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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

| January 11, 2012

SCOTUS Hears Broadcast Indecency Arguments; Sweeping Changes Unlikely.  TALKERS magazine legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman says although Attorney Carter Phillips – representing Fox Television – argued convincingly that broadcasters are responsible to their audiences and advertisers and would not, therefore, engage in a “race to the bottom” with regard to indecency, he believes the Supreme Court will not throw out the current indecency rules as some broadcasters might hope it would.  Attorneys representing the Federal Communications Commission, Fox Television and ABC Television argued before the Court yesterday for the first time since the Pacifica case in 1978.  Read Attorney Weisman’s analysis here.

TRN Entertainment Syndicates Former KGO Weekender Dr. Bill Wattenburg.  Bill Wattenburg was one of the KGO, San Francisco talk show hosts let go by Cumulus Media in December.  Now, TRN Entertainment begins offering Dr. Wattenburg in national syndication Sunday evenings from 11:00 pm to 2:00 am ET beginning January 22.  TRN Entertainment CEO Mark Masters says, “We are ecstatic to have a person of Dr. Bill Wattenburg’s caliber join our network.  His vast knowledge of science and physics will enlighten all of his listeners.  We believe he will quickly develop legions of dedicated fans that want to improve their personal knowledge and way of life.”  Bay Area talk radio listeners are aware of Dr. Wattenburg’s credentials but the rest of the nation may not know that he is a senior research scientist at the Research Foundation, California State University, Chico; and a scientific consultant for the University of California Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and many other institutions.  He is a former nuclear weapons designer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; a former member of the US Air Force Scientific Advisory Board; and a former UC Berkeley professor of electrical engineering.  TRN Entertainment describes Dr. Wattenburg’s show as “mostly an open-line, listener-driven call-in show in which he answers questions ranging from fixing cars to physics, and everything in between.  His combination of experiences and scientific background give him a great wealth of knowledge that he applies to entertain and inform his audience.”

Clear Channel Takes Another Step Toward Making iHeartRadio a Ubiquitous Media Application.  The broadcast giant announces it is making its application programming interface (API) and affiliate program available to third parties and developers so they can integrate its content and services into their own products, web pages and apps.  Clear Channel states, “Developers will have the opportunity to create their own innovative versions of iHeartRadio on their platforms.  The iHeartRadio API includes access to many of the service’s features, including its live broadcast and digital-only stations and Custom Stations as well as a deep social media integration.”  Clear Channel Digital president Brian Lakamp says, “Opening our API will unlock exciting opportunities to enrich the unique, combined live and custom radio experience that only iHeartRadio provides.  This move also builds on our commitment to be everywhere our listeners expect us to be, with the best products and services.”  The company is clearly moving full-speed-ahead to compete in digital media distribution device race and this is another smart move to try to enhance iHeartRadio’s useage.

CBS Radio Names Two More to WNEW-FM, Washington Staff.  When CBS Radio’s all-newser WNEW-FM, Washington debuts on January 19, Lisa Baden will be handling the traffic reporting in one of the nation’s most congested commuter markets and Jill Schlesinger joins the station for twice-hourly business reports.  Baden has been broadcasting traffic reports in the DC market for two decades, most notably with crosstown WTOP-FM and Metro Traffic before that.  Schlesinger is editor-at-large of CBS Moneywatch and also hosts her own nationally syndicated weekend financial talk program syndicated by Dial Global.

Premiere Networks’ Andy Dean Hits 50-Affiliate Mark.  Nationally syndicated talk host Andy Dean, host of “America Now,” marks the 50-affilliate plateau.  Premiere Networks SVP of affiliate relations Peter Tripi says, “The rapid growth we’ve experienced with this program is a testament to Andy’s talent, dedication and hard work.  We look forward to reaching many more milestones together.”  Dean’s program is heard on talk outlets across America including WSB, Atlanta; KSTE, Sacramento; WHIO-AM/FM, Dayton; WOKV-AM/FM, Jacksonville; and KNST-AM/FM, Tucson.

National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Announces Honorees.  It’s the time of year when the NSSA announces winners of its best-of honors for their accomplishments in 2011.  Here are just a few of those just announced:  WGN, Chicago morning sports anchor and Northwestern Wildcats football and basketball play-by-play announcer Dave Eanet is named the 2011 Illinois Sportscaster of the Year.  WGN VP/GM Tom Langmyer states, “Dave Eanet is a tremendous broadcaster and a class act.  His passion, integrity and professionalism are apparent in everything that he does and we’re proud to have him on the WGN radio team.”…..Drew Deener of Sports Radio 790 WKRD, Louisville is named Sportscaster of the Year in the State of Kentucky.  Deener hosts “The Early Birds Morning Show” and “The Cardinal Insider” on WKRD.  He also serves as the TV play-by-play voice of University of Louisville football and basketball on WHAS-TV…..KOZN, Omaha’s Kevin Kugler, host of the popular sports talk program “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” and play-by-play host of the College World Series, earns the Nebraska Sportscaster of the Year award for the eighth year.  KOZN program director Neil Nelkin states, “It truly is remarkable that someone this early on his career would be recognized at this level and at this frequency.  It just goes to show how much talent Kevin has behind the mic and in the world of sportscasting.”

Former St. Louis PM Drive Team Thom and Jeff Begin Internet Initiative.  The longtime PM drive team at Emmis’ alternative KPNT, St. Louis, Thom West and Jeff Burton, are producing an internet talk show available via iTunes or their website.  Thom and Jeff were “downsized” in August and began producing podcasts in September.  They say they are now averaging 40,000 downloads per day.  The team has grown to include Scottie “Boom Boom,” Coach, and Kara the Lesbian.  Daily guests add to the non-stop entertainment including comedians, visits from bands, athletes, and local and national celebrities.  Jeff Burton says, “I really enjoyed the old radio show but with the added people and no FCC regulations we are free to do and say whatever we want…and we do!”

Longtime WMAL, Washington Personality Bill Trumball Dies at 77.  Bill Trumball retired from WMAL, Washington in 1996 after spending more than 35 years with the station.  He was partnered with Chris Core on the “Core and Trumball” show for many of those years.  He passed away on January 10 from respiratory failure.

New Hampshire Primary, Iran Saber-Rattling and World Financial Markets Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/10).  The GOP race to take the nation’s first primary election of the 2012 presidential campaign, the ongoing saber-rattling by Iran and speculation about its drive to develop nuclear weapons and the state of the world’s financial markets were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio across America yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

| December 20, 2011

WQAM, Miami Host Sid Rosenberg Serving Unpaid Suspension.  Sid Rosenberg’s been off the air at WQAM, Miami for several weeks now with a lot of speculation as to why.  Now, according to Jose Lambiet’s Gossip Extra, the Beasley Broadcasting sports talk host is serving a six-week unpaid suspension for a plugola deal to pay off a gambling debt.  Lambiet cites a source connected to the station reporting that Rosenberg had a debt of about $100,000 to a sports betting organization and he was going to pay off the debt by plugging the operation on his program.  The details of the arrangement were spelled out in a fax to Rosenberg at the WQAM offices that the source says Rosenberg accidently left on the fax machine.  It was discovered “before he did any damage,” according to the source.  Rosenberg is scheduled to return to the air on January 2.

Phil Tower Returns to Program Director Post at WOOD-AM/FM and WTKG, Grand Rapids.  Clear Channel has been looking for a new program director for its Grand Rapids, Michigan news/talk duo of WOOD-AM/FM and WTKG since Paul Cashin left in August.  Now a familiar face returns to the building as Phil Tower takes over the PD post he held for so many years.  Tower was most recently general manager of publications/multimedia at Stafford Media Solutions.  Prior to that he was general manager of the nationally syndicated Allen Hunt show.

WBAL, Baltimore Talk Host Ron Smith Dies at 70.  It’s only been two months since WBAL talk host Ron Smith announced he’d been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer.  He passed away on December 19 at his home in Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania after several weeks in hospice care.  Smith spent more than 25 years at WBAL and was an institution in the market as a talk radio host and, in later years, as a columnist with the Baltimore Sun as well.

Rumor: WMAL, Washington Talk Host Chris Plante to Be Syndicated.  DCRTV.com’s Dave Hughes reports rumors of a plan by Cumulus Media to syndicate Chris Plante’s 9:00 am to 12:00 noon ET talk show to other stations on some sort of limited basis.  It could be that Cumulus is taking a page from Clear Channel’s playbook and is planning to distribute programming to smaller regional markets emanating from large markets like DC.  Hughes also reports talk of more job cuts coming to the Cumulus cluster in Washington.

Dave Ramsey to Buy Nashville Office Building.  The Tennesseean is reporting that nationally syndicated talk host Dave Ramsey – through a company called Andy’s Union, LLC – is buying a four-story office building in downtown Nashville for $1.6 million.  The building is known locally as the Jackson law office since it sits on the site of what is believed to have been the law office of Andrew Jackson.  The current building was built in 1996.  Ramsey’s plans for the building are unknown.

“The Costa Report” Clears Seattle on Fisher’s KVI, Seattle.  When KVI returns to a talk format in January, it’ll air the weekly “Costa Report” program being distributed by Broadcast Affiliate Sales.  The program is described as “a weekly news talk program which features a one-hour interview with a world leader or expert, followed by a second hour of call-ins from listeners.”  It’s hosted by Rebecca Costa who states, “Americans are sick and tired of the rage-a-holics who have hijacked talk radio, hosts who, day after day, spew hateful, divisive rhetoric which has torn the country apart.  ‘The Costa Report’ is the voice of the ‘rational center of America’ – citizens who don’t care if a solution comes from the left or the right as long as it really works.”  Costa is a sociobiologist and author of The Watchman’s Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction (Vanguard Press 2010).

Wrappin’ With Jack!  This mass of people you see here are gathered at Northside Ford in San Antonio for the 13th annual Wrappin’ With Jack event in which listeners gather to wrap donated gift items for children and adults through the Family Services Association of San Antonio.  KTSA’s Jack Riccardi proudly notes that some 600 people showed up to volunteer their services.  “We set new records for participants, gifts donated, and for the first time in our 13 years, we managed to ‘adopt’ 100% of the families FSA was hoping to serve.  I think our growth is largely due to the unique call-to-action: You don’t have to donate money or a toy to participate (although many people do) – all we ask is that you show up and help us wrap, while enjoying live Christmas music performed by local musicians and treats served by local restaurants.  Although the radio station gets behind ‘WWJ’ logistically, it’s mainly a talk show host appealing to his listeners for help in a worthy cause, and people responding to the intimacy and immediacy of that.”  The event took place on December 13 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

Steve Gill Launches “Generous Hearts” Charitable Program.  Nashville-based syndicated talk host Steve Gill recently created the Generous Hearts charitable organization in conjunction with local charities Nashville Wraps and A Generous Heart.  Since November, it has raised $20,000 in cash for the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes, 750 turkeys delivered to the Nashville Rescue Mission and has offered aid to six homeless Sumner County families to bring Christmas to life this season.  Gill says Generous Hearts is aligning with a regional food bank’s mobile pantry to help feed Middle Tennessee’s hungry families.  Gill states, “The ‘Generous Hearts’ project initiative, throughout 2012, is to raise funds as well as provide increased visibility to people and organizations in need.  As an active community member, ‘friend-raising’ is as vital as fundraising.”

NRG Media’s KKAR, Omaha Raises Funds for Child Saving Institute.  On Friday, December 16, news/talk KKAR, Omaha held a radiothon to raise funds for the Child Saving Institute that provides a safe haven and healing for thousands of innocent young victims of family crisis, neglect and abuse.  Program director Neil Nelkin says the event raised $60,000 for the institute.  “The listeners of KKAR delivered again this year.  Despite the economy, the listeners opened their hearts and their wallets to make a difference for a wonderful cause that will brighten the holidays of hundreds of children in need throughout Omaha.”