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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

| March 31, 2021

Watergate Co-Conspirator and Talk Show Host G. Gordon Liddy Dead at 90. Former talk radio host, author, and Watergate break-in architect G. Gordon Liddy died yesterday (3/30) in Mount Vernon, Virginia at the age of 90. Liddy’s son Tom told The New York Times that his father had been suffering from Parkinson’s Disease and had been in declining health recently. G. Gordon Liddy famously made the transition into the talk radio business in the early 1990s after then-Infinity chief Mel Karmazin heard him subbing on a talk radio show and offered him the midday show at the company’s hot talk WJFK-FM, Washington, DC – a station that at the time aired Howard Stern in mornings and Don & Mike in afternoons. Liddy’s program would later move into national syndication via Westwood One. He moved his syndication to Radio America in 2003. He retired from his regular radio program in July of 2012.

Remembering G. Gordon Liddy. On the occasion of the death of G. Gordon Liddy, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents an overview of Liddy’s colorful career based on a profile piece he wrote while serving as special features editor for the radio trade publication Inside Radio in 2004. In the piece, speaking about his radio career, Liddy told Kinosian, “I hope I’ve changed for the better and have [improved] at what I do. It’s like playing golf: The more you do something, the better you get at it. If I spend as many hours playing golf each day as I do with the radio show, I might have a fair game.” Read Kinosian’s story here.

Pictured above is TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison (left) presenting the Freedom of Speech Award to G. Gordon Liddy (right).

FLASHBACK 1995 – G. Gordon Liddy was at the Center of a Talk Radio First Amendment Award Controversy. In 1995, the National Association of Radio Talk Show Hosts (NARTSH) – a pivotal industry trade association that played an active role in the “modern era” rise of talk radio between the late 1980s through the 1990s – presented then-syndicated radio personality G. Gordon Liddy with its annual Freedom of Speech Award (the same award still presented annually by TALKERS magazine). The award was (and still is) non-partisan and has been presented over the decades to a variety of personalities ranging from Rush Limbaugh to Al FrankenMark Levin to Thom HartmannHoward Stern to Karen Hunter and Sean Hannity to Joe Madison. It has been awarded to broadcasters from both sides of the American political divide who have demonstrated through their words, deeds and courage the First Amendment in action, its purpose and how it operates.  Liddy received the award that year for facing a lot of heat in the aftermath of remarks he made on the air pertaining to the then-explosive controversy over how Americans can use their Second Amendment rights to protect themselves from armed federal agents breaking into their homes with the intent of shooting them first and asking questions later. This grew out of the activities occurring at the time prompted by the tensions building during the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco, Texas and other related tragic events involving the BATF. Needless to say, it was wildly controversial and a major test for talk radio in establishing a standard for its position on the First Amendment. The award was presented that year at the NARTSH Convention in Houston. To view Liddy’s acceptance speech at the Kennedy Space Center (including attorney and then KABC, Los Angeles talk show host Gloria Allred’s one-woman protest demonstration) please click here. To view a clip from a luncheon that took place at that same contentious convention in which convention chairman Michael Harrison stood up to U.S. Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-MO) over his call for NARTSH members to boycott the Liddy award presentation, please click here.

Update on Jail Status of ‘Free Talk Live’ Host Ian Freeman. In an interview with “Free Talk Live” co-owner, co-host, and head of sales Mark Edge, TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison gets the latest on the legal status of co-host Ian Freeman and the federal government’s charges against him. Yesterday (3/30), TALKERS published a summary of the story from the Manchester Union-Leader that included news of the government’s charges against Freeman that include fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy. In addition to an update from Edge on the charges against Freeman, this interview contains some fascinating information, background, and insights into Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. Listen to it here.

Brad Lane Returns to Twin Cities as WCCO-AM Brand Manager. Programming pro Brad Lane is named brand manager for Audacy’s news/talk WCCO-AM, effective April 19. Lane was most recently serving Good Karma Brands as director of content for news/talk WTMJ-AM and sports talk WKTI-FM/WAUK-AM “ESPN Milwaukee.” Prior to that, he spent 20 years at Hubbard Radio’s KSTP-AM in numerous capacities, including as program director. Audacy Minneapolis SVP and market manager Shannon Knoepke says, “WCCO Radio serves as an extremely important news brand for the people of the Twin Cities and the state of Minnesota who rely on us to be informative, timely, relevant and entertaining. Brad brings a wealth of experience leading content teams and his leadership and vision will be instrumental to the success of our station. We’re looking forward to adding him to the team.”

KROF, Lafayette Adds ‘Todd Starnes Show’ for Early Afternoons. The nationally syndicated “Todd Starnes Show” is added to the program lineup at Townsquare Media’s KROF-AM, Lafayette, Louisiana “TalkRadio 960” in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart. The program will also be broadcast on the company’s sister sports talk station KPEL-AM. Both stations will also air the short-form daily program “Todd Starnes News & Commentary.”

Ramsey Show Passes One Billion Downloads Mark. Over the course of the last 15 years, “The Ramsey Show” podcast with Dave Ramsey and his team of co-hosts has surpassed one billion downloads, what the Ramsey Network says is a rare milestone reached by only a handful of podcasts in the world. In addition, callers have paid off $500 million dollars in debt since the podcast began 15 years ago. Each weekday, “The Ramsey Show” podcast produces three episodes heard across every platform. Ramsey Network EVP Brian Mayfield says, “We’re teachers at the core. And podcasts are an extremely useful medium, giving us another megaphone to reach people. We’ve never seen anything grow the way the podcast world has grown, so we see tremendous opportunity there to continue to increase our audience.”

Alpha Media’s WSGW-AM/FM, Saginaw Takes Station of the Year Honors. Saginaw, Michigan news/talk outlet WSGW-AM/FM “100.5 & 790 Newsradio” is named Medium Market Station of the Year by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. This is the seventh time the Alpha Media station has earned Station of the Year honors from the MAB. Operations manager, Dave Maurer states, “This past year was challenging in our part of Michigan with a devastating flood that hit in May and captured the headlines for much of the year. This was on top of the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 elections which were huge stories that demanded much of our staff’s focus. We are pleased that our team’s performance has won recognition for the quality of content gathered in difficult circumstances.” In addition to Station of the Year, WSGW won 12 other awards including six Best of Show and six Merit Awards in the MAB Broadcast Excellence Awards competition.

Jaleigh Long Officially to Lead Cox Media Group Atlanta and Athens. Sales and management pro Jaleigh Long has been interim market manager for Cox Media Group’s Atlanta and Athens, Georgia markets since earlier this year and now the company officially appoints her VP and market manager. The clusters include news/talk giant WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta; news/talk WGAU-AM/W254CJ, Athens; sports talk WREF-AM, Athens “960 The Ref”; and seven music brands. Long comments, “I am abundantly proud and honored to lead this group of industry-defining stations. The great work we do in all areas of the business every day is making an impact on our audiences, advertisers, and communities we serve. The power of radio is exhilarating and fortunately we get to experience that firsthand each day through the powerful programming, compelling promotions, and important community initiatives that define and underscore CMG’s purpose.”

Keith Lawless to Lead Cox Media Group’s Tampa and Houston Markets. Broadcast executive Keith Lawless is promoted to regional vice president of Cox Media Group Tampa + Houston. He’s been serving as VP and market manager for the company’s Tampa cluster since 2009. Cox Media Group Radio SVP Rob Babin comments, “I am thrilled to announce Keith Lawless as regional vice president over two of CMG Radio’s key markets, CMG Tampa and now CMG Houston. Keith has demonstrated an unwavering commitment for many years and has made an incredible impact on CMG Tampa and successfully led many CMG Radio strategic initiatives. His passion for his team, CMG Radio, and our industry make him the ideal leader to take on the role of RVP.”

Tampa Radio Figure Tedd Webb Dies at 72. Longtime Tampa radio personality Tedd Webb died on Tuesday (3/30), a week after entering hospice following a long illness. WFLA-AM reports Webb’s passing, noting that he was a host at the station for more than 30 years. He co-hosted the “AM Tampa Bay” program with Jack Harris beginning in 1994 and ending in 2017 when Webb retired. Webb was born Henry Ruiz – son of Cuban immigrants – in Tampa and began his radio career at the age of 14. He was a music DJ for the first 15 years of his career before transitioning to talk. He hosted a sports talk show, worked with Nanci Donnellan “The Fabulous Sports Babe,” and as part of WFLA’s “Gardner and Company” morning show before partnering with Harris for “AM Tampa Bay.”

COVID-19 Stats/Variants/Vaccines, WHO COVID Report, Biden Stimulus-Infrastructure Plan, Violence Against Asians, Border Crisis-Immigration Policy, Derek Chauvin Trial, Voting Legislation, Trump Website, and Matt Gaetz Allegation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/30). The number of COVID-10 cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, and the rollout of vaccines; scrutiny of the WHO COVID origin report and criticism of China’s cooperation; President Biden’s $2 trillion economic stimulus and infrastructure plan; the brutal beating of a 64-year-old woman in New York and more reports of assaults on Asian Americans; the crush of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy; the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd; Georgia’s new voting rules and the Democrats’ push for expanded voting rights laws; Donald and Melania Trump launch a new website; and the allegations against U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz of sexual relations with a minor were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

| December 6, 2018

Longtime Baltimore Talk Show Host/Reporter Les Kinsolving Passes at 90.  Known for his no-holds-barred questioning tactic as a White House reporter and for his regular talk show on WCBM, Baltimore, Les Kinsolving cut a colorful figure in the Baltimore-Washington market and across the talk radio industry. Kinsolving – born Charles Lester Kinsolving – died early Tuesday morning.  He had triple bypass surgery in 2005 after suffering a heart attack. WCBM morning personality and program director Sean Casey said in a message posted on Twitter: “Les was one of the founding fathers of WCBM. I hired him in 1990 after a strong recommendation from out former colleague Tom Marr.  Les was a fearless reporter/broadcaster who confronted the Jim Jones cult, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and covered the White House in his signature red jacket.” Casey notes that Kinsolving hosted “Uninhibited Radio” on the station for 28 years before his health declined and he was forced to retire several months ago.

PPM Analysis: All-News. Managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s November 2018 PPM survey, today focusing on all-news outlets.  Ratings movement (weekly 6+ AQH share) from the October survey to the November survey among all-news stations was pretty much split fifty-fifty – half the stations saw an increase and about half went down.  The same goes for a comparison to last November’s PPM survey, about half the stations were up and the other half were down.  This month, four all-news stations ranked in the top five in their respective markets.  Entercom’s WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM, Chicago and Hubbard’s WTOP-FM, Washington both ranked #1, while the Entercom’s KCBS-AM ranked #2 in San Francisco and #3 in adjacent San Jose and its WWJ, Detroit also ranked #3.  See Mike Kinosian’s entire report here.

Moffett to Lead SummitMedia Springfield. Taking over the leadership of SummitMedia’s new Springfield, Missouri station group is Janelle Moffett, who rises from general sales manager to president.  She begins leading the cluster that includes news/talk KSGF-AM/FM, country KTTS, CHR KSPW, and adult hits KRVI upon the exit of retiring president Rex Hansen.  Moffett says, “We have great stations and a talented, committed team here.  We will make certain we continue to entertain and inform our listeners, deliver results for our clients, and serve our wonderful Springfield community.  I’m very excited about all the possibilities ahead for us!”

Forbes Publishes ‘Highest-Paid Radio Hosts’ Piece. In a story in Forbes by Hayley Cuccinello, the five highest-paid talk hosts are ranked.  Topping the list this year is SiriusXM star Howard Stern, estimated to be making $90 million.  Premiere Networks star Rush Limbaugh is #2 with an estimated $84.5 million made this year.  At #3 is Premiere’s Ryan Seacrest with $74 million, followed by Premiere/FOX News superstar Sean Hannity at #4 with $34 million and Premiere’s Glenn Beck in fifth place with $8.5 million.  The piece also delves into the merger of Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze digital platform and CRTV and other radio talk show issues.

TALKERS News Notes. There’s a publication – currently only available to “lawmakers, decision-makers, and others involved in D.C.’s political process” – that Clarity Media Group announces is expanding to the public arena.  The weekly Washington Examiner magazine will launch on January 1 “with a new look, an expanded editorial range, and an increase in its distribution.”  Under the continued editorial leadership of editorial director Hugo Gurdon, the expanded magazine will publish 44 issues per year.  Clarity Media president and CEO Ryan McKibben says, “Over the years, we’ve frequently been asked if individuals outside of the Beltway could subscribe to the publication. With this expansion and relaunch, our aim is for the new, national Washington Examiner to build on its position as a leader in providing a conservative perspective on the events of the day.”…..Nielsen Audio holds a client webinar today to brief them on the transformation of the measurement of 200-plus small and medium markets measured with the Audio Diary from a quarterly or two times a year static view to monthly reporting.   Nielsen says the change “will enable clients to react more quickly to marketplace changes.”  Continuous diary measurement will be released in stages with the first phase beginning in mid-2019 in 47 markets presently measured four times a year…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that WGN-AM, Chicago news reporter/anchor Dometi Pongo is also hosting a new Twitter Live video titled, “Need to Know.”  The program is produced by MTV News and “offers a ‘deep dive’ on a major story of the day and each afternoon he recaps the day’s top stories.”…..KORE Broadcasting’s sports talk KORE, Eugene, Oregon “FOX Sports Eugene” adds “The Dan Patrick Show” to its weekday morning lineup, effective December 17…..SiriusXM is broadcasting live from the Baseball Winter Meetings beginning Sunday (12/9).  Both the MLB Network Radio and Mad Dog Sports Radio channels will broadcast live from the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas where club owners, front office executives, managers and many others from the major and minor leagues will gather to discuss offseason baseball business.

Bush Ceremonies, Trump-Russia Investigation, Migrants at U.S.-Mexico Border, U.S.-China Trade War, Mercurial Dow, ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ Controversy, and NFL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/5). The ceremonies honoring late President George H. W. Bush; the Robert Mueller-led investigation into possible connections between Trump campaign operatives and Russian agents; the migrants amassed at the U.S.-Mexico border and the border wall issue; the Trump administration’s tariff policy toward China; the up-and-down Dow and concerns about a returning bear market; radio stations are caught in a controversy over the lyrics to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”; and the week’s NFL 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. Programming pro Josh Gebhart, a.k.a. Jay Jay, moves from Cumulus Media’s Twin Cities operations where he was an air personality and producer, to the company’s Eugene, Oregon cluster to serve as program director for hot AC KEHK “Star 102.3” and sister adult contemporary KSCR-AM/FM.  Cumulus Eugene operations manager Al Scott says, “It’s great to finally have a PD here in the building to steer KEHK through this very competitive radio market.  Josh brings a lot of enthusiasm to the table and is breathing fresh life into the station!…..Sheridan Broadcasting names Tracey Harvey creative director.  In her new position, she’ll be charged with developing the company’s new web presence – including audio and video content.  She’ll also be responsible for expanding the company’s social media content and branding footprint by identifying new business partnerships…..Cumulus Media’s urban AC KMEZ is moving from its current 106.7 frequency to the 102.9 frequency it previously occupied, effective today (12/6).  As a result, hip hop KKND “Power 102.9” goes away.   The station is being branded “Z 102.9.”  Program director J’Michael Francois says, “During the first 30 days, ‘Z 102.9’ will be heard both on 102.9 and on 106.7 so that all our current listeners will know that KMEZ will now be heard on 102.9 FM…..Mariah Carey is the special guest host of the Premiere Networks-syndicated R&B show “The Sweat Hotel” with Keith Sweat. In addition to playing R&B slow jams and taking song requests, the award-winning artist will play music from her new album, Caution, as well as some of her fan-favorite hits…..TMZ reports that rock radio and television personality Matt Pinfield was hit by a speeding car while walking in Los Angeles.  The report says Pinfield’s leg was broken in two places and he received a wound to his head that required stitches.  Pinfield was most recently morning host at Cumulus Media’s triple A KFOG, San Francisco.