Konst Makes Progress. A member of the Democratic National Committee platform committee and a former Bernie Sanders surrogate – Nomiki “Nomi” Konst – is named to host “The Filter” on SiriusXM Progress channel 127. The nightly 9:00 pm – 12:00 midnight talk show premieres next Monday (8/15). SiriusXM vice president and general manager of talk programming David Gorab declares, “Nomi is a fresh, fun, and deeply knowledgeable addition to the SiriusXM team. Her engagement in politics began at just 16 when she organized for Hillary Clinton’s New York senate campaign and extended straight to the convention floor in Philadelphia two weeks ago. That kind of passion and dedication to progressive causes makes her an ideal addition to the SiriusXM Progress team.” Konst comments, “At a time when political conversations are sound-bite driven, SiriusXM Progress has led the charge in being a progressive platform that engages in insightful commentary. It is an honor to join a channel that encourages discussion around truly progressive issues and values and empowers a new wave of progressives that have become a force in America.” A political contributor to CBS News and The Hill, Konst is the founder of investigative media start-up The Accountability Project. In 2012, a then-28-year-old Konst vied to be the youngest woman ever to serve in congress, seeking the Tucson seat vacated by Representative Gabby Giffords. Konst was a national co-chair for Barack Obama‘s Gen44 re-election effort and an at-large member of the DNC Council.
TRN Replacing Jerry Doyle Show with Multimedia Talent Robert Davi. Describing him as “a talent so unique that he brings together theatrics, culture, politics and music into a nexus of on-air brilliance,” Oregon-based syndicator TRN Enterprises has announced that well-known actor/singer/director/writer Robert Davi will take over the on-air position vacated by the recent untimely passing of Jerry Doyle. Company CEO Mark Masters states, “I believe, with everything in my bones, that ‘The Robert Davi Show’ will be the most successful show I have ever launched, and, if you don’t believe me – you can stick it your pipe and smoke it: you’ve got one shot at this show – take it while you can.” In addition to his performance work, Davi is also active in numerous public service organizations and charities for which he has received multiple awards. From its inception in 1998, Davi has been the national spokesperson for I-Safe America, a leading Internet safety program. His awards include the FBI’s Man of the Year Award in Los Angeles, the “Military Order of the Purple Heart,” a Special Recognition Award for dedication and service honoring America’s service members and veterans, and, he was named KNX radio’s “Citizen of the Week” for saving a young girl from a fire at her home. Masters tells TALKERS, “We continue to mourn the loss of Jerry Doyle, who truly can never be replaced. We do, however, welcome the powerhouse unique presence, talent and perspectives that Robert Davi brings to this role. I sincerely believe that this is a situation in which the passing of one legend is resulting in the launch of a new legend in the making.”
Ryan Joins Titans Pre- And Post-Game Broadcast Team. Starting tomorrow (Saturday, 8/13), Mickey Ryan will begin contributing to pre-game and post-game radio coverage for games of the NFL‘s Tennessee Titans. He joins Mark Howard and former Titans players Blaine Bishop and Kevin Dyson on the flagship station for the Titans, Cumulus Media Nashville’s WGFX “104.5 The Zone.” Cumulus Media Nashville vice president and market manager Allison Warren comments, “Mickey is one of the most respected and insightful sports commentators in Nashville. He has covered sports at its highest level. His reputation, contacts, and relationships within the sports field are outstanding. We have the strongest ensemble of voices in football analysts and sports commentators – the addition of Mickey to our team makes us even stronger and deeper.” Ryan notes that he has “listened to Titans radio since the very first broadcast. I consider it an honor and the culmination of a lifelong dream to join the best team in NFL radio. I look forward to sharing an upcoming season of Titans football with Mark, Blaine, Kevin, and Titans fans all over our listening area.” Ryan will continue – with Bishop, and Brent Dougherty – co-hosting on “The Zone” in PM drive (3:00 pm – 6:00 pm) each weekday.
SiriusXM Special Brings Kinison Back to Life. The last recorded performance from Sam Kinison will be premiered exclusively on SiriusXM today (Friday, 8/12) at 3:00 pm (ET) on SiriusXM’s Comedy Greats channel 94. Audio of a Kinison performance was extensively enhanced from a poor-quality amateur recording made just days before his death. SiriusXM senior vice president of comedy programming Jack Vaughn comments, “Sam Kinison was one of the most influential and distinct voices in comedy; he was taken from us far too soon. This stand-up special and documentary will give fans new insight on the legendary comic. It is a great jumping-off point for those who were less familiar with his inimitable brand of humor.” Kinison was just 38 years old when he died in April 1992. Earlier this year, SiriusXM produced a documentary and released a never-before-heard extended performance from Bill Hicks.
Mason Ponders Filing Worker’s Comp. On the heels of winning back-to-back gold medals in judo, Kayla Harrison demonstrates her arm bar technique on Westwood One‘s Steve Mason in the syndication company’s Rio production studio. Westwood One’s Olympics coverage of Rio 2016 continues through the closing ceremonies one week from Sunday (8/21).
Trump’s “Second Amendment People” and “Obama Founded ISIS” Controversies Top The News/Talk Radio Stories Over the Week of 8/8-12. The controversial statements made by Donald Trump about “second amendment people” dealing with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama being the “founder” of ISIS were the two most talked about topics on news/talk radio in America this past week according to the research of TALKERS magazine. Other hot topics included the Hillary email controversies, Trump second amendment Flap, US-Turkey relations and South China Sea dispute and a wide variety of general issues pertaining to the presidential election. To see the full TALKERS Stories and People charts for the week, please click here.
Odds & Sods. Changes at Scripps Tulsa find talk KFAQ morning co-host Eddie Huff, morning anchor Richard Linihan, and production director Terry Cooper departing. Also within that cluster, after one year as program director of CHR KHTT “K-Hits 106.9,” John Roberts exits; mid-day talent Tabatha Grammer is upped to assistant PD; and nighttime personality Aly Presser is promoted to mornings. ….. Following Jack Tomczak‘s exit from KTLK-AM “Twin Cities News Talk 1130,” the iHeartMedia Minneapolis outlet names Jon Justice of KQTH, Tucson as KTLK-AM program director Andrew Lee‘s morning co-host. The two worked together when Lee programmed Scripps-owned KQTH. ….. A ten-year run that began with Michael Castner as host comes to an end as Bonneville Salt Lake City cancels evening “Nightside Project.” Current hosts Ethan Millard and Alex Kirry remain with the station though and will do a podcast. Castner is now with iHeartMedia Portland’s KEX.
Soon-to-be-Released Book About Talk Radio Discussed on Harrison Podcast. Veteran talk radio producer, Bernadette Duncan, appears as the guest on this week’s installment of the PodcastOne hit series “Up Close and Far Out with Michael Harrison” talking about her forthcoming book, scheduled for publication in September, titled Yappy Days: Behind the Scenes with Newsers, Schmoozers, Boozers and Losers (AuthorHouse/Talkers Books 2016). The book chronicles Duncan’s 26-year career “behind the glass” as a New York City-based talk radio producer in the “golden era” between the eighties and first decade of the 21st century. Duncan (who is also married to Michael Harrison) served as a producer for some of the biggest names in talk radio during that period. They include Larry King, Sally Jessy Raphael, Gil Gross, Tom Snyder, Lou Dobbs, Charles Osgood and more. The book explores the quirky egos of radio’s top performers and often-neurotic guests and is set against the dramatically changing backdrop of America’s pre- and post-9/11 realities. It is full of anecdotes and insights about the industry, its people and processes. Duncan explores the complex office politics in this offbeat arena of show business capturing what it takes to be a radio producer – a role she describes as “the most under-rated, under-paid and under-appreciated job in commercial media.” On the podcast, Harrison and Duncan specifically discuss her experiences working with Sally Jessy Raphael – one of the true pioneers of talk radio who paved the way for countless others and was Duncan’s earliest inspiration to enter the field. Duncan talks about the personal growth she achieved working across the glass from Larry King during his media heyday as well as the fiery drama that took place behind the scenes of The Lou Dobbs Show that she helped launch as executive producer. On completing the podcast Harrison says, “There are so many stories and people written about in this book that we hardly scratched the surface in this advance interview – but there will be plenty of time to get deeper into it all when Bernadette goes on tour promoting it next month. Meantime, it was enormously fun having her as a guest on the podcast and I think radio pros and media freaks alike will love it.” To listen to the entire podcast, 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.
Joe McDonnell: LA Saddened at Giant-Size Talent’s Passing. How “big” was Joe McDonnell in Los Angeles? Consider this: Friday’s (3/13) lead item for several newscasts on the city’s only all-news station, CBS Radio‘s KNX, was that the 58-year-old McDonnell – widely-known as “Big Joe” or “The Big Nasty” – had passed away. “Big” references regarded his weight, approximately 700 pounds at one time; however, the sports talk host underwent gastric bypass surgery and lost roughly more than half of that. “Nasty” became a handle owing to his highly opinionated nature. The overwhelming majority of those familiar with McDonnell’s exemplary on-air work in Los Angeles would quickly associate him with being a “legendary” or “iconic” sports talk radio “fixture” and that would certainly be accurate. He was, however, among the rarest of on-air talents in the country’s second-largest market, in that, in addition to doing a nightly (7:00 pm – 11:00 pm) sports program (“The Joe McDonnell Experience”) on Clear Channel‘s (now iHeartMedia) KLAC, he also did a Sunday (12:00 noon – 2:00 pm) political talk program (“The Joe McDonnell Show”) on co-owned KTLK-AM (now KEIB). Most recently, McDonnell did fill-in work at KNX. Reaction to his death has continued virtually nonstop, with a who’s who in local and national media, as well as executives of major sports franchises, offering condolences. Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia knew McDonnell ever since Scioscia first came up as a catcher in the Dodgers’ organization. “He was a good friend who will be missed. It’s sad,” Scioscia states. On Twitter, Keith Olbermann writes, “Heartbroken to learn of death of LA radio legend, my friend, Joe McDonnell. He leaves us having never held a grudge.” Ken Rosenthal comments, “So sad to hear about the passing of Joe McDonnell, a one-of-a-kind sports personality in Los Angeles and a reporter at heart.” Several years ago, TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian, then the special features editor for Inside Radio, did an extensive profile of McDonnell, who freely used the word “idiot” to describe someone with whom he disagreed. It was a trademark of the bombastic on-air persona of “The Big Nasty” and customarily delivered in vitriol by the dean of Los Angeles radio sports talk hosts. McDonnell garnered legions of dedicated fans. Once – to benefit charity – he accepted the challenge of co-workers and successfully completed a four-hour shift without uttering one negative. In his profile, Kinosian shattered the myth about McDonnell and let the truth be told that in real-life, McDonnell was a far cry from the manic personality listeners were accustomed to hearing. Pensive and completely conscientious McDonnell qualified as a native Angelino, having relocated from Philadelphia in 1959 at age three with his parents. “I loved radio and wouldn’t go anywhere without it,” he fondly recalled to Kinosian. “I’d go to bed listening to it and wake up with it. I went through radios [as others] went through socks. Even when doing homework, I had the radio on.” Although thoroughly enthralled by the medium, McDonnell at that time never thought about pursuing a career in it. Family members urged him to be a lawyer, but McDonnell formulated sportswriter aspirations while attending L.A. Valley College and Cal State – Northridge. His radio career was, in his words, “a total accident.” A high school buddy McDonnell hadn’t seen in a while told him he received academic credit for working at a radio station. That was all it took for McDonnell: He scored an interview for a newsroom opening at KGIL in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley and his first day was September 18, 1975 – the day they arrested Patty Hearst. “I was so excited to be there and hung around to watch what everybody did. Then the story broke and I wound up staying until 10:00 pm. I fell in love with radio my first day and knew this was for me.” Freelance sports opportunities later surfaced for him at Mutual, AP Radio, and UPI Radio and he adroitly transitioned into a daily field correspondent. Play-by-play was briefly tinkered with, but long enough for McDonnell to know it didn’t captivate him. Something else did and as he flatly asserted to Kinosian, “My interest in politics is equal to my interest in sports. They are jobs but they are [also] passions. I love being able to show another side of my life. I am very liberal but do not [rubber-stamp] everything simply because that is what [other liberals] say you should do. I take things on a position-by-position basis. It is impossible and disingenuous to be one way on every subject. No one can ever accuse me of being a phony.” The first Gulf War was underway when he hosted a general talk show on KFI, Los Angeles. America’s first casualty came as a result of friendly fire. Soon after that, the victim’s widow drove to KFI one Sunday afternoon and McDonnell did two hours with her. “It was the most gut-wrenching, yet most fulfilling, thing I’ve done on radio,” he told Kinosian. “Quite honestly, I didn’t know I was capable of pulling it off. People heard me do sports and wondered what I knew about [politics]. I had to win them over.” Multiple Golden Microphone award winner McDonnell toiled in the Southland at KMAX and KWNK between 1994 – 1997; won raves doing sports updates for (then-all news) KFWB; and was part of the original 1992 staff transitioning KMPC to all-sports – although the outbreak of the L.A. riots was the considerably more monumental story the night of the format flip. For numerous personal and professional reasons, a five-year run beginning in 2000 as KSPN “ESPN 710,” Los Angeles’ assistant program director and afternoon driver profoundly affected him. “My first three years there were great,” McDonnell declared to Kinosian. “I had a say in what went on and helped build KSPN from the ground up with [KABC & KSPN OM] Erik Braverman who was my KFI producer. Unfortunately when Erik decided he wanted to concentrate on KABC, they brought in people who didn’t share our ideas.” It was one different concept after another and became the beginning of the end for McDonnell there. “They killed morale and dissolved everything we did. I wanted to leave every day the last two years I was there but made so much money I would’ve been put in a mental institution if I quit.” From the minute McDonnell walked into the Burbank offices of KLAC to interview with KLAC general manager/program director & KTLK program director Don Martin, he sensed something different. “This might sound crazy – but I really liked that they made me earn my position. Don put me on KTLK and let me do some KLAC fill-in. It meant a lot when he said I assimilated with the audience and staff. People have this idea you expect everything be given to you.” Being a sports talk host was a 24 hour-a-day job for McDonnell because, “Information doesn’t stop.” His shows were frequently punctuated with “24” and “Da Ali G” clips and laced with abundant/energetic hip-hop tracks as bumpers. At first, longtime “McDonnell – Douglas” partner Doug Krikorian wasn’t part of the equation for the “Joe McDonnell Experience,” although the Long Beach Press-Telegram sportswriter joined the ensemble to deliver weekly “K-Files” reports. After all, it was Krikorian who hung the “Big Nasty” moniker on McDonnell when Big Joe collared/disposed of a rowdy patron one night at their favorite hangout. Naturally, the subject of McDonnell’s weight came up in the Kinosian profile of him and McDonnell said that even before the gastric bypass procedure, the heavy burden he was carrying didn’t really bother him. He did however eventually begin slowing down, getting sick, and spending more time at home. “I stopped going to games because it was uncomfortable. My doctor told me I had to do something. Any addict – and I’m definitely a food addict – thinks you can do it on your own.” That’s the fallacy and something an addict desperately wants to believe but McDonnell stressed it can not be done alone. “It got to the point where I realized I was going to die. I had the surgery and lost 300 pounds. On Christmas Day, I put slabs of turkey and prime rib on a plate [surrounded with] potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce. I took it to the table and had a bite of each. Hey look – I’m a food addict and always will be.” The old Joe most likely would’ve avoided on-air surgery mentions. If it did pop up, he probably would’ve been brutal in challenging the person referencing it. A much mellower McDonnell made a conscious decision when he left KSPN that the “Big Nasty” had died. “It was a great vehicle for what I needed – but – that really isn’t me,” he emphasized to Kinosian. “I’m opinionated and will raise my voice but I’m a nice guy and like to have fun. One reason I love my job is it allows me to hang with people.” Conceding it was a “shortcoming” on his part as a talk show host to refrain from mentioning much about his personal life, McDonnell declared, “You can’t be isolated and expect to reach your audience; you have to let them in on your life. For the most part, I refused to do that. Don Martin and I had a long talk about that and he said the best on-air people let you know about them.” A happy, healthy, and exuberant McDonnell chatted up his March 30, 2007 wedding to KLOS’ lovely Elizabeth Cohn (now working at cross-town Bonneville-owned KSWD “The Sound”). “I finally met someone who will put up with me and I [married] the most wonderful person in the world,” McDonnell emphasized in that profile. Joe and Elizabeth worked together for four years inside ABC Radio Los Angeles (now Cumulus Media) and basically didn’t say a word to each other. “She understands I’ll occasionally make fun of her on-air and exaggerate things but my life is now an open book.” Numerous health ailments – some nearly life-threatening – plagued McDonnell and he frequently credited Elizabeth as being the rock who held him together. An avowed movie junkie, McDonnell would go to as many as three or four in one day. It was his way to relax and escape. “One of the biggest benefits of losing weight is I can fit into theater seats. That was honestly a problem before.” Such McDonnell segments as “Who Do You Want To Kick Out Of LA?” gave him a Northeast-sounding vibe, but his entire nearly 40-year career was spent in Los Angeles. The ardent WWE fan told Kinosian, “It would take a million dollar offer for me to leave Los Angeles. In the early-1990s, I had a chance to work for a friend in Nashville and had a big offer to go to Seattle in 1994 but my mother had cancer so I wasn’t about to leave town. There was a preliminary discussion years ago with WFAN, New York about being a reporter/weekend host but Los Angeles is my home. I’m part of the radio landscape.” Eerie now, but McDonnell confided to Kinosian in that lengthy printed conversation, “All the stuff I’ve done is leading up to something. I’ve always felt there was a bigger plan for me and a different path. God has kept me around for a reason – but I don’t know what it is. With what I’ve put myself through, any other person would have been dead by now.” Even at his heaviest, the voracious reader managed to stay in “fairly good shape.” The only weakness until recently was with his knees. According to McDonnell, “The ultimate moment for me would be to somehow find out who really killed John F. Kennedy.” As for the once “Big Nasty,” no cause of death was reported; several reports – including the one on KNX – said he died at Los Angeles’ Good Samaritan Hospital after a “brief illness.” A two-hour Friday night (3/13) Jeff Biggs-hosted show on KSPN paid tribute to McDonnell, who typically aired his “Kick Out” segment Fridays. Poignant, touching, and chillingly appropriate, the final word was given to Elizabeth McDonnell who somehow managed to summon up the strength in her voice to utter she wanted to kick Joe out of LA. Dramatic, goose-bump radio. “When I die,” McDonnell once told Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News, “I want to be cremated and then have a plane spread half of my ashes over Dodger Stadium and the other half over the [ex-home of the Lakers] Forum.”