By Mike Kinosian
LOS ANGELES — Now that the 2015 All Star Game is in the books, the “unofficial” start of the second-half of the baseball season is underway and we interpret that as our subtle cue to begin listing the performance of MLB’s radio flagships.
Among changes instituted in the 2015 baseball season are ways to speed up games, which typically take three hours during a season that extends from April through September.
Factor in pre-game and post-game shows, as well as a variety of sales-driven programming features, and it becomes crystal-clear how a MLB flagship can wind up devoting a sizeable chunk of its programming day and year to its hometown franchise.
Just as MLB implemented tweaks, several modifications are in effect since our previous series of baseball flagship scoreboards.
Here then are the disclaimers to the unique set of challenges of doing a MLB flagship overview.
For openers, the following scoreboards are for English-language flagships only.
In addition to their main flagship, some MLB teams have a secondary outlet and/or an emergency alternative. Rather than showing multiple stations, we are going with each team’s primary, 162-game flagship.
Key outlets of the two New York franchises (Mets and Yankees) appear in three PPM-rated markets (New York, Long Island, and Middlesex); the Angels’ flagship is listed in Los Angeles and Riverside; and key stations of the San Francisco and Oakland franchises (Giants and A’s) appear in San Francisco and San Jose.
In these instances, flagships for the Mets and Yankees have New York City ratings info only; Riverside ratings stats (only) are used for the Angels’ key station; and flagships for the two Bay Area teams have San Francisco ratings info only.
Thus, each team is shown with one flagship in one (only) PPM market.
The flagship for the American League East’s Blue Jays (CJCL) is, of course, located in Toronto, the only non-PPM market; no ratings information is shown here for CJCL.
With the fine print concluded, it is time to throw out the first pitch and play ball.
Cuts at Cumulus-Owned WestwoodOne Happening; SVP Amy Bolton Exits. The names of those being let go are coming out as Cumulus Media begins the cuts at WestwoodOne that have been expected since the acquisition of then-Dial Global closed. Numerous high-level executives are being shown the door – in many instances where there are duplicative positions between WestwoodOne and the Cumulus Media Networks. Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey is promising investors he can realize $40 million in synergies and eliminating these positions is one of the ways he hopes to accomplish that. WestwoodOne SVP and general manager of news & talk Amy Bolton – who’s been with the organization going back when it was Jones Radio Networks – is let go. Also reportedly out in this round of cuts are: chief marketing officer Christina Albee; EVP/Eastern director Eileen Decker; and SVP of research Paul Bronstein.
Lionel Joins TalkersRadio in Development of New Show to Launch This Weekend. One of the most original personalities in the business, radio talk show host Lionel, is launching a new program on TALKERS magazine’s online radio station, TalkersRadio, tomorrow morning (2/1). The self-titled show “Lionel” will air live on the “experimental” talk show platform Saturday mornings between 9:00 am and 10:00 am ET and run as a regular weekly series. It will feature the intellectually stimulating talk media star in an hour of free-form conversation and reflection about the wide variety of topics that fall within his realm of interest. Lionel describes his plans for the new program as “spoken thought not spoken word” telling TALKERS, “The show will be the editorial cartoon versus the editorial. Broadcast idea topiaries. Stream of consciousness meets targeted subject selection. No left-right paradigm blather. No bumper sticker, playbook, echo chamber drivel. As I feel, as I want, as I please.” A veteran of such major outlets as WABC and WOR, New York among others, as well as being a podcast pioneer at lionelmedia.com, the quirky, satirical and extremely original observer of the human condition has been enjoying tremendous success conceiving, writing, producing and performing daily commentaries on the heritage WPIX-TV, Channel 11 in New York City. The ex-prosecutor Lionel has also added his insight and experience as its resident legal analyst. However, he has not forgotten his roots in and love for radio and promises that his 9:00 am to 10:00 am Saturday show will provide Lionel enthusiasts around the country with a version of his work that is “like nothing they have ever heard before. This will truly be Lionel unchained!” On making the announcement of Lionel’s joining the station, TalkersRadio general manager David Bernstein says, “Lionel joining this ‘audio workout space’ is a perfect example of what TalkersRadio is about and hopes to achieve – and that is to provide select people in this business as well as potentially outstanding newcomers with the opportunity to try and develop things that are not being done in the traditional on-air space for the sake of moving the industry forward.”
Cox Flips KONO-AM, San Antonio to Sports Talk. The AM side of the KONO-AM/FM simulcast flips to sports talk using the CBS Sports Radio Network after more than 20 years airing the classic hits format of sister KONO-FM. Cox Media Group San Antonio vice president and market manager Dan Lawrie states, “We’re excited to bring this level of quality sports programming to San Antonio. Additionally, South Texas sports fans should be glad to welcome the return of the Jim Rome show after a two-year absence in the market.” CBS Sports Radio program director Eric Spitz adds, “We’ve put together a tremendous lineup of experienced hosts with strong opinions and personalities who perfectly capture the passion and excitement of the sports fan. With sports, the action never stops, and CBS Sports Radio provides listeners with cutting-edge analysis, high-profile interviews and late breaking news.”
WCKG-AM, Chicago Names Leslie Harris Director of Community Programming. At the Matt Dubiel-run DuPage Radio LLC, market personality Leslie Harris is named director of community programming and host at the suburban talk station. Harris recently exited NextMedia’s suburban rocker WERV “95.9 The River” and Dubiel comments, “Leslie was the full addition I made at WERV and I am over the moon excited to have a Downers Grove rock mamma as part of our local team.”
Good Karma Sells Janesville, Wisconsin Stations to Local Operator. Two stations in the Janesville, Wisconsin market – rock WWHG “105.9 The Hog” and sports talk WTJK “ESPN Radio 1380” – are being sold by Craig Karmazin’s Good Karma Broadcasting to Scott Thompson who operates stations in nearby Monroe, Wisconsin and Freeport, Illinois. The Janesville Gazette reports that Thompson plans to keep the staff already in place at both stations and possibly add an employee. He tells the paper WTJK may air less ESPN content and more local news. Thompson takes over under an LMA while the transaction works its way through the FCC approval process.
WEEI-FM, Boston Begins Friday Night Promotion. In a partnership with local watering hole The Greatest Bar and local media sources Dirty Water TV and DirtyWaterNews.com, Entercom sports talk WEEI-FM begins broadcasting the “Planet Mikey” show with Mikey Adams live from The Greatest Bar Friday, February 7 from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm. The show will feature celebrity guests from the world of sports and entertainment. WEEI brand manager Kevin Graham, citing the bar’s proximity to the TD Garden, states, “It’s a natural fit to partner with the Dirty Water brand and The Greatest Bar. Combining Mikey’s unique entertaining style, the Dirty Water connections for guests and content, and the proximity to the TD Garden will make for a fun atmosphere and a great listen on ‘93.7FM WEEI’ and the WEEI Sports Radio Network.” Bill Fairweather is co-owner of The Greatest Bar and creator of Dirty Water TV. He says WEEI-FM is the perfect radio partner for Dirty Water’s growing array of media entities. “When we decided to add radio to the growing menu of media options that our brand delivers to Greater Boston and beyond, WEEI – with its strong sports focus – was a natural partner for us. Entertainment and celebrity mix very well with sports and The Greatest Bar is the perfect location to bring those topics together. We’re excited to have the opportunity to add these new dimensions to WEEI’s radio offerings.”
Odds & Sods. In honor of Rosa Parks Day on February 4, the Premiere Networks-syndicated Comedy 24/7 format will air special clips of comics of the civil rights era talking about the issue. African American comedians including Dick Gregory, Godfrey Cambridge and Slappy White were outspoken about necessary changes to be made in our society during that time and the format will air special tracks by these comedians and others as they spoke out in the language of the times at :57 after the hour all day on February 4…..Former NFL coach and executive Mike Holmgren will serve as a football analyst with Clear Channel’s sport talk KJR, Seattle next season after handling the same duties in 2013…..Milwaukee Brewers radio play-by-play voice Bob Uecker will step back a little bit from his duties with the team beginning this season as he’ll call fewer road games for flagship WTMJ, Milwaukee. Uecker, who turns 80 this year, will still call all home games and be present for spring training in Arizona.
Joy and Hope Amidst the Misery. Pictured here with children in Port Au Prince, Haiti is Salem Radio Network VP/news & talk programming Tom Tradup. He tells TALKERS he is there with Salem Radio News documenting conditions in Haiti on the fourth anniversary of the devastating 2010 earthquake that left 300,000 dead and millions homeless. He’s embedded with the relief organization Food for the Poor and has been visiting slums, orphanages and feeding centers for the news network’s five-part special series on “The Poorest of the Poor.” Tradup reports that Salem VP/director spoken word format Phil Boyce (who also is serving as operations manager of the New York stations) is there working on documenting the trip for a New York market broadcast.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. New York-based XtreMEDIA announces a number of affiliates joining three of the company’s offerings. First, the daily Kevin McCullough show is added to the program schedule at WCIS-AM, Morganton, North Carolina; WCST-AM, Berkeley Springs, West Virginia; WGEA, Geneva, Alabama; and KNLB-FM, Blythe, California. The nightly Steve Deace program joins the lineup at WGTK-AM, Louisville; WTOH-FM, Columbus; and WWTC, Minneapolis. Finally, the weekend “Baldwin/McCullough” show is now heard on WMRC, Milford, Massachusetts and WYPV-FM, Mackinaw City, Michigan…..The GCN-syndicated “America Tonight” with Kate Delaney joins the program schedule at WKVL, Knoxville.
The State of the Union Address Top Talk Radio Story This Week. According to the Talkers TenTM, the president’s State of the Union Address was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week of January 27-31. At #2 this week was criticism of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. Following at #3 was new immigration legislation and the prospect of amnesty and at #4 was the extreme winter weather affecting much of the nation. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week. It is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.