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Monday, January 21, 2013

| January 21, 2013

ARNNlogoAmerica’s Radio News Network Delivers Inauguration Coverage.  Anchored by ARNN’s Rachel Sutherland, the network will provide coverage of the Inauguration Day activities.  In addition to live reportssutherlandrachel throughout the morning, ARNN will cover: The oath of office for President Barack Obama, administered by Chief Justice of the United States, John G. Roberts, Jr.; The oath of office for Vice President Joseph Biden, administered by Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor; musical artists James Taylor, Kelly Clarkson, and Beyoncé. James Taylor will sing “America the Beautiful,” Kelly Clarkson will perform “My Country Tis of Thee,” and Beyoncé will sing the National Anthem; the presidential inaugural parade, which includes members from all branches of the armed forces of the United States.

kuhnerjeffWRKO, Boston Broadcasts from Inauguration Day in Washington, DC.  You’d expect to see a lot more conservative stations broadcasting from Washington, DC today if Mitt Romney had beaten Barack Obama but still, some are covering it as the news event that it is and WRKO, Boston AM drive host Jeff Kuhner is originating his show from the Nation’s Capital this morning.  Special guest commentary will include Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky at 7:15 am and conservative commentator Pat Buchanan at 8:30 am.  In addition to Kuhner’s morning program, the station will broadcast coverage of the Inauguration from 11:00 am to 12:00 noon.

cainhermanHerman Cain’s Nationally Syndicated Program Begins Today.  The succession of Herman Cain into the daily syndication slot held by Neal Boortz for so many years happens today with the Dial Global program debuting on some 80 affiliate stations.  It airs live from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon ET.  Cain, who hosted a nightly program in Cox Media’s WSB, Atlanta before taking a leave from radio in order to run for president, says of his new show, “Buckle your seat belts, because we are in full-blast mode.  I’m excited and inspired to be a voice against ignorance and stupidity.  This is a year when Americans are confused and worried about how government will impact them personally — with taxes, with health care changes, with their jobs, and the economy.   I want to use my life experience to inform them, and to prepare them.”  Dial Global SVP and general manager of news and talk Amy Bolton says of Cain, “A true American success story, Herman Cain came from humble beginnings, had a vision, worked hard and became a successful businessman, presidential candidate and now talk radio phenomenon.  Known for his no-nonsense style and ability to connect with everyday Americans, Herman Cain promises to deliver great radio.  Dial Global is thrilled to partner with Cox Media Group and Herman as we launch the next talk radio star.”

sileodanBeasley’s WQAM, Miami Suspends Dan Sileo for Twitter Comments.  Sports talk host Dan Sileo’s attack on Fox Sports reporter Erin Andrews has earned him a two-day suspension from his midday sports talk show today and tomorrow.  The incident started when Sileo criticized the sports media for not covering the Manti Te’o story the way he felt it should have been covered and singled out Erin Andrews.  After Andrews Tweeted back she’d never covered a Notre Dame game, Sileo again Tweeted, “Love Erin Andrews either naked or in a porn. Not at a sports desk.”  He apologized for that remark.  Management at WQAM is not commenting other than to confirm that Sileo will be out for two days.

cookehollandBased on How People Consume Audio Content, Radio Sorts into Two Categories:  Live and Archived.  According to radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Holland Cooke, it is important for programmers to be cognizant of the two basic “piles” that radio falls into when it comes to how it is utilized by listeners.  They are basically determined by the content’s time-sensitivity.  In an exclusive article, Cooke outlines the major programming elements that fall into each of these categories and offers tips on how to best position them.  To read Cooke’s piece click here.

schnitttoddSchnitt vs Bubba: Day Three.  On the third day of testimony in the defamation suit talk show host Todd Schnitt has filed against Bubba the Love Sponge (Todd Clem), much of the testimony revolved around that of Florida Statebubba Attorney Mark Ober.  He’s the state’s attorney who prosecuted Bubba the Love Sponge after his ill-fated wild boar slaying back in 2001.  The Tampa Bay Times reports Bubba had contended that Todd Schnitt’s wife Michelle, an assistant state’s attorney had conspired with Ober to bring the charges against him.  Ober denied there was any conspiracy between him and the Schnitts to prosecute in that case and said that Michelle Schnitt was fresh out of law school and not working on felony prosecutions at that time.

wgnlogoWGN, Chicago’s Parent Tribune Company Has New CEO.  Former Discovery Communications COO Peter Ligouri has been named the CEO of Tribune Company by the board of directors.  Ligouri takes over the media company that has suffered through a long and tumultuous bankruptcy.  But for those at news/talk WGN, Chicago – the company’s only radio property – the fear of being sold can be put on the back burner…for now.  In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Ligouri says he’s not “going into this job with a fire-sale sign.”  There has been speculation that there is interest in selling off the newspaper business and just focusing on television.  But Ligouri tells the Times that, though he can’t rule out that the new owners would want to sell the newspapers, the company has “unparalleled media assets, iconic brands in major markets and very talented, creative employees.”  As for the company’s Chicago properties including WGN radio, Ligouri states, “When you look at Chicago, a great radio asset in WGN radio, a great local TV station in WGN and an iconic newspaper … you know that you have great penetration in that city.  I think the opportunity is being outward focused and saying if so many of these people are coming to Tribune properties over the course of their daily lives, what can we do for them that will keep them informed and keep them with us?  Servicing the user will create a natural flow from platform to platform.”

salemcommunicationsSalem Communications Re-Brands WIND, Chicago as “AM 560 The Answer.”  The Chicago news/talk outlet WIND is being re-branded by owner Salem Communications as “AM 560 The Answer” a branding that the company’s stations in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and Columbus also carry.  Salem vice president and director of spoken word formats Phil Boyce created the brand for WNYM, New York and is installing it in markets where it seems to fit.  He says WIND will still continue to reflect its Chicago personality.  “There is a unique attitude and spirit in Chicago, and we will capture it with the promos, liners, and on-air imaging.”

scprSouthern California Public Radio Employees Vote to Join SAG-AFTRA.  The almost 70 staffers at Southern California Public Radio – reporters, anchors, producers, and program hosts – have voted to join SAG-AFTRA, according to the Los Angeles Times.  SCPR is a nonprofit organization that is part of American Public Media and operates KPCC, Los Angeles; KUOR, Redlands; and KVLA, Coachella.  SAG-AFTRA issued the following statement: “We’re pleased and excited with the results of the union election at KPCC.  We are looking forward to working with the new SAG-AFTRA bargaining unit in partnership with KPCC management to negotiate a first contract.”

millerbidenStephanie Miller and the Veep.  WYD Media nationally syndicated progressive talk host Stephanie Miller (second from left) is pictured here with Vice President Joe Biden at the 2013 Green Inaugural Ball honoring President Barack Obama held yesterday evening at the Newseum in Washington, DC.  Here with Miller and Biden are “West Wing” actress Melissa Fitzgerald (left) and the Green Ball’s Shelley Cohen (r).

Eight Reasons Cain Will Click

| January 3, 2013

By Holland Cooke
Talk Radio consultant

cainhermanBLOCK ISLAND, RI — January 21 is Inauguration Day, for both our president, and his outspoken campaign opponent Herman Cain, whose nationally syndicated radio show debuts that morning.

Here’s why I predicted Cain’s success oh-so-publicly at the recent Arbitron Client Conference:

Read More

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

| December 5, 2012

Phil Boyce Takes on Operations Role at Salem Communications’ New York Cluster.  Talk radio programming pro Phil Boyce already serves as VP/director of spoken word format for Salem Communications but he’s adding the operational vice president for the New York cluster title to his business card.  That means he’s directly in charge of operations for WNYM “970 The Answer” and Christian talk outlet WMCA.  Salem Communications  president David Santrella says, “Phil’s innate understanding of the New York market, particularly as it relates to news/talk, as well as his day-to-day proximity to the operation, has led us to the decision to ask Phil to take on the additional role of operational VP for the New York cluster.  Phil will continue to work with all of our stations as VP director, spoken word format.”  Program director Peter Thiele remains in his position as Boyce’s charge is to oversee the station’s revenue and assist all departments in that effort.  Other changes from Salem Communications include Salem regional VP Linnae Young, who has overseen the New York cluster, taking on the oversight of the Tampa cluster that includes news/talk WGUL, Christian talk WTBN, and news/talk WLSS, Sarasota.  In Louisville, Salem regional VP Mike Moran will assume oversight of news/talk WGTK, and Christian talk WFIA-AM/FM.

Mike Gastineau to Exit KJR, Seattle.  Longtime sports talker Mike “Gasman” Gastineau announces he’ll leave Clear Channel’s sports KJR, Seattle where he currently hosts the PM drive show with co-host Elise.  Gastineau has been with KJR since 1991 and was originally partnered with Rick DuPree in middays.  He’s been in the midday slot for the past 19 years.  In a statement explaining his departure, Gastineau says, “Since 1991 I have hosted more than 5,000 shows on KJR and I’ve reached a point where I’d like to explore other creative options.  KJR’s management has been incredibly understanding and supportive of my decision.  I’m proud to have been able to give Seattle fans a voice in these incredibly important debates.  I always strived to do three things on the show – be funny, entertaining and give people a place for reasonable debate on sports issues of the day.”  His last show is tomorrow (12/6) and KJR has not announced plans for the PM drive slot as of yet.

Robin Bertolucci Honored at PIRATES Event.  KFI and KTLK, Los Angeles program director Robin Bertolucci was honored at the holiday fundraiser of the Print Interactive Radio and Television Educational Society (PIRATES) at the Castaway Restaurant in Burbank, California.  The PIRATES’ “Golden Buccaneer” award is given annually and was awarded to Bertolucci in recognition “of her remarkable ongoing commitment to public affairs, the community and education as one of the media’s most outstanding role models for students.”  This annual holiday fundraiser benefits the Ruth Collander Endowment Fund which enables PIRATES to provide scholarships to college students majoring in communications, journalism, radio or television.  Pictured above (from l-r) are: Brent Seltzer (Still at Large) who emceed the event, KOST 103.5 program director Stella Prado, Bertolucci and KFI director of marketing/brand manager Neil Saavedra.

Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze Partners with Production Companies for Competition Reality Show.  The name of the series is “Pursuit of the Truth” and the goal of the show is to bring together 20 selected filmmakers from across the country to prove to a panel of expert judges that their project is worthy of the grand prize – financing and worldwide distribution for their feature documentary film idea.  Go Go Luckey Entertainment and Wild West Productions are working with TheBlaze on the project.  The 20 contestants will be asked to perform a series of tasks during the 10-week production period for the panel of expert judges.  Contestants will be asked to not only prove the validity of their idea for a documentary but also their filmmaking abilities.  They will either survive or be eliminated based on that criteria.  For example, contestants might be asked to produce a sizzle reel, procure and execute a key interview, or pitch scenes to the panel of judges.  TheBlaze president and chief content officer Joel Cheatwood says, “We are excited to continue to expand our programming with producers like Vince Vaughn, Peter Billingsley and Gary Auerbach.  The documentary film, particularly those that seek the truth with no agenda, is an important art form that is struggling to survive in this media environment.  We will be looking for stories that simply need to be told.”  The nine-episode series debuts on TheBlaze in late spring 2013.

WMMS, Cleveland Dismisses PM Drive Co-Host Chad Zumock.  The rock station’s Alan Cox afternoon drive talk program is without air talent Chad Zumock after the 38-year-old comedian and radio co-host was arrested following a recent incident in which he crashed his car into a tree while returning home from a gig at a local comedy club.  Zumock refused a breath test but authorities are charging him with DUI.  According to Cleveland.com, the incident violates a clause in Zumock’s contract with Clear Channel and host Alan Cox addressed Zumock’s dismissal on the program on Tuesday, December 4.

WTAG, Worcester Morning Host Jim Polito Exits for Boston TV Gig.  Jim Polito returns to his television roots beginning December 10 as he’ll handle commentary for Fox TV O&O WFXT, Boston’s evening newscasts.  Polito left WGGB-TV, Springfield, Massachusetts in 2008 to join Clear Channel’s WTAG, Worcester for the morning drive program.  No word from Clear Channel what its plans for the morning show are.

Branson, Missouri Gets FM Talk Station as Earls Family Broadcasting Makes Changes.  In making programming changes to its cluster of stations in Branson, Missouri, Earls Family Broadcasting consolidates its two country outlets on one signal, freeing up KRZK at 106.3 to become a news/talk station.  The new format is branded as “Your News. Straight Talk. 106.3.”  In a statement, the company says news/talk is “a perfect fit for our traditional, informed and community-minded citizens of the Branson area.  Since KRZK has always been popular for local news, talk, and community service, an all-news/talk format is the perfect evolution of this beloved station.”  The station is carrying Fox News Radio for top-of-the-hour news.  The program schedule includes: Steve & Janet in the Morning for 6:00 am to 9:00 am; “At Your Service” with Scott McCaulley from 9:00 am to 11:00 am; Dial Global’s Dennis Miller from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm; Dave Ramsey from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm; and “The Ozark’s News Hour with Greg Pyron” from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

The Expert Radio Network Launches.  A new San Diego-based terrestrial radio network is getting off the ground.  The Expert Radio Network, “a multi-media radio platform for experts to deliver their content, expand their audience and explode their product sales” is opening for business.  Vice president of business development Susan Ram explains the network’s approach.  “Experts will have the opportunity to host a weekly radio show in major markets across the country, complete with marketing guidance from co-founder Scotty Saks.  Experts will also work directly with award-winning talent coaching specialist and ERN co-founder Cliff Dumas and his business partner Randy Lane of The Randy Lane Company.  Cliff and Randy will teach the same communication secrets Randy has personally taught Ryan Seacrest, Jimmy Kimmel, Carson Daly and hundreds of other entertainment, sports and business clients.  Finally, Experts will be able to leverage the power of a fully produced, online marketing sales funnel custom designed to monetize their product and brand.”  Identifying “experts” as those who’ve committed three years or 10,000 hours to knowledge of their subject of expertise, ERN says it has identified several “key verticals,” including: finance and business, health and wellness, and personal development.  “The timing could not be better, as ‘real,’ terrestrial talk radio is experiencing explosive growth, and attracting millions of listeners who seek critical investment, business, and personal development advice from experts across the country.  The power of ERN will massively expand an individual or corporate brand’s audience and deliver valuable advice and information to consumers.”  ERN will utilize SpotMedia’s new Synchronicity platform for its program distribution, eliminating satellite distribution expenses while automatically customizing shows and commercial insertions on an affiliate by affiliate basis for both over the air and digital audiences.

Good Karma’s WEFL, West Palm Beach Renews Local TV Partnership.  West Palm Beach sports talk ESPN 760 extends its content-producing partnership with local television stations WPTV-TV and WFLX-TV.  The stations had been working together for the past three years and have agreed to terms on a new multi-year contract.  WPTV-TV vice president and general manager Steve Wasserman says, “Since teaming up with ESPN 760 in 2010, the profile of local sports has risen to an unprecedented level.  With the powerful combination of the region’s top-rated television station and the area’s unrivaled leader in sports radio, we will continue to set the standard for sports coverage in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast.”  The stations say that over the years they have produced quality content with unique local coverage and programming that includes: “Football Night in South Florida,” “5 Sports Live” on WPTV and “Wayne Akers Sports Zone” on WFLX.  ESPN 760’s anchor team of Joe Girvan and Emerson Lotzia will continue to be seen nightly on WPTV NewsChannel 5’s 6:00 pm and 11:00 pm newscasts as well as WFLX Fox 29’s 10:00 pm newscast.  WEFL vice president and general manager Steve Politziner states, “We are thrilled to continue to share stories about sports in our local community with the passionate fans of WPTV and WFLX.  ‘Football Night in South Florida’ has become a franchise unto itself and the way in which schools, players, coaches, administrators, parents and fans have embraced our coverage, it’s more than exceeded our expectations.”

Odds & Sods.  Cumulus Media’s WMAL-AM/FM, Washington raised more than $290,000 during its radiothon on Friday and Saturday to benefit the Fisher House Foundation.  It was the 9th annual such radiothon and program director Bill Hess tells TALKERS the total was up $50,000 from last year’s total and that, to date, WMAL listeners have raised more than $4 million for Fisher House over the past nine years…..Herman Cain subs for Neal Boortz on the Cox Media-syndicated national talk program December 10 – 19.  Cain, who hosted a program at flagship WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta prior to his run for president, will take over hosting the Neal Boortz show on January 21, 2013…..WQAM, Miami sports talk host Dan Sileo subs on the morning show at Entercom’s WEEI, Boston December 26 – 28.

Talk Producer Colin Brady Dies at 43.  Florida-based radio producer Colin Brady passed away at age 43 after a struggle with cardiovascular disease.  Brady worked as a talk producer and host in both Tampa and Orlando.  He worked with Shannon Burke at WTKS, Orlando and on his internet show at RadioIO.com.  Burke tells the Orlando Sentinel that although Brady was the butt of jokes (as producers often are) his listeners were shocked.  “They all loved him very much.  Last week, they were calling the show crying.  He was beloved, no doubt about it.”

Washington ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Battle, Syria Chemical Weapons Threat, Egypt Unrest, Obama Cabinet Nominees, and Jovan Belcher Case-Costas Comments Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/4).  The fight between GOP leaders and the Obama administration over how to avoid the “fiscal cliff”; charges Syria is planning to use its chemical weapons on rebels; the unrest in Egypt as citizens protest Mohamed Morsi’s policies; speculation over the shape of the new Obama Cabinet; and the murder-suicide case of Jovan Belcher and Bob Costas’ anti-gun commentary were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

| October 25, 2012

Radio in the Northeast Should Be Prepared for a Potential Perfect Storm.  Last year, it was the Halloween Snowprise – an early cold snap fed by a lot of moisture that produced a foot of snow in some places, and felled leaf-laden trees and power lines, blacking out parts of the northeast US for days.  This year – Halloween Week could bring a trick some meteorologists are already calling “potentially historic” – a strong tropical storm or hurricane named Sandy, with the Northeast again in the crosshairs.  This rare climatic event could be what one network weather anchor called an “atmospheric bomb” – produced by a hurricane colliding head-on with a strong cold front. The jet stream bows northward as it approaches the coast, sucking the storm closer to land, instead of pushing it out to sea.  The scenario is eerily reminiscent of the 1991 “Perfect Storm,” which left 12 people dead and more than $200 million in damage after it slammed into the East Coast. Power outages and flooding were widespread.  Now is the time to prepare.  Howard B. Price of ABC News urges broadcasters in the Northeast to learn the lessons of two radio group operators, who faced serious operational challenges following the EF-5 tornado that leveled a third of Joplin, MO in May 2011, and Hurricane Irene in August 2011, whose impact was felt across the Northeast for days.  To read his timely and informative article click here.

CBS Radio’s Atlanta Sports Talker Debuts.  WZGC-FM, Atlanta “SportsRadio 92.9 The Game” sprang to life yesterday afternoon at 2:00 pm ET with the PM drive show “Game Time” with Carl Dukes, Kordell Stewart and Rachael Baribeau the first show to hit the air.  The trio talked Georgia sports, national sports and introduced the rest of the air staff to the listening audience.  The station lineup consists of: “Opening Drive” hosted by Rick Kamla, Randy Cross and C.J. Simpson in morning drive; Jerome Jurenovich and Jamie Dukes from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm; “Mac & Jason at Night” with Mac McDonald and Jason Goff from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm; “Overtime” with Jim Murray from 10:00 pm to 2:00 pm; and “The Mitch Evans Experience” from 2:00 am to 6:00 am.  Programming the latest CBS Radio sports talk FM to go on the air is Terry Foxx.

KJRB, Spokane Drops Talk Shows for All-News Programming.  Mapleton’s news/talk KJRB, Spokane, Washington is eliminating most of its talk shows for an all-news approach.  The station drops TRN’s Laura Ingraham and Jerry Doyle and Cox Media’s Neal Boortz for TRN-operated America’s Radio News Network news blocks airing from 3:00 am to 7:00 pm.  The station maintains its local financial program from 12:00 noon to 12:30 pm and the KHQ-TV local news simulcast from 5:00 pm to 5:30 pm.  It also continues to air The Wall Street Journal Radio Network’s “Daily Wrap” with Michael Castner in the evenings and CBS Radio’s “Overnight America” program.

Columbus Sports Talker Fired After Inappropriate Tweet.  Dispatch Broadcast Group has fired sports talk host Scott Torgerson about a week after he Tweeted, jokingly, that he wished for the firing or death of ESPN’s Desmond Howard.  Torgerson – former co-host of “The Common Man & The Torg” PM drive show on WBNS, Columbus “Sports Radio 97.1 The Fan” – was initially suspended after the Tweet began to create a firestorm of criticism.  Ironically, the station used Twitter on Wednesday (10/24) to notify its fans that Torgerson was no longer with the company.  As AwfulAnnouncing.com’s Matt Yoder notes in his blog, ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit – a former Ohio State quarterback and still beloved personality in Columbus – got involved in denouncing Torgerson’s Tweet and that probably added to the momentum necessary to make Dispatch let Torgerson go.  The fact that WBNS is an ESPN affiliate may or may not have been a contributing factor.  As of now, Mike Ricordati continues to host the PM drive show solo.  This is not the first case of a talent being fired for an insensitive or inappropriate Tweet and it won’t be the last.  Hosts who are hired to push the envelope and also use social media to do so for the purposes of promoting their act and their program have to be careful.  There are certain subjects that must be avoided.  Wishing death, injury or some other personal assault on someone – even as a joke – is likely to get the host in trouble and probably fired.

Larry King’s Third Party Candidate’s Debate Produced by Ora TV.  One way to look at it is that broadcasting legend Larry King’s days of hosting A-List politicians and celebrities for his interviews and debates is over as he has moved to the digital television network Ora TV.  But others might see fledgling internet TV stations as the future and all it will take is a smash internet TV show to capture the public’s interest and the medium will begin to compete seriously with broadcast and cable TV.  Now, Ora TV seems to be shooting for niche programming and Tuesday’s broadcast of King moderating a third party candidate’s debate provided that.  King hosted Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, Jill Stein of the Green Party, Virgil Goode of the Constitution Party, Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party for a program in which the four largely explained how they differ from the Democratic and Republican party candidates.  The debate was broadcast from the Chicago Hilton Hotel with a live audience.  King explained at the start, “We think all voices should be heard.  I think this is a noble cause.”  CSPAN did air the program on cable TV in the U.S.  Pictured here are Kristina Tobin, chair of the Free & Equal Elections Foundation (l) and Larry King (r).

Karel Joins Huffington Post Live Web Program.  Long Beach, California-based talk host Karel – heard on KGO, San Francisco and in syndication across the country – appeared on the Huffington Post’s half-hour roundtable talk show “HuffPost Live.”  The webcast program is hosted by Huffington Post’s Jacob and Alyona and usually features talent from afar piped in via web video batting around the issues of the day.  Karel is pictured here in his home studio via webcam on the “HuffPost Live” program.

Odds & Sods.  CBS Radio extends its deal with the NFL’s Chicago Bears to continue airing Bears play-by-play and other Bears-related programming on its Chicago signals.  The games will continue to be heard on all-news WBBM-AM/FM with programming such as “Bears All Access” airing on sports talk WSCR “The Score.”  The terms of the new deal was not announced…..Legendary college basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski returns to SiriusXM for his weekly “Basketball and Beyond with Coach K” program.  This is the eighth season Krzyzewski has hosted the program on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog channel.  For last night’s season opener, Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter and Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino were guests…..Emmis’ KFTK, St. Louis “FM NewsTalk 97.1” is working with Americans for Prosperity on a promotion to sell gas to 200 lucky listeners for the “pre-Obama Administration” price of $1.84 per gallon.  FM NewsTalk 97.1’s Randy Tobler will broadcast live from the Country Club Car Wash in O’Fallon, Missouri from 8:00 am to 10:00 am on Saturday, October 27.

WPRO, Providence Hosts Rhode Island Candidates Debate.  Cumulus Media’s WPRO & 99.7 FM in Providence hosted the candidates for the 1st Congressional District in Rhode Island for an hour-long, uninterrupted debate.  Pictured here at left is Democratic Congressman David Cicilline and, at right, Republican challenger Brendan Doherty in the studios at WPRO.  Not pictured is moderator and WPRO news director Bill Haberman who facilitated the contest.  In addition to airing the debate live on the radio with analysis during the Matt Allen program that followed the debate, WPRO provided a video stream and a live, interactive Tweet chat at 630wpro.com.

Benghazi Terrorism Question, Presidential Race Polls, Debate Aftermath, World Series and Hurricane Sandy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/24).  The conflicting reports of who knew the Benghazi attack was an act of terrorism and when they knew it; the presidential race polls; analysis of the presidential debates; the Giants-Tigers World Series; and the looming threat to the U.S. from Hurricane Sandy were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

| September 27, 2012

Big Changes in Atlanta Talk Radio: Clear Channel to Flip WGST-AM/FM, Atlanta to Spanish or Comedy and Rush Limbaugh Moves to Cox’s WSB-AM/FM.  Exactly what format Clear Channel Media and Entertainment will flip longtime news/talk WGST-AM (which is simulcast on an FM translator at 92.3) to – whether it will be a Spanish format or a comedy format – remains to be seen.  But talk pro Rusty Humphries, who handled PM drive for the station is gone and Premiere’s Glenn Beck ran in his place Wednesday.  The status of morning hosts Rob Johnson and Dave Merlino is not known, however WGST is airing “The Wall Street Journal This Morning with Gordon Deal” in place of Johnson and Merlino.  Humphries, who hosts a separate program that is nationally syndicated via Talk Radio Network, tells TALKERS magazine, “It is always sad to see a news/talk facility such as WGST change to another format but I am grateful for the time I had there and was able to spend doing local radio in Atlanta.  The people at Clear Channel are fine people and I enjoyed working with them.  For me, the good news is that I will have a lot more time to devote to my nationally syndicated TRN program which is growing by leaps and bounds.”  Attempts by TALKERS to get response from Clear Channel management in Atlanta confirming the format change have not been successful.  Meanwhile, across town at Cox Media’s WSB-AM/FM, the station announces Rush Limbaugh, who is heard on WGST, will move to WSB beginning Monday, October 1.  At the same time WSB announces a new long-term deal with Premiere’s Sean Hannity for the PM drive slot and the return of “Atlanta’s Evening News” airing from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm hosted by Erick Erickson.  Cox Media’s Clark Howard will still emanate from WSB for his nationally syndicated program heard on some 200 affiliates across the country but will move to the 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm slot on WSB.  In order to accommodate the Limbaugh acquisition, the Neal Boortz program moves to the 8:30 am to 12:00 noon slot.

Armstrong & Getty Return Today.  KSTE, Sacramento-based morning duo Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty are back on the air this morning with Armstrong telling Sacramento TV station KTXL “Fox40” that the reason the duo was off the air on Tuesday and Wednesday was due to an “internal” reason and not because of their call to have listeners post cartoons, photos etc. that criticize Islam.  It had been widely reported the two had been suspended for the incident.  In fact, Armstrong tells the TV station the audio file of Monday’s controversial show will return to the online archives soon.  He says they will address the matter first thing today on the program at 6:00 am PT.

Talk Host Phil Valentine Decries Political Correctness.  Writing that the fear of offending those groups of people from which terrorists have sprung has put the shoe on the other foot and now the media is being terrorized, nationally syndicated talk host Phil Valentine laments the state of the media in America.  He says, “I’ve often joked that the only two groups we in talk radio can get away with offending are the deaf and the Amish.  Other offenses might require throwing yourself at the mercy of Jesse Jackson or apologizing to some LGBT group.  Now there is an offense from which you may never come back and that is offending a Muslim.”  Valentine penned this piece for TALKERS after hearing about the case of Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty.  Valentine’s piece is an interesting look at the intersection of politics and media in our current age.  Read it here.

Media Blogger Rich Lieberman Stands By Ronn Owens Story.  Rich Lieberman, who operates the 415 Media blog, wrote a post recently predicting that KGO, San Francisco talk legend Ronn Owens would have his contract – which expires at the end of this year – bought out and he would disappear from KGO early with the station moving in a newsier direction.  TALKERS reported this and Owens responded that Lieberman’s report is “totally made up.”  He also told TALKERS Lieberman has been attacking him for the past year for the changes that have taken place at KGO since Cumulus Media took over the station.  Now, Lieberman tells TALKERS he stands by his story.  “My sources are strong and I believe in them.  This has been a story I have sat on for nearly three weeks.  I finally went with it after talk and e-mailing Bay Area broadcast people familiar with the subject at hand.  I do NOT just dish out any speculation and innuendo without first trying to get it right.”  Apparently, only time will tell what the future holds for Ronn Owens at KGO.

20 Years and Going Strong.  Nationally syndicated talk superstar Dave Ramsey is pictured here holding the pewter statuette of a classic radio microphone given to him by his staff in honor of his 20th anniversary in the talk radio business.  Ramsey’s “official” anniversary is tomorrow – September 28 – and commemorates the day he and some friends took to the air on WWTN-FM, Nashville in a brokered time deal with the then-bankrupt station.  On Friday, a special episode of the program will air and include well-wishes from celebrities, friends and family; glimpses into the party at Ramsey’s Financial Peace Plaza; a look back at the history of the show; and calls from long-time listeners and second-generation callers.  Video of the show will be streamed live online.   Ramsey says, “I’m still surprised and honored that people call me at some of the most difficult and personal moments in their lives.  Giving people hope for their future and seeing lives changed is why I do this every day.”  He also credits his team for helping him achieve the success he has.  “I didn’t do this on my own.  Our producer, Blake Thompson, associate producer, Lara Johnson, engineer Matt Aaron and many other people have made it what it is today.  I have the best crew in radio, and we’ve been together for a long time, which is unheard of in the radio industry.”

The Young Guns of Talk Radio.  Ask anyone, especially those working for the consumer media, and they’ll tell you that personalities working as hosts on news/talk stations are all old, white men.  Radio’s general lack of a “farm system” doesn’t help that misconception much, but the truth is there are young people – some men and some women – working in news/talk radio today.  TALKERS executive editor Kevin Casey writes about some of the young broadcasters working in news/talk now.  Not all of them agree that by being young, they have the ability to attract a younger audience to the format.  But some believe it can be a factor.  KNST, Tucson host and PD Garret Lewis, for example, says, “The fact that I’m 35 and my friends are around my age gives me an advantage because I know what makes a person in their late 20s and 30s get fired up emotionally and what interests them.”  Hosts talk with Casey about the issues of the demographic, who inspired them, how they approach their programs and what, if anything, can be done to get young people into the talk business.  Read this story here.

Looking for Political Ad Dollars.  Getting those political ad dollars – even getting them late – is a nice boost to a station’s or group’s revenue.  TALKERS magazine managing editor/West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian talks with Portland Radio Group president and general manager Cary Pahigian about status of political money.  Pahigian says if you’re not in a potential swing state, the numbers (at least for presidential dollars) for radio are not rosy – at least not yet.  “With the exception of a few states, there does seem to be a lull,” Pahigian says.  He says the same pattern has developed over the past few election cycles.  “Depending on the landscape and circumstances, television is first in line and radio is second.  Everything changes though if there are issues and/or a tight race going on.”  Read Mike Kinosian’s full story here.

Three Senators and a Hopeful.  WIBC, Indianapolis late morning host Greg Garrison was visited by three U.S. Senators and one who hopes to become the next senator from the state of Indiana on his program on Wednesday during a campaign swing through the state capital.  Pictured here (from l-r) are: WIBC’s Todd Meyer, Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Garrison, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), Indiana State Treasurer and senatorial candidate Richard Mourdock, and Senator Dan Coats (R-IN).

Presidential Campaign Polls, Libya-al Qaeda Connection, Iran/Middle East Tensions, and NFL Referees Status Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/26).  The conflicting presidential election polls; the continuing query into the cause of the Libya terrorist attack; the state of Iran’s nuclear weapons program and the political climate in the Middle East; and the status of the NFL’s referee situation were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.