By Phil Boyce
Senior VP of Spoken Word
Salem Radio Network
NEW YORK — We all know it. We are in a mess in America. The battle lines are drawn, and if this isn’t a civil war without bullets, I am not sure what one would look like. One side wants to crush the other. Each side believes the other side wants to destroy America. The left vision for what America can be is drastically different than what the right sees and desires. Gone are the pretenses of fairness. This is a mess.
By Holland Cooke
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow scored the biggest ratings in the history of her show as she displayed a copy of Donald Trump’s 2005 tax return, anonymously mailed to a reporter. Although many radio talkers – and some radio gurus – were quick to shrug it off as unsustainable, new news since is that Maddow has now beat rival Fox News Channel for a second straight week 25-54.
Admittedly, radio folk tend to do cartwheels when WE spike, and to diss other guys when THEY do. Still, the social media backlash – from media people — was discouraging. The unison damned Maddow for sustaining viewers’ attention for two whole quarter hours…as though that’s not how we too get paid. “Big hype! Big letdown! Only two pages!”
Harvey Nagler to Retire from CBS Radio News Post. The news radio legend announced to his staff today (11/14) that, after 50 years in radio and 18 years at CBS Radio News, he will be retiring from his vice president role with the company as of January 6. Harvey Nagler, who was honored with the Talkers Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015, said in a memo to his staff, “I feel very confident that I am leaving our network in the most capable of hands. I am pleased that we have renewed our relationship with Westwood, thus securing our future. I am not stopping work completely, but going to slow down by doing some consulting work.” He noted the more than 50 Edward R. Murrow Awards the news organization has been awarded over the past 10 years for covering some of the biggest stories in recent American and world history, stating, “You and I have truly been a witness to – and have reported – the first drafts of history…As the industry continues to evolve I am proud that we have been able to change with it while maintaining the finest traditions of CBS News and the highest standards of journalism.”
Trump Appointments Begin; Talk Radio Figures Poised for Role in New Administration. A piece by Brian Stelter and the CNNMoney media team, published yesterday, outlines the nascent formation of the administration of the Donald Trump presidency. The first cabinet post has been awarded to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, who will serve as White House Chief of Staff. But joining Priebus in the White House is Breitbart’s Stephen K. Bannon, who will serve as White House Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor. Until taking leave of his Breitbart duties to work with the Trump campaign, Bannon – among other executive duties at the news and opinion organization – was hosting the morning news/talk program “Breitbart News Daily” on SiriusXM. It’s being reported by Jonathan Swan in The Hill that nationally syndicated talk personality Laura Ingraham is being considered for Press Secretary. Swan writes, “Trump appreciated Ingraham’s loyalty through the campaign… Ingraham helped Trump with debate preparation. She also campaigned on his behalf and offered occasional strategic advice.” Of course, Trump’s Vice President-elect is a former longtime talk radio host from Indianapolis. Mike Pence’s experience in the news/talk radio biz precedes his career in politics. TALKERS magazine editor and publisher Michael Harrison states, “The election of Donald Trump marks an unmistakable bellwether for the accumulating influence of news/talk radio since Ronald Reagan began his commentaries. Not only have former radio hosts Mike Pence and Stephen K. Bannon been thrust into positions of enormous power, but the even higher-profiled Laura Ingraham is now in the conversation for Press Secretary. And let us not forget about the looming potential of Sean Hannity down the road. He risked it all on the dark horse and won. I do not say this from a partisan perspective. Let us not forget that Al Franken would never have been elected to the United States Senate as a prominent progressive had it not been for the magic of radio facilitating his transition from outspoken comedian to serious political player. As for Trump himself, he employed disruptive, radio-style techniques in vanquishing his Republican rivals during the primaries and then took it all the way, thus becoming the first effective ‘shock politician.’ In today’s amplified media environment, the ability to articulate complex populist concepts via the combination of traditional talk media and the internet can fuel the rise of unexpected influencers and leaders. It is both refreshingly invigorating and dreadfully dangerous. We must remain alert. Welcome to the new digital era!”
Westwood One Realigns Operations; Seymour Named SVP. Stating that its goal is to create “quicker response times to client requests, an enhanced ability to focus on advertiser needs and accountability, the ability to better support its partner and producer clients’ business goals, and a renewed focus on its affiliate sales process by providing actionable information to its station partners,” Westwood One is integrating the business operations and research teams. As part of the restructure, the company is promoting Tim Seymour to SVP, operations. He’ll report to COO Charles Steinhauer and oversee the consolidated business operations and research teams under VP Jennifer Baez, the traffic under SVP Jim Maurer and senior director Julie Kim, the affiliate services under VP Fiona Brennan, and the newly created partner relations under director Becky Bennett.
Odds & Sods. KIRO, Seattle “710 ESPN” is working with the local Kent School District to present a free town hall forum on “Concussions in Youth Sports” on Tuesday, November 15 at the Kentwood High School Performing Arts Center. “710 ESPN Seattle” host and former Seahawks linebacker Dave Wyman will appear on the panel with world-renowned UW Medicine clinical professor Dr. Stan Herring, and Kent School District athletic director Dave Lutes on the panel. Danny O’Neil, co-host of the station’s “Danny, Dave & Moore” show will serve as moderator. KIRO program director Mike Salk says, “Safety in youth sports is a huge conversation right now. We are excited to roll up our sleeves and engage with those on the front lines of this issue.”…..At the corporate level at Sinclair Broadcast Group, 32-year employee David Amy rises from EVP/COO to vice chairman. Sinclair owns one radio cluster, having acquired the Seattle stations of the former Fisher Communications. Those signals are hot AC KPLZ “Star 101.5,” all-news KOMO-AM/FM, and news/talk KVI…..Entercom’s news/talk WRKO, Boston hosted its third annual radiothon raising money for the Disabled American Veterans. Friday’s nine-hour effort brought in more than $71,000. WRKO program director Michael Czarnecki says, “The WRKO audience proves once again how passionate they are about helping our veterans. I am so proud of our listeners, the DAV staff, and the WRKO team.” Personalities taking part included: Kim Carrigan and Doug “VB” Goudie from “The Boston.com Morning Show,” Barry Armstrong from “The Financial Exchange” show, and Jeff Kuhner from “The Kuhner Report” show.
Trump Transition, Clinton-Democrats Post-Mortem, Immigration Policy, ISIS Atrocities in Mosul, Marijuana Legalization Movement, Clinton Pardon Chatter, and NFL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The work of the Donald Trump transition team and the appointing of Reince Priebus to Chief of Staff and Stephen K. Bannon to Chief Strategist; analysis of the failure of Hillary Clinton and the Democrats in the House and Senate in the ’16 campaign; speculation about the future of America’s immigration policy; the battle for Mosul and Islamic State’s abuse of civilians; the success of the marijuana legalization movement in the wake of the elections; talk about President Obama or Trump pardoning Hillary Clinton and avoiding any future investigations into the emails matter; and the weekend’s NFL action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend.
Utah Talk Host Jim Kirkwood Dies at 74. Just days shy of his 75th birthday, longtime Salt Lake City talk radio personality Jim Kirkwood passed away on November 6. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Kirkwood worked in radio for more than 40 years. At the time of his death, Kirkwood was hosting the 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm show on United Broadcasting Company’s KTKK “K-TALK.”
Beasley to Acquire Greater Media’s 21 Stations in Seven Markets for $240 Million. The two communications firms surprised the industry last night with an end-of-the-workday announcement that Beasley Broadcast Group, Inc. will acquire Greater Media, Inc. The deal is being structured so that Beasley will acquire all of the outstanding stock of Greater Media for an “aggregate consideration of approximately $240 million, subject to adjustments.” Greater Media shareholders are expected to receive approximately $100 million in cash and approximately $25 million in shares of the company’s Class A common stock (at a fixed value of $4.61 per share). In addition, the shareholders of Greater Media will receive the net cash proceeds from the sale of its tower assets, estimated to be approximately $20 million. Beasley will refinance approximately $80 million of debt of Greater Media. The deal will add Greater Media’s 21 radio stations to Beasley’s portfolio and gives Beasley entrance into the major market of Detroit with rock WRIF, classic rock WCSX, and classic hip hop and R&B WMGC. It seriously beefs up its Boston presence by adding five stations to current property ethnic WRCA-AM. Those stations are: classic hits WROR, country WKLB, rhythmic AC WBQT, adult contemporary WMJX, and alternative WBOS. It bolsters Beasley’s Philly and Charlotte holdings with the addition of sports talk WPEN, classic rock WMGK, rock WMMR, and adult hits WBEN in the former and news/talk WBT-AM/FM and hot AC WLNK in the latter. Beasley will be over the station ownership limit in Charlotte and will have to divest a couple of FM signals. Six New Jersey stations are also part of the package. Beasley says it intends to fund the acquisition through borrowings under a new credit facility that it expects to enter into in connection with the closing of the acquisition, together with cash and cash equivalents available to the company and the issuance of Class A common stock as described above. RBC Capital Markets and U.S. Bank have provided committed financing in support of the acquisition. Upon closing, Beasley’s portfolio of stations that it owns and operates will expand to 73 stations (52 FM and 21 AM) in 16 markets. BBG interim CEO and CFO Caroline Beasley says, “The acquisition of Greater Media’s broadcasting and related digital assets represents a transformational growth opportunity for Beasley and is strategically and financially compelling for our shareholders. The transaction increases our broadcast portfolio by approximately 40% and more than doubles our audience reach, giving us both market leading stations and great brands.”
WPHT, Philadelphia Personalities Report from RNC. Covering the Republican National Convention this week are WPHT, Philadelphia personalities Chris Stigall (AM drive) and Rich Zeoli (PM drive). Zeoli tells TALKERS magazine that on Tuesday, the CBS Philadelphia booth drew a big crowd as Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos and author and conservative pundit Ann Coulter joined him for the entire 5:00 pm hour, live from media row (pictured at right). This interview happened just before Yiannopoulos was permanently suspended from Twitter for comments he made about Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones. Meanwhile, Chris Stigall has been pulling double duty at the RNC, first hosting his morning show from 6:00 to 9:00, then serving as a correspondent for the company’s KYW-TV “CBS3” live from the convention floor for the station’s evening news (pictured above).
Rumors of Possible FOX News Talent Exodus If Ailes Forced Out. Coming on the heels of widespread media reports of Fox News chief Roger Ailes’ potential ouster from his long-held position, is a report in Breitbart that indicates some of Ailes’ faithful talent at FNC would be willing to follow him out the door, ostensibly to start a new, competing network. Ailes is being accused by former FNC personality Gretchen Carlson of sexual harassment. Other reports indicate Megyn Kelly has also said Ailes harassed her. The Breitbart piece states that the FNC talent referenced includes Bret Baier, Shepard Smith, Sean Hannity, Greta Van Susteren, and, possibly Bill O’Reilly. However, the piece concludes by saying none of the report is certain and that the situation could change quickly. Read it here.
The Presidential Race/Republican National Convention, Baton Rouge Cop Slayings, Black Lives Matter Movement, Turkey Coup Attempt, Twitter Bans Milo Yiannopoulos, FOX News-Ailes Case, Rio Olympics Troubles, and Garry Marshall Dies Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/19). The activities of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump tied with the action at the Republican National Convention; the aftermath of the slaying of three Baton Rouge police officers; criticism of the Black Lives Matter movement; the failed attempt to overthrow Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan; conservative media figure Milo Yiannopoulos is banned from Twitter after attacks on Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones; the controversy surrounding Roger Ailes’ status with FOX News; the problems facing Rio De Janeiro as it prepares to host the Olympics; and the death of television’s Garry Marshall were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Odds & Sods. At the Tulsa operations of Cox Media Group, Mary Garcia is promoted to digital sales manager. In this role, Garcia will work directly with the Cox Local Solutions team, a collaborative effort between Tulsa TV, its six radio stations, and its cable platform. She joined the company 16 months ago as a digital sales specialist. In Tulsa, CMG operates news/talk KRMG-AM/FM, country KWEN “K95.5,” adult contemporary KRAV “Mix 96,” classic rock KJSR “The Eagle 103.3,” and contemporary Christian K289CC “Spirit 105.7.”…..Cumulus Media fills the 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm slot on sports talk WJOX-FM, Birmingham with Alabama natives Joe Hunk and Jon Lunceford. Their new show – “JOX Primetime” – replaces the previous 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm show hosted by Matt McClearin and Scot Harrison…..The NHL’s Florida Panthers and CBS RADIO’s sports talk WQAM, Miami have reached a multi-year contract extension to continue to broadcast play-by-play of Panthers games. Doug Plagens and analyst Bill Lindsay return to the broadcast booth…..Futuri Media announces that broadcast news pro Jill Manuel is joining the company as director, TopicPulse partnership development. The company says her “expertise with broadcast newsroom digital integration and successful history blending compelling journalism and engagement will provide a unique and specialized strategic resource for Futuri’s TopicPulse partners.”
Radio and TV Pro Pat O’Brien New Host of ‘Business Rockstars.’ The “Business Rockstars” media franchise has a new feature talent as radio and television pro Pat O’Brien becomes lead anchor. The company says O’Brien will play an “integral role in the newly revamped daily show that targets the 30 million entrepreneurs and ‘wantrepreneurs’ interested in starting and growing a business.” The company also notes that “Business Rockstars” is available on TV in more than 40 million homes and airs in 150 radio markets. Plus it’s streamed on numerous digital and social media platforms. O’Brien will join a team of hosts including five-time Emmy award winning TV news anchor Thuy Vu, best-selling author and entrepreneur Mark Lack, and correspondents Laurel Mintz (CEO of Elevate My Brand), Darren Kavinoky (“Investigation Discovery” host), Rachel McCord (The McCord List), James Sun (BBC TV’s “Sun Tzu’s ART OF WAR”), and Jessica Naziri (tech expert and content strategist). Business Rockstars chairman and co-founder Steve Lehman says, “Pat is a long-time friend and one of the greatest broadcasters on the planet. He brings a fresh new approach to business interviews with some of the world’s biggest CEOs, disruptors, and entrepreneurs. From hosting six Olympics, to anchoring “Access Hollywood” and “The Insider,” Pat brings a unique perspective in his approach and style to “Business Rockstars.”
Brussels Terror Attacks-Battle Against Islamic State, the Presidential Race, Obama’s Cuba/Argentina Trips, SCOTUS ObamaCare-Contraception Arguments, Possible Flight 370 Debris Found, and Alleged Cocaine Smuggling Flight Attendant Arrested Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/23). The aftermath of the terror attacks in Brussels and the larger battle against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria; the activities of the candidates for president; President Obama’s trips to Cuba and Argentina; the Supreme Court’s hearing of arguments about ObamaCare’s requirement that employers provide contraception; the possible location of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 debris near Mozambique; and the arrest of a JetBlue flight attendant on cocaine smuggling charges were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Sports Talk Duo in Legal Battle Over News Report. According to a report in the Courier-Journal, the afternoon drive team of John Ramsey and Mike Rutherford – heard on Union Broadcasting’s sports talker WLCL-FM, Louisville “93.9 The Ville” – are being sued by Scott Jennings of the Louisville PR firm RunSwitch LLC for allegedly defaming him in a news report. Jennings alleges that the duo reported that he leaked information about the University of Louisville’s plan to ban itself from post-season competition as the result of a sex scandal plaguing the men’s basketball team. RunSwitch LLC provided public relations assistance with the school’s announcement. In February, Ramsey called Jennings’ firm “unprofessional” and “unethical” to leak the story to competing Kentucky Sports Radio. Jennings denies the charge and argues that Ramsey and Rutherford continued to allege the leak after RunSwitch publicly denied it. Read the Courier-Journal piece here.
PodcastOne and Breitbart to Present Two New Podcasts. Two Breitbart News personalities will begin producing weekly podcasts that will be available via PodcastOne, iTunes, and Breitbart.com. Launched on March 23 was the “Did She Say That with Sonnie Johnson,” featuring Johnson’s “unique combination of conservative politics with a dash of hip-hop, including guests from that genre.” Tomorrow (3/25), “The Milo Yiannopoulos Podcast” drops presenting a “discussion on technology, media, video games, politics and internet culture,” hosted by Breitbart technology editor Milo Yiannopoulos.
Odds & Sods. Pictured here at right is ABC News Radio correspondent Aaron Katersky from Place de la Bourse in Brussels, Belgium following the terror attacks on the city’s airport and subway system…..Alabama sports talk personalities Ryan Fowler and Gary Harris win ABBY Awards from the Alabama Broadcasters Association. The two work for Townsquare Media’s WDGM, Greensboro, Alabama “Tide 99.1 FM. Fowler won two “Best in Broadcasting” awards for his daily sports show “The Game” and veteran sportscaster Gary Harris took home a “Judges Award of Merit” for his morning show…..Former Cap Cities/ABC executive Phil Beuth’s memoir, Limping On Water, is in its second edition and Beuth has generously donated half of the proceeds from the book to the Broadcasters Foundation of America. BFoA chairman Phil Lombardo says about Beuth and the book, “Phil’s story is the tale of a disadvantaged boy, born with cerebral palsy who, through luck, pluck, strength of character, skill, persistence and loyalty, rose to become a top executive at one of America’s most respected and successful media companies, Capital Cities Communications, later ABC/Cap Cities. In fact, Phil was the very first employee at Cap Cities and stayed with the company throughout his entire career, including during his tenure as head of “Good Morning America.” This is a must read for radio and media freaks. Order it through Amazon here.
Heavy Lifting on the Radio. WCRS, Greenwood, South Carlina co-owner/morning show host Anne Eller is pictured in her trademark top hat posing with her new friend – a Blanchard mini-excavator – that she actually operated in a live remote broadcast during an open house promotion at local Piedmont Technical College. Eller, the quintessential local talk show host and small-market radio station operator, tells TALKERS, “We had a lot of fun doing this. The video of me running this machine has gotten a tremendous number of views on Facebook.” Eller conducted an entire show from the event and interviewed faculty, students and visitors to the open house.