By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — If you’ve been broadcasting remotely during the shutdown, and are daydreaming about getting back to what was left of radio station camaraderie, I’ll quote Cher from “Moonstruck:” “SNAP OUT OF IT!”
First the Good News: The reason you’re working remotely is because you’re still working.
They’ve fired everyone else, and more cutbacks are on the way; the bigger the company you work for, the more brutal it’ll be.
KTRH, Houston’s Michael Berry Chats On Air with iHM CEO Bob Pittman. During a visit to the Houston offices of iHeartMedia, company CEO Bob Pittman took a few minutes to sit in on the Michael Berry show based at flagship station KTRH, Houston. He talked with Berry about his belief in the audio experience. “I’m bullish on audio…depends on how you count it, we’re probably the number two podcaster in the U.S., behind NPR. Podcasting has shown that, oh my gosh, people actually want to listen to people go in depth. Certainly, radio has this enormous listenership…but we’re adding these pieces to it to make this even better and we’re doing this because the audience wants it.” He also expressed his belief that smart speakers – such as Google’s Alexa – are the new clock/radio for the consumer’s home, citing their growth in popularity and ease of use. Check out the segment here.
PodcastOne Series “Up Close and Far Out with Michael Harrison” Rebranding with Expanded Scope. Beginning this week, in marking its third anniversary, the weekly PodcastOne series “Up Close and Far Out with Michael Harrison” will transition to a new name and incorporate a wider scope of guests and topics. Under the new title, “The Michael Harrison Interview,” the program will be less targeted to the talk media and radio industries and more aimed at a worldwide general audience consisting of what its host,TALKERS founder Michael Harrison, describes as “media freaks,pop culture aficionados, political junkies and the philosophically curious.” Although the newly positioned podcast will still include guests from the talk media field, it will also delve deeper into politics, science, the arts, technology, sociology, sports and philosophy. As far as the weekly audio interviews with talk media figures that “Up Close and Far Out” has encompassed are concerned, Harrison will continue to conduct them and post them on Talkers.com. According to Harrison, “Nothing will change in that regard. We have been very successful with the Talkers interviews and will continue to do them. I will basically be doing an extra podcast each week with this expanded vehicle.” In announcing the expansion of the PodcastOne series, company founder and executive chairman Norm Pattiz states, “I met Michael Harrison decades ago in Los Angeles when he was managing editor of Radio & Records. He also was a leading major market music and talk personality on KMET and syndicated nationally as a star performer on several of the top networks including Westwood One. He had an amazing range and skill set as a broadcaster. He voluntarily gave that up as the years passed to concentrate on his role as a trade magazine publisher and industry thought-leader. In time, most folks in the business forgot that he was one of the best interviewers and all around broadcasters in radio. I’m pleased to say that his performance on ‘Up Close and Far Out’ these past three years caused many people in the industry to take notice of his outstanding talent as an interviewer beyond just the topic of radio. It has led to a number of stand-out, major market fill-in appearances and now, this new podcast. I’m delighted to roll out one of the best kept secrets in the radio business – Michael Harrison as a world class talk show host.” To listen to the debut installment of “The Michael Harrison Interview” featuring a deep-dive conversation with The Federalist publisher Ben Domenech, please click here.
Judge Shoots Down Request by Nielsen and Bubba Attorneys to Use Electronic Devices in Pre-Trial Conference. When the pre-trial conference gets underway on Friday (2/9) at 11:30 in U.S. District Court in Tampa, the lawyers for both sides in the Nielsen vs Bubba the Love Sponge case will be without their laptops, iPads and smartphones. Lawyers for both parties filed a Joint Motion to Permit Use of Electronic Equipment, but were denied. Nielsen is suing Bubba the Love Sponge for $1 million for damages related to the ratings manipulation case in the Tampa market. Bubba is countersuing.
TALKERS News Notes. There’s a programming change at Dickey Broadcasting’s sports talk WCNN-AM/W229AG, Atlanta “680 and 93.7 The Fan” as the morning drive and late morning shows flip-flop. “The Front Row” with Steak Shapiro, Sandra Golden, and Brian Finneran moves to the morning drive slot and the Nick Cellini and Chris Dimino show moves from mornings to the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon daypart. The rest of the program schedule stays as is…..Another high-profile departure from NPR happens amidst allegations of sexual impropriety. This time, award-winning investigative journalist Daniel Zwerdling exits the organization, according to a report in The Current. The story says that all NPR would confirm is that Zwerdling is no longer on the staff. Zwerdling himself states that allegations of sexual harassment are untrue and that he retired from NPR in January. But, the story notes that “at least two NPR staffers reported Zwerdling to human resources in November.” It also reports that subsequent allegations go back to the mid-1990s. Zwerdling is quoted saying, “The allegations are not true. When the movement started sweeping across the nation recently to expose sexual harassers and predators, I applauded it. I still do. The current national reckoning regarding sexual harassment is a momentous opportunity for America to make itself a better, safer and more equitable country. Yet as many have already observed, there are also perhaps predictable and troubling collateral casualties along the way. The allegations against me are one of those instances.”
Former WFNI-AM/WIBC-FM, Indianapolis Staffer Loses Harassment Case Against Emmis. The complaint against Emmis by former WFNI and WIBC, Indianapolis digital brand manager Kristine Esser Slentz was dismissed after Emmis sought a Motion to Strike and a Motion for Summary Judgement and was granted those motions. The court also sustained Emmis’ objections to Slentz’s evidence as hearsay. In her complaint, Slentz said that two show producers with whom she interacted in the course of her job, called her a “bitch” behind her back and criticized her work, among other actions she says created a hostile work environment. But the court granted Emmis’ motions due to its agreement that any name-calling was hearsay – never heard by Slentz herself, and that the actions alleged on the part of the two producers, if true, did not cross the thresholds necessary for a hostile work environment claim.
Nominees Being Accepted for National Radio Hall of Fame. March 30 is the deadline for nominations for the 30th Annual National Radio Hall of Fame Induction that will take place in New York City in November. The NRHOF nominating committee wants you to know you should make suggestions for individuals in the following categories: Longstanding Local/Regional (20 years or more), Active Local/Regional (10 years or more), Networks/Syndication (10 years or more), Longstanding Network/Syndication (20 years or more), Music Format On-Air Personality, and/or Spoken Word On-Air Personality. National Radio Hall of Fame chairman Kraig T. Kitchin says, “We’re looking forward to celebrating this milestone anniversary in New York City. As we prepare for the special evening, it’s our priority to provide everyone the opportunity to be a part of it, starting with suggestions for our 2018 nominees.”
RAB: Radio’s Digital Revenue Grew 13.4% in 2017. This data comes from the Radio Advertising Bureau and Borrell Associates study called, “Benchmarking Local Radio Stations’ Online Revenues.” This is the 6th annual RAB-Borrell report that analyzes online ad revenue from more than 10,000 radio stations, as well as survey responses from more than 1,300 local businesses that buy radio advertising. Among the findings: 1) 85% of radio advertisers are also buying some form of digital advertising, and that three-quarters of them are buying digital and radio together; 2) digital ad revenue now accounts for 7.5% of the average station’s ad revenues, up from 6.3% last year; 3) digital revenue grew 13.4% in 2017, to a total of $700 million. The forecast for 2018 is even higher; and 4) radio advertisers’ top marketing goal is to acquire new business, and they rank social media and radio as the top two methods to achieve those goals. RAB president and CEO Erica Farber comments, “Digital has been integrated into all facets of broadcast radio’s offering both in programming and sales, and the results are definitely paying off. As radio continues to provide integrated marketing solutions to its advertisers we expect to see continued growth. The RAB is focused on providing digital training and continued knowledge building for our members so they can better serve their clients.” RAB members can get the full report here.
Dow Activity/Bitcoin Value Swings, Trump-Russia Investigation, Trump Requests Military Parade, Government Shutdown Threat/Immigration Policy, FBI Surveillance Memo/Texting Scandal, Illegal Charged with NFL Player’s Death in DUI, Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, Black Panther Film, LA Times Sale, and NBA Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/6). The Dow returns more than 500 points and the related fluctuating value of Bitcoin; the Robert Mueller-led investigation into possible connections between Trump campaign operatives; President Trump requests the Pentagon stage a military parade; the renewed threat of a government shutdown and President Trump’s insistence on immigration reform being tied to a spending bill; the release of the Nunes FBI surveillance memo and the suggestion that the FBI texting scandal involved Barack Obama; a twice-deported illegal alien is charged in the DUI death of Indianapolis Colts player Edwin Jackson; the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea; the political messages within The Black Panther film; the Los Angeles Times is sold to a SoCal billionaire doctor; and NBA 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. St. Louis morning drive personality Courtney Landrum re-ups with Entercom’s hot AC KYKY “Y98” on a multi-year deal. At the same time, the name of the morning show is being changed to “Courtney and Company.” The station says that “Y98” personalities Jen Myers, Kevin “The Intern” Berghoff, and Lance Hildebrand will remain on the show. Landrum began her professional career as producer for “The Steve and DC Morning Show” in St. Louis in the early 1990s. She joined “Y98” in 1999 as producer and co-host of “The Phillips and Company Morning Show,” and has been with the morning show ever since…..In Los Angeles, SVP/market manager Val Maki and VP/sales Janet Brainin make an unexpected exit from Meruelo Media Los Angeles, operator of classic hip hop simulcast “KDAY” – KDAY, Redondo Beach and KDEY, Ontario – and hip hop KPWR “Power 106.” Both transitioned to Meruelo after having been with Emmis at KPWR for years prior to the sale of the station to Meruelo…..KUPL, Portland “98.7 The Bull” evening personality Cassidy Quinn is covering the Winter Olympics embedded as a reporter for NBC. KUPL program director MoJoe Roberts says, “There is no better-suited person to capture the stories and behind-the-scenes moments than Cassidy! We can’t wait to see and hear these highlights come to life from her perspective.”…..Indiana-based Woof Boom flips former Christian contemporary WKHL, West LaFayette to adult contemporary (with new calls WLQQ) as “Q106.7” after purchasing the station from Educational Media Foundation…..Eric Garcia exits his audio revenue chief position at Spanish Broadcasting System and his additional position as VP/GM of WSKQ/WPAT, New York. At SBS New York, Albert Rodriguez COO of SBS is the interim general manager and Elizabeth “Liz” Paulino was promoted to general sales manager.
PPM Analysis: Adult Contemporary. Managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s Holiday 2017 PPM survey, today focusing on adult contemporary. The Holiday survey is usually a bonanza for adult contemporary outlets since Christmas music is such a part of their programming and the fluctuations in 6+ numbers from the December survey to the Holiday survey bear that out as “eight of 10 adult contemporary facilities noted here (80%) are up December 2017 – Holiday 2017, while 18% are down; the remaining 2% are steady.” Looking at a comparison of Holiday 2016 to Holiday 2017, “approximately the same number of adult contemporary stations on this sample decline year-to-year (49%) as improve (46%), while the remaining 5% are flat.” An amazing 38 AC stations ranked #1 in their respective markets (6+) during the Holiday survey. See the whole report here.
Beasley Builds News/Talker WJBX in SW Florida. Flipping Spanish sports talk WJBX-AM, Fort Myers and adding translators W268AH, Bonita Springs at 101.5 and W282BY, Fort Myers at 104.3, Beasley Media Group creates “WJBX News Talk and More” to serve Fort Myers, Naples and Marco Island. The station is airing national superstar Dave Ramsey and a lot of FOX News Radio content – Kilmeade & Friends, John Gibson, Tom Sullivan, and Alan Colmes – plus the Compass Media-distributed morning show “This Morning – America’s First News with Gordon Deal.” The station will use CBS Radio News for hourly newscasts. Beasley SW Florida market manager Brad Beasley states, “We’re ready to deliver thought-provoking topics that inform, educate and inspire our audience. Our listeners will hear from a top selection of influential national voices. We’re excited to add WJBX to our incredible lineup of stations here in Southwest Florida!”
WGAN, Portland Morning Host Mike Violette Resigns from Station. Off the air since June 2, WGAN, Portland listeners now know where morning drive co-host Mike Violette has been – riding his motorcycle and playing golf. The 12-year morning personality announced via Facebook earlier this week that he asked to be let out of his contract with the Saga Communications station and the station agreed, giving him a “nice severance package.” Violette implied he was getting a little burned out and now that his kids are done with college and on their own, he wants to see what else is out there. The station will announce his replacement on Friday afternoon during Howie Carr’s live broadcast of his syndicated show as he does the program from WGAN. See the Portland Press Herald story here.
Curtis Media Promotes Trip Savery to President and Chief Operating Officer. North Carolina operator Curtis Media Group promotes Trip Savery to president and COO, what CEO and chairman Donald W. Curtis calls a formality. “We have actually been working this way for the past year.” Savery was SVP and general manager of country WQDR, Raleigh. Savery says, “I am honored to continue my career at Curtis Media Group in this role, and want to thank Don Curtis and the many talented people I have the privilege of working with every day for our continued success.” Savery is a native of Chapel Hill and serves on the board of directors of the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters as vice president of radio. In addition, he serves on the board of visitors of the UNC Children’s Hospital, as well as the board of advisors of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce.
Jim Berk Named CEO of PodcastOne. Media industry executive Jim Berk is appointed to the PodcastOne board of directors and will serve as the company’s CEO. PodcastOne founder and chairman Norm Pattiz says, in making the announcement, “We have created an unmatched footprint in the podcast space and now are building a more robust executive team to allow PodcastOne to take full advantage of our organic growth and strategic opportunities. Jim has done tremendous work in transitioning companies to their next stage of growth, and with him joining the PodcastOne leadership team, our possibilities are endless.” Pattiz, who was CEO, retains his post as executive chairman. Berk comes to PodcastOne from his most recent position as CEO of Participant Media – a “global entertainment company focused on socially relevant film, television, publishing and digital media.” Berk also was president & CEO of Hard Rock Cafe International, Inc. during which the company embarked on a “record expansion of locations with record revenue and profits, while also making Hard Rock a music and television entertainment brand.” Berk was also the founding executive director of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences Foundation (The Grammy Foundation). Berk comments, “It’s exciting to enter this media space during a time of unprecedented expansion as consumer interest for the audio format in on-demand programming is experiencing rapid growth…PodcastOne is already demonstrating impressive year-on-year growth. I look forward to working closely with Norm, Kit, Gary, Greg and the entire executive team to build on their success.”
Orlando Club Massacre Top News/Talk Story for Week of June 13-17. The murders of 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando by a man claiming to support Islamic State was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 was the senate filibuster and talk about changing gun laws; at #3 was the presidential race and the activities of the candidates; followed at #4 by the slaying of British MP Jo Cox and next week’s vote by Britons on whether to exit the European Union. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Allwood Appointed Promotions Director at CMG Atlanta. Promotions pro Amanda Allwood is heading to Atlanta to serve as promotions director for Cox Media Group’s cluster there. Allwood will oversee promotions and event marketing for adult contemporary WSB-FM “B98.5,” classic hits WSRV “97.1 The River,” urban contemporary WALR “Kiss 104.1 FM” and news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM. Allwood was most recently with SiriusXM in New York as senior manager of promotions and event marketing. She’s also worked in promotions for CBS RADIO in Tampa and CMG in Tampa and Orlando. CMG programmer Chris Eagan says, “Amanda has the critical eye that we need to take our events and promotions efforts to the next level. She understands how crucial it is to integrate sales, programming and digital into one superpower to make these radio brands sparkle!”
Alpha Ups McDaniel to Director of Marketing Post. KBFF, Portland promotions director Kelsey McDaniel is promoted by Alpha Media Portland to director of marketing for the entire cluster. The company says McDaniel is “known by most for her enthusiasm for the music industry, amazing event execution and overall hard work but, she’s also known for her competitive Sunday night BINGO addiction and searching endlessly for the love of her life, a golden retriever puppy.” Alpha Portland SVP/market manager Milt McConnell says, “This is a well-deserved promotion for Kelsey as she is about to celebrate her seventh year with us. She has demonstrated outstanding leadership of our promotions team and has elevated our interaction with listeners and clients on all levels.” If addition to CHR KBFF, Alpha Portland also operates triple A KINK, country KUPL, news/talk KXL-FM, sports talk KXTG-AM/FM, and talk KUFO-AM.
Testimony Continues in Cumulus vs Johnny Burke & Blondie. According to a report from MLive.com, the testimony continued in a federal courtroom in Michigan this week in Cumulus Media’s suit against former WHNN, Saginaw-Bay City morning team Johnny Burke and Bonnie Belger-Holzhei, a.k.a. Blondie. Cumulus attorneys are trying to show that Burke and Belger-Holzhei violated the terms of their contracts by soliciting the radio station’s clients for the Internet radio show they launched after being fired by the station. This week, station operations manager Scott Stine testified that the pair are also using bits and prep service products they used when they worked at WHNN. Stine said they had access to a “shared drive” with station client information but the pair’s attorney argued Cumulus has no proof they ever used the information. Read the MLive.com account here.