Lawyers to Appear in Court Tomorrow in Alex Jones Defamation Case. Attorney Mark Bankston – representing three of the Newtown, Connecticut families who lost children in the Sandy Hook assault in 2012 – will be in court tomorrow (8/1) along with Alex Jones attorney Mark Enoch as the two argue Enoch’s motion to dismiss the defamation case against Jones. According to a story in the Austin American-Statesman, Enoch intends to use the Texas Citizens Participation Act (signed into law in 2011 and designed to protect citizens’ First Amendment rights) to have the case tossed. Enoch’s argument is that the suit is an attempt to silence people with views that differ from reports in the “mainstream media.” Bankston argues that Jones’ InfoWars platform publishes stories and videos with a reckless disregard for the truth in an attempt to get “hits” and thereby make money. Read the American-Statesman piece here.
Charles Thomas Exits WVON, Chicago. Chicago journalist Charles Thomas
(right) exits urban news/talk WVON where he was co-host of “The WVON Morning Show with Maze Jackson” (left). A press release from the station notes that Thomas joined the morning show 13 months ago “with the intent of only staying a few weeks after retiring from ABC-7 following a 45-year career in journalism.” Midway Broadcasting Corporation chair Melody Spann Cooper states, “I thanked Charles for his tremendous commitment and contribution to the station and the community. We were honored to have him for such a short stay and look forward to assisting him in his future endeavors of building his brand in the Black media landscape. We know there are big things on the horizon for him.” Chicago media pro Robert Feder writes that Thomas’ exit comes on the heels of a Politico Illinois Playbook report connecting co-host Jackson to a political consultant working for the Governor Bruce Rauner re-election campaign. But Thomas tells Feder his exit was about “getting my life back.” Thomas says after retiring from ABC-7, he didn’t “envision getting up at 3 o’clock in the morning every day.” The station says that Thomas’ departure is the first of several major personality changes that will be taking place before the end of the year.
Gallagher Mingles with Fans at Film Premiere. Pictured above being photographed with a listener is Salem Radio Network talk host Mike Gallagher. He was at the Camelot Cinema in Greenville, South Carolina for the standing-room-only screening of the new Dinesh D’Souza film Death of a Nation.
TALKERS News Notes. A new deal between United Stations Radio Networks and celebrity and entertainment news website TheBlast.com results in the availability of exclusive content for affiliated radio stations. USRN says that to kick off this new relationship, the majority of the content will be delivered as customized live reports from top producers at The Blast. “Eventually, USRN and The Blast will expand their collaborative coverage of celebrity and entertainment news to include pre-recorded reports and feeds that allow stations to maximize the share-ability of this exclusive content.”…..Univision Deportes and SiriusXM announce the launch of the Univision Deportes Radio channel on the SiriusXM satellite service. Spanish-language content is also available via the SiriusXM app and on the streaming web player at SiriusXM.com…..Podcast and talk show producer Joel Meyer joins pubcaster KUER, Salt Lake City – the statewide NPR affiliate – as its director of programming and promotion. Meyer was most recently an executive producer at WNYC Studios. Prior to that, he was an executive producer of talk programming at WBEZ Chicago, a managing producer of podcasts at Slate.com and the executive producer of Soundcheck at WNYC.
L.A. Newsman Dave Zorn Passes at 73. Longtime KNX, Los Angeles news anchor Dave Zorn died recently at a hospice in Michigan at age 73 after a battle with liver cancer. Zorn served with the station for 25 years and for many of those years was afternoon drive anchor.
Trump-Russia Investigation/Giuliani’s CNN Interview, Manafort Trial, Religious Liberty Task Force, Child Immigrant Order, ICE vs Portland Mayor, ‘Quiet Skies’ Monitoring Program, North Korean Rocket Program, the California Wildfire, and MLB Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/30). The Robert Mueller-led investigation into possible connections between Trump campaign operatives and Russia agents tied with the related Rudy Giuliani interview on CNN regarding the Trump Tower meeting with a Russian delegation; the trial of former Donald Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort; Attorney General Jeff Sessions announces creation of new “religious liberty task force”; a California judge rules on policy for authorities’ handling of immigrant children; Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents criticize Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler for ordering Portland police not to assist ICE agents; the revelation of the government’s “Quiet Skies” programming monitoring airline passengers who are not on watch lists or suspected of anything; new information indicating North Korea is continuing its ICBM program; the deadly California wildfire; and Major League Baseball action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. On-air and imaging pro Chris “Fish” Shatek moves from Entercom’s WKIS, Miami “Kiss Country 99.9” to the company’s country KMNB, Minneapolis “BUZ’N @ 102.9” as midday personality and imaging director, effective August 1. Shatek says, “I am so grateful to not only be back in the Twin Cities, but also back on ‘BUZ’N @ 102.9,’ a station I helped to get started. I get to work in my hometown, at a station I love, and with an incredible group of people. I couldn’t be more excited.”…..In Charlotte, morning drive co-host Meg Butterfly is exiting her full-time position at iHeartMedia’s country WKKT “96.9 The Kat” for a gig outside the radio business. She’ll continue to pull a weekend shift and host her blog on the station’s website. She has worked for the past nine years on the station alongside morning personality Paul Schadt…..Philly rock personality Debbi Calton is celebrating 25 years as host of the midday program on Beasley Media Group’s classic rock WMGK. On Friday, August 17, the station will mark the occasion with a live broadcast with Andre Gardner celebrating Debbi’s big day from 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm at Tap 24 in Calton’s hometown of Media, Pennsylvania. Calton says her favorite aspect of her gig at WMGK are the listeners. “I’ve formed 25-year relationships with so many of them. We talk on the request line or see each other at concerts. Yes, we’re still going to plenty of rock concerts.”…..Programming pro Scott “Lugnut” Dwyer joins Max Broadcasting Group’s rhythmic CHR KFCO “FLO 107.1” and rhythmic AC KJHM “JAMMIN’ 101.5” in Denver as program director. Dwyer comes to the Mile-High City after serving most recently at Ohana Media in Anchorage.
Entercom Donates $25k to The One Fund. Entercom operates rock WAAF, news/talk WRKO and sports talk outlets WEEI-FM and WEEI-AM but the donation to The One Fund to assist in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing comes from the company as a whole, states Boston VP and market manager Jeff Brown, “On behalf of over 2,000 Entercom employees across the country and our incredible Entercom team here in Boston, we are honored to donate $25,000 to The One Fund to help assist the victims and the families of the Boston Marathon tragedy.”
Peter Thiele Leaves Salem Communications’ WNYM and WMCA, New York. Talk radio programmer Peter Thiele is exiting his program director position at Salem Communications’ WNYM, New York “970 The Answer” and its sister Christian outlet WMCA where he’s been for the past five years. He and his family plan to relocate to San Antonio, Texas in early May. Thiele states, “I want to thank Phil Boyce, Jerry Crowley, Dave Santrella and the rest of the Salem team.” Thiele tells TALKERS magazine that this decision is his and plans to use his experience in branding and marketing to help businesses grow. If you would like to reach out to Peter, his email address is email@example.com or call him at 646-926-6581.
Minneapolis Talk Host Apologizes After Comments About Newtown Families. KTCN, Minneapolis morning drive co-host Bob Davis – half of the Emmer and Davis morning program – apologized to the families of the Newtown massacre almost a week after making comments in connection with the move for gun legislation. According to a report in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, on April 12 Davis said, “I have something I want to say to the victims of Newtown or any other shooting, I don’t care if it’s here in Minneapolis or anyplace else: Just because a bad thing happened to you doesn’t mean that you get to put a king in charge of my life. I’m sorry that you suffered a tragedy, but you know what? Deal with it, and don’t force me to lose my liberty, which is a greater tragedy than your loss. I’m sick and tired of seeing these victims trotted out, given rides on Air Force One, hauled into the Senate well, and everyone is … terrified of these victims. I would stand in front of them and tell them, ‘Go to hell.’” The paper reports that a couple of days later he tried to explain his comments, then four days after that issued an apology for the “pain those words may have caused.” Sandy Hook, Connecticut resident Bob Greene posted a comment on the Star-Tribune website and sent Davis an email offering to pay his air fare for him to come to Connecticut and repeat the words he said in front of the Newtown families. Greene says he has not had a reply from Davis. The paper’s report of the incident notes the program lost one advertiser over the affair.
Sabo Sez: Regardless of No-Buy Lists, Controversy Is Good for Radio and Should Be Sold as Such. According to noted radio consultant Walter Sabo, for decades TV shows promoting murder, violence, unmarried sex partners (Gilmore Girls) and anal bleaching (TMZ), have commanded high rates for spots from General Motors, Chrysler, Ford, Sony, Verizon, AT&T and all your favorites. Why aren’t those shows on do-not-buy lists? In a new column posted today, Sabo writes, “It’s because watching those shows is not a profound, intimate experience. Those shows are watched passively. They command no engagement resulting in no complaints. However their content is as ‘controversial’ as any radio show and they have the bonus of a visual component.” Sabo continues, “Listening to a talk radio show is a 100% foreground experience. Unlike music, talking on the radio commands 100% attention. The listener is ENGAGED with the show. The big buzzword at the ad agencies right now is ENGAGEMENT. An emotional listener is an engaged listener. Happy, angry, passionate listeners are worth a premium price per spot.” To read Walter Sabo’s entire piece, click here.
WXOS, St. Louis Pairs Up Anthony Stalter with Chris Duncan for Middays. Hubbard Broadcasting’s St. Louis sports talker “101 ESPN” fills the midday show being vacated by Bernie Miklasz with afternoon drive co-host (and former St. Louis Cardinals star) Chris Duncan and sports talk pro Anthony Stalter. The show will debut on May 1 and doesn’t have a name but WXOS program director Chris “Hoss” Neupert says, “Chris Duncan and Anthony Stalter have proven themselves as show hosts in other time slots, and listeners have really responded to both of them on the air. We’re confident that they will work well together as co-hosts, and we’re looking forward to their show’s debut next month.” Duncan has been with the station since 2011 and most recently was one of the three co-hosts of the PM drive show “The Fast Lane.” Stalter has been with WXOS since March of 2012. He broke into sports radio with Clear Channel’s WDFN, Detroit and served as the station’s on-site producer for Pistons’ broadcasts. He was also a reporter for both Pistons and Lions postgame coverage. As a journalist, he was an NFL columnist for the WashingtonPost.com’s expert panel, “The League,” and he continues to write NFL-related columns for 101sports.com.
CMG Names Russell Lawson GSM for Athens and Gainesville, Georgia Stations. Russell Lawson moves up from Cox Media Group’s news/talk WOKV, Jacksonville where he’s been an account manager for the past five years to become the general sales manager for the company’s Athens and Gainesville, Georgia stations that include: country WNGC, news/talk WGAU, AC WGMG “Magic 102.1,” CHR WPUP “Power 100.1,” adult hits WXKT “103.7 Chuck FM,” and sports talk WRFC “960 The Ref.” Cluster VP and general manager Scott Smith states, “We are excited to have Russell join our team and to be able to tap into CMG’s top internal sales talent. His multi-faceted experience in a variety of radio sales situations, and dedication to his craft, will make him an asset to CMG Athens/ Gainesville.”
Times Are Tough Enough – Be a Pro! Sports talk personality Dan Sileo – most recently of Beasley’s WQAM, Miami and Clear Channel’s WDAE, Tampa – writes about his recent mistakes that have left him on the beach as well as the highly publicized departure of a Boston sports talk host. Sileo says he’s learned valuable lessons that other radio personalities should take to heart. Read his piece here.
The Conclave Hires Phil Strider. Conclave executive director Bob Shannon announces radio veteran Phil Strider has been hired to create and sell sponsorships for “Conclave 38: The Learning Conference” scheduled for July 17-19 at the Doubletree Hotel in Minneapolis. Commenting on the hiring, Shannon says, “My ideal candidate needed to have national sales experience, a programing background, and have an intimate knowledge of how special the Conclave is. Phil’s got it all. ” Strider’s background includes independent syndication services as well as management, sales and programming stints at Westwood One; Jones Radio Network; Metro Networks; KZOK, Seattle; and KBPI, Denver.
Boston Marathon Bombing Aftermath, Immigration Reform, Gun Legislation, Internet Tax Proposal, Bush Presidential Library, and North Korea Threats Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/22). The ongoing search for information about the Boston Marathon bombing suspects and their motives; new questions about what immigration reform legislation should contain; ongoing legislative attempts to change state and federal gun laws; proposals to change tax laws for internet purchases; the opening of the Bush Presidential Library; and North Korea’s treats against the U.S. and South Korea were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
High-Profile Tragedy Puts Talk Radio and News Radio in Unique Position. Friday’s horrific crime at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut is putting radio – mostly talk radio and all-news radio – in a unique position, once again. Although some music stations, especially those geographically close to Newtown, covered the breaking news event on Friday, the aftermath of the killings was over the weekend and will continue to be the primary topic of discussion on talk radio and the focus of all-news outlets through the early portion of this week. TALKERS managing editor/West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian analyzes the recent important news events that have driven talk radio to increased audiences in November and what the Newtown massacre and other major news events may mean for the format into the December “Holiday” ratings period. Read Mike Kinosian’s analysis here. With regard to the formatics of handling a breaking news event such as this, earlier this fall, TALKERS spoke with programmers and hosts about their handling of the shootings at the Aurora, Colorado movie theater and many of their thoughts are relevant to coverage of this event as well. For programmers, hosts and managers who may have missed that piece, read it here.
Consultant Chris Miller Advises Radio Stations to Use Their Websites and Digital Tools to Their Full Potential in Serving Communities During Horrific Tragedies. Radio digital consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller writes that radio has two worthy purposes on days like Friday: Keeping our listeners informed and offering a place for stress-reduction. Most importantly he says, “Do no harm.” To read Miller’s timely and important piece, click here.
Connecticut School Massacre Sets Media into High Gear; Radio Faces Challenge of How to Cover. The horrific massacre at an elementary school in Connecticut on Friday is another in a line of catastrophic events that put the radio industry into “emergency” mode. How to cover this news story is a challenge that programmers of all formats are facing. TALKERS magazine’s instant monitor scan of stations around the nation indicates a marked effort to discuss or at least acknowledge the horrific event that broke the peace Friday in Connecticut and is serving, perhaps, as a straw that breaks the camel’s back in our society’s collective nervous system regarding the seemingly endless string of mind-numbing violent events. This includes everything from music stations to sports talkers. Radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Holland Cooke offers advice for action going forward and analysis of some of what’s been aired so far. He also points to the print media as a tutor in this instance based on some of the front pages of newspapers around the world. (The accompanying photo is from a Berlin daily.) Read Holland Cooke’s piece here.
WVKO, Columbus Drops Progressive Talk for Gospel. Gary Richards has been leasing the class B AM station from Bernard Ohio Radio since the beginning of 2012 but announces he’ll return control of the station and it flips to gospel immediately. In a post at the station’s website, Richards spreads the blame around to everyone from the Obama campaign to local advertisers. He writes, “Once again, we had a good run with the station and we were happy to in some small way contribute to the success that the Democrats enjoyed in November. Unfortunately, it was not a two-way street and lack of advertising support from the Obama campaign all the way down to local races ensured that we will be unable to continue into the New Year. I put my time, money, heart and soul into doing what I believed to be important for the country, but those who benefited most from our efforts chose to spend their campaign dollars elsewhere. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice….Well, we can’t get fooled again. Also, a number of advertisers who supported the station in the past chose to turn their backs on us this time. I can’t say why, since they would not return our calls. I want to thank our advertisers, supporters and you the listeners for everything, and I hope that progressive talk can somehow return to Columbus in the future.”
Future of News/Talk WTKK, Boston Still in the News with More Domain Registrations. Questions about the future of Greater Media’s Boston news/talk outlet WTKK have been circulating over the past few weeks after the company had begun registering domain names that have hinted at a flip to an urban format – lots of domains with “beat” and “power” in them. More have been registered and, as is often the case, it appears Greater Media is toying with its competitors as new domain names using words such as “bone,” “groove” and “sportsradio” become public. Greater Media has publicly told the local media it’s always considering options for its stations but would say nothing more concrete. Let the speculation continue!
Cumulus Media to Air CBS Sports Radio Network on KC Translator. Cumulus Media – which is in partnership with CBS Radio on its soon-to-debut national sports talk radio format – announces it will air the format on Kansas City translator K272BZ-FM at 102.5 in January. Currently the 250-watt translator is airing Cumulus’ classic hits KCMO-FM.
Former New Jersey 101.5 Co-Owner Bob McAllan Wins Landmark Legal Battle to Bring New Jersey its Own TV Station. On Friday morning (12/14), the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the FCC to grant two new VHF television licenses to former co-owner and creator of the mega-successful talk/music hybrid WKXW, Trenton (New Jersey 101.5), Bob McAllan. His company is PMCM-TV. It appears McAllan, a former chairman of the New Jersey Broadcasters Association (NJBA) is finally realizing his dream of “bringing local TV service to residents of New Jersey.” The Court ruling hinged on the interpretation of one word: “Reallocation” and the ruling grants a TV spectrum allotment to Bob’s enterprise for Channel 3 in Middletown (Monmouth County) an area of the Jersey shore that was ravaged by Sandy. McAllan’s shore-based radio stations at Press Communications stayed on the air for two weeks following the storm from remote locations. NJBA President Paul Rotella, who learned about the ruling while in Washington, tells TALKERS: “I was very happy for Bob and his colleagues since the NJBA supported Bob’s efforts to bring more full power broadcast TV coverage to the Garden State for decades. This long-awaited decision is good for all New Jersey residents and we congratulate Bob on his hard fought Court victory.”
News Anchor Joe Donovan Retires from WWJ, Detroit. The 37-year news staffer at CBS Radio’s WWoit retired from the all-news station on Friday, December 14 with a brief announcement in which he stated, “Good-bye Detroit. Thank you for listening all these years.” Donovan joined WWJ in 1976. He has been co-hosting the morning drive news program with Roberta Jasina. The Detroit Free Press reports CBS Radio will make an announcement about the station’s morning program in the near future.
WABC, New York Alumni Christmas Party. This photo is from the annual WABC, New York alumni Christmas party organized by former Sean Hannity producer Jill Vitale a.k.a. Flirty Flipper. The bash took place on Thursday, December 13 in NYC. Pictured here are former WABC morning men alongside former WABC program director Phil Boyce. From left to right: Boyce, Jay Diamond, Barry Farber and Curtis Sliwa.