Tag: "John F. Kennedy"
RTDNA Announces National Edward R. Murrow Award Winners. From more than 4,400 entries, the awards recognize 89 local and network radio, television and digital news organizations for 118 examples of outstanding journalism in 16 categories. The leader in overall Radio Television Digital News Association awards with five – NPR – scores wins in “Continuing Coverage,” “Excellence in Social Media,” “Excellence in Sound,” “Excellence in Hard News,” and “News Documentary.” Hubbard Washington, DC all-news WTOP and New Hampshire Public Radio repeated their 2017 wins for “Overall Excellence” in large market radio and small market radio, respectively. RTDNA executive director Dan Shelley notes, “Winning an RTDNA National Edward R. Murrow Award means that a news organization has provided exemplary public service to its viewers, listeners, and readers. These honorees truly represent the very best in broadcast and digital journalism around the world. We cannot make our communities better unless we understand them, and these stories from news organizations large and small have educated, uplifted, inspired, uncovered, and enlightened. These winning pieces revealed the tragedies of human trafficking, kept audiences safe and informed during devastating hurricanes and fires, and provided desperately sought information and context during too-common moments of violence. They provided insight into healthcare, homelessness and immigration issues, engaged communities in learning about mental health and dug deep into election interference.” In addition to the “Overall Excellence” award won for the second time straight and 12th over 18 years, CBS News Radio was recognized for “Best Audio Newscast” for the sixth time in succession. This year, it was for “World News Roundup” coverage of Hurricane Harvey with Norah O’Donnell reporting from Houston and Steve Kathan anchoring from New York. Coverage of the mass shooting of concertgoers on the Las Vegas Strip last October earned the staff the “Breaking News” award for a report by Steve Futterman, Steve Dorsey, and Deborah Rodriguez. This year’s “Excellence in Writing” award went to Dave Ross for his daily feature. CBS News Radio general manager Craig Swagler states, “It is because of our great radio station affiliates that we are a better, stronger radio network.” Entercom was honored with three awards: Large Market Radio “Excellence in Sound” to all-news KCBS-AM, San Francisco for “Wine Country on Fire”; News Series to all-news WCBS-AM, New York for “The Breaking Point”; and the same station scored for “Newscast” (October 31, 2017, 5:00 pm). The national awards will be presented in four months (10/22) at the RTDNA “Edward R. Murrow Awards Gala” in New York City’s Gotham Hall.
KBME To Shuffle Its Lineup. Former National Football League quarterback Sean Salisbury will join the weekday lineup of iHeartMedia Houston’s KBME “Sports Talk 790” in afternoon drive (3:00 pm – 6:00 pm), starting in less than three weeks (Monday, 7/9). Director of AM programming for iHeartMedia Houston, Bryan Erickson, notes, “We are thrilled to be adding Salisbury to the team. The former quarterback brings a unique perspective from his days on the gridiron. We have put together an all-star lineup of guys who know sports and love talking about sports. [KBME] is truly the best destination for compelling local sports content in Houston.” Salisbury adds, “I have been blessed with a full career. This opportunity to work with iHeart and ‘Sports Talk 790’ was too good to pass up in so many ways. I don’t take these great moments lightly. The last five years have been special. I fully expect this new journey to be filled with ‘wow’ moments that make our listeners feel like they are getting the show they deserve.” Following his ten-year professional football career, Salisbury was an NFL analyst on ESPN, and served as a consultant for the 2005 remake of “The Longest Yard.” KBME’s revised lineup as of July 9 will include Josh Innes (6:00 am – 10:00 am); “In the Trenches with Koch & Kalu” (10:00 am – 12:00 noon); Matt Thomas (12:00 noon – 3:00 pm); and Salisbury from 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm. The station will continue its broadcast partnerships with the Houston Astros, Houston Rockets, and the University of Texas football and basketball teams.
MacFarlane Donates $2 Million to NPR; $500,000 to KPCC. Opting to answer Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s comments about dishonesty in the media with his wallet, “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane is making a $2 million donation to NPR and $500,000 to Los Angeles’ NPR membership station, KPCC. MacFarlane’s contribution will directly benefit NPR’s Collaborative Journalism Network, which connects NPR’s nearly 1,800 journalists so they are able to share resources and eliminate “news deserts” in the United States. An NPR spokesperson writes, “We are deeply appreciative of the generous gift from Seth MacFarlane, which will go to supporting local news coverage, allowing NPR and member stations to continue working together to tell the story of the whole country from everywhere in the country.” Southern California Public Radio president and CEO Bill Davis states, “We are deeply moved by Seth’s generous contribution to Southern California Public Radio, KPCC, and NPR. It is this local/national partnership that is the heart of our shared public service mission and we are committed to more fully realizing that mission thanks to this gift and his challenge for others to join us.” Last Thursday, Carlson stated, “If you’re looking to understand what’s actually happening in this country, always assume the opposite of whatever they’re telling you on the big news stations.” In a tweet, MacFarlane wrote that statements like Carlson’s “make me embarrassed to work for this company,” referring to Fox for whom MacFarlane has provided “Family Guy,” “American Dad,” “Cleveland,” and “Orville.” As a direct rebuke to Carlson’s remarks, MacFarlane further told his Twitter followers, “In other words, don’t think critically, don’t consult multiple news sources, and in general, don’t use your brain.”
TALKERS Founder Michael Harrison Says Fox News Channel Hosts Present “Legitimate” Point of View on the Current Border Controversy. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison spoke this morning (6/20) on CNN’s Headline News Channel (HLN) program “Across America with Carol Costello” about the media’s role in the current border immigration controversy (pictured above). Costello asked Harrison for his perspective on threats by 21st Century Fox show business producers such as Seth MacFarlane (“Family Guy”) and Steve Levitan (“Modern Family”) as well as director Paul Feig who have publicly expressed “disgust” and “embarrassment” over the way Fox News Channel has been covering the family-separation issue with hosts Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and others showing support of President Trump’s stringent policy. Harrison said that he doesn’t take these threats seriously and the situation will probably be resolved with the country moving on to the next issue before they could even make good on them. If anything, Harrison said, this issue will force Trump to further tweak and define murky areas of his immigration policy. Harrison went on to say that the Hollywood establishment “which includes show business across the board such as Broadway and what took place at the Tony Awards” is hurting its own cause as well as its business interests by speaking out so vehemently for one side in what is a highly-charged polarized situation. Harrison stated, “Famous people whose media products are not directly involved in politics would be wise to stay out of the fray because they will only further alienate the significant segment of the public and electorate that is supportive of Trump… even to the point of strengthening its resolve.” When asked if he thinks the potential acquisition of Fox by Walt Disney Co. or Comcast could result in the Fox News Channel modifying its conservative stand, Harrison replied, “Probably not – they are in business and it is doubtful that they would do something to diminish the formidable earnings of a viable news venue serving a large portion of the population.” Harrison concluded, “No matter how harsh or even cruel Trump’s handling of this situation might be, there are many millions of Americans who support him on it and, thus, Fox News Channel is presenting a legitimate point of view within the highly diverse American marketplace of ideas. If Fox were to back off on its pro-Trump stance, you can be sure other venues such as Newsmax would be more than happy to swoop in and fill the void that would be waiting to be served.”
Westwood One News’ Vietnam Retrospective Nabs Gold Medal Award. Among the five citations Westwood One News received Monday night (6/18) from the New York International Radio Festival was a gold medal award for “Pain & Pride: Remembering Vietnam – 50 Years Later,” which aired during Veterans Day weekend (November, 2017). Westwood One host/Vietnam veteran Jim Bohannon narrated “Pain & Pride.” Bohannon, who served with the 856th Radio Research Detachment in Cat Lai and Long Binh from 1967 -1968, won a NY Festival prize 30 years ago for his first “Pain & Pride” news special. He comments, “I am very gratified that producer David Oziel, the Westwood One News team, and I have received this recognition. For me, there is special meaning in that we did a 20-year look back special that won the New York Festival’s Grand Award in 1988. Also, I’ll be the keynote speaker [tomorrow, Thursday, 6/21] at the Branson, Missouri reunion of my Vietnam unit, the 199th Light Infantry Brigade. It is a delightful manifestation of what Vietnam vets say to each other – ‘welcome home.’” Bohannon gave the keynote address at the Vietnam Wall Memorial in Washington in 1990; was the principal MC for the Vietnam Veterans reunion in Branson in 2002; and hosted the “Rumble” at “TALKERS 2018” less than two weeks ago (6/8) in New York City.
PPM Analysis: All-News. Managing editor Mike Kinosian presents four analyses of the performances of stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s May PPM survey. Today’s report focuses on the all-news format. A year-to-year improvement of nine-tenths (8.8 – 9.7, 6+) enables Hubbard’s WTOP to move from second to third in Washington, DC. It is the only all-news station in a PPM-market to rank first in May 2018. Moreover, with a 9.6 (6+), it once again boasts the strongest 6+-share among its all-news peers. The category’s runner-up in all six survey periods highlighted in this analysis (“Holiday” 2017 – May 2018) is iHeartMedia Sacramento’s KFBK (6.7, 6+, May 2018). See the entire all-news overview here.
Edison Research Releases 2018 Q1 “Share of Ear” Report. The study quantifies reach and time spent with of all forms of audio. Results indicate terrestrial AM and FM radio remains the centerpiece of audio. Among nuggets from the quarterly report as summarized on the Westwood One website by director of content marketing Lauren Vetrano: AM/FM accounts for 47% of all audio time spent among persons 18+. “Owned music” is next at 12%, followed by YouTube videos (9%); ad-free SiriusXM (5%) and TV music channels (5%). AM/FM’s share has been consistently strong throughout the last few years. Edison reports AM/FM radio’s daily reach also remains stable, while Pandora continues to see losses in share and reach; Spotify has grown 36% (3% to 4.1%). Since 2016, Pandora’s “Share of Ear” dropped 17%. From 2016 to 2018, millennials 18-34 daily reach jumped 39%. Daily reach among 25-54s increased 52%. In addition, podcasting’s daily reach is growing, especially among younger audiences, with listening share +39% in two years to 15.2% among those 18-34 and +52% to 9.7% in the same timeframe among 25-54s.
Salem Radio Network Sets Midterm Election Coverage. With its vice president of news & talk programming Tom Tradup commenting, “There is unprecedented interest in this year’s midterms,” Salem Radio Network will feed live Mike Gallagher-anchored coverage on (Tuesday) November 6 beginning at 7:00 pm (ET). Adding their perspective as well that night will be SRN host Hugh Hewitt; White House correspondent Greg Clugston; Senate correspondent Linda Kenyon; Congress correspondent Wally Hindes; Pentagon/military affairs correspondent Colonel Robert Maginnis; and SRN analyst/former presidential candidate Gary Bauer.
TALKERS News Notes. Having overseen the programming content strategy for 54 radio stations in Radio One’s 15 markets and Reach Media‘s nationally syndicated programming since January 2007, senior vice president of programming content Jay Stevens will leave the company when his contract expires the middle of next month. Immediately prior to joining Radio One, Stevens spent 16 years as vice president of programming for CBS Radio ….. It’s a busy week for Westwood One “Sterling on Sunday” host Walter (Sabo) Sterling who is filling in for Westwood One teammate Jim Bohannon tonight (Wednesday, 6/20) and tomorrow night (Thursday, 6/21). Sterling will be originating those shows from Entercom Pittsburgh news/talk KDKA-AM. Then, in approximately two weeks (7/5 and 7/6), he will guest host for Cumulus Media Little Rock news/talk KARN-FM afternoon drive talent Doc Washburn ….. Chicago media writer Robert Feder (RobertFeder.com) is first to report that veteran “Windy City” news anchor Dave Stewart (WGN, WLS-AM, WIND) will retire at the end of the month … Word from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Rodney Ho is that Elly Yu is remaining in the public news/talk arena but shifting from Atlanta Public Schools-owned WABE to American University’s WAMU as a general assignment reporter.
ABC Radio To Air Four July 4th Specials. All will be three hours in length for broadcast over the upcoming holiday weekend. In “America’s Pastimes,” ABC News Radio correspondent Aaron Katersky enjoys the pastimes that comprise a classic American summer such as the back porch, barbeque, sports, and a day at the beach. Katersky will explore not only the traditional American summer hobbies, but also those that are new. ABC News Radio correspondent Alex Stone hosts “Great American Car Show” in which he examines America’s love affair with the automobile. He tours the presidential limousine that John F. Kennedy was in on that fateful day in Dallas; visits an assembly line making the Ford Mustang (pictured at left); and ponders a future with flying cars. Stone will take listeners on a tour down historic Route 66, do donuts with a Hollywood stunt car driver and learn about the latest in car technology. “Red, White and True-Blue Country Fan Salute” is hosted by Dustin Lynch, who reveals the special relationship between country artists and their fans. Among those included are Jason Aldean, Kelsea Ballerini, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Little Big Town, and Darius Rucker. They discuss their most memorable and strangest fan encounters, how they engage with fans on social media and what sets country fans apart from partisans of other musical genres. Eddie Money-hosted “Red, White & Rock 2018” celebrates cities, artists, and songs that comprise the landscape of American rock and roll. It will feature music from Aerosmith, Allman Brothers Band, Cheap Trick, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Tom Petty, Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen, Van Halen, and ZZ Top.
Coleman Insights To Present Podcast Engagement Study. Results will be shared next month (7/25) in Philadelphia at Podcast Movement as part of the conference’s Industry Track. The study will reportedly offer second-by-second data in an analysis on listener reactions to “The Ben & Ashley Almost Famous Podcast,” hosted by former contestants from ABC-TV’s “The Bachelor.” Coleman Insights executive vice president/senior consultant Sam Milkman notes, “We will go well beyond the simple measures of listener and download counts that podcasters are used to seeing and examine content engagement. By looking at how the audience responds to specific content, podcasters can more effectively develop engaging content.” Podcast Movement co-founder Dan Franks remarks, “One of the biggest challenges for a podcaster is to figure out who their listener is, and what their listener wants. Coleman’s solutions for this problem are very exciting for us as organizers, as we get to help spread the word throughout the entire podcast community this July.” Milkman will present the findings with John Boyne and will be joined by iHeartRadio senior vice president of podcasting Chris Peterson.
For The Record. An item in yesterday’s TALKERS (Tuesday, 6/19) noted that “CBS World News Roundup” earned a “gold” medal in the New York Festivals International Radio Program Awards; “CBS World News Roundup” actually won a “bronze.” We apologize for the error.
NYC’s “Alt 92.3” Adds Segall, Stone. In two separate moves, Entercom New York’s WNYL “Alt 92.3” names Bryce Segall music director/evening talent and Dan Stone imaging director. Segall begins in less than two weeks (Monday, 7/2); Stone starts next Monday (6/25). Entercom New York regional president and market manager Susan Larkin comments, “Bryce has continuously displayed the ability to be innovative in the programming end of our industry; we are excited to add his talents. Dan’s previous imaging and voiceover experience will pay great dividends as he joins us in the same capacity.” According to Segall, “New York City is an iconic pillar of alternative culture. It has long deserved a radio station that not only pays tribute, but adds to that legacy. I am looking forward to working with the ‘Alt 92.3’ team to develop an outlet that truly adds value to the thriving, pre-existing music community.” Stone notes, “Helping to build an ‘Alt’ radio brand for New York City is a dream come true. This station’s passion for the format is unequalled; I can’t wait to wake up and be a part of that.” Segall previously was assistant program director/air personality for Seattle’s KNDD “107.7 The End,” and label manager for Mad Zoo. Stone was an imaging contributor/consultant for Cumulus Media Chicago. WNYL is the former WBMP – its calls were changed last Tuesday (6/12). Among persons 6+ in Nielsen Audio’s May 2018 sweep, the station ranked #19 (2.0).
Bevvy of Beasley Media Group Philly Activities. Several community-oriented activities undertaken by Beasley Media Group Philadelphia seemingly converged all at once. Many employees at the cluster were involved in its recent “Best Day of Caring” event to help the City of Philadelphia Community Life Improvement Program (CLIP). Team members from WMMR “93.3 Everything That Rocks”; WMGK “102.9 Philadelphia’s Classic Rock”; adult hits WBEN-FM “95.7 Ben FM”; sports talk WPEN-FM “97.5 The Fanatic”; sports talk WTEL “610 ESPN”; and WWDB “Talk 860” divided into two shifts to clean up a block in the city’s Frankford section. While there, they picked up trash and removed graffiti to help support the organization’s beautification project. Vice president and market manager Joe Bell comments, “This is truly what being a part of a local community is all about. I could not be more proud of our employees for paying it forward and helping our beloved city. I am proud to be on their team.” Meanwhile, last Friday (6/15), WMGK’s John DeBella raised over $143,000 for local veterans as part of his 13th annual radiothon at the National Constitution Center. Over the past decade, the station has raised over one million dollars to support vets in need. Among those donating items used in a series of eBay auctions that occurred in conjunction with the radiothon were Def Leppard’s Rick Allen, Jimmy Buffett, Phil Collins, Eagles, Billy Joel, and Yes. Former leader of Creedence Clearwater Revival, John Fogerty, called the station to voice his support. The following day (Saturday, 6/16), the 13th annual WMMR “I Bleed For Preston & Steve Blood Drive” produced 1,128 units of blood to benefit The American Red Cross Penn-Jersey Blood Services Region. Listeners showed up during a time when the American Red Cross needs blood the most and they received “Preston & Steve” T-shirts and “I Bleed For Preston & Steve” pint glass. Hundreds of donors were randomly selected to receive a pair of tickets to a summer concert. Free food and samples were also provided. Thus far, the annual event has collected nearly 15,000 pints of blood.
O’Brien Inks Multi-Year WCSX Extension. Four-year WCSX “94.7 The Classic Rock Station” morning drive personality (Big) Jim O’Brien signs a multi-year deal to continue hosting “Big Jim’s House” on the Beasley Media Group Detroit outlet. Vice president/market manager Mac Edwards comments, “It is really a pleasure to be associated with Jim and the healthy combination of creativity, wit, and passion for cars and classic rock he brings to his morning listeners in the ‘Motor City.’ Jim’s work to establish Glenn Frey Drive in Royal Oak and soon Bob Seger Boulevard in Ann Arbor; his tireless efforts on behalf of veterans; and his respect for all things Detroit prove he is an extraordinary ambassador for both WCSX and the city he calls home.” Program director JT Tarrants states, “I have been a ‘Big Jim’ fan since I arrived here. We are so glad to have him buttoned up to lead our morning show into the future.” O’Brien adds, “It is an honor to be part of the Beasley Media Group family in Detroit. I look forward to continue entertaining our dedicated ‘Motor City’ listeners for years to come.” O’Brien has been with WCSX since 2002 and is joined on the morning show by co-host Erin V and producer Ryan Logan.
San Andres Ascends to “Z-90” APD. XHTZ “Z-90 – Today’s Hit Music,” the Comunicación XERSA-owned mainstream CHR covering San Diego, promotes music director Kat San Andres to assistant program director. Program director R Dub comments, “It is team members behind the spotlight like Kat San Andres who are responsible for the incredible success of ‘Z-90’ and the other brands in this building. Kat’s relentless work ethic and passion for the business helps propel ‘Z-90’ forward every day; expanding her role here was overdue. Add to that, she is the ‘Z-90’ listener; has a great set of ears; and is a lot cooler than I will ever be.” With the station since 2004, San Andres remarks, “Fourteen years later, I am still in love with this career. I am always so thankful and grateful that I decided to take a risk to follow my dreams because it has led me to this wonderful adventure. I am so excited for this opportunity and cannot wait to start this new chapter.” Meanwhile, Kalyna Astrinos of San Diego’s KGTV-TV joins “Z-90” for weekends. She and R Dub worked together at iHeartMedia Los Angeles in 2009.
More Music Radio News and Career Moves. After 16 years in the CBS Radio Los Angeles – now Entercom – cluster, John Michael resigns. During his tenure, he was assistant program director/music director at mainstream CHR KAMP “97.1 Amp Radio”; music director for adult hits KCBS-FM “93.1 Jack FM’: and music coordinator/weekend air talent at alternative KROQ ….. Digital program director for iHeartMedia San Francisco Matty Staudt is elevated to iHeartRadio’s vice president of podcast programming. Staudt has launched more than 30 original locally-focused podcasts and hosts iHeartRadio’s “Access Podcast.” In 2008, he became part of the startup team and first director of content and community for the podcasting app Stitcher before moving to Premiere Networks as a consulting producer. A teacher at the Academy of Art University, Staudt will report directly to senior vice president of podcasting Chris Peterson …..Exiting Saga Columbus adult contemporary WSNY “Sunny 95” after 24 years is morning talent Dino Tripodis. Co-host Stacy McKay is the interim replacement named by program director Michelle Matthews ….. Morning drivers Chaz & AJ of Connoisseur Media New Haven’s WPLR “99.1 Connecticut’s #1 Rock Station” raised $18,000 for Connecticut based “Homes for the Brave.” WPLR operations manager Keith Dakin states, “It was truly inspiring to look at a packed house of people who were there not only for laughs but to help out a great organization making a difference in our community. ‘Homes for the Brave’ is doing great things in our state and we are so happy to write them this check.” Chaz adds, “With over a million U.S. veterans at risk of homelessness, this is the least we could do. It is up to us to help take care of those that gave for their country.” All money raised will go to help build homes, teach vocational training, and work with homeless veterans ….. The co-host of Cumulus Media’s “Nash Nights Live” – Elaina Smith – teams up with Nash Country Daily for an ongoing conversation about women in country music. Each article will feature a female county artist with an accompanying opinion piece, interview, podcast, or playlist. Profiled female artists will be featured on 90 Cumulus Media websites and more than 130 radio stations nationwide, with a reach of 400,000 people on Twitter and 180,000 on Facebook.
Joe McDonnell: LA Saddened at Giant-Size Talent’s Passing. How “big” was Joe McDonnell in Los Angeles? Consider this: Friday’s (3/13) lead item for several newscasts on the city’s only all-news station, CBS Radio‘s KNX, was that the 58-year-old McDonnell – widely-known as “Big Joe” or “The Big Nasty” – had passed away. “Big” references regarded his weight, approximately 700 pounds at one time; however, the sports talk host underwent gastric bypass surgery and lost roughly more than half of that. “Nasty” became a handle owing to his highly opinionated nature. The overwhelming majority of those familiar with McDonnell’s exemplary on-air work in Los Angeles would quickly associate him with being a “legendary” or “iconic” sports talk radio “fixture” and that would certainly be accurate. He was, however, among the rarest of on-air talents in the country’s second-largest market, in that, in addition to doing a nightly (7:00 pm – 11:00 pm) sports program (“The Joe McDonnell Experience”) on Clear Channel‘s (now iHeartMedia) KLAC, he also did a Sunday (12:00 noon – 2:00 pm) political talk program (“The Joe McDonnell Show”) on co-owned KTLK-AM (now KEIB). Most recently, McDonnell did fill-in work at KNX. Reaction to his death has continued virtually nonstop, with a who’s who in local and national media, as well as executives of major sports franchises, offering condolences. Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia knew McDonnell ever since Scioscia first came up as a catcher in the Dodgers’ organization. “He was a good friend who will be missed. It’s sad,” Scioscia states. On Twitter, Keith Olbermann writes, “Heartbroken to learn of death of LA radio legend, my friend, Joe McDonnell. He leaves us having never held a grudge.” Ken Rosenthal comments, “So sad to hear about the passing of Joe McDonnell, a one-of-a-kind sports personality in Los Angeles and a reporter at heart.” Several years ago, TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian, then the special features editor for Inside Radio, did an extensive profile of McDonnell, who freely used the word “idiot” to describe someone with whom he disagreed. It was a trademark of the bombastic on-air persona of “The Big Nasty” and customarily delivered in vitriol by the dean of Los Angeles radio sports talk hosts. McDonnell garnered legions of dedicated fans. Once – to benefit charity – he accepted the challenge of co-workers and successfully completed a four-hour shift without uttering one negative. In his profile, Kinosian shattered the myth about McDonnell and let the truth be told that in real-life, McDonnell was a far cry from the manic personality listeners were accustomed to hearing. Pensive and completely conscientious McDonnell qualified as a native Angelino, having relocated from Philadelphia in 1959 at age three with his parents. “I loved radio and wouldn’t go anywhere without it,” he fondly recalled to Kinosian. “I’d go to bed listening to it and wake up with it. I went through radios [as others] went through socks. Even when doing homework, I had the radio on.” Although thoroughly enthralled by the medium, McDonnell at that time never thought about pursuing a career in it. Family members urged him to be a lawyer, but McDonnell formulated sportswriter aspirations while attending L.A. Valley College and Cal State – Northridge. His radio career was, in his words, “a total accident.” A high school buddy McDonnell hadn’t seen in a while told him he received academic credit for working at a radio station. That was all it took for McDonnell: He scored an interview for a newsroom opening at KGIL in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley and his first day was September 18, 1975 – the day they arrested Patty Hearst. “I was so excited to be there and hung around to watch what everybody did. Then the story broke and I wound up staying until 10:00 pm. I fell in love with radio my first day and knew this was for me.” Freelance sports opportunities later surfaced for him at Mutual, AP Radio, and UPI Radio and he adroitly transitioned into a daily field correspondent. Play-by-play was briefly tinkered with, but long enough for McDonnell to know it didn’t captivate him. Something else did and as he flatly asserted to Kinosian, “My interest in politics is equal to my interest in sports. They are jobs but they are [also] passions. I love being able to show another side of my life. I am very liberal but do not [rubber-stamp] everything simply because that is what [other liberals] say you should do. I take things on a position-by-position basis. It is impossible and disingenuous to be one way on every subject. No one can ever accuse me of being a phony.” The first Gulf War was underway when he hosted a general talk show on KFI, Los Angeles. America’s first casualty came as a result of friendly fire. Soon after that, the victim’s widow drove to KFI one Sunday afternoon and McDonnell did two hours with her. “It was the most gut-wrenching, yet most fulfilling, thing I’ve done on radio,” he told Kinosian. “Quite honestly, I didn’t know I was capable of pulling it off. People heard me do sports and wondered what I knew about [politics]. I had to win them over.” Multiple Golden Microphone award winner McDonnell toiled in the Southland at KMAX and KWNK between 1994 – 1997; won raves doing sports updates for (then-all news) KFWB; and was part of the original 1992 staff transitioning KMPC to all-sports – although the outbreak of the L.A. riots was the considerably more monumental story the night of the format flip. For numerous personal and professional reasons, a five-year run beginning in 2000 as KSPN “ESPN 710,” Los Angeles’ assistant program director and afternoon driver profoundly affected him. “My first three years there were great,” McDonnell declared to Kinosian. “I had a say in what went on and helped build KSPN from the ground up with [KABC & KSPN OM] Erik Braverman who was my KFI producer. Unfortunately when Erik decided he wanted to concentrate on KABC, they brought in people who didn’t share our ideas.” It was one different concept after another and became the beginning of the end for McDonnell there. “They killed morale and dissolved everything we did. I wanted to leave every day the last two years I was there but made so much money I would’ve been put in a mental institution if I quit.” From the minute McDonnell walked into the Burbank offices of KLAC to interview with KLAC general manager/program director & KTLK program director Don Martin, he sensed something different. “This might sound crazy – but I really liked that they made me earn my position. Don put me on KTLK and let me do some KLAC fill-in. It meant a lot when he said I assimilated with the audience and staff. People have this idea you expect everything be given to you.” Being a sports talk host was a 24 hour-a-day job for McDonnell because, “Information doesn’t stop.” His shows were frequently punctuated with “24” and “Da Ali G” clips and laced with abundant/energetic hip-hop tracks as bumpers. At first, longtime “McDonnell – Douglas” partner Doug Krikorian wasn’t part of the equation for the “Joe McDonnell Experience,” although the Long Beach Press-Telegram sportswriter joined the ensemble to deliver weekly “K-Files” reports. After all, it was Krikorian who hung the “Big Nasty” moniker on McDonnell when Big Joe collared/disposed of a rowdy patron one night at their favorite hangout. Naturally, the subject of McDonnell’s weight came up in the Kinosian profile of him and McDonnell said that even before the gastric bypass procedure, the heavy burden he was carrying didn’t really bother him. He did however eventually begin slowing down, getting sick, and spending more time at home. “I stopped going to games because it was uncomfortable. My doctor told me I had to do something. Any addict – and I’m definitely a food addict – thinks you can do it on your own.” That’s the fallacy and something an addict desperately wants to believe but McDonnell stressed it can not be done alone. “It got to the point where I realized I was going to die. I had the surgery and lost 300 pounds. On Christmas Day, I put slabs of turkey and prime rib on a plate [surrounded with] potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce. I took it to the table and had a bite of each. Hey look – I’m a food addict and always will be.” The old Joe most likely would’ve avoided on-air surgery mentions. If it did pop up, he probably would’ve been brutal in challenging the person referencing it. A much mellower McDonnell made a conscious decision when he left KSPN that the “Big Nasty” had died. “It was a great vehicle for what I needed – but – that really isn’t me,” he emphasized to Kinosian. “I’m opinionated and will raise my voice but I’m a nice guy and like to have fun. One reason I love my job is it allows me to hang with people.” Conceding it was a “shortcoming” on his part as a talk show host to refrain from mentioning much about his personal life, McDonnell declared, “You can’t be isolated and expect to reach your audience; you have to let them in on your life. For the most part, I refused to do that. Don Martin and I had a long talk about that and he said the best on-air people let you know about them.” A happy, healthy, and exuberant McDonnell chatted up his March 30, 2007 wedding to KLOS’ lovely Elizabeth Cohn (now working at cross-town Bonneville-owned KSWD “The Sound”). “I finally met someone who will put up with me and I [married] the most wonderful person in the world,” McDonnell emphasized in that profile. Joe and Elizabeth worked together for four years inside ABC Radio Los Angeles (now Cumulus Media) and basically didn’t say a word to each other. “She understands I’ll occasionally make fun of her on-air and exaggerate things but my life is now an open book.” Numerous health ailments – some nearly life-threatening – plagued McDonnell and he frequently credited Elizabeth as being the rock who held him together. An avowed movie junkie, McDonnell would go to as many as three or four in one day. It was his way to relax and escape. “One of the biggest benefits of losing weight is I can fit into theater seats. That was honestly a problem before.” Such McDonnell segments as “Who Do You Want To Kick Out Of LA?” gave him a Northeast-sounding vibe, but his entire nearly 40-year career was spent in Los Angeles. The ardent WWE fan told Kinosian, “It would take a million dollar offer for me to leave Los Angeles. In the early-1990s, I had a chance to work for a friend in Nashville and had a big offer to go to Seattle in 1994 but my mother had cancer so I wasn’t about to leave town. There was a preliminary discussion years ago with WFAN, New York about being a reporter/weekend host but Los Angeles is my home. I’m part of the radio landscape.” Eerie now, but McDonnell confided to Kinosian in that lengthy printed conversation, “All the stuff I’ve done is leading up to something. I’ve always felt there was a bigger plan for me and a different path. God has kept me around for a reason – but I don’t know what it is. With what I’ve put myself through, any other person would have been dead by now.” Even at his heaviest, the voracious reader managed to stay in “fairly good shape.” The only weakness until recently was with his knees. According to McDonnell, “The ultimate moment for me would be to somehow find out who really killed John F. Kennedy.” As for the once “Big Nasty,” no cause of death was reported; several reports – including the one on KNX – said he died at Los Angeles’ Good Samaritan Hospital after a “brief illness.” A two-hour Friday night (3/13) Jeff Biggs-hosted show on KSPN paid tribute to McDonnell, who typically aired his “Kick Out” segment Fridays. Poignant, touching, and chillingly appropriate, the final word was given to Elizabeth McDonnell who somehow managed to summon up the strength in her voice to utter she wanted to kick Joe out of LA. Dramatic, goose-bump radio. “When I die,” McDonnell once told Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News, “I want to be cremated and then have a plane spread half of my ashes over Dodger Stadium and the other half over the [ex-home of the Lakers] Forum.”
Tornado Damage Reported Via Multi-Media on McGraw Milhaven Show. The series of tornadoes that swept across the Midwest on Sunday left serious damage in New Minden, Illinois – about an hour East of St. Louis. The photo you see here is from the video component of KTRS, St. Louis morning host McGraw Milhaven’s online platform. Since the spring, Milhaven has been partnering with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s StlToday.com site to present his program in a video format. Today, he used that medium to his advantage as reporter Michael Golde was able to report back to the studio via Skype and show viewers scenes from the storm-damaged town and converse with Milhaven and news anchor Kelly Jackson. In posting the video on YouTube, Milhaven comments, “KTRS Radio in St Louis is the only radio station in the country to show live video of storm-damaged areas of Ill. to listeners on laptops, desktops and smartphones as well as the radio.”
JVC Media to Flip Rock WRCN, Long Island to News/Talk After Christmas. Longtime rocker WRCN, Riverhead, New York has stopped playing “everything that rocks” and has gone Christmas music through the holidays. But after Christmas, the station will emerge as a news/talk outlet dubbed “LI News Radio 103.9.” JVC Media president and CEO John Caracciolo explains the company’s thinking in a statement: “WRCN has a long history and heritage on Long Island – many of us have grown up with the station and it has become an intricate part of our lives. But as our lives change so does our soundtrack. What we listened to growing up is not necessarily what we listen to now and what was important to us as teenagers maybe doesn’t seem so important anymore. That’s why we made the decision to change WRCN and develop and program a radio station that fits the needs of Long Island…Long Islanders are starving for local news and information. Why should we have to wait 22 minutes to hear about the world when all we really want is Islip to Southampton? What’s the traffic like on the 347 merge or Sunrise Highway in Oakdale? This station will not only serve as your information source but it will be your sounding board for issues that influence your life, your community and your business.” Talent that has been announced to be part of the new format includes Premiere Networks nationally syndicated star Sean Hannity and Cumulus Media Networks personality Mark Levin as well as local hosts Ernie Fasio, Vic Fusco, John Gomez, Kevin Law, Steve Levy, Frank McKay, and Jay Oliver.
Linda Thomas to Exit KIRO-FM, Seattle. Morning news anchor and reporter Linda Thomas announces she will be leaving Bonneville’s news/talk KIRO-FM, Seattle at the end of the year for a new opportunity that, as she says, “doesn’t involve being at work by 2:00 am.” In a blog post at the company’s Mynorthwest.com, she writes, “My Bonneville Seattle bosses understand and support my decision too, even though they don’t want me to leave. That’s what family members do. I’ll always be grateful for them, and for you.” Thomas first worked at KIRO in 1988 as an overnight editor and became morning drive anchor in 1993. She left the station to work as a freelancer but returned to KIRO-FM as morning anchor in 2010. She adds, “KIRO’s news, talk and online teams are the best in the business. It’s been an honor to work alongside amazing talent. I’ve learned a lot from all my co-workers. They encourage me, challenge me, and make me laugh on a daily basis. I really do love them.”
Michelle Wright Let Go from All-News WYAY, Atlanta. The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho tips us that morning drive co-anchor Michelle Wright has been let go from Cumulus Media’s all-news WYAY, Atlanta “All-News 106.7.” Andy Rose remains in AM drive solo. The speculation is that the recent hiring of Kim “The Kimmer” Peterson to host a talk show in middays and the acquisition of Atlanta Braves baseball required some cuts in other areas of the station and Wright was the unfortunate victim. She was one of the original staffers when Cumulus decided to turn WYAY into an all-news station in May of 2012. She had previously worked at Atlanta-based CNN Radio before joining Cumulus.
CEOs Make the Grade. Clear Channel’s Bob Pittman and Emmis’ Jeff Smulyan were both the subjects of feature stories in newspapers over the weekend – Pittman in The New York Times and Smulyan in the Indianapolis Star. In a Q&A titled, the Value of Dissent, Pittman says he encouraged dissenters in his organization because they serve a valuable purpose. “I want us to listen to these dissenters because they may intend to tell you why we can’t do something, but if you listen hard, what they’re really telling you is what you must do to get something done. It gets you out of your framework of the conventions of what you can and can’t do.” Read that piece here. Jeff Smulyan tells the Star in his Q&A that the best piece of advice he’s received has to do with employer-employee relationships, “Attract the best people, treat them well, and let them do their job. If you want people to go through walls for you, you have to go through more walls for them.” Read that story here.
The View of Radio from the Digital World’s Perspective. Noted radio digital consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller writes, “Those of us in digital media know that our world will continue to change drastically, over and over again. We also know that we will be bigger and better three years…five years…10 years from now. Plus, we hear how radio compares itself to online listening choices, and we see how you use your digital platforms. And here’s what we think.” In a new column posted today (11/18) Miller goes on to state that digital-only people still have “transmitter envy” and that even though more and more people and media are moving online, the stick is still a formidable asset. Regardless, he points out that many digital-only professionals think that over-the-air radio companies are “crazy” for cutting talent, still selling 60-second commercials, and not being cognizant of just how much entertainment is changing. He clearly explains what digital pros see as radio’s “dangerous assumption.” He observes, “I look at a lot of different radio social media, websites, database emails and texting programs, and it’s clear you’re making some dangerous assumptions. Digital content doesn’t work like you think it should. It doesn’t work like you wish it did. It works like it works. We see you on Facebook and Twitter talking about almost anything…except what people really love about you. Your websites are a mish-mosh of broad-based content, but if you look at your web stats, there are fewer than half-a-dozen features at your site that, combined, get the lion’s share of your page views. There is nothing special or exclusive about the emails you send your listeners, and your open rates prove it. Radio people know a lot about how people use radio. Meanwhile, you are using all these other media as if knowing how they work doesn’t matter. One key thing we’re doing to drive our online success is to track everything we can to see what really makes a difference. We don’t have the luxury of having opinions about what should work. Either the clicks are there, or they aren’t. What we do either works, or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, you dig in, diagnose the problem, and adjust.” To read Chris Miller’s entire column, please click here.
Premiere Reverses Course; Keeps Randi Rhodes on Syndication Menu. There are no reports indicating just what happened between Randi Rhodes and syndicator Premiere Networks but the latter is confirming the widely reported news that Rhodes will continue to be syndicated by Premiere, at least through 2014. Premiere SVP of affiliate relations Peter Tripi emailed affiliates, “In a happy turn of events, we are pleased to announce that Premiere Networks will continue to produce and distribute the Randi Rhodes show. In an industry of constant change, it’s a pleasure to provide good news about a talk talent we think so highly of. We apologize for any inconvenience the previous announcement caused, but look forward to a very successful 2014 with the Randi Rhodes show.” Several weeks ago, Rhodes began telling her audience she was foreseeing the end of her program and later Premiere notified affiliates the relationship would be ending.
It’s Pop-Up Time. No, not the kind of pop-up we associate with websites – pop-up ads – but those retail stores that “pop up” in vacant storefronts during the holiday shopping season. Sales maven and H&H Communications president Al Herskovitz writes about getting these seasonal businesses advertising on your station this year. He notes that many of these retailers are big name brands that choose to expand their physical space during this time of year and they include Vera Bradley, Louis Vuitton and the National Football League. Read Al Herskovitz’s entire column here.
ABC News Radio Offers Kennedy Assassination Programming. As the nation marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, ABC News Radio is offering a two-hour special broadcast, “Three Shots Rang Out: An ABC News Special – The JFK Assassination 50 Years Later,” anchored by ABC News’ Diane Sawyer. It’s an audio-only program that will be heard by ABC News Radio affiliates. In addition, a special expanded show will be available via download at Audible.com as part of a new digital audio relationship between ABC News Radio and Audible. The Audible.com version of this program will include an additional 40 minutes of historical audio available exclusively to Audible listeners.
Ron Ruth Passes. Former 19-year Radio Advertising Bureau executive vice president of stations Ron Ruth died early Saturday (11/16) in Florida of a heart attack. The 75-year-old Ruth had been struggling with health issues the past two months. CBS Radio president and chief executive officer Dan Mason was among those quickly noting their sympathies regarding Ruth’s passing. “I just spoke with him at the Radio Show this past September in Orlando,” Mason writes on Facebook. “He was so up and happy – I am sad tonight.” Also on that social media platform, Tom Birch notes, “Ron lived life to its fullest and was a joy and inspiration to everyone who had the opportunity to know him. Ron was the midwife to Birch Research. He opened doors for me, encouraged me and guided me. I am deeply honored to have worked for Ron at WQAM, Miami in the 1970s, and to have remained friends with him for the next three decades.” According to former RKO General eastern vice president Perry Ury, “Ron Ruth was a friend and our house skeptic at RKO.” Former Tele Media Broadcasting vice president and chief operating officer Ira Rosenblatt adds, “We’ve lost a friend and true broadcaster.” Doing afternoon drive in Boston early in his radio career, Ruth roomed with two other on-air talents who went on to stardom – George Carlin and Jack Burns of Burns & (Avery) Schreiber. He held sales manager positions for Unistar Radio Networks, as well as at the local level in markets such as New York (WOR-FM), Chicago (WNUS), Washington, DC (WGMS), and Buffalo (WYSL). Ruth left Unistar to join the RAB in 1992. Most recently, he was consulting the Radio Advertising Bureau.
A Man of His Word. The man having his head shaved live on the air on Cumulus Media’s WMAL, Washington, DC is former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino. Not too long ago, Bongino said on the WMAL airwaves that he would shave his head if President Obama apologized for the gaffes in the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. And since the president did offer an apology of sorts, Bongino agreed to honor his statement live on the air and did so on Friday, November 15.