KBME, Houston Drops Josh Innes Morning Show. Houston Chronicle writer David Barron reports that iHeartMedia has dropped sports talk radio host Josh Innes from its morning drive daypart on sports talk KBME, Houston. Innes’ info has been scrubbed from the KBME website and Barron reports that Innes tweeted yesterday that his show was dropped for “budget reasons” and “I do not have a show anymore.” Innes joined KBME in October of 2016 after returning to Houston from Philadelphia where he had served with sports talker WIP for three years. Barron reports that ratings appear to have been the cause for Innes’ departure, writing, “Innes’ ratings have mirrored those of the station and of Houston sports radio in general. KBME’s morning drive audience share as of the most recent Nielsen Audio ratings ranked 25th among all Houston radio stations among men 25-54, the key demographic for sports radio, and trailed the station’s competitors at KILT and KFNC ‘97.5 FM’.”
Bubba the Love Sponge Sues Cox Media Group, Personality Mike Calta, and Former Cast Member Matthew Lloyd. Florida-based talk radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge, a.k.a. Bubba Clem, is suing Cox Media Group for anti-competitive actions and two individuals for allegedly playing roles in a purported conspiracy to ruin his show. The complaint, filed in Pinellas County, Florida alleges that Cox, along with the help of its own WHPT-FM, Tampa show host Mike Calta and former Bubba show staffer Matthew “Spice Boy” Lloyd, worked to destroy Bubba’s show that was airing at that time on Beasley Media Group’s then-WBRN-FM, Tampa. Bubba alleges Cox took actions that caused Nielsen Audio to ultimately sue him for damages due to allegations of ratings tampering. (Nielsen and Bubba reached a confidential settlement over that matter.) Bubba’s complaint says that the result of the tampering allegations was Nielsen not listing WBRN-FM’s ratings in October of 2015, thereby hurting the station’s ability to sell his show and that ultimately led to Beasley dropping Bubba’s show in Tampa and Fort Myers. Bubba also alleges that the defendants stole and leaked to Gawker a video of pro wrestling legend Hulk Hogan having sex with Bubba’s then-wife. Hogan sued and settled with Gawker, netting a large award that forced Gawker out of business. The motive for all of this alleged behavior on the part of the defendants is Bubba’s success at the expense of former employer Cox, its station and staffers. Bubba is seeking damages (over $15,000) to be determined at a jury trial.
New Director of Sales at Entercom’s Greenville Station Group. Radio sales pro Devon van der Merwe is named director of sales for Entercom’s Greenville, South Carolina station group that includes news/talk WORD-FM “WYRD-FM”, sports talk WORD-AM “ESPN Upstate” and five music-formatted stations. Devon van der Merwe moves up from her general sales manager position. Entercom Greenville SVP and market manager Steve Sinicropi states, “Devon has displayed an exceptional ability to lead sales efforts since she joined the Greenville market, and I am fully confident in her continued success. Under Devon’s direction, our sales teams will continue to thrive and reach new milestones.”
KIRO-AM, Seattle Partners with ‘Coaching Boys Into Men.’ The Bonneville sports talk station announces it is partnering with the local nonprofit Coaching Boys Into Men to focus on the goal of helping teach student athletes – as well as school coaches and athletic department leadership – to learn youth leadership skills, prevent domestic violence, and achieve healthy relationships. KIRO-AM program director Mike Salk says, “We are excited to partner with an organization that makes such an important difference in our community. Coaching Boys Into Men has a unique ability to positively affect young people by helping them grow as leaders, while also changing long-term views on consent and respect.”
TALKERS News Notes. The NHL’s Washington Capitals and Entercom sports talker WJFK-FM, Washington renew their deal for the station to serve as the flagship for radio play-by-play of the team’s games. Caps games will also air on the company’s RADIO.COM platform. Entercom Washington SVP and market manager Phil Zachary states, “We are thrilled to bring Capitals hockey to D.C.’s top-rated sports station ‘106.7 The Fan.’ In addition to all games, the station will provide fans with full coverage of their favorite team through premiere programming on air, online and on demand.”…..The Elvis Duran Group and SportsGrid are broadcasting live from this weekend’s National Fantasy Baseball Championships (3/15-16) via their Fantasy Sports Radio Network (FNTSY Radio). The broadcast team includes FNTSY Radio host Gregg Sussman, sports analyst and author of the best-selling Fantasy Black Book series Joe Pisapia, and former Major League Baseball pitcher Brad Ziegler…..Seven Bucks Productions, Andrew Jenks Entertainment, and Cadence13 announce the launch of a new interview series on the hit podcast “What Really Happened?” Written and hosted by documentarian Andrew Jenks, in the interview series he examines and contextualizes famous figures and historical or widely-publicized events while discovering untold stories and unraveling newfound narratives…..Cumulus Media is adding “The BOB & TOM Show” to the morning drive daypart at classic rock WKXS-FM, Wilmington, North Carolina “94.5 The Hawk,” effective Monday (3/18).
Manafort Sentenced/Trump-Russia Investigation, College Entrance Cheating Scheme, Boeing 737 Maxs Grounded, 2020 Democratic Hopefuls/O’Rourke Joins Race, Clinton Email Matter Testimony, Brexit Chaos, Bomb Cyclone Hits U.S., NFL Signings, and NBA and NCAA Hoops Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/13). Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort receives his second sentence and the related Trump-Russia investigation; the college entrance cheating scheme; the U.S. grounds Boeing 737 Maxs after pressure following the deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash; the Democrats vying to challenge President Trump in 2020 and Beto O’Rourke’s entrance into the race; just-revealed testimony from former FBI attorney Lisa Page that the agency was directed by the Obama DOJ not to charge Hillary Clinton in the email server investigation; the political chaos in England over Prime Minister Theresa May’s failed Brexit plan; the Mountain West and Midwest hit with bomb cyclone weather effects; the trades and free agent signings in the NFL; and NBA and NCAA basketball action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Philadelphia, Entercom announces that former country WXTU personality Frank Lario is joining current morning host Marilyn Russell for the new “Frank and Marilyn Morning Show” on classic hits WOGL. The duo debut on Monday (3/18)…..On-air pro Sean Strife moves from iHeartMedia’s Cedar Rapids, Iowa CHR KOSY “HOT 95.7” to the company’s Madison CHR WZEE “Z104” where he’s the new afternoon host and APD/MD…..Air personality Audrey Constant is named afternoon personality at CodComm’s adult contemporary WKFY, East Harwich, Massachusetts (Cape Cod). She was most recently with Plymouth Rock Broadcasting’s AC WPLM-FM, Plymouth and takes over for Rob Walker…..Cumulus Media is adding “The BOB & TOM Show” to the morning drive daypart at classic rock WKXS-FM, Wilmington, North Carolina “94.5 The Hawk,” effective Monday (3/18).
iHeartMedia and Creditors Agree to Mediation. The legal battle between iHeartMedia and 15 creditors goes into mediation after the parties agreed to extend the existing Temporary Restraining Order the media giant won preventing Notices of Default going into effect. This stems from iHeartMedia’s December 2015 transfer of a million shares of class B common stock in Clear Channel Outdoor into a shell company called Broader Media. The creditors believe this move violates the terms of their loans; iHM believes it does not. If the Notices of Default are allowed to go into effect, that could force iHeartMedia to have to try to pay back some $15 billion in debt within 60 days, something that is not possible and could force the company into bankruptcy. The parties will work until May 16 to resolve the conflict.
Adam Wiener Named to Succeed Ezra Kucharz at CBS Local Digital Media. Named to take over for Ezra Kucharz as EVP and general manager of CBS Local Digital Media is Adam Wiener, who is promoted from his SVP, content, community and operations position. He will report to both CBS RADIO president Andre Fernandez and CBS Television Stations president Peter Dunn. Kucharz is transitioning to the new role of special advisor to the chief executive officer of CBS Corporation. Fernandez comments, “Our digital effort is well on its way to realizing our vision of a powerful and compelling destination for viewers and listeners in our local markets. Adam’s proven track record within the digital industry will be vital to the ongoing expansion of our assets and distribution strategy moving forward, and we are thrilled to have him assume this leadership role.”
The Presidential Race/Indiana Primary, The White House Correspondents Dinner, Battle Against Islamic State, U.S. Immigration Policy, Louisville Confederate Monument Case, and NBA-NHL Playoffs Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/2). The activities of the candidates for president and today’s Indiana primary election; reactions to the routines from Saturday’s White House Correspondents Dinner; U.S. military action in Iraq and Syria against Islamic State; renewed controversy over U.S. immigration policy and treatment of illegal aliens; the legal battle over the status of a Confederate statue in Louisville; and the NBA and NHL playoff action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Hulk Hogan Sues Gawker Again; Adds WHPT, Tampa’s Mike Calta and Buchwald & Associates’ Tony Burton to List of Defendants. The recent court victory by Hulk Hogan, a.k.a. Terry Bollea, over media organization Gawker, in which he was awarded $140 million for the publication of a portion of a video of him having sex with Tampa-based radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge’s then-wife Heather Clem, is not the end of his legal endeavors. Hogan is now suing Gawker again for publication of the video, but this time because the racist language he used in the video cost him his employment with the WWE. In this suit, WHPT, Tampa personality Mike Calta and his agent Tony Burton (of Don Buchwald & Associates) are being named among the defendants for allegedly conspiring – along with Tampa radio personality Matt “Spice Boy” Lloyd to have the video released. Hogan is seeking unspecified damages plus attorneys’ fees.
Bold Gold Foundation Names Citizen Award Winners. On June 14, the Bold Gold Broadcast & Media Foundation – a non-profit organization that provides funding and resources to educational organizations that train tomorrow’s broadcast and media leaders – will honor Pride Mobility Products owners Scott Meuser and Dan Meuser with the foundation’s 2016 Atlas Award for Citizenship. Scott and Dan will be honored during The Bold Gold Broadcast & Media Foundation’s 2nd annual event at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The keynote speaker for the evening will be Fox News Channel chief Washington correspondent James Rosen. Foundation president Vince Benedetto says the award is being presented annually to individuals who, “through their hard work and bold actions, show what is possible to achieve in a free society, and who exhibit extraordinary dedication to the highest ideals of character, community service, entrepreneurialism, patriotism, leadership, and virtue. We’re extremely proud to be celebrating and honoring both Scott and Dan Meuser with the 2016 Atlas Award for Citizenship. Whether through their efforts in building and leading the magnificent company that is Pride Mobility, their ongoing investments in Northeast Pennsylvania, or serving the local community in the countless ways that they continually do, they embody all the attributes that the Atlas Award seeks to honor.” The Bold Gold Foundation has had an ambitious past 12 months, helping to complete the building of Hillsdale College’s first broadcast radio station and studio in Hillsdale Michigan, as well as an additional production studio at the College’s Kirby Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C. The Foundation encourages young people in all areas of broadcasting but it is currently placing particular emphasis on supporting advancement in the various spoken-word and informational formats such as news/talk.
Odds & Sods. This weekend’s Kentucky Derby is being carried on SiriusXM, thanks to a partnership between the satcaster and Horse Racing Radio Network. The deal includes coverage of the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, as well as the Breeders’ Cup World Championships and runs through 2018. The wire-to-wire race broadcasts for each are provided by NBC Sports Radio and produced in partnership with HRRN and Westwood One…..This year’s Stanley Cup Final series will be offered to AM/FM radio affiliates via NBC Sports Radio, distributed by Westwood One. The broadcast team will be Kenny Albert and Joe Micheletti…..Talk host William J. Kelly, a.k.a. Citizen Kelly, is launching his weekly talk show – “The Citizen Kelly Show” on WCGO, Chicago this Saturday morning (5/7) at 9:00 am.
Talk Personality & Breitbart Editor Ben Shapiro and Reporter Michelle Fields Resign After Alleged Assault by Trump Campaign Manager. Two Breitbart News staffers have resigned from the conservative news organization, citing lack of support from management after reporter Michelle Fields was allegedly assaulted by Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Both Fields and editor-at-large Ben Shapiro have resigned. The alleged incident happened at a Trump campaign rally on March 9. Fields says she was grabbed by the arm and yanked away while trying to ask a question of Trump after his speech. She did not see her attacker but Fox News reports Washington Post reporter Ben Terris identified Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski as the assailant. Lewandowski has denied the accusation. Fields says the Trump camp then began a “character assassination” campaign on her and received little support from Breitbart. Further, both Fields and Shapiro (who also is a personality on KRLA, Los Angeles’ AM drive show), say Breitbart itself wrote skeptically about Fields’ allegation and even encouraged other staffers – under threat of termination – to stop supporting Fields in the matter. Read Shapiro’s resignation statement in the Buzzfeed story here.
Michael Harrison Participating in Radiodays Europe. TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison is playing a role in the international radio convention, Radiodays Europe, taking place yesterday, today and tomorrow (3/13-15) in Paris, France. Harrison is participating in two capacities. Yesterday, he moderated a fast-paced roundtable discussion with approximately 25 broadcasters from all over the world focused on the subject, “Making Radio Indispensable.” Tomorrow, he addresses the conference on the subject, “Lessons Learned by American Radio at the Dawn of the Digital Era.” According to Harrison, “The conversation was based on the premise that in order for radio to continue its relevancy in the 21st century, it must provide programming and services that a critical mass of listeners find indispensable.” Participating radio professionals represented such diverse countries as France, Italy, the UK, Switzerland, Germany, Russia, Argentina, South Africa, and Australia. Harrison says, “It became very clear, very quickly, that the concerns facing the American industry are also being experienced by radio broadcasters around the world – the challenge of new exotic forms of unregulated media spawned by changing technology as well as a significant generational divide in appealing to younger listeners.” Among the commonly cited solutions suggested by participants include: “highlight live and local programming,” “maintain pressure on the auto industry to continue prominently including AM and FM availability in cars,” “activate the radio chip in smartphones,” and “provide programming of great importance to younger listeners to stimulate interest in the medium by Millennials.” Harrison says, “The conversation – aside from the flavorful accents and colorful array of personal styles displayed by the wonderful people I met – was not all that different than conversations you would hear at an American radio convention.” However, Harrison points out, “The biggest, obvious difference between the radio industries in many of these countries and the American model is government ownership. In countries where a large percentage of stations and networks are government owned and state funded, there is significantly less pressure on both management and talent to deal with budget cuts, ratings obsession and the pain imposed by consolidation-induced smothering debt. A highlight of the discussion came when Harrison engaged in a conversation about Freedom of Speech with Russian broadcaster Yuri Fedutinov, co-owner of privately held radio station “Echo of Moscow.” According to Fedutinov (pictured here, far left, speaking with Harrison, far right), the amount of leeway Russian talk radio has in terms of expressing general opinion is in ratio to how much audience loyalty it has earned by consistently being engaged in community involvement. Due to barriers in language and cultural differences, it was difficult for Fedutinov to be specific as exactly what you can and cannot say on the air in terms of political speech at this point in Russian societal evolution – but it was clear that Fedutinov had to be “fired” from his role as an on-air commentator because of things he opined, but was allowed by the government (and his co-owners) to remain as a principal of the station.” Harrison admits, “I found the conversation with my new Russian friend both fascinating and frustrating. Frustrating – because of the language barrier that made discussion about a nuanced subject prone to misunderstanding as well as my reluctance to push him into saying something publicly that might get him into further trouble. After all, there are no longer any ‘off the record’ conversations at events where microphones and cameras are prevalent.” In a lighter vein, Harrison learned from young Australian radio entrepreneur Ed Hooper that one of the fastest-growing cultural trends in the ‘land down under’ is interest in the NFL and American-style football. Hooper is a self-proclaimed fan of the New England Patriots. He and Harrison got along very well, to say the least. Pictured at left is Harrison (left) with German broadcaster Jorg Stelkins (right). More from Radiodays Europe tomorrow.
Legal Analysis: What the Hulk Hogan Sex Tape Case Means to You. TALKERS magazine legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman writes today about the impact the verdict in Hulk Hogan’s suit against Gawker could have on a radio station’s ability to use material recorded unknowingly or that which is highly personal. This case involves the sex tape of Hogan and Bubba the Love Sponge’s ex-wife Heather Clem that was recorded, without his knowledge says Hogan, and of which a portion was published to the Internet by Gawker. As Weisman writes, the ruling could affect how stories like this are covered in the news. “It is reasonably clear that the lives of celebrities have become valid topics for discussion, but when it comes to invasive videos and photographs, a right to privacy may trump the First Amendment rights of the media.” Read more here.
The Presidential Race, Syrian Civil War, Ivory Coast Terror Attack, Germany Migrant Issues, Obama SXSW Speech, and NCAA Tourney Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The activities of the candidates for president; al Qaeda attacks on Syrian U.S.-backed, rebel-held strongholds; the deadly shootings at an Ivory Coast resort by militant Muslims; Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party loses to anti-immigrant parties in German elections; President Obama states case for giving police access to smartphones during speech at SXSW festival; and the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament bracket is announced were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
FrancesaCon3 Draws Fans to Irving Plaza; ‘Mike & the Mad Dog’ Reunite. It was the third annual “convention” held in New York City to honor sports talk giant Mike Francesa. What started three years ago in a bar in the Big Apple, has grown so that the event was held for the second year in a row at the Irving Plaza and Francesa’s former WFAN partner, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, joined him for the first reunion of the two since 2009. The event was founded by Rockville Centre, New York’s Michael Leboff and New Jersey’s Ron Haraka. Proceeds went to the Dr. Theodore Atlas Foundation, a charity assisting children in need. Francesa tells Newsday, “This kind of outpouring is just unbelievable. It’s so much different than anything else. It’s so spontaneous…It’s just wild, it really is. I went through it last year and [Russo] saw it this year for the first time.” Image: Newsday.
Odds & Sods. At Hearst’s news/talk WBAL, Baltimore, afternoon news anchor Mary Beth Marsden has exited her role after a five-year stint. The Baltimore Sun reports that Marsden would only say that it was time to move on and the parting was amicable…..Sports media personality Stephen A. Smith will sit down with SirusXM host Karen Hunter for a special “SiriusXM’s Town Hall with Stephen A. Smith: The State of Sports, Media and Culture Today.” The satcaster says Smith and Hunter will go into Smith’s career and the path that led him to become one of America’s more polarizing television and radio personalities. It will premiere on March 18 at 12:00 noon ET on the Urban View channel…..Westwood One is presenting exclusive coverage of the 2016 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship beginning Tuesday, March 15 and will carry all 67 men’s basketball games includes the First Four, games from all eight first-round and second-round sites, plus the regional semifinals and finals. In addition, Westwood One will broadcast the NCAA Men’s Final Four on Saturday, April 2, and the National Championship Game on Monday, April 4, live from NRG Stadium in Houston.
Detroit Public TV to Air J.P. McCarthy Documentary. Detroit market radio legend J.P. McCarthy is being remembered in a documentary produced by Detroit Public TV. McCarthy hosted the morning drive show on WJR, Detroit from 1965 through 1995. The program, titled “J.P. McCarthy – The Voice of Detroit,” is an hour-long documentary that tells McCarthy’s story, “the ultimate local-kid-done-good tale.” DPTV says it worked “extensively with the McCarthy family and conducted more than 20 interviews with J.P.’s friends, family, co-workers and contemporaries.”
By Steven J.J. Weisman
BOSTON — At first blush, although there does not appear to be much blushing going on in the videotape of Hulk Hogan having sex with the then-wife of his former friend Bubba the Love Sponge recorded in 2012, Hulk Hogan’s $100 million lawsuit against online news website Gawker would not appear to be a highly significant test of the limits of the First Amendment. But indeed, this case could well set a major precedent as to how not just Gawker, but talk radio hosts and others cover the celebrity news.
Hogan, under his real name Terry Bollea, is suing Gawker for publishing online portions of a video tape apparently done by Bubba the Love Sponge, whose former name was Todd Clem, but actually legally changed his name to Bubba the Love Sponge which should, in and of itself, probably tell us something. Although Bubba and his then wife, Heather Clem, from whom he is now divorced, were aware that the sexual activity between Heather Clem and Bollea was being filmed, Bollea was not aware and the filming of him was done illegally.