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Profile: KFI Keeping Listeners Informed in Unusual Times

| September 28, 2020

By Mike Kinosian
TALKERS
Managing Editor

 

LOS ANGELES — Only the most vociferous glass half-full proponent would venture to discern the slightest glimmer of positivity about the present-day coronavirus crisis.

Meanwhile though, it must never be forgotten that through it all, genuine heroes continue to surface and walk among us.

Precisely as in life itself, cream has a glorious tendency to rise to the top in the radio industry.

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Friday, November 15, 2019

| November 15, 2019

Phil Zachary Exits DC Market Manager Role with Entercom. A surprise move at Entercom’s Washington, DC station group takes place with Phil Zachary leaving the SVP/market manager role and stepping into a “corporate role” involving “special projects.”  Zachary had been in DC for 20 months.  He moved there from Entercom’s Hartford cluster in May of 2018, five years after joining Entercom Boston from his president/COO post with Curtis Media Group in Raleigh.  Zachary took over for Steve Swenson at Entercom Washington.  The company has not named a successor for the DC market manager position.

Beasley Acquires Houston Outlaws Esports Franchise. The financial details of this deal were not released but Beasley Broadcast Group, Inc. says this acquisition of the Overwatch League’s Houston Outlaws esports team enhances the company’s growing esports platform.  Previously, Beasley invested in Team Renegades – an esports organization consisting of five teams, based in Detroit, Michigan – and acquired CheckpointXP, a weekly syndicated esports lifestyle show. Beasley says that the Overwatch League is the first major global professional esports league with city-based teams across Asia, Europe, and North America.  Overwatch was created by globally acclaimed publisher Blizzard Entertainment “whose iconic franchises have helped lay the foundations and push the boundaries of professional esports over the last 15 years.”  The Overwatch League will begin its third season in February of 2020, with each of the league’s teams hosting matches in their home markets.  The Outlaws will remain officially based in Houston, Texas and will continue to represent the Houston, Austin, and San Antonio markets.  Beasley CEO Caroline Beasley says, “The acquisition of the Houston Outlaws significantly expands our growing esports platform.  The Houston Outlaws represent a rare investment opportunity, as there are only 20 Overwatch League teams in the world, and the transaction partners Beasley with Blizzard Entertainment and its parent company, Activision Blizzard, a leading global developer and publisher of interactive entertainment content and services…The acquisition of the Houston Outlaws furthers our revenue and cash flow diversification strategies. We believe the power of our media footprint, including 65 highly-rated radio stations in large- and mid-sized markets, combined with our 24/7 coverage of esports news, will allow us to build the value of the Outlaws franchise through a range of revenue sources, including ticket sales, advertising, sponsorship, licensing, e-commerce, and other partnerships.”

NOW POSTED:  New Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.”   The vibrant, one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted on the website of its flagship station, iHeartMedia’s WONK-FM, Washington, DC (11/15).  The new episode titled “The Show Biz Capitol of America!” looks back at this past week of November 11-15, 2019 and features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERSWayne Allyn Root, talk show host, USA Radio Network/Newsmax TVDr. Daliah Wachs, medical doctor/talk show host, Genesis Communications NetworkLisa Wexler, probate judge, Connecticut/talk show host, WICC, Bridgeport; Jim Bohannon, talk show host, Westwood One;  Dr. Dana Cheng, senior China news reporter, The Epoch TimesVictoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company; and Bali Samra, human resources consultant/commentator, Pioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA.   This acclaimed news/talk radio show first airs each week on WONK-FM, Washington, DC on Friday evenings between 6:00-7:00 pm; followed by WRKO, Boston; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA;  KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; the Virginia Talk Radio Network and Pioneer Valley Radio in Springfield, MA. It also appears on the iHeartRadio App.  To listen to this week’s episode (and the program’s complete archives), please click here.  To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here.’

Impeachment Hearings/Ukraine Allegations Top News/Talk Story for Week of November 11-15. The start of impeachment hearings against President Trump and the allegations of misconduct with Ukraine military aid was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM.  At #2 this week was the 2020 presidential race, the Trump tax returns court ruling, and the trial of former Trump adviser Roger Stone.  Coming in at #3 was stock market activity and the economy, followed by universal health care proposals at #4.  The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.  It is published every Friday at Talkers.com.  See this week’s entire chart here.

Rose Anderson, VP/Executive Director of the New York Festivals Radio Awards Is Guest on Harrison Podcast. New York Festivals, the prestigious, long-running international awards organization spotlighting quality in the fields of advertising, TV & film, and radio opens its acceptance of entries for the 2020 Radio Awards competition and announces information about its exciting new presentation in April. The organization’s vice president and executive director, Rose Anderson, guests on the award-winning PodcastOne series “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Anderson, who brings years of experience as a network TV producer to her role at NYF, joins Harrison in a fascinating conversation about the renaissance of storytelling in the radio field as well as other exciting changes the industry is experiencing in the rapidly evolving digital era. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the player box marked “The Michael Harrison Interview” located in the right-hand column of the TALKERS email newsletter and on every page of Talkers.com.

9th Annual KFI, Los Angeles ‘PastaThon’ Scheduled for December 6. For this year’s 9th KFI PastaThon on December 6, iHeartMedia has teamed with Smart & Final stores and Barilla Pasta to raise money as well as donations of pasta and sauce to help feed local children in need.  Funds raised from the event will benefit Caterina’s Club, a charitable organization that helps feed, house and educate children in need in Orange County.  Now through December 6, Smart & Final is offering an opportunity for shoppers to donate to this event by purchasing $10 KFI PastaThon kits, generously donated by Barilla, that include the brand’s pasta and sauce as well as Smart & Final’s signature First Street line of plates, utensils and napkins. Each kit provides 24 meals and those purchasing the kit receive a chance to win a 13-day trip to Italy for two, courtesy of guided vacation company Trafalgar.  On December 6, all KFI AM 640’s on-air personalities – Bill Handel, Jennifer Jones Lee, Gary Hoffmann, Shannon Farren, John Kobylt, Ken Chiampou, and Tim Conway Jr. – will participate in a live, 17-hour broadcast on site at the Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove encouraging listeners to donate money, packaged pasta and jars of pasta sauce.  Last year’s event raised a record $517,000 and 50,000 pounds of pasta and sauce.  Since 2010, KFI listeners have helped raise over $2.3 million and 391,000 pounds of pasta and sauce for Caterina’s Club.  KFI program director Robin Bertolucci says, “This is a whole station and community effort. Everyone supports this wonderful cause from the on-air hosts to the news team, sales, digital, I.T, engineering and promotions. Everyone from every corner of the station is a part of this wonderful cause.  Not only is the KFI PastaThon about feeding children in need, it’s also about ending the cycle of poverty and we are grateful to our incredible listeners who so generously support the good work of [Caterina’s Club founder] Chef Bruno.”

TALKERS News Notes. Four new podcasts are released by PodcastOne.  Viral phenomenon Trisha Paytas expands her brand beyond YouTube with the podcast, “The Dish with Trish”; actress Daniella Monet teams up with her fiancé, Andrew Gardner, to discuss their journey into “adulting” on “Adulting Like A Mother Father”; the Ladygang Network on PodcastOne adds a fashion-forward podcast called “Brad Behavior with Brad Goreski”; and PodcastOne continues to expand its lineup of dramatic and true-crime programming with Reelz’ “Copycat Killers,” based on of the television series detailing murders that imitate Hollywood’s hit blockbuster films…..ESPN Audio says its podcasts set a new record in October (as per Podtrac) with a verified unique audience of 8.1 million.  ESPN says that figure represents an increase of 27% over October 2018.  ESPN vice president, digital strategy and marketing within ESPN Audio Tom Ricks says, “ESPN’s podcast business has certainly been building great momentum which we expect to continue with the recent launch of ‘ESPN Daily.’  We remain very bullish on the podcast space and that ESPN is best suited to capitalize on the format in the sports genre.”.…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that WSCR, Chicago producer Tony Gill is leaving the Entercom sports talk station  to join NBC Sports Chicago in the role of podcast producer.  At WSCR, he’s been producing the Laurence Holmes midday show as well as a number of the station’s podcasts…..Premiere Networks nationally syndicated evening radio host Delilah spoke with actress and Broadway superstar Kristin Chenoweth for her podcast, “Love Someone with Delilah.”  On the podcast the two talk about Chenoweth’s new album, For The Girls, a tribute to the passionate women of music as well as about her passions for creating, singing, and giving back through Kristin Chenoweth Broadway Bootcamps, and her new endeavor – building a creative arts center in her hometown of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.

WTOP, Washington Seeks Director of News and Programming. Washington, DC all-news WTOP-FM is seeking a director of news and programming. Hubbard Radio says this person, “leads WTOP, an effective organization of over 100 people consisting of news directors, writers, anchors, reporters, editors, and staff to provide the best available local, national and international news, traffic, weather, sports and money news across all media platforms, including radio, internet and social media while serving as brand manager to maintain the imaging, marketing and overall sound.” Essential job functions for this position include: Overall responsibility for WTOP news gathering, production, news programming and presentation across multiple platforms with the utmost in quality control; provides effective leadership to a diverse workforce covered by a collective bargaining agreement that operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; establishes short and long term program format objectives, strategies and plans to achieve maximum listenership of a quality product across multiple platforms; ensures that all programming is in compliance with state and federal laws and FCC Rules and Regulations; liason between company management and union. For more information and to apply, click here.

Cool Talk Radio Sales Opportunity. In New York City, Salem Media Group is seeking an account executive for radio and digital sales. Here’s the ad: Salem Media Group is looking for a dynamic individual to join the sales team for “AM970 The Answer” and the legendary WMCA “AM570/102.3FM The Mission, New York’s Christian Talk.” Compensation is commensurate with degree of experience and skills. This is a fabulous career opportunity for the right individual with one of the finest broadcasting companies in America. Ideal candidate has a proven track record of success with radio and digital sales. Interested candidates should apply online and email cover letter and resumes to Jerry Crowley’s attention.

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Atlanta country outlet WKHX rebrands as “Atlanta’s New Country 101.FIVE,” “an innovative radio outlet celebrating the great songs and sounds of Georgia’s homegrown artists.  These stars feed souls and fill hearts, stadiums and concert halls around the world.”  Cumulus Media made the change yesterday (11/14) at 3:00 pm playing “Dirt We Were Raised On” by Macon, Georgia’s Jason Aldean, followed by songs from The Zac Brown Band, Luke Bryan, Kane Brown, Brantley Gilbert, Thomas Rhett, Sugarland, and Trisha Yearwood.  The station had been branded “Kicks 101.5” since 1981.  “Kincaid and Dallas” are holding down the morning shift and Lucas Phelan hosts afternoon drive…..Programming pro Brian Roberts exits adult contemporary WPEZ, Macon, Georgia “Lite Rock Z93.7” where he was morning host and PD…..After eight years in Kansas City, Brady Goodman is out at Entercom’s cluster there where he was handling imaging and on-air roles at hot AC KZPT “99-7 The Point.”

Friday, December 16, 2016

| December 16, 2016

susan-karisHubbard Radio Phoenix Names Karis VP/Sales. It marks a return to the day-to-day radio business for Susan Karis, who is appointed vice president of sales for Hubbard Radio Phoenix. She has spent the last nearly four years as group publisher of Cities West Publications and will begin her new duties in several weeks. Hubbard Radio Phoenix market manager Trip Reeb comments, “Having someone of Susan’s stature and background join our cluster and company is an incredible opportunity.” Karis remarks, “Every once in a while, an opportunity comes along that you just know is right – joining Hubbard Radio Phoenix is one of them. I am excited to come back to radio with Trip and his team, and to become part of Hubbard Radio.” For seven years, Karis was Phoenix-based executive vice president of operations for iHeartMedia (Clear Channel); one year as senior vice president of operations; and six years as market manager/director of sales. Prior to that, the Arizona State University grad logged 13 years (1985 – 1998) as general sales manager for Nationwide Communications. Karis replaces Jeff England, who became market manager of Hubbard’s stations in Chicago. The Hubbard Radio Phoenix cluster consists of classic rock KLSX (6.0, #2, 6+, Nielsen Audio PPM, November 2016); KUPD “Arizona’s Real Rock” (5.1, #3, 6+); KDKB “93.3 Arizona’s Alternative” (2.4, #19, 6+); KAZG “Oldies 1440 & 92.7” (1.2, #26, 6+); and KDUS “AM 1060 NBC Sports Radio” (.1, #32, 6+). The market leader is iHeartMedia adult contemporary KESZ (6.3, 6+).

karolyn-johnstonJohnston Joins Beasley Las Vegas As GSM. After five months as senior account executive at crosstown Cox Business, Karolyn Johnston is appointed general sales manager of Beasley Media Group’s five-station Las Vegas cluster.  Beasley Las Vegas director of sales Mark Sturcken states that years ago, he “had the pleasure working alongside Karolyn. Her energy, enthusiasm, relationships in the Las Vegas market, knowledge and passion for our business are second to none. With more than two decades of media experience, Karolyn brings tremendous value to our leadership team.” According to Johnston, she is “so happy to be on board. There are great things on deck for us [owing to] Beasley Media Group’s reputation in Las Vegas, along with the smart, seasoned roster of media professionals that make up this group. I simply could not be more delighted to be a part of this team as we move into the new year.” Johnston previously was integrated marketing specialist at iHeartMedia Las Vegas; account executive for Cumulus Media Atlanta; senior account manager for Atlanta’s WQXI-AM “The Zone”; and an account executive for Seattle’s KIRO-TV. From November 2002 to March 2009, she was an account executive at Cox Media Group Las Vegas. With their November 2016 Nielsen Audio PPM (6+) average quarter hour share and market rank in parentheses, Beasley Las Vegas consists of classic hits-oldies KKLZ (7.2, #1); urban-rhythmic oldies KOAS “Old School 105.7” (4.8, #4); country KCYE “The Coyote” (2.5, #15); hot AC KVGS “Star 107.9” (2.3, #19); and talk KDWN (1.1, #24).

nick-figueredoFigueredo Named WOKV Director/B&P. Most recently assistant director of branding and programming for Cox Media Group Orlando talker WDBO-FM, Nick Figueredo transfers to similarly-programmed Jacksonville sibling WOKV as director of branding and programming. Cox Media Group Jacksonville director of radio operations Todd Shannon remarks, “After working closely with Nick over the past three months as we interviewed for the position, it became very apparent that he has the passion, vision, and leadership to take WOKV to even greater ratings success.” Figueredo – who has worked for the company’s Orlando cluster the past seven years – notes, “I am very excited and thankful for this amazing opportunity. From the day I was hired at WDBO-FM, I knew my future was with Cox Media Group. I am now taking the next step in my career.” Powered by a hefty October 2016 – November 2016 gain of +1.7 (7.2 – 8.9, 6+), WOKV finishes first in Nielsen Audio’s November 2016 Jacksonville PPM report.

mason-markMason to Mark KEX Homecoming. After leaving KEX, Portland three years ago, Mark Mason will return to the iHeartMedia talk facility for a daily three-hour air-shift beginning next month (1/23). Along with the late Dave Anderson, Mason co-hosted “The Mark & Dave Show” on KEX. He notes that Anderson’s passing and his own health issues involving a blood clot in his leg changed his perspective on life. “It has been such a tumultuous ride that when I found myself able to breathe again, I felt an overwhelming need to take control of my life again,” he writes. “My decision to come back home to KEX was part of it.” Most recently, the public-address announcer for the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers was an on-air talent at crosstown Pamplin’s KPAM-AM. Just over three weeks ago (11/23), Michael Castner departed KEX to begin a podcast. Among persons 6+ in the November 2016 Nielsen Audio PPM, KEX finishes in a four-way tie at #17 (2.1), while Alpha Media talker KXL-FM is at #6 (4.9, 6+). KEX adult contemporary sibling KKCW “K-103” and public KOPB are tied for the lead (7.7, 6+).

crowleymonica-2Crowley Chosen As NSC Senior Director/Strategic Communications. Immediately rumored to be in line for a position in the Trump administration, former syndicated radio host Monica Crowley will be senior director of strategic communications for the National Security Council. “I am deeply honored, humbled, and grateful to be asked by the president-elect to join the extraordinary national security team he is assembling,” the Fox News Channel commentator and Washington Times columnist comments. “With vision, courage, and moral clarity, he is committed fully to re-establishing America’s singular place in the world. He is also committed to selecting the best people for the jobs of keeping the American people safe and the country secure. It will be a great privilege to serve with them.” Prior to her combined 10 years of doing syndicated talk radio for Westwood One and Talk Radio Network, Crowley spent four years as an on-air host in New York City on Cumulus Media talker WABC.

nick-pintoPinto Promoted to BMG VP/Information Technology. Two-year Charlotte-based information technology director for Beasley Media Group – Nick Pinto – is bumped up to vice president of information technology. The company’s chief technology officer Mike Cooney comments, “Nick has proven himself over the past several years and he was invaluable during our recent Greater Media acquisition. Nick will be overseeing the capital budget for IT and supervising the IT managers in the local markets. His strong customer service skills made him the obvious choice for this new corporate position.” Pinto remarks, “I am honored to join our dedicated Beasley corporate team. I have always believed that working hard will you give you many rewards – this promotion is one of them. My thanks to Mike Cooney for his faith in my abilities and to market manager Bill Schoening for his constant support for more than a decade.” Pinto has been overseeing the IT infrastructure in Beasley Media Group’s Charlotte cluster since 2004.

stephanie-colombini

Public WUSF Adds Colombini as Producer. Former WCBS-AM, New York City reporter Stephanie Colombini is named producer of “Florida Matters,” the public affairs show of University of South Florida-owned WUSF, Tampa. In addition, Colombini will contribute to state and local news coverage as part of the “Health News Florida” team. WUSF Public Media general manager JoAnn Urofsky states, “Stephanie will be a wonderful addition to our news team. She has a wide variety of skills, and I know she will play a major role in enhancing ‘Florida Matters’ and many other WUSF programs; we are fortunate to have her here.” New York native/Fordham University graduate Colombini comments, “It is a real honor to join such an esteemed group of journalists. I am excited to start covering news in the Sunshine State.” WUSF ranks tenth (4.1) among persons 6+ in Nielsen Audio’s November 2016 PPM report, while Cox Media Group adult contemporary WDUV “Lite Favorites” is the pacesetter with a 9.4 (6+).

knx logoOdds & Sods. Budget cutbacks at KNX result in the departure of three familiar voices. Exiting the CBS Radio Los Angeles all-news operation are mid-day anchor Linda Nunez, who had been with the station the past 26 years; sports director Steve Grad (23 years with KNX); and reporter Ed Mertz who transitioned to KNX in 2009 from former news cluster-mate KFWB where he had been since 2000 ….. Word out of the Windy City via reliable source RobertFeder.com is that after three years on Chicago’s WLS-AM, Westwood One’s Michael Savage will disappear from the Cumulus Media talker at the end of the year. WLS-AM had been delay-broadcasting Savage from 9:00 pm – 12:00 midnight ….. Ordinarily, an item about a forthcoming movie wouldn’t warrant much of our attention. In this case,kfi logo however, it is he identity of the executive producer of “Let There Be Light,” a film about an atheist finding religion, that is noteworthy as it is none other than … Premiere Networks’ host and Fox News Channel talent Sean Hannity ….. In its sixth annual, 17-hour, December 1 “Pasta-thon,” iHeartMedia Los Angeles talker KFI raised over $320,000 and collected 90,000 pounds of food for “Caterina’s Club.” Throughout the KFI “Pasta-thon,” station personalities Bill Handel, Aron Bender, stevens-richJennifer Jones Lee, Gary Hoffman, Shannon Farren, John Kobylt, Ken Chiampou and Tim Conway Jr. were on-site, encouraging listeners to donate packaged pasta, jars of pasta sauce, and money to help feed underprivileged children. Everything gathered helps provide a balanced meal every night to more than 1,800 low-income children in over 15 cities in Los Angeles and Orange County ….. Earlier this month (12/3), Alpha Media talker WFTL, West Palm Beach helped to raise more than $40,000 as part of the city’s “Walk to Cure Arthritis.” Station on-air talent Rich Stevens comments, “My mom has been affected by this awful disease and I see the pain it causeshurley, harry her. Now that I have been involved, I know it has nothing to do with age. It can affect anyone at any age, which is why I wanted to be part of this great cause to help find a cure.” Arthritis Foundation development manager Lisa Roeberg remarks, “It was truly inspiring to see so many of our arthritis champions taking another step toward victory.” ….. When Townsquare Media-owned WPGG “Talk Radio 104.1,” Atlantic City (New Jersey) morning man Harry Hurley learned that 100 children who attend Pleasantville’s Christian Ministry Impact of God Church were not going to have Christmas this year, he thought “that was unacceptable” so, the “Hurley in the Morning Charity” is writing a cash grant for the church today (Friday, 12/16). Hurley tells TALKERS, “I have partnered with Atlantic County Toys for Kids program and, we have obtained 100 new children’s toys for the church. I am also going to help raise $500 more in cash donations on-air this morning.”

beasley-christmas-2‘Tis The Season. Celebrating last night (Thursday, 12/15) at the Beasley Media Group Las Vegas Christmas party are Las Vegas-based GNC Network syndicated personality Dr. Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP; market general manager Tom Humm; and KDWN program director-news director-morning anchor John Shaffer.

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Trump Transition/Cabinet Nominees Top News Talk Stories for Week of December 12-16.  The transitioning of the Trump Administration and President-Elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM for this week.  At #2 was the allegation the Russian government was responsible for hacking the DNC computers, tied with the CIA’s refusal to testify before congress on the matter.  Coming in at #3 was Donald Trump’s meeting with Silicon Valley executives, followed by the Federal Reserve’s raising of interest rates and the record high Dow Jones industrial average at #4.  The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.  It is published every Friday at Talkers.com View this week’s entire chart here.

Monday, March 5, 2012

| March 5, 2012

Limbaugh Clarifies Controversial Remarks and Apologizes to Sandra Fluke.  Facing mounting critical and advertiser pressure in the aftermath of his harsh commentary about law student Sandra Fluke and her testimony before Congress about birth control (see Friday’s story below), Premiere Networks host Rush Limbaugh has issued the following statement and apology on Saturday evening: “For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week.  In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation.  I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.  I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress.  I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities.  What happened to personal responsibility and accountability?  Where do we draw the line?  If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit?  In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone’s bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a presidential level.  My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir.  I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.”  There has been no official word from Premiere Networks on advertisers leaving Limbaugh’s program but numerous media reports are indicating that advertisers Sleep Train, Select Comfort, ProFlowers, Quicken Loans, Citrix Systems, Carbonite and Legal Zoom have pulled their ads from the program.  NBC News is reporting an e-mail from Select Comfort spokeswoman Gabby Nelson states, “Due to recent commentary by Rush Limbaugh that does not align with our values, we’ve made the decision to immediately suspend all advertising on that program.”  According to ABC News, ProFlowers said Sunday on its Facebook page that it has suspended advertising on Limbaugh’s program because his comments about Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke “went beyond political discourse to a personal attack and do not reflect our values as a company.”

Threat of Lawsuit Against Limbaugh Raises Legal Questions for Broadcasters.  With Rush Limbaugh’s apology to Sandra Fluke in the rear view mirror, Fluke has told the consumer press she is entertaining the idea of suing Limbaugh for his words against her.  Those citizens sympathetic to Fluke (and Democratic politicians willing to use the assault on Fluke as a sort of symbol for all that is wrong with talk media) would like to see a Fluke suit succeed.  But TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman says a case against Limbaugh is a bit murky due to Fluke’s status in the public eye.  Weisman reminds us that the Supreme Court has protected journalists commenting on matters of public concern.  “Since the landmark case of New York Times v. Sullivan, it has been recognized that public officials could not successfully sue for defamation unless it could be proven that the journalist acted with actual malice – that is that he or she was aware that what he or she was saying was a lie, or a reckless disregard for the truth.”  In that decision Justice Brennan even wrote there is a “profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open and that it may well include vehement, caustic and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.”  But Sandra Fluke is not a public official, is she?  No, but Weisman says, “The Supreme Court has refined the standard to make distinctions between involuntary public figures – those who are always public figures – and people such as Sandra Fluke who are public figures on specific issues.  As a limited-purpose public figure, Sandra Fluke has, by testifying, put herself into a position where she can be criticized and commented upon in regard to her stated positions with journalists feeling secure that they can make mistakes in commenting about her testimony without legal liability.”  But Weisman says that doesn’t necessarily mean clear sailing for Limbaugh should Fluke proceed with legal action.  “The extent of Limbaugh’s comments could be considered, however, to be beyond the permissible when dealing with a limited-purpose public figure.  Alternatively, it also could be considered that Limbaugh’s comments could be considered to be indefensible even using the lower standard presented by the malice test because his comments could be interpreted as having been made with malice – that is he knew they were false – or made with a reckless disregard for the truth.  Thus there may be some significant liability on Limbaugh’s part in regard to libelous comments that he made about Fluke.  Limbaugh may argue that his actions were not to be considered as literal and that they were merely hyperbole.  He may also argue in his defense that no one would believe what he said to be accurate which might be a fascinating defense that could ultimately hurt him overall more than losing a defamation claim.”

Accurate Analysis of Talk Media Necessary Before Piling on Conservative Commentators.  Consumers – and to some extent industry insiders – have been more than willing to condemn conservative commentators such as Rush Limbaugh (and KFI, Los Angeles’ John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou on the regional level) for language that some may say is, at the very least, not civil.  But columnist, Fox News Channel analyst and former Clinton Administration official Kirsten Powers writes that liberals may need to clean up their own house before judging Rush Limbaugh.  In her piece, “Rush Limbaugh Isn’t the Only Media Misogynist” published by the Daily Beast, Powers calls it a “war on women” and states, “Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Bill Maher, Matt Taibbi, and Ed Schultz have been waging it for years with their misogynist outbursts.”  In the piece, Powers illustrates that liberal political and social commentators have made very similar comments as Rush Limbaugh without liberal groups batting an eye at their transgressions.  Powers writes about Bill Maher, “But the grand pooh-bah of media misogyny is without a doubt Bill Maher – who also happens to be a favorite of liberals – who has given $1 million to President Obama’s super PAC.  Maher has called Palin a ‘dumb twat’ and dropped the C-word in describing the former Alaska governor.”  This raises several interesting points.  First, yes, Sarah Palin is a politician and not an innocent 30-year-old law student.  See TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman’s analysis of that in the piece above.  Second, many see what Bill Maher and Rush Limbaugh do for a living as very different.  But that’s really not so.  Both are entertainers who comment on social and political issues.  It’s true that Maher operates on pay cable and Limbaugh on free, over-the-air radio, but there have been no FCC regulations violated in this case so that comparison is moot.  Ultimately what’s very possible the entertainment industry – of which talk media is a part – is seeing is a groundswell of public support for a more civil tone in the nation’s public discourse, even when that discourse comes to them through the vehicle of entertainment.

KFI’s John and Ken to Undergo Cultural Sensitivity Training.  Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s KFI, Los Angeles issued a “Memorandum to the Los Angeles Community” in the wake of the John and Ken-Whitney Houston episode that cost the duo a seven-day suspension.  The seven-point memo signed by market manager Greg Ashlock, program director Robin Bertolucci and marketing director Neil Saavedra includes assurance that John Koblyt, Ken Chiampou and “key staff and management” will “participate in cultural sensitivity training furthering their awareness of the cultural melting pot that is Southern California.”

Emmis to Make Case to Avoid Delisting.  Six months ago Emmis Communications received notice from the Nasdaq Stock Market LLC its stock had to regain compliance with the $1 minimum bid rule in order to continue to be traded on the market.  In a Friday SEC filing, Emmis stated, “The Company has requested a hearing before the Panel, which will stay any delisting action in connection with the Staff Determination and allow the continued listing of the Company’s Class A Common Stock on The Nasdaq Global Select Market until the Panel renders a decision subsequent to the hearing.  At the hearing, the Company intends to present a plan to regain compliance with the Rule and request that the Panel allow the Company additional time within which to regain compliance.  While the Company believes that it will be able to present a viable plan to regain compliance, there can be no assurance that the Panel will grant the Company’s request for continued listing on The Nasdaq Global Select Market, or that the Company’s plans to exercise diligent efforts to maintain the listing of its securities on Nasdaq will be successful.”  That chance to plead its case could come by tomorrow.

Radio Pro Paul Barsky Joins WFTL, Ft. Lauderdale for PM Drive.  Paul Barsky has worked extensively in the Philadelphia market at music outlets WMMR-FM, WYSP-FM and WPLY-FM and in other markets as well.  Now he’s holding down the PM drive shift at James Crystal’s WFTL, Ft. Lauderdale following lead-in talk star Joyce Kaufman.

WGN, Chicago Whittles “Cubs Song” Entries Down to Three.  Tribune’s WGN, Chicago is holding a contest for the “next great Cubs song” to be played before each broadcast of Chicago Cubs play-by-play on the station.  It solicited more than 300 entries since the contest was announced and has winnowed that down to the final three: “Cubs Win” by 17 Candle, “Let’s Go Cubbies” by The Fold, and “Rockin’ Right at Wrigley” by Derrick Procell.  Now it’s up to voters to hit the WGN website to vote on their favorite.  The winner will be announced by AM drive host Jonathon Brandmeier on March 16 and the song will be played live during Brandmeier’s Opening Day broadcast on April 5 from the Captain Morgan Club at Wrigley Field.

Friday, March 2, 2012

| March 2, 2012

White House Responds to Rush Limbaugh’s Take on Georgetown College Student.  Premiere Networks talk show host Rush Limbaugh is getting an extraordinary amount of attention from comments made on his program earlier this week.  During the program Limbaugh questioned the testimony of Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke who – speaking to the issue of subsidies for birth control – stated that her Catholic university won’t pay for expensive contraception.  Weighing in on the issue, Limbaugh said, in part, that the university is, in effect being asked to pay for students to have sex.  “What does that make her?  It makes her a slut, right?  It makes her a prostitute.  She wants to be paid to have sex.  She’s having so much sex, she can’t afford the contraception.”  White House press secretary Jay Carney said President Obama called Ms. Fluke to express his support for her stating her opinion and his regret for the response she received.  Republicans and Democrats are now battling over allegations some Democrats and Democratic fundraising organizations are using the issue to raise campaign donations.

Los Angeles African-American Coalition Unhappy with KFI’s Response.  Several days after meeting with Clear Channel Los Angeles management about issues of diversity and ethnic insensitivity after the suspension of PM drive team John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou for remarks made about Whitney Houston, a self-described coalition of Black business and media professionals announces it is not satisfied with KFI management’s response in a memorandum titled “We Are Listening” and plans further action.  In a press statement, media contact Jasmyne Cannick states the coalition plans to take the issue to Washington.  “Consequently, we plan on filing a formal complaint with the Federal Communications Commission that will include audio and video evidence substantiating our claims that these licensing violations are pervasive and systemic.  We are confident President Barack Obama, several local officials as well as members of Congress, and the FCC will agree with our stance that the way Clear Channel is addressing the issue of diversity is disingenuous at best and fraudulent at its worst.”  The coalition had asked four areas to be addressed by Clear Channel management:  The hiring of more Blacks as on-air talent – full time, weekends, fill-in hosts; Similar to cable outlets, the station should feature paid KFI contributing commentators who can discuss issues with the on-air [talent] from different perspectives; Clear Channel must employ more blacks behind the scenes such as producers, engineers, sales representatives, professionals in marketing and promotions, as well as college interns of color.  This is not limited to KFI; and KFI specifically needs to collaborate with online news and entertainment sites owned by African Americans and broaden the listening audience through community outreach events and public affairs.  Whether or not this issue becomes a serious PR problem for KFI remains to be seen, but the coalition seems very intent on executing its goals.  It states, “What must be reiterated is that Clear Channel’s corporate policies are being completely ignored and lip service can no longer suffice.  In the next seven days, we will launch an all-out campaign employing the same tools Clear Channel radio personalities utilize to drive home the point that issues of importance will no longer be placated. Whether it’s employing John and Ken’s ‘Heads on a Stick’ campaign, to launching ‘Political Human Sacrifice 2012,’ all remedies, legal and otherwise, will be exhausted.”  At a time when a significant degree of murkiness exists in the understanding of FCC rules pertaining to ethnic equality and programming sensitivity on the part of radio stations and their community critics alike, this brewing situation has the potential to force the clarification of a number of sticky issues including First Amendment guarantees as they apply to broadcasters, the public relations of race, and specific licensing requirements of the FCC.


Talk Media Industry Mourns Passing of Andrew Breitbart.  The Conservative digital media mogul and talk media personality died unexpectedly at age 43 early Thursday morning of what appears to have been a heart attack.  The conservative side of the talk media industry certainly had a friend in Andrew Breitbart.  He was a big fan of conservative talk radio, often appearing on both nationally syndicated and local talk radio programs to discuss political issues.  He even guest-hosted programs – most recently subbing for Dial Global’s Dennis Miller just last week.  Breitbart’s work creating digital media targeting the conservative political audience made him a news/talk media celebrity as well as a target for those who disagreed with his politics.  He’s pictured here reading one of the final print editions of TALKERS magazine at the radio row in New Hampshire prior to that state’s primary election in February.

TALKERS TV EXCLUSIVE:  During the recent TALKERS/Talk Radio News Service radio row held in New Hampshire on the eve of the nation’s first presidential primary, TALKERS TV video recorded Emmanuel College  (Boston) student broadcaster Joe Horgan interviewing Andrew Breitbart on the college’s internet station.  The interview conducted on January 10 presents a superb portrait of Breitbart and his media philosophy.  See the video in the TALKERS TV box on the right side of this page.


More Momentum Behind Radio News as Dial Global Teams with NBC for 24-Hour News Product.  The term 24-hour news service is slightly misleading.  What NBC and Dial Global are offering is not a full 60 minutes of news each hour all day long but top- and bottom-of-the-hour news plus bulletins, live coverage of news events, news feeds, etc.  But with the demise Dial Global’s distribution of CNN Radio and that service largely disappearing, this new initiative underscores the resurgence in the demand for news from consumers that’s being exemplified on America’s radio airwaves.  In recent years the industry has seen Talk Radio Network collaborate with The Washington Times to produce and syndicate a national morning drive news product out of the Nation’s Capital; TRN subsidiary America’s Radio News Network is currently clearing its successful three-hour, all-news blocks on more than 200 radio stations; CBS Radio bought an FM signal in the Washington-Baltimore area to put its news expertise to the test against Hubbard Broadcasting’s news juggernaut WTOP; Randy Michaels-led Merlin Media is building all-news formats on two major FM signals in New York and Chicago with another in Philadelphia reportedly on the way; and Fox News Radio has been providing a major league level of news and information service to nearly a thousand affiliates (including talkers) for years.  Dial Global’s announcement of its  collaboration with NBC News to offer a radio news product using its vast resources and high-profile personalities shows it takes radio’s desire for news seriously.  NBC News Radio will be distributed to radio stations nationwide by Dial Global beginning April 1 and will give those stations access to the global resources of NBC News including: live simulcasts of breaking news from NBC and MSNBC, and reports from top NBC News correspondents including NBC News political director and chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd, chief Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell, chief Justice Department correspondent Pete Williams and  senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers. NBC News Radio will also feature Brian Williams, anchor and managing editor of “NBC Nightly News” and David Gregory, host of “Meet the Press.”  The development shows that at a time when many Americans are getting more and more of their news from internet sources, a case can be made that news radio – especially news radio consumed in the auto – is more important than ever to many people.  This current state and its future potential sparks the need for new and creative ways beyond merely “reading the story” in which to present news and information content.  Along with that come opportunities for creative talent – experienced in what captivates radio listeners – to put their skills to the test in taking radio news into the future.


KIRO-FM, Seattle Develops New Weekend Talk Show About Local Music.  In cooperation with Seattle Weekly, Bonneville’s KIRO-FM, Seattle announces the debut of “Seattle Sounds,” airing Sunday afternoons from 3:00 to 4:00.  The show is co-hosted by Josh Kerns and Seattle Weekly music editor Chris Kornelis and is described as telling the “story behind the music – they dive deep into the artists who perform the music, explain why the music is gaining such traction, and discover bands who warrant attention.  The program features live performances, interviews with artists, and weekly contests to attend some of the region’s hottest shows.  ‘Seattle Sounds’ provides a new, uniquely-Northwest experience for audiophiles who want something more than just the Top 40 on shuffle.”  KIRO-FM program director Larry Gifford says, “We are very excited to team up with Seattle Weekly to give music fans in the Northwest a weekly conversation about what’s new, what’s trending and what’s worth checking out when it comes to the local music scene.  It is a terrific addition to 97.3 KIRO-FM’s All New ‘Learn, Laugh, Relax Weekend lineup.’”


Colleagues Mourn Passing of Former KOMO Radio and TV News Personality Eric Slocum.  Former co-workers at Fisher Broadcasting’s KOMO, Seattle and KOMO-TV are mourning the unexpected death of former news anchor Eric Slocum who passed away last Saturday at age 54.  Reports indicate he had suffered from depression in recent years and the death was ruled a suicide.  Slocum started his career in radio but moved to KOMO-TV. He left the TV side in 2001 and returned to news/talk KOMO.  He left the station in 2008.


Compass Media Networks Offers Big 10 Hoops Tourney for Third Consecutive Year.  As the college basketball tournament season approaches, Compass Media Networks announces it is distributing play-by-play of the Big 10 Men’s Basketball Tournament beginning Thursday, March 8 and running through Sunday, March 11.  The games are being distributed to satellite radio and terrestrial radio including major affiliates such as WFAN, New York.  CMN’s broadcast team includes: Matt “Money” Smith from KLAC, Los Angeles who is partnered with former NBA star Rick Mahorn; and Drew Bontadelli who calls play-by-play with former college hoops star Mike Wozniak.


CBS Radio’s Altitude Group Names Marilou McFarlane VP of Strategic Partnerships.  The Altitude Group is CBS Radio’s marketing wing that focuses on creating unique advertising programs to help grow client brands and customer engagement.  The company says Altitude uses the power of CBS Radio’s 130 major market stations combined with all available digital distribution channels to execute big ideas for advertisers so they can reach their customers in any and every way.  Marilou McFarlane, based in San Francisco, will use the group’s best practices to develop new business in markets up and down the west coast.  McFarlane has worked for Clear Channel, CBS Radio in the past as well as developed her own media and marketing consultancy firm, McFarlane Marketing LLC.  Additionally, she launched Vivo Girls Sports, Inc., an online community for girls 13-24 years old who are passionate about sports and live a healthy active lifestyle.


WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte Fill-in Host Wayne Powers Runs for County Commissioner.  Wayne Powers has been a regular fill-in host at Greater Media’s WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte for the past four years.  He announces he’s removing himself from the station’s roster in order to run as a Republican for a seat on the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners.

GOP Primaries/2012 Presidential Race Top News/Talk Story for Week of February 27 – March 2.  According to ongoing research from TALKERS, the GOP primaries and the 2012 presidential race was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM chart.  Coming in at #2 was Iran tensions tied with the North Korea nuclear program deal.  At #3 was the state of the economy and Fed chairman Ben Bernanke’s testimony before Congress and at #4 was rising gas prices.  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.  View the entire chart here.


TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup.  Independently syndicated “The Truth About Money with Ric Edelman” joins the weekend lineup at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s KFI, Los Angeles…..KGO, San Francisco-based weekend talk host Karel gets his Sunday 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm program added to the lineup at KJFK, Reno…..Cumulus Media Networks’ “Red Eye Radio” featuring Eric Harley and Gary McNamara picks up affiliates WLS, Chicago; WMAL-AM/FM, Washington; and WPRO/WEAN-FM, Providence…..Talk Radio Network’s “Watchdog on Wall Street” with host Chris Markowski is picked up by KIVA, Albuquerque…..“Beyond the Beltway” with host Bruce DuMont is added to the program schedule at WATX, Cookeville, Tennessee…..The DirecTV-produced and Premiere Networks-distributed Nick and Artie show featuring Nick DiPaolo and Artie Lange adds CBS Radio’s WIP-AM, Philadelphia.