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Monday, November 12, 2012

| November 12, 2012

Clear Channel Pulls the Plug on Progressive Talk KPOJ, Portland.  The conspiracy theories from listeners and progressive talk fans are already pouring in – especially on the Portland-area blogs and mainstream media sites – but the notion that Clear Channel Media and Entertainment is flipping KPOJ to sports talk for political reasons and not because of business factors has no basis in reality.  According to a piece in the local Willamette Week blog site, KPOJ’s recent 12-plus ratings were around a 1.0 share compared to some of its spoken-word competitors (news/talk KEX and KXL posted a 3.5 share and 5.0 share, respectively).  TALKERS is not privy at this time to how well Clear Channel was able to sell KPOJ but it should surprise few in the business that sports content has never been hotter from a consumption standpoint and political talk – whether conservative or progressive – is, from a sales perspective, controversial and therefore a much tougher sell, probably even in a progressive market such as Portland.  Local morning talk host Carl Wolfson was gracious in his public statement about the decision saying, in part, “I appreciate the opportunity they gave me for six years to be a voice for progressive causes in our state and nation.  I will miss all of my fun friends at work (my excellent producer Paul, remains employed!).  I love all of you, my loyal listeners.  It has been my honor to give a platform to all of the outstanding groups, volunteers, elected officials and good people who make Oregon so special.”  The station, considered one of the nation’s more successful progressive talk outlets for many years, also carried WYD Media’s Thom Hartmann, Premiere NetworksRandi Rhodes and Mike Malloy.

Fox Sports Radio Takes Over in Portland.  Beginning Today, KPOJ, Portland becomes “Fox Sports Radio 620” and carries the full lineup of Fox Sports Radio Network programming that includes “Fox Sports Daybreak,” “Loose Cannons,” Petros & Money, “Fox Sports Tonight” and JT The Brick plus other weekend programming.  Clear Channel Portland has the rights to Portland Trailblazers basketball (which airs on sister KEX) and Oregon State Beavers sports and the “Beaver Nation Live” show will continue to air on KPOJ from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm daily.  Operations manager Chris Sargent states, “Combining our rich relationship with the Oregon State Beavers and Portland Trail Blazers, and now Fox Sports Radio, this is a win-win situation for us.  We expect the new Fox Sports Radio 620 to serve the community with great access to sports information and entertainment, while setting the standard of sports excellence in Portland.”

Brian Wilson Exits WSPD, Toledo.  News/talk pro Brian Wilson leaves Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s WSPD, Toledo where he’s been program director, news director and afternoon drive talk host for more than seven years.  Wilson has long operated his Vacation Relief Services company and has been a host a such outlets as WABC, New York; KSFO, San Francisco; WRC, Washington; and WGST, Atlanta.  Wilson says via his Facebook page: “I am glad to have had the opportunity to preach the gospel of freedom and liberty to Northwest Ohio. Wish I had the chance on the air to say thank you and goodbye to my listeners.  I will continue to make every effort to spread the message of free markets and liberty.”

Cox Media Splits WDBO, Orlando Simulcast; AM 580 to Sports Talk.  The AM/FM simulcast of news/talk on Cox Media’s WDBO, Orlando ends today as the station takes up the ESPN affiliation and begins airing ESPN Radio’s lineup of nationally syndicated programming including “Mike & Mike in the Morning,” “The Herd with Colin Cowherd,” and SVP & Russillo.  The move adds another sports talk outlet to the market that already includes Clear Channel-owned WYGM “The Game” the Fox Sports Radio affiliate; Star Over Orlando’s WRSO the Yahoo! Sports affiliate; and Genesis Communications’ WHOO “Sports Talk Florida” the NBC Sports Radio affiliate.  WDBO’s full program schedule should be known soon and it’s not clear at this point if the station will air any local sports talk.

Unlocking the Secrets of Twitter.  One of the radio industry’s most respected digital consultants offers tips on maximizing the use of Twitter to drive listeners to the station and increase ratings. TALKERS columnist Chris Miller of Chris Miller Digital warns that Twitter is not Facebook‘s “little sister” and should not be treated that way.  He says broadcasters can use Twitter to effectively enhance their radio brand by creating a “bulletin service” that promotes one element of upcoming programming and one element only; a “customer channel” that opens a link to a real, live customer serviceperson – a recording; and by creating “mico-targeting” initiatives which separates various factions of the total target audience for very specific aspects of the programming of primary interest to them.  Read Chris Miller’s entire piece here.

WABC, New York’s Geraldo Rivera to Broadcast Sandy Relief Program.  During his midday show today, Cumulus Media Networks’ talk show host Geraldo Rivera will broadcast live from a Salvation Army post on storm-ravaged Island Park on Long Island in order to raise funds for Hurricane Sandy relief.  WABC states, “During the broadcast, singer and actress Katharine McPhee will interrupt filming the next season of her TV show ‘Smash’ to announce that she will match every donation dollar-for-dollar up to $50,000 through her charitable foundation, McPhee Outreach (for a total of $100,000).”  McPhee says,  “I was looking for the organization on the ground that was doing the most to help Hurricane Sandy victims and I found that to be the Salvation Army.”  Rivera will be on the air from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm ET.  He says, “There is no one who does more with less than the Salvation Army.  I’m hoping that my listeners and sponsors will step up and match the McPhee Outreach’s grant to raise more than $100,000 to help people rebuild their lives in the wake of this weather disaster.”

LFM’s KKFN, Denver Re-Signs Clough.  Late-morning talk host Sandy Clough re-ups with Lincoln Financial Media’s Denver sports talker KKFN.  The terms of the deal were not announced and Clough’s extending his contract with the station comes shortly after the sports talk outlet re-upped fellow air talent Scott Hastings and Joel Klatt.

 

Aaron Matthews Named PD at WWSR, Lima, Ohio.  Maverick Media fills the program director position at sports WWSR, Lima “93.1 The Fan” with market veteran Aaron Matthews.  He takes over for Ryan Reker who exited Maverick’s Lima cluster to become program director at Federated Media’s WOWO-AM/FM, Ft. Wayne.

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Opinion: Talk Radio’s Renaissance Requires Open-Minded Ownership.  Talk host and programmer Tom Becka – currently heard on KRWK, Fargo and KOIL, Omaha – says that the post-election reflection on talk radio’s future reminds him of his days as a stand-up comic traveling the country and talking with people whose concerns went far beyond the political process in Washington, DC.  “The truth is what is important to most talk show hosts is not important to most people on the street.”  Becka says hosts must be broader in their approach and management has to be willing to change.  Read his opinion piece here.

Canada’s CRTC Approves New English-Language Talk Station for Montreal.  The new English-language talk formatted station won’t hit the airwaves in Montreal until late spring of 2013 but Canada’s broadcasting regulation agency – the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission has approved the application for the new station.  The company applying for the license is owned by three Montreal businessmen and the outlet will be the sister station to the French-language talk outlet that’s also been approved.  The French station will operate at 940 AM – a signal that’s been dark in Montreal for two years.  Currently, Montreal is served by Astral Media’s English-language talk outlet CJAD.

 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

| October 17, 2012

Creating Content Available Nowhere Else at Bonneville Seattle.  News/talk KIRO-FM, Seattle and parent company Bonneville announce a changing role for “Seattle’s Morning News” anchor Linda Thomas that puts the radio personality and journalist in the driver’s seat for bringing unique, local content to both KIRO-FM and the company’s digital space MyNorthwest.com.  Bonneville says Thomas will “devote 100% of her time and energy to original enterprise reporting for radio and digital channels in a groundbreaking new role announced today by KIRO Radio and MyNorthwest.com.  As senior features reporter at KIRO Radio and MyNorthwest.com, her role is to meet intriguing people and tell their stories.  In her role as digital journalist, Linda will continue her award-winning blog and file original reports to MyNorthwest.com covering topics from parenting and politics to technology and trends.”

During numerous presentations at industry gatherings, TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison has stated that what radio must do to survive this convergence of media and the changes in consumer behavior it is fostering, is to create content that is only available in one place – your radio station.  KIRO’s move combines this notion with the concept of a “media station” – a digital destination for unique multi-media content.  Bonneville’s radio and digital news director Peter Gammell says, “Original local reporting is what fuels KIRO Radio’s conversations and drives our users to visit MyNorthwest.com.  Linda has a proven ear for the compelling story, and she’s one of our most prolific reporters.  This role frees her to focus on what only she can do.”

Thomas relishes her opportunity to pursue her journalistic endeavors.  “I believe everybody has a story, and I want to know what’s yours.  I meet so many people whose stories have value, and someone hearing or reading them is going to have their life changed by their bravery and originality.”  Program director Larry Gifford states, “I’ve always been impressed with the compassion in Linda’s reporting.  She finds real, interesting people in the community, has a personal conversation with them and shares what she’s learned.  I can’t wait to hear who she introduces me to next.”

Thomas will continue her popular “News Chick” efforts.  Tweeting and posting on social media as “The News Chick,” Thomas is among the most-followed local journalists in the U.S., according to Bonneville.  The company says she promises her social media followers on Twitter @thenewschick and Facebook will continue to be fed her customary stream of sharable gems.  “The value of social media for me is connecting – in real life when possible – with people in the community, and being there when they want to interact with me.”  In addition to her longer-form radio and online feature reporting, social media are where she will continue sharing viral videos, photos, links to eye-catching stories from Seattle to Hollywood and around the world — along with Thomas’ famed fascination with her boots.

Cumulus Media Inks Agreement to Buy New York Market FM.  Pending approval from the FCC, Cumulus Media will have a third New York City station after closing on Family Stations, Inc.’s WFME, Newark, New Jersey.  Cumulus states in a press release that it will announce format plans for the Class B FM at 94.7 upon closing and expects that to happen sometime in the fourth quarter of this year.  Crain’s New York Business cites an industry insider saying Cumulus got WFME for a bargain: $40 million. Family Stations has undergone changes during the past year and is said to be cash-strapped after Family Stations chief Harold Camping’s apocalyptic predictions on the date of Christ’s reappearance last year failed on two occasions.  CEO Lew Dickey says, “This strategic acquisition of our second FM in the nation’s largest market will enable us to provide compelling new programming for our listeners and a powerful marketing vehicle for our advertising partners.”  Of course, although Cumulus is remaining vague about the specifics of its programming intentions with the new acquisition, industry observers are actively speculating as to what might be in store for the Big Apple’s soon-to-be competitive commercial FM.  For years, through several ownerships, WABC program directors have privately confessed that they wished talk-formatted WABC had a NYC FM outlet for its programming.  But the fact that its only sister FM, hot AC WPLJ (95.5) has been such a consistent ratings and revenue success put up a roadblock to that happening easily.  Now with the New York talk market in flux per Clear Channel‘s soon-to-be-completed takeover of WOR and Cumulus launching new high-profile syndicated talk shows such as Mike Huckabee and Geraldo Rivera, and with the end of their contracts with Premiere NetworksRush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity shows looming – it makes sense that they would be looking for a new Gotham outlet for their considerably valuable talk properties.  Of course, this is just speculation.

Tavis Smiley Takes on WBEZ, Chicago in Open Letter After Public Station Cancels Weekend “Smiley & West” Program.  Talk media personality Tavis Smiley wrote an open letter to Chicago Public Media president and CEO Torey Malatia after the station cancelled his weekend program “Smiley & West,” co-hosted by Princeton professor Cornel West.  In the letter, Smiley reacts to his work being called “less than inclusive” and being compared to Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly but Malatia in response to WBEZ cancelling his program.  Read the entire letter here.

KTTH, Seattle Announces New Schedule; Names David Boze AM Drive Host.  Beginning in January, Seattle talk radio personality David Boze will have a new role with the Bonneville talk station.  Boze currently does a one-hour program at 3:00 pm on KTTH that serves as a local hour between Salem Radio Network’s Michael Medved and Premiere NetworksSean Hannity on the station.  In January, Boze will host the three-hour morning drive show and bumps Premiere’s Glenn Beck from the AM drive slot on the station.  Bonneville Seattle program director Larry Gifford states, “David is a stand-up guy with a traditional Northwest sensibility.  He’s someone you’d want as a neighbor – who happens to host a great radio show.  He always leaves me better informed and mentally energized.”  Boze, who began his talk radio career as a producer for Peter Weissbach at KVI in 1999, has been with KTTH for 10 years.  He says, “I try to live my life with the same traditional values as my listeners do; decency, liberty, hard work, and doing what’s right.  I want to create a friendly gathering place where people can digest the news and we can talk about important stories that other media misinterpret or miss altogether.”

Talk Radio’s Unique Sales Advantage.  H & H Communications president Al Herskovitz says the unique place talk radio occupies in the stew of formats is that it is a foreground format that brings a better value to its advertisers.  This is not a new concept but Herskovitz writes that talk sales staffers can be very creative in taking advantage of this in bringing new categories of advertisers to the format.  “It would be hard to believe that the Rolls Royce manufacturer or even the local Rolls dealer would want to buy a spot in that Sunday 5:30 am auto show,” Herskovitz states.  “But an Atlanta station saleswoman I know did sell that very program to a salvage yard in her market coupled with a weekday spot package and a handful of promos.  Now that’s creative salesmanship!”  Read Al Herskovitz’s entire piece here.

WHNZ, Tampa to Add Sports Talk from Fox Sports Radio.  Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s WHNZ, Tampa – currently airing a combination of brokered local shows and syndicated news/talk fare, begins adding Fox Sports Radio content to the station beginning with the overnight “J.T. the Brick” program airing from 1:00 am to 5:00 am.  In 2013, the station plans to add FSRN’s “Petros & Money” and “Fox Sports Tonight” programs to the lineup.  Program director Steve Versnick states, “We are excited to launch the powerful brand of Fox Sports Radio on WHNZ in Tampa Bay.  This adds star power to the station for us.”

Fox Sports Radio Changes “Loose Cannons” Lineup; Vic “The Brick” Jacobs to KLAC Duties.  The trio of Pat O’Brien, Steve Hartman and Vic “The Brick” Jacobs – known as the “Loose Cannons” on Fox Sports Radio Network – will continue with just O’Brien and Hartman as Jacobs has been re-assigned to the sports news updates role at flagship KLAC, Los Angeles.  He’ll also serve as a reporter covering Lakers basketball.

Second Presidential Debate, Libya Attack Investigation, Malala Yousufzai Case, Iran Nuclear Ambitions, MLB Playoffs Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/16).  The second presidential debate from Hofstra University on Long Island; the ongoing investigation and controversy over the attack on the Banghazi consulate; the case of Pakistani wounded teen Malala Yousufzai; Iran’s nuclear weapons program; and the Major League Baseball playoffs were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Monday, July 23, 2012

| July 23, 2012

Aurora Tragedy Sparks and Challenges Talk Radio.  There are few events that news/talk radio programmers in the age of cutbacks fear more than a major story that captures the entire nation’s consciousness breaking on a weekend when their stations’ key stars are off and brokered or syndicated “how-to” shows are on.  The Aurora, Colorado movie theater massacre came very close to being such a story, except that it technically broke on a Friday morning, giving weekday hosts the opportunity to at least address it in the early stages of information being available and programmers a full day to organize a weekend strategy.  This type of blood-chilling, high-drama story takes days to develop as information slowly disseminates amidst knee-jerk speculation, leaving a number of news/talk outlets incapable of fully diving into it on a Saturday and Sunday when personnel is at a minimum and “regular” programming takes a break from core stationality.   Regardless, the industry has had all too many unfortunate chances to learn from this problem in recent years and according to TALKERS monitors across the country and conversations with programmers, there was a far better state of readiness to appropriately handle the Aurora tragedy than for similar instances in the past.  Initial reports indicate that the main topics and debates being fueled by this mega-story are gun control, violence in entertainment, and the relationship between mental illness and crime.  There has also been strong interest in talking about appropriate parenting prompted by the fact that a child and an infant were in attendance at the midnight movie.  As an example of news/talk radio taking control of this situation, Salem Radio Networks VP of programming, Tom Tradup tells TALKERS, “On SRN News, we gave the shooting priority coverage — including three hours of Special Reports — and we are featuring perspective from Murphy Wells, a KNUS, Denver reporter who is part of the local morning show at KNUS with studios in Aurora. Also Larry O’Connor, editor-in-chief of Breitbart.TV guest-hosted a special edition of the Hugh Hewitt show on Friday from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET focusing exclusively on the deaths and injuries in the shootings.”   At WGN, Chicago, program director Bill White tells TALKERS, “On Friday Jonathon Brandmeierlead with the story throughout his morning show after it broke during our live overnight show.  Jonathon spoke with witnesses who were in the multiplex when the shooting occurred and authorities from Aurora, and he actually confirmed the death count to 12 before most media outlets.  He also took calls from Chicago and throughout the Midwest as listeners coped with the tragic news.”  In Boston at Greater Media‘s WTKK, program director Grace Blazer says the station was live and local from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm both Friday and Saturday.  “We ran the important new conferences from Denver with President Obama and Mitt Romney.  We spoke with reporters live from Denver plus local experts such as Jack Levin, Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Northeastern University and author of several mass murder books, and Ty Burr, film critic from the Boston Globe, who discussed violence in the Batman movies.  On Saturday, Paul Ferrazzani, a registered instructor from the Firearm Safety Academy in Medford, Massachusetts gave listeners the inside scoop on our gun statutes.”

Fox Sports Radio and Mile High Sports Remember Colorado Shooting Victim.  By now, most of us who work in the media are aware that one of the victims of Thursday’s movie-theater shootings was a young woman named Jessica Ghawi who had just missed being a potential victim of a similar shooting in Toronto in June.  The San Antonio native had interned at Lincoln Financial Media’s KKFN, Denver earlier this year and was due to speak with Mile High Sports Magazine editor-in-chief Doug Ottewill about her sports media career the next day.  On Friday, Mile High Sports and Fox Sports Radio talk host Peter Burns spoke with Fox Sports Radio’s “Loose Cannons” about Jessica.  Burns told the program’s listeners, “Her mom told me early this morning, ‘I want you to talk as much as you can.  Celebrate everything that Jessica did, and celebrate everything that these victims did.’  And I’m glad that you guys are giving me the time to celebrate that and talk about how amazing of a person she is, rather than giving a minute or 30 seconds to this coward that did this.”  Burns recounted how Ghawi wanted to set up a charity to help the victims of the Colorado wildfires and was working toward that goal when her life ended tragically on Thursday night.

Cox Media Group Realigns Corporate Management to Fit New TV Signals and Announces Radio and TV Properties to Be Sold.  Twenty-seven radio signals in six markets are going on the block as Cox Media Group announces a realignment of its business strategy that will include the sale of several TV operations and some corporate officer changes to dovetail with the recent acquisition of several TV stations.  The only spoken-word format up for sale is the new sports talk FM WZNN, Birmingham that had been part of the Paul FinebuamCumulus contract dispute that’s since been settled.  The rest of the signals are music FMs and AMs or ethnic outlets in Birmingham, Alabama; Greenville, South Carolina; Hawaii; Louisville, Kentucky; Richmond, Virginia; and Southern Connecticut.  There are five TV signals in four cities going on the market.  As to the corporate structure changes, former group VP Kim Guthrie is named Cox’s new senior vice president responsible for radio markets, and former Austin American-Statesman publisher Jane Williams is the company’s new senior vice president responsible for TV markets, both reporting to Bill Hoffman, EVP over broadcast.  Other additional leadership changes effective immediately include: former group VP Rich Reis who becomes VP and GM of digital operations reporting to EVP Neil Johnston; former group VP Ben Reed is now VP and market manager of Atlanta radio reporting to Kim Guthrie; former group VP Jay O’Connor, as previously announced, is the new VP and GM at KIRO-TV, Seattle.  EVP Mike Joseph continues to oversee CMG’s newspaper operations and CMG Ohio.   Cox Media Group president Doug Franklin states, “This simplified structure will enable CMG to capitalize on continued growth and synergies, while retaining its size financially.  All of our media outlets, regardless of size, are valuable, profitable brands with strong futures thanks to the hard work and dedication of our talented professionals who serve their audiences, advertisers and communities.  We thank the leaders and employees in the locations we’re selling for their outstanding contributions to this company over the years and the valuable service they will continue to provide their respective communities.”

Cuts Hit St. Paul-Based American Public Media.  MinnPost.com’s David Brauer reports 10 employees of the St. Paul, Minnesota public radio company American Public Media are being let go as the organization deals with the changes in the contemporary media business.  Brauer reports engineer Rick “Scooter” Hebzynski, public relations staffer Christina Schmitt and digital archivist Jenel Farrell are three of the casualties and that Current.org is saying “Marketplace” D.C. chief John Dimsdale also is being let go.  Minnesota Public Radio CEO John McTaggart writes to staffers in a memo: “There’s no question today’s constantly changing media landscape presents challenges, but we at APM also see opportunities.  The changes we are making today are really about APM’s future and help to position us for future audience service and growth.  We are reorganizing around two key areas: content and development.  We are aligning our priorities to focus on two main divisions that create value for our audiences and cultivate vital relationships with our members, donors and funders.  The result is a more streamlined organization design that gives us a strong footing as we look ahead.”  To that end McTaggart announces MPR COO Dave Kansas leads the content division SVP and chief development officer Randi Yoder heads up the development division.

Longtime KFI, Los Angeles Traffic Reporter Recovering After Crash.  Los Angeles traffic reporter Mike Nolan suffered fractured ribs and a broken collar bone in the Friday evening crash of a Cessna single engine plane he was piloting near the Corona Municipal Airport.  KFI’s Neil Saavedra tells the Los Angeles Times Nolan was flying with a student and family friend – who was not seriously injured – when the crash occurred in Riverside County.  Saavedra tells the paper Nolan – a KFI employee since the mid-1980s – had more than 40 years of experience as a pilot.  He was headed home to land in time to take off again for his two last traffic newscasts when the accident took place.  The plane lost power and hit electricity lines.

Odds ‘n’ Sods.  WTKK, Boston talk host Doug Meehan is broadcasting live from Camp Harbor View this Thursday morning to help raise awareness and funds for the special camp that offers hundreds of children who live in Boston’s at-risk neighborhoods the opportunity to have fun and learn at summer camp.  Thursday’s broadcast will feature coverage of the camp’s 5k road race event…..WFAS, Westchester, New York talk host Lisa Wexler, whose program airs live on the station from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm daily, will have her show re-broadcast  from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm daily beginning tonight.  WFAS GM Marty Sheehan says, “We are very proud of all that Lisa has accomplished in the short time she has been with us.  We want to meet the demand to hear more of Lisa and introduce more of our audience to her show.”…..Sports USA is making the Little League World Series U.S. Championship and International Championship games available to radio stations across the country.  The games are being played the weekend of August 25 and 26.  Ad sales are being handled by Skyview Networks.

Sirius About Fantasy Football.  Sports talk hosts and celebrities invaded the Hard Rock Café in New York City’s Times Square over the weekend for SiriusXM’s Celebrity Fantasy Football Draft broadcast.  In addition to SiriusXM talk hosts Steve Phillips, Jay Thomas, Scott Ferrall, Steve Covino and Rich Davis, celebrities including actor George Wendt, guitarist Zakk Wylde and Jaguars running back Maurice Drew-Jones took part in the promotion.  Pictured here are DirecTV/Premiere Networks talk hosts Nick Di Paolo and Artie Lange who also took part.

Friday, June 1, 2012

| June 1, 2012

Finebaum Case Far from Settled Says Cumulus. Contrary to the story published here earlier today (6/1), there is no settlement on the horizon for Birmingham-based sports talk host Paul Finebaum and Cumulus Media in their contract dispute. Cumulus COO John Dickey tells TALKERS the reported agreement that would end the lawsuits each side is filing against other and allow Finebaum to work out his contract at Cumulus’ sports talk WJOX-FM, Birmingham that ends in January of 2013 and then go to work at Cox Media’s crosstown sports WZNN-FM if he chooses are categorically untrue. “He will never work for Cox in Birmingham,” Dickey says. Jefferson County Circuit Judge Robert Vance had asked the two sides to resume negotiations to settle the contract dispute and report to the court by May 30.

Battle for Control of SiriusXM Heating Up.  John Malone‘s Liberty Media is again filing a request with the FCC to give it “de facto” control of satellite broadcaster SiriusXM. The Commission denied its first attempt back on May 4 but Liberty has since acquired another 6-plus percent of the company’s stock, pushing its total above 46%. It’s petition for reconsideration with the FCC reportedly contains additional information to the Commission. In a filing with the SEC, SiriusXM states, “We’ve been engaged in discussions with Liberty Media to explore possible transactions with respect to its ownership interest in Sirius, although we have not reached agreement with respect to a specific transaction that would be mutually beneficial to both our common and preferred stockholders. There is no assurance that these discussions will result in any specific action or transaction. We do not expect to disclose developments with respect to these discussions.”

Scott Hennen Turns to Listeners for Funding for WZFG, Fargo. Talk show host and businessman Scott Hennen is exploring alternative sources for funding his purchase of The Flag 1100 (WZFG) in the Fargo market. The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead‘s Marino Eccher reports Hennen has created a program whereby fans become “founding fathers” and buy into one of four clubs – Faith, Family, Freedom, and Free Enterprise – for $1,000 (each club limited to 400 members). He’s seeking a total of 1,600 such “founders” to come up with $1.6 million. Hennen tells the paper he has traditional funding sources but decided to seek less traditional forms of funding after sensing his listeners “desire to be part of something bigger.” These fans will not be shareholders or part owners but instead will have input on the station’s weekend programming, behind-the-scenes updates and $1,000 advertising credit. Hennen tells Eccher Tea Party activist Mark Skogerboe will serve as director of the clubs and be an on-air contributor.

NEW MEDIA SEMINAR/NYC Sold Out but Agenda Keeps Growing.  Thursday, June 7 is going to be a big day for talk radio in the Big Apple as some 400 professionals from all aspects of the business converge on the Concierge Conference Center on Manhattan’s East Side for a one-day conference containing the content mass of a two- or three-day convention.  “Although we have reached capacity in terms of registration,” explains TALKERS VP/managing editor Kevin Casey, “doesn’t mean the agenda is not continuing to grow.”  Casey continues, “This conference has all the aspects of an old fashioned ‘happening’ with a program lineup that is so outstanding, it is attracting a growing number of industry leaders wanting to contribute as speakers and panelists.”  According to conference director Michael Harrison, “We attribute the positive response to this event not only its powerful and relevant agenda, but to the fact that it is so efficiently tuned to the times in terms of its affordable registration fee and compact time demands.  With another one set for Los Angeles in October, this June 7 event has the convenience of a regional conference while delivering the bang of a major national convention.”  Although space is limited for those who will participate in person, the content of this forthcoming NMS which will be video recorded from beginning to end will reach a far wider audience via TALKERS TV in the weeks and months following June 7.  For information call 413-565-5413.  To see the up-to-the-minute agenda, click here.

WEUS, Orlando to Be LMA’d with Intent to Purchase. Star Over Orlando‘s talk outlet WEUS, Orlando is entering into a deal with MultiCorp International to have the latter’s subsidiary – Rivalz Sports Group – operate the station as a sports talk outlet beginning on July 30 with the intent to buy the signal. MultiCorp intends to change the calls to WRSG and hopes to move the stations operations “within a restaurant facility” so diners can enjoy “a first-class restaurant/media experience.” The company states it hopes to expand this model to other markets.

Dr. Laura Launches Online Jewelry Business. SiriusXM talk show host and talk radio pioneer Dr. Laura Schlessinger unveils her “Dr. Laura Designs,” – an online boutique featuring her personally designed and handcrafted jewelry, glass and polymer clay art. The site offers ready-made items or people can commission custom made pieces. Dr. Laura initially began selling jewelry to assist the “Operation Family Fund,” a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to families of those who are injured or killed while fighting the war on terrorism, and raised more than $1.5 million. Dr. Laura has had a passion for jewelry – making it and glass art that started when, during a particularly difficult time for her family, her then-little son suggested that a new hobby would be helpful. She states, “I never thought I had one ounce of artistic ability, and couldn’t think of what I could do.” After a listener suggested she visit a local bead fest, she says, “I walked by a table filled with Tibetan ornaments and my brain just exploded with creative images. I bought books on jewelry-making and purchased tools, wire, beads and stones and got started.” Dr. Laura’s program currently airs from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm ET on the Sirius Stars channel.

Dave Ramsey to Lead NAB-RAB Radio Show Super Session. Nationally syndicated talk radio superstar Dave Ramsey will lead a Super Session at the September 19-21 Radio Show in Dallas being produced jointly by the NAB and RAB. The panel, titled “Succeeding in This Economic Environment,” taking place on Thursday, September 20 at 9:30 am and, as its title implies, will focus on steps radio station operators can take to achieve success in these tough economic times.

Odds ‘n’ Sods. The Society for Professional Journalism and the Radio Television Digital News Association announce registration is open for their September Excellence in Journalism Conference taking place the 20th through the 22nd in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The conference offers more than 50 professional development sessions…..Former college football coach Rick Neuheisel (UCLA, Washington and Colorado) joins SiriusXM‘s College Sports Nation channel where he’ll appear on the “College Football Playbook” show and co-host the daily “College Sports Today” show with Mark Packer…..Clear Channel Media and Entertainment‘s WFLA, Tampa begins simulcasting on an FM translator at 105.9 licensed to West Tampa…..Las Vegas-based nationally syndicated talk show host Dr. Daliah Wachs has a small role in an upcoming Showtime reality program. She tells TALKERS, “It’s a one-time small part on  a Showtime reality show but it’s a start!” Wachs says it’s super secret and she can’t even tell us the name of the show, yet.

Stormy Times at Fairfax Media. American media companies are not the only ones dealing with difficult financial situations. TALKERS Australia bureau chief Trevor Smith reports on one of Australia’s major talkback radio-formatted operators – Fairfax Media – as it deals with corporate power struggles and underperforming revenue. Read Smith’s entire piece here.

Rusty Among the Politichicks. That’s Talk Radio Network nationally syndicated talk show host Rusty Humphries on the set of the internet TV show “Politichicks.” Humphries appeared with co-hosts Dr. Gina Loudon, Ann-Marie Murrell, Sonnie Johnson, Morgan Brittany on the recent episode titled, “The Fairness Doctrine: There’s Nothing Fair,” to discuss the “current environment of talk radio as well as why conservative talk radio has become a focus of attack by the mainstream media and liberal politicians.  At the end of the segment, Rusty was formally honored with the title, “PolitiStud.” It’s obvious to see why.

2012 Presidential Race Top News/Talk Story for Week of May 28 – June 1. The 2012 presidential contest was #1 on the Talkers TenTM chart of the week’s most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio for the ninth week in a row. At #2 this week was the Syria massacre aftermath. Following at #3 was Iran’s nuclear ambitions and at #4 was the Euro zone crisis and the global financial markets’ activities. The Talkers TenTM is based on ongoing research from Talkers magazine and consists of the top stories and people discussed on America’s news/talk radio stations during the week. View this week’s entire chart here.

Crue Visits the Cannons. Motley Crue bassist and host of the Premiere Networks-syndicated “Sixx Sense” radio program, Nikki Sixx (r), is pictured here with Fox Sports Radio‘s “Loose Cannons” co-host Pat O’Brien (l). Fox Sports Radio and Los Angeles Dodgers flagship AM 570 Fox Sports LA (KLAC) invited Sixx to throw out the first pitch at a recent Dodgers game. Prior to the first pitch and Sixx’s appearance on the “Loose Cannons” nationally syndicated program, Fox Sports Radio offered listeners the chance to win travel accommodations and tickets to a stop on this summer’s Motley Crue/KISS tour.

Friday, May 25, 2012

| May 25, 2012

Sean Hannity Re-Ups with Fox News Channel.  There had been rumors that Fox News Channel prime time superstar (and Premiere Networks radio talk show star) Sean Hannity was negotiating with the News Corp. cable news/talk giant and now it’s announced the two sides have agreed on a long-term extension.  The duration and money details are few but it’s being reported the new contract keeps Hannity at FNC for “the foreseeable future.”  Hannity is the second-most-watched FNC show after Bill O’Reilly and a major part of its prime time success.  Hannity is quoted saying, “It’s been an honor and privilege to work alongside the incredible team at Fox News, whose talent is unparalleled.  In true Roger Ailes form, he saw something in me that no one else did and afforded me the opportunity to achieve incredible success.  I look forward to many more years to come.”  The news of Hannity’s extended relationship with Fox comes at a perfect time – two weeks before the New Media Seminar in New York City at which he will be personally hosting a special breakfast for all attendees followed by delivering the power-packed event’s keynote speech.  For information about the industry-only conference set for Thursday, June 7 call 413-565-5413.  Today is the final day to register.  To see the complete agenda click here.

TALKERS Top Talk Audiences Winter Report Shows News/Talk Holding Steady.  In today’s highly polarized political climate, there is a tendency toward news/talk radio ratings to be selectively cherry-picked and trumpeted for the purpose of propagandizing partisan interests.  A recent example of this is on display as the normal rises or dips in Rush Limbaugh’s PPM numbers during the two months following the Sandra Fluke controversy are touted by political action groups as a referendum on the public’s reaction to the story and reflective of the nation’s political and social mindset in general.  The truth, as broadcasting professionals realize, is that radio ratings are a complex and inexact process that can only be indicative of measurable trends when looked at over time and distance, taking a multitude of factors into account – especially during the current bumpy transition to the PPM system and the merging of significantly different research paradigms.  According to TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, “The mainstream media approaches radio ratings as though they were motion picture box office numbers or last night’s horse racing results.  The political groups, of course, play into that.  As a result, the public is getting a very inaccurate picture of the reality of this business from skewed partisan perspectives.  Both sides are shamelessly doing this.  Our business has become a political football which is not a good thing.”  The latest installment of TALKERS magazine’s quarterly audience estimates of the most-listened-to news/talk radio hosts (Winter 2012) has been posted today.  See it here.

Gow Communications to Buy KFNC-FM, Houston. That station, along with KHJK-FM, Houston, was put into a pre-packaged bankruptcy proceeding by former owner Cumulus Media last year.  The stations are majority owned by media broker Lawrence Patrick with the rest owned by creditors.  Now, the Houston Chronicle’s David Barron reports David Gow’s Gow Communications (which operates sports KGOW, Houston and Yahoo! Sports Radio) is the winning bidder for the FM signal and has signed a letter of intent to buy it.  Barron reports KFNC-FM billed $2.4 million in 2011.

Sports Talk Radio Scene in Salt Lake City Becoming Clearer.  With the recently announced purchase of KZNS-AM/FM by the Larry H. Miller Group – owner of the NBA’s Utah Jazz – and Cumulus Media’s dedication to keeping former Jazz flagship and crosstown competitor KFNZ a sports outlet by simulcasting the Yahoo! Sports Radio content currently heard on its KJQS, there’s been a lot of turmoil in the Salt Lake City radio sports scene but the picture is clearing.  LHM Group will split the AM and FM signals of KZNS. The FM side will feature “Fox Sports Daybreak” in AM drive, local hosts Jake Scott and Tony Parks from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, Premiere NetworksJim Rome from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm, FSRN’s “Loose Cannons” from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm, and FSRN’s Petros & Money from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm.  The AM side will consist of local hosts David James and Patrick Kinahan in AM drive, Jim Rome from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, local hosts Scott Garrard and Jake Scott from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm, local hosts Spencer Checketts and Gordon Monson from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm, and local host Steve Brown from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm.  Both stations will air “Fox Sports Tonight” and FSRN’s JT the Brick.  Meanwhile, across town at Utah Radio Acquisition’s KALL – ESPN 700 – former KZNS-AM/FM host Hans Olsen joins the Bill Riley PM drive show effective June 4.

Talk Radio Legend Barry Farber Releases New Book; Will Be Honored at New Media Seminar in New York on June 7.  Pioneering talk radio host Barry Farber is publishing his new book, Cocktails with Molotov (WND Books 2012) on June 5.  The book is described as “a collection of real life short stories that Farber has somehow found himself involved in, where you’ll read of his encounters with Alfred Hitchcock, the King of Albania, and Buzz Aldrin; of his knowledge of 26 foreign languages and how foreign language came through for him in the nick of time.  He shares tales from his childhood in North Carolina and his time spent venturing abroad, from his life as a young reporter and as a seasoned journalist, along with astounding narratives of everything in between.”  Rush Limbaugh is quoted speaking of Farber.  “Barry Farber was a standout when it was difficult to get a talk show.  Unlike today, very few people hosted such shows in Barry’s era.  You had to be among the best to be hired to host long-form talk.  Barry Farber was…the best.  He was defining.  He’s always been in rarified air.”  Barry Farber will be honored with the “TALKERS Lifetime Achievement Award” at the New Media Seminar on New York City on Thursday, June 7.

KRLD-FM, Dallas Names Jane Slater and Chris Arnold to Talent Roster.  The CBS Radio sports talk station brings Jane Slater over from its news sister KRLD where she was morning drive reporter to co-host the midday show with Mark Elfenbein for the “Elf and Slater” midday show.  The daypart opened up when Josh Lewin accepted the New York Mets play-by-play gig.  In evenings, the station adds market sports pro Chris Arnold to Gavin Dawson’s “The G-Bag Nation” program which is expanding to the 7:00 pm to 12:00 midnight slot to cover for the departed Arnie Spanier.  In a statement, VP of news/talk/sports programming Bruce Gilbert says, “The addition of Jane and Chris to the full-time staff at 105.3 The Fan illustrates our commitment to be the live and local sports talk station.  Their characteristics, personalities and unique perspectives emphasize our goal to be the voice of the many diverse sports fans across North Texas.”

Federated Media Flips Two Music FMs to Sports Talk.  A new four-station sports talk brand dubbed “The Fan” is being created by Federated Media.  The latest station to announce a flip is South Bend-market classic rock WAOR-FM (licensed to Nappanee, Indiana).  The stations (including WFGA-FM, Ft. Wayne; WLEG-FM, Elkhart, Indiana; and WNIL, Niles, Michigan) will carry local sports talk shows in morning and afternoon drive and carry Fox Sports Radio Network programming the rest of the day.  Federated Media chief operating officer Brad Williams says in a statement, “We are thrilled to bring sports talk to Northern Indiana.  We are a sports-hungry region and now our customers and clients can consume and partner with our stations and Fox Sports Radio 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”  The changes take place June 4.

United Stations Radio Networks Develops Weekly NASCAR Show.  The weekly one-hour program titled, “The Final Lap Weekly” is being hosted by Kerry Murphey and Toby Christie.  Murphey is the producer and host of USRN’s daily feature, “The Final Lap,” which is heard on more than 200 affiliate stations.  USRN EVP of programming Andy Denemark states, “2012 has been another solid year for NASCAR racing with TV viewership and track attendance both up.  At the same time, sports radio is growing exponentially, so we felt it was a great time to bring a new long-form racing talk show to the airwaves.  Kerry Murphey is a proven winner, his team covers the sport like no one else, and this is a great brand extension for Kerry and ‘The Final Lap.’”  The show debuts the weekend of June 2-3.

Odds ‘n’ Sods.  WLAC, Nashville-based syndicated talk host Steve Gill begins a promotion with the Nashville Daily’s chain of gas stations to offer 150 listeners up to 15 gallons of gas at just $1.84 per gallon – January 2009 prices – beginning Tuesday, May 29.  Listeners must tune in to Gill to know which location is offering the bargain…..Journal Broadcasting names Mike McQuilliam promotions and marketing director for the company’s Wichita operations…..CBS Radio’s WCCO, Minneapolis extends its contract with University of St. Thomas to air its football games through the 2013 season.

2012 Presidential Race Top Talk Radio Topic for 8th Consecutive Week.  The battle between challenger Mitt Romney and President Obama in this year’s presidential campaign was again the #1 story on the Talkers TenTM chart of the most-talked-about stories and people on news/talk radio for the week of May 21-25.  At #2 was the Euro Zone crisis.  Following at #3 was the financial markets activity and at #4 was Facebook IPO troubles.  The Talkers TenTM is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS and is published every Friday at Talkers.com.  View this week’s entire chart here.

TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup.  Fox Sports Radio Network adds four new affiliates owned by Federated Media.  WFGA-FM, Ft. Wayne; WAOR-FM, South Bend; WLEG-FM, Elkhart, Indiana; and WNIL, Niles, Michigan all begin carrying FSRN programming, including Dan Patrick, Jim Rome, “Loose Cannons,” Petros & Money, “Fox Sports Tonight” and more beginning June 4…..WRDU-FM, Raleigh – Rush Radio 106.1 – adds the Allan Handelman show to its weekend lineup.  Handelman’s program was the afternoon drive show at WZKT-FM, Burlington, North Carolina until a recent format flip…..KUFO, Portland picks up Talk Radio Network’s “Watchdog on Wall Street with Chris Markowski”…..“Armed American Radio” with Mark Walters adds six new stations to his affiliate roster including: WGWD-FM, Tallahassee; WWNS, Statesboro, Georgia; and WKEI, Kewanee, Illinois.