to be able to do them at WJR alongside my longtime friend and colleague Guy Gordon is a very cool thing. I feel like I’m going back to my roots in radio.” Zaret is known for his coverage of the Detroit Pistons as a sideline reporter. He started in 1974 at WABX-FM. Detroit. He became the lead sports anchor for NBC affiliate WDIV-TV in the 1980s and served a similar role at WABC-TV in New York. He’s also served as sports director for rock outlets WCSX-FM and WRIF-FM, as well as WJBK-TV.
Trump’s Obama Wiretapping Allegations, Trump Rally Clashes, Trump-Russia Allegations, Immigration/Deportation Policies, Concerns Over North Korea’s Missile Program, ‘Logan’ Film Opens, SNAP IPO, and NBA/NHL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The Trump Administration’s allegation that the Obama Administration ordered a wiretapping of its campaign and the call for an investigation; clashes between pro-Trump forces and protesters in Berkeley, St. Paul, and Nashville; the allegations of Donald Trump’s connections to Russia and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak; questions about the Trump Administration’s immigration and deportation policies; North Korea launches more test rockets as concerns over its nuclear missile program deepen; the opening of the latest X-Men film “Logan”; the initial public offering for SNAP, the company that developed Snapchat; and NBA and NHL action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Cooke: Are We Really THAT Angry? Media consultant Holland Cooke writes today about the media tempest that is the Trump Administration. He says that he sends memos to the talent he coaches saying, “Donald Trump is the best thing that ever happened to talk radio. There are spontaneous statements at Executive Order photo ops, Alternative Facts, SNL, botched calls with friendly foreign leaders, Ivanka Inc., the Russia flap. Twitter! Wiretapping? Expect a-story-a-day, and assume NO topic burnout at this time. As ‘the Trump channel,’ we can enjoy tune-in from giddy supporters AND appalled or scoffing resisters.” Read more about Cooke’s take on the impact of the new administration here.
PPM Analysis: Classic Rock. Today, managing editor Mike Kinosian takes look at the performances of classic rock-formatted stations based on data (6+) from Nielsen Audio’s January 2017 PPM survey. Two classic rock outlets – iHeartMedia’s WRFX, Charlotte and Cumulus Media’s KCFX, Kansas City – ranked #1 in their respective markets in the January PPM survey, but classic rock ranks well with 14 other signals landing in the top five in their markets. For a complete analysis comparing performances from Holiday to January, from January 2016 to January 2017, and much more, click here.
iHeartRadio Music Awards Televised from the Forum in Los Angeles Last Night. The 2017 iHeartRadio Music Awards were televised via TBS, TNT and truTV last night (3/5). Ryan Seacrest hosted the “fan-fueled” music awards show that saw Drake win seven awards, including Hip Hop Artist of the Year, R&B Song of the Year, Hip Hop Album of the Year, Hip Hop Song of the Year, Best Collaboration, Most Thumbed Up Artist of the Year and Most Thumbed Up Song of the Year. The Chainsmokers followed Drake’s lead in wins with five awards including Best New Artist, Best New Pop Artist, Dance Album of the Year, Dance Artist of the Year and Dance Song of the Year. Pictured above backstage at the awards are (from l-r): actor Ansel Elgort, model Karrueche Tran, Drew Taggart of The Chainsmokers, singer Halsey, and Alex Pall of The Chainsmokers.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Oxnard, California-based Lazer Broadcasting announces that Joshua Mednick is named the company’s chief operating officer. Lazer president and CEO Alfredo Plascencia states, “With Joshua’s immeasurable expertise with 30 years in radio broadcasting and an extensive knowledge of the Hispanic market for 16 years, we are confident that he is the right fit to lead our operations. We are very excited to have Joshua at Lazer Broadcasting and looking forward to his innovative ideas.” Prior to joining Lazer Broadcasting, Mednick served as EVP for Casa Media Partners and has held senior leadership positions for radio broadcasting companies across the United States…..In the Appleton/Oshkosh, Wisconsin market, Cumulus Media names Chuck Lakefield the host of the morning show on classic hits WVBO. Lakefield moves from middays to mornings after current WVBO morning ghost Dan “Skip” Willis announced his impending retirement from the business after a 45-year career. Lakefield takes over on March 20…..Press Communications’ WWZY, Long Branch, New Jersey re-brands as “107.1 the Boss” with a gold-based mélange of “classic rock of the ‘70s, ’80s and more,” named with a tip of the hat to native son Bruce Springsteen.
The Band Perry Launches Pop Career in Atlanta. Grammy-winning country trio The Band Perry is pictured here with Cumulus Media’s SVP of content & programming Mike McVay at Terminal West in Atlanta where it kicked off its series of nine pop-up shows to officially launch the band’s pop career. The group recently released “Stay in the Dark,” the first single off of its forthcoming pop album, My Bad Imagination, to be released later this year. Pictured above are (from l-r): Sharon Kilgo, Cumulus Media VP/Music & Label Relations John Kilgo, Reid Perry, McVay, Kimberly Perry and Neil Perry.