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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

| June 12, 2012

WPHT, Philadelphia Announces New Limbaugh-Free Schedule; Names Buzz Bissinger and Steve Martorano PM Drive Hosts. With Premiere Networks talk star Rush Limbaugh headed across town to Merlin Media‘s new WWIQ-FM, CBS Radio‘s news/talk WPHT announces Pulitzer Prize-winning author and pundit Buzz Bissinger will take over PM drive with co-host Steve Martorano. Bissinger moves into PM drive as WYD Media‘s Michael Smerconish slides into the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET slot (his live air time for national syndication). CBS Radio Philadelphia SVP Marc Rayfield states, “With the presidential election only a few months away, there couldn’t be a better time to heighten our focus on how today’s issues affect our friends, relatives and neighbors. The addition of Buzz to the lineup and presenting Michael’s program live to the audience gives us an incredible advantage as a station created in Philadelphia by Philadelphians for Philadelphians. Buzz has one of the most compelling voices in Philadelphia today. He’s intelligent, honest and hard hitting. He doesn’t play favorites; his only goal is to pursue the truth and no one in local media is more qualified to do so.”

Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Reorganizes Operating Management Team.  Two Clear Channel executives get promoted as the company restructures. Tom Schurr is named president of operations for major markets and Matt Martin is the new president of operations for regional markets. The changes also include the promotion of Tom O’Connell from SVP of operations for the Northeast regional markets to EVP of operations where he, along with EVP of operations Hartley Adkins, will report to Tom Schurr. Matt Martin was previously SVP of operations for the West region. CCME chairman and CEO John Hogan says, “As a company, we put a priority on recognizing our high performers with advancement opportunities to grow and develop their careers. The proven leadership, experience and performance results of Tom, Matt and Tom M. have shown that they are the perfect candidates to help continue to reinvent how our evolving markets operate.  They have all earned the opportunity to grow their careers and will be an integral part of Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s exciting future.” As a result of the moves, EVP of the Western Region Susan Karis exits the company.

New Jersey Broadcasters Association Convention Begins this Evening.  The 65th Annual NJBA Conference and Gala kicks off this evening at Caesar’s Atlantic City. The event, considered by industry observers as one of the most innovative statewide radio conventions in America, begins at 6:00 pm with a spectacular opening reception overlooking the ocean and picks up tomorrow morning with a full schedule of speakers, sessions and presentations under the theme, “The Best is Yet to Come!”  Headline solo presentations will be made by Howard L. Green Humanitarian Award honoree Steve Forbes and TALKERS founder Michael Harrison who will address the topic, “How Terrestrial Radio Can Thrive in the Digital Age.”  Special presentations will be made by ratings expert Charles Sislen and marketing guru John Tkac.  For information call 800-345-7253.

Joy Behar Signs Up with Al Gore’s Current TV.  “The View” cast member Joy Behar will continue her role on that show but will begin a new 6:00 pm ET show – probably called “The Joy Behar Show” – in September. Until then she’ll make appearances on the network including filling in for Eliot Spitzer on “Viewpoint” next week while he’s on vacation. The program will feature a regular, rotating cast of pundits, experts and journalists as cast members to discuss political and social issues. Current TV founder and chairman Al Gore says in a statement, “Joy Behar is a beloved veteran television personality with her finger on the pulse of what viewers care about. Millions of Americans tune in daily to hear her take on the issues along with her inimitable style. We are honored that Current TV will be Joy’s new prime time home.” Until December of 2011, Behar hosted a prime time show on HLN.

MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan to Exit Cable Channel to “Walk the Walk.”  That’s not Dylan Ratigan‘s quote but that’s what the host of his eponymous MSNBC 4:00 pm ET show implies he plans to do. Ratigan, whose three-year-old program (he came over from CNBC in 2009) has often taken on the power structure in American politics – including the close ties between the banking industry and Washington – is quoted by The New York TimesBrian Stelter saying, “Once you’ve said your piece, you can either keep saying it – and then it’s a job, good job, pays well, everybody knows your name, it’s great – or you can decide what you’re going to do about it. And the answer is, I don’t know. But I do know, in order to figure it out, I have to dismount.” MSNBC will move Martin Bashir into the 4:00 pm slot and craft a new show for the 3:00 pm hour.

Gregg Hersholt Debuts as Co-Host of KOMO, Seattle AM Program.  Fisher Radio announces Gregg Hersholt returns to the Emerald City as co-host of KOMO-AM/FM, Seattle’s “The KOMO Morning News” alongside Manda Factor. Hersholt worked at Bonneville International‘s crosstown KIRO for 26 years before departing for Portland to work at KXL. Program director Paul Duckworth says, “We’re so excited to have Gregg join us. He’s a terrific storyteller, knows the news business and is a name that is synonymous with Seattle.”

Odds ‘n’ Sods.  Radio talk show host Akos Jankura (whose show is heard Saturday afternoons on WFLA, Tampa), along with his father and daughter rode as “Team 3 Generations” in the 200 meter bicycle competition “Endridge Ride to Conquer Cancer” in Ontario, Canada. The event raised some $18 million to benefit The Princess Margaret Foundation…..Slacker Radio and ESPN team up to offer a collection of ESPN stations designed to stream ESPN shows and sporting events on Slacker’s service. Four of the stations will feature content from ESPN’s O&Os in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas…..In honor of Father’s Day, SiriusXM launches a week-long series of special programming with Men’s Health Radio. The channel will be hosted by Men’s Health editor Peter Moore and will spotlight a different topic each day: why guys don’t go to the doctor and why they should; how to eat like a man and not look like a Neanderthal; tips from the editor-in-chief David Zinczenko’s bestselling books Eat This! Not That!; and much more…..The “Bobby Likis Car Clinic” show is giving away “The Ultimate Father’s Day Gift Package” this Saturday that includes an Escort Radar detector and a subscription to Escort Live – “social networking for the road.”

Radio Newsman Chris Stanley Passes Away at 64.  Radio news pro Chris Stanley spent the last five years of his career at Fox News Radio. Prior to that he worked at CBS Radio‘s KNX, Los Angeles. Stanley, who died on Saturday, June 10 after a heart attack, had retired from Fox News Radio in April.

2012 Presidential Race, Jerry Sandusky Trial, Commerce Secretary Car Crashes, and Spain Bailout/EU Uncertainty Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/11).  President Barack Obama‘s campaign to win re-election in the face of Mitt Romney‘s challenge; the trial of former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky; U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson takes medical leave after two auto accidents in Los Angeles; and a bailout for Spain and the uncertainty of the stability of the euro were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

| May 22, 2012

Arbitron Releases Spring 2012 Edition of ‘Radio Today by the Numbers.’  The research-based brochure published by Arbitron with data from Scarborough Research, 2012 USA TouchPoints and the Radio Effectiveness Program, Ipsos OTX 2010-2011 that quantifies the reach and value of radio as an advertising tool is being released to clients.  The study is packed with slides designed for use by stations and groups to demonstrate to broadcasters, agencies and advertisers in presentations the effectiveness of the medium.  For example, the slide seen here indicates American adults ages 18-64 spend 69% of their audio entertainment time with radio compared to 11% with iPods/mp3s, 9% with satellite radio, 6% with CD players and 5% with streaming internet.  Arbitron states the data also makes a case for radio advertisings’ brand awareness and purchasing intent and more.

Morning Show Changes at KSEV, Houston; Sam Malone Out, ‘Mack’ Machowicz In.  Houston radio personality Sam Malone is out as morning drive host at Dan Patrick’s KSEV, Houston after two years as morning drive host.  Malone tells the Houston Chronicle owner Dan Patrick told him he wants to take the morning show “in another direction.”  KSEV general manager Marc McCoy tells the paper “topic selection, the way the topics would be discussed and the interaction with the audience would be better served with Mack.”  That’s Richard “Mack” Machowicz, new morning host and former Navy SEAL and television host who’s produced shows including Discovery Channel’s “FutureWeapons” and Spike TV’s “Deadliest Warriors.”  He’s also contributed to History Channel’s “America: The Story of US.”  Prior to his work at KSEV, Malone had worked at crosstown music-formatted KRBE-FM for 12 years.

Gregg Hersholt Returns to Seattle to Co-Host AM Drive at Fisher’s KOMO.  For 25 years Gregg Hersholt was a morning drive voice on crosstown KIRO, Seattle.  He left KIRO-FM in 2010 and spent time at Alpha Broadcasting’s KXL-FM, Portland as PM drive anchor and managing editor.  Now, he’s back in Seattle alongside Manda Factor on KOMO-AM/FM’s morning show.  He replaces Bill Yeend who recently retired.  KOMO program director Paul Duckworth tells Radio-Info’s Tom Taylor Hersholt has a lot of equity in the market.  “Bill Yeend is one-of-a-kind, but I’m excited to hear Gregg team up with Manda Factor, who I think is one of the very best in this business.”  Hersholt starts on June 11.

WDAE, Tampa Names Tom Jones and Rick Stroud AM Drive Hosts.  Clear Channel’s Tampa-market sports talk outlet announces the permanent replacements for former AM drive host Dan Sileo who exited the station in March.  Tampa Bay Times sports writers Tom Jones and Rick Stroud begin hosting the station’s morning show today (5/22).  In a statement, CC Tampa president and market manager Sam Nein says, “Tom Jones and Rick Stroud are Tampa Bay sports experts and we’re excited to have them host mornings on 620 WDAE.  Their wealth of knowledge, relationships and history in the market will make mornings on 620 WDAE the place for Tampa Bay sports fans to start their day.” Jones and Stroud have worked together in Tampa sports journalism for more than 20 years.

Talk Host Neal Boortz Nominated for Seat on Georgia Supreme Court.  The Cox Media nationally syndicated talk host is one of almost three dozen Georgia attorneys nominated for an opening seat on the state’s highest court.  Neal Boortz practiced law until 1992 before making talk radio his sole full-time gig.  In order to be considered for the judicial post he must complete the Judicial Nominating Commission’s application packet, something Boortz has indicated he will do.  The sheer volume of candidates – including several sitting judges – seems to indicate Boortz is a longshot for the post even if he’s serious about being considered.  Nonetheless, it’s a pretty cool piece of PR for the Atlanta-based talk superstar.

Howard Stern Show’s Robin Quivers to Have Surgery for Tumor.  The longtime co-host of the Howard Stern program announced to the show’s listeners that she will undergo surgery for a tumor in the near future.  Robin Quivers, Stern’s sidekick since 1981, stated on the SiriusXM show that doctors say she has a large tumor pressing against her bladder – whether the tumor is cancerous or not is not known – and that she has a surgery date scheduled.

Odds ‘n’ Sods. Premiere Networks talk host George Noory is the narrator in the film “Joplin, Missouri,” being released today (5/22) on the first anniversary of the tornado that decimated the town.  Noory states, “After witnessing the horror of that Joplin tornado, friends from Missouri asked me if I’d participate in this documentary, and without hesitation, I said ‘Yes!’”  Noory (r) is pictured here with the film’s producer and director Chip Gubera (l) at Smith-Lee Studios in St. Louis.  The documentary premieres today in Columbia, Missouri with two screenings at Ragtag Cinema…..Thursday evening at 6:00 pm ET, SiriusXM’s Book Radio presents “A Conversation with Conan O’Brien” from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.  The satcaster states the award-winning television host, comedian, writer and producer will discuss the art of comedy, his fascination with presidential history and politics and his connection to President Kennedy…..Hubbard Broadcasting announces the web portal GovEvents.com will power the events section of Washington, DC station WFED’s website.  GovEvents delivers news of government and military-related events worldwide and, says WFED, “Federal News Radio listeners now have access to federally-focused conferences and events happening in the DC-metro area.”…..Cumulus Media’s WPRO and 99.7 FM News in Providence wins the Associated Press’ News Station of the Year award.  The news/talk outlet also won for Best Coverage of Breaking News, Best Continuing Coverage, Best Website and Investigative Reporting.

2012 Presidential Race, Catholics Challenge ObamaCare in Court, G8/NATO Summits, Facebook Stock Sinks and Rutgers Student Verdict Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/21).  The 2012 campaign for president; the suits by various Catholic organizations against the Obama Administration over its health care law reproductive medicine stipulations; the weekend’s G8 and NATO summits and the resulting Afghanistan policies; the criticism over the NASDAQ Facebook IPO; and the sentencing of a former Rutgers University student in the suicide of his former roommate were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

KIDO, Boise’s Kevin Miller Visits Fort Hood.  KIDO, Boise morning drive host Kevin Miller recently visited Fort Hood, Texas to see off members of the Idaho Army National Guard’s 168th General Aviation Battalion as they deploy to Afghanistan.  Miller says he delivered “stories of training, patriotism and sacrifice” as the soldiers prepared to leave the country.  He also visited with Idaho Army National Guard staff sergeant Jason Rzepa (pictured here at right with Miller).  Rzepa is a double amputee who is rehabbing at Fort Sam Houston after being injured in an IED attack that killed two fellow Idaho National Guard soldiers and cost him his legs.  Miller tells TALKERS magazine he is proud of the multi-platform efforts of the Peak Broadcasting station in supporting the troops.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

| May 2, 2012

Sirius XM Reports Revenue Up 11%.  SiriusXM CEO Mel Karmazin tells analysts the satcaster has seen subscriptions increase by 405,000 compared to the first quarter of 2011.  Revenue for Q1 of 2012 was $805 million, an increase of 11% over the same period a year ago.  Karmazin states, “SiriusXM is starting the year with tremendous operational momentum.  We grew subscribers faster than any first quarter since our 2008 merger of Sirius and XM, and we improved our self-pay monthly churn rate to 1.9% despite implementing a price increase at the beginning of the year.  Rising auto sales and our strong execution should enable us to exceed our prior 2012 subscriber growth guidance of 1.3 million, which today we are raising to 1.5 million.”  The continued good news for SiriusXM includes: its subscriber growth rate accelerating to boost its subscriber base to an all-time high of 22.3 million; reduced its monthly churn to 1.9%; and was able to show positive free cash flow in the first quarter of a fiscal year for the first time – free cash flow was $15 million for 2012’s Q1.  SiriusXM EVP and CFO David Frear states, “Our growing cash flow is reducing our leverage substantially and this improving credit profile should benefit stockholders as we refinance or pay down more than $1 billion of high coupon debt over the next 15 months.”

2012 Q1 Report: CBS Radio Down 2%.  CBS Corporation announced its first quarter revenue for 2012 and although the company as a whole was up 12% on revenue of $3.92 billion over the same period a year ago, the revenue for the CBS Radio division was down 2%.  Content licensing and distribution revenue were responsible for much of the company’s growth.

Harris to Exit Broadcast Business.  Melbourne, Florida-based Harris Corporation employs some 17,000 people worldwide but the bulk of its revenue does not come from the radio equipment sector – not even close.  And that’s why the company announces it is divesting itself of the Broadcast Communications arm.  The company states a review of its business structure revealed, “the (radio) business is no longer aligned with the company’s long-term strategy.  The plan to sell these assets supports our disciplined approach to capital allocation, and we intend to use the proceeds to return cash to shareholders and invest in growing our core businesses.”

KTRH, Houston Talk Host Michael Berry Won’t Be Charged in Fender Bender Case.  Former Houston City Councilor and KTRH, Houston talk host Michael Berry will not face charges of hit and run in connection with a parking incident outside an area bar that happened in late January.  The District Attorney’s office tells the Houston Chronicle that based on its findings, there will be no charges filed against Berry.  It appears there’s no evidence to show Berry’s vehicle hit the car of a club bouncer who told authorities a car matching the description of Berry’s car hit his.  The incident happened outside of TC’s Show Bar in Montrose – a club known for gay clientele.  The local media made a big deal out of the incident and, in addition to the connection between the conservative Berry and the gay bar, questioned whether the former city councilor received special treatment from authorities investigating the incident.  Berry maintained his innocence and excoriated the local media on his radio show for running fast and loose with the facts.  He blamed much of the attention he received from the incident on politics.

Merlin Media’s New York Programming Chief Is Mark Austin Thomas.  “FM News 101.9” has been without an official programming chief since Liz Aiello was let go in December.  Now, it’s being reported that former KABC, Los Angeles news director and news anchor Mark Austin Thomas is in the programmer’s chair.  Radio-Info’s Tom Taylor reports an announcement from Merlin Media about Thomas’ status may come as early as this week.  All-news WEMP-FM, New York has been holding steady with a .7 share in the monthly PPM ratings.

Dave Milner Named Market Manager at Clear Channel Sacramento.  Reports of Jeff Holden’s departure from the building at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s Sacramento cluster turned out to be true.  The company announces Dave Milner takes over the president and market manager role.  Milner has been serving as vice president of sales at Entercom’s San Francisco station group.  He previously worked for Clear Channel in the Portland market.   Clear Channel EVP of operations, Western Region Susan Karis states, “Dave brings an extensive track record of sales and management expertise with him to the Clear Channel Sacramento market.  I’m excited to have him back with Clear Channel Media and Entertainment to lead our business in Sacramento to continued success.”

KFTK-FM, St. Louis Adds Tony Katz to Permanent Weekend Show.  Emmis Communications’ KFTK-FM, St. Louis announces regular fill-in talk host Tony Katz gets a weekly Saturday afternoon show airing from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm.  Katz is the go-to fill-in guy for midday talk host Dana Loesch.  KFTK-FM program director Jeff Allen says, “Tony is a rising star and I am thrilled that we can launch a fresh, new talent into our Saturday evening line-up.  Tony is passionate, informative and most importantly, fun to listen to!”  Katz also hosts a regular internet talk program on allpatriotsmedia.com.

Commercials Are Content, Too.  The phrase “content is king” may be a cliché but the sentiment is true.  However, it’s important to remember that spots are content too and broadcasters should give attention to spot quality, according to H&H Communications president Al Herskovitz.  In his latest column for TALKERS, Herskovitz cites examples of commercial copy gone wrong that could have been avoided.  Read his piece here.

FM Sports Talker Coming to Twin Falls, Idaho.  Lee Family Broadcasting principal Kim Lee tells MagicValley.com that he’ll drop the AC music on KMVX-FM for sports talk on May 24.  The station will carry ESPN programming and be the local radio outlet for College of Southern Idaho sports.  The school’s radio voice, Jonathan Drew, will join the station as sports director and PM drive host of a local sports talk show.

Odds ‘n’ SodsBob Throndsen retires from his news director position at Fisher Broadcasting’s KOMO-AM/FM.  Throndsen has worked at KOMO radio and KOMO-TV for much of the past 30 years…..The debut of Michael Patrick Shiels’ new morning talk show based at local Fox TV outlet WSYM-TV, Lansing, Michigan will come not this week but next, according to a piece in the Lansing State Journal.  Shiels, who recently left his WJIM, Lansing based program after a contract dispute, plans to syndicate the new show to talk radio outlets across Michigan…..KBJR-TV, Duluth sports director Tom Hansen joins KDAL, Duluth-Superior as co-host of the late morning show alongside Dave Strandberg.  Hansen maintain’s his position with the television outlet…..Talk show host Tom Donahue, host of Tom Donahue Reports, announces his new flagship network for his syndicated show is Orion Talk Radio.  The program airs live from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm daily.

Broadcasters Foundation of America Announces Second Annual Stu Olds Memorial Golf Classic.  The Broadcasters Foundation of America sets June 12 as the date of the second annual Stu Olds Memorial Golf Classic – the fundraiser named in honor of the former Katz Media head who died in December of 2010.  Since its inception, the fund has raised more than $500,000 to benefit the foundation.  The event costs $250 per player and proceeds go directly to the fund.  Reservations to take part in the golf outing can be made by calling Jim Thompson at 212-373-8250 or e-mail info@thebfoa.org.

2012 Presidential Race, Obama Afghanistan Visit, U.S. ICE Scam and Ohio Bridge Terror Plot Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/1).  The 2012 presidential race; President Obama’s visit to Kabul, Afghanistan and the Taliban violence there; the Immigration and Customs Enforcement scandal; and the Ohio bridge terror plot were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Rusty Humphries Has Movie Role in “Flicka” Film.  20th Century Fox Home Entertainment just released the movie “Flicka Country Pride” starring Clint Black and Lisa Hartman Black.  Appearing in the role of the announcer at the championship horse competition is Talk Radio Network and WGST, Atlanta talk show host Rusty Humphries.  Humphries spent several days last November in British Columbia filming his scenes.  He says, “It was an honor to be asked to be a part of a major motion picture and to learn from some of the best talent in the movie making business.”  In a scene from the film, Rusty is seen here in his announcer role at the judge’s table.  Rusty Humphries’ star continues to rise on a number of fronts.  He has proven himself over the years to be like “the little engine that could.”  In addition to accruing steadily increasing ratings and affiliations, his marketing campaigns continue to attract industry attention with significant sales of such items as Rusty Humphries Beef Jerkey and Rusty Humphries cigars.  His position on the TALKERS Heavy Hundred took a leap from #35 in 2011 to #20 in 2012.  Meet Rusty Humphries at the forthcoming New Media Seminar in New York City on Thursday, June 7 where he will be appearing as one of the debaters on the Talk Rumble.  The industry-only event is near a sellout.  For reservations, hotel or sponsorship information call 413-565-5413.

 

Monday, April 16, 2012

| April 16, 2012

Heidi Harris Named Morning Drive Host at Salem’s Re-Branded KRLA, Los Angeles and KTIE, San Bernardino.  Salem Communications announces its Southern California news/talk outlets KRLA, Los Angeles and KTIE, San Bernardino are being re-branded “The Answer,” following the same plan recently instituted at the company’s WNYM, New York.  At the same time, rising talk media star Heidi Harris joins the stations to serve as AM drive host.  Harris, a Las Vegas native, most recently hosted the morning drive program at Beasley Broadcasting’s KDWN, Las Vegas.  Salem VP/director of spoken word format Phil Boyce says the new morning show and the new name and positioning will make both stations more competitive, with more attitude in the imaging and more opportunities to position the stations in their markets.  “We have been using the name ‘The Answer’ in New York since March 12, and could not be happier with the response.  The on-air attitude and positioning is much more positive and we decided we could do something similar for KRLA and KTIE.  The addition of Heidi Harris to the morning show is a major investment in the future of these stations, so the timing was perfect to combine the new show with the re-branding effort.”  Heidi Harris says of her new gig, “I am thrilled and excited to join Salem Communications, a company that has quickly become one of the most respected places to work in radio and a company with a huge commitment to what I do: the news/talk format.  I can’t wait to get back on the radio and to do my thing in Los Angeles and the Inland Empire – two great markets for talk – and two great stations.  With a teeny bit of talent, 13 years of busting my butt, and most importantly the Grace of God, I have landed my dream job.”

Florida’s Magic Broadcasting Buys Tallahassee Market WGWD-FM; Flips to News/Talk.  Panama City, Florida-based Magic Broadcasting II announces it has completed the purchase of classic country WGWD-FM, Gretna, Florida (Tallahassee market) and will flip the station to news/talk today as “Talk Radio 93.3 FM” WGWD.  CEO Don McCoy tells TALKERS magazine the station will feature state-syndicated talk hosts Burnie Thompson (12:00 noon to 3:00 pm) and Derrell Day (7:00 am to 10:00 am).  Thompson’s guests on today’s program will include Governor Rick Scott, upcoming Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, Florida’s next Speaker of the House Will Weatherford, and U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Tallahassee).  McCoy says the company is bringing “Florida’s year-round Town Hall right to the Capital City.”  He calls the new format “live, local, fun and exciting!  We’re focused on state programming as well as national issues …and always for Floridians.”  The station will also air Talk Radio Network/Washington Times-produced “America’s Morning News,” TRN’s Laura Ingraham, Michael Savage and Rusty Humphries, Cox Media’s Neal Boortz and CBS Radio’s “Overnight America with Jon Grayson.”

WNYM, New York’s Curtis Sliwa Featured in New York Post Story About Fiancé and Children.  Consummate New Yorker, Guardian Angels founder and talk media personality Curtis Sliwa is a local celebrity in New York but few knew of his home life until a piece in the New York Post this weekend shed light on that aspect of Sliwa’s life.  The short version is that Sliwa and fiancé Melinda Katz plan to marry soon and continue raising their two sons – Carter and Hunter – in their Forest Hills, Queens home.  Sixteen years ago Katz asked former boyfriend Sliwa for a sperm donation intending to raise any children she bore alone.  While pregnant with Hunter, Katz developed complications and called Sliwa – out of her life for years at this point – and he came to her aid and the relationship grew from there.  There’s far more to this human interest story featuring one of talk radio’s colorful characters.  Read it here.

KBME, Houston Brings N.D. Kalu and Greg Koch Aboard for Mid-Morning Show.  When former NFL players N.D. Kalu and Greg Koch left CBS Radio’s crosstown sports talk KILT last month, it was rumored the two might reappear at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s crosstown sports talk KBME.  That has been confirmed.  The two will host the 10:00 am to 11:00 am “In the Trenches with Koch and Kalu” beginning today (4/16).  Koch and Kalu had been hosting a weekend program on KILT and served as commentators on other station programs.  Kalu works in real estate in the Houston area and Koch is an attorney.

KOMO, Seattle Morning News Anchor Bill Yeend Retires.  Pacific Northwest broadcaster Bill Yeend finished his last airshift at Fisher’s KOMO, Seattle on Friday and begins enjoying his retirement – and probably sleeping in for the first time in a long time – today.  For the past 10 years, Yeend has co-anchored the morning news at KOMO with Manda Factor.  Yeend began his career at rock KBBX-FM, Seattle in 1968 and moved to crosstown KIRO in 1970.  There, he won five Edward R. Murrow Awards for journalistic excellence.  Taking over at KOMO alongside Factor is KOMO sports reporter and Seattle Mariners public address announcer Tom Hutyler.

WLS, Chicago Changes Imaging Voices; Drops Jeff Davis and Brings Aboard Scott Fisher.  Chicago radio fans are well aware of Jeff Davis’ history with Cumulus Media’s news/talk WLS.  He started with the station in 1974 when it was the big hit music outlet in the city.  He remained with the station through the late 1980s.  Davis has been the voice of the station for most of the last 20 years but Cumulus has decided to change the station’s imaging and chooses not to renew Davis’ contract and signs on with Scott Fisher Productions.

Sports KFNC-FM, Houston to Be Hawked at NAB.  Station trustee and broker Larry Patrick of Maryland-based Patrick Communications tells the Houston Chronicle he will be actively looking for potential buyers for sports talk KFNC-FM, Houston and its sister Triple A KHJK-FM at this week’s NAB in Las Vegas.  KFNC-FM is one of four Cumulus Media stations in the market that went through a pre-packaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy deal to eliminate its debt and make it more attractive to potential buyers.  The station is still operated by Cumulus Media but Patrick owns more than 75% of the station.  According to Patrick, KFNC-FM boasted $2.4 million in ad sales in 2011.  Patrick tells the paper, “The staff is aware of what is happening, and the former owner has every right to bid and buy the stations back.  I’ve had inquiries from five or six people and I think there will be real interest.”

Dave Graveline in Croatia.  That’s “Into Tomorrow” talk host Dave Graveline (l) and producer Rob Almanza (r) standing on the (usually) sunny Adriatic coastline of Croatia.  Graveline and Almanza are there producing the weekend consumer electronics show while Graveline serves as moderator of the Global Press Conference for IFA – that’s the big Consumer Electronics & Appliance show that he broadcasts from in Berlin every September.

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.