Watergate Co-Conspirator and Talk Show Host G. Gordon Liddy Dead at 90. Former talk radio host, author, and Watergate break-in architect G. Gordon Liddy died yesterday (3/30) in Mount Vernon, Virginia at the age of 90. Liddy’s son Tom told The New York Times that his father had been suffering from Parkinson’s Disease and had been in declining health recently. G. Gordon Liddy famously made the transition into the talk radio business in the early 1990s after then-Infinity chief Mel Karmazin heard him subbing on a talk radio show and offered him the midday show at the company’s hot talk WJFK-FM, Washington, DC – a station that at the time aired Howard Stern in mornings and Don & Mike in afternoons. Liddy’s program would later move into national syndication via Westwood One. He moved his syndication to Radio America in 2003. He retired from his regular radio program in July of 2012.
Remembering G. Gordon Liddy. On the occasion of the death of G. Gordon Liddy, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents an overview of Liddy’s colorful career based on a profile piece he wrote while serving as special features editor for the radio trade publication Inside Radio in 2004. In the piece, speaking about his radio career, Liddy told Kinosian, “I hope I’ve changed for the better and have [improved] at what I do. It’s like playing golf: The more you do something, the better you get at it. If I spend as many hours playing golf each day as I do with the radio show, I might have a fair game.” Read Kinosian’s story here.
Pictured above is TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison (left) presenting the Freedom of Speech Award to G. Gordon Liddy (right).
FLASHBACK 1995 – G. Gordon Liddy was at the Center of a Talk Radio First Amendment Award Controversy. In 1995, the National Association of Radio Talk Show Hosts (NARTSH) – a pivotal industry trade association that played an active role in the “modern era” rise of talk radio between the late 1980s through the 1990s – presented then-syndicated radio personality G. Gordon Liddy with its annual Freedom of Speech Award (the same award still presented annually by TALKERS magazine). The award was (and still is) non-partisan and has been presented over the decades to a variety of personalities ranging from Rush Limbaugh to Al Franken, Mark Levin to Thom Hartmann, Howard Stern to Karen Hunter and Sean Hannity to Joe Madison. It has been awarded to broadcasters from both sides of the American political divide who have demonstrated through their words, deeds and courage the First Amendment in action, its purpose and how it operates. Liddy received the award that year for facing a lot of heat in the aftermath of remarks he made on the air pertaining to the then-explosive controversy over how Americans can use their Second Amendment rights to protect themselves from armed federal agents breaking into their homes with the intent of shooting them first and asking questions later. This grew out of the activities occurring at the time prompted by the tensions building during the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco, Texas and other related tragic events involving the BATF. Needless to say, it was wildly controversial and a major test for talk radio in establishing a standard for its position on the First Amendment. The award was presented that year at the NARTSH Convention in Houston. To view Liddy’s acceptance speech at the Kennedy Space Center (including attorney and then KABC, Los Angeles talk show host Gloria Allred’s one-woman protest demonstration) please click here. To view a clip from a luncheon that took place at that same contentious convention in which convention chairman Michael Harrison stood up to U.S. Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-MO) over his call for NARTSH members to boycott the Liddy award presentation, please click here.
Update on Jail Status of ‘Free Talk Live’ Host Ian Freeman. In an interview with “Free Talk Live” co-owner, co-host, and head of sales Mark Edge, TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison gets the latest on the legal status of co-host Ian Freeman and the federal government’s charges against him. Yesterday (3/30), TALKERS published a summary of the story from the Manchester Union-Leader that included news of the government’s charges against Freeman that include fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy. In addition to an update from Edge on the charges against Freeman, this interview contains some fascinating information, background, and insights into Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. Listen to it here.
Brad Lane Returns to Twin Cities as WCCO-AM Brand Manager. Programming pro Brad Lane is named brand manager for Audacy’s news/talk WCCO-AM, effective April 19. Lane was most recently serving Good Karma Brands as director of content for news/talk WTMJ-AM and sports talk WKTI-FM/WAUK-AM “ESPN Milwaukee.” Prior to that, he spent 20 years at Hubbard Radio’s KSTP-AM in numerous capacities, including as program director. Audacy Minneapolis SVP and market manager Shannon Knoepke says, “WCCO Radio serves as an extremely important news brand for the people of the Twin Cities and the state of Minnesota who rely on us to be informative, timely, relevant and entertaining. Brad brings a wealth of experience leading content teams and his leadership and vision will be instrumental to the success of our station. We’re looking forward to adding him to the team.”
KROF, Lafayette Adds ‘Todd Starnes Show’ for Early Afternoons. The nationally syndicated “Todd Starnes Show” is added to the program lineup at Townsquare Media’s KROF-AM, Lafayette, Louisiana “TalkRadio 960” in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm daypart. The program will also be broadcast on the company’s sister sports talk station KPEL-AM. Both stations will also air the short-form daily program “Todd Starnes News & Commentary.”
Ramsey Show Passes One Billion Downloads Mark. Over the course of the last 15 years, “The Ramsey Show” podcast with Dave Ramsey and his team of co-hosts has surpassed one billion downloads, what the Ramsey Network says is a rare milestone reached by only a handful of podcasts in the world. In addition, callers have paid off $500 million dollars in debt since the podcast began 15 years ago. Each weekday, “The Ramsey Show” podcast produces three episodes heard across every platform. Ramsey Network EVP Brian Mayfield says, “We’re teachers at the core. And podcasts are an extremely useful medium, giving us another megaphone to reach people. We’ve never seen anything grow the way the podcast world has grown, so we see tremendous opportunity there to continue to increase our audience.”
Alpha Media’s WSGW-AM/FM, Saginaw Takes Station of the Year Honors. Saginaw, Michigan news/talk outlet WSGW-AM/FM “100.5 & 790 Newsradio” is named Medium Market Station of the Year by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. This is the seventh time the Alpha Media station has earned Station of the Year honors from the MAB. Operations manager, Dave Maurer states, “This past year was challenging in our part of Michigan with a devastating flood that hit in May and captured the headlines for much of the year. This was on top of the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 elections which were huge stories that demanded much of our staff’s focus. We are pleased that our team’s performance has won recognition for the quality of content gathered in difficult circumstances.” In addition to Station of the Year, WSGW won 12 other awards including six Best of Show and six Merit Awards in the MAB Broadcast Excellence Awards competition.
Jaleigh Long Officially to Lead Cox Media Group Atlanta and Athens. Sales and management pro Jaleigh Long has been interim market manager for Cox Media Group’s Atlanta and Athens, Georgia markets since earlier this year and now the company officially appoints her VP and market manager. The clusters include news/talk giant WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta; news/talk WGAU-AM/W254CJ, Athens; sports talk WREF-AM, Athens “960 The Ref”; and seven music brands. Long comments, “I am abundantly proud and honored to lead this group of industry-defining stations. The great work we do in all areas of the business every day is making an impact on our audiences, advertisers, and communities we serve. The power of radio is exhilarating and fortunately we get to experience that firsthand each day through the powerful programming, compelling promotions, and important community initiatives that define and underscore CMG’s purpose.”
Keith Lawless to Lead Cox Media Group’s Tampa and Houston Markets. Broadcast executive Keith Lawless is promoted to regional vice president of Cox Media Group Tampa + Houston. He’s been serving as VP and market manager for the company’s Tampa cluster since 2009. Cox Media Group Radio SVP Rob Babin comments, “I am thrilled to announce Keith Lawless as regional vice president over two of CMG Radio’s key markets, CMG Tampa and now CMG Houston. Keith has demonstrated an unwavering commitment for many years and has made an incredible impact on CMG Tampa and successfully led many CMG Radio strategic initiatives. His passion for his team, CMG Radio, and our industry make him the ideal leader to take on the role of RVP.”
Tampa Radio Figure Tedd Webb Dies at 72. Longtime Tampa radio personality Tedd Webb died on Tuesday (3/30), a week after entering hospice following a long illness. WFLA-AM reports Webb’s passing, noting that he was a host at the station for more than 30 years. He co-hosted the “AM Tampa Bay” program with Jack Harris beginning in 1994 and ending in 2017 when Webb retired. Webb was born Henry Ruiz – son of Cuban immigrants – in Tampa and began his radio career at the age of 14. He was a music DJ for the first 15 years of his career before transitioning to talk. He hosted a sports talk show, worked with Nanci Donnellan “The Fabulous Sports Babe,” and as part of WFLA’s “Gardner and Company” morning show before partnering with Harris for “AM Tampa Bay.”
COVID-19 Stats/Variants/Vaccines, WHO COVID Report, Biden Stimulus-Infrastructure Plan, Violence Against Asians, Border Crisis-Immigration Policy, Derek Chauvin Trial, Voting Legislation, Trump Website, and Matt Gaetz Allegation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/30). The number of COVID-10 cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, and the rollout of vaccines; scrutiny of the WHO COVID origin report and criticism of China’s cooperation; President Biden’s $2 trillion economic stimulus and infrastructure plan; the brutal beating of a 64-year-old woman in New York and more reports of assaults on Asian Americans; the crush of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Biden administration’s immigration policy; the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd; Georgia’s new voting rules and the Democrats’ push for expanded voting rights laws; Donald and Melania Trump launch a new website; and the allegations against U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz of sexual relations with a minor were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
By Mike Kinosian
WASHINGTON, DC — At approximately the same time as William Jefferson Clinton was methodically engineering one of the biggest political upsets in recent memory, a national radio network hired a colorful, complex intellectual – if not totally eccentric – character to host a daily talk show.
That was part of the shape of our landscape just over 29 years ago (February 1992).
In the swing of it
Twelve years later in 2004, a toned G. Gordon Liddy was still behind the Westwood One microphone when he recalled with infinite energy to Inside Radio’s then Special Features editor Mike Kinosian, “I hope I’ve changed for the better and have [improved] at what I do. It’s like playing golf: The more you do something, the better you get at it. If I spend as many hours playing golf each day as I do with the radio show, I might have a fair game.”
By Mike Kinosian
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in TALKERS magazine in July of 2011.
NEW YORK — Picture the warm-and-fuzzy wakeup talent who oversees and nurtures a friendly environment. That standard blueprint for eliciting a feel-good attitude has worked ratings wonders for years and is a cherished cornerstone for some of America’s top-tier heritage stations.
Now imagine pretty much the exact opposite with what some would insist is a cynical, bitter-sounding, often-mumbling personality who berates nearly everyone in his path (his bosses, co-workers, advertisers, guests and listeners are never exempt) and you have a reasonably good feel for “Imus in the Morning.”
WCHB, Detroit Morning Host Mildred Gaddis Investigated by Federal Authorities. According to a piece in the Detroit News, urban talk WCHB, Detroit morning drive talk host Mildred Gaddis is being scrutinized by federal agents for receiving $75,000 in payments to her ExCel Media company from two former public officials who have been indicted on charges of pocketing public money. Former Highland Park school board member Robert Davis and former Wayne County assistant executive Michael Grundy were regular guests on Gaddis’ program and authorities are investigating whether the two were buying influence through advertising on the station. Invoices to Gaddis’ company indicate the money was for “ads and interviews.” Spokesman Greg Bowens acknowledges firms operated by Davis and Grundy made payments to Gaddis’ company but says they did not receive favorable treatment as a result. The Detroit News quotes media lawyer and Michigan State journalism professor Jane Briggs-Bunting saying, “Ethically, there are big issues but as far as an FCC violation, I don’t see one.”
Pioneering AOR/Talk Program Director Pat Evans Dies. The woman who programmed the first FM station to feature Howard Stern in the morning and album rock the rest of the day, Pat Evans, has died in San Francisco after a two-year battle with lung cancer. Evans came to New York City from her home town of Detroit in 1985 upon being hired by then-Infinity CEO Mel Karmazin to program WXRK (“K-Rock”) where, in addition to working with an outstanding line up of AOR personalities such as Jimmy Fink, Tony Pigg, Meg Griffin, Marc Coppola, Jo Maeder and Maria Malito, she served as one of the first modern era music radio PDs to develop pop culture (“shock jock”) talk in the morning, handling the monumentally historic challenge of working with local AM drive host Howard Stern during his rise to prominence on FM. She later served as PD of the legendary K-FOG in San Francisco and VP of communications at public broadcasting’s KQED in that city. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison who worked with Pat Evans in 1989 as co-producers of the ABC Radio Networks mega special “The Official History of Rock and Roll” states, “Pat was an extraordinary human being who has tragically been taken away from us while still in the prime of her life. Her love of radio, its music and personalities, was a powerful inspiration to me and so many others. Her work behind the scenes in facilitating Howard Stern’s early days as an emerging force on the FM dial was a vital component in shaping the course of things to come for decades in this field. She was one of the true greats of our industry.”
Sports Talk Listeners Very Tech-Savvy According to Jacobs Media Study. The results of its Techsurvey 8 indicate sports talk radio listeners are extremely tech-savvy and use digital technology to feed their appetite for sports. Jacobs Media president Fred Jacobs states, “Sports radio fans are highly engaged, into gadgets, and especially likely to be connected via Twitter. They know how to access the sports news and happenings they crave and they deftly use the available tools. Radio needs to work hard to be their go-to medium.” Jacobs says the study reveals Twitter is a favorite of sports talk fans and says, “Sports talk fans lead the league for tweeting. Of those who use this platform, more than half follow a sports talk radio station and/or personality on Twitter.” Learn more about the study at JacobsMedia.com.
WCTC, New Brunswick, New Jersey Personality Jack Ellery Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award for NJBA. New Jersey talk radio personality Jack Ellery has spent close to 50 years of his career at Greater Media’s WCTC, New Brunswick – he started there in 1962 – and he was honored at the recent New Jersey Broadcasters Association conference on June 12 and 13 with the organization’s “Lifetime Achievement” award. Ellery was also one of eight broadcasters to be inducted into the inaugural class of the NJBA’s Hall of Fame.
Pandora Engages Local Newspapers to Sell Ads for its Service. The digital music service is entering into relationships with some local newspapers for a reseller program in which newspaper sales staffs sell ads on the Pandora platform. Papers including the Miami Herald, Salt Lake City Tribune, Tacoma News Tribune and U-T San Diego are working with Pandora on the project. Pandora has always stated one of its goals is to sell locally – something that sticks in the craw of local radio. And although Pandora – with its claims of large listening stats – certainly has the users to back up its presence, unlike radio, the more people who listen, the more Pandora must pay for its content. The service needs to find as much revenue as possible and this deal with local papers is a cost-effective way to get feet on the ground in local markets.
Odds ‘n’ Sods. Townsquare Media’s New Jersey 101.5 is honored with two “Best of the Best” awards at the New Jersey Broadcasters Association annual convention. The station was recognized for “Best News” for its 100+ hours of coverage of Hurricane Irene and “Best Public Affairs” for its monthly “Ask the Governor” program…..Heritage St. Louis news/talk KMOX will soon move to new offices as CBS Radio consolidates its three stations – KEZK-FM, WYKY-FM and KMOX into one office in the Park Pacific building in downtown St. Louis. Currently, the two music outlets and KMOX are in separate buildings. KMOX will be the first station to move and should be there by the end of 2012…..SiriusXM announces it will cover every game of the 2012 NCAA College Men’s World Series beginning today through June 24 from TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. America’s Radio News Network adds news blocks to new affiliate WMNI-AM/FM, Columbus…..“Baldwin/McCullough Live” featuring Stephen Baldwin and Kevin McCullough joins stations KCBQ, San Diego; WORL, Orlando; WPNW, Zeeland, Michigan; and KAPE-AM/FM, Cape Girardeau, Missouri…..Dial Global’s Jim Bohannon joins the lineup at WMNI-AM/FM, Columbus…..The Leslie Marshall show joins the lineup at WRJN, Racine, Wisconsin…..Tom Gresham’s “Gun Talk” is added to the program schedule at WMCD-FM, Statesboro, Georgia; WKBZ, Muskegon, Michigan; WSNJ, Millville, New Jersey.
2012 Presidential Race Returns to Top of Talkers TenTM. The 2012 campaign for president was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio in America for the week of June 11-15 after dropping to #2 last week, according to ongoing research from TALKERS. Following at #2 was the Russia-Syria arms connection. At #3 was the GOP’s pressure on Attorney General Eric Holder in the ‘Fast and Furious’ case followed by the financial instability in the European Union at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s entire chart here.