TALKERS Marks 30th Anniversary Today. It was 30 years ago today – July 23, 1990 – that TALKERS was launched as “The Information-Radio Newspaper.” It first appeared as a tabloid-style, 12-page newsprint publication distributed to radio stations around the country by mail and eventually grew into a full-color, glossy magazine and, eventually, a multi-platform communications organization. Over the decades, TALKERS has produced 22 annual national talk media conventions in New York City plus several “bonus” conferences in Los Angeles. At those conferences, a number of the publication’s annual awards were presented, including the coveted TALKERS magazine Freedom of Speech Award. TALKERS magazine was a pioneer in producing radio row events that began in the mid-1990s. The organization also presented numerous talk media forums in Washington, DC and New York featuring talk personalities discussing important issues of the day. Many of those were aired on C-SPAN. As digital media became inextricably intertwined with radio and television, TALKERS itself evolved into a multimedia platform presenting video elements via Talkers TV and launching Talkers Radio. Annual features, including the “100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in America,” a.k.a. the Heavy Hundred (and later its sports talk radio sister list), have become highly anticipated presentations within the industry. Upon reaching this milestone, founder Michael Harrison stated, “TALKERS is a reflection of my lifelong fascination with and love of radio, as well as my core devotion to the tenets of the First Amendment. It has come very far during these three decades and most of the credit for its remarkable longevity and adherence to quality has been to the credit of its devoted core staff (in alphabetical order) – David Bernstein, Kevin Casey, Marcia Daly, Matthew B. Harrison, Al Herskovitz, Mike Kinosian, Barbara Kurland, and Steve Weisman with a special salute to the late Sharon L. Harrison. Add to that list our loyal advertisers and sponsors, our talented contributing writers, as well as our readers. The radio and its related media industries have been extremely kind to us and, for that blessing, I am eternally grateful.”
‘98.5 The Sports Hub’ Host Fred Toucher Off the Air for Medical Help. The Boston Globe’s Chad Finn reports that WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” morning drive co-host Fred Toucher is off the air for the time being as he deals with personal issues that were revealed during the July 21 program. Toucher posted to his Instagram account: “First of all thank you to the listeners that have my back. For some reason I want you guys to know I have never been drunk on the air [management has never accused me of such] I am going to a mental institution next week. I am sometimes too forthcoming on the air. I’m used to just being honest about my life but when you are a f*ckup that isn’t such a good idea.” Finn reports that Toucher confessed he’s going through a divorce on the Tuesday morning program discussion that he describes as “unsettling.” Co-host Rich Shertenlieb suggested he take some time off the air and offered to take a leave with him. However, on Wednesday’s program, Shertenlieb told listeners Toucher is taking some time off and they can’t wait for his return. Beasley Media Group issued the following statement to the paper: “As a responsible company committed to the Boston Community, we take this matter very seriously. Fred will be off the air while we continue to review the situation.”
WLW, Cincinnati-Based “America’s Truckin’ Network” to Avoid Political Discussion. In a move that’s clearly a sign of the times, the overnight program “America’s Truckin’ Network” has been ordered by management to steer clear of political discussions. The show is nationally syndicated and available via SiriusXM but is produced at iHeartMedia’s WLW, Cincinnati and hosted by Steve Sommers (son of program founder Dale “Truckin’ Bozo” Sommers). Sommers tells the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Jim Calhoun that after complaints to corporate headquarters in San Antonio about a caller’s comments that aired, he was held responsible for the comments that shouldn’t have aired and was given a warning. He’s also been told to refrain from politics and stick to issues relevant to the trucking audience. iHeartMedia Cincinnati SVP of programming Scott Reinhart issued the following statement to the Enquirer: “The ATN has been on the air for over 30 years. We regularly review all our shows to ensure they provide the best and most compelling programming, and we have always relied on comments and feedback from our listeners to help us make these decisions.”
Cume & Coronavirus (Part 3). TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian continues his analysis of ratings data for spoken-word radio stations based on information from Nielsen Audio’s June 2020 PPM survey. After looking at 6+ cume data for the all-news and sports talk formats in parts one and two, today Mike Kinosian turns to the news/talk format. When it comes to cume (versus AQH share), two news/talk stations stand above the rest based on June numbers – iHeartMedia’s KFI, Los Angeles (747,600) and Cox Media Group’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta (709,800). In this report, see comparisons of cume from the May 2020 survey to the June 2020 survey – which stations went up and which went down – as well as charts showing cume by market rank and more. See it here.
Entercom Seeking Vice President of News Candidates. Posted on Entercom’s website in its career opportunities section is a notice seeking applicants for a new corporate position, VP, News. The post states, “The VP, News is responsible for overseeing all news content across Entercom’s best-in-class local news brands and via the RADIO.COM platform. The ideal candidate has experience managing both broadcast and digital news operations and is adept at leading through change and innovation.” Among the duties that are part of this position are managing “all broadcast and digital news content across 8 All News and 18 News/Talk stations in 23 markets working with brand managers and news directors across the country.” The post adds, “This role is for a hands-on leader and self-starter who is relentless in his/her quest for excellence in journalism. This role will require strong business acumen and the ability to drive results leading market-based teams across the country and in our corporate offices in Philadelphia and New York.” Read the post here.
iHeartMedia and Will Ferrell Partner for New Comedy Podcast Network. Comedian Will Ferrell and iHeartMedia are announcing their new deal that will bring the initial six co-produced podcasts to the Big Money Players Network of comedy podcasts that will be heard on the iHeartRadio platform later this year. The programs include “Las Culturistas with Matt Rogers and Bowen Yang”; “Michael Bolton’s Big Sexy Podcast” in collaboration with The Lonely Island and Comedy Bang Bang; “My Momma Told Me with Langston Kerman”; “POOG with Kate Berlant and Jacqueline Novak”; “Bald Talk” hosted by Brian Huskey and Charlie Sanders; and “True Romance with Carolina Barlow and Devin Leary.” Will Ferrell comments, “The iHeartPodcast Network really knows how to make a podcast. In addition to the creative minds working behind the scenes, the network has an unprecedented ability to reach millions of new podcast listeners. These first few shows for Big Money Players Network will set the standard for the type of high-quality comedy podcasts we’re striving to produce with this collaboration.”
TALKERS News Notes. The “Kim Komando Daily Tech Update” is expanding to seven-days-per-week delivery. Komando says, “As our country was forced to work from home, unemployment soared and parents became teachers, ‘The Kim Komando Show’ and programs became more popular than ever. We pivoted to focus on providing COVID-19 much-needed digital life advice and assistance to our listeners, offering inspiration and confidence to all.” As a result of demand, the “Daily Tech Update” goes from five days per week to seven with the Saturday and Sunday editions being delivered just like the weekday editions…..Today (7/23) on SiriusXM’s Business Radio channel, a special program titled “The Business of Sports Reopening During a Pandemic” which will air from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon ET. Dan Loney, host of “Wharton Business Daily,” leads the discussion and speaks with high-ranking executives in the world of sports, including: Houston Texans president Jamey Rootes, San Francisco Giants CEO Larry Baer, agent Drew Rosenhaus, and more…..Chicago media reporter Robert Feder writes that Nexstar Media Group’s WGN-AM is eliminating the creative services manager position at the news/talk station and Chris Duffy exits after more than 10 years there. As Feder notes, Duffy was one of the staffers brought aboard when former Clear Channel Radio president Randy Michaels assumed the CEO role at Tribune, former owner of the station, in 2007. Duffy posted on Facebook, “After over 10 years, three Stanley Cups, one Cubs World Championship, working with some of the absolute best in the business, yesterday I closed the book on WGN Radio. It will always be the pinnacle of my radio career.”…..PodcastOne and Violet Benson come to terms on a deal to bring Benson’s podcast “Too Tired to Be Crazy” to the network. The podcast features Benson and a wide swath of friends, guests, and frequent co-hosts chatting about topics ranging from living and dating in Los Angeles, to millennial life, to pop culture news perfectly capturing the zeitgeist of today…..WAPT-TV, Jackson reports the death of civil rights activist and talk show host Charles Evers, who passed away on Wednesday (7/22) at the age of 97. Evers was the older brother of slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers. In addition to his lifelong work on civil rights, Charles Evers owned and operated WMPR-FM, Jackson, Mississippi for many years. He hosted the “Let’s Talk” program on the station for decades.
COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Fall School Plans, U.S.-China Tensions/Hacking Allegations, Portland Protests/Chicago Violence, Federal Agents Controversy, GOP COVID Stimulus Plan, and MLB Season Opens Today Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/22). The soaring number of COVID-19 cases in numerous states and projections for future cases; debate over plans to return children to schools this fall; tensions between the U.S. and China as the latter’s consulate in Houston is ordered closed and feds seek a Chinese scientist believed to have lied on her visa application; the protests taking place in Portland and the violence on Chicago’s streets; the controversy over President Trump’s use of federal troops to combat protestors; the Republican plan for COVID-19 relief and stimulus; and Major League Baseball begins the 2020 season today were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Legendary Moody Blues Member John Lodge Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. The venerable British bass guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter for the iconic Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees, the Moody Blues, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” John Lodge is the writer of Moody Blues hits that include “Ride My See-Saw,” “I’m Just A Singer (In A Rock and Roll Band),” “Isn’t Life Strange?” and many more. This musical legend has been performing and recording with the Moody Blues for more than five decades, selling in excess of 70 million albums. He’s been voted one of the “10 most influential bass players on the planet,” and has been the recipient of numerous prestigious music industry awards. Although he primarily lives in London, Harrison caught up with Lodge via phone at his condo in Naples, Florida where he’s been isolating from COVID-19 for the past four months and during which time he wrote and recorded a new song titled “In These Crazy Times (Isolation Mix).” Harrison (an album rock radio pioneer) and Lodge talk about a wide range of topics including the recording of the groundbreaking album “Days of Future Passed,” their personal encounters with Dr. Timothy Leary (“Legend of a Mind”) and the psychedelic era, changes in popular music over the years, and the impact COVID-19 is having on live music and theater. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Former “American Idol” contestant and current WKLB, Boston “Country 102.5” morning drive co-host Ayla Brown will be featured singing the National Anthem at a future NBA game in Orlando. Beasley Media Group says Brown has performed the Anthem for every major sport in Boston and was the Celtics’ “Lucky Anthem Singer” when the team won the 2008 National Championship. She says, “Growing up in Massachusetts and being a former basketball player for Boston College, my dream was always to step on the court at the Garden. While I never got to lace up the sneakers for a game, singing the National Anthem over the years for the team has always been the highest honor. Thank you to the Boston Celtics for this wonderful opportunity!”…..On-air pro Christy is exiting Pamal Broadcasting’s CHR WFLY-FM, Albany “FLY 92” because of her husband’s relocation to the Boston area. She was part of “The Fly Morning Rush With Jake & Christy.” As a result, program director Ally Reid is seeking a new morning drive co-host. Interested candidates should email her at email@example.com.
WGMD, Rehoboth Beach Afternoon Host Sanctioned by SEC. The new PM drive host at Resort Broadcasting’s WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware – Todd Schoenberger – has been sanctioned by the Securities Exchange Commission for fraud. According to the News Journal, Schoenberger admitted to fraudulent conduct in a case in which he convinced four investors to pony up $130,000 for a hedge fund he said had $65 million under management, but in reality contained no assets at all. Schoenberger began his new gig with the station on June 1 and this story broke later in the week. He was still with the station on Friday (6/5), however it’s unclear what his status with the station will be going forward. Schoenberger has been a regular guest on Fox News, CNBC, CNN and Bloomberg.
WTKS-FM, Orlando Morning Host Russ Rollins Sued by Estranged Wife. The bit aired on iHeartMedia’s WTKS-FM, Orlando “Real Radio 104.1” in which Monsters in the Morning ringleader Russ Rollins was served divorce papers while on the air has led Rollins’ estranged wife Samantha Boomer to sue him. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Boomer, who is being represented by Gloria Allred, is suing alleging defamation and invasion of privacy. The suit seeks damages for emotional distress from the video of the bit and the related social media postings. The complaint states that Rollins (and employer iHeartMedia) “decided to take something that is painful, personal and private and make it public entertainment for profit and ratings. This public disgrace and embarrassment has caused so much pain and disruption that I had to contemplate moving my family from the community that I love.” During the bit, it was implied that Boomer asked that the papers be served while Rollins was on the air. That was not true and iHeartMedia published a retraction on the station’s website but that was too late for Boomer.
Mentally and Emotionally Coping with the Uncertainty of Speech No-Go Zones. According to psychiatrist and TALKERS contributor Renee Kohanski, MD, coping with the uncertainty of “Speech No-Go Zones” can be emotionally challenging to a radio talk show host trying to strike a balance between being provocative, authentic, original and edgy – without falling victim to the often-stifling forces of political correctness that can instantaneously terminate a talent’s career in a puff of controversy. Kohanski offers several tips to talkers on how to manage the stress of this situation and be prepared personally, professionally and even legally for that unwanted knock on the door by the political correctness police. They include such measures as staying up-to-date on industry issues and standards in this regard, keeping documentation of key conversations about artistic expectations with corporate superiors, developing a relationship with a trusted mentor and maintaining a personal support system of advisors and representatives. To read Dr. Kohanski’s entire article, please click here.
Salem Media Group to Buy Two More former Radio Disney Signals. The two stations are in the Dallas and Boston metros. The Texas station is KMKI-AM, Plano, Texas and is a class B with 5,000 watts daytime. The Boston signal is WMKI-AM, another 5,000-watt class B at 1260 on the dial. The prices for the two are $3 million and $500,000 respectively. Salem Media Group already airs its news/talk format in the Dallas market on KSKY and this will be signal number six for the company in that market. As for the Boston station, Salem owns three signals in the market – Spanish Christian teaching on WWDJ, and English Christian teaching on both WROL and WEZE. Will the company bring its news/talk format populated by Salem Radio Network personalities to the market on WMKI? The tantalizing speculation that the company could provide Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh (soon to exit WRKO) with a new home on WMKI if it chooses to go news/talk, is already being discussed by industry watchers. But Limbaugh would likely cost Salem a lot of cash and the company does not have a history of paying big money for a talent like Limbaugh when it has its own stable of quality, conservative talk hosts. Still, eyes will be on Boston as this transaction develops.
WEEO, McConnellsburg, PA Hires Mayor for AM Drive. The Magnum Broadcasting-owned news/talk station serving the Chambersburg, Pennsylvania region is hiring Chambersburg borough Mayor Darren Brown to serve as morning host. A story in Public Opinion News says 35-year-old Brown began doing an “Ask the Mayor” show on WEEO “NewsTalk 103.7 FM” in January of this year and he decided he’d like to try radio full time. Station general manager Patrick Ryan tells the paper he was up for it. “Can you think of a better host for a local news radio show than the mayor? As mayor he certainly knows how to talk. He’s at every ribbon-cutting in town and champions local issues that everyone needs to know about.” The station says he’s currently the “anchor-in-training” for the “First News” program. There’s no word on how the station will handle the equal time issue if and when Brown runs for re-election.
WMAL, Washington Tower Site Up for Sale. Perhaps more valuable than the signals and the radio formats themselves, is the real estate upon which sit so many of the towers of America’s heritage AM stations. A report in The Sentinel, says Cumulus Media is now accepting offers on the Bethesda, Maryland site of its WMAL, Washington transmitter through March 12. Local real estate experts tell the paper the 75-acre piece of land in one of the toniest suburbs of DC should fetch “hundreds of millions” of dollars. The brokerage firm CBRE Group, Inc.’s SVP John Sheridan says, “Seventy-five acres in Bethesda. You don’t need to say anything more than that. It is a huge parcel of land with some of the highest income demographics. There’s the potential to build 300 or more homes.” In 2014, Cumulus put the 10-acre parcel of land occupied by KABC and KLOS transmitters in Los Angeles up for sale and that is going to command $125 million.
Beers Becomes Equity Partner, Board Member at Business Rockstars. Saying that his arrival will “bring the attention of the television and media community to the company’s broadcast, mobile and social platforms,” Business Rockstars announces multimedia CEO Thom Beers joins the board of directors for the company as well as making an equity investment in it. Beers is CEO of FremantleMedia North America. He’s a two-time Emmy Award-winning producer who brings 25 years of experience and success to Business Rockstars, producing some of the most recognizable TV shows such as: “American Idol,” “America’s Got Talent,” “The Price is Right” and “Family Feud,” plus multiple shows on the Discovery Channel and the A&E family of networks. Beers joins Steve Lehman, chairman of Business Rockstars and former CEO of Premiere Networks, along with co-founder and president Ken Rutkowski, as well as their recent addition, Andy Schuon, co-founder of REVOLT Media & TV. Beers comments, “People like to follow ‘smart money,’ and my investment is a strong endorsement and recognition of the platform, and partners of Business Rockstars. By leveraging television content and major media relationships, Business Rockstars will surely continue to grow and reach their goals. I’m glad to be part of their bright future.” The company says that Beers’ investment presents much opportunity to Business Rockstars as it plans to align with a major TV company for possible future content. Steve Lehman adds, “Thom Beers is a Rockstar. He is one of the brightest guys in TV today. He’s intuitive, smart and will be a huge asset in helping to expand our TV and Over-the-Top content platform.”
WTKS-FM, Orlando’s Russ Rollins Served Divorce Papers on the Air. The “Monsters in the Morning” program heard on iHeartMedia’s WTKS “Real Radio 104.1” has been headed by ringmaster Russ Rollins since its inception and the show’s cast members have always “lived their lives on the air.” A classic example of that was when Rollins was recently served divorce papers while on the air. Whether Rollins knew about the coming papers or not is in question – the process server indicates Rollins chose the time and place to receive the papers – but the show has posted video of the papers being served on its website and Rollins appears surprised. Although Rollins’ estranged wife claims in the papers that Rollins physically abused her, his attorney tells WFTV-TV, Orlando that the police were called to Rollins’ home at one point but they investigated and have filed no charges.
Triplett Named DOS at Beasley Tampa Bay Cluster. The newly acquired Beasley Media Group Tampa Bay cluster names Steve Triplett director of sales. The cluster consists of: WYUU “92.5 MAX!MA”; WBRN, “BUBBA 98.7”; WQYK, “Tampa Bay’s Country Station 99.5”; WRBQ “Q105”; WLLD “WiLD 94.1”; and WHFS-AM, “Money Talk 1010.” Triplett comes to Beasley from his most recent gig as president and founder of the marketing firm Contact Media Inc.
Odds & Sods. At iHeartMedia’s Des Moines sports talker KXNO, a realignment of personalities takes place with Chris Williams and Ross Peterson being named the afternoon drive team. The new “Morning Rush” show will consist of Heather Burnside and Travis Justice…..Meanwhile, across town at Cumulus Media’s sports talker KBGG “The Champ,” Marty Tirrell and Ken Miller – as has been reported in recent weeks – will reunite to host the afternoon drive program beginning today (2/9). Tirrell and Miller first began working as a team at KXNO in the mid-1990s…..Mark Grote is named host of the pre- and post-game shows for Chicago Cubs broadcasts on all-news WBBM-AM. Grote, who has been with the CBS RADIO Chicago station group since 2002 and is sports anchor on WSCR’s “Mully & Hanley” program, is also expected to appear on sports talk WSCR regularly as a Cubs reporter, according to a story in the Chicago Tribune.