FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to Step Down. Since the November election, there’s been a lot of speculation about whether FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler would remain on the Commission or step down and today he announces he’ll do the latter. He says he’ll step down on January 20. “Serving as FCC Chairman during this period of historic technological change has been the greatest honor of my professional life. I am deeply grateful to the president for giving me this opportunity. I am especially thankful to the talented Commission staff for their service and sacrifice during my tenure. Their achievements have contributed to a thriving communications sector, where robust investment and world-leading innovation continue to drive our economy and meaningful improvements in the lives of the American people. It has been a privilege to work with my fellow Commissioners to help protect consumers, strengthen public safety and cybersecurity, and ensure fast, fair and open networks for all Americans.” The radio industry isn’t quite as sanguine about Wheeler’s tenure. In general, the radio biz believes it was far down on Wheeler’s priority list – broadband seemed to be top-of-mind for the chairman – and that was underscored by the decision to leave the broadcast-newspaper cross-ownership ban in place in the most recent Quadrennial Review. There’s been no indication from the Trump Administration whom it might like to see as FCC Chair, but there is speculation that Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai may be at the top of the administration’s list.
Salem Chicago Re-Signs Dan Proft. Morning personality Dan Proft will continue to co-host the morning drive show on Salem Media Group’s news/talk WIND, Chicago “AM 560 The Answer” after signing a multi-year contract extension. Proft – who previously served with Cumulus Media’s crosstown news/talk WLS-AM – joined Salem’s WIND in 2015. He co-hosts “Chicago’s Morning Answer” with Amy Jacobson. WIND general manager Jeff Reisman states, “We’re extremely pleased with Dan’s contributions to the station. The combination of Dan and Amy Jacobson as a team has helped to grow both the audience and the revenue of this radio station to all-time highs. We’re excited that Dan will be a part of our future and continued success, as well.”
Trump Administration Transition/ Cabinet Nominations, Allegations of Russian Influence in the Election, Fed Raises Interest Rates/Record High Dow, Trump Meets with Tech Execs, Syria Civil War, U.S.-China Relations, Uber Self-Driving Cars, Bitter Cold Weather, and NFL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/14). The transitioning of the Trump Administration and President-Elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nomination of Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State; allegations of Russian hacking into the DNC’s files to influence the election outcome and that the operation was sanctioned by Vladimir Putin; Fed Chair Janet Yellen raises interest rates and the related record-high Dow Jones industrial average; Trump’s Wednesday meeting with numerous Silicon Valley executives; the Syrian civil war and the violence against civilians in Aleppo; the state of U.S. relations with China after Trump’s Taiwan incident and China’s continued military build-up in the South China Sea; the controversy in California as Uber tests driverless cars in San Francisco; the bitter cold weather affecting much of the northern U.S.; 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.
Odds & Sods. Talk show host Rob Carson is launching a content initiative via Soundcloud and Patreon. After a two year stint at Cumulus Media’s KCMO, Kansas City, Carson tells TALKERS, “I am starting a new venture before my next radio gig. I’ve rebuilt my radio studio to not only to talk around the nation but to do an audio and video podcast. The Patreon site allows passionate followers to pay as little as $1 a month for a daily podcast, audioblogs, syndicated comedy and more.”…..Salem Media Group announces that in Philadelphia, it has appointed Gregg Stiansen as the new general manager of news/talk WNTP and Christian talk WFIL. The former Nassau Broadcasting and Connoisseur Media exec takes over for the retiring Russ Whitnah…..ESPN Radio is providing coverage of 27 college football bowl games, including the matchups from the College Football Playoff, including the January 9 National Championship Game. That game will be called by ESPN Monday Night Football voice Sean McDonough with analyst Todd Blackledge and reporters Holly Rowe and Ian Fitzsimmons.….Bonneville’s news/talk KIRO-FM, Seattle helped raise more than $502,000 for the non-profit organization Treehouse, which addresses the essential education and enrichment needs of kids in foster care. Yesterday’s 28th Annual Holiday Magic Fundraiser will provide for each youth in the program one significant holiday gift along with support for programs and services throughout the year.
Save the Date! Talkers 2017 Set for Friday, June 2, 2017 in New York City. The editorial board of TALKERS magazine is pleased to announce the date and location of the 20th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most important national convention. Titled Talkers 2017: A New Era, the power-packed, one-day event will take place on Friday, June 2, 2017 at the ultra-modern Helen Mills Event Space and Theater located in the colorful Chelsea district of Manhattan in New York City. The conference will feature top speakers from all aspects of the spoken-word media industry with a focus on talk radio and its role in the new digital age at the dawn of the Trump Era. This will include programming, sales, marketing, and technology – the full spectrum of concerns, challenges and opportunities facing the modern day talk broadcaster and broadcasting organization. It will feature keynote addresses, panel discussions, fireside chats, and exhibits of the latest services and equipment available to broadcasting professionals. The event will also provide its attendees with unparalleled networking opportunities and social mixers including breakfast, lunch and a closing cocktail reception. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “As has always been the case with this annual gathering, all the way back to its days as ‘The New Media Seminar,’ Talkers 2017: A New Era will focus on the future. There is no doubt about it; we are at the dawn of an exciting new era – full of both daunting challenges and fabulous opportunities. Good things happen at this convention. We pack three days’ worth of content and activity into one dynamic day and comfortable space. It is not to be missed!” Complete agenda and hotel details will be posted in the coming days and weeks. As is customary, Talkers 2017: A New Era is only open to members of the professional media industry and communications students. Because seating is limited and the event has been an early sellout every year since the 1990s, in order to maintain this policy, non-refundable registrations can only be purchased via telephone with a credit card. Full registration, including all functions, meals, and refreshments costs $329 per person. However, an early bird special ($279 per person) is available for those who register before 5:00 pm ET on Friday, December 23. To register or obtain sponsorship information, call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413.
Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai Condemns ‘Net Neutrality’ Ruling. Among those in Washington who disagree with the Appeals Court’s 2-1 ruling defining broadband as a common carrier utility service is Federal Communications Commissioner Ajit Pai who states, “I am deeply disappointed by the DC Circuit’s 2-1 decision upholding the FCC’s Internet regulations. For many of the reasons set forth in Judge Williams’ compelling dissent, I continue to believe that these regulations are unlawful, and I hope that the parties challenging them will continue the legal fight. The FCC’s regulations are unnecessary and counterproductive. Indeed, as Judge Williams put it: ‘The ultimate irony of the Commission’s unreasoned patchwork is that, refusing to inquire into competitive conditions, it shunts broadband service onto the legal track suited to natural monopolies. Because that track provides little economic space for new firms seeking market entry or relatively small firms seeking expansion through innovations in business models or in technology, the Commission’s decision has a decent chance of bringing about the conditions under which some (but by no means all) of its actions could be grounded—the prevalence of incurable monopoly.’”
Singer Bo Bice Guest Hosts on WYAY, Atlanta. Atlanta news/talker WYAY “NewsRadio 106.7” welcomed singer Bo Bice to its airwaves as part of its weekly Casting Call Atlanta program. Casting Call Atlanta is the Cumulus Media station’s search for the next Atlanta talk star. As part of the initiative, three listeners with little or no professional radio experience have participated weekly in the Wednesday Radio Fantasy Camp. Each given one hour between 9:00 am and 12:00 noon for live, on-air auditions. Bice was runner-up to Carrie Underwood on the fourth season of “American Idol.” According to a press release announcing Bice’s appearance on the station, Bice is a self-described talk radio fan and regular listener to “NewsRadio 106.7” when at his home in Lake Jackson, Georgia. WYAY PD Greg Tantum says, “Bo’s appearance captures the spirit of the Casting Call program in that it encourages all voices in the Atlanta community to participate. Not just experienced or seasoned personalities. Casting Call affords the opportunity to discuss relevant issues from all the unique perspectives that make up the fabric of the metro area lifestyle.”
Orlando Host Jim Turner Suspended from WBZW for Anti-Gay Facebook Post. According to a report in the Orlando Sentinel, afternoon talk host Jim Turner has been suspended from his gig at Salem Media Group’s business talk WBZW after posting comments on Facebook minimizing the deaths of gay victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre. Turner’s comments criticizing the media’s coverage of “sexual deviancy” have been deleted and his Facebook account closed. It’s not clear how long he’ll be off the air. His presence remains on the WBZW website.
Cumulus Media Ousts Market Manager John Sutherland in Providence Market. This report comes from GoLocalProv.com and indicates that Providence market manager John Sutherland has been let go from his position with Cumulus Media after just a year on the job. Sutherland replaced Barbara Haynes, who managed the five-station cluster for the previous 10 years. The GoLocalProv.com piece references last year’s death of WPRO-AM afternoon host Buddy Cianci and states ratings and revenue are down at the station. However, the news/talk station has seen its (6+) PPM numbers increase over the last three months, rising from 4.8 share to a 5.4 share.
Orlando Massacre Aftermath, Paris Cop Murder, Gun Control, the Presidential Race, London Sexy Ad Ban, Appeals Court Broadband Ruling, and NBA Finals Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/14). The investigation into the possible motives of Omar Mateen and the aftermath of his massacre of 49 at the Pulse in Orlando; the live-streamed murder of a Paris police officer and his wife by an Islamic militant; renewed calls for gun control legislation; the activities of presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton; London’s Muslim mayor bans “sexy ads” in city’s tube stations; Appeals Court affirms ‘net neutrality’; and the Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals series were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Nielsen: Sports Talk Format Seeing Seasonal Surge. This monthly report from Nielsen Audio based on data from its PPM survey shows sports talk seeing a seasonal, format-wide ratings uptick. Moreover, the May 2016 PPM numbers show audience share up slightly compared to previous May reports. Comparing April to May, among persons 6+ the sports talk format jumped from a 4.5% share in April to a 4.9% share in May. The share among 18-34 audience climbed from 3.2% in April to 3.6% in May, and the sports core demo of adults 25-54 rose a half point to a 5.5% share in May.
Odds & Sods. A couple of Salem Radio Network notes to report: First, SRN talk host Larry Elder was a featured speaker at the 17th annual Orange County “Flag Day Celebration.” In addition to his own speech, Elder introduced U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK) who discussed the GOP’s 2016 battle to retake to White House. Second, SRN personality Michael Medved welcomed actor/musician Kevin Bacon and musician Michael Bacon to his Seattle studios on June 14. The Bacons are on tour as The Bacon Brothers Band. They discussed the band’s tour, Kevin’s acting career and “America’s deep political divide over this week’s Orlando massacre vs. the unity we had following the 9/11 attacks.” Pictured here are (from l-r): Kevin Bacon, Medved, and Michael Bacon…..Ahead of the 2016 NFL season, Westwood One inks a multi-year partnership with Loyal Ears Digital to provide “Fantasy Free” to affiliate stations. The content provider says that the Fantasy Free package allows stations to tap into the heavily engaged fantasy sports audience with free games that are legal and that “bring all the excitement that comes with fantasy gaming.” The games are integrated into a station’s website, with station and client branding opportunities…..Neuhoff Media CEO Beth Neuhoff is named recipient of the 2016 Vincent T. Wasilewski Broadcaster of the Year honor from the Illinois Broadcasters Association. The award was presented on June 14 on day one of the IBA’s annual two-day convention. IBA immediate past chairman Sarah Hautala says, “Since taking the reins of Neuhoff Communications, Beth has shown strong leadership and has expanded her operations here in Illinois. She continues to support local broadcasting and the interests of broadcasters.”