Ed McLaughlin Dies at 91. The man who founded EFM Media Management and launched Rush Limbaugh into national syndication – and consequently changed the face of radio – has died at the age of 91 after a long illness. Edward F. McLaughlin was in a hospice facility in Palm Beach, Florida. As TALKERS magazine reported earlier this week, the Broadcasters Foundation of America announced it would be honoring McLaughlin with its 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award on March 5 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City during its Golden Mike Award event. During McLaughlin’s 14-year career leading the ABC Radio Networks, McLaughlin oversaw the acquisition of “American Top 40 with Casey Kasem,” launched “American Country Countdown with Bob Kingsley,” and grew the affiliate base of the Paul Harvey programs to some 1,000 stations. In 1984, he formed EFM Media Management and began syndicating the Dr. Dean Edell show. After hearing Rush Limbaugh on KFBK, Sacramento he moved him to WABC, New York and began syndicating his 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET program. It provided the launch pad for Limbaugh’s rise to syndication success. He sold the Rush Limbaugh program to Jacor Media in 1997. McLaughlin’s work in national radio syndication included numerous achievements, including his teaming ABC with CBS and NBC in 1980 to establish the first digital satellite distribution system — Americom Digital Delivery System (ADDS) — which replaced telephone lines in connecting networks with affiliated stations, the antiquated system that had been used since the early 1940s. He also guided the creation and distribution of network music and entertainment programming circa 1979. Prior to that it had largely been news and information. McLaughlin was a chairman emeritus of the Broadcasters Foundation of America. He succeeded Ward L. Quaal as chairman. BFoA president Jim Thompson says, “He was a genius at creating content and talent development.” Whitney Global Media chairman William O’Shaughnessey says, “He was a great raconteur who often held court at the ‘21’ bar where he did a lot of business entertaining out-of-town affiliates.” The McLaughlin family will hold a private service and is planning a memorial celebration in June.
Sabo: ‘Make It Bigger’ Ed McLaughlin. Consultant Walter Sabo writes today about the qualities that made the late Edward F. McLaughlin the legendary broadcaster that he was. First and foremost, says Sabo, was his mandate that for a project to succeed, one had to “make it bigger.” Sabo says, “Ideas that were big enough for Ed inspired him to become fully engaged in the project. He would marshal every resource of ABC to make a project a success — from legal, to financial, to engineering, to marketing, to the television network. When Ed called, the corporation cooperated. He knew that a key part of his job was to give his team access to the resources of the corporation and he was a genius at persuading all of ABC to support the radio network. When he supported a project, he believed it was his job to find the money. And he always found the money.” Read Sabo’s entire column here.
Cumulus Makes Hard Decisions in Chicago. As reported by Chicago media maven Robert Feder, Cumulus Media has announced it is shedding its unprofitable deals to broadcast Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls play-by-play. It is also choosing not to acquire music-formatted stations alt rocker WKQX and classic rock WLUP-FM from Merlin Media (Cumulus has been operating the duo under an LMA). As Feder notes, Cumulus is working through Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and president and CEO Mary Berner says in a statement, “As part of our operational turnaround, we have been focused on taking proactive steps to address unprofitable areas of our business. We are taking this action because the economic terms of these legacy contracts guarantee that we lose money and, as such, continuing them in their current form is not in Cumulus’s best interests.”
WOC, Quad Cities Names Dave Levora Morning Host. New WOC, Quad Cities morning personality Dave Levora comes to the station from his most recent position as an account executive for WQAD-TV, Quad Cities. He’s hosted morning radio programs in the market in the past on music-formatted stations, including KJOC, WXLP, and KIIK. Levora will co-host the morning show at the iHeartMedia news/talk station with program director Dan Kennedy. He’ll continue to host the half-hour “Quad Cities Brewed” program on WQAD-TV that explores the Midwestern Craft Brew scene. Kennedy comments, “We’re excited to bring Dave into the WOC ‘News Talk 1420’ family. He’s already familiar with radio in the Quad Cities and I have no doubt that our listeners will love him!”
WSKO, Syracuse Adds New Local Show to Lineup. Programmer Tom Mitchell promotes executive producer Paul Esden to air personality with his own afternoon program called “Drive Time Sports” at Cumulus Media’s WSKO, Syracuse “The Score 1260.” Esden has been the executive producer of the station’s “Bud & The Manchild” late morning show for the past two years. Mitchell says, “This is a marvelous opportunity for Paul. His unique and energetic style, opens up a fresh perspective to cover not only local sports, but also the best in the national sports arena every day!” Esden has also covered Syracuse University sports as a senior columnist for Inside the Loud House for the past two years.
SuperTalk Mississippi Adds Country Star Steve Azar to Lineup. The program is called “A Mississippi Minute with Steve Azar” – a reference to his song “Mississippi Minute” – and airs Thursdays and Fridays from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm. TeleSouth Communications says his show airs on the SuperTalk Mississippi format that’s heard on stations covering all of Mississippi’s 82 counties. SuperTalk CEO Steve Davenport says, “We’re excited to add Steve Azar to the lineup. His passion for Mississippi fits right in with our mission – to serve the millions of people who live in our state.” In a press release, the company says, “Spend five minutes with Steve Azar and you’ll see why he is the Music and Culture Ambassador of Mississippi. His love for the Magnolia State is evident in everything he does. This modern-day Renaissance man is a hit songwriter, recording artist, music producer, golfer, philanthropist and now – radio host.”
Trump’s Alleged ‘Shithole’ Comment and Threat of Government Shutdown Tie for Top News/Talk Stories This Week. The allegations that President Trump called certain Caribbean and African countries “shitholes,” and the threat of a federal government shutdown tied for the most talked about stories on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the status of the Obama era DACA, the Trump Administration’s larger immigration policy, and the issue of the Mexican Wall. Coming in at #3 was the Trump-Russia probe and the related testimony of former White House senior adviser Stephen K. Bannon, followed by the report that 2017 was the warmest year on record at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Classic rock WMMZ, Berwick, Pennsylvania is purchased by Vince Benedetto’s Bold Gold Media Group for $700,000. The class A FM’s primary signal covers a region southwest of the Wilkes Barre-Scranton market. The seller is Joseph Reilly’s Columbia FM Inc. The station switched calls from WHLM-FM to WMMZ last year…..In New England, Townsquare Media begins airing “The Big Breakfast” – with hosts Bill Fox and Kira Lew (based at country WOKQ, Portsmouth, New Hampshire) – on sister station country WPKQ, Portland, Maine “103.7 The Peak.” To make room, current WPKQ morning personality Annie Snook moves to the midday show on the station.