PPM Reliability Issue Re-Surfaces at Philadelphia Conference. Last year’s intense debate over the reliability of Nielsen Audio’s PPM technology and the promise by 25-Seven Systems that its Voltair processing unit can improve detection of a station’s PPM encoding is being renewed. The issue came to the fore at yesterday’s 2016 New Radio Conference in Philadelphia presented by Jerry Del Colliano. Premiere Networks star Sean Hannity and Harker Research’s Richard Harker presented a session titled, “Nielsen – Getting Around a Rigged Ratings System,” during which Harker presented his own study showing how talk radio suffers under the PPM methodology. Nielsen’s John Snyder was there and took the stage to argue Harker’s and Hannity’s points. But the most newsworthy moment took place when Hannity told Snyder he would sign an affidavit promising not to take part in a class action suit against Nielsen if the company would agree to meet with them on the matter. Snyder agreed. This issue will be addressed at the 2016 Bridging the Generations conference at Hofstra University on May 20 when TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison conducts a “Fireside Chat” with Sean Hannity.
Salem to Present Special Luncheon Discussion at TALKERS 2016 on the Relationship Between News/Talk Radio and the Conservative Movement in America. The TALKERS editorial board is pleased to announce the addition of a very special presentation sponsored and produced by Salem Radio Network that will take place during the 1:00 pm luncheon at TALKERS 2016: Bridging the Generations on Friday May 20th on the campus of Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. It will explore the ongoing, complex relationship between the news/talk radio format and the evolving state of the conservative political movement in America. Moderated by Salem Media Group SVP Phil Boyce, the speakers will include Salem syndicated stars (in alphabetical order) Larry Elder, Mike Gallagher and Hugh Hewitt. Speaking on behalf of the board, TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “This is very exciting! Phil Boyce is one of the acknowledged programming gurus in the talk media space and the star power and intellectual mass of Elder, Gallagher and Hewitt on one panel will be extremely informative and dynamic. This is a subject that is widely misunderstood and misrepresented in the mainstream press. It should prove quite interesting indeed.” The agenda for this event – the 19th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most important national convention – continues to grow providing an impressive who’s who of the field’s most notable figures from all ends of the spectrum in programming, sales and technology. However it is nearing a sellout, so register now. For registration, sponsorship, hotel and agenda information, click here.
Erik Kuselias to Host Mornings on WHOO, Orlando. Sports media personality Erik Kuselias is launching his new morning show on Genesis Communications-owned sports talk outlet WHOO, Orlando “Sports Talk 1080 The Team,” on Monday (4/11). During his career, Kuselias has worked at ESPN, The Golf Channel, and, most recently, as a personality with NBC Sports Radio. In addition to airing from 6:00 am to 9:00 am on WHOO, the program will be streamed on its SportsTalkFlorida.com platform.
Former WKRK, Cleveland Personality Charged with Money Laundering. According to a report from Cleveland.com, former WKRK, Cleveland “92.3 The Fan” producer and personality Joseph Gerard Spooner, a.k.a. J.G. Spooner, is facing a charge of money laundering after allegedly shifting $7,300 from a GoFundMe account to his personal bank account. The GoFundMe account had been set up by Spooner to collect donations to help a childhood friend of his — Allyson Thadeus-Zappe – who was suffering from cystic fibrosis. She died in 2015. Her family reports that Spooner offered to use his name recognition in the market to help raise funds for Allyson. The family never saw any of the money donated to the account. A subsequent investigation by police led to the charges. CBS RADIO told Cleveland.com that Spooner had recently been terminated from his position. Read the story here.
The Presidential Race, Battle Against Islamic State, U.S. Immigration Policy/European Migrant Troubles, Miss. Religious Freedom Law, and Merle Haggard Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/6). The activities of the candidates for president and the aftermath of the Wisconsin primary; the ongoing fight against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria; debate over the immigration and refugee policies in the U.S. and the related migrant problems Europeans are dealing with; the new Mississippi law that allows businesses to refuse to serve gays based on religious reasons; and the death of country legend Merle Haggard were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio during the week, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Packed Talkers New York 2015 Conference a Hit with Attendees. Talk media industry practitioners jam-packed the India House in Manhattan’s Financial District on Friday, June 12 for a full day of presentations, panels and speeches as TALKERS magazine celebrated its 25th anniversary serving the talk radio industry at its 18th annual New York-located national conference. The day began with a continental breakfast and reception titled, “Breakfast with Hannity,” sponsored by the Premiere Networks-syndicated talk radio superstar. WFAN, New York sports talk legend Mike Francesa kicked off the presentations with a powerful and informative welcoming speech. Panel discussions included such topics as “The State of Radio Ratings,” “The Big Picture,” “Generating Talk Radio Revenue,” “Programming Talk Radio in 2015,” “Variety, The Spice of Life,” and “Navigating a Talk Host Career.” The program also included a one-on-one “Fireside Chat” between TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison and Cumulus Media EVP, content & programming John Dickey, plus the TALKERS Awards Presentation during which WOLB, Baltimore morning host Larry Young received the “Humanitarian of the Year Award,” Howard Stern co-host Robin Quivers received the “Woman of the Year Award,” CBS Radio News VP Harvey Nagler was presented the “Lifetime Achievement Award,” and ABC Television, director, business continuity Howard B. Price received the “Freedom of Speech Award.” Michael Harrison states, “We are deeply gratified, humbled and grateful by the SRO turnout and the tremendous love and support we have consistently received that has allowed TALKERS and all its various projects to make it to the quarter-century milestone. This conference exuded a level of confidence about the future of the talk industry held by its key players that we haven’t seen in years!” Video of each of the sessions and presentations will be made available online via Talkers TV, along with detailed story and photographic coverage of the conference, beginning next week. Above right, FOX News’ Brian Kilmeade, WFAN’s Mike Francesa and Sean Hannity share a joke. Lower left, Premiere Networks’ Julie Talbott (left) presents the Woman of the Year Award to Robin Quivers (right).
iHeartMedia to Create New Boston Home for Rush Limbaugh on WKOX. Dropping the Spanish music format “Mia 1430,” iHeartMedia will launch “Talk 1430” WKOX on Monday, June 29 with Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh as the centerpiece along with company stalwarts Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck surrounding him. WKOX is licensed to Everett, Massachusetts and its primary signal covers the city of Boston and reaches many of its suburbs. iHeartMedia is going with a sports and talk hybrid using FOX Sports Radio content in addition to syndicated talk programming. Here’s the lineup: “FOX Sports Daybreak with Andy Furman & Mike North” in AM drive; Glenn Beck from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon; Limbaugh; Sean Hannity from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm; “America Now” from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm; Westwood One’s Mark Levin from 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight; and FOX Sports Radio during overnights. iHeartMedia Boston market president Alan Chartrand says, “We are excited to bring this powerful lineup of talk show hosts to our cluster here in Boston. We are confident that the biggest names in the talk radio format will serve our listeners and advertisers well.”
Canada’s Numeris Orders Voltair Units Disabled Until Further Notice. Canada’s Numeris – formerly called the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement – has ordered all Canadian radio stations to disconnect their Voltair units from their audio chains. The audio processor manufactured by 25-Seven – a division of TelosAlliance – has been a controversial topic within U.S. broadcast circles recently for reportedly enabling stations in Nielsen’s PPM markets to “amplify” the encoding that PPM receivers use to “hear” in order to give stations credit for listening. As was discussed at the Talkers New York 2015 conference on Friday (6/12) on the “State of Radio Ratings” panel, Voltair is currently being tested by Nielsen but no such edicts have been issued here. Canada’s Numeris states in a letter to station owners that the order to shut off Voltair comes because of the “importance of a level playing field.” Numeris admists it doesn’t know if the technology is affecting ratings or not but that it expects to have an analysis of Voltair done within 60 days.
Cumulus Media Elevates Hess to Corporate PD of News/Talk. A session moderator at last Friday’s (6/12) “TALKERS New York 2015,” Bill Hess takes on corporate responsibilities in addition to his role as program director of Cumulus Media Washington, DC news/talker WMAL-AM/FM. According to Cumulus executive vice president of content and programming John Dickey, “Bill is one of the format’s best minds. We look forward to sharing him within our company.” Senior vice president of content and programming Mike McVay comments, “This promotion enables us to take advantage of Bill’s previous experience as a corporate programmer and rewards him for the amazing job that he is doing at WMAL.” Hess remarks, “I deeply appreciate – and am incredibly energized by – this opportunity to work with John Dickey, Mike McVay, and our team of talented programmers as we continue to drive the success of the industry’s leading platform of news-talk brands, both on-air and digitally.” Formerly senior vice president of programming for Air America Radio, Hess was brand manager for Clear Channel/iHeartMedia and was PD of talk stations in Providence (WHJJ); Springfield, Massachusetts (WHYN-AM); and Worcester, Massachusetts (WTAG), as well as operations manager of Washington, DC progressive talker WWRC, sports WTEM, and conservative talk WTNT. The Philadelphia native has programmed FM music stations in Washington, DC (adult contemporary WASH and classic rock WBIG); Providence (hot AC WSNE and classic hits-oldies WWBB); Springfield, Massachusetts (hot AC WHYN-FM); and Worcester, Massachusetts (adult contemporary WSRS).
New Course Set at WRKO, Boston. In a press statement announcing the hiring of Alison Harris as sales manager for Entercom’s news/talk WRKO, Boston, VP and market manager Phil Zachary says filling this two-year-vacant post signals the station’s readiness to forward with the next step in its evolution. He comments, “Like every talk radio station in America, WRKO has been evolving with the changing media habits and demographic shifts in our society. We did not want to fill this important position until our course was set for the future and we found the perfect candidate. I’m thrilled we’re now at that point and that Alison was available to us.” Harris is a 22-year media pro who was most recently with Clear Channel Outdoor’s Washington, D.C./Baltimore Division as vice president of sales. The Boston news/talk will part with Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh next month and says it will announce its new, official lineup a little later this month.
Odds & Sods. Boston journalist and talk show host Michele McPhee told her listeners on Friday afternoon that she expects to beat the charges leveled against her after a late night incident on Thursday that resulted in her being arrested for DUI, resisting arrest and assaulting an officer. McPhee – heard on WMEX, Boston in afternoon drive – says she can’t comment specifically on the advice of her attorney. She was pulled over after a police officer reported seeing her car swerve on I-93 in South Boston. The Boston Herald reports she became belligerent with the officer and even sustained a head injury while the officer was arresting her…..Salem Media Group names Randy Bush general manager of its Little Rock station group that includes Christian contemporary KKSP, Christian teaching KDIS and news/talk KHTE “96.5 The Answer.”…..Townsquare Media announces Mike “Sandman” Sanders is the new operations manager for its Billings, Montana cluster that includes news/talk KCHH “Newstalk 95.5.” He was most recently with Riverbend Communications as music director and afternoon personality at adult contemporary KCLE, Idaho Falls “Classy 97.3.”
Nielsen Audio Releases Fourth Round of May 2015 PPM Data. The fourth and final round of May 2015 PPM ratings data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: Austin, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Providence, Raleigh, Norfolk, Nashville, Greensboro, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, Memphis, and Hartford. The May 2015 survey period covered April 23 through May 20. You can find the complete ratings from subscribing stations here. Additionally, TALKERS and RadioInfo managing editor Mike Kinosian provides his “Ten Takeaways” from this group on the main page of our sister publication here.
NJBA Conference and Gala Begins This Week. The annual New Jersey Broadcasters Association Conference and Gala opens this week in Atlantic City with his year’s theme: “Broadcast Has New Attitude.” NJBA president & CEO Paul Rotella states, “We’re going to hear from a variety of voices during this conference which will provide you with the latest and most substantial evolution in research, technology and advancement in audience measurement.” During the conference, the NJBA will be honoring FOX News’ Judge Andrew P. Napolitano as its recipient of the Howard L. Green Humanitarian of the Year. Also, Greater Media’s Peter Smyth will induct Dan Finn, Harry Hurley, Dick Swetits, and Kevin Williams into the NJBA Hall of Fame.
‘Get Well’ Wishes to Gabe Hobbs. Longtime radio pro and Gabe Hobbs Media principal, Gabe Hobbs is recovering from a ruptured disc in his lower back. He writes to the industry that he’s been largely unable to communicated while literally “on his back” in the hospital for the better part of the last two weeks. He writes, “As some of you may have heard, I have been hospitalized with a ruptured disk in my lower back for a couple of weeks. My back just seemed to explode on the afternoon of May 26th and I’ve been largely unable to answer emails, phone calls or texts ever since. I couldn’t even sit up or walk for 9 days. I’m finally able to do a little work on the computer and have somewhat cogent phone conversations at this point…My apologies as I know many of you are wondering if I just dropped off the face of the earth. Everyone at TALKERS wishes Gabe a speedy recovery.