Cincinnati Reds Broadcaster Thom Brennaman Suspended For Gay Slur. Cincinnati Reds play-by-play broadcaster Thom Brennaman – son of National Radio Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman – has been suspended for his using a gay slur during Wednesday night’s Reds-Royals broadcast. Apparently, Brennaman thought he was not on the air when he said, referencing and unknown place, that it is “one of the fag capitals of the world.” Brennaman apologized and left the broadcast before the completion of the double-header. The Reds issued the following statement. “The Cincinnati Reds organization is devastated by the horrific, homophobic remark made this evening by broadcaster Thom Brennaman. He was pulled off the air, and effective immediately was suspended from doing Reds broadcasts.” During his apology, Brennaman implied that he realizes this may cost him his job. “I can’t begin to tell you how deeply sorry I am. That is not who I am. It never has been. And I’d like to think maybe I could have some people that could back that up. I am very, very sorry and I beg for your forgiveness.” Brennaman is part of the broadcast team for the Reds Radio Network and television’s FOX Sports Ohio.
Entercom Celebrates 100th Anniversary of Detroit’s WWJ-AM. Detroit all-news outlet WWJ-AM is celebrating 100 years on the air today (8/20). Entercom says it’s proud to honor “Detroit’s news leader and America’s first continuous broadcasting commercial radio station.” Entercom Detroit SVP and market manager Debbie Kenyon says, “WWJ has served as an important news source for Detroiters for 100 years and continues to provide the most credible and comprehensive multiplatform news coverage relevant to our city. We look forward to honoring our station’s rich history by reflecting on key moments with integral talent and welcoming distinguished guests to celebrate with us. I congratulate and thank the hardworking staff of WWJ and look forward to another 100 years as Detroit’s go-to news source.” Today WWJ will air special programming, including clips of major news stories the station has covered over the past 100 years and interviews with politicians and business leaders including Entercom president and CEO David Field, FCC chairman Ajit Pai, and former Detroit police chief Ike McKinnon. Highlighted in the programming will be on-air pros who have been with the station for over 25 years, including morning anchor Roberta Jasina, auto reporter Jeff Gilbert, city beat reporter Vickie Thomas and business reporter Murray Feldman. There’s a nice piece in the Detroit News accompanied by lots of vintage photos of the station from the paper’s files. It also delves into the hotly contested debate over which was the first commercial radio station in the U.S., KDKA in Pittsburgh, KCBS in San Francisco or WWJ? The Detroit News’ Michael H. Hodges writes that WWJ being the first is disputed by KDKA and KCBS, but “it mostly comes down to a matter of technical definition. KDKA got its federal license a few months before WWJ in 1921, and that’s its line in the sand. But 8MK, as WWJ was known in 1920, was on the air with an amateur license well before Pittsburgh.” Entercom says WWJ is “America’s first continuous broadcasting commercial radio station” and boasts such accomplishments as “being the first radio station to broadcast election returns on August 31, 1920, the first sportscast on September 1, 1920, the first missing person report on March 15, 1922, the first Detroit Tigers play-by-play broadcast on April 19, 1927, and more.”
TALKERS News Notes. The New York Post is reporting that former Howard Stern show cast member “Stuttering” John Melendez is suing SiriusXM for “using his name, likeness and voice without permission on channels dedicated to Stern.” Melendez left the Stern program in 2004 – prior to Stern joining SiriusXM in 2005 – to become the announcer on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” The suit was filed in federal court in New York complaining that the airing of old Stern programs violates California law and “his right of publicity.”…..Westwood One and PodcastOne founder Norm Pattiz is featured in the August-October issue of the investor-targeted magazine Luckbox. The theme of the issue is “Podcasts Rising” and in the interview piece, Pattiz discusses his building of Westwood One in the late 1970s and how in 2011 he began using what he’d learned running WWO to launch PodcastOne for the soon-to-be-burgeoning podcasting industry. You can read the piece here…..Newsmax TV announces that it has entered into a deal with Cox Media Group to air WOKV-FM, Jacksonville’s Mark Kaye program. Kaye’s program airs daily on WOKV-FM from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon. The Newsmax TV show will air weekly – Saturdays at 3:30 pm – and will feature “funny and informative clips from Mark Kaye’s radio broadcasts, as well as behind-the-scenes ‘vlog-style’ content that is exclusive to Newsmax.”…..Hearst’s Baltimore radio duo news/talk WBAL-AM and rock WIYY-FM – along with the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens – announce the radio broadcast team for the 2020 NFL season. Former Ravens players Dennis Pitta and Obafemi “Femi” Ayanbadejo are joining Ravens play-by-play announcer Gerry Sandusky to handle color and analysis. WBAL and WIYY president and general Manager Cary Pahigian says, “We are pleased to offer Baltimore Ravens fans an exceptional broadcast team. As a former Raven, Dennis has always provided astute analysis to our broadcast. Femi’s extensive NFL experience will add keen insight, and there is no better play-by-play announcer than Gerry Sandusky.”
Stephen K. Bannon Charged with Fraud in ‘We Build the Wall’ Effort. Former Donald Trump adviser, former Breitbart executive, and podcast/talk radio host Stephen K. Bannon is being charged in New York with fraud in what U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss says is his role in a scheme related to the “We Build the Wall” online fundraising effort. The New York Times reports that Bannon is one of four defendants who allegedly “defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors, capitalizing on their interest in funding a border wall to raise millions of dollars, under the false pretense that all of that money would be spent on construction.” Bannon has not commented publicly.
Presidential Race/Democratic National Convention, COVID-19 Statistics & Projections, Fall School Plans/College Outbreaks, USPS Funding/Vote-By-Mail Debate, Putin Critic Poisoned, and California Wildfires Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/19). The November presidential election and Wednesday evening’s Democratic National Convention; the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and projections for future cases; the debate over opening schools in September and the COVID-19 outbreaks at several college campuses; the controversy over funding the U.S. Postal Service and the related debate over mail-in voting; Vladimir Putin critic Alexey Navalny in a coma after allegedly being poisoned; and the California wildfires were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
WPHT’s Giordano Is on a Documentary-Special Roll. WPHT, Philadelphia’s legendary mid-morning host Dom Giordano has written, produced, and hosted the third in a dynamic series of two-hour specials tapping into his background as a teacher and one of talk radio’s most astute observers of education. The first two specials focused on issues surrounding COVID-19 and kids returning to school as well as a July 4th weekend special celebrating America. The new show airing this week titled, “The Case for Civics: Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Reason,” explores the need for civics to be taught in schools and how important it is to the future of America to raise knowledgeable citizens. Like all of Giordano’s productions, it is bi-partisan and features prominent figures including former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. Sara Harris, Entercom VP for social impact is featured and details the radio company’s major commitment to promote civics education. The program is airing on WPHT tonight (8/20) from 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm and Saturday (8/22) from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
Beijing’s Persecution of Chinese Spiritual Movement Falun Gong Is Focus of This Week’s Harrison Podcast. While Americans continue to be preoccupied with COVID-19, a faltering economy and racial strife, the strained relationship between the United States and China intensifies with each passing day. America is confronted with the CCP’s unfair trade practices, subversive cyber warfare against US interests, intellectual property theft, military aggression in the South China Sea, strangling democracy in Hong Kong, and covered up misdeeds in the origins and spread of COVID-19. Add to that disturbing list the CCP’s heinous abuse of the human rights of its own citizens as evidenced by Uyghur labor camps and the imprisonment, torture, and organ-harvesting of innocent practitioners of a burgeoning spiritual movement based in peaceful Buddhist principles called Falun Gong. Levi Browde is the executive director of the New York-based Falun Dafa Information Center, an organization working to end the human rights abuses against people who practice Falun Gong in China. He is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” In discussing this podcast Harrison states, “The CCP views the growing practice of Falun Gong among Chinese people both home and abroad as a threat to the State’s core position as the ultimate authority. They not only commit atrocities against its participants, they wage a war of toxic propaganda against the spiritual practice portraying it as a subversive cult – a view that has been unwittingly absorbed and perpetuated by the American media. It is my hope that this deep-dive conversation will clear up these misconceptions as well as shed light on the Beijing regime and the dangers its complex relationship with the United States presents going forward into the uncharted, turbulent waters of the 21st century. This is not a left versus right issue but one that I believe should be of great concern to all American talk media hosts and commentators interested in a secure America, freedom of religion, and human decency.” 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 on every page of Talkers.com.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Las Vegas’ KWNR “95.5 The Bull” has a new program director as Mojoe Roberts assumes the reins. iHeartMedia says Roberts joins the country station after most recently serving as country format captain for Alpha Media and PD for KUPL, Portland. SVP of programming for iHeartMedia Las Vegas Tony Matteo says, “MoJoe brings a wealth of format knowledge and expertise. We’re thrilled to have him joining our iHeartMedia Las Vegas team.”…..Seattle CHR KBKS is re-branded “HITS 106.1” The New Home of the Jubal Show and Commercial Free Weekends. The iHeartMedia station is programmed by Jared Fallon who says, “From the moment we launched ‘Jubal 106.1’ the reception from the entire city and across the country has been massive. Today we are thrilled to unveil ‘HITS 106.1,’ the new home of the Jubal Show!”…..Pittsburgh morning radio personality Cris Winter exits Renda Broadcasting’s adult contemporary WWSH “WISH 99.7” as the result of budget-related cuts. She tells the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “When you look at covid-19, it’s a situation where everyone is making cuts. It is such a bizarre time, and everybody is struggling right now. It’s just an unprecedented time for everyone. We are all just trying to keep our heads above water.”…..Programming pro Don Jarrett is named PD at Rich Broadcasting’s country simulcast KWFI-FM and KWFO-FM “The Wolf” in Idaho Falls. Jarrett was most recently programming Riverbend Communications’ crosstown country KTHK-FM “105.5 The Hawk.” Rich Broadcasting operations manager Josh Tielor says, “We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to add Don to our team. He’s well known in the community and well connected in the industry. He brings a new level of excitement and energy to our station family.”…..The photo below published at LARadio.com is not from a time capsule. That KMET billboard is currently up and it put the folks at LARadio.com into investigative mode. The picture was snapped by Los Angeles publicist Hal Lifson who set the investigative wheels in motion. It appears the billboards are up for a movie shoot for a film that takes place in the 1970s. TALKERS magazine publisher and former KMET program director Michael Harrison says, “Seeing the billboard is a rush. I still find it hard to imagine L.A. without KMET. It would be like Brooklyn not having Coney Island.”
By Mike Kinosian
As an example, even if the greatest authorities on the subject were to be asked, you probably wouldn’t get a straightforward consensus on which station began the wall-to-wall Christmas music programming strategy.
Bigger picture: Where was the actual birthplace of American radio and exactly when should we celebrate its birthday?
By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — A hundred years ago, radio was the newcomer. Thomas Edison had already captured audio, in 1877 via that first phonograph. Audio went live when KDKA reported that Warren G. Harding had won the 1920 presidential election.
In its 20th century heyday, AM/FM broadcasting became a high-margin business, surviving the advent of television (which launched by luring away radio’s big stars); and – for a while – the evolution of playback devices (8-track, cassette, CD). But there were already cracks in the dam.
Cumulus San Francisco Promotes Programmers at KNBR and KTCT. Sports talk PD Lee Hammer is elevated to the newly created position vice president, sports play-by-play programming at Cumulus Media San Francisco. At the same time, the company ups Jeremiah Crowe to program director for both KNBR and sister sports talker KTCT. Hammer has been KNBR program director for the past 12 years. Crowe joined Cumulus last year as KNBR APD and KTCT PD. He’s previously served at crosstown KGMZ-FM in addition to serving as producer of “Mike and Mike in the Morning,” “The Herd with Colin Cowherd,” “SportsNation,” “NFL Countdown to Kickoff,” “College Gameday,” “RaceDay,” and “Fantasy Focus” on ESPN Radio. Cumulus San Francisco VP/market manager Justin Wittmayer comments, “Jeremiah Crowe and Lee Hammer are the ‘Dream Team’ for outstanding sports radio programming and together, will continue to drive the growth of these powerhouse sports stations. Jeremiah has done a remarkable job leading the re-launch of KNBR 1050 over the past year, while expanding our high-engagement social media platforms for Bay Area sports fans. In this new role as program director of both KNBR 680 and KNBR 1050, he will focus his considerable expertise and efforts into growing these stations and the KNBR brand as the Bay Area’s most powerful name in sports programming.”
WRRD, Milwaukee Owner Challenging WTMJ Translator Deal. Saying that WTMJ and Scripps have “picked a fight with the wrong guy and the wrong radio station,” WRRD-AM, Waukesha owner Michael Crute announces he’s hired Rebecca E. Jacobs of the law firm Womble Caryle Sandridge & Rice LLP to file an Objection to the Amendment to the Construction Permit for moving FM translator W277CV from Waukegan, Illinois into the Milwaukee metro at a site owned by Scripps. Crute says this move violates the original CP that would have put WRRD’s programming on the translator. TALKERS reported yesterday that Scripps and translator owner Frank McCoy have filed applications with the FCC to move the translator to a tower owned by Scripps and to carry WTMJ programming. In that story, TALKERS speculated that McCoy was offered a better deal by Scripps than he had with Crute, and that turns out to be true, as Crute states in a press release. Crute is co-host of “The Devil’s Advocates” program syndicated by WYD Media Management and distributed by Westwood One. After years of working on air in Madison and other markets via syndication, he purchased WRRD to launch a progressive talk station in the Milwaukee market. His show airs on the station. In his press release, Crute paints this conflict as a David vs Goliath-type battle and says his efforts operating WRRD are designed to “level the broadcast playing field” in the market. The FCC, however, will rule only on whether or not the Construction Permit was violated.
George Plaster to Return to Airwaves in Nashville. The Tennessean is reporting that Nashville market sports talk radio pro George Plaster will be back on the air talking sports in some capacity on classic country WSM-AM. The story notes that the Grand Ole Opry LLC-owned station is not specific about when or how often the new program would air, just that WSM program director Jon Shaffer will co-host the program. Last August, Plaster left sports talker WPRT “The Game 102.5 FM” to become athletic director at Belmont University. He will remain in the position. Plaster tells the paper, “What this is doing is allowing me to dip my toe back in a little bit, to have some fun with something I love so much and at the same time continue to work at a great school in a great situation with great people.” Read the Tennessean piece here.
CBS RADIO Unveils KDKA-Branded Traffic and Weather Service. The new CBS RADIO “KDKA Traffic & Weather Together” service will be available to listeners via WDSY-HD3, the online streaming app Radio.com, Wi-Fi connected cars, and Amazon Echo or Alexa-enabled devices through the TuneIn app. CBS RADIO says the station “will provide reliable, up-to-the-minute traffic and weather information for the Pittsburgh, PA area. CBS RADIO Pittsburgh SVP and market manager Michael Young comments, “Radio listeners in Western Pennsylvania have long relied on accurate and timely local updates from NewsRadio 1020 KDKA. By utilizing the station’s trusted resources, we have produced a product that is solely dedicated to providing continuous traffic and weather updates to the local communities we serve.”
TALKERS News Notes. The Fox Sports Radio show “Outkick the Coverage with Clay Travis” is being added to the program schedule at Genesis Communications’ sports talk duo WHBO, Tampa and WHOO, Orlando – branded “Sports Talk Florida.” The show is airing in the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon daypart starting on Monday (7/24)…..Also on Monday, a new edition of “The Regular Guys” – led by Larry Wachs – will start airing on Dickey Broadcasting’s sports talk WFOM-AM, Atlanta/W292EV “1230 The Fan 2 106.3 FM.” The program will air at 2:00 pm. In a video posted to Twitter by Wachs, he’s seen at the Atlanta Braves’ new Suntrust Park looking for “new regular guys.” The original “Regular Guys” consisted of Wachs and Eric Von Haessler. Tim Andrews and “Southside” Steve Rickman later joined the show. It was airing at rock WNNX, Atlanta when it disintegrated on 2014. Rickman is co-host of the “Bailey and Southside” show with Jason Bailey on WNNX. Von Haessler and Andrews work at Cox Media Group’s news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM…..Former Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney is back with the NFL club as interim GM after the team fired Dave Gettleman. Hurney is a partner in HRN Broadcasting and owns and manages sports talk WZGV, Charlotte “ESPN Charlotte.” Hurney previously spent 14 years with the Panthers, exiting the GM position in 2012…..The FCC sides with Media-Com in its battle with Salem Media Group over two FM translators – W260CY and W262CY – that would have simulcast news/talk WHK-AM and Christian talk WHKW-AM, respectively. Media-Com successfully argued that the moves overlapped the signal of its news/talk WNIR-FM, Kent.
Fate of ObamaCare, McCain Cancer Diagnosis, Trump-Russia Investigation, O.J. Prison Release Hearing, USPS Clinton Campaign Scandal, U.S. Ends Syrian Arms Program, and MLB Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/19). The status of the Affordable Care Act as President Trump presses Congress to repeal the law, as well as the state of a GOP-authored health care plan; Senator John McCain reveals brain cancer diagnosis; the investigation into Trump campaign operatives’ connections with Russian agents; today’s prison release hearing for O.J. Simpson; the investigation concluding that the United States Postal Service violated the Hatch Act in allowing union workers to take paid time off to campaign for Hillary Clinton; the CIA’s end to supplying anti-Assad forces in Syria with arms, and Major League Baseball action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
TALKERS 2017 Convention Videos Continue Posting Today (7/20) with Grace Blazer, Chris Stigall and Steve Jones. The entire agenda of the recent Talkers 2017: A New Era national talk media convention has been video recorded and its sessions are being posted to Talkers.com – one event per day. Already posted are:
– The “Welcoming Remarks” by WMAL, Washington, DC afternoon drive host Larry O’ Connor (including an introduction by TalkersRadio GM David Bernstein).
– The special presentation “You HAVE Options” by consultant Holland Cooke (including an introduction by Yappy Days author Bernadette Duncan).
– The “Fireside Chat” between TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison and Premiere Networks/Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity (with introduction by Westwood One host Jim Bohannon).
– The “Fireside Chat” between TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian and WFAN, New York sports talk show host Mike Francesa (with introduction by Sabo Media CEO Walter Sabo).
– The special presentation “The Trump Effect: Latest Research of Interest to News/Talk Radio” by Salem Radio Network SVP Phil Boyce (with introduction by Pioneer Valley Radio GM/host Brad Shepard).
– The special presentation “Podcasting and Local Radio” by PodcastOne excutive chairman Norm Pattiz (with introduction by Hubbard Radio SVP/programming Greg Strassell).
– The first, second and third in a series of three consecutive “one-on-one” sessions discussing the topic “Maximizing Talk Radio’s Multi-Platform Potential for Reach and Revenue” featuring conversations between WABC, New York, PD Craig Schwalb and KGO, San Francisco host Ethan Bearman, Bold Gold Media Group president/CEO Vince Benedetto and DGital Media managing partner Ron Hartenbaum, and nationally syndicated host Dr. Asa Andrew and TalkersRadio GM David Bernstein. All three sessions are facilitated by Sirius/XM Satellite Radio host Karen Hunter.
– A “one-on-one” dialogue titled “Radio That Makes a Difference” featuring the SiriusXM Satellite Radio husband/wife team of host Joe Madison and executive producer Sharon Madison (introduced by Sirius/XM Satellite Radio VP/GM talk programming Dave Gorab).
– A “Fireside Chat” featuring former CBS Radio president/CEO and Broadcasters Foundation of America chairman Dan Mason being interviewed by WPGG, Atlantic City morning host Harry Hurley (with introduction by BOB-FM, London morning host Graham Mack).
– A “Fireside Chat” featuring Emmis Communications CEO/chairman Jeff Smulyan being interviewed by TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey (with an introduction by Bentley University professor/TALKERS legal editor Steve Weisman).
– The first three in a series of four “one-on-one” dialogues titled “The Challenges of Doing Talk Radio in 2017.” They feature a conversation between WYD Media syndicated host Thom Hartmann and Cumulus Media corporate PD/WMAL, Washington PD Bill Hess, introduced by Moceri Media president Greg Moceri, a conversation between morning co-host of WAQY-FM (Rock102), Springfield, MA Mike “Bax” Baxendale and morning host of WOLB, Baltimore Larry Young and a conversation between Cumulus Media EVP programming and content Mike McVay and Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott (facilitated by ABC News Radio VP/GM Steve Jones).
– TODAY (7/20), the fourth and final dialogue in the above series is posted featuring a conversation between iHeartMedia national brand coordinator, news-talk-sports programming/director of AM programming, Miami/Fort Lauderdale market Grace Blazer and WPHT, Philadelphia morning host Chris Stigall (also facilitated by ABC News Radio VP/GM Steve Jones).
Within the following days and weeks, every session will be posted and will remain on Talkers.com for the rest of the year. The Talkers 2017: A New Era video page is sponsored by Backbone Networks, Broadcasters General Store and Comrex Corp. To view the video page of Talkers 2017: A New Era, please click here.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Denver adult contemporary KOSI, Denver announces it is naming Sean Henry as the new morning drive personality. Henry comes to Bonneville International from his most recent gig at Radioworks’ AC WGFB, Rockford, Illinois. KOSI program director Andy Holt says, “We were looking for a very specific skill set for KOSI mornings and we checked every box with Sean. His in-depth understanding of the AC target audience, engaging content, and superior social media skills were all key factors in our choice.”…..At All Pro Broadcasting’s hot AC KHTI Riverside-San Bernardino “HOT 103.9,” Sabrina Ruiz is named the new midday personality. Ruiz, who takes over for the recently departed Christen Limon, was most recently afternoon host at Kemp Communications’ hot AC KVGQ, Las Vegas “Q106.9.”…..Cumulus Media names Roderick Grover, a.k.a. DJ Hot Sauce program director for hip hop WYNN, Florence, South Carolina. He was most recently mix show coordinator and air personality at iHeartMedia’s hip hop WGCI, Chicago…..Programmer and jock Shadow Williams is leaving her PD/on-air gig at Mid-West Family Broadcasting’s rock KQRA, Springfield, Missouri to return to college.
By Bill Brady
Futures & Options Inc.
As a young radio guy on the East Coast, I sought out talk talent across the AM band. Guy Mainella, Paul Benzaquin and Larry Glick from WBZ in Boston. Mike Miller and Paul Sutton on WTIC in Hartford. All excellent hosts with unique and distinctive styles.
When the sun goes down, AM radio waves can be pretty tricky. Engineers refer to the phenomenon as “skip” as AM signals bounce off the ionosphere and travel incredible distances. Most nights where I was in Western Massachusetts, you could get WBZ pretty well 90 miles from its transmitter location in Hull on the Massachusetts coast.