by Steven J.J. Weisman
BOSTON — While his lawyer, Robert Gottleib, has said that he will appeal the conviction of former WFAN sports talk host Craig Carton by a federal court in New York earlier this week, a jury’s verdict of guilty after five hours of deliberations on charges of securities fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit fraud most likely brings a sad end to a once-promising career.
Carton and his co-conspirators represented to investors that they had special relationships with the promoters of major concerts of artists such as Adele, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and Barbra Streisand that enabled them to purchase large blocks of tickets at low prices and then resell the tickets at tremendous profits that would then be passed on to the investors. The truth is that there were no contracts to purchase any tickets and the money received by Carton was used for his own personal expenses including extensive gambling debts.
Craig Carton Found Guilty of Fraud Charges. Former WFAN, New York morning drive personality Craig Carton was convicted on three fraud charges – securities fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud – on the second day of deliberations in his trial by a Manhattan jury. Federal prosecutors charged that Carton had used almost $7 million from investors in a concert tickets re-sale scheme for personal expenses and to pay off gambling debts. Prosecutors even called a loan shark named Desmond Finger to the stand testify he gave Carton loans totaling as much as $500,000 that Carton failed to repay. They called a hedge fund executive who testified he gave Carton more than $5 million to invest in tickets in 2016. The feds also say Carton doctored emails to make it appear to investors that he had a tickets contract with Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, owner of the Barclays Center and the Nassau Coliseum. Carton’s defense claimed he was a victim of partner Michael Wright, who pleaded guilty, and associate Joseph Meli, who is serving time for bilking investors in his own concert tickets scheme. The New York Post reports that Carton could get as much as 45 years in federal prison when he’s sentenced on February 27 of next year, though he’s likely to get far less. Carton’s attorney Robert Gottlieb says they will appeal the verdict. Carton was half of the highly rated morning show with Boomer Esiason on WFAN before his arrest in September of 2017. Prior to that, he’d been a successful talk show host on WKXW, Trenton “New Jersey 101.5.”
Cumulus Names Lee Hammer PD for KGO and KSFO in San Francisco. It was just last month – October 5 – that Cumulus Media announced programmer Jack Swanson would return to the Bay Area stations he programmed so successfully for so many years. But Swanson has had a change of heart and now the company is naming San Francisco cluster operations manager Lee Hammer PD for KGO and KSFO. Hammer served KGO and KSFO as interim program director in 2015 during which he was also PD for sports talkers KNBR and KTCT. Cumulus San Francisco VP and market manager Doug Harvill says, “Lee Hammer did an excellent job while handling the programming for KGO and KSFO. It’s an easy choice to hand Lee the keys to these two legendary radio stations.” As for Swanson, he’ll serve the station as a programming consultant. He states, “I realize my decision to return to the beach is sudden. I quickly fell in love all over again with these wonderful stations and their talented people, but ultimately, my change of heart comes from my desire to fully enjoy a future of unlimited fun, travel, and adventure. And making this move complete, through the unbelievable graciousness of Doug Harvill, Lee Hammer, and the entire Cumulus corporate team, I’ll still have the opportunity to contribute my ideas for the future of these amazing radio stations.”
St. Louis Talk Host Jamie Allman and Emmis/Entercom Settle. There are literally no details in the court filing in United States District Court in Missouri about the settlement and we’ll likely never know what they are, but the legal battle between former KFTK-FM, St. Louis Jamie Allman and Emmis Communications and Entercom is over. The two sides were sent into “alternative dispute resolution” by the court and it worked in as much as a trial was avoided. Allman was suing Emmis (seller of KFTK-FM) and Entercom (operating it under an LMA) on basically two complaints: that the companies owed him money after firing him for his Tweet about Parkland, Florida shooting survivor David Hogg, and that his firing was a breach of contract. Previously, the two sides settled the money issue (privately, of course) and now they’ve settled the termination matter. Meanwhile, Marc Cox is now the host of the morning show on KFTK-FM and Allman is producing his own daily morning show via the digital Radio Free Allman Network.
RTDNA Demands the White House Restore CNN’s Jim Acosta’s Media Credentials. One of the nation’s leading organizations supporting radio and TV journalists – the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) – condemns the revoking of CNN correspondent Jim Acosta’s hard pass a few hours after he attempted to ask questions of President Trump at yesterday’s (11/7) post-election press conference. The organization issued the following statement: “The RTDNA and its Voice of the First Amendment Task Force condemn this obvious punitive action of the administration and call on it to restore Mr. Acosta’s credentials immediately. In the statement RTDNA executive director Dan Shelley says, “The leader of the free world has consistently ridiculed journalists who report the truth as purveyors of ‘fake news’ and the ‘[enemies] of the American people.’ To go a nearly unprecedented step further and revoke the credentials of a responsible journalist who was merely attempting to ask a question of the president is unconscionable.” The statement continues: “Furthermore, the White House attempted to justify its decision to revoke Acosta’s credentials in part by alleging he had essentially assaulted a staffer who attempted to take a microphone from his hands.” Shelley adds, “Any objective observer of the staffer’s attempt to confiscate the microphone Mr. Acosta was holding would surely conclude that he acted professionally and in a non-aggressive manner. He even said to her, ‘pardon me, ma’am.’” The RTDNA formed the nonpartisan Voice of the First Amendment Task Force to defend against threats to the First Amendment and news media access and to help the public better understand why responsible journalism is essential to their daily lives. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison speaks about this development with Dan Shelley earlier this morning (11/8). To listen to that conversation, please click here.
Salem Media Group Q3 Revenue Flat; Broadcast Division Posts Positive Numbers. Although the third quarter total revenue for Salem Media Group, Inc. was basically flat at $65.5 million (up 0.1%), and the broadcast division’s net revenue was up only 0.8% ($48.8 million from $48.4 million a year ago), same station figures were up. Station Operating Income increased 2.4% to $11.7 million from $11.4 million in Q3 of 2017; Same Station net broadcast revenue increased 1.9% to $47.8 million from $46.9 million; and Same Station SOI increased 2.3% to $12.1 million from $11.8 million. On another positive note, the company posts a net income of $1.2 million in the third quarter of 2018, compared to a loss of $46,000 in Q3 of 2017. Salem’s digital division was consistent at $10.4 million and the publishing division dipped 3.7% to $6.3 million.
iHeartMedia Files Q3 Financial Data with SEC; Revenue Up 1.6%. There are not a lot of detailed breakdowns in this 8-K filing with the Securities Exchange Commission from iHeartMedia. We do see that revenue for the third quarter of 2018 was $873 million – up 1.6% from $859 million a year ago. iHeartMedia has been releasing monthly financial updates as is makes its way through Chapter 11 reorganization but releases this quarterly report today (11/8). It doesn’t contain any same station data valuable for analyzing the radio operations a bit deeper.
PPM Analysis: MLB Flagships. Managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s October PPM survey, today focusing on Major League Baseball flagships. This is the third and final review of MLB flagship outlets this year. Interestingly, Entercom’s WEEI-FM, Boston – flagship for the World Champion Red Sox – lost weekly AQH share from October 2017 to October 2018 (5.9 to 5.1). The Los Angeles Dodgers flagship iHeartMedia’s KLAC was up from a 1.0 share to a 1.7 share during the same period. Milwaukee Brewers flagship then-Scripps’ WTMJ was the big winner here, rising from a 7.3 share to a 10.4 share, year over year. See the whole story here.
Midterm Election Results, Sessions Resigns AG Post/Future of Mueller Probe, Trump Suspends Acosta Press Credentials, Deadly California Bar Shooting, Antifa Threats Against Media Figures, and NFL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/7). The results of Tuesday’s midterm elections that saw the Democrats take control of the House and Republicans add seats in the Senate; Attorney General Jeff Sessions agrees to resign post and the future of Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation; President Trump suspends CNN reporter Jake Acosta’s White House press credentials; a gunman kills 11 and himself in a country bar in Los Angeles; reports of conservative media figures getting threats from Antifa groups; 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.
‘SuperTalk 99.7 WTN’ Wraps ‘Voice Your Vote’ Tour. Pictured above are WWTN-FM, Nashville personalities at the final stop of the “2018 Voice Your Vote Tour” at MAFIAoZA’s in Franklin, Tennessee on Tuesday evening. The “2018 Voice Your Vote Tour” launched in March in Franklin and has included stops featuring WTN hosts and voter registration opportunities throughout the year at venues in Nashville, Mt. Juliet, Bellevue, and Hendersonville, Tennessee. From right to left are: Dave Zanotti, Michael DelGiorno, Phil Valentine, Dan Mandis, and Brian Wilson.
Lars Larson Featured in ‘KGW-TV Carpool’ Personality Segment. Nationally and regionally syndicated, KXL-FM, Portland-based talk host Lars Larson was interviewed by KGW-TV, Portland news anchor Brenda Braxton for the station’s segment, “KGW Carpool.” In the segment, Braxton interviews Larson as they drive around Portland, but there’s one catch – no talking politics. Larson is syndicated nationally by Compass Media Networks and regionally via the Radio Northwest Network. See the five-minute video here.
AWMF Announces Call for Entries for 2019 Gracie Awards. The Gracie Awards, presented by the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation, opens the call for entries for the 44th Annual Gracie Awards Gala, taking place May 21, 2019, at the Beverly Wilshire, Beverly Hills and the Gracie Awards Luncheon, taking place June 26, 2019, in New York City at Cipriani 42nd Street. The AWMF says that each year attention is given to evaluating categories which included adding one for writers in television and creating more avenues for radio hosts/co-hosts, including adding in market size in various categories. AWMF executive director Becky Brooks says, “Each year, the Gracie Awards Gala and Luncheon celebrate and honor truly exceptional content by, for and about women. It is our belief that recognizing expertise, courage and contributions across all segments of media is essential to ensuring continued growth for our industry. AWM has been shining a spotlight on the individual and collective achievements of the best and brightest women in media for over 40 years. As our biggest fundraiser of the year, the Gracies enables the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation to deliver on its promise of furthering the connection, education and recognition of women in media.” The 2019 Gracie Awards entry eligibility air dates are from January 1, 2018, through December 31, 2018. Early bird rates for entries end on December 13, 2018, at 11:59 pm ET. The deadline for all entries is January 17, 2019, at 11:59 pm ET. Entry details including pricing and updated categories can be viewed at https://allwomeninmedia.org/gracies/call-for-entries/. To see more about the 2018 Gracie Awards, including the media release and past video, visit https://allwomeninmedia.org/gracies/gracies-coverage/.
Great Programming Opportunity at Atlanta’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM. The Cox Media Group heritage news/talk outlet is seeking a senior operations and programming manager to assist the director of branding and programming. The job summary says, “Assists the ‘Director of Branding and Programming’ as 2nd in command for the WSB Radio Brand in executing the WSB Programming Strategy, to include managing and developing Talk Talent, Hosts, Producers, the Operations team, Imaging Producers, as well as coordinating strategic goals and input with the News Director, Manager of Traffic Operations, and Director of Digital/Social. Also, handles assigned administrative duties, personnel management, coordination of schedules, and promotions (sales and marketing). Serves as member of the WSB Radio Strategic Team, and coordinates with CMG Research for Nielsen Ratings Reports, Analysis, and Market research.” See more about this excellent opportunity here.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Classic hits WIAD, Washington “94.7 The Drive” announces DC market pro Albie Dee is the new afternoon drive personality on the former hot AC outlet, effective November 12. Entercom vice president of programming Steve Davis says, “Albie Dee is a radio legend in DC and I am beyond excited to have him return to the market as the first personality on ‘94.7 The Drive.’”…..The changes at iHeartMedia’s CHR KYLD, San Francisco “WiLD 94.9” include the departure of afternoon drive personality Julianontheradio from that role and the move of evening jock Gabby Diaz into the drive time slot. Filling the evening show host position is current JV show cast member Crystal Rosas. Julianontheradio will continue to serve with the company handling part-time and voice-tracking duties…..iHeartMedia’s “The Breakfast Club” morning drive show hosted by DJ Envy, Angela Yee and Charlamagne Tha God is presenting this year’s #Change4Change – an all-day radiothon that will benefit PROJECT 375 – taking place on Thursday, November 15, 2018 during “The Breakfast Club” show across more than 77 syndicated markets. It will continue from 10:00 am to 12:00 midnight on flagship WWPR, New York “Power 105.1,” with other participating markets to be announced…..Cumulus Media’s country WFMS, Indianapolis has been recognized by the Indiana Broadcasters Association as the Radio Station of the Year. The station received the same honor in 2008 and 2012. Pictured below at the 2018 Spectrum Awards Luncheon are (from l-r): morning hosts Jim Denny and Kevin Freeman, assistant program director Kash, morning host Deb Honeycut, marketing director Jan Thoman, and VP/market manager Chuck Fredrick.