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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

| May 11, 2021

Saga Communications 2021 First Quarter Net Revenue Down 15.5%. The 2021 first quarter financial report from Saga Communications reveals net revenue for the period was $22.3 million, a decrease of 15.5% from the same period in 2020. Net income was $758,000, a decline of 75% from the net income of $1.68 million posted in Q1 of 2020 (although Saga was one of the few audio companies to post income and not a loss). Station operating expense decreased $3.3 million to $18.9 million for the quarter compared to the same period in 2020. Station operating income was $4.7 million for the quarter compared to $5.5 million for the first quarter last year.  Free cash flow increased 21.4% to $1.8 million for the quarter. Saga Communication’s balance sheet reflects $56.3 million in cash on hand as of March 31, 2021 and $57.4 million as of May 3, 2021. The company’s total bank debt remained at $10 million as of the end of the first quarter 2021.

KCBS-AM, San Francisco Sports Anchor Steve Bitker Announces Retirement. After 30 years as morning drive sports anchor for Audacy’s KCBS-AM, San Francisco, Steve Bitker is retiring after the May 14 broadcast. After graduating from University of California Berkeley, Bitker served as a news writer for KSFO, San Francisco. He worked in Tokyo for three years as a news/sports anchor for Japan’s only English-language TV station – Japanese Cable Television. After returning to the States, he worked for seven years at KNBR, San Francisco before joining KCBS in April of 1991.

Wendy Bell Off WJAS-AM, Pittsburgh for Now. According to a story by WPXI-TV, talk host Wendy Bell is off the air of St. Barnabas Broadcasting’s WJAS-AM, Pittsburgh and Premiere NetworksGlenn Beck show is airing in its place. Bell was an anchor at WTAE-TV, Pittsburgh until 2016 when she was let go after making racially insensitive comments in the wake of a shooting that left five dead. She hosted a talk show at KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh and agreed to exit that station after being suspended for suggesting park rangers “shoot on sight” anyone seen defacing park monuments. The story quotes St. Barnabas Health System director of marketing Michele Bradac saying Bell is off the air due to a personnel matter. “Until the company and she resolve their personnel matter, there’s no way to say” when she might return.

Newsmax TV to Launch ‘Cortes & Pellegrino’ Prime Time Show; Produce Town Hall with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. There’s a new prime-time program launching on Newsmax TV this evening (5/11) at 9:00 pm ET starring former presidential advisor, commentator, and financial expert Steve Cortes and former White House correspondent Jenn Pellegrino. About the new “Cortes & Pellegrino” show, Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy says, “We were the only major cable news network to see an overall ratings increase from the fourth quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021, and we did it without a full prime-time. ‘Cortes & Pellegrino’ completes our nightly lineup and will continue our unprecedented growth.” Also at Newsmax, “Spicer & Co” co-hosts Sean Spicer and Lyndsay Keith will air an exclusive Town Hall with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis tomorrow (5/12) at 6:00 pm ET. The event takes place at The Villages – the 55-plus community in Sumter County, Florida that boasts almost 80,000 residents – and will feature discussions with a live studio audience of American voters. Sean Spicer says, “Governor DeSantis has proved his resolve and confounded his skeptics over the past year, leading his state to excellence in fostering a thriving economy, rolling out the COVID vaccine, and guarding religious liberty. This Town Hall will give Newsmax viewers deeper insight into the reasons why DeSantis is a true governor of the people.”

TALKERS News Notes. This Memorial Day weekend ABC Audio has the special program “Honor, Hope and Healing,” hosted by correspondent Aaron Katersky, available for affiliate stations. The special honors America’s heroes including military members who died in the line of duty, pandemic front-line workers, grieving families, and others affected by last year’s events. The program dives into the significance of Arlington National Cemetery and features interviews with its regular visitors who come to pay respects to their family and friends…..SiriusXM announces the launch of the “Let’s Get After It with Chris Cuomo Podcast” culled from Cuomo’s SiriusXM show on the P.O.T.U.S. channel that airs daily from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm. The podcast will be available three times a week and features the opening longform segment from the program as a podcast…..Audacy is partnering with independent podcaster Aaron Lammer on today’s release of the first two episodes of his newest project, “Exit Scam: The Death and Afterlife of Gerald Cotten,” a documentary podcast series exploring the 2018 death of Cotten, the founder of Canadian digital currency platform QuadrigaCx. The first episode is available right now everywhere podcasts are available, while the second episode is available exclusively on Audacy. This unique windowing strategy will allow listeners who want more of this thrilling true crime series to get their fix immediately on Audacy where listeners will get early access to episodes before all other platforms…..Blavity Inc., the diversified digital media company behind “AfroTech,” “21Ninety,” “Travel Noire,” “Shadow and Act,” and “Blavity News,” partners with Charlamagne Tha God’s and iHeartMedia’s The Black Effect Podcast Network to distribute its podcast for Black entrepreneurs and moguls in the making titled, “Black Tech Green Money with Will Lucas.” Lucas is an entrepreneur, content creator, and the brand manager at Black tech digital platform AfroTech, the world’s largest Black tech digital platform. The podcast presents the stories of successful Black entrepreneurs and technologists, as well as actionable advice and wealth-building strategies from a Black perspective…..Audacy’s Cadence13 is partnering with bestselling author, activist, and thought leader Glennon Doyle for her “We Can Do Hard Things,” podcast on which she will share stories of her life and explore topics including love, relationships, parenting, mental health, recovery and more.

COVID-19, Cheney vs GOP/Influence of Trump, Pipeline Hack, Gaza Strikes, Gates Divorce Controversy, Golden Globes Troubles Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/10). The rate of positive COVID cases in the U.S., concerns about variants, vaccine hesitancy, and India’s death toll; U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney’s battle with the GOP over the “stolen election” and Donald Trump’s influence over the party; the hack of the Colonial Pipeline Networks by DarkSide and the effect on gas supplies in the Eastern U.S.; the battle between Israel and Hamas over the potential eviction of Palestinians from Jerusalem; the growing controversy over the divorce of Bill and Melinda Gates and the Jeffery Epstein connection; and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Golden Globe Awards lose NBC’s broadcast in 2022 over diversity problems were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

| April 26, 2017

2017 NAB Show: Cars, Congrats, and Commish #1. Media consultant Holland Cooke is in Las Vegas covering the 2017 NAB Show for TALKERS magazine.  In today’s report, Cooke covers yesterday’s Radio Luncheon where attendees heard Ford Motor Company’s Scott Burnell speak and witnessed Premiere NetworksDelilah inducted into the NAB Hall of Fame.  Also yesterday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai delivered the keynote address and reassured attendees that he remains “‘fundamentally optimistic about the future of broadcasting’ because of the ‘localism, diversity, and public service’ that distinguishes diligent broadcasters.”  Read Cooke’s entire report here.

Hannity Plans Legal Action Against Debbie Schlussel. On his Fox News Channel program last night (4/25), Sean Hannity led off the program by addressing the allegations being directed against him by attorney and conservative media figure Debbie Schlussel.  Detroit-based Schlussel stated during an interview on KFAQ, Tulsa’s Pat Campbell program that Hannity propositioned her after a book signing event in Detroit about a decade ago and that, after she rebuffed his advances, she was blacklisted from being a guest on Fox News Channel.  Last night, Hannity said, “I have to start tonight by addressing a well-orchestrated effort by the intolerant left in this country that is designed to silence every conservative voice and by any means necessary.  Now, I’m speaking out tonight so that you, our audience, will understand what is really happening and what is at stake when it comes to freedom of speech in this country.”  He said in a prepared statement that he is planning legal action against Schlussel.  “This individual is a serial harasser who has been lying about me for well over a decade.  The individual has a history of making provably false statements against me in an effort to slander, smear and besmirch my reputation.  The individual has not just slandered me over the years, but many people who this individual disagrees with.”  Schlussel told NBC News she doesn’t believe Hannity will sue because, “If he did, it could spur other people to come forward and he wouldn’t want that.”  NBC News notes that Schlussel is a polarizing media figure, having suggested that President Barack Obama is a “secret Muslim” and that death camps in occupied Poland during World War II were run by Poles and not Germans.  Read the NBC News piece here.

Emmis to Sell $80 Million in Assets. Indianapolis-based Emmis Communications will be a different company in July of 2018.  The Indianapolis Business Journal reports that under pressure from lenders, the company will shed $80 million worth of its radio assets in order to pay down debt.  This is the result of recently renegotiated terms with lenders JPMorgan Chase Bank and Bank of New York Mellon.  Emmis CFO Ryan Hornaday tells the IBJ, “We’re confident that we can achieve the $80 million [divestiture] without selling a substantial portion of the portfolio.  We do still have some very desirable assets.”  The company owns 19 radio stations in five markets: New York, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Austin, and Indianapolis.  The IBJ reports that Emmis’ total debt was $221 million as of February 28, 2017.  Read the story here.

Nielsen Explores All-News, News/Talk Listening Trends Over Seven Years. There’s been a lot of scrutiny of the audiences for all-news, news/talk, and talk oriented public radio leading up to and since the 2016 election.  Over all, according to ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s PPM surveys of radio listening, the three formats have realized increased listenership of late.  Now, Nielsen shows how listening to the all-news and news/talk formats has changed over the past seven years, based on PPM data. (Remember, Nielsen includes public talkers in the larger news/talk category.)  The result is that listening to all-news has remained fairly steady during that time across the three demos cited – persons 6+, 18-34, and 25-54.  For news/talk, the format scored a 10.6 share in March of 2011 (6+), and a 10.2 share in March of 2017.  In the 25-54 demo, 2011 saw an 8 share compared to this year’s 7.6 share.  And probably buoyed by younger public radio listeners, the 18-34 demo rose from a 4.2 share in 2011 to a 4.6 share this year.  See the whole report here.

ESPN Layoffs Coming Today.  The names of those who are exiting sports media giant ESPN will begin to trickle out as time passes, but for now only a few of the estimated 100 ESPN staffers – mostly television and radio personalities – are known, with reporter Ed Werder tweeting that he’s been let go.  It’s unclear how many of the cuts are from the radio and the television sides of the operation, but ESPN chief John Skipper says in a memo to staff, “A necessary component of managing change involves constantly evaluating how we best utilize all of our resources, and that sometimes involves difficult decisions…we have been engaged in the challenging process of determining the talent — anchors, analysts, reporters, writers and those who handle play-by-play — necessary to meet those demands.  We will implement changes in our talent lineup this week.  A limited number of other positions will also be affected and a handful of new jobs will be posted to fill various needs.”

TALKERS News Notes. We now know the trial date for the Nielsen vs Bubba the Love Sponge suit in Florida.  U.S. District Court Judge James D. Whittemore has scheduled the case to start on January 2, 2018, with a pre-trial conference on December 8, 2017.  Judge Whittemore also ruled on Bubba’s motion to exclude Nielsen Audio expert witness David Haas, denying it…..Chicago media maven Robert Feder reports that WGN, Chicago director of marketing and digital innovation Jackie Paulus will exit the station and join Jimmy deCastro’s new sports marketing and rep firm After The Whistle as a partner…..Public radio icon Robert Siegel announces he’s retiring as host of NPR’s “All Things Considered” in January of 2018.  Siegel assumed that position in 1987.  He’s been with NPR since 1976…..Here are some more winners of 2017 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards:  In Seattle, Sinclair Broadcast Group’s KOMO “News 1000/FM97.7” is honored with the award for Overall Excellence.  The station also took first place for Breaking News for its coverage of the Seattle May Day protests.  CBS RADIO’s WCBS-AM, New York; KCBS-AM, San Francisco; WBZ-AM, Boston; WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM, Chicago and five other stations amassed 25 awards with the four mentioned being honored for Overall Excellence.  Bonneville’s KTAR-FM, Phoenix picked up three Murrows, including Overall Excellence.

U.S.-North Korea Tensions, Trump’s First 100 Days, Sanctuary Cities Ruling, Canadian Lumber Tariff, Mexican Wall, Trump’s Proposed Tax Cuts, Michael Flynn Case, Ivanka in Berlin, and MLB, NBA, and NHL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/25). The military tensions between North Korea and the United States and concerns about a full-blown war starting; the judging of the Trump Administration’s first 100 days; a California judge blocks part of President Trump’s sanctuary cities order; talk about the effects of Trump’s tariff on Canadian lumber; debate over whether President Trump’s Mexican wall will actually get funded and built; the tax cuts being proposed by the Trump Administration; comments from House members that it appears Michael Flynn broke the law in accepting payments from Russia; Ivanka Trump attends European conference with Angela Merkel and IMF managing director Christine Lagarde; and MLB, NBA and NHL 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.  Former WJMN, Boston personality Bobby Blaze is joining Beasley Media Group’s crosstown rhythmic AC WBQT “HOT 96.9 FM” to host the afternoon drive show, effective tomorrow (4/27).  Blaze says, “I’m so excited to be back on Boston radio and being surrounded by the most talented on-air team in Boston.  You only become great when you’re surrounded by great people and that’s what ‘HOT 96.9’ represents.”…..Morning personality Fitz exits Entercom’s country KKWF, Seattle “100.7 The Wolf” and the “Fitz in the Morning” program.  Entercom states, “‘Fitz in the Morning’ will no longer be on air on 100.7-FM The Wolf in Seattle as of Monday, April 24.  Fitz has been an important part of the station for nearly 12 years, but we have decided to part ways.  We wish him well, and we will be conducting a nationwide search for the station’s next morning show.”  In the interim, morning personalities Ellen Tailor and Randy The Biscuit will host the program…..The afternoon drive Zepp & Terri show – featuring Brian Zepp and Terri Traen – exits Cumulus Media’s classic rock KQRS, Minneapolis.  The two had been partnered on the show for the past year.  Traen was formerly part of the Tom Barnard morning show.  As a result of the move, Ray Erick is now hosting the 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm slot…..With the departure of Brett Hall from the stations – and the radio biz – Saga Communications names Tom Scott morning drive host at hot AC KJBX, Jonesboro, Arkansas and to voice track the night show at sister country KDXY.

Karaoke for a Cause.  Pictured above at Cumulus Media’s Stage 17 in New York City are members of the band Ocean Park Standoff and staffers from Voss Foundation.  The band performed for an intimate group of listeners on Monday (4/17).  Afterward, WPLJ personality Ralphie Aversa sang karaoke to the group’s new single “Good News” competing against a winning listener.  “Karaoke for a Cause” is raising awareness of Voss Foundation and VOSS Water’s annual #31Days to Make a Difference initiative.  Voss Foundation is dedicated to providing access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene as a means to enable community-driven development in Sub-Saharan Africa and raising awareness of the ongoing need in the region.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

| April 21, 2015

littlelindaLittle Rises to President of Phoenix Market for iHeartMedia.  Assuming the position left briefly vacant by Scott Hopeck after he was promoted to the same post at the New York City cluster is Linda Little.  She moves up from her SVP of sales position with the station group.  Prior to that, she was GSM for adult contemporary KESZ and country KNIX.  She also served as integrated media business development manager.   She comments, “I have had the privilege of building my media career in Phoenix and am very fortunate to have worked for a company that has given me many opportunities to grow while constantly evolving with the industry.” In this position she’ll oversee news/talk KFYI, talk KOY, and sports talk KGME.

schreiberjonathanSchreiber Promoted at Mercury Radio Arts.  Moving up from his head of strategy and special projects position with Glenn Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts to president of the company is Jonathan Schreiber.  In this new post, Schreiber will oversee Mercury’s divisions including digital, radio andmercuryradioarts logo publishing and its continued growth in film, television and “digital content across different genres beyond politics and current events.”  The company says Schreiber will continue to serve as an advisor to TheBlaze, the company’s news, information and entertainment network led by CEO Betsy Morgan.  Schreiber has an 18-year pedigree in the tech, mobile and entertainment businesses.  Beck says, “I personally recruited Jonathan to help take our company to the next level.  Since joining Mercury, he has played an integral role in both the strategy and execution at Mercury Radio Arts and my overall business philosophy and approach.  He is a trusted advisor and this title reflects the leadership position he has and will continue to assume in this new era for both me and our business.

quayledonIndustry Mourns Don Quayle. The first president of National Public Radio (NPR) has died: Don Quayle was 84 years old. NPR’s Susan Stamberg recalls that Quayle gave her her first radio job. “It was the early-1960s and he was head of the Educational Radio Network – the precursor of NPR – a little network of 12 east coast stations that developed a daily drive-time news show. He hired me to help produce it. When this national network arose, he was an obvious choice to run it. Don was principled, decent, and astute. In the euphoric tumult of our first years, he navigated the choppy seas of building a public radio system. He knew NPR had to serve our listeners, above the competing needs of stations, boards, and funders.” The program to which Stamberg alludes, of course, is “All Things Considered,” which Quayle debuted on NPR in 1971. He headed the network – which now has more than 900 member stations – from 1970 to 1973. Prior to that (1960 – 1962), Quayle managed Boston public outlet WGBH. Five years ago, the Logan, Utah native received an honorary doctorate of humane letters for his “significant contributions” to public broadcasting from his alma mater, Utah State University.

theblaze radio networkPremiere and TheBlaze to Present Memorial Day Special.  The annual Memorial Day radio special produced by Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze Radio Network returns in 2015 with Premiere Networks handling affiliate relations.  The three-hour program – titled “Reflections from a Gratefulpremierenetworks Nation” – features the hosts, writers and editors of TheBlaze and TheBlaze.com, including: Doc Thompson, Skip LaCombe, Buck Sexton, Jay Severin, Chris Salcedo, Mike Broomhead and others.  In addition to special appearances by award-winning actor Gary Sinise, “Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak and members of the military, listeners will hear personal stories and conversations about the meaning of the holiday in this special tribute to those who fought and gave their lives to defend America’s freedom.  It’s available to news/talk stations for airing from May 23-25.  Interested stations can phone Premiere at 818-377-5300.

harrisonUpCloseFarOutsmallMichael Harrison Interviews Boston Herald Editor-in-Chief Joe Sciacca on Weekly Podcast, ‘Up Close and Far Out.’  In a candid and informative interview on the popular weekly podcast “Up Close and Far Out with Michael Harrison,” Boston Herald editor-in-chief  Joe Sciacca discusses his views on a wide variety of media-related topics that include, among others:  the state of the newspaper industry in a changing media landscape; the impact of the digital era on journalism; and his experience in being involved with his newspaper’s pioneering effort in online news/talk/sports radio broadcasting – Boston Herald Radio.   During the extensive conversation, Sciacca – a 37-year veteran of the newspaper business as a reporter, columnist and editor — tells TALKERS magazine publishersciaccajoe Michael Harrison that the biggest challenge facing journalists in the newspaper business today is “keeping their print product relevant.”  He tells Harrison, “I believe this is the greatest time to be leading a news organization in America even though resources are challenging and newspapers are experiencing difficult times in terms of revenue.  There really is a great window of opportunity to be creative – to reinvent our business.  So when I became editor five years ago after being at the Herald for 32 years, I embraced the challenge because even though I knew the road was going to be difficult to navigate, we have done some incredible things over the last five years and we’ve really transformed what was purely a print organization into a multimedia news organization.”  This transformation, of course, includes the launch of Boston Herald Radio – the newspaper’s online talk station that produces 11 hours of original, live content every weekday from a studio located right next to the newspaper’s newsroom.  It has proven to be a major source of breaking stories, not only for Boston-area news consumers, but for the media across the country and around the world.   Harrison and Sciacca delve into media theory and discuss differences in the psychology between reading stories online as opposed to the printed page.  They also analyze the impact of video cameras inside a radio studio and the differences between what Harrison describes as “great radio or bad television.”  Sciacca discusses the Boston Herald’s commitment to getting the stories right, rather than just being first – a pressure amplified by the competition generated by the 24 hour non-stop, digital news cycle and he recalls how coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing was particularly challenging because of all the false information that was out there in the general news media’s frenzy to stay on top of the breaking story during its early hours and days.  Harrison describes his theories about the emergence of what he calls “stickless” radio broadcasting (meaning radio without the traditional license, transmitter and tower) and the development of the online “media station” in the 21st century.  To hear the entirety of this fascinating conversation between two seasoned, front-line media visionaries, please click here, or click on the “Up Close and Far Out” box in the right-hand column on every page of Talkers.com.

clipinteractiveFour More Smartphone Models Can Have FM Chip Activated Via Clip Interactive.  According to Clip Interactive, more consumers can exercise the FM chip listening option as it has expanded the phones that can use its technology to include the HTC One M9, HTC Desire 610, Sharp Aquos Crystal and LG G3.   Clip Interactive says its application technology connects to this chip, allowing the listener to tune into local stations without having to stream, which depletes data allowances and consumes more battery life.  FM chip activation through Clip Interactive mobile apps allows stations to optimize listening options for users.  Clip Interactive chief technology officer Peter Shoebridge says, “Activating the FM chip on more devices benefits the listener as they can reduce data usage and enjoy the real-time broadcast.  The industry can expect more announcements about additional devices in the coming weeks as we continue our mission to provide interactive radio to the masses.”

Odds & Sods.  Appearing in the KFAQ, Tulsa studios this morning is a crew from “Good Morning America” as morning host Pat Campbell interviews attorney Clark Brewster.  Reserve Sheriff Deputy Robert Bates hiredcampbellpat Brewster to represent him in the case of the fatal shooting of Eric Harris that took place during a drug sting.  Bates has been cleared by the FBI of violating Harris’ civil rights but faces a second-degree manslaughter charge for accidently using his pistol instead of a taser on Harris.  Pat Campbell tells TALKERS magazine, “Our station has been ground zero for many exclusives on this story, including the foxsportsradio logoonly sit-down interview with Sheriff Stanley Glanz.  KFAQ news director Tami Marler has been all over this since day one, getting scoops and guests other outlets can’t secure.”…..FOX Sports Radio is presenting “FOX Sports Live 2015 NFL Draftcast” – a multi-platform NFL draft special featuring Jay Glazer, Joel Klatt, Peter Schrager, Mike Garafolo and Don Bell in Chicago.  It will air on the network’s more than 400 affiliates nationwide beginning at 8:00 pm ET on Thursday, April 30…..The last Buckley Broadcasting property – KIDD-AM, Monterey, California – has been sold to Saul Levine’s Mt. Wilson Broadcasters for $50,000.  Buckley took KIDD-AM dark a few months ago and recently tore down its aging tower structure.

ISIS Violence, Iran Nuclear Program Controversy/U.S. Naval Presence in Yemen, 2016 Presidential Prospects, Police Shootings Controversies, and MLB Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/20).  The reports of ISIS executing Christians; the controversy about negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program and the United States’ naval presence in the waters off Yemen; the potential candidates for president in 2016; the cases of police shooting citizens in Baltimore, Tulsa and elsewhere; and the weekend’s Major League Baseball action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

| January 16, 2013

michaelsrandyRandy Michaels Speaks About Tribune Company in Newspaper Piece.  Sam Zell declined to be interviewed for a four-part series in the Chicago Tribune about the parent company’s financial and legal odyssey but former Tribune CEO and radio executive Randy Michaels did contribute to the story.   The piece charges that both Zell and Michaels never really understood the business (newspaper) or the culture of the place they were trying to save.  But Michaels tells the Tribune he believed he had to get the newspaper’s staff to move quickly adapting to the digital age or it would be too late.  Michaels says, “I cared a lot about that company, and while I recognize that there’s plenty that people might disagree with, I worked hard to keep those brands relevant in a changing world.  We thought that by knocking down some of the walls, by bringing in a looser culture and getting rid of all the bureaucracy, that we had a chance to outperform.  I thought it was my role to challenge everything.”  The piece cites the reluctance among the Tribune staffers to accept the forced change in culture and highlights some of the resentment felt when Michaels’ former radio colleagues were brought into executive positions.

methenykevinProgrammer Kevin Metheny Named WJR, Detroit PD.  Programming pro Kevin Metheny is the new program director at Cumulus Media’s news/talk WJR, Detroit.  Metheny had been interim program director at Clear Channel’s country KMNB, Minneapolis “Buz’n 102.9” after leaving WGN, Chicago in November of 2010.  Prior to his stint at WGN, Metheny was operations manager a Clear Channel’s Cleveland cluster.  Metheny states, “I’ve long admired WJR from 90 miles across Lake Erie where I put 760 on a button the day I landed in Cleveland. ‘The Great Voice of The Great Lakes’ is a gold standard collection of impossible-to-duplicate treasures and I’m thrilled to join the Cumulus team.”   Cumulus news/talk/sports corporate programmer Jim Mahanay adds, “Kevin brings a wealth of experience and knowledge of the spoken-word format to the legendary WJR.  We are excited to have him on the team!”

trn logoTalk Radio Network Unveils Seven New Weekend Programs.  In what Talk Radio Network CEO Mark Masters calls a focus “on helping our affiliated stations make more money,” the company launches seven new programs this weekend, beginning with “Making America Laugh with Louie Anderson.”  The comic brings “his brand of humor and warmth to the radio airwaves – covering topical news, taking listener calls, and riffing withandersonlouie comedic and celebrity guests.”  Other programs lifting off this weekend include: “Nutzz & Knight Radio” hosted by Gordon “Lug Nutzz” Stewart and actor Christopher Knight (Peter Brady from “The Brady Bunch”).  TRN calls it “a hysterical, fast-paced, and irreverent action/motorsports lifestyle and entertainment radio program, featuring interviews with personalities from NASCAR, the NHRA, and IndyCar to action sports athletes, musicians, and the entertainment industry.”  “All Action Sports Radio” is dedicated to complete coverage of the action sports industry – surfing, skateboarding, BMX, Motocross, skiing, snowboarding, and more.  “The Brian Oxman Show” features the former high-profile attorney for Michael Jackson and the Jackson family.  “Blueprint of a Champion Radio Show” is a proprietary goal-setting and success program for student athletes brought to life through radio hosted by Neil Mason, a standout college athlete, Olympic coach and successful entrepreneur.  “The Anthony Vultaggio Show” is a general issues talk program.  “The Hibbard Show” is hosted by husband and wife team, Dave and Marhnelle Hibbard and is geared toward helping people in both their professional lives and in their personal lives.

wspd logoScott Sands to Program WSPD, Toledo.  Clear Channel Media and Entertainment announces programmer Scott Sands will take over the program director role at news/talk WSPD, Toledo and sister rock outlet WIOT.  Sands most recently was involved in launching CHR WWHX, Bloomington, Illinois with Vallie/Richards/Donovan.  He also partnered with Vallie/Richards/Donovan to launch and program Main Line Broadcasting’s modern rock WCLI, Dayton “Click 101.5.”  Until earlier in the fall, Brian Wilson had been serving as program director and afternoon drive host.

coxmediagroupCox Media Settles with Todd Schnitt; Jury Seated in Complaint Against Bubba the Love Sponge.  The Tampa Bay Times reports that the defamation suit by talk show host Todd Schnitt against long-time Tampa market rival Bubba the Love Sponge (Todd Clem) continues as a jury was seatedschnitttodd yesterday morning.  However, Schnitt’s suit against Cox Media (Clem’s employer) has been settled.  The paper reports that Cox Media and Schnitt reached a settlement on Friday, the terms of which were not disclosed.  Cox Media Tampa market manager Keith Lawless is quoted telling the Times, “(The settlement) was a business decision, but in no way reflects that we are not in support of Bubba.  It’s not such a bad thing that all our focus is now on defending Bubba.”  Meanwhile, a jury of six with four alternates has been seated in Schnitt’s suit against Clem but not without some drama as the Times reports both sides initially agreed to the make-up of the jury, then Schnitt’s lawyers asked to reconsider.  Immediately Clem’s attorneys asked for a mistrial but the judge declared the jury selection final and swore in the jurors.

campbellpatOdds & Sods. With Compass Media Networks talk host Todd Schnitt tied up in court in his suit against Bubba the Love Sponge, he’ll be missing some time on the radio.  KFAQ, Tulsa morning drive host Pat Campbell is subbing for Schnitt on his 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET program on Thursday, January 17…..Former WTKK, Boston talk host Michael Graham fills in for crosstown WRKO afternoon drive host Howie Carr on Thursday…..The big Oprah Winfrey interview with Lance Armstrong will air on Winfrey’s OWN cable channel on Thursday evening but SiriusXM will get the firstgrahammichael crack at distributing the audio of the interview on Friday on its Oprah Channel…..Hubbard Broadcasting’s  WTOP, Washington is hosting a special “Ask The Doctor” program featuring Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, today at 10:00 am to help listeners learn more about the flu.  The hour-long Q&A session will answer a number of concerns related to this year’s harsh flu season and more with WTOP mid-day anchors Mark Lewis and Debbie Feinstein hosting and taking calls from listeners…..Michael Patrick Shiels, host of “Michigan’s Big Show,” will broadcast his syndicated morning show live from Monte Carlo, in the principality of Monaco, on Friday, January 25.  The special, international broadcast will originate from the historic Hotel de Paris next to the famed Casino de Monte-Carlo and guests on the program will include: actor Roger Moore, singer Shirley Bassey, residents of Monaco, as well as a representative of Monaco’s Royal Family.

dial global sportsDial Global Sports Distributes NFL Conference Championships.  The NFL’s conference championship weekend takes place on Sunday and Dial Global Sports brings affiliate stations exclusive radio play-by-play of the San Francsico 49ers vs Atlanta Falcons matchup and the Baltimore Ravens vs New England Patriots game.  The NFC Championship game is being called by Dave Sims alongside Hall of Famer James Lofton as analyst and Tony Boselli on the sidelines.  The AFC Championship game is being announced by Kevin Harlan with the play-by-play, Hall of Famer Dan Fouts as analyst and Mark Malone on the sidelines.

wgnlogoWGN, Chicago and NHL’s Blackhawks Agree to Five More Years.  Now that NHL hockey is set to return, Tribune’s WGN, Chicago and the Chicago Blackhawks have announced they will extend their deal for the station to be the exclusive market radio home of the team’s play-by-play broadcasts.  The new, five-year deal will keep WGN as the team’s flagship station through the 2018-19 NHL season.  WGN Radio DOS and interim general manager Jeff Hill says, “We are proud to extend our relationship with the Blackhawks and bring the excitement of hockey play-by-play to our listeners.  The fast pace of the broadcasts provide an incomparable energy and we look forward to delivering the best hockey broadcasts for the next six years.”

Debt Ceiling Debate, Gun Legislation Proposals, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Controversy, ObamaCare Costs, and Lance Armstrong ‘Oprah’ Interview Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/15).  The battle between the Obama Administration and Congress over raising the debt ceiling; threats by the president to use executive powers to write new gun legislation; the controversy over the movie “Zero Dark Thirty”; the costs brought about by the Affordable Care Act; and Lance Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Monday, August 20, 2012

| August 20, 2012

Clear Channel Will Pay Buckley $30 Million for WOR.  The paperwork to transfer WOR, New York from Buckley Broadcasting to Clear Channel Media and Entertainment has been filed with the FCC and we now know the price CC will pay for the station, pending approval by the Commission, is $30 million.  The station is already being operated by Clear Channel under an LMA.

The Other Morning Shoe Drops at KLOS as Brian Phelps Says Adios.  The surprise (to many) and sudden exit Friday by Brian Phelps of the KLOS, Los Angeles “Mark & Brian” morning show has some industry observers speculating that there might be more than meets the eye to Mark Thompson’s  earlier telegraphed and more-heralded departure.  Was the whole thing very possibly all about money?  Perhaps Cumulus Media’s new contract offer to Mark Thompson in today’s belt-tightening climate played a bigger role in his decision than the good-natured veteran let on when he told the Los Angeles Times, “It’s just time…guys my age are dropping dead.  There are other things I want to do.”  The Friday (8/16) program that was billed as the farewell show for Mark Thompson turned out to be the last shift for his on-air partner Brian Phelps as well.  Thompson is now off to his new life in North Carolina while Phelps is reportedly teaming up with actress/entertainer Jill Whelan to do a series of podcasts at brianandjillshow.com.  Whelan was recently a talk show host at WPHT, Philadelphia.  Thompson will also be heading to the internet and podcasting with his wife and three adult children at markandlynda.us.  Finishing a quarter-century run, the “Mark & Brian” show exits as the current longest-running morning show in Los Angeles.  TALKERS caught up with Cumulus COO John Dickey over the weekend who stood behind Thompson’s account of his reason for leaving the show adding, “I thank Mark for giving us the certainty to begin this search and process in earnest months and months ago — speaks volumes to Mark’s decision to paint on another canvas.”  Regarding Phelps, Dickey did not deny the host’s position was changed with Thompson out of the equation stating, “With respect to Brian, he was part of a large consideration pool for the next chapter in rock’s most iconic brand.  The decision, which will be announced very soon, was made after a long and thoughtful process.”  Oh, something else Dickey says has the TALKERS editors wondering if the multi-talented Thompson (who has dabbled in a bit of movie acting in his time) is only going to be focusing on his podcasts in the near future:  “My only comment on Mark is that he is as committed to his movie career as I’m sure he once was to his radio show.”

WOWO, Fort Wayne Names Woody Zimmerman OM.  Federated Media announces Woody Zimmerman takes over the operations manager post at the company’s heritage news/talk outlet WOWO, Fort Wayne.  Zimmerman has held various programming roles over the span of his career with Federated Media and, previous to working for Federated, Zimmerman was a TV news assignment editor.  Federated Media Fort Wayne market manager Jim Allgeier says, “Woody’s sense of urgency, organizational skills, attention to detail and work ethic make him uniquely qualified to take on the complex job of programming a news talk station.  The talents and skills Woody has demonstrated as a programmer will transfer quickly as he takes on the assignment of programming a news/talk station for the first time.”  Allgeier thanks outgoing OM Gregg Henson for his work with the station and especially his contribution to the launch of their Fan Sports Brand in Northern Indiana.

Fox News Radio Adds Two to News Staff.  Fox News Radio vice president Mitch Davis announces the company brings two veteran broadcasters aboard as Steve Knight and Simon Owen begin with the company today.  Steve Knight served as both an anchor and reporter for WCBS-AM, New York; CBS News Radio, and Associated Press Radio.  He also served as news director and anchor for New York Times Radio and was bestowed the Edward R. Murrow award for best documentary, feature reporting, and use of sound.  He’ll be a New York-based anchor.  Simon Owen was most recently a reporter with Sky News Radio where he provided live coverage of the 2012 Olympics as well as of the 2011 Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.  He also covered the death of singer Amy Winehouse, the resignation of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and secured high-profile interviews with international celebrities such as David Beckham and Jude Law.  He’ll be a London-based correspondent.

Talk Host Found Guilty of Felony Wiretapping.  “Free Talk Live” co-host Adam “Ademo” Mueller was found guilty of felony wiretapping by a New Hampshire jury and will serve 90 days in jail with an additional one to three years suspended and five years probation – meaning he could end up serving that additional time for probation violation.  “Free Talk Live” host Ian Freeman tells TALKERS, “He was accused of recording conversations with government workers while they were on duty, over the phone.  He was investigating the brutal attack on a student at Manchester’s West High School by the school police officer.  Rather than punish the officer for unnecessarily slamming the student’s head into a table, they went after Ademo for trying to hold them accountable, on-the-record.  Monday’s conviction was a sad day for the idea of the right to be the free press.  The trial held many outrageous moments, including a government school principal who claimed she is not a public official!”  Background on the case can be found at the site CopBlock.org: http://copblock.org/freeademo.

Talk Host and Journalist Aaron Klein’s Latest Book Lands on Best-Seller List.  Jerusalem-based journalist and talk show host Aaron Klein’s latest book, Fool Me Twice: Obama’s Shocking Plans for the Next Four Years Exposed (WND Books 2012), hit #18 on the New York Times bestseller list for this week.  Klein co-wrote the book with Brenda J. Elliott.  He has been on a media tour to promote the book that has included stops on Cumulus Media Network’s Mike Huckabee program and Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends” morning program.  Klein hosts the weekly Sunday evening program “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio” on Cumulus Media’s WABC, New York from 7:00 to 9:00.

“Spoken Word Radio: The Big Picture” Session Set for TALKERS Los Angeles Seminar. A dynamic panel discussion involving a group of knowledgeable talk industry leaders has been set for the forthcoming New Media Seminar 2012 in Los Angeles on Thursday, October 11 at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood being presented by TALKERS in association with the Los Angeles Press Club. Titled “Spoken Word Radio: The Big Picture,” the panel will consist of an eclectic array of individuals including Phil Boyce, VP/director, spoken word format, Salem Communications; Ron Hartenbaum, CEO, WYD Media Management, LLC; Kraig Kitchin, CEO, Sound Mind, LLC; and Mike McVay, senior VP programming, Cumulus Media. The session will be moderated by TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison. The conference will also feature, within its packed schedule, the honoring of KFI/KTLK program director Robin Bertolucci with the “Woman of the Year” award.  The presentation will be made by nationally syndicated radio and television talk star, Stephanie Miller.  The seminar will present more than 60 leading industry speakers.  Its agenda will be posted on Talkers.com next week.  It is expected to be an early sellout.  To assure registration, attendees are advised to sign up now.  Because it is open only to working media there will be no online registration – only by telephone.  For registration and sponsorship information call 413-565-5413.

Yahoo! Sports Radio Moves Travis Rodgers to Afternoon Slot.  The man who produced Premiere NetworksJim Rome show for many years and is now a host of his own sports talk program with Yahoo! Sports Radio, is moved to a new time that puts him in virtual competition with Rome’s show.  Travis Rodgers left Rome’s program in 2009 saying at the time he disagreed with Rome about the direction the program had taken.  He became a sports talk host himself.  Now his show moves to the 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm ET slot effective today.  In a statement, Rodgers says, “I can’t wait to go against the show that I helped build in to the industry standard.  It’s not that anymore and I look forward to creating the new standard in sports talk radio.”

More Radio Talent are Becoming Entrepreneurs…and some are doing it kicking and screaming, while others embrace the feeling of independence and potential opportunity that comes with it.  An informal in-house TALKERS magazine survey of radio stations and syndication companies conducted over the past two years indicates that the combination of new technology and difficult economic conditions are fueling this trend.  The traditional employer/employee relationship between talent and platform provider is increasingly being replaced by independent contractor deals with many air personalities – even at major market heritage stations – operating as the principals of their own production companies.  Within this new paradigm, on-air performers are responsible for their own health care, make lower salaries, and have shorter-term commitments from their “employers.”  In return, they are granted the flexibility of working from home, broadcasting different shifts to other out of town stations and receiving revenue sharing deals on their shows and related intellectual property.

(Speaking of Entrepreneurism) Premiere Networks Founder Steve Lehman is Developing a Radio Talk Show for Syndication Aimed at Entrepreneurs…and it is already getting traction in Los Angeles on KFWB weekdays from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm.  The show is called “Business Rock Stars” and it is hosted by well-known entrepreneur Ken Rutkowski. The voice-over announcer for the show is Joe Cipriano (voice of Fox and CBS).  Program partner Steve Lehman tells TALKERS that the show, which launched two months ago, is doing very well on KFWB where they are polishing every aspect of it to make it truly special and ready for a national roll-out in the near future.  The program focuses on starting and building a business and presents some of the world’s most successful CEOs as well as accomplished small business owners as guests.  The program is being designed for multi-platform content distribution.  A glass enclosed studio is being designed and built in a highly trafficked Southern California location to house the show and its related seminars.  It is being outfitted with three video cameras for streaming content.  In addition, Lehman tells TALKERS, “We have a great strategic tie-in with Entrepreneur Magazine and will be broadcasting the Entrepreneur of the year awards live from Dallas.  Additionally, we are working with Entrepreneur on their Franchise 500 issue.  We are going to give away a franchise on the air!”  Ken Ritkowski will be a speaker at the forthcoming TALKERS New Media Seminar on Thursday, October 11 discussing the new business environment of talk show hosting and radio station managing.  Talkers tip: Keep your eye on this show and developing company.  Steve Lehman is a top notch pro who has had an enormous influence on the modern radio industry.  His turning his attention toward talk radio is a big deal for the business.

Leno Takes a Pay Cut.  Since we are on the topic of broadcast talents facing pay cuts, the story broken yesterday (8/19) by CNN that NBC television star talker Jay Leno of the Tonight Show has agreed to accept a significant pay decrease to help the company deal with growing expenses and shrinking revenue has eyebrows raising throughout the broadcasting industry.  In addition, NBC is still axing about 20 “Tonight Show” support staffers.  Leno reportedly took the cut to protect even more of the show’s “little people” from receiving pink slips.  You can be sure this provocative and unfortunate bit of news will reverberate around the conference rooms of radio stations as new talent contracts come up for renewal.

Georgia Radio Hall of Fame Sets October 20 Induction in Macon.  For the first time in its six-year history, the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame is moving its induction ceremony (set for October 20) out of Atlanta and to the city of Macon.  The organization’s president, John Long, who many of you will remember from KRUX, Phoenix and WAPE, Jacksonville, tells TALKERS, “We have struggled from the beginning to make this the GEORGIA Radio Hall of Fame.  While 48% of our membership is from the seven-county metro-Atlanta area, that leaves a lot of radio stations and even more radio people in the state who deserve recognition.  The members in Macon and Macon board member Ben Sandifer lobbied for the event to come there and veteran Georgia radio people have responded.  It is going to be a great evening and ticket sales indicate it will come close to being another sellout.”  TALKERS asked Long to describe the philosophy and mission behind the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame.  His compelling response:  “‘Radio people’ used to be considered big deals by their friends, families, and listeners.  The changes in radio programming and technology have taken the focus away from people leaving many veterans with nothing more than scrapbooks and reel-to-reel tapes of radio from days gone by.  When Sam Hale and I started the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame, we were two guys who were fortunate enough to have worked in, what many call, the glory days of radio.  The late Larry Shannon founded the Texas Radio Hall of Fame in 2002 for many of the same reasons; to honor the men and women who made radio magic.  Larry and Kent Burkhart were invaluable in helping us form our organization.  All the work done by our group is volunteer.  When someone asks me what I get out of it, the answer is: watching the families of our Legacy inductees brimming with pride when we recognize their dad, mom, brother, or sister; seeing our Career Achievement inductees smiling ear-to-ear when we put the medallion around their neck.  We want to make sure that their contributions are not forgotten.”  Long continues, “Another important part of our mission is preserving the rich heritage of Georgia radio since March 15, 1922, when the state’s first station, WSB, signed on the air. One of our founding board members, Mike Kavanagh, began wsbhistory.com.  When Mike passed away he left the site to the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame with one request: preserve it.  This year we partnered with Georgia State University to achieve that goal.  In 2013, we will work on a project with them to guarantee preservation, access, and continuity of the history of radio in Georgia, including inductees into The Georgia Radio Hall of  Fame.”  To learn more visit www.grhof.com.

Odds & Sods.  If you work in news/talk radio, your input is requested by TroyResearch which is conducting an important national study of talk radio, talk syndicators and the decision making process in radio today.  If you haven’t already taken this survey from TroyResearch, please click on this link: http://www.srvy.net/x/1.p?23554461110025479936.  100 respondents, randomly selected from completed surveys, will receive a $5 Amazon.com coupon.   A summary of results will be shared with TALKERS magazine and posted at TroyResearch…..Talk show host Pat Campbell, who hosts the morning drive show on Journal Broadcasting’s KFAQ, Tulsa, will sit in for Charlie Sykes on Journal’s WTMJ, Milwaukee from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon today…..Talk show producer Frank Morano, who produces Curtis Sliwa’s program on Salem Communications’ WNYM, New York – AM 970 The Answer – began his own Saturday morning program on the station.  During his first show he interviewed Vadim Vassilenko – a Ukrainian man who’s been in jail in the city for five years without bail or a trial in a case revolving around a $4 million stolen credit card scheme….. Sports talk radio outlet WIST, New Orleans and its FM translator at 104.9 (K285FF) are being sold by GHB Broadcasting to Catholic Community Radio.  GHB principal George Buck continues to be majority owner and operator of oldies WTIX-FM, New Orleans.  Catholic Community Radio also owns WPYR, Baton Rouge.

Denver Radio Legend Charley Martin Dies.  Denver radio fans are remembering longtime KHOW morning drive co-host Charley Martin, who passed away on August 17 at age 67 after a long illness.  Martin had been in hospice care in Phoenix for some time.  Martin co-hosted the “Hal and Charley” show on KHOW beginning in 1976 – a program that would air on the station until 1995 when the station took a more serious news/talk turn.  Denver Post television critic Joanne Ostrow quotes Denver media watchers in her obit who note that the duo of Martin and Hal Moore ruled Denver radio during an era when “humorous DJs” were the order of the day.  The duo garnered enormous ratings and had the honor of their program’s audio being heard on the radio during a scene in the 1980 movie “The Shining.”