Monday Memo: Own the Vaccine. Consultant Holland Cooke says in today’s column, “This pandemic tests the selflessness of our society, and tests the relevance of radio. Science – and the snail’s-pace inoculation launch – foretell a crisis as long as the three-plus years my dad was overseas during The War. So, get used to the mask.” He says stations that own the vaccine availability news going forward will benefit. Read his piece here.
Pending Business: Updating Your To-Do List. Sales and marketing pro, and Lapcom Communications Corp president, Steve Lapa says that as working remotely “is still the norm for many sellers and managers. The layers of interruption and disruption can and will hamper performance. Previous in-person interactions that have now shifted to online contact has led to more delays that start with ‘this time of year…’ The need to stay and keep organized has never been greater. If you are selling or managing, you are part of the income stream. Let’s look at updating how you develop your daily sales to-do list.” Read his column here.
Boyce: Talk Radio – America’s Last Best Hope Out of this Mess. You’re probably not going to find a lot of progressives who agree with this, but Salem Radio Network SVP of spoken word Phil Boyce believes it is. In a memo to his staff, he says, “There is one institution left standing that can potentially be the best hope to save America from utter collapse. Talk radio is that institution. Since the fairness doctrine was abandoned as a failure in 1987 under President Reagan, talk radio has become the barometer of what is right and wrong with America. In many ways, talk radio is the pressure valve on this giant pressure cooker that is set to blow at any moment. This pressure valve allows both sides to debate the issues without exploding. We don’t need the fairness doctrine, talk radio is the fairness doctrine.” Read the full memo here.
Washington Post Reports on Cumulus Mandate. Picking up on the piece written by Inside Music Radio by Jerry Del Colliano and reported on by TALKERS magazine last Friday (1/8), the Washington Post’s Paul Farhi covers the story in his Media beat column today (1/11). Del Colliano’s story highlights a companywide memo from Cumulus EVP of content Brian Philips warning hosts among other things, not to suggest “that the election has not ended.” Farhi writes, “The memo appears to reflect the reality that voters, presidential electors, courts and now Congress have accepted or certified that Biden won the election and is the president-elect. It may also be an attempt to cool down emotions that led to Wednesday’s invasion of the Capitol, and to mollify advertisers that are concerned about being associated with programs that could be inciting listeners to violence. But it also reveals some of the hidden corporate hand behind what is said and discussed on talk-radio programs. Rather than a medium of freethinking individuals expressing passionately held beliefs, the memo reminds that hosts are subject to corporate mandates and control.” Read his piece here.
KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno’s Ray Appleton Suspended for ‘Hanging’ Remarks. Longtime Fresno talk radio host Ray Appleton has been suspended by Cumulus Media for his comments aired on news/talk KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno. On Thursday (1/7), Appleton was complaining about the different ways he perceives news outlets cover protests and riots, implying that “progressive” causes get softer treatment than “conservative” causes, and said “certain news editors should be hanged, maybe.” Appleton said later during that show that he was joking but Cumulus Media said in a statement, “Cumulus Media operates from a clearly defined set of programming principles and there is no question that Ray Appleton’s comment is a direct violation of those principles. As a result, we have suspended him.” In a written apology, Appleton said, “I realize that my reckless choice of words was irresponsible, and I would never condone violence toward anyone. I want to specifically apologize to my colleagues at KMJ and all who serve in the media. After 50 years in broadcasting, I understand that my choice of words matters and I made a mistake that won’t happen again. I humbly ask for your forgiveness.” It’s not clear how long Appleton will be off the air.
Bill Michaels Exits WSSP-AM, Milwaukee; Butler, Ellerson, Fifer to Host Midday Show. OnMilwaukee’s Matt Mueller reports that longtime Milwaukee sports talk personality Bill Michaels is out at Entercom’s WSSP “1250 AM The Fan” where he hosted the 10:00 am to 2:00 pm show. Executive producer Joe Zenzola read the following, penned by Michaels, at the end of last Friday’s show: “There comes a time in your time when some stresses begin to drag you down. In doing so, your effort and attention is pulled in numerous directions, leaving you with the inability to focus on your sole task. At this time, I’m going to take a brief break from the airwaves. I have nothing but respect and admiration for Entercom as a company, and I thank them for helping me build a dream. I can’t thank my co-workers and friends enough for their support, energy, effort, and professionalism. You are all the best. I love radio and its ability to touch so many people informatively as well as passionately. That drives me every day and will continue to run deep in my soul. I believe that if you trim back the dead branches, ultimately, the tree grows stronger. I hope to do just that.” Michaels built a regional syndication network for his program that launched on WSSP in 2011. He’d served with crosstown news/talk WTMJ for 12 years prior to that. Entercom announces that the new midday program will be “The Wendy’s Big Show” co-hosted by former Green Bay Packers star LeRoy Butler, Gary Ellerson, and Steve Fifer.
Rush Limbaugh Deactivates His Twitter Account. BusinessInsider is reporting that Rush Limbaugh deactivated his Twitter account, in apparent solidarity with Donald Trump, whose account was permanently suspended by the company in the aftermath of last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters. BusinessInsider reports that Twitter also suspended the accounts of former national security advisor Michael Flynn, pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, and Ron Watkins. Regarding the suspensions, Twitter states, “The accounts have been suspended in line with our policy on Coordinated Harmful Activity. We’ve been clear that we will take strong enforcement action on behavior that has the potential to lead to offline harm, and given the renewed potential for violence surrounding this type of behavior in the coming days, we will permanently suspend accounts that are solely dedicated to sharing QAnon content.”
WJFK-FM, Washington ‘106.7 The Fan’ Promotes ‘Grant and Danny’ to Afternoon Drive. Midday sports talk hosts Grant Paulsen (left) and Danny Rouhier (right) have been moved to the afternoon drive daypart (2:00 pm to 6:30 pm) on Entercom’s Washington, DC sports talker WJFK-FM “106.7 The Fan.” This move comes several months after PM drive talk host Chad Dukes was fired for content on his podcast that the company deemed racist. With the “Grant and Danny” move, Entercom says air personality Pete Medhurst will host middays on an interim basis. Entercom Washington DC SVP and market manager Ivy Savoy-Smith says, “Grant and Danny mix the smartest and most credible sports opinion and information in Washington with their own unique personalities and humor. They’ve built an incredible community of listeners and we’re thrilled that they’ll be entertaining DC sports fans on their drives home for years to come.” Both personalities joined WJFK in 2009 and launched their show together in middays in January of 2014.
Kirby Wilbur Retiring from KVI, Seattle. Seattle talk radio legend Kirby Wilbur is retiring from Sinclair Broadcast Group’s news/talk KVI, Seattle after his January 27 program. Last week, Wilbur told listeners that he and family are moving to McKinney, Texas. The 67-year-old Wilbur did two stints at KVI, the first from 1993 to 2009 and the second from 2015 through the end of this month. Wilbur explained to listeners that his decision to re-locate to Texas was spurred by the chaos that took place in Seattle during the Black Lives Matter protest that turned a portion of the downtown into the so-called CHAZ (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone).
TALKERS News Notes. Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM, Chicago financial editor Len Walter is retiring from his position after 52 years with the Entercom all-news station. Walter tells Feder, “To be able to work as a journalist for the bulk of my career has been a blessing. It’s what I wanted to do since I was a youngster and was fortunate to be able to gear my education toward that end. In this era of world turmoil, it’s critical that listeners hear the unvarnished truth presented without bias. That is what they get at WBBM from an amazing staff of principled professionals.”…..Sports media personality Jason Whitlock is leaving his role with Clay Travis’ Outkick the Coverage after seven months. Whitlock – who once-upon-a-time filled in for Jim Rome on his old Premiere Networks syndicated show – wants to “carve his own career path,” according to Travis in a story posted at Outkick…..The GCN-syndicated Dr. Daliah Wachs show adds two new affiliate stations to her roster as Bethune-Cookman University’s WELE, Ormond Beach, Florida and WDOC, Prestonsburg, Kentucky add her program to their lineups.
Trump Impeachment/Invoke 25th Amendment, Trump Cut Off from Social Media/Parler Threaten App Vendors, Biden Transition, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, WHO Investigators in China, and Deadly Indonesia Plane Crash Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is saying the House will proceed with impeachment proceedings if Vice President Mike Pence doesn’t invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Donald Trump from office; Donald Trump is permanently banned from Twitter and temporarily off Facebook plus conservative platform Parler is booted from major app stores; the transition of the Joe Biden administration; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the rollout of vaccines; World Health Organization investigators to enter China to seek the origin of COVID-19; and the investigation into the deadly crash of a Boeing 737-500 after takeoff in Indonesia were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.