Rush Limbaugh and Premiere Networks Reach Agreement on Extension. There was little doubt from most industry observers that talk radio superstar Rush Limbaugh and iHeartMedia’s Premiere Networks would come to terms on an agreement to continue syndicating Limbaugh’s show. Not surprisingly, today’s announcement from Premiere did not mention the terms of this new deal, but simply called it a “long-term, multi-platform agreement.” Eight years ago, Limbaugh and Premiere announced a partnership agreement that was widely reported to have been worth $400 million. The conventional wisdom is that changes in the radio industry and the backlash from the infamous “Sandra Fluke incident” have negatively affected Limbaugh’s ability to earn the type of ad dollars that would justify that kind of money this time around. At the top of today’s program, however, Limbaugh told his listeners that the deal is for four years and he gets no regular salary but, presumably, a percentage of sales. He said, “I have to make my numbers.” In the press release, Premiere stated, “Ad revenue for ‘The Rush Limbaugh Show’ has also increased by 20% over last year, and the show continues to be the number one program in talk radio.” Limbaugh celebrated his 28th anniversary in national syndication on Monday. He said in the prepared statement, “After 28 fulfilling years, I seriously considered moving on to something else, but Rich [Bressler] and Bob [Pittman] were very persuasive. I’m thrilled to be continuing. And I really want to be on the air if the Russians find Hillary’s emails.”
Former Mercury Radio Arts and TheBlaze Chief Sued by Glenn Beck. In a case filed in District Court of Dallas County, Texas on Friday (7/29), Glenn Beck is suing his former executive, Christopher Balfe, alleging among other things: Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Faithless Servant, Fraud, Breach of Contract, and more. The suit does not specify how much money Mercury Radio Arts is seeking from Balfe, but states it’s asking for actual, consequential and punitive damages; forfeiture of everything Balfe earned from Mercury since he first breached his duties, and more. The lawsuit alleges that Balfe earned more than $13 million between 2009 and 2014 and calls it “a shockingly excessive amount that far exceeds appropriate compensation for companies of Mercury and TheBlaze’s size and financial performance.” It also alleges that Balfe signed a lease for New York office space – the entire 12th floor of Five Bryant Park – for $2 million per year for 10 years that was “motivated by his own self-interest.” The suit calls the $20 million liability an example of Balfe ignoring his duty to Mercury. Beck comments on the case on TheBlaze’s website, saying, “You have all heard me over the last couple of years describing how hard a time it has been. Between being sick, turning over my company, etc…It culminates in a lawsuit that we filed Friday in Dallas between MRA and the former president. I am embarrassed and saddened it has come to this.” It’s difficult to read the suit and not come to the conclusion that Beck hired a man whom he considered a friend who was simply not qualified to serve in the positions in which he did. Scribd has the complaint and you can read it here.
‘Bob & Tom Show’ Rounds Out Cast with Josh Arnold. The nationally syndicated “Bob & Tom Show” adds comic Josh Arnold to the cast. The Westwood One program features show co-founder Tom Griswold, Chick McGee, Kristi Lee, and now St. Louis native Arnold. The press release from Westwood One says Arnold “has established himself as one of the top nationally touring feature comedians in the country. Arnold’s comedy has been heard on Sirius XM Satellite Radio and he’s provided material for Comedy Central’s ‘@Midnight’ and ‘The Burn.’” Griswold says, “We are thrilled to have Josh join us each day…he is one of the funniest, most twisted people I know.”
Cumulus’ Gary Pizzati Announces His Retirement. Longtime Cumulus Media senior vice president Gary Pizzati is retiring from the company and from radio broadcasting at the end of August. Pizzati started his career as an air talent and programmer and then moved into sales and management. He joined Cumulus in 1998 to manage the Augusta, Georgia cluster. Pizzati says, “The past 30 years in radio and 18 with Cumulus have been extremely rewarding. I truly love radio and all the amazing people who power this exciting industry. It’s been a part of my life since my teens and has been a remarkable journey that started from my days on air.” Pizzati rose to SVP in 2005 with responsibility for 27 markets, including two of the company’s largest. Cumulus especially commends him for “turning around several major markets and recruiting some of the best talent into the company.” President and CEO Mary Berner adds, “Known as a strong leader, teacher, and consummate radio guy, Gary’s contributions to Cumulus cannot be overstated. He will be greatly missed by his Cumulus colleagues.”
The Farmer That Roared: Doug Stephan is This Week’s Guest on ‘Up Close and Far Out.’ Radio talk show host Doug Stephan, whose daily generalist news/talk morning show is the third longest-running weekday syndicated program in the industry having launched in 1988 (behind Rush Limbaugh by a few months and “America in the Morning” by four years), is the guest on this week’s installment of the PodcastOne hit series “Up Close and Far Out with Michael Harrison.” Stephan discusses his dual career (and arduous schedule) as both a broadcaster and a dairy farmer. In his role as host of the rapidly growing weekend specialty show, “American Family Farmer” (almost 100 affiliates in less than a year), Stephan has stepped up to the plate as a powerful advocate of the beleaguered people who own and operate small farms in the US, that are slowly but systematically being put out of business by the combined interests of big business (“factory farms”) and big government. He and Harrison also talk about the growing “locavore” movement that ties into this issue. (A locavore is a person whose diet consists primarily of locally produced and sold food.) To listen to this fascinating podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the “Up Close and Far Out” player box located in the right-hand column of every page of Talkers.com and RadioInfo.com.
Nielsen Audio Releases First Round of July 2016 PPM Data. The first of four rounds of July 2016 PPM ratings data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), Riverside, San Jose, and Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New Jersey). The June 2016 survey period covered June 16 through July 13. You can find the complete 6+ ratings numbers from subscribing stations here. Additionally, TALKERS/RadioInfo managing editor Mike Kinosian provides his “Twelve Takeaways” from this group on the main page of our sister publication here.
The Presidential Race/Khan Family Controversy, FBI Staffer Guilty of Selling Secrets to China, South China Sea Dispute, Black Lives Matter Movement, Miami Zika Outbreak, Rio Olympics Troubles, and MLB Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/1). The activities of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, including the public conflict with the Khan family; former FBI employee Joey Chun pleads guilty to being an agent of the Chinese government; the dispute over China’s claim to territory in the South China Sea; the state of the Black Lives Matter movement; the CDC’s warning about a Zika virus outbreak in an area near Miami; reports of poor conditions and lack of preparedness at the Rio De Janeiro Olympics; and Major League Baseball action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Talk Rumble Video Posted from TALKERS 2016: Bridging the Generations. One of the highlights of the recent TALKERS 2016: Bridging the Generations convention – “The Talk Rumble” – is posted today (8/2) on Talkers.com. The panel discussion was part of the 19th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most important national convention that took place May 20 on the campus of Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. Moderated by TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison and co-moderated by CBS News VP Harvey Nagler, participants include (in alphabetical order): Howie Carr, host, Howie Carr Radio Network; Brian Kilmeade, host Fox News Radio/Fox News Channel; Sid Rosenberg, host, WABC, New York; Dr. Daliah Wachs, host Genesis Communications Network; Lisa Wexler, host, WGCH, Greenwich, CT: Larry Young, host, WOLB, Baltimore; and John Ziegler, host Envision Networks. To view the Talk Rumble in its entirety, please click here. Stay tuned to Talkers.com for more videos from TALKERS 2016: Bridging the Generations that will be posted in the days and weeks to come.
Odds & Sods. WAXY, Miami “790 The Ticket” extends its partnership with the NBA’s Miami Heat to continue broadcasting play-by-play through 2021. The Entercom sports talk station says Mike Inglis and John Crotty will continue to call the games. Tommy Tighe will provide the pre-game, halftime and post-game reporting and Jonathan Zaslow, host of the station’s morning show, will continue as host of the pre- and post-game shows…..FOX Sports Radio personality Ben Maller will join the minor league baseball Bakersfield Blaze for a night of festivities on August 13 as the team takes on the Lake Elsinore Storm. Maller says, “Having been a Dodgers fan my entire life, Bakersfield baseball is near and dear to my heart. My firecracker staff is thrilled to be joining me for this occasion and I’m sure Sam Lynn Ballpark will welcome us with open arms.”