Glenn Beck Cuts Workforce at TheBlaze and Mercury Radio Arts. According to a piece by Benjamin Mullin at Poynter.org, talk radio star Glenn Beck has cut the staff at his Mercury Radio Arts and six-year-old news and opinion digital platform TheBlaze by about 20% due to “structural challenges facing media companies today.” In announcing the changes being made at his companies, Beck is quoted stating, “This year has been one of the hardest years of my life. I’ve learned so much about myself, my friends and co-workers, and basic human nature. I have also learned a lot about my business and what I believe it will take to succeed in tomorrow’s America. The industrial revolution took 100 years to unfold; industry-altering change now occurs in days, not centuries.” See the Poynter piece here.
Investigation of Former Financial Talk Show Host Dawn Bennett Turns Up Bizarre Finds. Sadly, stories of financial experts who broker time on news/talk stations and end up being investigated by the authorities for wrongdoing are too common. But the case of former financial talk host Dawn J. Bennett is more colorful than most. Kyle Swenson details the investigation in The Washington Post. He writes that Bennett was being investigated for running a Ponzi scheme when FBI agents gained access to her Chevy Chase, Maryland home last month. In it they discovered biographical information about SEC officials and a handwritten “Beef Tongue Shut Up Hoodoo Spell” designed to – with the help of an animal tongue – prevent SEC officials from providing information about her. There were two freezers inside the home in which there were “dozens of sealed jars, many inked on the lids with the initials of SEC staff” for the purpose of silencing SEC investigators via magic. Arrested on August 25, Bennett is being charged with wire fraud, bank fraud, and making false statements in loan and credit applications. She’s being accused of using her weekly radio show to raise money targeting “elderly and financially unsophisticated investors by materially misrepresenting the company’s profitability and by claiming the company had the resources to pay annual rates of return as high as 15 percent.” Read the Post piece here.
KILT, Houston Sports Talk Host John Lopez Rescues Harvey Victims. KILT, Houston sports talk personality John Lopez is featured in a piece in USA Today after he spent Tuesday afternoon on a 16-foot fishing boat rescuing people stranded by the floodwaters created by Hurricane Harvey. Lopez told the paper, “These were regular people. They never thought the water would get that high, so you get them out and they just hug your neck and you never see them again, but you feel good you did it.” Read the story here.
TALKERS News Notes. There’s controversy in the sports talk radio world in Seattle after the sportswriters for The Seattle Times were banned from any further appearances on local radio or TV, effective September 5. Why would that happen? SeattleSportsNet.com reports that the edict comes directly from Times CEO and publisher Frank Blethen and revolves around controversies over sports arena projects in the city. Blethen has backed one project and sports talk radio – primarily KJR-AM – has been critical of that project (and Blethens/The Times’ support). Some seven Times writers are affected by this order. Read more about it here…..In Chicago, WSCR sports talk personality Laurence Holmes is also signed up to host Comcast SportsNet Chicago’s game day coverage of Chicago Bears football, starring on the “Bears Pregame Live” and “Bears Postgame Live” programs. Holmes will work with Bears greats Lance Briggs, Jim Miller, and Alex Brown on the shows…..ESPN Radio begins presentation of NFL and NCAA football games this season. Pro football coverage starts on September 10 with a doubleheader – Eagles at Redskins followed by Colts at Rams. College football play-by-play begins this Saturday (9/2) with #17 Florida vs #11 Michigan, immediately followed by #1 Alabama vs #3 Florida State…..SB Nation Radio is announcing that “The Sports Grind” – with host Calvin Casey and co-hosts Rudy J and Salami – launches on Tuesday (9/5) from flagship KTKR, San Antonio “Ticket 760.”
Pittsburgh’s Sheridan Broadcasting Shuts Down News and Sports Arm. According to a piece in the Pittsburgh Courier, the Sheridan Broadcasting Corporation has let 10 staffers go with the closure of its news and sports service. Rob Taylor Jr. writes in the paper that Sheridan COO and general counsel Ron Davenport Jr. said they weren’t able to generate the revenue they needed. “It’s a little more difficult than selling cars or something. It’s a unique skill set, so we’ve been searching for some time and we have someone who has been working on our behalf and he’s just been unsuccessful, unfortunately, and we’re not able to continue.” Sheridan had been providing news and sports broadcasts to about 60 affiliate stations. The company is continuing to operate the Sheridan Gospel Network. Read the Courier story here.
Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey Top News/Talk Story for Week of August 28-September 1. The devastation caused by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey and the political issues surrounding the disaster were the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the Trump tax reform plan. Coming in at #3 was President Trump’s plan to end the ‘Dreamer’ program, followed by the Trump-Russia investigation 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 on ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Promoting Concert for America. Pictured here in the studio at business talk WAFS, Atlanta “biz talk 1190 AM” is host Dana Barrett (second from left) and performers Hal Sparks (far left) and Seth Rudetsky (second from right).
Walter Sabo Is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Noted radio executive-turned-consultant-turned-talent Walter Sabo joins Michael Harrison as guest on this week’s installment of the award-winning PodcastOne series “Up Close and Far Out.” In an amazing conversation that spans the depth and breadth of radio as both a business and pop culture institution, the two broadcasters engage in a free-wheeling conversation that explores Sabo’s recent transformation from a behind-the-scenes figure into an innovative radio personality named Walter Sterling. The three-year-old Sunday late-night show hosted by Sterling, that eschews standard political fare in favor of the day-to-day topics of general life, has grown from a local WPHT, Philadelphia boutique item into a major Westwood One nationally syndicated feature, now clearing on major outlets such as: KMOX, St. Louis; WLS, Chicago; WMAL, Washington, DC; KDKA, Pittsburgh; KARM, Little Rock and many more. This dialogue is a radio freak’s delight and should not be missed. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here or click on the “Up Close and Far Out” player box located in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Louisville, Alpha Media flips hot AC WXMA “102.3 The Max” to adult hits using the JACK FM format. Alpha Media VP of programming Ronnie Stanton comments, “What an exciting day for Alpha Media and the great city of Louisville. ‘Jack’ will be a breath of fresh air both musically and in its fun attitude.”…..Programming pro John Richards is appointed brand manager at Midwest Communications-owned country outlet WDEZ-FM Wausau, Wisconsin. He’ll also host the midday show. Richards was most recently serving as operations manager for Instad Radio in the Yakima, Washington market…..Rob Creighton exits the Ramar-owned station group in Lubbock, Texas where he was morning show host on hot AC KLZK “107.7 YES FM” as well as OM for that station and sister classic hits KXTQ “Magic 106.5.”…..Another Alpha Media flip as sports talk is jettisoned from the simulcast of WRNN-AM/W288DK, Myrtle Beach for throwback hip hop and R&B oldies as “G 105.5.” Sister CHR WMYB “Energy 92.1” program director Zack Williams states, “We’re crazy excited to bring throwbacks to Myrtle Beach. You can take your radio to the beach, cruise up and down Ocean Blvd and have a great time listening to the best throwback hip hop and R&B!”
KJR-AM, Seattle’s Rich Moore Upped to SVP of Programming for iHeartMedia Seattle. Programmer Rich Moore is promoted to senior vice president of programming for iHeartMedia’s Seattle station group. A 23-year iHeartMedia Seattle staffer, Moore has recently been serving as PD for sports talk KJR-AM “Seattle’s Sports Radio,” a position in which he will continue. He’ll also oversee signals including CHR sisters KBKS “Kiss FM” and KPWK “POWER-FM,” hip hop KUBE, alternative KFOO “ALT-FM,” classic hits KJR-FM “95.7 The Jet,” and sports talk KHHO “FOX Sports Radio.” Market president Kent Haehl says, “Rich has had a long and successful tenure at iHeartMedia Seattle. He is a brilliant, creative and innovative leader who understands how to create deep relationships with listeners and we look forward to tapping into those skills across all our Seattle brands.” At the same time, the company announces that Kevin Shockey is named to the assistant program director position for KJR-AM.
Mayhem at WABC, New York!?! In the still photo you see here, WABC, New York air personality Curtis Sliwa (right) threatens fellow host Sid Rosenberg (left) with a baseball bat in the news/talk station’s studio. In the video which you can see in full here, Sliwa is threatening Rosenberg for “stealing” producer Flipper, a.k.a. Jill Vitale, for his show and for subbing for him on what was supposed to be a “mental health” day off the air for Sliwa. Sliwa co-hosts the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm show with Ron Kuby and Rosenberg co-hosts the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon show with “Imus in the Morning” cast member Bernard McGuirk. Sources inside WABC tell TALKERS that the video is not contrived and that Sliwa was very upset about losing Flipper to the other show. TALKERS editors, however, remain suspicious about the spontaneity of the video given WABC’s presenting it (proudly, it seems) on its website. What, if anything, happens after this is unclear, however most employers discourage threatening fellow employees with baseball bats. Stay tuned…
The Presidential Race, Obama’s Cuba Trip, Battle Against ISIS, Syria Conflict-Russian Involvement, and Hulk Hogan Sex Tape Suit Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/21). The activities of the candidates for president; coverage of President Obama’s trip to Cuba and his meeting with Raul Castro; the ongoing battle against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria; the Syrian civil conflict and Russia’s military involvement; and the jury awards for Hulk Hogan in his suit against Gawker for releasing portions of his sex tape were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Michael Harrison Gets ‘Up Close and Far Out’ with Kurt Hanson. In this week’s installment of the PodcastOne international hit “Up Close and Far Out with Michael Harrison,” the TALKERS magazine publisher conducts a candid and informative conversation with online radio pioneer Kurt Hanson from the convention floor of the recently concluded Radiodays Europe in Paris, France. Hanson wears two feathers in his cap. He is the founder and CEO of the tremendously successful online radio music service, AccuRadio, that provides hundreds of thousands of music fans with a wide spectrum of music genres both old and new. He also is publisher and founding editor of RAIN Enterprises. RAIN provides the industry with two major services, the Radio and Internet Newsletter and its annual RAIN conference on the relationship between radio and the internet held in conjunction with the NAB Radio Show. According to Harrison, “Kurt Hanson is a visionary in the merging fields of radio and digital broadcasting as well as being a heck of an entrepreneur. He’s also a ‘Star Trek’ fanatic and I’m delighted to present our fascinating Paris conversation to the world’s ‘media freaks’ this week.” To listen to the podcast in its entirety please click here or click on the “Up Close and Far Out” player box located in the right-hand column of every page of Talkers.com and RadioInfo.com.
WBBM-AM, Chicago’s Felicia Middlebrooks and Lola Vanderpuye Among Gracie Award Winners at CBS RADIO. Winners of 2016 Gracie Awards include WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM, Chicago “Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM” morning drive co-anchor Felicia Middlebrooks and WBBM coordinating producer Lola Vanderpuye. The Gracie Awards — from the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation — honor exemplary programming for, by and about women in all facets of media and entertainment, as well as individuals who have made contributions to the industry. Middlebrooks is being honored for anchor of a local news or news magazine program, and Vanderpuye is being recognized for local imaging for the Chicago Cubs. Other CBS RADIO staffers being honored include: Marla Diamond, WCBS, New York “Newsradio 880” for Local Reporter/Correspondent; Nina Hajian, WNEW-FM, New York “92.3 AMP Radio” for Local Host of Entertainment/Information; Jane Tillman Irving, WCBS, New York “Newsradio 880” for Local Hard News Feature; Amy Lawrence, CBS Sports Radio for National Host of a Sports Program; Loren Raye, WODS, Boston “103.3 AMP Radio”; Suzyn Waldman, WFAN, New York for Local Sports Program; and Shila Nathan for Afternoon Drive Personality-Local (while at WUSN, Chicago).
Cumulus Media Staffers Honored with Gracies. Here’s a rundown of the Cumulus Media employees who will be recognized for their work by the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation with a 2016 Gracie Award: “NASH Nights Live” personality Elaina D. Smith for National Radio Special; Rita Cosby, WABC, New York for Talk Show, News-Local Radio, and Host, Non-News/Non-Fiction-Local Radio; and Joan Hamburg, WABC, New York for Soft News Feature-Local Radio.
Odds & Sods. The annual live political event “Charlie Sykes Insight 2016” – presented by E.W. Scripps’ WTMJ, Milwaukee and Sykes’ RightWisconsin.com – will include an appearance by GOP presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz tomorrow (3/23). During the program at Country Springs Hotel in Pewaukee, Sykes and Senator Cruz will have an exclusive, one-on-one discussion…..Chicago news pro Andrea Darlas is being honored with the Diogenes Award for Excellence in Media from the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois at the organization’s 90th Anniversary Dinner Meeting on Thursday, March 24 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. BBB president and CEO Steve Bernas explains, “The Diogenes Award is presented to a media person who exemplifies the goals and principles of the Better Business Bureau to support and foster an ethical marketplace benefiting both consumers and businesses.” Darlas is currently the morning news anchor on Tribunes’s WGN Radio, a reporter on its WGN-TV and CLTV as well as a contributor to the nationally syndicated TV show, “House Smarts.”…..In Canada, Bell Media news/talk stations are now carrying the NPR-syndicated “TED Radio Hour.” The show, hosted by Guy Raz, currently airs in the U.S. on public radio outlets and is available as a podcast.