Talkers New York 2015 ‘Fireside Chat’ Video featuring Dialogue Between Michael Harrison and John Dickey Posted Today. Billed as a “Fireside Chat” in one of the keynote sessions of the just-concluded Talkers New York 2015 convention, TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison conducts a one-on-one conversation with Cumulus Media executive vice president of content & programming, John Dickey. In a series of what Dickey describes as “really tough questions,” Harrison asks him about a wide variety of subjects including how he handles the stress of being significantly responsible for the operation of one of the largest and most complex radio broadcasting companies in the history of the medium; whether or not the platform of radio can ever be accurately measured in terms of ratings; what position talk radio occupies within the overall Cumulus plan going forward; whether or not there is room for qualitative selling and non-traditional revenue generation at large, corporately owned stations; and if there is a future for the personality oriented disc jockey in music radio, among other topics. Dickey responds with thoughtful and candid answers before a fully engaged, packed house of professionals from all segments of the industry in a room so quiet, one could hear a proverbial pin drop. On the subject of stress, Dickey says it is a matter of “balance…balance in life” putting work and family into their proper perspectives. He ties that into programming — repeatedly stating that successful radio formats must maintain an effective balance of elements as they evolve forward with their “natural life cycles.” Dickey discusses the importance of “branding” in today’s commerce, underscoring his company’s commitment to and “heavy investment” in the talk format stating, “We are the ‘custodians’ of some of radio’s greatest brands,” making it clear that Cumulus takes that responsibility very seriously in the talk arena. He makes the point, “We must, however, arrive at an understanding of what constitutes the talk format today” pointing out that talk radio needs to “broaden the conversation” because “people talk about a lot of things.” On the subject of ratings (immediately following a powerful panel discussion about the state of audience measurement moderated by Sean Hannity during which Nielsen’s feet were held to the fire), Dickey is measured and fair in his criticism of Nielsen stating, “The ratings are accurate… but only to a point.” He says, “Nielsen needs to be [more forthcoming] about the ‘margin of error’ [in their metrics] – they owe us more than they are giving us.” Looking back at the conversation, Michael Harrison says, “John Dickey is one of the brightest young men I have ever met in this business and I have no doubt in my mind about his love for and commitment to radio. Neither he nor his brother Lew have easy jobs…and, like all human beings, they are far from perfect, not to mention the entire radio industry is challenged by the circumstances of the times… so operating the second largest ownership group in the history of the medium in the second decade of the 21st century is an extremely daunting task. Unlike so many of today’s powerful executives in both business and government, they admit their mistakes and are always trying to learn and improve.” To view the “Fireside Chat” in its entirety including an introduction by rising talk star Ethan Bearman, please click here.
Nielsen Unveils its Total Audience Report; Radio Leads Weekly Reach of Adults. Senior vice president of the audience insights division at Nielsen, Glenn Enoch, says that in preparing the first-ever Total Audience Report, the company is “using the best available data and have done all we can to make this an ‘apples-to-apples’ comparison, but it is important to remember that these platforms are measured by different methods using different samples and different crediting rules.” Enoch is referring to the challenge of finding one way to express the consumption of three different media platforms – TV, radio and digital. That said, radio practitioners are happy with the results indicating that on a weekly basis, radio reaches 93% of the adult population compared to television’s 87% reach. Digital is broken up into three segments – PC, smartphone, and tablet – and those reach 54%, 70% and 35% of American adults, respectively. However, when one looks at the weekly hours and minutes spent with each medium, television comes out on top across all adult demographics and radio comes in second. The data shows that, for persons 35-49, the average hours/minutes during the week spent with television was 33:05, for radio 13:39, for PCs 6:58, for smartphones 8:52, and for tablets 4:50. In tallying the number of days per week of usage for each medium for persons 18-49, smartphones come out on top with 5.9. Radio is close behind with 5. Television is third with 4.7, followed by tablets at 4.6 and PCs with 3.6. In a memo to his sales stall, Cumulus Media chief marketing officer Pierre Bouvard writes, “While radio is known as a frequency medium, we have always had significant reach. Radio’s reach has remained consistent while television has eroded. Radio now finds itself as America’s number one mass reach medium.”
New York Festivals Winners. Pictured here at Monday evening’s New York Festivals International Radio Program awards ceremony at New York Penthouse are Grand Jury member Geller Media International’s Valerie Geller (center); SiriusXM host Paul Bachman, Bronze Radio Winner in the Best Children/Young Adult Program for “Couch Potato Stew on Kids Place Live” (left); and SiriusXM VP Frank Raphael (right). The New York Festivals International Radio Program awards is an annual radio program competition executed in collaboration with the United Nations Department of Public Information. The United Nations Awards were established in 1990 to honor programs highlighting global concerns of interest to the UN.
Odds & Sods. The Edward R. Murrow Awards from the RTDNA will be handed out on October 12 in New York and CBS Radio News will receive the awards for Best Newscast and Best Continuing Coverage for the third straight year. Outstanding coverage of the downed Malaysian airliner in the Ukraine earned CBS the Best Newscast for its July 18 edition of World New Roundup by Steve Kathan and Paul Farry. The Continuing Coverage award was given for CBS’s yearlong reporting of the war on ISIS.….Chicago media writer Robert Feder is reporting that Cumulus Media’s news/talk WLS-AM, Chicago has secured the rights to Chicago White Sox baseball for a six-year deal that would start with the 2016 season. Currently, White Sox baseball is heard on CBS RADIO’s sports talk WSCR “670 The Score.”…..It didn’t take long for former San Diego Chargers analyst Hank Bauer to find a new gig. The former Chargers player will join Sports USA as a play-by-play analyst for its NFL broadcasts beginning in September. Bauer’s deal to work in the Chargers radio network booth was not renewed after 17 years…..Jon Laaser is named the new radio play-by-play man for Virginia Tech football starting this fall by rights holder IMG. Laaser will work in the booth with color man Mike Burnop.
Alan Colmes Recalls Playing Gunhill Road in His DJ Days. Mainstay radio and TV talker Alan Colmes of FOX News Radio and FOX News Channel is pictured at left at Talkers New York 2015 (6/12) being interviewed for a documentary film being produced about the legendary pop/rock band Gunhill Road that he recalls from his early days as a DJ spinning rock ‘n’ roll. The trio had a great time schmoozing with radio broadcasters from both music and talk formats at the recent mega-conference. Gunhill Road had two FM rock radio album favorites and the hit single “Back When My Hair Was Short” in the early 1970s. They surprised the music world recently by releasing an unexpected album with 19 new tracks titled Every 40 Years (Gunhill Road Records) that has garnered some airplay on AC and triple-A formats as well as a ton of interviews on talk radio – talk show hosts with a taste for pop culture find the group’s personal story fascinating. The group attended the conference to appear with various radio folk in the forthcoming documentary (“Back When My Hair Was Long”) about their extremely unlikely two-part journey from the 1970s to the modern digital era set for theatrical release in 2016 and to promote their latest single, “I’ve Got To Learn To Cry (featuring American Idol’s Julia DeMato). Pictured above: Gunhill Road members (l-r): Glenn Leopold, Steve Goldrich and Paul Reisch with talk radio legend Tom Leykis.
The Dump Buttons Start Season with Narrow Loss. Pictured here after their first game of the season – a very close 10-9 loss to Bloomberg News – are the players on the Cumulus Media New York co-ed softball team, The Dump Buttons. They represent hot AC WPLJ, news/talk WABC, and urban contemporary WNBM. Top row (from l-r): the Don Imus show’s Lou Rufino, WPLJ digital/social media producer Sheila Watko, Joan Hamburg producer Matt Meany, WABC account executives Jamie Roberts and Jose Torres; and Bryce Grafton (Jayde’s boyfriend). Bottom row (from l-r): WPLJ GSM Mary Jo Vetrano, WNBM midday host La Loca; WPLJ morning show co-host, Jayde Donovan; Curtis & Kuby producer Flipper; WABC personality Curtis Sliwa.
The 28th Annual Geraldo Golf Classic. 77WABC personality Geraldo Rivera (left) is here with honoree Steven G. Santino (right) at Monday’s Geraldo Golf Classic at Edgewood Country Club in River Vale, New Jersey. Geraldo’s radio show was broadcast live from the event and golfers participated in contests, watched the broadcast, golfed, and enjoyed an extended cocktail hour in the evening. All proceeds benefit Life’s WORC, which provides support and services for individuals with developmental disabilities.
Charleston Church Massacre Aftermath/Confederate Flag Controversy, Pope’s Climate Encyclical, Obama Trade Deal, 2016 Presidential Prospects, ISIS Activities, Iran Nuclear Program, White House Ransom Policy, and Skinny Jeans Hospitalization Case Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/23). The aftermath of the Charleston church killings and the related South Carolina Confederate flag issue; the recent climate change encyclical from Pope Francis and the controversy over the beliefs of his science advisor; the revived fast-track trade bill; the activities of the 2016 presidential candidates; the military progress of ISIS and world reaction to its grisly tactics; potential cooperation between the US and Iran and the latter’s nuclear program; the new White House policy that would not legally pursue families that pay ransom for family members held by terrorist organizations; and the case of a woman hospitalized due to ill effects from “skinny jeans” were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
WBZ, Boston and WBZ-TV Win Peabody Award for Marathon Bombing Coverage. The CBS-owned television station and all-news radio outlet are being honored with a 2013 George Foster Peabody Award for overall excellence for their combined coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings. The citation from the Peabody Awards states: “Out in force to cover the annual marathon, both WBZ-TV and Newsradio 1030 had a journalistic advantage when the bombs detonated. Neither gave it up as their reporters spent hour after hour on the air providing wide-ranging, enterprising, non-sensational coverage of the casualties, the suspects and the intense, nerve-wracking manhunt. They become crucial sources not just to their city but to a stunned nation.” The awards will be delivered during the ceremony to take place in New York on May 19.
WABC, New York Covers Final Four. As the battle to claim the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship title continues this weekend, Cumulus Media news/talker WABC, New York covers it from Dallas with Geraldo show regulars Noam Laden and Jared Max sitting in for Geraldo live from radio row on Friday and Monday from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon ET. They will also produce a special wabcradio.com only broadcast slated for Saturday April 5 at 10:00 am ET. WABC also partnered with WestwoodOne for a series of March Madness promotions including the Greatest Moments in Tournament History vignettes and an exclusive fly-away promotion to the Men’s National Championship game. Program director Craig Schwalb says, “Working with WestwoodOne on these opportunities is a huge win for our listeners and clients. Our audience is into the excitement, the personalities, and the stories surrounding the Final Four, and so is 77 WABC!”
‘102.5 The Bone’ Tampa Personality Cowhead to Drop Nickname; Seek Syndication Deal. In a piece in the Tampa Bay Times, WHPT, Tampa afternoon drive personality Mike Calta – who goes by the nickname Cowhead on the radio – says he will give up the sobriquet and begin the next phase of his career using his real name as of April 14. In fact, he’ll host an on-air funeral for the moniker. He tells the paper, “When I started at the ‘Power Pig,’ everybody had those types of names. I was Big Mike for a while but that didn’t really stick. Then they asked me if I ever had any nicknames in high school and I remembered that a few people called me Cowhead and it sort of stuck. The minute I said it I immediately regretted it…I think times change. Even the ‘Power Pig’ changed its name. As times change and you age, it just gets silly.” Calta also tells the Times that his contract with Cox Media is up in June and he’s looking to have a syndication deal be part of negotiations.
CBS Revamps Radio.com. Calling it part of the evolution of CBS Local Digital Media, the company announces the debut of the new Radio.com. The company says in a statement, “Four years ago, we launched our new digital media business, rethinking the way CBS’s radio and television stations operate online and in the mobile space. Since then, we have evolved into the largest digital business in local broadcast media. There are few companies that have the radio, television, digital, out-of-home, and events platforms we do, and as a result we’re able to better leverage our local market properties with national scale. As leaders in integrating digital and traditional media into experiences that resonate with consumers, we take our next step forward in that regard with the debut of the new Radio.com website and streaming player. More than just live audio and video simulcasts of our stations, Radio.com presents original programming, live webcasts, exclusive editorial features and storytelling, and interviews with some of the biggest artists and personalities in the world. Indeed, we have taken a different strategy than others in the industry by recognizing that this ‘other’ content has tremendous value to our audiences. The popularity of our programs has demonstrated our thinking is correct.” Highlights of the new Radio.com include: a fresh look and feel, with improved interactivity; ability to be embedded on other sites; improved ad insertion capabilities; better-quality playback and streaming; program schedules available in real-time; expanded social media opportunities; play history; artist and track information integration; simple song purchase; and enhanced station guide and navigation experience. CBS promises updated mobile apps in the coming months.
Beck’s TheBlaze TV Added to Cable ONE Menu. It’s another cable company addition for Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze TV. His 24/7 news, opinion and entertainment network channel is being added to Cable ONE. A statement from TheBlaze says Cable ONE is America’s 11th largest cable operator. This addition gives the TheBlaze TV “distribution on 54 television providers nationwide including seven of the top 30.” Cable ONE serves customers in 42 markets in 19 states, including Biloxi/Gulfport, Boise, Phoenix/Prescott, and Sioux City, among others. Cable ONE vice president of marketing Joe Falbab says, “We are very excited about adding TheBlaze to the Cable ONE lineup. Our customers have requested this channel and we are happy to be able to respond to that request. We are committed to listening to our customers and will continue to deliver to them the best possible programming.”
Emmis Reports Q4 Revenue Up 11%. Indianapolis-based Emmis Communications Corporation operates on a fiscal year calendar and its fiscal 2014 fourth quarter ended February 28, 2014. The company reports that its Q4 revenue jumped to $32.4 million from $29.1 million a year prior. If you cut out WEPN, New York (which is being operated by ESPN under an LMA), revenue was up 12% for the quarter. For the full year fiscal 2014, net radio revenue hit the $145.4 million mark realizing an increase in net revenue of 5% over 2013. In a press release this morning, the company reports “these results also outperformed Emmis’ local radio markets in which revenue growth improved 3% for the year.” President and CEO Jeff Smulyan comments, “Fiscal 2014 marked the fourth consecutive year we have outperformed our local radio markets and the radio industry as a whole. Our strong operating performance is the result of sound strategy and its execution by a phenomenal workforce that makes me so proud. We are very excited about the addition of WBLS and WLIB in New York and the momentum behind NextRadio as we head into fiscal 2015.”
NAB Radio Board Election Results. The results of the NAB Radio Board election are in and the members who will serve two-year terms beginning in June are: Pete Booker, president and CEO, Delmarva Broadcasting Company; Steven Cutler, EVP business development and corporate strategy, Clear Channel; Gary Exline, general manager, Eagle Communications, Inc.; Kim Guthrie, EVP, Cox Media Group; Erik Hellum, EVP, Townsquare Media; Deon Levingston, SVP/market manager, Emmis Communications; Margaret Perkins, president and CEO, First Natchez Radio Group; Mary Quass, president and CEO, NRG Media, LLC; Joe Schwartz, president and CEO, Cherry Creek Radio; Jose Valle, president, Univision Radio; Thomas Walker, president, Mid-West Family Broadcasting.
Odds & Sods. The WPHT Speaker Series – produced by CBS RADIO news/talk WPHT, Philadelphia – continues this evening (4/3) as station personality Dom Giordano interviews Tea Party leader, former Florida Congressman and veteran Lt. Col. Allen West at Valley Forge Military Academy and College. West is the author of the new book Guardian of the Republic…..Hubbard Radio’s all-news WTOP, Washington is sponsoring its “Click for a Cause” online contest that will give Washington, D.C. non-profits the chance to win cash and free commercial air time on WTOP. There will be three grand prizes of $10,000 each with runners up winning $5,000 worth of commercials to advertise their cause on WTOP…..WELW, Willoughby, Ohio changes its calls and brand. The Spirit Broadcasting-owned station is using the WINT calls and has branded the station “1330 WINTegrity Radio.” Station president Ray Somich says the change comes ahead of a major expansion to take place this summer. The station has served communities to the east of Cleveland for the past 50 years.
Deadly Fort Hood Shooting, ObamaCare Criticism, SCOTUS Campaign Donor Limits Ruling, Mid-Term Elections/2016 Presidential Race, Russian Aggression and House Benghazi Hearing Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/2). The shooting at Fort Hood that claimed the lives of four and the preliminary investigation; scrutiny of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act and criticism of the White House “victory” presser; the Supreme Court ruling killing limits on personal campaign donations; speculation about political power shifts after the mid-term elections and the possible candidates for president in 2016; worries over Russia’s plans for Ukraine and other former Soviet bloc nations and President Obama’s tactics versus Vladimir Putin; and the Congressional hearings on the Benghazi incident were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
Pioneering Radio Owner Peter Straus Dies at 89. His Straus Communications owned WMCA, New York when it was a part of the golden age of rock ‘n’ roll radio and after it became a talk radio outlet in 1970 until the time it was sold in 1986. From a talk radio perspective Straus’ WMCA employed legendary talk hosts including Barry Gray, Barry Farber, Bob Grant and Bruce Williams. The station is now owned by Salem Communications and broadcasts a Christian format. Salem Radio Network vice president of news & talk programming Tom Tradup tells TALKERS he has fond memories of working for Straus as executive producer of the talk shows in the early 1980s. “I worked with Peter at a time when WMCA was a petri dish of talk radio creativity. Legendary hosts like Barry Gray, Bob Grant, Bruce Williams and Barry Farber were all local hosts on WMCA…and our 5,000-watt station (albeit in the middle of Midtown Manhattan!) was the home of every important New York politician including NYC mayor Ed Koch, New York Lt. Governor (and later Governor) Mario Cuomo, New York city clerk (and future mayor) David Dinkins and many more. The hallways of WMCA were always full, and it was a rare day one didn’t run into a guest like Marlon Brando or Woody Allen or Tony Randall or Robert Vaughn.” Tradup says the station was “vibrant but challenged” during his time there as it battled WOR and WABC but Straus was “one in a million. Peter instituted a ‘first radio in New York’ policy, meaning if an author appeared on another NYC station before WMCA, we wouldn’t book him. And son of a gun, we started getting all the big authors first because publishers knew he meant it. This taught me a lesson I’ve never forgotten: If you act as if your radio station is #1, people will treat you like #1. Peter was a winner, an exceptional leader, and the talk radio industry owes him respect and gratitude.”
Howard Stern Appeals Suit Dismissal in Beef with SiriusXM. Talk radio legend Howard Stern and agent Don Buchwald are not going to let one dismissal get in the way of their goal of getting some $300 million in stock bonuses they say is due them as the result of the satcaster’s success. According to the New York Daily News, Stern and Buchwald – through Stern’s 112 Inc. production company – filed suit in the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division. The Daily News reports the suit hasn’t even been processed yet so the documents aren’t available but we have a pretty good idea what Stern is claiming: That he is owed the $300 million in stock bonuses because his program is responsible for a large degree of SiriusXM’s success, even the success that came after the merger of Sirius and XM. In April of this year though, New York Supreme Court Justice Barbara Kapnick disagreed with Stern’s logic and dismissed the case ruling the language in Stern’s contract is “clear” and “unambiguous.” In other words, he’s gotten everything the contract promised him.
Howard Eskin Returns to TV Sports Anchor Role. Longtime WIP, Philadelphia sports talk personality Howard Eskin goes back to the little screen as sports anchor at WTXF-TV Fox 29 in Philadelphia. The station says Eskin helped launch its 10:00 pm news back in 1986 and now he’ll be behind the sports desk for the Fox News 29 at 5:00 pm, 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm newscasts as well as “Fox 29 Sports Sunday,” “Game Time Live,” and he’ll contribute to “Good Day Philadelphia.” After leaving his full-time talk show position at WIP, Eskin continued to work with the station as part of the Eagles pre- and post-game shows and as a sideline reporter. Eskin will remain with WIP to host programs, the Eagles pre-game show and handle sideline reporting for the station.
Shara Fryer Added to KTRH, Houston AM Drive Show. Longtime Houston market television news personality Shara Fryer will join Matt Patrick as co-host of KTRH’s “Houston’s Morning News.” Fryer is currently director of the World Affairs Council of Houston but served as co-anchor of KTRK-TV, Houston’s 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm evening newscasts for more than 25 years. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s Houston president and market manager Eddie Martiny says, “Over 25 years of major-market broadcast excellence combined with her commitment to numerous charities in Houston make Shara the perfect choice for mornings on KTRH.” Fryer says, “I’m excited by the energy and raw spirit of radio. It’s a brand new world for me…There’s a spark with Matt and the entire KTRH team that I hope listeners will feel and join us weekday mornings.” She begins her new duties on September 4.
Al Gore to Anchor Current TV’s Convention Coverage. Former Vice President Al Gore – founder of the cable news/talk channel Current TV taps himself to anchor the channel’s coverage of the two political conventions. Current TV states, “Gore will be joined by former Michigan governor and ‘The War Room’ host, Jennifer Granholm, former New York governor and ‘Viewpoint’ host, Eliot Spitzer and ‘The Young Turks’ host, Cenk Uygur. Additionally, California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom will join the panel for the RNC coverage.” Current TV hosts Joy Behar and John Fugelsang will also assist in the coverage of the RNC beginning August 27 and the DNC beginning September 4. In a statement, Gore says, “I’m pleased to be participating in Current TV’s impressive lineup throughout the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. Cenk, Jennifer and Eliot provide the keen insight and spot-on analysis our viewers have come to expect, combined with decades of experience in public service and a deep understanding of politics. I have no doubt that our coverage will be innovative and informative, and I look forward to working with them.”
Olympian Brings Home the Gold. Bethesda, Maryland teen Katie Ledecky (pictured here with WTOP, Washington program director Laurie Cantillo) stopped by WTOP to talk with the news organization about her experiences at the London Olympics. The gold-medal-winning 15-year-old won the 800-meter freestyle and spoke with WTOP anchors Shawn Anderson and John Aaron about the games and answered her critics who predicted she swam too fast in the beginning of the race and would tire before the end. Obviously, she didn’t.
Odds & Sods. SiriusXM’s Opie & Anthony bring their program to Chicago for a live remote broadcast tomorrow from the 115 Bourbon Street Bar in suburban Merrionette Park. The special afternoon edition of the program kicks off at 3:00 pm CT…..CBS Radio names Laura Gonzalez local sales manager for sports talk WJFK, Washington, DC…..Cumulus Media splits off the AM side of sports simulcast WLQR, Toledo to go talk using all Cumulus Media Networks programs: Imus, Geraldo, Mike Huckabee, Mark Levin, John Batchelor and “Red Eye Radio”…..Clear Channel’s sports WPOP, Hartford will carry Central Connecticut State football and basketball play-by-play for the next four seasons…..Attorney Eddie Gadrix begins hosting a Monday hour-long program focused on senior issues on WVNJ, Washington Township, New Jersey (Philadelphia market) on Monday mornings at 9:00. Gadrix has been hosting the “Divorce & Custody Show” on Fridays at 9:00 am on the station and continues that program…..Talk host Matt Bruce fills in on the AM drive show on the simulcast of WWJB, Brooksville and WXJB, Homosassa Springs, Florida today through August 14.
A Sign of the Times. WRKO, Boston talk host Barry Armstrong – Boston-area financial advisor and host of the daily “The Financial Exchange” program – is pictured here during one of the presentations that was part of the two-day financial seminar event on the economy, social security and estate planning. More than 1,000 people attended the seminars that were only promoted on Armstrong’s show on WRKO. Many listeners decided to also get an inside look into the production of Armstrong’s program as he conducted the entire program in front of a live audience.
Presidential Campaign Ads, Neo-Nazi Hate Groups, London Olympics, Mars ‘Curiosity’ Mission and Randy Travis Arrest Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/8). The state of the presidential campaign ads in the 2012 election; neo-Nazi groups and the aftermath of the Wisconsin Sikh temple shootings; the London Olympics; the ‘Curiosity’ mission on Mars; and the arrest of country star Randy Travis were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.