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Tag: "Keith Olbermann"

Olbermann, You Blew it!

| April 6, 2012

PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL — Ego, ego, ego!  Message to Keith Olbermann: You are blowing whatever is left of your image as a “person” by allowing your behind-the-scenes employment war with Al Gore and Current TV to boil over the top and become the main issue in an ugly spectacle.  Not good strategy nor image positioning for a guy who claims to be a “progressive” concerned about the struggles of working people, the unemployed and the suffering middle class in America.  C’mon Keith – what’s the matter with you?  Why are you allowing yourself to come across as an egomaniacal ass?  (Is it because you actually are one?)  It is not fitting for someone who wants to – no needs to – be perceived as a mensch!  Especially since it is clear that you have such an abundance of God-given talent.

And why are you giving Al Gore such a tough time?  Don’t make it all about YOU.  At least Gore is attempting to widen the commercial media platform available to progressive talkers in this country, not to mention sign you to a big fat friggin’ contract with enough dough that could keep countless of the families you claim to be so concerned about under their roofs and fed through this economic and political crisis.

You are proving yourself to be just like, even worse than, the greedy right-wing “nut-jobs” you have made a fortune publicly holding in judgment.  You are part of the problem and you are doing a terrible disservice to the progressive movement.  You are a hypocrite of the worst order.   But that’s okay, the world is full of hypocrites… what really bugs me is you are hurting your colleagues in talk media.

Look, we all know at its core this is show business, and that’s where I’m coming from in pointing out, Mr. Ten Million Dollar Chandelier (oh brother!) that you are putting on the wrong performance.  Instead of erasing all doubt that you are a diva when you realized that Current TV has less than the top-notch production skills to which you became accustomed at ESPN and MSNBC, you should have rolled with it and made it part of the shtick!  You should have pointed out that Current TV is an upstart operation bucking the well-financed slick, corporate bastions like MSNBC, CNN and Fox.  You could have made the case that it is content- and message-oriented, run by people with a cause and a mission – not “money grabbing” heartless corporate types!  You could have kindly said these folks are working hard to get the technical “show biz” aspect of their act together… because at the heart of it, they are just down-to-earth everyday folk more concerned with helping America than starting yet another plastic, glitzy, BS cable network.  Now THAT would be smart positioning and a clever strategy to keep your fat job, help a fledgling network get on its feet, come across looking like a great guy, help the business of talk media… and maybe, just maybe – help America!

Monday, April 2, 2012

| April 2, 2012

Programmer Paul Duckworth Returns to Seattle to Lead Fisher’s KOMO.  News/talk programming pro Paul Duckworth returns to the Emerald City, where he formerly led the programming department at Fisher Communications’ KOMO and KVI, to once again head up news radio KOMO.  He left Seattle in 2002 and programmed several other stations including KLIF, Dallas and WMAL, Washington, DC.  He begins his duties at KOMO on April 16 at the station that features morning and afternoon news blocks surrounding local talk hosts John Carlson in late mornings and Ken Schram in early afternoons.  Duckworth spent the last year in retirement in Florida.

Keith Olbermann Promises Legal Action as Tumultuous Term with Current TV Comes to an End.  Reports of mercurial news/talk TV personality Keith Olbermann’s contentious relationship with management at Al Gore-founded Current TV have been coming out for some time and, despite recent assurances via press releases that everything between the two sides is fine, Current TV has cut the cord and let Olbermann go, replacing him with former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and his new show “Viewpoints.”  Current TV had hoped that Olbermann’s “Countdown” show – brought over after his departure from MSNBC – would be the anchor program around which the network could build, but after just nine months the relationship was too strained to continue.  Current TV released the following statement on Friday, March 30: “We created Current to give voice to those Americans who refuse to rely on corporate-controlled media and are seeking an authentic progressive outlet.  We are more committed to those goals today than ever before.  Current was also founded on the values of respect, openness, collegiality and loyalty to our viewers. Unfortunately these values are no longer reflected in our relationship with Keith Olbermann and we have ended it.”  Olbermann has fired back via Twitter and is promising legal action.  He states, in part: “I’d like to apologize to my viewers and my staff for the failure of Current TV. Editorially, Countdown had never been better.  But for more than a year I have been imploring Al Gore and Joel Hyatt to resolve our issues internally, while I’ve been not publicizing my complaints, and keeping the show alive for the sake of its loyal viewers and even more loyal staff.  Nevertheless, Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt, instead of abiding by their promises and obligations and investing in a quality news program, finally thought it was more economical to try to get out of my contract…In due course, the truth of the ethics of Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt will come out.  For now, it is important only to again acknowledge that joining them was a sincere and well-intentioned gesture on my part, but in retrospect a foolish one.  That lack of judgment is mine and mine alone, and I apologize again for it.”

Rush Limbaugh Reports Audience Hikes.  During his nationally syndicated Premiere Networks show last week, Rush Limbaugh broke format briefly to talk about his ratings in the wake of the Sandra Fluke controversy.  He stated that he usually doesn’t talk about ratings but because of the high-profile assault on his program’s advertisers (and others’) he felt compelled to report ratings were up at all 600 of his affiliates.  The Daily Caller reports Limbaugh stated, “The simple answer is that on the range of all 600 radio stations, our ratings are up anywhere from 10% to 60%, depending on the station…And that’s as detailed as I’m going to get…What I mean by that is we could be up 33% on one station, 12% on another – 60% is the top that we’re up on another.  We’re up 50% in a number of places.”  The increased interest in Limbaugh’s program was predicted by TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison as numerous consumer media outlets quoted TALKERS in covering the unfolding story.  Addressing the advertiser issue, Limbaugh also stated, “The advertisers who hung in here are going gangbusters, yes.  I mean, that’s the simple truth.  The only ones who got hurt are the ones who left.  And that’s its own tragedy because they left under false, trumped up, unreal pretenses.”

Another Casualty of the Clear Channel Cuts: Cincinnati Programmer Tony Bender.  Program director Tony Bender had been with the Cincinnati cluster of stations since it was owned by Great American Broadcasting in the late 1980s.  Until Friday he was serving as program director of talk WKRC and sports WCKY.  The Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Kiesewetter reports other staffers let go in the latest round of cuts included promotions director Sherry Rowland, traffic reporter Brian Pitts and two other off-air employees.

Coming Tomorrow: The FCC and You – Part 2 – An Explanation of Obscenity.  Don’t miss the second in a series of exclusive TALKERS articles by legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman covering the crucial FCC regulatory information of which every license holder and radio station management employee must be aware.  Informal surveys of radio station managers indicate that an alarming number of them are dangerously under-informed about the FCC regulations that pertain to them and their stations.  TALKERS editors urge managers to take the time to read this free abridgement (of a forthcoming expanded e-book) and share it with their management teams.  Information on the purchase availability of the expanded e-book will be announced via TALKERS soon.  In tomorrow’s installment, Attorney Weisman covers the FCC’s position on obscenity.

Battle for Control of SiriusXM Is Brewing.  Liberty Media Corp has filed a request with the Federal Communications Commission to take “de facto” control of SiriusXM, setting the stage for a battle between Liberty’s John Malone and SiriusXM CEO Mel Karmazin.  Malone’s Liberty Media came to the rescue of SiriusXM three years ago with a cash investment of $530 million when the satcaster needed it most.  Now, Liberty’s filing is being contested by SiriusXM as it asks the FCC to “dismiss or deny” the petition.  Liberty Media only owns 40% of the company and, though there is precedent for a minority shareholder taking control, it’s not common and many deal watchers are quick to doubt that the FCC will grant even “de facto” control to a minority shareholder.  Liberty is arguing that certain provisions of the Investment Agreement inked in 2009 have expired and should result in a takeover.  But again, numerous experts in the field of corporate takeovers are saying the Liberty FCC filing is unlikely to result in a control change.  Most say if Liberty wants control over SiriusXM it is going to have to acquire more shares the old-fashioned way: Buy them.

Cumulus Media Splits Simulcast of Sports WWLS, Oklahoma City; ESPN Radio Takes Over AM Side.  The “Sports Animal” radio network continues to be led by flagship WWLS-FM, Oklahoma City with programming sent to six affiliate stations in five Oklahoma markets, but the AM side of WWLS has split off to broadcast ESPN Radio’s programming lineup.  The Oklahoman reports the AM station will continue to air Oklahoma City Thunder play-by-play as well as Oklahoma University and Oklahoma State pre- and post-game programming.

Dan McNeil Set to Return to WSCR, Chicago After Month-long Absence.  It’s been a bit over a month since midday co-host Dan McNeil took time off from his program at CBS Radio’s sports talk WSCR, Chicago (co-hosted with Matt Spiegel) for unspecified health issues.  He recently announced on his Facebook page that he’s ready to return on April 9 and thanked family and friends for their support, assuring them he’s feeling better.  Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder reports that McNeil’s health issues were not disclosed but that colleagues have alluded to McNeil’s struggles with sobriety.

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.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

| February 1, 2012

Super Bowl XLVI Ground Zero for Sports Radio This Week.  The annual American ritual that is the NFL’s championship game is more than just a sports broadcasting event and has been for many years.  But this year’s game between the New England Patriots and New York Giants is especially intriguing and is creating enormous content, revenue and positive imaging for the spoken-word stations taking part on a level that rivals and perhaps exceeds a national political convention.  Some 100 sports stations, talk stations and network programs are filling the radio row and broadcasting from Indianapolis this week.  CBS Radio’s WFAN, New York is promising to deliver more than 50 hours of coverage leading up to, during and after the game with hosts Mike Francesa, Boomer & Carton, Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts.  Entercom’s WEEI, Boston is similarly situated in Indy broadcasting most of its programs from the site including Dennis & Callahan, Mut & Merloni and “The Big Show.”  Numerous sports talk stations from markets outside New England and New York broadcast from the site as are the networks – ESPN, Fox Sports Radio and others.  Sirius/XM Satellite Radio sports talk maverick Dino Costa is on the scene telling TALKERS, “You have no idea how much fun it is to be here and to be broadcasting from this amazing event.”  Dial Global has the national radio rights to the game (Giants and Patriots local rights carriers WFAN and WBZ-FM, respectively, can broadcast the game) and has cleared the game broadcast on more than 650 stations and has sold out the inventory.  Football is traditionally considered a television sport but football fans can’t always be near a television (or internet video feed) and that usually gives radio a healthy audience – as evidenced by Dial Global’s Edison Research-commissioned poll indicating more than 29 million Americans listened to at least a portion of the conference championship games this year.

KRMG-AM/FM, Tulsa Shifts Network Programming; Adds PM Drive News Hour.  Cox Media Group’s news/talk KRMG-AM/FM, Tulsa brings market news and talk pro Dan Potter back to the station to host a 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm program called “The KRMG Afternoon News with Dan Potter.”  Program director Drew Anderssen says, “KRMG listeners have told us it’s more important than ever for us to give them more frequent news, weather and traffic reports on their way home from work.  So, we’re taking action to address those needs.”  The station is also shifting Premiere NetworksRush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity from a one-hour delay to their live air times of 11:00 am to 2:00 pm and 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm CT respectively.  “With this change, listeners will now be able to hear what Rush and Sean have to say about events as they happen, not one hour later,” Anderssen states.  Dan Potter previously served as KRMG news director and morning news anchor before leaving the station in 2010 to attend to family matters.

Garrett Lewis Appointed to PD Post at KNST-AM/FM, Tucson.  Clear Channel Tucson ups morning drive host Garrett Lewis to the program director position, replacing former PD Chris Patyk.  Lewis – host of the “Morning Ritual” AM drive show since February of 2010 – signs a two-year deal to continue anchoring the morning show and stepping into the programmer’s role as well.  CC Tucson operations director Chris Pickett states, “Being able to keep Garrett is a big part of the evolution of KNST to FM.  His show has become must-listen radio and with his direction, I am confident that KNST will soar to new heights in the not-so-distant future.”

Current TV Enlists Guest Hosts for Ailing Keith Olbermann.  According to Mediaite, “Countdown” host Keith Olbermann’s chair is being filled by Bill Press and others while he recovers from a case of bronchitis.  Earlier, TALKERS reported that former New York Governor and CNN personality Eliot Spitzer was sitting in for Olbermann.  That was not correct as Bill Press has been hosting the show the past four nights.  However, Mediaite is reporting that Spitzer will host the program tonight (2/1).  Speculation is that Olbermann and Current TV have been butting heads lately – something founder Al Gore has publicly denied – and that Current TV may be testing the waters to see who might be a good fit for the network if Olbermann exits.

ESPN Radio Gets Back into the Detroit Metro on WCAR.  The Birach Broadcasting-owned station is licensed to Livonia, Michigan west of Detroit on the way to Ann Arbor.  Sima Birach, Jr. says, “Detroit is nationally recognized as one of the top three sports towns in America and we are ecstatic to bring the full force of the ESPN brand to Detroit’s loyal sports fans.  In addition to local programming which features some of Detroit’s iconic sports figures, we’re confident we’ll serve our listeners with the content they’ve been longing for.”  The station will carry the full lineup of ESPN Radio programming.

Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Puts ESPN Deportes on Chicago Translator.  The deal between Clear Channel and ESPN places the latter’s Spanish-language sports format on what has been a translator for Educational Media Foundation’s Christian WNKV-FM, Norco, Louisiana – we’re assuming EMF and CC have a deal for the latter to handle the programming.  According to ESPN, the 3-watt signal in Chicago at 95.7 FM covers “downtown Chicago and will also reach largely Hispanic/Latino neighborhood communities, including Cicero, Berwyn and Pilsen.”  ESPN Deportes Radio GM Oscar Ramos says, “This expansion is a milestone for the ESPN Deportes brand and yet another step forward in our effort to make ESPN Deportes Radio available to Hispanic sports fans nationwide.  We are thrilled with our agreement with Clear Channel Media and Entertainment to bring our comprehensive programming to Chicago fans while also providing a great platform for advertisers.”

Thom Hartmann’s “Big Picture” TV Show Gets International Distribution.  Dial Global nationally syndicated progressive talk host Thom Hartmann produces a TV program called “The Big Picture” which is already distributed to Free Speech TV and RT America.  Now, RT International announces it will distribute Hartmann’s show to cable systems elsewhere including the UK and Europe, Africa, Australia and South America.  RT International states it has a reach into 100 countries containing a half-billion households.  Hartmann says, “This is such an important time, with a U.S. presidential election as important as any I can remember, a global financial crisis, and tensions in the Middle East seeming to rise once again.  I look forward to the opportunity to share my common-sense progressive views on these issues and more with viewers throughout the globe.”

Talk Host Phil Valentine’s Global Warming-Challenging Film Debuts.  Nashville-based talk show host Phil Valentine’s movie “An Inconsistent Truth” hit the theater in Nashville last weekend and grossed more than $20,000.  Valentine produced and stars in the film that challenges anthropogenic global warming with Phil taking the role of a conservative Michael Moore-type documentary host.  (The film was co-produced by Ann Cates and executive producers David Harper, Joseph Edwards and Michael Costanza.)  Valentine used the power of his talk show in Nashville to promote the movie and drew good crowds based on the one-weekend gross.  This kind of project is indicative of the kind of promotional power a good talk show host can have with a quality product like Valentine’s movie.  Valentine says he’s thrilled with the first weekend’s showing in Nashville.  “We thought we may have something but we had no idea the response would be this strong.  I’m speechless.”  Valentine and distributor Rocky Mountain Pictures are weighing their next move in distributing the movie across the country over the next couple of weeks.  Check out the trailer here.

Valerie Geller Consults PBS Documentary.  The president of Geller Media International, Valerie Geller – a leading talk radio consultant – participated as an advisor to the PBS documentary film “Daisy Bates – First Lady of Little Rock” airing nationally on PBS-TV stations tomorrow  night (2/2) and in New York City on February 5.  The Independent Documentary Series production tells the story of  Daisy Bates, a complex, unconventional, and largely forgotten heroine of the civil rights movement who led the charge to desegregate the all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957.  In addition to being an informative slice of history, the film is a conversation starter bringing up a number of compelling and controversial questions. The “Little Rock Nine” faced unimaginable verbal abuse and threats to their very lives. Was it ethical for Bates’s NAACP to put children on the front lines of the desegregation battle — even if they volunteered to be there or chose to be there?  Geller tells TALKERS, “One of the joys of consulting work is the opportunity to help other people achieve their dreams. I’m honored to have had the chance to work with documentary producer Sharon La Cruise on her film.

Dave Vieser Exits WCHU-AM/FM, Ithaca Morning Show.  Management at the Saga Communications news/talk station tells CNYRadio.com that Dave Vieser left his APD and morning co-host role for personal reasons.  The move leaves program director/news director Geoff Dunn as solo host of the morning drive show but the station states on its website, “We are currently working on a transition plan for a new host of the program.  We will miss Dave, and wish him well.”

Florida GOP Primary, Syria Violence, Occupy DC, and Taliban-Pakistan Link Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/31).  Mitt Romney’s victory over Newt Gingrich in the Florida primary, the ongoing violence in Syria, the Occupy DC movement that is clashing with authorities and the suspected link between the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s government were some of the most-talked-about stories in news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

| September 21, 2011

WABC, New York’s Joe Crummey Gets NY Radio Pro Patty Steele for Producer/Sidekick.  Late morning talk show host Joe Crummey has a well-known New York radio personality in the producer/sidekick role for the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon program beginning Monday, September 26.  Patty Steele most recently worked in the Big Apple at Cumulus sister FM WPLJ as news director alongside Scott Shannon and Todd Pettengill.  She’s also worked with Elvis Duran at crosstown WHTZ-FM, with Danny Bonaduce at New York’s former Big 105 and as a news anchor at WCBS, New York.  WABC program director Laurie Cantillo says, “Patty is smart, warm, funny and she gets what our listeners care about.  We’re thrilled about the strong news background and big ideas that she’ll bring to 77WABC.”

Internet Talk Radio Company Stitcher Raises $10 Million in New Funding.  Stitcher reports it has closed a Series C round of venture capital financing, led by New Enterprise Associates (whose general partner Ravi Viswanathan joins Stitcher’s board of directors) that allows the company to “fuel growth, build out a direct sales team and drive product development including enhancing its platform for content partners.”  Stitcher offers more than 6,000 different shows encompassing news, sports, entertainment, comedy and more from such personalities as Premiere’s Rush Limbaugh, NPR’s Terri Gross, Adam Carolla and many more.  Stitcher is available on the internet, via smartphone apps and in cars via the Ford SYNC platform and the Buick IntelliLink in-car connectivity system.  Stitcher CEO Noah Shanok tells TALKERS he expects the company to make more announcements about in-car availability in the near future.  He also states that for talk content providers, his service is about the ability to be everywhere.  “In the near term, one of the benefits that the internet provides is the ability to be where the audience is.  As you grow and build a listenership you want to be effectively where it’s most convenient for them.”  Battles between providers to grab headline-making deals for unique content may come down the road, according to Shanok, but for now, “it’s about getting users used to the same benefits they have in their home and on the internet – such as on-demand and personal information – that are now extending to the radio industry and content providers are taking advantage of.”  Shanok acknowledges that, especially for talk, the car is a crucial listening location and his company’s primary goal is to make using the technology as painless as possible for seamless integration into the car.  “We’ve been able to stay ahead and differentiate ourselves by having laser focus on product and technology by focusing on just talk.”  Shanok says content partners benefit greatly by the feedback they get from Stitcher in the form of audience metrics and other data to assist in sales.

Cenk Uygur’s “Young Turks” Lands at Current TV; Leads in to Olbermann.  Talk show host Cenk Uygur, who filled in extensively at MSNBC earlier this year and had hopes of landing a permanent gig there (Al Sharpton got it instead), takes his “Young Turks” progressive talk show to Current TV.  Uygur’s program will air at 7:00 pm ET and leads in to Keith Olbermann’s “Countdown” at 8:00 pm ET.  In a statement, Uygur says, “Current is the perfect home for our show.  We wanted to be in a place that is both independent and truly progressive — not owned and encumbered by a media conglomerate.  Does it get any better for a progressive than working where Al Gore and Joel Hyatt are your bosses and Keith Olbermann is your colleague?  It’s an honor to be the lead-in program for Keith Olbermann.  Add to that we will work with David Bohrman, who has been creating unique and great television programming for decades.  His vision for Current is exactly in line with ours.” The show will debut later this year, according to TVNewser.

ESPN Partners with Slacker for Customizable Listening.  ESPN Audio’s deal with the Slacker personal radio service gives users options for listening to ESPN-created content depending on which Slacker service they subscribe to.  Listeners using the free Slacker Basic Radio service now have access to an interactive, programmed ESPN station.  Slacker Radio Plus and Slacker Premium Radio subscribers have unlimited access to the ESPN Radio integration, including an ad-free programmed station with unlimited skips and the ability to create highly personalized, myESPN Radio sports stations based on favorite sports, teams or ESPN programs. Subscribers also have the option to add hourly “SportsCenter” updates to any Slacker station.

Hubbard Radio’s Federal News Radio in Washington Revamps Web Presence.  Hubbard Radio’s WFED, Washington and FederalNewsRadio.com announces a complete overhaul of its website that it says makes information “more accessible and interactive for information seekers and decision makers of the federal government.”  The radio station and web destination serve the large number of DC-area residents who work for or contract to the federal government.  Program director Lisa Wolfe says, “Our new website is the next step in Federal News Radio’s continuing process to meet the news and information needs of our busy and time-crunched audience.  Our site is better organized, more searchable and has a nice aesthetic.”

KIRO, Seattle Inks MLB’s Mariners to New Play-By-Play Deal.  The length of the contract and the financial terms are not being disclosed but Bonneville Seattle crows its 710 ESPN KIRO will continue to be the place for Seattle Mariners baseball on the radio in the Emerald City for years to come.  Station general manager Dave Pridemore says, “It has been a pleasure working with the Seattle Mariners for the past three years and we look forward to continuing this partnership in the years to come.  Combined with our additional coverage of the team on MyNorthwest.com, we are striving to maintain our status as the number one place for fans to find Mariners news and information.”

Canadian Specialty Sport TV Channel The Score Reportedly for Sale.  Sources say owner Score Media wants as much as $200 million (Canadian) for a business that earned less than $8 million dollars last year.  By the numbers The Score is Canada’s number three cable sports station.  It doesn’t have the deep pockets of rivals TSN and SPORTSNET.  Rather than carry hockey, Major League Baseball and football, The Score generally reports on sports and carries live sports talk programming.  It does broadcast some events including NBA games, WWE wrestling and pro poker tournaments.

Obama Debt Reduction Plan, 2012 GOP Candidates, European Economic Tensions and U.N.-Palestinian Issue Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/20).  President Obama’s debt reduction plan, the field of GOP candidates for the 2012 presidential election, the instability of the European economy as Greece teeters on default and the Palestinian bid for statehood at the U.N. were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

WTOP-FM, Washington Entertainment Editor Joe Barber Dies at 53.  Barber was found dead at his home in Washington, DC on Monday (9/19) and no cause of death has been made public.  Barber served as entertainment editor at Hubbard Radio’s WTOP-FM since 1997.  The Washington Post reports that Barber suffered from diabetes and had been in failing health.

On Tour with Dave Ramsey.  This beautiful custom-wrapped tour bus is carrying nationally syndicated talk star and bestselling author Dave Ramsey around the country as he promotes his latest book, EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches (Howard Books 2011).  Ramsey and company started in New York yesterday (9/20) with an appearance on CBS TV’s “The Early Show” and winds across the country through early November hitting such markets as Phoenix, Los Angeles, Knoxville, Nashville, Dallas, Atlanta and more.