Don Imus Says ‘Good-Bye’ to Listeners After 50 Years On-Air. Today (3/29) was the last live “Imus in the Morning” program on WABC, New York. Don Imus served up an emotional monologue as only he could do, then left the broadcast booth and let “best-of” Imus show segments play for the rest of the morning. Imus was forced into an early retirement by Cumulus Media’s need to cut costs as it moves through Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. He said, “I know in my heart there’s been nobody ever better on the radio than me. I mean that. I’m telling you how it is. Nobody ever did this. Nobody. But, it wasn’t me who did this. I’m gonna miss you. Because you were the one – and I don’t know who ‘you’ is – I always thought and still think I was always talking to one person. I didn’t know if you were male or female, I just knew there was one person that I talked to and that would listen to me…I know you’re going to miss me, but you have no idea how much I’m gonna miss you.”
Ben Shapiro Returns to Radio with Westwood One-Distributed Daily Podcast. Conservative media star Ben Shapiro says, “The Daily Wire and Westwood One are doing something unprecedented; we’re launching the first podcast-to-talk-radio transition ever. And we’re doing it in five of the top 10 DMA markets in the country, which is amazing in and of itself — no show launches with this constellation of stations. We already have an enormous digital audience and we can’t wait to extend that audience to more traditional platforms.” Cumulus Media-owned stations WABC, New York; KABC-AM, Los Angeles; WLS-AM, Chicago; WMAL-AM/FM, Washington; WYAY-FM, Atlanta and KKAT, Salt Lake City will air the program, as well as Bonneville‘s KTTH, Seattle (where Shapiro previously hosted his own talk radio show). WLS-AM will air the program nightly from 9:00 pm to 10:00 pm. In New York, the show replaces the Curtis Sliwa-hosted “The Drive at Five” program at 5:00 pm ET. WABC program director Craig Schwalb tells staff in a memo, “Curtis has held down the ‘Drive at Five’ for about two years and has done a magnificent job making that hour a strong round-up of the news of the day with the Curtis touch. And yet, we have been given the opportunity to air one of the hottest commentators in the country in Ben Shapiro. To say that he has hit the podcast world by storm would be an understatement. Everyday, he is one of the top podcasters in any genre, ranking in the top 10 or top 15. It’s for a reason. He is brilliant, informative, and opinionated. This podcast to broadcast is in the perfect spot between Savage and Levin.”
Curtis Sliwa to Appear at WLS-AM-Sponsored Screening of Vigilante. Speaking of New York City icon Curtis Sliwa, he is in Chicago today for tonight’s appearance at the Chicago premiere of the Guardian Angel’s film Vigilante at the NBC Tower. The event is taking place at the WLS-AM 890 Sound Lounge performance theatre and is being hosted by WLS-AM morning personalities Big John Howell and Ramblin’ Ray Stevens. Sliwa will take part in a Q&A with premiere attendees. He’s hosting his WABC, New York show from Chicago today.
WABC, New York Officially Announces Chris Plante Show for Late Mornings. A couple of weeks ago TALKERS magazine reported that WABC, New York program director Craig Schwalb told the staff that WMAL-AM/FM, Washington-based talk host Chris Plante would be filling the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon daypart when the “Bernie & Sid Show” moves to mornings on April 2. Now, the station makes that official, welcoming Plante to the lineup. The press release says the New York audience knows Plante from his work covering the U.S. military and intelligence community for CNN. Plante says his political party is “Practi-crat,” “because of my distinctly practical political leanings…As any school child knows, as a broadcaster, if you could choose one radio station in one market in the English-speaking world, it would be WABC in New York. I’m honored to join the team.”
Cumulus Media Releases Q4 2017 and Full-Year Financial Figures; Radio Group Down 3.9%. The company as a whole reports net revenue down 1.9% compared to the fourth quarter of 2016. Separating the radio station group from syndicator and sales arm Westwood One, the radio station group dipped 3.9% in Q4 of 2017, while Westwood One rose 2.5%. For all of 2017, Cumulus Media net revenue was basically flat at $1.13 billion; the radio group was down 1.9%; and Westwood One was up 2.8%. President and CEO Mary Berner says, “Our 2017 financial performance is a true testament to our employees’ hard work and commitment to our turnaround plan. Having also made the decision to definitively address our overleveraged balance sheet, we look forward to completing our financial restructuring and continuing our progress in the months ahead.”
Cumulus Responds to Objections to Plan of Reorganization. After Wednesday’s filing of objections to Cumulus Media’s Plan of Reorganization by the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors and the Cross-Holder Committee, the company issued the following statement: “Today’s objections to our Plan of Reorganization by the UCC and the Cross Holders were anticipated – they are normal parts of the restructuring process and will not impact our restructuring timeline. We look forward to emerging from the restructuring process with a stronger foundation and to continuing to execute our turnaround plan which remains on track both operationally and financially. Both objections largely reiterate statements that have already been made through the restructuring, which we believe have no merit, and we remain confident that we will successfully address these claims through the Court process.”
PPM Analysis: Public News/Talk. TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s February PPM survey, today focusing on public news/talk. Comparing the January and February PPM surveys, 38% of public news/talk stations saw their 6+ AQH shares go up while 46% went down. A year-over-year comparison indicates that 54% of stations in the survey went up (6+), with 36% losing AQH share. During the February survey, two public news/talk stations – KQED, San Francisco and KOPB, Portland – ranked #1 in their respective markets. KQED also was #1 in the adjacent San Jose market. See the whole report here.
TALKERS News Notes. Boston-based New England talk show host Howie Carr just published his latest book, this one a jab at Hillary Clinton’s book of the same name, titled, What Really Happened: How Donald J. Trump Saved America from Hillary Clinton. President Trump Tweeted praise for Carr’s book. “@HowieCarrShow just wrote a book which everyone is talking about. He was a great help. He is a veteran journalist who had a great influence in NH and beyond. He calls it the most amazing political campaign of modern times. The book is called, ‘What Really Happened.’ Enjoy!”…..ESPN adds a new podcast from Bomani Jones to is slate of podcasts. “The Right Time with Bomani Jones” launches on Tuesday, April 3. New, hour-long episodes will drop each Tuesday and Thursday. Jones says, “I’m really looking forward to rebooting ‘The Right Time’ and moving it into the future. We want to do as much as we can with the flexibility of the podcast format to take what was a three-hour radio show and make it into an even better podcast. I really think the audience we served before – many of whom consumed the show digitally – will be happier with what’s next and the content will attract new listeners.”…..SiriusXM is again providing comprehensive national audio coverage of the 2018 Major League Baseball season. Subscribers can access live play-by-play of every regular season and postseason game, as well as 24/7 news, talk and analysis on the exclusive MLB Network Radio channel.
Trump-Russia Investigation, Stormy Daniels Case, Kim Jong Un in China, Stevens’ Second Amendment Repeal Suggestion, Parkland Student-Ingraham Feud, California Sanctuary Cities Controversy, ‘Roseanne’ Re-Boot,’ Sacramento Unrest, the NCAA’s Final Four, NFL Rule Changes, and NBA Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (3/28). The Robert Mueller-led investigation into possible connections between Trump campaign operatives and Russian agents and the suggestion by Republicans that the FBI, CIA, and the Obama Administration coordinated early in the investigation; the legal actions targeting President Trump related to the Stormy Daniels affair allegation; North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un visits Chinese President Xi Jinping; the controversy over Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens’ editorial calling for a repeal of the Second Amendment; the feud between Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg and FOX News’ Laura Ingraham; the legal battles over the California sanctuary cities policies; the success of the first episode of the “Roseanne” re-boot and Roseanne Barr’s support of President Trump; the unrest in Sacramento in the aftermath of the fatal police shooting of Stephon Clark; the NCAA Men’s tournament Final Four; free agency signings in the NFL; today’s MLB season openers; and NBA action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. In Chicago, Entercom makes changes in morning drive at CHR WBBM-FM “B96” and ousts “The J Show” with host J Niice, a.k.a. Jamar McNeil, and cast members Gabe, Shelly, and Minnie. Meanwhile, Chicago media maven Robert Feder reports that Kevin Buchar, a.k.a. DreX, is headed back to the Windy City to assume the morning daypart there…..Beasley Media Group adult hits WBEN-FM, Philadelphia is welcoming Emmy Award-winning celebrity chef Rachael Ray as keynote speaker at the station’s 2nd annual “Her Story Luncheon” on Saturday, April 14. The luncheon is being hosted by Kathy Romano, host of 95.7 BEN FM’s “Her Story” program. The Saturday morning show features dynamic women who are making a significant impact in the community…..iHeartMedia’s hip hop WKTU, New York reveals the lineup for this summer’s “KTUphoria 2018” concert at Jones Beach Theater. Performing this year will be: Dua Lipa, Ne-Yo, Charlie Puth, Enrique Iglesias, Sting & Shaggy, Pitbull and more to be announced…..Midwest Communications names Corey Schaefer brand manager for CHR KOYY, Fargo “Y94.”
Most Talk Radio Programmers are Avoiding Use of the Term “Shithole” in Wake of Presidential Sh*tstorm. Once again, President Donald J. Trump – for better or worse – has shaken up the standards of traditional broadcasting and journalism. This time, with his controversial remark about immigration using the term “shithole” to describe countries from which he considers immigration particularly undesirable. The controversial racist aspect of this story notwithstanding, FCC-regulated broadcasters have had to make the quick decision to directly utter the term on the airwaves or buffer it with less offensive and non-potentially rule-breaking words. This decision has been made more difficult by the fact that many traditional, so-called mainstream cable outlets and online/print news media have chosen to use the word as the President said it. In conversations around the industry this morning TALKERS has learned that the prevailing tact on terrestrial talk radio has been NOT to use the word directly. Cumulus Media/Westwood One EVP Mike McVay tells TALKERS, “Despite cable television taking great joy in saying the ‘S’ word on TV, we are not saying the actual word on over the air radio. We recognize it as one of the seven words we cannot say. That has not stopped us from using it on our digital platforms.” Salem Radio Network senior VP, Phil Boyce says, “The word ‘shit’ is one of the FCC-banned words and our hosts should never use it, no matter if the president did or didn’t. My morning guy in Los Angeles, Brian Whitman, will be using the word “BLANK hole.” We want our shows to be safe for the whole family. No need to have listeners turn off the radio because kids are in the car.” Bold Gold Media Group CEO Vince Benedetto – owner of a number of stations in Pennsylvania and upstate New York – adds, “We haven’t changed our policy – we still do not say anything on air that violates George Carlin’s ‘Seven words you can’t say on television.'” ABC Radio VP/GM Steve Jones tells TALKERS, “ABC News Radio anchors and reporters are not speaking that word on air as it could be considered an FCC violation and it also might offend local community standards. Instead, we are referring to the phrase as an ‘expletive’ or ‘profanity.’ We have 1,650 affiliates and the majority use our ABC ‘Newscall’ service – which provides on-demand audio of reporters and actualities. We are more permissive in what we provide on that service because it is the decision of the station whether to run the audio – whereas as we control the newscast content and therefore have unilateral decision-making. If audio existed of any president using a profanity, we would put it on ‘Newscall’ and let stations decide its usage. If we determined language was so newsworthy we felt obligated to include it in a newscast, we would probably warn stations in advance. But, that’s hard to effectively control and I don’t recall it being done in many years.” Although the consensus is to avoid using the word directly on the airwaves, not everyone in talk radio fully agrees that the way to go. Nationally-famous, station owner/operator (and industry maverick) Michael Zwerling of KSCO/KOME, Santa Cruz tells TALKERS that he will use the word on his own show (“The Saturday Special”) but respects the rights of his air personalities to make their own decisions, “My position is to use the word on the air since it is a bona fide news story – but I just checked with the ‘Good Morning Monterey Bay’ staff [the station’s morning show] and was told they opted to say ‘s-hole’ and to play the Haitian national anthem.” Zwerling continues, “Trump apparently has denied using that word (which is one of my favorites) but even if he was falsely accused of using it by the news media almost universally out to get him – it has nonetheless become a legitimate news story and therefore would fall into my category of okay to use on the air. Besides, it moves our industry in the direction of parity with the ‘paid’ services that have been and are allowed to use profanity with impunity!” Media consultant/TALKERS columnist/and RT America host Holland Cooke says, “It is a big topic with heavy phones at my client stations this morning. My advice: Ask listeners, ‘If he said that word, should we, here on the radio?'” TALKERS legal editor and Bentley University law professor Steven JJ Weisman says, “It is my opinion that the use of the word ‘shithole’ in the context of discussing the president’s comments would be allowed.” For Weisman’s full comments, please read the story below.
Steve Weisman’s Legal Take on Terrestrial Radio’s Use of Term “Shithole.” TALKERS legal editor Steve Weisman offers his educated view on the terrestrial radio “shithole” issue prompted by President Donald J. Trump’s use of the term. To read the piece in its entirety, please click here.
Save the Date! Talkers 2018 Set for Friday, June 8, 2018 in New York City. The editorial board of TALKERS magazine is pleased to announce the date and location of the 21st annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most important national convention. Titled TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead!, the power-packed, one-day event will take place on Friday, June 8, 2018 at the ultra-modern Helen Mills Event Space and Theater located in the colorful Chelsea district of Manhattan in New York City. This marks the second year in a row that the convention will be held at this very popular venue. The conference will feature top speakers from all aspects of the spoken-word media industry with a focus on talk radio and its role in the new digital age and dawn of a rapidly accelerating era. This will include programming, sales, marketing, and technology – the full spectrum of concerns, challenges and opportunities facing the modern day talk broadcaster and broadcasting organization. It will feature keynote addresses, panel discussions, fireside chats, and exhibits of the latest services and equipment available to broadcasting professionals. The event will also provide its attendees with unparalleled networking opportunities and social mixers including breakfast, lunch and a closing cocktail reception. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “As has always been the case with this annual gathering, all the way back to its days as ‘The New Media Seminar,’ TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! will focus on the future. There is no doubt about it; we are at the dawn of an exciting new era – full of both daunting challenges and fabulous opportunities. Good things happen at this convention. We pack three days’ worth of content and activity into one dynamic day and comfortable space. It is not to be missed!” Complete agenda and hotel details will be posted in the coming days and weeks. As is customary with TALKERS conventions, TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! is only open to members of the professional media industry and communications students. Because seating is limited and the event has been an early sellout every year since the 1990s, in order to maintain this policy, non-refundable registrations can only be purchased via telephone with a credit card. Full registration, including all functions, meals, and refreshments costs $329 per person. However, an early bird special ($279 per person) is available for those who register before 5:00 pm ET on Friday, February 2. To register or obtain sponsorship information, call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413.
Gwiazdon Goes to Beasley Media Group Las Vegas as VP/MM. Most recently vice president and market manager of Midwest Communications’ Nashville adult contemporary WJXA “Mix 92.9”; adult hits WCJK “96.3 Jack FM”; and CHR WNFN “i106.7,” Dennis Gwiazdon began similar duties yesterday (1/11) for Beasley Media Group Las Vegas. According to Beasley Media Group executive vice president and chief operating officer Brian Beasley, “It is a privilege to welcome Dennis to the Beasley Media Group family. His proven track record and leadership skills are the perfect fit for our Las Vegas cluster as we continue to grow and expand our business in the market.” Gwiazdon, who was president of the Nashville Area Radio Association, states, “I am absolutely thrilled about joining the Beasley team. There is tremendous potential for us in Las Vegas and I’m grateful [to be given] the opportunity to make a difference.” Prior to his Nashville duties, Gwiazdon was president of San Diego-based Sales Insights. He previously held the vice president/general manager title at Seattle’s KRWM; San Diego’s KGB-FM and KPOP-AM; San Diego’s KMCG and KXGL; and Salt Lake City’s KKAT. With their Nielsen Audio December 2017 6+ AQH share and market rank in parentheses, Beasley Media Group’s Las Vegas cluster includes classic hits-oldies KKLZ “96.3 70s, 80s, and More” (6.3, #2); urban-rhythmic oldies KOAS “Old School 105.7” (4.0, #6); country KCYE “102.7 The Coyote” (3.7, #9); hot AC KVGS “Star 107.9” (2.8, #15); news/talk KDWN “AM 720” (.7, #26); and KCYE-HD2, which did not appear in the December 2017 sweep. The Las Vegas market leader is iHeartMedia adult contemporary KSNE “Sunny 106.5” (10.6, 6+), while Midwest Nashville’s WJXA “Mix” is on top (6+) with a 9.9.
WBUR, Reddit Debut “Endless Thread.” That’s the name of the weekly Ben Brock Johnson-hosted podcast done in partnership with Boston University-owned news/talk WBUR and Reddit, “the front page of the internet.” Starting today (1/12), weekly installments will be available every Friday to stream or download. According to Johnson, “Reddit is one of the most formidable communities online. Its lifeblood is people from all over the world sharing and organizing around every imaginable topic, making it an incredibly valuable resource for anyone trying to understand our world. As a journalist, I’ve been fascinated by Reddit for years, but I’ve also become an avid ‘redditor.’ I’m always surprised at what a mystery Reddit is to people who don’t use it. I’m looking forward to solving that mystery for the uninitiated, and helping ‘redditors’ share their incredible, real life stories with the world.” Reddit creative development manager Michael Pope remarks, “Reddit is home to the most authentic conversations on the internet and we know there is a massive opportunity to host thoughtful conversations about these stories in audio form. As one of the leading NPR affiliates in the country, we can’t wait to see what happens when we pair the production polish and talent at WBUR with the most compelling stories online.” The first episode, “No No No No Yes,” explores harrowing tales through first-hand interviews with ‘redditors’ who lived to tell their stories.
TALKERS News Notes. After a brief hiatus from a national platform, Dave Ross returns next Monday (1/15) with a daily, 90-second, CBS News Radio commentary, originally scheduled for a February 5 start date. Heard weekdays (“Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross”) on Bonneville-owned KIRO-FM, Ross is a five-time Edward R. Murrow award winner for best writing … This time next month (2/12), previous morning host of St. Louis hot AC KYKY “Y-98” Guy Phillips begins doing afternoons at news/talk KTRS “Big 550 The Talk of STL”; Julie Buck will be his co-host … Five Entercom Chicago stations – sports talk WSCR “670 The Score,” all-news WBBM-AM, CHR WBBM-FM “B-96,” triple A WXRT “93 XRT,” and country WUSN “US-99” – will be broadcasting from this year’s “Cubs Convention” today (1/12), tomorrow (Saturday, 1/13), and Sunday (1/14). Entercom Chicago senior vice president/market manager Jimmy de Castro comments, “We look forward to this event where our brands can interact with fellow Chicago Cubs fans. We are grateful for our continued partnership with the Chicago Cubs organization as the exclusive radio home of the Chicago Cubs.” This weekend’s event is taking place at Chicago’s Sheraton Grand Hotel. WSCR continues as the team’s radio flagship ….. Former Tribune Broadcasting White House correspondent and Long Island television news anchor/reporter Drew Scott joins JVC Media news/talk WRCN “Long Island News Radio 103.9” as a reporter. JVC Media president/CEO John Caracciolo comments, “Having someone like Drew is a complete win for us. His job will be to use the contact list he has developed over the years to help us open doors; get the story; and get the info Long Islanders need and want. This is live, local and hometown radio the way it is supposed to be.” WRCN operations director Frank Brinka notes, “Drew is a great addition to our staff. His wealth of news reporting and knowledge of the Long Island landscape will be an asset to the station. He will deliver a wealth of information to our listening audience.” Scott adds, “I am thrilled to be part of such a dynamic, live and local radio news organization. I am looking forward to helping ‘LI News Radio’ and JVC continue to grow and prosper.” ….. The flagship of MLB’s Minnesota Twins from 1961 – 2006, Entercom Minneapolis’ WCCO “News Radio 830,” returns in that capacity this year. The first of its 15-game spring training broadcast schedule will be (Thursday) February 22 when the Twins play the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers. Cory Provus, Dan Gladden, and Kris Atteberry comprise WCCO’s on-air team ….. Launching on SiriusXM next Wednesday (1/17) is “Barstool Radio,” the 24/7 channel for Barstool’s unfiltered approach to covering sports, men’s lifestyle, and popular culture. Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy remarks, “We are excited to launch our Barstool channel. It has been a wild ride to get to this point and this is another big step in our plan for total world domination.” SiriusXM senior vice president of sports programming Steve Cohen comments, “In today’s crowded media landscape, Barstool stands out as a unique and compelling voice. Live radio thrives on the kind of spontaneous and entertaining content that Barstool delivers every day. We don’t know what they are going to say next, but Barstool Radio on SiriusXM will be the place to hear it live and talk about it.” Weekday call-in shows will include: “The Barstool Radio Show” with Portnoy and Kevin “KFC” Clancy (4:00 pm – 6:00 pm, ET); “The Heartland Radio Show” with former NFL punter Pat McAfee (10:00 am -1:00 pm, ET); and “The Evening Yak” with Dan “Big Cat” Katz (6:00 pm – 7:00 pm, ET). Barstool Radio will be on SiriusXM’s “Power 85” and on the SiriusXM app ….. For over three weeks, Alpha Media Bakersfield (California) news/talk KNZR AM & FM “News-Talk-Dodgers,” mainstream CHR KLLY “Energy 95.3,” and urban-rhythmic oldies KKBB “Groove 99.3” collected food and water for fire victims in Ventura and Santa Barbara. KLLY program director Danny Hill comments, “I am very proud of my community and I love the support they always show. Bakersfield constantly gives to others and is at the forefront of a lot of charity events.” A local veterans chapter helped to deliver the supplies.
British Talk Show Host and TalkersRadio Personality Graham Mack Forced to Apologize for On Air Statement that PM Theresa May “Has No Balls.” It is always fascinating to compare and contrast American radio with broadcasting in other English-speaking countries when it comes to tolerance, freedom of speech and political controversy. Well-known English talk show host Graham Mack, host of the popular BOB-FM, Herfordshire (greater London) breakfast show got himself into a sticky situation on Wednesday (1/10) by boldly stating that British Prime Minister Theresa May “has no balls.” According to a report in the Hertfordshire Mercury, The comment came on yesterday’s (January 10) breakfast show during a lengthy rant about May’s recent Cabinet reshuffle, in which he also claimed that she was the “weakest Prime Minister” the country had ever seen. Mack went on to berate the reshuffle, saying that not enough women and ethnic minority MPs had been promoted to justify promises made by the Prime Minister in the preceding days. However, the maverick radio host appeared to backtrack on his claims this morning (January 11), telling listeners that he had to “correct” his comments. Mr. Mack said that although his remark about Mrs. May’s lack of balls was “anatomically correct,” he should not have made it. He also clarified that he could not be sure that May was the weakest Prime Minister the country had ever seen, as Clement Attlee or William the Younger could conceivably be weaker. In a statement, Mr. Mack said: “We received a serious complaint yesterday about what I’d said on the air. “Someone in a very senior position told me to make an apology. “I cannot reveal who made the complaint. The seriousness of the complaint did take me by surprise because a regular listener would realise that I take a swipe at all politicians regardless of which political party they represent.” Mr. Mack concluded his on-air correction by issuing an apology directly to the Prime Minister, saying that as the leader of the nation she must be respected. To listen to the segment of the program that got Graham Mack in trouble, please click here. Graham Mack also hosts “London Calling” a weekly program on TalkersRadio. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison describes Mack as “one of the best radio talk show aahosts in the English-speaking world.”
iHeartMedia, MoviePass Announce Media Partnership. The agreement includes a marketing campaign across iHeartMedia’s multiplatform network to help build further brand awareness of MoviePass and target new subscribers in select United States metros. In addition, iHeartMedia will be an authorized reseller of ad inventory across the MoviePass website and mobile app. According to iHeartMedia Ventures president Joe Robinson, “We have the capability to build significant brand awareness for MoviePass through our unparalleled scale and reach of more than 270 million monthly listeners across the country and our multiplatform assets. We see a unique opportunity with MoviePass, and its ability to understand and analyze audience trends and behavior which is a great asset for our advertisers, especially those looking to further engage with millions of movie-goers.” MoviePass chief executive officer Mitch Lowe comments, “We expect that our partnership with iHeartMedia will fuel our continued growth by targeting more profitable subscribers in low-cost markets, while also opening up a new revenue stream with digital advertising. We also expect that this relationship will be beneficial to movie exhibitors because we hope to drive more traffic into theaters and to advertisers through our strong working intelligence on the preferences and behaviors of a substantial amount of movie-goers. Our subscribers are going to twice as many movies a month as other consumers and are buying one in every 50 movie tickets in the U.S.” MoviePass launched its current $9.95 per month subscription plan this past August.
Wynter Boosted to iHM EVP Urban/Hip-Hop. Los Angeles urban contemporary KRRL “Real 92.3” program director Doc Wynter adds corporate iHeartMedia duties as executive vice president urban/hip-hop. President/chief operating officer/chief financial officer Rich Bressler states, “No one understands urban and hip-hop programming like Doc. We are thrilled that he is expanding his role leading iHeartMedia’s programming strategy for those key formats. He has been instrumental in launching several of our urban and hip-hop stations nationwide and we’re excited for him to be even more hands-on with all of our urban brands in our over 150 markets.” Wynter adds, “Urban radio has been my passion for as long as I can remember. Having worked with iHeartMedia for almost three decades, I know we have some of the best programmers and on-air personalities in radio. I can’t wait to help our region and market presidents provide their local urban and hip-hop music fans with one-of-a-kind listening experiences that only a company like iHeartMedia can create.” In this newly-created position, Wynter – most recently the company’s senior vice president of urban programming/urban brand manager – will report to chief programming officer Tom Poleman. Wynter began overseeing the company’s urban radio stations in late-1999 and launched several iHeartMedia brands such as “Power 105.1 FM” in New York City (on WWPR); “Real 92.3” in Los Angeles (on KRRL); “V101.5” in Jacksonville (on WSOL); and “The Beat” in various cities.
More Music Radio News and Career Moves. After doing four years of night duty on iHeartMedia Los Angeles mainstream CHR KIIS “102.7 Kiss-FM,” Freddy Rivera transfers to co-owned Dallas hot AC KDMX “102.9 Now” for afternoon drive (2:00 pm – 7:00 pm). KDMX program director Jay Shannon comments, “Freddy is an outstanding on-air talent and we are very fortunate to add him to our lineup. Freddy is very much looking forward to calling DFW his home.” Rivera, who starts at KDMX in a little over three weeks (2/5), notes, “I am very excited to write the next chapter in my radio career with ‘102.9 Now.’ I have heard so much about the food, nightlife, and community – I can’t wait to jump right in.” Los Angeles-born/Inland Empire-raised Rivera began his radio career as an intern for former “Kiss-FM” wakeup talent Rick Dees and worked on-air at Riverside-Bernardino-Ontario rhythmic CHR KGGI ….. Changes at Merlin Media-owned/Cumulus Media-operated alternative WKQX, Chicago find morning driver Brian Phillips handling mornings by himself as his former co-host – Lou Lombardo – segues to evenings. In addition, Lombardo adds “digital content captain” duties. Former WKQX evening talent “Marconi” left the station about two weeks ago ….. Two-year KMLE, Phoenix morning show host Chris Matthews departs the Entercom country outlet, but Nina D and producer “Badger Gabe” remain in place ….. Steve Guittari departs Cumulus Media Indianapolis; Guittari was operations manager of the cluster and program director of the company’s WFMS “95.5 The Country Station” ….. Also in the “Circle City,” according to the Indianapolis Business Journal, iHeartMedia Indianapolis sports talk WNDE pulls the plug on the Dave “Gunner” Gunn and Don Stuck-hosted morning show “Flagrant Foul.” Gunn (3:00 pm – 7:00 pm) and Stuck (7:00 pm – 10:00 pm) continue though on classic rock sibling WFBQ “Q-95.” Clay Travis’ syndicated “Outkick the Coverage” returns to WNDE’s morning drive slot ….. Added to the weekend lineup of iHeartMedia-owned New York City rhythmic CHR WKTU “103.5 KTU” is Astra – who formerly did afternoon drive on cross-town mainstream CHR WBMP “Amp 92.3.”
Odom Out at WRXQ. The evening talent on Coal City, Illinois-licensed WRXQ “100.7 Q-Rock,” Ray “Crazy Ray” Odom, is pink-slipped by the Alpha Media station for remarks he made on CNBC’s “The Profit.” On a promo for that cable television show, Odom said, “I’m a sexist, egotistical, racist pig on the radio.” Alpha Media market manager Brian Foster notes, “We do not condone the views he expressed in the program. The feelings portrayed are that of his own and not of Alpha Media or ‘Q-Rock.’ After an internal review, we have decided to cut ties.” Odom is co-owner of Rayjus Outdoors, but he was placed on leave from that Morris, Illinois business, the subject of Marcus Lamonis-hosted “The Profit,” which offers financial help to struggling businesses. Lamonis acknowledges that Odom had, “a side job. I thought it may be a distraction, but I didn’t realize that the focus of it was to demonize minorities and degrade women.” Odom confirmed the firing, saying he worked hard to keep his radio persona separate from his business. “What I said got taken out of context completely – now I don’t have a radio job over it.” A Rayjus statement on Facebook reads, “Unfortunately, we cannot allow these statements to go unchecked. While an integral part of our organization, Ray will be taking a leave of absence to spend time with his family and reflect on what is in the best interest of his family and company.” Regarding what he has said on radio, Odom tells the (Joliet, Illinois) Herald-News, “Everybody has a different sense of what is funny and not funny.”
Entravision Expands La Suavecita. The Grupero/Cumbia La Suavecita format will be heard in 11 more markets, in addition to its Los Angeles area simulcast of KSSE, KSSC, & KSSD. Entravision president and chief operating officer Jeffery Liberman remarks, “Since its launch a year ago, La Suavecita has built an incredible following of loyal listeners and received strong advertising support in Los Angeles. We are excited to share this unique and exciting format with listeners in 11 new markets and to bring a powerhouse line-up of some of the most recognized on-air personalities in radio to La Suavecita. Los Angeles is the largest Hispanic radio market in the U.S. We believe our format, programming, and talent changes will allow us to better connect with our audiences, and in turn, our advertisers with their customers. La Suavecita is backed by a strong slate of on-air personalities that will drive engagement across our radio and digital platforms.” Coinciding with the national rollout of the La Suavecita format, El Genio will be heard 4:00 am – 10:00 am; “Piolin” (Eddie Sotelo) 10:00 am – 2:00 pm; Armida y La Flaka 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm; and Mayra 7:00 pm -12:00 midnight. Targeting women 25 – 49 and adults 25 – 54, La Suavecita surfaces in Houston (KGOL); Phoenix (KVVA and KDVA); Denver (KJMN and KMXA); Sacramento (KXSE); Las Vegas (KRRN); McAllen (KNVO); El Paso (KINT-FM); Stockton (KTSE); Modesto (KCVR); Palm Springs, California (KLOB); and El Centro, California (KSEH).
Cutbacks at Dick Broadcasting’s Three New Clusters. Back in September, Dick Broadcasting announced it would acquire Alpha Media’s 18 stations and two translators in Kinston-New Bern-Jacksonville (North Carolina); Myrtle Beach (South Carolina); and Savannah (Georgia) for $19.5 million. Staffing cuts have been made in all three markets. Exiting WXQR “Rock 105,” Kinston-New Bern-Jacksonville are program director/afternoon talent Tina Smash and night host Ryan Daniels. Departures at the Myrtle Beach cluster include production director/WXYY “G-100.1” afternoon driver Mark ‘Shark’ Eddis and WFXH “Rock 106.1,” Hilton Head Island assistant program director/night talent Ryan Koch. The business manager position has been eliminated in the three aforementioned markets.
Westwood One Announces: Here’s Johnny! Bona fide Chicago radio cult legend Jonathon Brandmeier takes to the national stage next month when Westwood One commences syndicating his daily three-hour eponymous show-gram. Executive vice president of content and programming for Westwood One’s parent company – Cumulus Media – John Dickey comments, “Jonathon is one of the most versatile performers in radio today. We know audiences will enjoy his lively humor and take on each day’s topics. We are thrilled to add ‘Johnny B’ to the Westwood One roster of relevant and relatable talk programming.” Remarking this is an “extremely exciting” time for all those associated with his show-gram, Brandmeier – who has achieved industry success in Los Angeles (on talk KLSX) and Phoenix (on KZZP) as well as in Chicago – notes, “We look forward to continuing to entertain audiences in Chicago and expanding our reach nationwide. Fasten your seatbelts – it is going to be a wild ride.” Simultaneous with Brandmeier’s addition to the Westwood One roster is the departure from it by the program hosted by Dennis Miller. The former “SNL” cast member states that he is “stepping aside from radio at the moment” and that, “it has been a great run. I have had a phenomenal time interacting with my guests and audience, but with so many other commitments, it is hard to maintain a daily talk show. It is time to pass the torch as I move on to explore other opportunities – I wish ‘Johnny B’ lots of luck.” Three top-five market Cumulus-owned AM stations (KABC, Los Angeles, WLS-AM, Chicago, and KLIF-AM, Dallas) have already cleared Brandmeier’s 10:00 am – 1:00 pm (ET) program. In addition, there are affiliates in Salt Lake City (KKAT), Providence (WPRV), and Albuquerque (KTBL) – all are Cumulus Media AM properties.
Steve McCoy to Host Mornings on ‘News Radio 106.7’ in Atlanta. The Cumulus Media news station is changing morning shows, bringing aboard Atlanta market pro Steve McCoy, effective Monday, March 1. McCoy worked at the old WZGC “Z93” in AM drive where he was the longest-running morning personality in the station’s history. He also worked at “Power 99,” WSTR “Star 94” and WSB-FM “B98.5.” WYAY “News Radio 106.7” program director Greg Tantum says, “Steve has had a personal relationship with millions of Atlanta radio listeners for years. Steve’s deep roots in the community bring a one-of-a-kind perspective and understanding to the daily lives of Atlanta residents. Most important, Steve has proven he is the best at entertaining listeners and making them feel good – even in Atlanta traffic.”
Weisman: The Battle Over Net Neutrality. With yesterday’s passage of the FCC’s proposal to reclassify the Internet as a public utility and regulate it, the battle may have just begun. TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman, in a timely column examining the matter, writes that this is sure to bring about court challenges by the ISPs. Weisman notes that even though there was support in both the Democrat and Republican parties for preventing ISPs from creating multi-tiered delivery services, there are other issues that Republicans say are problematic. “Opponents of the FCC’s classifying the Internet as a utility are concerned that, by doing so, the FCC would have increased authority to regulate rates and take other actions that they believe would stifle investment by Internet Service Providers and slow innovation. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said that he is cognizant of the power that classifying the Internet as a utility would provide the FCC, but that he expects to use a ‘light touch’ in regulating the Internet and would ignore powers that the FCC had that did not relate to broadband. The devil is often in the details and it will be important to see whether a ‘light touch’ is reflected in the specific regulations to implement the vote which will not be published for a few days and will not become effective for a few months.” Read Weisman’s entire column here.
Today Is the Last Day to Receive the Early Bird Discount for Talkers New York 2015. Registrations are already being booked at a rapid pace as Talkers New York 2015 is heading toward being an early sell-out. The session will be held as part of the day-long conference set for Friday, June 12 at the India House Club in the Big Apple’s historic Financial District. Registrations are priced at $299 per person with an early-bird, discounted cost of $249 available until 5:00 pm ET this afternoon. Registrations, which are only open to professionals currently or recently employed in media-related industries, include all sessions, presentations, exhibits and breakfast/lunch/refreshment/and social networking activities. The heavyweight, non-stop agenda will include approximately 65 speakers and 500 attendees are again expected. Registrations can only be taken over the phone and paid for by credit card. For registration, sponsorship and hotel information, please call 413-565-5413. More speakers, panelists and agenda updates will be announced next week.
Jim Bohannon to Emcee Awards Ceremony at Talkers New York 2015. Talk radio great Jim Bohannon will reprise his stellar performance as Emcee of the Awards Ceremony at the forthcoming Talkers New York 2015 conference on Friday, June 12. The veteran Westwood One syndicated personality (a past recipient of the TALKERS Lifetime Achievement Award) will preside over the presentation of the honors which include awards for: Freedom of Speech, Lifetime Achievement, Woman of the Year and Humanitarian of the Year. Stay tuned for the names of the award recipients as well as those who will be making the presentations.
Rogers Upped to News Director for Entercom Upstate. Morning news personality Lee Rogers is promoted to news director for Entercom’s Upstate South Carolina station group. Rogers anchors the morning news on news/talk WYRD, Greenville “106.3 WORD” during “The Tara Show.” Entercom Upstate OM Mark Hendrix comments, “Lee brings a wealth of news experience and Upstate knowledge. I look forward to Lee expanding 106.3 WORD’s position as the Upstate’s breaking news leader. Listeners will hear more proprietary content on the news that matters most to them.”
Odds & Sods. With the signing of Jonathon Brandmeier to the Westwood One network and the show being picked up by Cumulus Media’s WLS-AM, Chicago, the station cuts ties with John Kass and Lauren Cohn, who were co-hosting the late morning daypart, although Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports the station is auditioning Lauren Cohn for work on the morning show hosted by Big John Howell. Filling in on the late morning program until Brandmeier starts is talk radio pro Tom Becka, who’s on the air there today through March 6…..American political satirist – and five-time Emmy nominee – Will Durst joins the regular panel of humorous pundits on the weekly podcast “The Koz Effect,” which streams live at 7:00 am ET Saturdays via the Radio Titans podcast network…..San Antonio news/talk KTSA is now heard on the FM dial in the market as Alpha Media begins simulcasting the station on translator K296GK at 107.1 FM…..Powell Broadcasting’s news/talk KSCJ, Sioux City, Iowa begins simulcasting its programming on translator K235CA, Sioux City at 94.9 FM…..ABC and PodcastOne are debuting a new, original podcast series which takes an in-depth look at the new television drama “American Crime.” The weekly podcast will be hosted by film critic and radio personality Elvis Mitchell.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. Joining Greater Media’s WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte is financial talk superstar Dave Ramsey, who will air in the 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm slot. His show is also being added to the evening program schedule at CBS RADIO’s news WNEW-FM, Baltimore/Washington…..The “Good Day” show with host Doug Stephan adds 11 new affiliate stations, including: WQXL, Columbia, South Carolina; WPBQ, Jackson, Mississippi; and KFTL, Gilbert Arizona…..The “Business Rockstars” show with Ken Rutkowski is added to the program schedule at 18 Rocking M Media outlets in Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska and Oklahoma…..“The Financial Exchange” with Barry Armstrong and Kim Carrigan joins the program lineup at WXTK-FM, Cape Cod…..WCGO, Chicago adds Bruce DuMont’s “Beyond the Beltway” to its weekend lineup…..BizTalkRadio clears several shows, including the Ray Lucia program, on new business talk outlet WHFS-AM, Tampa and the 11-station “SuperTalk” chain in Mississippi…..“The Money Pit Home Improvement Show” featuring Tom Kraeutler and Leslie Segrete joins the program lineup at WRKO, Boston.
Hannity Visits Chris Stigall Show at CPAC Radio Row. In this photo, Premiere Networks and Fox News Channel star Sean Hannity (right, standing at mic) makes an impromptu stop at the WPHT, Philadelphia booth on the radio row at the CPAC conference. He appeared on the morning show hosted by Chris Stigall (far left, seated). During the broadcast Stigall spoke with former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, her daughter Bristol, and potential 2016 candidate Senator Ted Cruz.
Dave Ramsey’s ‘Smart Money’ Takes Sacramento. Nationally syndicated radio talk star Dave Ramsey’s “Smart Money” live event tour continued last night (2/26) in Sacramento as he presented his program about how to win with money, get out of debt and invest for the future at Adventure Church. Financial expert and speaker Chris Hogan joined Ramsey on stage. Local affiliate KSTE helped promote the event. KSTE program director Bill White comments, “Dave Ramsey touches, inspires, and helps people every day. He not only provides a healthy perspective in regards to personal and professional finances but has an overall ‘LIFE’ philosophy that resonates with his audience far and wide. His show isn’t just about money; it’s about life. We’re proud to have Dave on “Talk 650” KSTE, a radio show that’s important and matters to listeners and our clients.” Pictured here are (from l-r): KSTE’s Joel Mordhorst, account executive; Darren Mounts, general sales manager; Ramsey; Michelle Alfano, account executive; Jeff Bussani, account executive; and White.
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Department of Homeland Security Funding Tops Talkers TenTM for Week of February 23-27. The battle in Congress over the funding of the Department of Homeland Security was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 was President Obama’s amnesty order tied with the controversial comments made by former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Coming in at #3 was the brutality of ISIS tied with the Iran nuclear weapons program, and following at #4 was the allegation of Bill O’Reilly’s violating the journalistic ethics code. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week. It is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS and it published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.