The State and History of Presidential Radio Rows. This week’s Donald Trump White House talk radio row (10/17) created a huge buzz in the industry, sparking an interesting broadcast conversation last night between RT America TV evening host Ed Schultz and TALKERS founder Michael Harrison about the history and journalistic integrity of these events (pictured above). Schultz, one of the longtime leading progressive host/commentators in talk media, criticized the event for its ideological one-sidedness, describing it as “propaganda,” and took the Democrats to task for not actively complaining about the use of taxpayer dollars to fund a media-targeted political rally within the Executive Office Building. Harrison, one of the original creators and organizers of the presidential radio row concept back in the early 1990s, shared the history and evolution of these events over the years, explaining what they mean to talk radio, its hosts, and the national political discussion. According to Harrison, they started out as bi-partisan events but as talk radio became increasingly ideologically targeted format-wise, the broadcast invitees reflected a political view friendly to the occupant of the White House at the time, left or right. Harrison went on to say that the Trump presidency has provided fascinating “material” that has been good business-wise not just for talk radio, but talk television and newspapers as well. He describes the Trump presidency as “the most compelling reality show of all time.” To see the entire conversation, please click here.
Eboni K. Williams Leaves WABC Radio Gig. Announcing her decision to leave Cumulus Media’s WABC, New York after just four months co-hosting the midday show with Curtis Sliwa, Eboni K. Williams told listeners that it is with a “heavy heart” that she leaves the station. Williams told listeners she accepted the WABC gig at about the same time that she was made part of “The Specialists” show on FOX News Channel. But the departure of FNC’s Eric Bolling in the wake of sexual harassment allegations and FNC’s decision to cancel the show “had a domino effect” on Williams. Saying that she’s a television host and needs to find another TV job, she’s been talking about possible gigs but has not accepted anything yet. Williams replaced longtime Sliwa co-host Ron Kuby back in June.
RTDNA Co-Sponsors First Amendment Event Tomorrow (10/20). Tomorrow in Washington, DC the Radio Television Digital News Association is collaborating with the National Press Club Journalism Institute, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, and Reel Media Group to co-host a discussion on the First Amendment and reporters’ rights. The event will take place at the National Press Club from 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm ET. It’s being streamed on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/RTDNA.RTDNF. The panel includes: Vikram Bhagat, in-house counsel at American Public Media Group and Minnesota Public Radio; Ellen Crooke, VP of news for TEGNA and an RTDNA director-at-large; Scott MacFarlane, veteran investigative reporter for NBC Washington; Paul Safier of the prestigious Washington law firm Ballard Spahr. Moderating the event will be Reel Media Group co-founders Stephanie Tsoflias Siegel and Bram Weinstein. RTDNA notes that Free Speech Week is a yearly event to raise public awareness of the importance of free speech in America’s democracy and to celebrate that freedom.
Radio One Names Host of Philadelphia Public Issues Show. At the Philadelphia station group of Radio One, Solomon Jones is appointed to the position of host for the new “Your Voice” talk show on Gospel-formatted WPPZ-FM. The program, airs from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon Monday through Saturday. Jones is a media pro who serves as a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News and previously was the morning show host at WURD Radio-owned urban news/talk WURD-AM. Radio One Philadelphia operations manager Karen Vaughn comments, “We want to engage our listeners with not only the inspirational music they love, but the information they need to be socially aware, community engaged and woke overall. Solomon is a well-known local radio and media personality and is the perfect fit to provide this new music infused talk show format on ‘Praise.’”
Niger Ambush Aftermath, U.S.-China Relations, Trump Tax Reform Plan, Iran Nuclear Pact, North Korea Tensions, Weinstein Scandal-#MeToo Movement, Melania Body-Double Flap, Quebec Face-Covering Law, Richard Spencer University of Florida Appearance, MLB Playoffs, and NFL Protests-Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/18). The controversy over the Niger ambush that left four U.S. soldiers dead and President Trump’s comments about consoling soldiers’ relatives; the tense relations between China and the U.S. over the South China Sea military installations and economic policy; the Trump Administration’s tax reform plan; the Iran nuclear deal and Trump’s intent not to recertify compliance; the military bluster from Kim Jong Un and concerns about the regime’s missile program; the fallout from the Harvey Weinstein sexual predation scandal and the related #MeToo movement; the social media-spurred suggestion that Melania Trump has a body double; Quebec’s new law making it illegal to cover one’s face in public; the controversial appearance at the University of Florida by white separatist Richard Spencer; the Major League Baseball playoffs; and the NFL anthem protests and game action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. After 23 years in the market, starting as the first general manager of hot AC KALC, Denver “Alice 105.9” and most recently as VP and market manager for Entercom’s cluster there, Amy Griesheimer exits the company. Denver alt-weekly Westword reports her departure and reports that industry watchers are speculating that “the move was made because of ratings and revenue shortfalls in an industry that continues to struggle with the fallout from technological changes and shifting listener habits.” The story says that current Entercom RVP Doug Abernathy will serve as acting market manager for the interim. The Westword piece makes no mention of the pending Entercom-CBS RADIO merger. Read it here…..In Columbus, alternative rock WWCD “CD 102.5” announces that staffer Lesley James is giving up her program director duties after eight years to focus on her afternoon drive program. Taking over the PD role at the WWCD, LTD-owned station is evening personality Mason “Mase” Brazelle. He’s served with alternative WKZQ, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and with iHeartMedia’s former crosstown alt rocker WXZX “105.7 The X.”…..Air talent and programmer Dylan Salisbury is named the new afternoon drive host at Entercom’s Indianapolis CHR WZPL. He’ll also serve as music director. He handled both duties at his most recent gig with iHeartMedia’s CHR KKDM, Des Moines “107.5 Kiss FM.”…..Buffalo Business First reports that Cumulus Media is planning to turn an 11-acre parcel of land close to its Buffalo studios into an open-air event space. In that market, Cumulus operates WGRF-FM “97 Rock”, alternative WEDG “The Edge 103.3” and WHTT “Oldies 104.1.” Cumulus Buffalo vice president and general manager Steve Bearance tells the publication, “We’re not talking about an amphitheater, but more of a place to do our special events. It’s more like a festival grounds than anything else.” As the article points out, for live events, stations cede control and add to their costs by having to rent space.