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Tuesday, October 1, 2019

| October 1, 2019

TALKERS and The Epoch Times’ Co-Presented “Talk Media Forum on US-China Relations” Takes Place in NYC; Video Available for Viewing.  A 90-minute panel discussion took place in New York today (10/1).  The “Talk Media Forum on US-China Relations” was a panel discussion that included radio talk show hosts Hugh Hewitt of Salem Radio NetworkJohn Batchelor of WABC, New York, and Tom Sullivan of Talk Media Network, as well as a group of experts on the present state of China and its increasingly strained relationship with the United States including Nan Su of NTDTVJoshua Philipp of The Epoch Times and Dr. Dana Cheng of The Epoch Times.  The conversation focused on the US-China trade war, the Hong Kong protests, China’s human rights abuses, Huawei and the worldwide battle for 5G dominance, the North Korea nuclear threat, China’s ongoing intellectual property theft, China’s military buildup, and the long term goals and methods of the Chinese Communist Party, plus more.  See the video of today’s event here.

Ramsey Solutions Addresses National Student Loan Crisis. The company is working to help families avoid  traps of student loans and show them a better way to pay for college. Ramsey Solutions chief executive officer/“Dave Ramsey Show” host Dave Ramsey declares, “Americans have been fed a lie that it is impossible to afford college without student loans. That lie has the average graduate burdened with over $35,000 in student loans from the moment they’re handed their diplomas. The system is broken, and we want people to know the truth: It is possible to pay cash for college.” Thought leaders Ramsey, Mark Cuban, and Seth Godin are among those interviewed in “Borrowed Future,” an eight-episode podcast series featuring real-life stories that explore the student loan crisis. Anthony ONeal, author of “Debt Free-Degree: The Step-By-Step Guide to Getting Your Kid Through College Without Student Loans,” remarks, “Parents and teens believe that student loans are the only option, but debt doesn’t open doors – it closes them. I travel the country speaking to thousands of people each year. I meet students all the time who are working hard, applying for scholarships and grants, and are actually graduating debt-free. I believe more parents and students can do this, but they need a plan. We’re here to provide that plan.”

NAB PILOT Program Announces Internship Grant Recipients. Launched this past spring, PILOT is the National Association of Broadcasters’ technology initiative which has thus far provided paid internships to 13 NAB member organizations for undergraduate students in radio and television engineering/technology positions. The program is provided in partnership with the NAB’s Leadership Foundation as part of an effort to grow technical and engineering talent for the industry. Grants for the spring 2020 term will be provided to the following NAB members: Michigan State University news/talk WKAR-AM, news/talk-classical WKAR-FM, and PBS affiliate WKAR-TV, East Lansing (Michigan); Butler County Radio Network (Butler, Pennsylvania) news/talk WISR, country WBUT, and rock WLER; Scripps Media Phoenix ABC affiliate KNXV-TV; and Marquee Broadcasting Bowling Green, Kentucky’s WNKY-TV. NAB’s executive vice president and chief technology officer Sam Matheny notes, “We have been encouraged by the response to this program and are thrilled to continue it for a second year. PILOT and the NAB Leadership Foundation remain committed to assisting NAB member stations in attracting the best and brightest new candidates to a career in broadcast technology.” NAB Leadership Foundation president Michelle Duke adds, “The NAB Foundation is happy to provide opportunities with PILOT for students in the broadcast technology and engineering fields. Our intent is to continue to expand the pool of talent for our industry.” The program seeks to help NAB members that do not currently offer engineering or media-technology internships. It will provide resources to assist selected stations in identifying and supporting interns, as well as assistance for the selected interns to attend next year’s NAB Show in Las Vegas.

TALKERS News Notes. Celebrities and politicians were omnipresent in Staten Island this past Saturday (9/28) at the nuptials of Salem Media Group New York news/talk WNYM “AM 970 The Answer” executive producer/talk host Frank Morano and his fiancé Rachel O’Brien. “This truly was the most unique assemblage of people ever to come to one party,” he maintains. It’s hard to argue that claim as Morano’s WNYM colleague, Joe Piscopo, got the afternoon started with a Frank Sinatra “New York New York”/“That’s Life” medley reminiscent of how Piscopo did it on “Saturday Night Live.” Morano is quick to note that Piscopo’s date for the affair was none other than supermodel Carol Alt. Among others spotted in the crowd were congressman Dan Donovan; former New York lieutenant governor Betsy McCaughey; billionaire businessman/New York City-based Red Apple Group chair/CEO (and new owner of New York City news/talk WABC) John Catsimatidis; former mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis; and criminal defense attorney Arthur Aidala, currently representing Harvey Weinstein. Syndicated talk host Mike Gallagher was in attendance as were talk host/author Kevin McCulloughRichard Bey, sportscaster Russ Salzberg, and Shelley Goldberg. There were no reports of fisticuffs or violence of any type at the wedding. That is actually quite remarkable and noteworthy, given that John A. Gotti and his sister, reality TV star/author Victoria Gotti, were there along with Guardian Angels founder/talk show host Curtis Sliwa. Things could have gotten particularly dicey as it was Gotti who was charged with ordering the 1992 kidnapping and shooting of Sliwa. Gotti went on trial four times with each trial ending in a hung jury. “Needless to say, we kept John and Curtis on opposite sides of the room,” Morano quips. “It did lead to one of the more interesting quotes of the evening. As Curtis was dancing, John remarked to me, ‘Do you think Curtis would mind if I cut in to dance with his wife?’” Also at the wedding was Maureen Gioeli, the wife of Tommy “Shots” Gioeli, who Morano describes as “the alleged acting boss of the Colombo crime family” ….. Six-year (2003 – 2009) Bernalillo County (New Mexico) sheriff Darren White will join Cumulus Media Albuquerque news/talk KKOB “AM 770 News Radio” as midday host (1:00 pm – 3:00 pm), beginning next Monday (10/7). Cumulus Media Albuquerque vice president/market manager Jeff Berry comments, “Darren is one of the best political minds around, with deep roots in the Albuquerque media market and New Mexico politics. KKOB delivers the best lineup in radio and Darren is going to help us fill out our already amazing roster.” White states, “I’m honored to join the legendary KKOB and host a show in a time slot between a national radio powerhouse in Rush Limbaugh and a radio legend in TJ Trout. I’m grateful to Jeff Berry for this amazing opportunity and excited to get behind the mic to continue the long tradition of engaging talk radio.” Formerly a correspondent for Albuquerque’s KRQE-TV, White was secretary of New Mexico’s Department of Public Safety and Albuquerque’s chief public safety officer ….. Pre-game and post-game host of Cincinnati Reds games, Tommy Thrall, will succeed retired hall of famer Marty Brennaman as the team’s lead radio voice on iHeartMedia Cincinnati news/talk WLW. After calling minor league Pensacola Blue Wahoos games for six years, Thrall joined the Reds crew this season. He previously was the radio voice of the Quad Cities River Bandits ….. Three-year senior producer/audience development & engagement Stephanie Curtis is promoted to Minnesota Public Radio’s MPR News director of programming. Executive director of news & programming Nancy Cassutt comments, “Steph holds a clear vision for what needs to come next in our programming in order to be relevant and engaging with our audiences. She understands our newsroom and where we have the best opportunities to grow and better serve our listeners. Combined with her wealth of talents, this makes her a perfect fit for this role.” Curtis has been with MPR for over 25 years and is the “Movie Maven” on the weekly “Cube Critics” podcast ….. WFPL news editor Jonese Franklin is boosted to local host for NPR’s “All Things Considered” on the Louisville Public Media news/talk station. WFPL director of news and programming Erica Peterson notes, “Jonese brings a diverse depth of experience to the job, including years working as a journalist, editor and broadcaster. I’m excited to hear her on the air every day, and I know our listeners will be as well” ….. Beginning next Monday (10/7), iHeartRadio Broadway debuts “Show & Tell with Frank DiLella,” a weekly Broadway-focused original podcast. New episodes will be available every Monday via the iHeartPodcast Network. Host of “On Stage,” Spectrum News NY1 theater correspondent DiLella is an Emmy Award winning journalist. According to iHeartRadio Broadway director Sarah Jane Arnegger, “We’re thrilled to have Frank DiLella join iHeartRadio Broadway. Frank has been an integral part of the Broadway industry for years. With his built-in audience, this podcast will serve as an extension of what Frank does best with his comprehensive reporting style and celebrity theatrical interviews.” DiLella remarks, “I am truly excited to be teaming up with iHeartMedia and iHeartRadio Broadway as it expands its Broadway programming. I’ve enjoyed getting to know the folks who make up the theater community in New York and abroad. With this new opportunity, I look forward to bringing my in-depth conversations and commentary with the movers and shakers of the industry to a larger audience.”

Cumulus Media Cluster Sets Annual “Christmas For Our Troops.” The fundraiser and series of donation drives that will benefit our service personnel will commence one week from this Friday (10/11) and run through November 12. In partnership with Step Up For Soldiers, Cumulus Media Wilmington, North Carolina will collect items donated by the community for deployed servicemen and women and raise funds to ship the packages overseas in time for Christmas. Cumulus Wilmington vice president and market manager Eric McCart states, “In addition to collecting items, an important need we have is to collect money for our ‘Christmas For Our Troops Postage Fund.’ It costs $14.35 to send each flat-rate box overseas. The more monetary donations we receive, the more Christmas packages we can send to our troops. We will be accepting both ‘Postage Fund’ and suggested item donations while we’re on location at our collection sites. ‘Postage Fund’ donations can also be made online.” Items to be collected will include writing utensils, games, snacks, bottled drinks, and anything else that is easy-to-use, easy-to-wash, and easy-to-store. In addition to WAAV “980 The Wave – News, Talk, & Sports,” the company’s Wilmington, North Carolina cluster includes WWQQ “Double Q-101.3 Cape Fear’s Country Leader,” adult contemporary WGNI “102.7 GNI Today’s Hits & Yesterday’s Favorites,” urban contemporary WMNX “Coast 97.3,” and classic rock WKXS “94.5 The Hawk.”

Stations Go From One Backyard To Another. Headed by Van A. Michael, Pennsylvania-based Backyard Broadcasting of Pennsylvania, LLC closes on its purchase of seven Pennsylvania stations from … and here’s where it gets tricky … Daniel J. Farr’s (also) Pennsylvania-based Backyard Broadcasting PA, LLC. Neither of these Backyard entities has any other broadcast interests. Stations involved are sports talk WWPA “ESPN Radio 1340”; WWPA’s FM translator W267BJ at 101.3; WILQ “105.1 Today’s Best Country”; and hot AC WLMY – all in Williamsport; rock WZXR, South Williamsport; rock WCXR, Lewisburg (which simulcasts WZXR); and classic hits-oldies WBZD, Muncy. Kalil & Company, Inc. was the exclusive broker for this transaction.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Veteran consultant/programmer John Sebastian signs the first client for his “WOW Factor” format – KOAI, Phoenix – and as part of the deal, he will be the consultant and hands-on program director of the Riviera Broadcasting outlet. Riviera Broadcasting chief executive officer Michael Cutchall remarks, “John has been one of the most innovative programmers in the history of radio. There is no one better to connect with listeners and communities in his approach and philosophy to programming. His excitement to join our team is contagious and his desire to win is relentless.” Sebastian asserts that KOAI will be “the first of many ‘WOW Factor’ stations across America with an eclectic mix of music researched and curated for baby boomers.” His previous Phoenix programming background already includes KUPD, KSLX, and KDKB. Sebastian has programmed in other markets such as Los Angeles (KTWV, KHJ, and KZLA); Chicago (WJMK); Dallas (KPLX); Boston (WCOZ); Seattle (KISW); Minneapolis (KDWB); and Nashville (WSM-FM). According to Nielsen Audio PPM data, the February 2019 through August 2019 (6+) topline for classic hits-oldies KOAI is: 2.1 – 2.1 – 1.8 – 1.6 – 1.6 – 1.7 – 1.5. It ranks #25 in August 2019; iHeartMedia adult contemporary KESZ is on top (7.0, 6+). ….. Former Bohn Broadcast Services vice president of business development Chris Roth is appointed program director of Entercom Washington, DC classic hits-oldies WIAD “94.7 The Drive.” Roth will “work closely” with Entercom classic hits-oldies format captain Chris Ebbott, who programs Los Angeles’ co-owned/similarly formatted KRTH “K-Earth 101.” Entercom Washington, DC senior vice president and market manager Phil Zachary comments, “One year into the format, we are satisfied with the station’s position, but we are constantly seeking new ways to innovate and improve. Chris Roth brings the vernacular and market knowledge to finetune ‘94.7 The Drive’ to DC’s particular tastes. He’s uniquely-suited for this role; I am excited to see him help our station excel.” Roth notes, “Programming ‘94.7 The Drive’ is a dream job for me. I’m passionate about the classic hits format and I’m looking forward to making it the fun destination for DC listening.” Roth previously was an on-air talent at Baltimore adult contemporary sibling WLIF “Today’s 101.9”; director of programming for WAVA, Washington; a reporter at Washington’s all-news WTOP; and director of programming and operations for Winchester, Virginia hot AC WINC-FM ….. As noted in this space just last Friday (9/27), Scott Roddy exited his brand/content director post with Hubbard Radio St. Louis adult hits WARH “106.5 The Arch” for a “yet-to-be-revealed position.” Well, it didn’t take long for the mystery to be revealed as Roddy will join Entercom Portland next Monday (10/7) as program director/operations manager for country KWJJ “99.5 The Wolf” and hot AC KRSK “105.1 The Buzz.” Entercom Portland senior vice president/market manager Kim Martinez states, “Scott has an impressive track record programming leading stations; we’re fortunate to add him to the team. I am confident his proven leadership will enable him to step in and immediately enhance the programming efforts for our stations.” Roddy notes, “I’m stoked to join the iconic ‘Wolf’ and to bring some electricity back to the ‘Buzz.’ Kim Martinez is building a world-class operation at Entercom Portland. Her passion for our industry, audience, investors, and local team is unparalleled. I’d like to thank Kim; [chief programming officer] Pat Paxton; [regional president] Doug Abernethy; and [senior vice president of programming] Dave Richards for the opportunity.” Prior to joining WARH in February 2016, Roddy programmed stations for Entercom Indianapolis, Oasis Radio Group Fort Wayne (Indiana), and Saga Communications ….. This Saturday (10/5) at 8:00 am, iHeartMedia Chicago urban contemporary WGCI-FM, urban AC WVAZ “V-103,” and gospel WGRB “Inspiration 1390” will hold the third annual “Sista Strut” 3K breast cancer charity walk to benefit the Chicago chapter of the Sisters Network. According to iHeartMedia Chicago director of urban programming Derrick Brown, “We are dedicated to serving the community in which we live and work. We remain committed to doing our part in being a source of support and encouragement for those battling and recovering from this disease.” WGCI-FM morning show member Kendra G and WVAZ midday talent Bionce Foxx will host the event. Special guests will include “Steve Harvey Morning Show” co-host Carla Ferrell ….. Forming the new morning team at Emmis Indianapolis’ country WLHK “97.1 Hank FM” are Caleb James and Mindy Winkler. James most recently programmed NRG Media Omaha rhythmic CHR KOPW “Power 106.9,” while Winkler arrives from WLHK’s adult contemporary sibling WYXB “B-105.7.” Former “Hank” morning driver Dave O’Brien is now doing similar duties at Entercom Denver classic rock KQMT “99.5 The Mountain” ….. Louisville alternative WGHL “Alt 105.1” program director/afternoon talent Phil “PK” Kukawinski tacks on  programming duties for Alpha Media adult hits cluster-mate WXMA “102.3 Jack-FM.” He succeeds Sarah Jordan, who continues as marketing director and mid-day personality (10:00 am – 3:00 pm) on co-owned CHR WDJX “99-7 DJX” ….. To help raise funds, supplies, and awareness for rescue dogs, iHeartMedia Colorado Springs hot AC KVUU “My 99.9” will team with the Lovepup Foundation for the initial “Lovepup Family Fest” one week from Saturday (10/12, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm) at Weidner Field. KVUU morning drive talent Johnjay of the syndicated “Johnjay and Rich” show will host the event. All money and pet supply donations will benefit local Colorado Springs animal rescue organizations …..  Meanwhile, KVUU cluster-mate KCYY “Y-96.9 #1 For New Country” and Oakwood Homes join forces four weeks from today (10/29) for the first-ever “Boo Bash” to benefit HBA Cares. Hosted by “Y-96.9” afternoon drive host Shawn Patrick, the event will feature entertainment from Matt Stell, Noah Schnacky, and Tyler Walker Band. “Boo Bash” proceeds will benefit local transitional and accessible housing in the Colorado Springs area, along with other local community projects. Doors will open at 6:00 pm at Boot Barn Hall ….. WCYQ “100.3 The Wolf” nighttime talent Paul Orr exits the SummitMedia Knoxville country station to focus on his voiceover business. Before joining WCYQ, Orr worked in Birmingham (WZZK); Oklahoma City (KTST); Fort Myers (WWGR); and Shreveport (KRMD) ….. A “goat” is loose in Hagerstown-Chambersburg (Maryland-Pennsylvania) as Verstandig Media transitions CHR WNUZ “Now 92.1” to classic hits-oldies WIKG “92.1 The Goat – The Greatest of All Time.” This comes after a weekend of stunting with all-Christmas music; the station is inviting listeners to “Take Your Goat To Work.” Continuing the theme, the “goat herd” is airing 20 songs in a row in its first week.

Delilah Honored With AFN Challenge Coin. For her unwavering support of service members and veterans, Premiere Networks’ adult contemporary host Delilah received the American Forces Network challenge coin last Thursday (9/26) at the Radio Show in Dallas. Military challenge coins have been issued to servicemen and servicewomen since World War I as a symbol of honor, respect, gratitude, and loyalty. Delilah is heard weeknights at 7:00 pm in Japan, Korea, and central Europe on AFN Radio’s “Today’s Best Hits Adult Contemporary” channel. Pictured left to right are: Tom Arnholt of AFN programming and operations, Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott, Delilah, who co-hosted last week’s NAB Marconi Awards, and Curt Eckstein of AFN programming and operations.

Monday, April 16, 2018

| April 16, 2018

Remembering Art Bell. The somewhat eerie fact that 72-year-old Art Bell died on Friday the 13th (4/13 in Pahrump, Nevada) certainly could not go unnoticed or overlooked. Bell was the founder and original host of the paranormal-themed “Coast to Coast AM,” which Premiere Networks syndicated on hundreds of North American radio outlets. Part of a Bell retrospective on that program’s website details that, “His love of radio led him to working for an English-language station in Japan, where he set a Guinness world record for broadcasting 116 hours straight. This was no mere radio stunt, however, as it served to raise funds to rescue over 100 Vietnamese orphans left stranded by the conflict in their home country.  Upon returning to the United States, he entered the world of talk radio with an overnight program on KDWN, Las Vegas.  After noticing that episodes covering conspiracy theories and paranormal topics generated considerable interest from listeners, Bell transformed the show from political talk to discussion of these often-verboten realms. Syndicated nationally in 1993 [by Talk Radio Network], ‘Coast to Coast AM’ soon became a radio phenomenon.  During the 1990s, when ‘The X-Files’ had people wondering about the world of high strangeness, Art Bell was the voice of that world, introducing millions of radio listeners to a vast array of paranormal topics and the researchers that studied them. As he begins his journey on the ‘Other Side,’ we take solace in the hope that he is now finding out all of the answers to the mysteries he pursued for so many nights with all of us.”  The Jacksonville, North Carolina born former Air Force medic “semi-retired” from “Coast to Coast AM” 15 years ago but could be heard hosting the program on weekends from 2003 – 2007 and was an occasional guest host through 2010.  Bell called his show “absolute entertainment” and did not necessarily accept every guest or caller’s claims but offered a forum where they would not be openly ridiculed. SiriusXM debuted “Art Bell’s Dark Matter” in September 2013 on its “Indie Talk” channel, but that four-hour (7:00 pm – 11:00 pm, PT) Monday through Thursday venture ended after just six weeks. Approximately four-dozen stations carried his 9:00 pm – 12:00 midnight PT “Midnight in the Desert” show, which launched on the Internet in July 2015 on Bell’s Dark Matter Digital Network. Three months later in October of 2015, TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison interviewed him for his weekly podcast. The following is a brief excerpt from that long-form conversation in which Bell assesses the state of the radio industry and its future.  To listen to the clip, please click here.  Five months later though, Bell exited, citing concerns about his family’s safety.  Bell was replaced as weekday host of “Coast to Coast AM” on January 1, 2003 by George Noory, who reacted emotionally on air last Friday night to Bell’s passing. “I’m trying to get my composure here, folks,” a shaken Noory admitted. “Art and I were not that close.  We had our differences, but he was one of those instrumental in me being where I am right now.  He was a very heavy smoker and was hospitalized a year or so ago because of [that].  I don’t know if that played a factor in [his death] or not.”  In 1996, KTRS, St. Louis’ Tim Dorsey hired Noory to be “The Night Hawk” and as Bell decided he needed an emergency replacement, Noory gained national exposure by doing his first “Coast to Coast AM” show in April 2001. “As Art’s back problems became more severe, I started doing more shows, until he decided to retire from fulltime work,” Noory told Inside Radio’s then special features editor/current TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian.  Equating the experience of substituting for – and eventually succeeding – Bell on a fulltime basis to pinch-hitting for Babe Ruth, Noory maintained, “It’s sometimes an unreal feeling. I never showed it on the air, but replacing Art Bell was overwhelming for me. I realized there was no way I could replace him. It wouldn’t work if I tried to duplicate him.” The first time Noory heard Bell was in 1996 when he was driving to work at heritage St. Louis news/talker KMOX. “I said to myself that I wanted to do that program,” Noory confided to Kinosian. “After I concentrated on the show, strange events occurred that made it all happen.  Whatever’s out there in the universe that makes things happen for people is real.”  Now living in Lexington, Kentucky, noted spoken-word consultant/programmer Gabe Hobbs is a former vice president/programming – news, talk, & sports for Clear Channel (now iHeartMedia). “What a special talent Art Bell was – truly unique,” Hobbs declares.  “He helped talk radio evolve from the Larry King-era into the modern era of our format.  He is the man that made overnights meaningful and profitable in radio.”  Longtime iHeartMedia Los Angeles adult contemporary KOST “Coast 103” air talent Ted Ziegenbusch notes on Facebook, “I did a late-night show for about 20 years in the 1980s and 1990s. On a family trip to central California one night, I heard Art on a tiny radio station. That was long before he became popular and I was fascinated with his stories about UFOs; ghosts; pyramids on Mars; climate change; and all sorts of quirky subjects. His shows were almost always riveting and impossible to leave for even a moment. When I returned from my trip north, I told my general manager that Art Bell would be perfect for our AM station. Nobody had ever heard of the guy, so my suggestion fell on deaf ears. Later, he would join our team and score enormous success. The story doesn’t end there. Sadly, there were some real ups and downs in Art’s life and his career; [however], he was sure a trailblazer and one-of-a-kind entertainer.” Brian Whitman, who does morning drive in Los Angeles on Salem Media Group news/talk KRLA, recounts, “Many years ago when I was younger and less experienced, I was doing some on-air work at Premiere Radio Networks. I asked the boss if he would consider me to be a substitute host on ‘Coast to Coast’ when Art Bell was absent. I took the opportunity to mention that when those crazy people called, I’d goof on them and do a really funny show. The boss made me smarter [by telling me], ‘Brian, you don’t understand. On ‘Coast to Coast,’ when someone calls to tell you an alien landed in their swimming pool, you don’t make fun. You say, ‘tell me more.’ [That was] the genius of Art Bell. I always say that the most important thing for a radio performer is to find his voice.  Art Bell’s singular voice, brilliant mind, and master showmanship came together to create his own brand. He understood the intimacy that radio can create [and] the lives it can touch.”  An executive producer at iHeartMedia Los Angeles news/talk KFI, Michelle Kube, comments that, “Even if I thought some of the stories were crazy, you couldn’t deny [Art Bell’s] talent.” He was “a true radio pioneer and a great storyteller. He created ‘Coast to Coast AM’ – it’s his legacy.”  For the past 14 years, Kurt Kretzschmar has been director of affiliate marketing – Premiere Networks. The former executive producer of Los Angeles sports outlet KSPN and cross-town news/talk KABC asserts that tapes of Bell’s shows “that air on Saturday nights are some of the highest-rated weekend hours on several affiliates.” Senior vice president of programming for iHeartMedia’s Northern Ohio region, which includes WHLO “640 Akron’s News Talk,” Keith Kennedy, was among programmers scheduling Art Bell tribute programming this past weekend. Kennedy wrote on Facebook, “Listen to ‘Somewhere in Time’ Saturday at 9:00 pm – we’ll rebroadcast one of his unique programs.”  Bell studied engineering at the University of Maryland in College Park, but dropped out to become a radio chief engineer/board op/occasional on-air talent.  In May 2008, he sold KNYE, Pahrump to station manager Karen Jackson for a reported $600,000. Inducted to the Nevada Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame (2006) and National Radio Hall of Fame (2008), Bell received Radio & Records’ “Lifetime Achievement Award” in 2007. A July 2016 posting on Bell’s website indicated he was hospitalized for pneumonia and that he suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  Nye County (Nevada) sheriff Sharon Wehrly described Bell as a “longtime resident” of the area and said an autopsy to confirm the cause of death would be performed later this week. Geller Media International Broadcast Consultants president Valerie Geller proclaims, “May his journey continue in peace.”

WWJ, Detroit Names Brooke Allen PM Drive Co-Host. Detroit all-news WWJ-AM “Newsradio 950” announces that Brooke Allen (right) is returning to the station to co-host the afternoon drive daypart (2:00 pm to 6:00 pm) with current afternoon host Greg Bowman (left).  Allen was most recently the producer and local host of “Morning Edition” on public news/talk WKAR-AM/FM, East Lansing, Michigan.  Entercom Detroit SVP and market manager Debbie Kenyon says, “We are excited to welcome Brooke back to WWJ.  In addition to being an award-winning journalist, Brooke is devoted to our local community.   Her passion for the news and connection to the people of the metro Detroit area will be evident each and every day.”

Johnson Named VP of Sports Sales for iHeartMedia Denver. Denver sales pro Jeff Johnson is promoted at iHeartMedia to vice president of sports sales & partnerships.  In this new role, Johnson is charged with “growing and managing iHeartMedia Denver’s sports partnerships, including the Denver Broncos and Colorado Rockies, as well as its Broncos-centric station, KDSP-AM ‘Orange & Blue 760.'”  iHeartMedia Denver SVP of sales Ryan Clune states, “I’m thrilled for Jeff.  Watching him grow over the years from senior account executive to director of sports sales, and now vice president of sports sales & partnerships has been a highlight of my career.  Jeff’s ability to align advertisers with our exclusive sports content, along with delivering unmatched reach, brand affinity, and ROI for our partners makes him the ideal leader to step into this key position.”

Price: Are You Ready for Atlantic Hurricane Season? Former longtime director of business continuity & crisis management for ABC’s news and technology & operations divisions, Howard B. Price, writes today in a piece for TALKERS magazine about the need to be prepared for the Atlantic Hurricane Season.  Price says that tropical researchers at Colorado State University have issued their predictions for this year and have concluded that there will likely be 14 named storms between June 1 and November 30. Of those, researchers expect seven hurricanes, with three of those likely to be major storms (Saffir/Simpson category 3-4-5, with sustained winds of 111 MPH – plus).  Price provides this nine-point preparedness checklist for broadcasters who could be affected by an Atlantic hurricane or any other natural disaster for that matter.  See it here.

Padres Executive Chairman Opens Up About KEGY Format Tweak.  As reported in the San Diego Union Tribune writer Bryce Miller, San Diego Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler says the team had “significant input and impact” on the format and branding changes Entercom made to KEGY, but not so much as to dictate which air talent should go where.  Union Tribune reports Fowler and the Padres had issues with KEGY’s programming as “97.3 The Machine” before air personality Kevin Klein’s promotional Tweet that referenced the city’s Coronado bridge and its history as a site of hundreds of suicides.  Miller quotes Fowler referencing the station’s programming as “shock-jock” radio.  See Miller’s story here.

Comey’s ABC Interview/Trump-Russia Investigation, U.S. Strikes on Syria, Starbucks-Philly Arrests, Mexico Border Issues, Barbara Bush Health Status, MLB and NBA Playoffs Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. Former FBI director James Comey’s interview on ABC-TV in which he discussed the investigation into the Hillary Clinton email matter and opined on President Trump’s fitness for office and the related investigation into possible connections between Trump campaign operatives and Russian agents; the weekend’s U.S. military strikes in Syria; the controversy over the arrest of two black men for trespassing at a Philadelphia Starbucks; the issue of security at the U.S.-Mexico border; former First Lady Barbara Bush’s failing health; and Major League Baseball and NBA playoffs action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

TALKERS News Notes.  According to the most recent list published by The Hollywood Reporter, Premiere Networks and FOX News Channel star Sean Hannity and multi-media personality Ryan Seacrest are two of the 35 most powerful media people in New York. Regarding Hannity, THR says that he regularly commands the largest audience of any cable news host on television, in addition to reaching millions of listeners on his national radio show.  “He also has the ear (and the eyes) of the president…and has the power to make or break Republican political candidates.”  As for Seacrest, the publication says that since Kelly Ripa tapped him as her co-host in May, viewership of ABC’s “LIVE with Kelly & Ryan” has “risen nearly 15% to 3.2 million viewers each day.”  See the whole list here…..Westwood One announces a strategic partnership with American Public Media to increase sales and promotional opportunities for season two of the investigative podcast, “In the Dark.”  The first season of “In the Dark” has driven nearly 12 million downloads to date and continues to receive downloads more than a year later at roughly 465,000 per month.  In this new relationship, Westwood One is providing broadcast radio show promotion and exclusive ad sales representation…..Pictured below is former White House national security adviser Dr. Sebastian Gorka (left) reviewing documents with Ken Lormand (right), Washington bureau chief of Salem Radio Network News.  As a former Trump adviser, Gorka has insight into administration personnel moves, including CIA director Mike Pompeo’s nomination to become the next U.S. Secretary of State.

TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! to Feature Presentation by Salem VP Phil Boyce Titled, “What Has Donald Trump Done to Talk Radio.” There is no doubt that the ascendancy of Donald J. Trump to the U.S. presidency has greatly impacted news/talk radio and its associated platforms of talk media. Salem Media Group SVP of the spoken word format Phil Boyce will deliver an address, backed up by Harker Research data, exploring this phenomenon in detail during the morning sessions of TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! The presentation will be introduced by highly regarded programmer Greg Moceri, CEO of Moceri Media. The 21st annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running, and most important convention takes place on Friday, June 8 at the ultra-modern Helen Mills Event Space and Theater in the Chelsea district of Manhattan. The day opens with back-to-back keynote “fireside chats” conducted by Michael Harrison with Premiere Networks and Fox News Channel star Sean Hannity and Beasley Broadcasting CEO Caroline Beasley. The conference will also include presentations by such industry notables as PodcastOne executive chairman, Norm Pattiz; former WFAN, New York sports talk superstar, Mike Francesa; Amplifi Media CEO Steve Goldstein, panel appearances by Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott, Westwood One president Suzanne Grimes and an afternoon keynote address by Infowars and GCN maverick Alex Jones. There will be panels on programming, sales, digital convergence and more featuring a total of 50-plus speakers from all aspects of the talk media industry. The convention is on a fast-track to being an advance sellout and there will be no registrations sold at the door. For more information and the complete up-to-the-minute agenda, read the story below.

TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! Agenda Posted. The TALKERS editorial board is pleased to post the basic agenda for the 21stannual installment of the talk media industry’s longest running and most important national convention – TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! takes place on Friday, June 8 at the ultra-modern Helen Mills Event Space and Theater located in the colorful Chelsea district of Manhattan. The conference will feature more than 50 top speakers from all aspects of the spoken-word media industry – including talent, programmers, managers and owners – with a focus on talk radio and its role in the rapidly accelerating digital age. This will include programming, sales, marketing, and technology as well as the full spectrum of concerns, challenges and opportunities facing modern-day talk broadcasters and broadcasting organizations. It will feature keynote addresses, panel discussions, fireside chats, and exhibits of the latest services and equipment available to broadcasting professionals. Like its predecessors, TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! will also provide its attendees with unparalleled networking opportunities and social mixers including breakfast, lunch, and a closing cocktail reception – all in a single, power-packed day! Full up-to-the-minute agenda details, speaker roster and hotel information can be seen here. If you are planning to attend, it would be wise to register NOW. This convention will be an early sellout.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Denver, iHeartMedia names Chelsea Thomas midday host for country KWBL “106.7 The Bull,” effective April 23.   iHeartMedia region SVP of programming JoJo Turnbeaugh says, “An on-air opening with iHeartMedia in Denver always generates strong interest from many talented personalities.  Chelsea was the clear winner. Her authenticity and unique ability to weave storytelling into her show made her the ideal match for the Bull Nation.”  Thomas was most recently music director and air personality at Alpha Media’s CHR WDJX, Louisville…..KAMP, Los Angeles “97.1 AMP Radio” music director and midday personality Michelle Boros exits her position with the Entercom CHR station after an eight-year stint…..Kristina Carlyle signs on with Albany Broadcasting’s country WKLI, Albany “100.9 The Cat” to co-host the morning show and serve as music director. Carlyle – most recently with Scripps’ KVOO, Tulsa – takes over for the departed Dana Race…..There’s a new morning host at California Radio Partners’ triple A KOZT, Fort Bragg “The Coast” as Dred Scott is tapped to work alongside news director Joe Regelski.  Station co-owner and program director Tom Yates says, “We did a job posting and got 41 responses in two days from some really good candidates.  But Dred is a really good fit with the ‘Coast’ crew.”…..At Ingstad Media’s country KXDD, Yakima, Washington, Lindsey Cleveland is promoted from part-time status to full-time as morning drive co-host with Brian Stephenson on “The Good Morning Gang with Brian & Lindsey.” Cleveland fills the role vacated recently by Carey Jacobson…..In Washington, DC, Kala Simmons is named morning show producer for WASH-FM’s “Toby and Chilli” morning show. Simmons has been with the iHeartMedia Washington cluster for the past three years as assistant digital producer for WIHT’s “The Kane Show.”