FCC Will Seek Public Comment on Ownership Rules; Reversal of Cross-Ownership Bans Appear Unlikely. Reports are circulating in the media trades that senior FCC officials say FCC chairman Tom Wheeler will propose relaxing cross-ownership bans, but in a blog post dated March 6, that tone is not expressed. Wheeler writes about the Commission’s duty to undertake and complete the 2014 Quadrennial Review. He discusses some of the proposals regarding maintaining current ownership rules that will be open for public comment but many industry watchers say this should not be cause to think a Wheeler-chaired Commission will ultimately relax current cross-ownership bans. Much of Wheeler’s concern in the blog is with television joint sales agreements and he’s clearly out to change those. You can read Wheeler’s entire post here.
Newsmax Chief Chris Ruddy Announces Cable TV News/Talk Project. In a piece in Bloomberg Businessweek, Newsmax founder and CEO Chris Ruddy announces his plans for a new cable news/talk network with Fox News Channel as his target. Ruddy is quoted asking, “How do you have something so successful in cable that nobody else wants to imitate or cut into their market share? It defies reason.” Ruddy tells Bloomberg Businessweek his goal is “to be a little more boomer-oriented, more information-based rather than being vituperative and polarizing.” He says that if he can get 10% to 15% of FNC’s audience, he’s going to be “hugely profitable.” The piece states FNC bills $1 billion a year. He understands the cable carriers don’t want to pay new networks and believes even if he has to pay them to carry the network, he’ll make money. Currently Newsmax TV is online featuring talk media personality Steve Malzberg. Ruddy does not say what the programming will look like when he’s ready to launch in June. Read the entire Bloomberg Businessweek story here.
Odds & Sods. Nationally syndicated “America Tonight” talk host Kate Delaney keeps her sports talk chops sharp as she sits in on the NBC Sports Radio Network this weekend hosting the 11:00 am to 2:00 pm slot both Saturday and Sunday this weekend…..In honor of Women’s History Month, SiriusXM host Julie Mason (left) sat down with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (right) before a live audience at the Newseum in Washington, DC on Tuesday, March 4. It’s part of the “SiriusXM Leading Ladies” series of candid conversations with influential and inspiring women who have forged their own paths to leadership and success.
Dave Ramsey Deep in the Heart of Texas. Nationally syndicated talk radio star Dave Ramsey is pictured here on stage at the Lila Cockrell Theatre in San Antonio as he presented his “Legacy Journey LIVE!” on Thursday (3/6). Ramsey talked about how to win with money, strengthen marriages and lead your children with confidence. His daughter, Rachel Cruze, joined Ramsey on stage. Ramsey combined forces with L&L Broadcasting’s news/talk KTSA to promote this event. KTSA GSM Coreena Hazelett comments, “L&L Broadcasting and ‘550KTSA’ are thrilled to partner with the Dave Ramsey team in bringing life-transforming content to entrepreneurs and leaders as well as teaching families how to live now so you can leave a powerful legacy for your family. We, along with our sponsors, sincerely believe in the importance of contributing to the growth of business and the quality of life for families here in San Antonio.” Ramsey also hosted his “EntreLeadership 1 Day Event” on Wednesday along with Cruze and speaker Chris Hogan. The content of that presentation was how to run a business using the same common sense principles that Ramsey practices in his own company of more than 400 team members.
LaNeve Named to Entercom Board of Directors. From the sales and marketing world comes the newest member of the Entercom board of directors as Mark LaNeve joins immediately. He has served as COO of WPP’s Global Team Ford – an agency that serves as the marketing and advertising partner to Ford and Lincoln businesses globally. During his time as chief marketing officer at Allstate Insurance, he led the marketing for the company and developed the long-running “Mayhem” campaign. Entercom president and CEO David Field comments, “Mark LaNeve is a tremendous addition to Entercom’s board of directors. He has led some of America’s most iconic brands and ad campaigns. He will bring a new and fresh perspective to the Entercom board.”
Michael Medved Broadcasts from CPAC. Seattle-based Salem Radio Network nationally syndicated talk show host Michael Medved (right) is pictured here interviewing Republican Senator from Utah Mike Lee (left) at the radio row at CPAC 2014 taking place in Washington, DC. The event is the American Conservative Union’s annual confab of conservative activists being held at the Gaylord Hotel & Convention Center.
Obama vs. Putin/Ukraine-Crimea Unrest Top News/Talk Stories This Week. The political crisis in Ukraine and Crimea and the scrum between President Obama and Vladimir Putin were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. Coming in at #2 was ObamaCare Criticism. At #3 was the Israel-Palestinian talks followed by the 2016 presidential race at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a 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 the entire chart here.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. ABC News Radio adds WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte to its roster of affiliate stations…..Yahoo! Sports Radio announces KXFN, St. Louis flips to sports and takes its lineup of national sports talk hosts.
Mark Levin to Be Honored at CPAC. Nationally syndicated talk show host Mark Levin will receive the inaugural Andrew Breitbart Defender of the First Amendment Award at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, March 6. According to a story on Breitbart.com’s Big Journalism, Breitbart News editor-in-chief Alex Marlow will introduce Citizens United president David Bossie, who will present the award to Levin along with Breitbart News president and CEO Larry Solov and Breitbart News executive chairman Stephen K. Bannon. Solov says, “Mark Levin fearlessly and passionately stands up for conservatives and everyday Americans whose voices the mainstream press often tries to marginalize or silence. And like Andrew Breitbart, Levin has a way of cutting through the mainstream press’s filter with his words and is never afraid to have arrows slung at him by the institutional left on the front lines of the fight.” David Bossie comments, “Levin is not only a friend, but supports and defends the vision of our Founding Fathers on his nationally syndicated radio program daily. There is nobody better to receive this inaugural award and I am happy that he will be joining us at CPAC to accept it.” Levin’s show is syndicated by Cumulus Media Networks.
Programming Additions at LFM’s Denver Sports Outlets. At Lincoln Financial Media’s Denver cluster, changes are taking place beginning Monday, March 3 that will put Fox Sports Radio/DirecTV’s Dan Patrick on KKFN “104.3 The Fan,” moving over from sister sports station KEPN “1600 The Zone.” To make room, Sandy Clough leaves the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon slot where Patrick will air and joins Drew Goodman and Scott Hastings for the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm show. Program director Nate Lundy states, “Like many in Denver, I’m a big fan of Dan Patrick. As we take the next step in our evolution, it only makes sense to bring the number one national personality to ‘The Fan.’ His perspective and top-level guests will further solidify our commitment to the best sports talk in town.” KKFN is also debuting a new evening show called “The Fan Late Night with Ryan Edwards and Shawn Drotar” that is airing from 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight. Lundy adds, “Sandy Clough has been part of The Fan’s success for over 17 years and putting him alongside two other outstanding Denver sports veterans will make for a great show for our listeners. ‘The Fan Late Night’ will give fans of Denver’s four major pro sports teams a chance to sound off as part of their postgame experience.” Lundy says a new lineup on KEPN will be announced in the near future as Patrick’s show transitions to “104.3 The Fan.”
Michael Harrison Speaks at NRB 2014 in Nashville. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison (c) participated as a keynote speaker yesterday afternoon (2/24) at the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) conference in Nashville in a general session focused on “Values in American Popular Media.” The presentation included an opening address by Harrison followed by a spirited panel discussion in which he was joined by DeVon Franklin, SVP of production, Columbia Tristar Pictures (l) and Russell Moore, president, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (r). Harrison used the platform as an opportunity to espouse his personal and professional philosophy that the combination of vigilant community service and high ethical standards equate to good and successful business strategy in the media industries – especially radio. Harrison told the conference, “Radio of all formats – not just Christian specifically – should never miss an opportunity to be a hero and serve the true needs of humanity within its local, national and even global market reach. Why wait for a hurricane or natural disaster to suddenly go into emergency mode? Why limit our potential to just being the ‘Sterno’ of media? Day-to-day life provides a nonstop series of emergencies, pain, fear, sorrow and loss on a very human scale that we have the power to calm and alleviate in addition to providing our regular menus of music and talk entertainment, information and discussion. If we do this with sincerity and authenticity on a consistent level, the communities we serve will amply reward us with both ratings and financial support and the self-fulfilling prophecy about radio being a dying medium will be forestalled for decades to come.” Harrison warned the crowd that “Christian and religious broadcasting has a head start on fulfilling this role because it is woven into the basic fabric of its service – however, in its passion and zeal to compete in the same marketplace of ideas and commerce co-occupied by secular media, it should be careful not to fall into the trap of stifling the First Amendment rights of dissenting voices and lifestyles nor succumb to the present-day widespread practice to seeking victory at the expense of truth for commercial and political advantage.”
Steven Meyers Heads Digital Strategy at Greater Media. This is a promotion for Steven Meyers who joined Greater Media Philadelphia in 2012 as digital manager. Now, in this new director of digital strategy role for all of Greater Media, he will be responsible for helping to grow Greater Media’s audiences and revenue by developing new digital platforms that deepen listener engagement while providing new opportunities to the company’s commercial partners. He comments, “Greater Media understands that ‘digital’ isn’t just a separate line of business, but a foundational component of our brand experiences and client value. I’m very excited to become a larger part of shaping that vision.” Greater Media CEO Peter Smyth adds, “We look forward to having Steve share his valuable knowledge and insight with our teams as we continue to grow and drive our company’s interactive efforts into the future.”
Hubbard’s WFED, Washington Names Fornicola Director of Custom Media. Coming to Hubbard’s Washington, DC talk and federal news outlet WFED is Jason Fornicola in the new position, director of custom media. Fornicola recently worked as communications specialist for the American Federation of Government Employees. He also hosted the weekly AFGE radio program “Inside Government.” In a statement, director of federal sales Ralph Renzi comments, “We have worked with Jason for seven years and are impressed with his experience and success in journalism, as well as his innovative outreach. Our investment in providing greater resources for our clients will help us solve more complex marketing objectives.”
Edison Research to Present ‘Infinite Dial 2014’ Next Week. In a teaser for the free webinar from Edison Research and new partner Triton Digital, the companies report that data from this year’s study shows “31% of Americans 12+ report using the internet radio service Pandora on a monthly basis, up from 27% one year ago. iHeartRadio is used by 9% monthly, while iTunes Radio, which debuted in 2013, comes in third with 8% monthly usage, followed by 6% using Spotify.” The webinar takes place Wednesday, March 5 at 2:00 pm ET. Edison says this is the 22nd study in “The Infinite Dial” series, one of the longest-running research series covering consumer use of media, technology and digital platforms. The webinar will be co-presented by Edison Research VP of strategy Tom Webster, and Triton Digital COO Mike Agovino. Topics covered will include: An update on Internet Audio usage, including new data on iTunes Radio, Beats Music, and other services; recent growth in podcasting; the growth in smartphone ownership, and how it has changed consumer behavior; updates on social media usage for services including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest and more; and the connected car, and in-car usage of digital media.
Financial Talk Host Convicted in Fraud Case. A federal jury convicted Barbra Alexander Monterey, California on 28 counts of conspiracy and fraud for her role in a Ponzi scheme. Sixty-four-year-old Alexander worked with APS Funding partner Michael Swanson to host “Money Dots” on Clear Channel-owned KION, Monterey and other outlets. Prosecutors had alleged Alexander and Swanson bilked investors of some $4 million. Alexander is expected to get a lengthy prison term. Swanson was previously convicted.
New Maternity Leave Policy for Cumulus Announced. Radio giant Cumulus Media announces a change to its human resources policy by adding “the implementation of an industry-leading maternity leave policy providing new mothers with six weeks of fully paid time off in addition to the paid time off and disability benefits currently provided to employees.” The company says the policy takes effect immediately and is available to all full-time, non-commission employees with at least one year of service. Chairman and CEO Lew Dickey states, “Cumulus continues to grow and innovate thanks to the dedication of our colleagues across the country. We are committed to providing benefits that recognize employees’ health and family needs, and providing fully paid leave to new mothers after they give birth is the right thing to do.”
NAB Crystal Award Finalists Announced. The 50 finalists for the 2014 Crystal Awards have been announced and that list can be found here. The National Association of Broadcasters states that since 1987, the NAB Crystal Radio Awards have recognized radio stations for their outstanding year-round commitment to community service. Winners will be announced and the finalists will be honored at the NAB Radio Luncheon. The Luncheon will be held Tuesday, April 8 during the 2014 NAB Show in Las Vegas. During the luncheon, Yahoo tech columnist David Pogue will present a keynote address and popular national radio personality, television host and best-selling author Steve Harvey will be inducted into the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
This Brand New Car Is No Mirage. Well, actually it is. It’s a 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage and it’s now the property of Anita Gowing of Whittier, California (right). She was the winner of the KFWB, Los Angeles giveaway that took place at South Coast Mitsubishi on Sunday, February 23. Gowing is seen reacting as her key starts the car. Inside the car with her is KFWB afternoon news co-anchor Maggie McKay (left). As part of the contest, 124 listeners won a pair of tickets to an upcoming LA Clippers game and got a key for a chance to win the car.
ObamaCare Criticism, NFL N-word Penalty, Arizona Religious Rights Bill, Ukraine Unrest-Russian Influence, Hagel’s Proposed Military Cuts, and Winter Weather Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/24). Scrutiny of the rollout and effects of the Affordable Care Act; the NFL’s new rule penalizing teams for players’ use of the n-word during games; the Arizona bill that would allow businesses to discriminate for religious reasons; the political turmoil in Ukraine and the influence of Putin’s Russia; Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s proposed shrinking of the Army to its smallest size in 74 years; and a new round of winter weather for the East were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
SiriusXM Delivers 2011 Revenue Increase of 7%. Sirius XM CEO Mel Karmazin opened the Thursday conference call with positive news about 2011 and rosy predictions for 2012. Karmazin reports the satcaster added 1.7 million net new subscribers with revenue topping $3 billion for 2011. He told analysts the company has reduced programming costs by 27% over the past three years to bring them to 10.7% of adjusted revenue. And Mel’s favorite figure – free cash flow – was also a nice one: $416 million. Karmazin says he expects free cash flow to grow to $700 million this year due in part to the restrictions on subscription prices having been lifted. He projects revenue to hit $3.3 billion in 2012 with 1.3 million new subscribers added.
Nassau Broadcasting Agrees to Undergo Chapter 7 Liquidation. It was four months ago that Nassau Broadcasting Partners convinced U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross to allow its Chapter 7 liquidation being sought by its creditors to be converted into a Chapter 11 reorganization. Now, the company wants to liquidate itself and is asking the judge to approve an auction of its 49 stations. Nassau owes more than $280 million to its senior lenders which include Goldman Sachs Lending Partners LLC, P.E. Capital LLC and Fortress Credit Opportunities. Nassau’s spoken word stations include: WARK, Hagerstown, Maryland; WTSV, Claremont, New Hampshire; WEMJ, Laconia, New Hampshire; WVPO/WPLY, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; WEEX/WTKZ, Allentown, Pennsylvania; WSNO, Barre, Vermont; and WNHV, White River Junction, Vermont.
Dave Ramsey to Take Over Live Midday Slot on WOR, New York. The end of the nationally syndicated Lou Dobbs talk radio show is creating room for other hosts and programs across the country and in New York City at Buckley Broadcasting’s WOR, independently syndicated Dave Ramsey moves from delayed broadcast status to airing in the live 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm slot beginning February 27. WOR VP/GM Jerry Crowley states, “In these rocky economic times New Yorkers need a voice they can trust to guide them in their money decisions. We are proud to welcome the country’s top name in financial talk radio – Dave Ramsey – to our award-winning lineup.”
“Battle Line with Alan Nathan” Adds Two Hours on Lifestyle TalkRadio Network. Alan Nathan’s Main Street Radio Network-produced talk program is already distributed nationally via the Blue Star Media’s Lifestyle TalkRadio Network from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm daily. Now, with the departure of Lou Dobbs’ radio program from the network, “Battle Line” adds another two hours from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Main Street Radio Network president Jane Silk says, “Main Street is very excited with the additional two hours of ‘Battle Line’ on LTRN. Our working relationship with the staff of BTRN/LTRN is a model on how companies can work together for the good of all involved!” Business TalkRadio Network CEO Michael Metter comments, “We are thrilled to be a part of the increase in Alan’s reach. We are looking forward to bringing our affiliates the brilliance of Alan’s informed, entertaining centrist views.”
Fabulous Sports Babe Nanci Donnellan Off WHBO, Tampa Due to Health Issues. The Tampa Bay Times is reporting that Nanci Donnellan – known as the Fabulous Sports Babe – is absent from her midday sports talk show on Genesis Communications’ WHBO, Tampa due to what is believed to be health issues. The station is not commenting. Donnellan, who hosted a nationally syndicated sports talk program on ESPN Radio in the 1990s and at Sports Fan Radio Network after that – left radio for a period to battle breast cancer before returning to the air in Florida, eventually settling at WHBO. Sitting in for her is former WDAE sports reporter Whitney Johnson.
Boston Radio Community Honors Memory of WBZ Personality Dave Maynard. During a 40-year radio and TV career Dave Maynard ruled the airwaves in Boston on WBZ during the 1980s. He’s being remembered for his warm personality that made his program such a success in the market. Maynard died at his home in Citrus Hills, Florida on Wednesday at age 82. He’d suffered with Parkinson’s for the past decade. WBZ director of news and programming Peter Casey tells the Boston Globe, “He was just a genuine, honest person on the radio. There wasn’t a Dave Maynard on the air and a Dave Maynard off the air. He made a career being Dave Maynard on the air, and that was the Dave Maynard who lived next door to you.”
Bell Media Cuts 16 Positions in Ottawa Radio/TV Cluster; Afternoon Talk Host Michael Harris Among Casualties. While the Canadian economy has not been hit as hard as America’s during recent times, it appears Bell Media is feeling the pinch and the need to restructure its Ottawa operations. According to the Ottawa Citizen, among those let go in addition to CFRA afternoon host Michael Harris on the spoken word side include CFRA reporter Gord McDougall, sports CFGO – Team 1200 – staffers Jim Jerome, Phil Melanson and Mike Sutherland. Harris had been a talk host at CFRA for the past 11 years. He tells the paper the moves appear to be financial in nature and management “went out of their way to say it had nothing to do with the quality of my work.”
GOP Primary Battle the Top News/Talk Story for the Week of February 6-10. The intensifying GOP primary battle between Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum (with Ron Paul sticking it out as well) landed atop the Talkers TenTM as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week. Right behind at #2 was the 2012 presidential race combined with the Obama Super PAC story. At #3 was the Syria policy and the closure of the U.S. embassy there as a result of the intense violence. And at #4 was the foreclosure abuse settlement signed by President Obama. The Talkers TenTM contains the 10 top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
In the Belly of the Beast. WMAL-AM/FM, Washington, DC morning drive team the “Morning Majority” broadcast live from the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC this week. Pictured here are “Morning Majority” co-hosts Brian Wilson (l) and Mary Katherine Ham (c) interviewing CPAC organizer Al Cardenas (r) of the American Conservative Union. Also broadcasting from the two-day event were WMAL morning co-host Bryan Nehman and midday talk host Chris Plante.
WNDB, Daytona Beach Talk Host Marc Bernier Moderates Carlson-Begala Debate. The Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce packed 600 people into the Daytona Beach Ocean Center for a debate of the issues of the election season between CNN analyst and Democrat Paul Begala and Fox News Channel personality and Republican Tucker Carlson. WNDB talk show host Marc Bernier served as moderator for the event. Pictured here are (from l-r) Paul Begala, Marc Bernier and Tucker Carlson.