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Monday, September 9, 2013

| September 9, 2013

trn logoTRN Issues Response to Reports of Financial Problems at the Company.  TALKERS magazine has received a press release from Talk Radio Network and CEO Mark Masters in response to reports of financial problems at the company.  Below is the full press statement as received from TRN at 2:30 pm ET on 9/9:

ARE YOU DIAL GLOBAL’S (WESTWOOD ONE’S) NEXT VICTIM?

      The truth about the proposed merger between Dial Global/Westwood One and Cumulus is a dark one for our industry.  Dial Global/Westwood One’s market power in programming and sales representation, combined with Cumulus Network’s programming and distribution power in the top 100 U.S. markets, will have a devastating effect on most every area of the radio industry. Our previous experience with Dial Global/Westwood consists of improper, illegal, and/or unethical conduct that is set forth in the second amended complaint http://www.trn1.com/uploads/files/SecondAmendedComplaint.pdf in our pending antitrust action against Dial Global/Westwood One and others.   If this merger is allowed to occur, the results of our previous experiences with Dial Global/Westwood One will be magnified tenfold to radio stations and content producers, which will be at the mercy of the newly empowered Dial (Westwood One)/Cumulus and the leverage that can be brought to bear by this new behemoth.

If this merger is allowed to occur, the culture of corruption at Dial/Westwood, as described in our second amended complaint, and other filings, will surely infect and spread within the new behemoth entity and victimize the rest of the industry, resulting in a super monopoly.

Sadly, the actions described in the second amended complaint are forcing the TRN companies to cut back to the basic operating essentials pending resolution of the multiple issues raised in their legal actions against Dial Global/Westwood One.  We had hoped that the change in management at Dial Global/Westwood One would bring about a new paradigm focused on correcting the prior harms in a manner which would be helpful to our companies and the industry as a whole.  Sadly, recent events have shown that the opposite is true and that the behaviors that gave rise to the lawsuits against Dial/Westwood One are endemic throughout the Dial/Westwood One monopoly.   The ruthless and unethical behaviors that have continued through multiple executive teams at Dial/Westwood are breathtaking in their scope and arrogance.

We encourage the rest of our industry to stand together, and with us, now.  We have been in business for 20 years, and have had excellent relationships with the other companies in our industry during that time.  But this is a horse of a different color.  Please contact the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition (antitrust@ftc.gov) and the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (antitrust.complaints@usdoj.gov or (202) 307-2040), your state’s Attorney General, and your local member of Congress about the dangers of this proposed merger and its threat to your First Amendment rights, business and products.  As for us, we will continue to pursue Dial Global/Westwood One in federal court and other appropriate forums, for monopoly and other improper behaviors, expose the behaviors described in the second amended complaint,  and achieve ultimate victory from the tragedy that Dial Global/Westwood One have imposed upon our companies and others within the industry.

DIAL/WESTWOOD ONE SCORES INITIAL VICTORY WITH ARNN

The actions described in the second amended complaint with respect to America’s Radio News Network (“ARNN”), and additional actions which will be the subject of future filings, have now succeeded on an interim basis with respect to ARNN.  Specifically, ARNN has been forced to suspend its broadcast operations, effective at the close of its broadcast day on Friday, September 6, 2013, pending the successful outcome of its actions against Dial Global/Westwood.  ARNN has arranged for appropriate feeds to be provided to its affiliates for a reasonable period of time to enable them to secure alternate programming.

AS TO RUMORS OF OTHER ONGOING OPERATIONS

All of the TRN companies have been severely damaged by the Dial Global/Westwood One conduct addressed above and also addressed in the various legal actions which the TRN companies have brought, or will bring, against Dial Global/Westwood.    That conduct has forced all of these companies to make wrenching internal decisions and to take painful internal actions.  As Dial Global/Westwood One has been collecting our advertising revenues, but refusing to pay them over to us or to account for them, these companies have now been forced to reduce as many operating costs as possible.   However, the current rumors of an alleged shutdown of broadcasting operations for non-ARNN programming are unfounded.  Broadcasts of the other programs are continuing without interruption.

CALL TO ACTION!

If Dial/Westwood can do this to us, they certainly can do this to you – so you need to join together, and with us, in opposing this dangerous merger, with as much force as you can muster, so that you can have a future that is not controlled by a monopoly http://www.trn1.com/uploads/files/SecondAmendedComplaint.pdf

wadedonromaDon Wade Passes at 72.  Longtime WLS, Chicago morning personality Don Wade – who hosted the program with his beloved wife Roma – died on Friday at the couple’s Florida home.  It was almost a year ago that Wade suffered a seizure and was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.  He underwent an operation but never returned to the air at WLS.  Roma Wade posted the following statement on the WLS website (in part): “Last Friday morning, my hero, my best friend, my soulmate left this mortal coil behind and entered the realm of spirit while wrapped in my loving arms.  God blessed us with almost an entire year since Don’s surgery to embrace life, love, family, and adventure, all while knowing that his time on this beautiful earth was drawing to a close.  What a gift!  What a joy to be entrusted with my magnificent man’s care for that precious time.”  Wade began his work at WLS in 1985 with Roma by his side, remaining with the station as it transitioned to talk in 1989 and moving to AM drive.  Current Salem Radio Network VP, news & talk programming Tom Tradup was VP and GM of the station and charged with flipping it to talk including firing some of the most beloved DJs in Chicago history. He says Wade stayed with the newly formatted station, “Don’s infectious good humor, intelligent grasp of the issues, and his uncanny ability to connect one-on-one with men and women throughout Chicagoland convinced me he had to stay.  He and Roma (in those days they kept their marriage a secret) were the very first ‘hires’ I made at the new WLS Talkradio 890.  Over the years, Don’s popularity—and our ratings and revenue—soared as he and Roma woke up countless hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans.”  Chicago media writer Robert Feder has more on Wade’s passing here.

millerchrisMad Social Networking Skills.  Noted digital radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller tackles the question, “So what is it that differentiates ‘mad’ social networking skills from ‘casual’ skills, or just plain competency?”  Does it involve video shooting and editing, coding, HTML, or actual IT knowledge?  In a new column posted today (9/9) Miller writes, “There’s more to being a good jock than listening to yourself talk.  There’s more to being a good sales manager than just knowing a lot of clients.  And, there’s more to having ‘mad’ social networking skills than being passionate about posting a ton of stuff!”  He goes through five levels to which truly effective social networking skills must rise to be truly effective.  They are: 1) Know your target; 2) Know how to talk and listen to your target; 3)  Learn how to write well and with style; 4) Understand what fits and doesn’t fit in terms of actual content; and 5)  Actively remain engaged to know if your message is reaching the target.  To read Chris Miller’s entire column, please click here.

iheartradiotalkClear Channel Launched Update App for iHeartRadio Talk.  The beta version of iHeartRadio Talk was released in July was done with what president of digital Brian Lakamp admits is “very limited mobile functionality.”  But now the company is offering new updates for iOS and Android apps to allow users to access more talk content.  Clear Channel Media and Entertainment states, “The updated apps will feature a directory for talk that now allows users the ability to browse and select from hundreds of programs.  For the first time ever, segments from ‘The View’ and ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ will be available to coincide with ABC‘s new season.”  CC believes that iHeartRadio Talk is “the first audio platform offering on-demand, listener-created talk content alongside popular news, celebrity and entertainment audiosodes…The service is trending to be a more popular feature for men than women, though iHeartRadio’s demographic has traditionally skewed more female, allowing the digital service to attract a burgeoning audience.”

esiasonboomerBoomer Esiason Debuts on Boston’s ‘Sports Hub.’  The ever-busy Boomer Esiason – co-host of the ‘Boomer & Carton’ morning drive show on CBS Radio’s WFAN, New York, sports TV personality and color man for WestwoodOne’s Monday Night Football broadcasts – is debuting on CBS O&O WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” today.  For the past couple of years, Esiason made a Monday morning appearance on crosstown WEEI, Boston with John Dennis and Gerry Callahan.  The segment was recorded before Esiason went on the air on WFAN.  Now, Esiason continues reaching Boston sports fans with his expertise with WBZ-FM’s Toucher & Rich.

salisburyseanSean Salisbury Teams with John Harris for Midday Show on Yahoo! Sports Radio.  Former NFL quarterback and sports talk media pro Sean Salisbury becomes part of the Yahoo! Sports Radio network lineup as co-host of “The War Room” with John Harris airing from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm ET daily.  Yahoo! Sports Radio CEO David Gow states, “Sean is a big-time addition to our lineup.  He does his homework, he is insightful and he is not afraid to voice his opinions.   And the combination of Harris and Salisbury provides some of the strongest football coverage in sports – we are delighted to announce his addition at the start of the NFL season.”  Salisbury adds, “I am excited to join Yahoo! Sports Radio and to work with John Harris.  I really look forward to working with the entire team there and creating great shows.  During his media career, Salisbury has worked for ESPN and CBS Radio.  He is currently on the Dallas Cowboys pre-game show for Fox Sports TV in Dallas.

siriusxmExecutive Changes and Promotions at SiriusXM.  An internal memo from SiriusXM president and content officer Scott Greenstein informs staff of some new management changes and congratulates those who’ve been promoted.  First, Jeremy Coleman, head of talk and entertainment for much of the past 10 years is named senior vice president, Howard Stern channels.  Greenstein notes that Coleman “worked closely on the initial development of the channels before Howard’s official launch on SiriusXM in 2006, and is now excited to move over to work with Howard and his team on further growth.”  Also, Tim Sabean is named senior vice president, entertainment and comedy.  He’ll oversee the comedy channels, as well as a variety of other key entertainment assets including: Opie & Anthony, Piolín Radio, Jason Ellis, Ron & Fez, Covino & Rich, and Dino Costa, as well as the Radio Sex channel.  Dave Gorab is promoted to vice president and general manager, talk programming.  Greenstein says Gorab has been instrumental in building the news and political talk channels and will expand his oversight to include politics, news, women’s, family, health, educational, religious and specialty talk programming.

mikemorrisbobsansevereCumulus Sports Talk “105 FM The Ticket” in Minneapolis Adds Local Talk with Help from Tom Barnard.  The Twin Cities sports talk tri-mulcast of WGVX (105.1), WGVZ (105.7), and 105.3 FM – up ‘til now relying on content from CBS Sports Radio Network – is adding a local PM drive program beginning todaybarnardtom featuring Mike Morris (left) and Bob Sansevere (right) from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm.  Tom Barnard – morning institution who’s heard on the company’s rock KQRS – will also be heard on the station as the third hour of Barnard’s podcast will be aired from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm on the sports station.  The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Neal Justin reports Barnard is bringing former WCCO personality Don Shelby aboard his three-hour podcast as his sidekick and he’ll also be part of the third hour sports talk segment.  KQRS operations manager Scott Jameson tells the paper, “We’ve got two well-performing rock stations and it’s smart to leverage those brands to help our baby brother grow up.”

wtoplogoVeteran Journalist Mike Murillo Joins WTOP, Washington.  Mike Murillo becomes part of the WTOP, Washington staff as an anchor and reporter beginning today (9/9).  Most recently, Murillo worked at Merlin Media’s WWIQ, Philadelphia as anchor/reporter, studio technician and web andmurillomichael social media manager.  Prior to his stint in Philly, Murillo was a reporter at “FM News 101.9” in New York.  Murillo says, “Like many in this business, for years I have admired WTOP from afar.  I am truly excited to now become a member of this amazing news team.”  WTOP program director Laurie Cantillo adds, “Mike does it all.  Not only is he a seasoned anchor and street reporter, he’s a skilled web designer and broadcast technician.  We’re excited to have him join WTOP’s team of broadcast and digital journalists.”

Odds & Sods.  CBS Radio freelance reporter Donna Francavilla tells TALKERS magazine she is returning to TV for the first time in 15 years.  Though she will continue her freelance for CBS Radio, Francavilla has accepted a temporary, part-time on-air position at WBMA-TV, Birmingham, Alabama.  She recently won first, second and third place national communication awards from the National Federation of Press Women, serves as an Edward R. Murrow judge, freelances occasionally for Oprah’s OWN Network, and established a consulting company called Frankly Speaking Communications, LLC…..Cox Media Group’s news/talk WHIO-AM/FM, Dayton is the local affiliate for Cleveland Browns football.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

| September 5, 2013

hennermariluMarilu Henner Show Joins Sun Broadcast Group Lineup.  Actress, healthy lifestyle champion and talk show host Marilu Henner becomes part of the Sun Broadcast Group as her daily show is added to the syndicator’s program schedule.  SBG says the entertainment- and lifestyle-oriented show is “designed as a brand-new approach to talk radio and is non-political and non-controversial.”  Henner is a seven-time New York Times bestselling author, and famously, one of 12 people in the world verified with Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory.  Sun EVP Steve Gallagher states, “The sunbroadcastgrouplogolisteners, the clients and the agencies are all saying the same thing; that talk radio needs to be reinvented.  We are excited beyond belief to be able to be working with Marilu Henner, whose boundless energy and love of life will be shared on radio, the most personal of all mediums.  She is a natural!”  Henner’s program will be fed live from its Los Angeles base from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET and, according to Sun, its format is compliant to PPM methodology.  It will consist of celebrity interviews, lifestyle and health segments, phone calls and fun benchmark segments like “Healthy Hollywood Tips,” “Marilu’s Memory Minute,” and “Backstage Pass” where Marilu’s celebrity friends pull back the curtain on show biz!  Speaking about this new venture, Henner says, “I love to share life-empowering information that inspires positive changes in people, and there’s no better way to do that than through a daily radio show.  Its impact is immediate, global, and intimate, all at once!  That’s why I’m thrilled to be part of Sun Broadcast Group.  Their philosophy — that radio should be ‘helpful, not hurtful’ – is totally in sync with the way I live my life!”

trn logoTalk Radio Network Companies Issue Official Statement on Cumulus Acquisition of Dial Global.  Radio industry watchers are aware of the pending suit filed by Talk Radio Network involving a number of the parties and people involved with Dial Global (now Westwood One and from now on referred to in this publication by that name) and few would be surprised that TRN is against the acquisition of Westwood One by Cumulus.  Today, TRN issued this official statement: “Over the past five years, Dial Global has become a monopoly.  Dial engaged in a long list of illegal and unethical behavior, including failing to pay us our share of advertising revenues generated by our programming.  We have detailed that conduct in two cases pending against Dial (and others) in federal court in Manhattan and Oregon.  Dial’s illegal conduct has continued recently, as it has refused even to pay to us our advertising revenues, which Dial collected as our ad rep.  We believe that discovery in our actions will show that Dial’s conduct was part of a deliberate strategy to acquire or destroy viable companies by interfering with revenue streams that Dial controls as a result of its monopoly power.  Dial’s history shows that all members of the industry should be concerned about, and should act to prevent, Cumulus’ proposed acquisition of Dial.  In our view, if the transaction goes forward, the combined company could dominate both the radio station platforms in the top 100 markets and the talk and news content for broadcast in those markets.  At the same time, we are concerned that Dial’s history of illegal and unethical conduct could infect Cumulus and affect the way the merged entity does business.  The threat that this merger poses is not just to us.  It is to every independent content provider, to many other members of the industry, and more generally to a vibrant marketplace of ideas on radio.  We will continue to pursue our claims against Dial vigorously, and we will take all necessary actions to oppose Cumulus’ proposed acquisition, including in our pending litigation with Dial, with appropriate governmental authorities, and in the media.  We have heard from other members of the industry with similar concerns.  Given the implications for others, we encourage all independent content providers and other affected members of the industry to rise up and express opposition in every proper forum.”

maxjaredJared Max Exits ‘ESPN New York 98.7.’  Sports radio personality and news anchor Jared Max leaves ESPN’s New York City O&O WEPN where he was co-hosting the early morning “Maxed Out” show (3:00 am to 6:00 am) alongside Robin Lundberg.  Prior to his work with ESPN, Max had served with CBS Radio at all-news WCBS, New York.  Robin Lundberg continues hosting the early morning show from 4:00 am to 6:00 am solo.  On his website, Max says, “In the past two-and-a-half years at ESPN, I have achieved seismic growth – professionally and personally…While I will greatly miss my listeners and friends who regularly called the show, I hope that our relationship will remain intact through my next venture.”

boomercartonBoomer & Carton Being Wooed by YES Network.  WFAN, New York morning drive duo Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton are currently seen hosting their radio program on the MSG Network.  But, according to a report in the New York Daily News, that could change as the YES Network is in talks to bring the duo to their platform.  The Daily News says the current deal between CBS Radio and MSG expires this month and that MSG has the right to match any offer.  Daily News columnist Bob Raissman says the only way he sees the duo leaving for the Yankees-owned YES is if it offers CBS “stupid money” for the simulcast rights.  He further opines that the three biggest attractions on MSG’s programming lineup are Knicks games, Rangers games and Boomer & Carton, so MSG would be nuts not to match any reasonable offer.  Stay tuned.

raytomDISURBING TREND: Where Are All the Radio Engineers?  Multi-lettered radio engineer Tom Ray – principle of Tom Ray Consulting – writes about what sees as a trend that bodes ill for the radio business: a dearth of qualified radio engineers.  In this piece published today, Ray states, “Because of the shortage, there are stations hiring IT people and sending them to the transmitter site.  Sure, many things at the transmitter are IT based these days.  But the output of the transmitter and the antenna system isn’t.  These people are untrained at working around high voltage and RF.  Someone is eventually going to get badly hurt or killed because they do not know how to work around high voltage and current.”  Ray enumerates the long list of duties today’s engineer is expected to handle – not to mention the wide array of technologies about which he’s expected to have expertise – and it becomes pretty clear the future of radio station facilities could be in deep doo-doo.  Read Tom Ray’s column here.

westwoodonesports logoOdds & Sods.  The 2013 NFL season begins tonight with the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens at the Denver Broncos.  WestwoodOne Sports announces its coverage of the game as well as its slate of 97 NFL games over the course of the season, including playoffs and Super Bowl XLVIII…..ESPN Radio is also airing NFL play-by-play this season on Sunday afternoons.  The network is debuting some new football programming including “Football Sunday on ESPN Radio” which airs from 1:00 pm to 7:30 pm ET hosted by Jonathan Coachman and featuring Eric Allen, Tim Hasselbeck and Tom Waddle providing analysis.

cc9-11Clear Channel Again Partners with 9/11 Day.  Clear Channel Media and Entertainment was the media partner with 9/11 Day for the inaugural 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance in 2011 and will serve in that capacity again this year.  MyGoodDeed is the respected 9/11 nonprofit which annually organizes the federally recognized 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance.  Over the last three years, Clear Channel has committed over $10 million in support, the single largest media contribution by any 9/11 Day partner.  Now through September 11, Clear Channel’s 840 radio stations will air a series of on-air public service messages in support of 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance.  Listeners who want to participate can choose options including volunteering, donating to charities of their choice, or simply making a voluntary pledge to dedicate time on 9/11, or another day, to performing good deeds that help others in need.

U.S. Debates Syria Action, G-20 Summit, ‘Common Core’ Controversy, Weiner Heckler Encounter, and Bill Clinton Vegan Claim Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/4).  The testimony before Congress regarding military action against Syria; President Obama’s arrival at the G-20 Summit; controversy over the federal mandate of “Common Core” for United States public schools; Anthony Weiner’s encounter with a heckler in NYC and Bill Clinton’s alleged claim of being a vegan were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Friday, August 30, 2013

| August 30, 2013

townsquare logoTownsquare Announces Stations Acquisition; Deal Worth Approximately $281 Million.  Townsquare Media, LLC announces that it has executed definitive documentation related to three transactions with Cumulus Media Holdings, Inc. and Peak II Holding LLC which, upon consummation, will result in Townsquare acquiring assets including 71 radio stations in 15 markets. After the deal is consummated, Townsquare will own 312 radio stations in 66 markets and have operations in 25 states, making it the third largest owner of radio stations in the United States and the largest, “best-capitalized owner and operator of radio stations solely focused on small and mid-sized markets.”  In a press release this morning, Townsquare reports it is acquiring assets including 53 radio stations (three of which will be assigned to a divestiture trust) in 12 markets (Battle Creek; Cedar Rapids; Danbury, Connecticut; Faribault-Owatonna, Minnesota; Kalamazoo; Lansing; Portland, Maine; Portsmouth-Dover-Rochester, New Hampshire; Quad Cities; Rochester, Minnesota; Rockford, Illinois; and Waterloo, Iowa) from Cumulus for cash.  Townsquare is also acquiring Peak, which owns assets including 11 radio stations in two markets (Boise and Fresno) for cash and equity units of Townsquare.  Finally, Townsquare will exchange certain assets including five radio stations, in Fresno it is acquiring from Peak, for Cumulus assets including 15 radio stations in two markets (Dubuque and Poughkeepsie) and a de minimis cash settle-up payment in favor of Townsquare.  In total, Townsquare will be acquiring 68 stations from Cumulus, three of which will be assigned to a divestiture trust, and eleven Peak stations, five of which will be exchanged to Cumulus, resulting in a net increase of 71 stations.  Townsquare expects to finance the transactions with a mix of secured and unsecured debt financing, Townsquare equity units and cash on hand.  Townsquare has received debt financing commitments from its various financing partners in connection with the transactions and will complete its financing in compliance with the covenant package of Townsquare Radio, LLC’s existing Senior Unsecured Notes indenture.  “These transactions represent the continued evolution of Townsquare Media into one of the nation’s largest local media companies and allow us to reach a scale which opens the door to new strategic opportunities,” comments Townsquare Chairman and CEO, Steven Price. “The assets we are adding to our portfolio are market leading brands with strong competitive positions in their respective small and mid-sized markets. We are excited by the opportunity to deploy our differentiated local-media strategy across a broader footprint in order to better serve our communities and our advertising clients.”

cumulus logoCumulus Announces Expected Dial Global Acquisition.  Cumulus Media Inc. issues a press release this morning announcing “a series of strategic transactions that solidifies the company’s position as a leading producer of high-quality content and continues to reshape its footprint focused on the top 100 markets.”  The transactions announced today include:

• Acquisition of Dial Global, Inc. for $260 million in cash (consisting of approximately $45 million attributable to equity and the retirement of $215 million of debt)

• Sale of 53 radio stations in 12 small and mid-sized markets to Townsquare Media for $238 million in cash (inclusive of the acquisition of net working capital)

• Swap with Townsquare Media of 15 radio stations in two small & mid-sized markets in exchange for the receipt of five stations in Fresno, CA (market #68)

dickeylew“These transactions give us the necessary scale to provide the marketing and enterprise solutions our advertising and affiliate partners require,” said Lew Dickey, CEO of Cumulus. “Our goal is to be the leading producer of premium audio content distributed through multiple platforms while continuing to build our broadcast platform in the top 100 U.S. markets.”

The acquisition of Dial Global will add sports, news, talk, music and programming services content – enabling Cumulus to provide a wider variety of options to approximately 10,000 U.S. radio stations, other media platforms and international platforms.  New content acquired through the Dial Global acquisition will include NFL, NCAA, NASCAR, Olympics, AP Radio News, NBC News and other popular programming.  Cumulus expects the transaction to be deleveraging based upon identified cost synergies of approximately $40 million, with additional upside from revenue growth potential through the creation of new content vehicles for broadcast radio advertisers.  Additionally, Cumulus believes the opportunity exists to distribute premium, curated audio content across emerging new media platforms.  Further, Cumulus intends to service broadcasters’ demands for premium content and enterprise solutions in Europe, the Americas and Australia.

wgnlogoWGN, Chicago Announces New Lineup.  Yesterday (8/29), TALKERS reported the reuniting of Chicago radio personalities Wendy Snyder and Bill Leff on Tribune’s WGN, Chicago.  Now, the station issues a releasecochransteve detailing the programming changes – some of which were reported a few weeks ago – that take place on Tuesday, September 3.  As reported earlier, Steve Cochran assumes morning drive duties; he’s followed by Wendy & Bill from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon; husband and wife team Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano (pictured at left) air from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm and Garry sirottmurcianoMeier continues to host the 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm slot.  David Kaplan maintains his 7:00 pm show start but wraps at 11:00 pm when Pete McMurray, who expands his role with the station, starts hosting the 11:00 pm to 2:00 am program.  As reported earlier this week, Nick Digilio becomes a full-time host with the station on the 2:00 am to 5:00 am slot.  Weekends are spotlighted by the return of Kathy O’Malley and Judy Markey (pictured lower right) to the station in the Saturday 10:00 am to 12:00 noon slot beginning September 14.  Other changes include: “The Design Dude with Frank Fontana” airing from 6:00 am to 7:00 am, followedomalleymarkey by “Mr. Fix-it with Lou Manfredini” from 7:00 am to 10:00 am.  When not affected by sports preemptions, Bill Moller will follow Kathy and Judy from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm and “Sports Central” will remain in the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm time slot.  The Sunday lineup will introduce a new show dedicated to the discussion of the Chicago political landscape.  Chicago Tribune writer Rick Pearson will host “Chicago Way: Politics with Pearson” on Sundays from 7:00 am to 9:00 am.  “The Dean Richards Sunday Special” will follow at 9:00 am, extending an additional two hours until 1:00 pm.  In addition to his Saturday show, Bill Moller will air from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm.  Brian Noonan remains in the 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm time slot, followed by the return of Chicago treasure, Rick Kogan, from 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm.  Comedian and media personality, Patti Vasquez, will air from 11:00 pm to 2:00 am.  Playing a feature role in the future of WGN’s new lineup will be “720 Snackables.”  These spotlight segments will live online and on-air as interviews, video shorts, and podcasts.  They’ll feature the WGN family of experts including Dean Richards’ “A-List Interviews,” “Legally Speaking with Karen Conti,” “Bertrand on Books” with Steve Bertrand, “Flavor HD” with Hannah Stanley & Dane Neal, “Steve Dale’s Pet World,” Paul Green’s “Paul & The Politicians,” “Good Cents with Ilyce Glink,” and more.

rtdnagavelChris Carl New RTDNA Chair.  WDEL, Wilmington, Delaware director of news and programming Chris Carl is the new chair of the Radio Television Digital News Association.  Pictured here is outgoing chair Vince Duffy of Michigan Radio (l) passing the gavel to Carl (r).  Carl notes that for the first time in the organization’s history, the RTNDF chairman, RTDNA chairman and RTDNA chair-elect are all radio people as Duffy moves to the Foundation chair for the next year, and the membership elects Amy Tardif of WGCU-FM, Fort Myers as the chair-elect.

Odds & Sods.  Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is set to make regular appearances on CBS Radio’s KDKA-FM “Sportsradio 93.7 The Fan.”  Every Tuesday he’ll join the “Vinnie & Cook” show at 11:00 am…..Guaranty Broadcasting’s KYPY, Baton Rouge flips from classic country to a simulcast of sister sports talk WNXX “104.5 ESPN”…..New Jersey Devils hockey will continue to be heard on CBS Radio’s WFAN-AM/FM and beyond.  The club signs a new, multi-year deal with the station to keep games on for the ninth straight season beginning in October…..Clear Channel moves Portland Trailblazers basketball from news/talk KEX to sister sports talk KPOJ for the coming season to avoid preemptions…..Bob Smith retires from his post as host of “1370 Connection” at pubcaster WXXI, Rochester, New York after a 25-plus-year career with the station.  Smith suffered a stroke in April and is still undergoing rehabilitative care.

jimmyfundcheck13More Than $3.3 Million Raised in Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon.  Entercom sports radio WEEI and regional cable sports channel NESN have teamed up for 12 years to air a two-day radio-telethon to benefit the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. This week’s event helped raise more than $3.3 million – about the same amount raised the year prior.  This puts the 12-year total at more than $34 million.   Entercom Boston vice president and market manager Jeff Brown states, “The outstanding generosity of our listeners across New England year after year not only supports a great cause but betters the lives of those who need it most.  These past two days have been the most emotionally rewarding for the entire WEEI and Entercom Boston family this year.  We remain both humbled and thrilled to have played a role in helping the selfless team at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in their fight against cancer.”  A check was presented at last night’s Red Sox game.  Pictured (from l-r) are: Red Sox owner John Henry, Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino, Entercom Boston VP/market manager Jeff Brown, Jimmy Fund director Suzanne Fountain, WEEI executive producer Joe Zarbano, WEEI director of marketing Adam Ralston, NESN president Sean McGrail, and Wally the Green Monster.

catenaccijoeWilmington, NC Sports Talk Show Adds Saturday Edition.  The weekly “Sports Connection” show hosted by Port City Daily sports writer Joe Catenacci adds a Saturday edition that begins a run on Sea-Comm-owned rock WBNE, Wilmington “103.7 The Bone.”  Joe Cat’s show began as a co-operative effort between the Port City Daily and Sea-Comm news/talk WNTB and WLTT airing Monday evenings from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm.  Beginning tomorrow (8/31) Catenacci and co-host Cori Stukes will broadcast live every Saturday from Hell’s Kitchen on Princess Street in downtown Wilmington.  He says in the Port City Daily, “Over the last eight months, we have connected the local community with some of the top names in sports from across the country.  Even with a focus on local, we continue to get some of the household names when it comes to industry.  Locally, every high school football, basketball and baseball coach has made an appearance on the show at least once, as well as UNCW coaches and players.”

freemanedgeTALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup.  “Free Talk Live” featuring Ian Freeman and Mark Edge is picked up by a number of new affiliate stations, including: WCKG-AM, Chicago; WBAT-AM, Marion, Indiana; KENT-AM, Parowan, Utah; WRSB, Canandaigua, New York; WASB, Bridgeport, New York; W286AE-FM, Fairport, New York; and WNZS, Bangor, Maine…..“Late Night Health Radio” with host Mark Alyn joins the programming lineup at KABC, Los Angeles…..Talk Media Network’s “Frontlines of Freedom” with Lt. Col. Denny Gillem is added to WFPA, Fort Payne, Alabama…..The “Unlock Your Wealth” feature by Heather Wagenhals is added to affiliate stations WPGR, Pittsburgh; KFIV, Modesto and KWSX, Stockton, California; and WEZO, Augusta, Georgia.

U.S. Syria Action Top News/Talk Story for Week of August 26-30.  The question of whether the United States should take action against Syria was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM.  At #2 was the March on Washington anniversary tied with American race relations.  Following at #3 was Miley Cyrus’ performance at the MTV VMAs and at #4 was the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio and is published every Friday at Talkers.com.  View this week’s entire chart here.

Creating a Worldwide Network –
One “Hobby” Station at a Time

| August 27, 2013

By Jeff McKay
TALKERS
Special Features Correspondent

COWLINGTON, Oklahoma — When you think of syndicators, you think of giants like Premiere or Dial Global.  When you think of radio stations that carry syndicated programs, heritage stations like New York City’s WABC and KABC  in Los Angeles come to mind.  What you don’t think is a syndicator setting up their operation, or their entire radio station’s operation, in a bedroom in their home located in rural Oklahoma.  You also don’t think anyone working out of a room about the size of a one-car garage distributing 24 hour programming, seven days-a-week on three continents.  What you also don’t think is that anyone can do all of this, with an operating budget that equals the pay before taxes of a young adult working full-time at a fast-food restaurant.

Read More

Thursday, August 1, 2013

| August 1, 2013

limbaughrushRush Limbaugh Celebrates 25 Years in Syndication Today.  It was 25 years ago today that Rush Limbaugh began his national syndication based at WABC, New York.  When Ed McLaughlin’s EFM Media Management began producing and distributing the Rush Limbaugh program in August of 1988 on 56 affiliate stations, many in the industry thought the idea of a midday national talk radio program was absurd and would fail.  But Limbaugh’s EIB Network flourished and the rest is history.  Of course, Premiere Networks now syndicates the show that’s heard on close to 600 radio stations.  In a statement, Limbaugh says, “The relationship we’ve established here – between the audience and myself – is everything.  It’s meant more to me than I’ll ever be able to fully describe.  It’s the best three hours of the day!  We’re going to do this for a long time to come.”  Premiere Networks notes, “Mr. Limbaugh also pioneered an entirely new model for talk radio.  Defying industry convention, he does not book guests on his program. Centered on the news of the day, he describes his unique approach as ‘a serious discussion of issues, combined with irreverent humor.’  He has enjoyed uninterrupted status since the early 1990s as the leading talk radio host in the U.S., and the program continues to expand its reach.  In the past year alone, ‘The Rush Limbaugh Show’ has experienced an 11% audience increase (Source: Arbitron, Nationwide).

saboonfoxbusMedia Biz Buzzing About Newspaper-Online Radio Ventures.  Pictured here is Sabo Media (r) CEO Walter Sabo appearing on Fox Business with “Markets Now” host Dennis Kneale (l) discussing the Boston Herald’s online talk radio station project, “Boston Herald Radio.”  Kneale quizzed longtime radio executive and consultant Sabo about what the two media bring to the table in joint ventures such as these.  Sabo stated that the talk radio programs can help deliver a younger and more engaged audience to the newspaper world (which has suffered circulation and revenue declines) and the radio shows benefit from working with an experienced news gathering organization.  “It allows them to bring those stories to life instantly, which has always been their (the newspaper’s) biggest challenge.”  Watch Sabo’s appearance on Fox Business here.

cbsradio logoCBS Reports Q2 Revenue for Radio ‘Even.’  CBS quarterly investors’ conference calls have always been pretty much about television and yesterday’s 2013 Q2 call was no different.  It’s not that CBS doesn’t care about radio.  President and CEO Les Moonves has stated in previous calls that they like radio.  He doesn’t gush about it like he does about TV but CBS has no debt on the radio side and therefore it’s a cash business for the company.  During yesterday’s call CBS COO Joseph Ianiello termed radio “even” during the second quarter compared to the same period a year ago and told investors the division is pacing flat for Q3.  For CBS, total revenue was up 11% year-to-year due mostly to fees paid by television operators to carry CBS TV stations as well as international syndication deals and digital streaming revenue.

journalbroadcastgroupJournal Broadcast Group’s Radio Division Up 2.3% in Q2.  Journal Communications announced 2013 second quarter financials yesterday and the Journal Broadcast Group breaks out the radio division from the television segment.  It reports that, compared to the same quarter a year ago, revenue from radio stations increased 2.3% to $19.9 million, or 4.7% excluding political revenue.  Radio political advertising revenue was $0.1 million, compared to $0.5 million.  Local advertising revenue — excluding political — increased 5%, primarily due to an increase in retail advertising.  National advertising revenue — excluding political — decreased 4.9% to $1.8 million, primarily due to a decrease in media advertising.  Operating earnings from radio stations were $3.8 million compared to $4.4 million, a decrease of 13.8% or a decrease of 19.0% excluding acquisition costs in both years.  Radio operating expenses increased 7.1%, or 9.3% excluding acquisition costs in both years, primarily due to employee-related expense increases and the impact of credits received from an industry-wide music licensing fee settlement in 2012.

frontier50 graphicTALKERS Magazine’s Frontier Fifty 2013 Will Be Posted on Wednesday, August 7.  The new installment of one of the most popular and certainly important TALKERS magazine annual features — “The Frontier Fifty” — is set to be unveiled this coming Wednesday, August 7.  The Frontier Fifty is officially described as a Selection of Outstanding Talk Media Webcasters.  This year’s format will depart somewhat from the features’ early approaches by including executives who have built valuable platforms for internet talk broadcasting as well as talent who do talk shows and/or podcasts on the web.  In addition it will be a numbered list in which designees are ranked according to importance as determined by the TALKERS editorial board.  As followers of this feature know, TALKERS did not publish a 2012 installment of the feature because as the publication’s VP/executive editor Kevin Casey puts it, “This arena has evolved and grown at such a dizzying speed, we wanted to be sure that we presented this important snapshot of the state of the internet talk radio’s movers and shakers as accurately and relevantly as possible.  We took an extra year off to study the scene and get it as close to being right as possible…no easy task.”  This year’s Frontier Fifty is being sponsored by Broadcasters General Store.

wxtg logoRed Zebra Shucks Two Signals in Norfolk-Virginia Beach for $1.2 Million.  Dan Snyder-owned Red Zebra sells sports radio combo WXTG-AM/FM “The Game” to local operator Local Voice Media which will flip the duo to a triple A format soon.  The price of the stations and seven acres of property in Hampton is $1.2 million and according to the Daily Press, the stations will continue to air Washington Nationals baseball through the rest of the season and will be Washington Redskins affiliates during the 2013 season.  Additionally, the paper reports that two staffers – AE and air talent Greg Bicouvaris and production director Brock Briggs will remain employed with the new owners.  Local Voice Media also operates triple A WTYD, Williamsburg, Virginia “92.3 The Tide.”  The Daily Press notes Richmond, Virginia investment firm Blue Heron Capital recently completed a $3 million investment in Local Voice Media, formerly known as Davis Media.  The firm began investing in the company two years ago and has helped it expand into Columbia, South Carolina and Wilmington, North Carolina.

deanmichaelwQuick-and-Dirty Three-Minute Sound Conditioning.  Large corporations and government bureaucrats will often spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on soundproofing and sound conditioning for an audio studio.  They’ll even spend tens of thousands of dollars simply on the consultants to tell them how to soundproof and sound condition a studio.  That may make sense to you if you’ve got venture capital money to burn and don’t mind being out of business in a few years.  It may also make sense if you’re working for the government because the money is someone else’s and you think you’ll never go out of business.  But according to syndicated talk show host Michael W. Dean, co-host of GCN‘s “The Freedom Feens,” “The rest of us have to make do with what we have.”  In a new column posted today (8/1), Dean writes, “The advent of ip hardware codecs has allowed talk radio hosts to produce nationally syndicated shows from our homes.  And people working for corporate radio are often called to do remotes in a variety of environments.  You can buy portable devices that acoustically isolate a microphone, but using one is basically like sticking your head in a small box.  That is not conducive to doing a good show, especially if you’re doing on-the-spot interviews with a variety of guests.  Today I’ll show you how to temporarily sound condition a room in three minutes at no cost.  This will vastly improve the audio reaching your microphone, and thus, your audience.  First, you have to understand the difference between soundproofing and sound conditioning.  Many people use these two terms interchangeably.  However, they are not the same thing.  Soundproofing keeps outside sounds out and inside sounds in. Sound conditioning dampens native reverberation in a room.  Effective soundproofing is a lot more expensive and complicated than sound conditioning.”  To read Michael W. Dean’s entire column, please click here.

podcastone logoPodcastOne Adds Sports USA Programs to Offerings.  Yesterday, TALKERS reported that NFL Hall-of-Famer Joe Namath would begin producing podcasts for Sports USA throughout the 2013 football season.  Now, Norm Pattiz-founded PodcastOne and Sports USA announce the Namath podcast as well as “Conversations with Joe Morgan,” “The Ross Tucker Football Show” and “Against the Grain with Dave Miller” will be available via PodcastOne.  Pattiz states, “Joe Namath invented the sports media icon as we know it.  He knows what it means to break new ground and likes to do things his way.  We’re a guaranteed perfect fit.  I am looking forward to working with Bob Moore and the talented team at Sports USA as we create great experiences for listeners and opportunities for advertisers.”

kesn logoMLB Great Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez  to Contribute to ‘ESPN Dallas 103.3.’  “Pudge” Rodriguez played for the hometown Texas Rangers twice during his MLB career (he won a World Series ring with the Florida Marlins in 2003) and he and his family are putting down roots in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.  ESPN O&O KESN and sister Spanish sports talk “ESPN Deportes Dallas” (KZMP-AM) have brought Rodriguez aboard to serve as a baseball contributor through the rest of the 2013 season.  ESPN says Rodriguez will serve in several capacities for both stations including a bi-weekly call-in segment, the voice of featured “Pudge’s Eye” vignettes, as well as personal appearances.  ESPN Dallas VP/GM Pete Dits states, “We are extremely excited and proud to have one of the greatest catchers in MLB history as a part of our team.  As the radio flagship of the Texas Rangers in English and Spanish, this only solidifies our commitment to bringing the best Rangers and baseball coverage to the sports fans in DFW.”

kxsp the drive logoJournal’s Sports Talk KXSP, Omaha Adds New PM Drive Show.  Joe Quinn and Nick Handley are the new afternoon drive sports talk team at Journal Broadcast Group’s Omaha sports talker “590 ESPN Radio” (KXSP).  Quinn was producer and co-host for the past three years on Des Moines’ KXNO.  Handley, a 14-year sports veteran who most recently co-hosted the “Hail Varsity Radio Show” airing in Lincoln and Columbus, Nebraska was the sports director for the Three Eagles cluster of stations in Columbus.  KXSP program director Kurt Owens says, “The new show will be called ‘The Drive’ and will bring a fresh new approach to afternoon sports talk in Omaha.  Joe and Nick’s combined experience of covering sports in Nebraska and Iowa mirrors our huge AM 590 signal.  AM 590 listeners will really enjoy these two young-yet-experienced broadcasters bringing their perspective to sports each afternoon.”

nbcsportsradio logoNBC Sports Radio Network Passes 300-Affililate Mark.  The nationally syndicated sports talk radio programming initiative NBC Sports Radio Network – a cooperative effort of Dial Global and NBC Sports – announces it has passed the 300-affiliate mark.  Dial Global Sports EVP and general manager Chris Corcoran says, “Signing more than 300 affiliates so quickly is a true testament to the mass appeal of our talent and programming, creativity of our producers, and hard work of our exceptional sales and affiliate teams.  We are especially honored to partner with such great radio stations across the country as we work together to connect avid sports fans, consumers, and advertisers.  We continue to be motivated to reach more audiences by the amazing feedback we regularly receive from our local station owners, program directors and listeners.”

callahanbrownpanmassWEEI-FM, Boston Staffers Take Part in Pan-Mass Challenge.  “93.7 FM WEEI”  morning drive co-host Gerry Callahan (r) and Entercom Boston vice president and market manager Jeff Brown (l) will take part in the Pan-Mass Challenge – a two-day bike ride across Massachusetts that can be as long as 190 miles – to benefit the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.  WEEI will help recognize and celebrate this year’s event with a live broadcast of the Salk & Holley show on Friday, August 2 from 2:00 – 6:00 p.m. from the PMC’s opening ceremonies in Sturbridge, Massachusetts.  Billy Starr, founder and executive director of the Pan-Mass Challenge says, “Entercom and WEEI have both been fabulous friends and partners.  They have ensured that the PMC message is heard – and understood – far, wide and often.”  Jeff Brown comments, “I am proud to continue Entercom’s support of the Pan-Mass Challenge and we are also proud to be raising additional money through our dedicated team of riders and virtual riders.  Our own Gerry Callahan will be taking part in his sixth ride and it is such an honor, both for WEEI and for all of us at Entercom Boston, to be a part of this dynamic cause and help the dedicated Dana-Farber doctors and researchers discover cures for cancer.”

ObamaCare Implementation Battle, Anthony Weiner Scandal, NSA Surveillance Program, Chris Christie-Rand Paul Feud, and Looming MLB Suspensions Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/31).  The fight in Washington over the implementation and funding for the Affordable Care Act; the political fallout from the Anthony Weiner scandal; reports of the vast nature of the NSA surveillance program, Republican in-fighting over policy and the Chris ChristieRand Paul feud; and the expected suspensions of numerous MLB players were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.