Tornado Damage Reported Via Multi-Media on McGraw Milhaven Show. The series of tornadoes that swept across the Midwest on Sunday left serious damage in New Minden, Illinois – about an hour East of St. Louis. The photo you see here is from the video component of KTRS, St. Louis morning host McGraw Milhaven’s online platform. Since the spring, Milhaven has been partnering with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s StlToday.com site to present his program in a video format. Today, he used that medium to his advantage as reporter Michael Golde was able to report back to the studio via Skype and show viewers scenes from the storm-damaged town and converse with Milhaven and news anchor Kelly Jackson. In posting the video on YouTube, Milhaven comments, “KTRS Radio in St Louis is the only radio station in the country to show live video of storm-damaged areas of Ill. to listeners on laptops, desktops and smartphones as well as the radio.”
JVC Media to Flip Rock WRCN, Long Island to News/Talk After Christmas. Longtime rocker WRCN, Riverhead, New York has stopped playing “everything that rocks” and has gone Christmas music through the holidays. But after Christmas, the station will emerge as a news/talk outlet dubbed “LI News Radio 103.9.” JVC Media president and CEO John Caracciolo explains the company’s thinking in a statement: “WRCN has a long history and heritage on Long Island – many of us have grown up with the station and it has become an intricate part of our lives. But as our lives change so does our soundtrack. What we listened to growing up is not necessarily what we listen to now and what was important to us as teenagers maybe doesn’t seem so important anymore. That’s why we made the decision to change WRCN and develop and program a radio station that fits the needs of Long Island…Long Islanders are starving for local news and information. Why should we have to wait 22 minutes to hear about the world when all we really want is Islip to Southampton? What’s the traffic like on the 347 merge or Sunrise Highway in Oakdale? This station will not only serve as your information source but it will be your sounding board for issues that influence your life, your community and your business.” Talent that has been announced to be part of the new format includes Premiere Networks nationally syndicated star Sean Hannity and Cumulus Media Networks personality Mark Levin as well as local hosts Ernie Fasio, Vic Fusco, John Gomez, Kevin Law, Steve Levy, Frank McKay, and Jay Oliver.
Linda Thomas to Exit KIRO-FM, Seattle. Morning news anchor and reporter Linda Thomas announces she will be leaving Bonneville’s news/talk KIRO-FM, Seattle at the end of the year for a new opportunity that, as she says, “doesn’t involve being at work by 2:00 am.” In a blog post at the company’s Mynorthwest.com, she writes, “My Bonneville Seattle bosses understand and support my decision too, even though they don’t want me to leave. That’s what family members do. I’ll always be grateful for them, and for you.” Thomas first worked at KIRO in 1988 as an overnight editor and became morning drive anchor in 1993. She left the station to work as a freelancer but returned to KIRO-FM as morning anchor in 2010. She adds, “KIRO’s news, talk and online teams are the best in the business. It’s been an honor to work alongside amazing talent. I’ve learned a lot from all my co-workers. They encourage me, challenge me, and make me laugh on a daily basis. I really do love them.”
Michelle Wright Let Go from All-News WYAY, Atlanta. The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho tips us that morning drive co-anchor Michelle Wright has been let go from Cumulus Media’s all-news WYAY, Atlanta “All-News 106.7.” Andy Rose remains in AM drive solo. The speculation is that the recent hiring of Kim “The Kimmer” Peterson to host a talk show in middays and the acquisition of Atlanta Braves baseball required some cuts in other areas of the station and Wright was the unfortunate victim. She was one of the original staffers when Cumulus decided to turn WYAY into an all-news station in May of 2012. She had previously worked at Atlanta-based CNN Radio before joining Cumulus.
CEOs Make the Grade. Clear Channel’s Bob Pittman and Emmis’ Jeff Smulyan were both the subjects of feature stories in newspapers over the weekend – Pittman in The New York Times and Smulyan in the Indianapolis Star. In a Q&A titled, the Value of Dissent, Pittman says he encouraged dissenters in his organization because they serve a valuable purpose. “I want us to listen to these dissenters because they may intend to tell you why we can’t do something, but if you listen hard, what they’re really telling you is what you must do to get something done. It gets you out of your framework of the conventions of what you can and can’t do.” Read that piece here. Jeff Smulyan tells the Star in his Q&A that the best piece of advice he’s received has to do with employer-employee relationships, “Attract the best people, treat them well, and let them do their job. If you want people to go through walls for you, you have to go through more walls for them.” Read that story here.
The View of Radio from the Digital World’s Perspective. Noted radio digital consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller writes, “Those of us in digital media know that our world will continue to change drastically, over and over again. We also know that we will be bigger and better three years…five years…10 years from now. Plus, we hear how radio compares itself to online listening choices, and we see how you use your digital platforms. And here’s what we think.” In a new column posted today (11/18) Miller goes on to state that digital-only people still have “transmitter envy” and that even though more and more people and media are moving online, the stick is still a formidable asset. Regardless, he points out that many digital-only professionals think that over-the-air radio companies are “crazy” for cutting talent, still selling 60-second commercials, and not being cognizant of just how much entertainment is changing. He clearly explains what digital pros see as radio’s “dangerous assumption.” He observes, “I look at a lot of different radio social media, websites, database emails and texting programs, and it’s clear you’re making some dangerous assumptions. Digital content doesn’t work like you think it should. It doesn’t work like you wish it did. It works like it works. We see you on Facebook and Twitter talking about almost anything…except what people really love about you. Your websites are a mish-mosh of broad-based content, but if you look at your web stats, there are fewer than half-a-dozen features at your site that, combined, get the lion’s share of your page views. There is nothing special or exclusive about the emails you send your listeners, and your open rates prove it. Radio people know a lot about how people use radio. Meanwhile, you are using all these other media as if knowing how they work doesn’t matter. One key thing we’re doing to drive our online success is to track everything we can to see what really makes a difference. We don’t have the luxury of having opinions about what should work. Either the clicks are there, or they aren’t. What we do either works, or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, you dig in, diagnose the problem, and adjust.” To read Chris Miller’s entire column, please click here.
Premiere Reverses Course; Keeps Randi Rhodes on Syndication Menu. There are no reports indicating just what happened between Randi Rhodes and syndicator Premiere Networks but the latter is confirming the widely reported news that Rhodes will continue to be syndicated by Premiere, at least through 2014. Premiere SVP of affiliate relations Peter Tripi emailed affiliates, “In a happy turn of events, we are pleased to announce that Premiere Networks will continue to produce and distribute the Randi Rhodes show. In an industry of constant change, it’s a pleasure to provide good news about a talk talent we think so highly of. We apologize for any inconvenience the previous announcement caused, but look forward to a very successful 2014 with the Randi Rhodes show.” Several weeks ago, Rhodes began telling her audience she was foreseeing the end of her program and later Premiere notified affiliates the relationship would be ending.
It’s Pop-Up Time. No, not the kind of pop-up we associate with websites – pop-up ads – but those retail stores that “pop up” in vacant storefronts during the holiday shopping season. Sales maven and H&H Communications president Al Herskovitz writes about getting these seasonal businesses advertising on your station this year. He notes that many of these retailers are big name brands that choose to expand their physical space during this time of year and they include Vera Bradley, Louis Vuitton and the National Football League. Read Al Herskovitz’s entire column here.
ABC News Radio Offers Kennedy Assassination Programming. As the nation marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, ABC News Radio is offering a two-hour special broadcast, “Three Shots Rang Out: An ABC News Special – The JFK Assassination 50 Years Later,” anchored by ABC News’ Diane Sawyer. It’s an audio-only program that will be heard by ABC News Radio affiliates. In addition, a special expanded show will be available via download at Audible.com as part of a new digital audio relationship between ABC News Radio and Audible. The Audible.com version of this program will include an additional 40 minutes of historical audio available exclusively to Audible listeners.
Ron Ruth Passes. Former 19-year Radio Advertising Bureau executive vice president of stations Ron Ruth died early Saturday (11/16) in Florida of a heart attack. The 75-year-old Ruth had been struggling with health issues the past two months. CBS Radio president and chief executive officer Dan Mason was among those quickly noting their sympathies regarding Ruth’s passing. “I just spoke with him at the Radio Show this past September in Orlando,” Mason writes on Facebook. “He was so up and happy – I am sad tonight.” Also on that social media platform, Tom Birch notes, “Ron lived life to its fullest and was a joy and inspiration to everyone who had the opportunity to know him. Ron was the midwife to Birch Research. He opened doors for me, encouraged me and guided me. I am deeply honored to have worked for Ron at WQAM, Miami in the 1970s, and to have remained friends with him for the next three decades.” According to former RKO General eastern vice president Perry Ury, “Ron Ruth was a friend and our house skeptic at RKO.” Former Tele Media Broadcasting vice president and chief operating officer Ira Rosenblatt adds, “We’ve lost a friend and true broadcaster.” Doing afternoon drive in Boston early in his radio career, Ruth roomed with two other on-air talents who went on to stardom – George Carlin and Jack Burns of Burns & (Avery) Schreiber. He held sales manager positions for Unistar Radio Networks, as well as at the local level in markets such as New York (WOR-FM), Chicago (WNUS), Washington, DC (WGMS), and Buffalo (WYSL). Ruth left Unistar to join the RAB in 1992. Most recently, he was consulting the Radio Advertising Bureau.
A Man of His Word. The man having his head shaved live on the air on Cumulus Media’s WMAL, Washington, DC is former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino. Not too long ago, Bongino said on the WMAL airwaves that he would shave his head if President Obama apologized for the gaffes in the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. And since the president did offer an apology of sorts, Bongino agreed to honor his statement live on the air and did so on Friday, November 15.