By Holland Cooke
You agree, then pivot: “But somebody MUST…who SHOULD? One, eight hundred…”
All of us in the talk radio family will always owe him. Limbaugh lead the repurposing of an AM band obsoleted after music migrated to FM.
Clear Channel Goes ‘Next Generation’ on KOY, Phoenix. The business talk format on Clear Channel’s KOY, Phoenix is gone and the company is airing a news/talk format it has dubbed “KFYI 2 The Next Generation of Talk.” The lineup for the station is: Armstrong & Getty (piped in from KSTE, Sacramento), the Radio America-syndicated Dana Loesch show, Casey Bartholomew, Portland-based “Ground Zero with Clyde Lewis” and Premiere’s “America Now” (which is seeking to replace Andy Dean as the permanent host), among others. Certainly, these hosts are a bit younger than the majority of the news/talk radio personalities working today, but critics will argue that building a lineup to appeal to a younger audience faces almost impossible odds on an AM band station. Although, the station is available via Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio platform.
Burnie Thompson Show Exits WYOO, Panama City and WVFT, Tallahassee; Show to Continue Online. The Florida talk show hosted by Burnie Thompson – based in Panama City and focused on state and regional issues – lost its last two affiliates as Magic Broadcasting II dropped the show citing low ratings. The program had aired in afternoons on WYOO, Panama City “Talk Radio 101” and in Tallahassee on WVFT “Freedom 93.” Thompson, who promises the show will re-emerge on Monday, August 11 at MyFreedomRadio.com, posted on his Facebook page the following comments about his departure: “They didn’t fire me as much as they took away your voice on the radio in Panama City and Tallahassee. Now you can no longer express your support or criticism of elected officials by name on ‘Talk Radio 101.’ They will continue to pipe in a nationally syndicated show or find someone who follows the new rules that forbid editorializing on local elections. I think they’ve underestimated how much this all meant to you and how many of you there are. I know they’d rather upset you than Congressman Southerland, Gov. Rick Scott, or Jay Trumbull Jr.’s financiers.”
Cumulus Media Q2 Net Revenue Up 2%. That figure is pro forma – the actual net revenue is up 21.4% but that number is so high because it’s affected by the acquisition of Westwood One and the Townsquare transaction. Breaking down the radio side of things for Cumulus Media, the numbers tell the story of a challenging second quarter. The company reports “broadcast advertising revenue decreased by $4.0 million, primarily due to a $9.4 million decrease in network spot revenue, a $9.8 million decrease in local spot revenue and a decrease of $2.6 million in national spot revenue. These decreases were partially offset by a $2.9 million increase in revenue from the addition of two radio stations being operated under a local marketing agreement in the Chicago market and the benefit from $14.9 million of reduced producer revenue shares at Westwood One.”
Envision Adds Content to ‘America Weekend.’ The weekend programming block, “America Weekend,” designed for news/talk radio stations offered by Envision Networks announces more additions to its content. Envision adds “Animal Radio” as part of the new “America Weekend” lineup. The nationally syndicated “Animal Radio” show has been on the air for 14 years and is heard on 125 affiliate stations. “America Weekend” also has added “Into Tomorrow with Dave Graveline,” “Smith and Sabatino,” and host Ed Kalegi.
Round Two of July PPM Data Released. The second of four rounds of July 2014 PPM data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: Washington, Boston, Detroit, Miami, Seattle, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. The survey period was June 19 through July 16. TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo has all of the numbers from subscribing stations here. In addition, managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his “Ten Takeaways” from this batch of ratings on the main page at RadioInfo.com here.
Jim Jones Returns to Westwood One as Senior Director, News Affiliate Sales. Just after the unveiling of its new news product – a collaboration with CNN Newsource – Westwood One announces that Jim Jones is named senior director, news affiliate sales. The company says that in this new position, Jones will be overseeing affiliate sales for Westwood One’s news vertical and will be based in Washington and report to SVP of affiliate sales Dennis Green. Jones worked for Westwood One for 15 years and was previously VP of affiliate sales, news/talk. Most recently he was with Focus 360. Green comments, “Jim has an extensive knowledge of the news product and has been involved in the affiliation of major news networks with a high level of success. Our affiliates will have the benefit of Jim and his team’s knowledge of integrating our new white label news product into the station’s lineup as we find new audiences to bring news and information from around the world.”
“We Initially Went for a Vacation and Found a War.” Talk show host and perennial Heavy Hundred member Alan Stock, heard mornings on KDWN, Las Vegas, joins what seems to be a growing list of prominent talk show hosts (Sean Hannity, Ethan Bearman, John Batchelor) who have taken their microphones to Israel for a closer perspective on the Gaza conflict. However, in the case of Stock (who has broadcasted from Israel several times during recent years), the original plan was to take his family there on vacation – during which the violence broke out quickly, changing his agenda. Stock interviewed a number of prominent Israeli figures including a wide array of Knesset Members (Israel’s Congress) such as conservative Likud Party leader Moshe Feiglin and liberal Labor Party leader Hilig Bar. Stock tells TALKERS, “Both agreed that all tunnels had to be destroyed and all rocket launching sites had to be eradicated. Both said that these things had to happen regardless of what it took to accomplish these goals. While they have different views on domestic issues, they — and all other members of the Knesset I interviewed — agreed on the unified need for an effective defense.” Stock adds, “I was able to call in with daily reports to my show. Much of the information reported from the region focused on Israeli air attacks on Gaza, missing the other half of the story — the need for those attacks to put an end to rockets constantly being fired from Gaza into Israeli population centers. If it wasn’t for Iron Dome, Israeli casualties would have been as great or greater than the Arab casualties. In Las Vegas, at least, talk radio [KDWN] and FNC gave a more balanced picture of what was really going on in this latest war.” Above, Stock (l) is pictured with Knesset Member Natan Sharansky (r), once a Soviet refusenik who spent time in the Soviet Gulag and who later moved to Israel. On a completely separate note, Stock tells TALKERS that his one-time morning co-host at KXNT, Las Vegas, Kerri Kasem is going to co-host his show this Friday (8/8). She’s visiting Las Vegas for a Nevada Broadcasters Association gala the following night where they will be giving special mention to her late father, Casey Kasem. Stock reports she will also be meeting with Nevada legislators to get the same bill passed that’s working its way through the California legislature that would allow adult children of divorced parents the right to petition the court to have visitation rights if they are being prevented from doing so by the new spouse (as was the case with Kerri and her siblings regarding their father).
WestStar MultiMedia Enters Film Business. The company founded by computer expert and nationally syndicated radio host Kim Komando and Barry Young is branching out into the film business as WestStar MultiMedia’s Barry Young Entertainment division announces it’s working in conjunction with OceanBlue Entertainment and Magnolia Pictures to present the film Frontera — starring Ed Harris, Eva Longoria, Michael Peña, and Amy Madigan – which is set for theatrical release September 5, 2014. Barry Young says, “We are very excited to have quietly watched the progress and development of Frontera over the past 18 months. Frontera provides a careful and thoughtful look at the issue of America’s border disarray with a superb cast. As we push our company and efforts even further into the development of digital programming with such projects as ‘The Kim Komando Show’ now being produced not only for radio, but also as a full television production, shooting live with 10 HD cameras, we are actively but very selectively perusing additional film projects.” Young adds, “We will not consider film projects with violent and meaningless content, but rather look only at thought-provoking projects that can make a difference in the lives of its audience, such as a new Christmas production for release in 2015 and another major production based on the best-selling Anne Rice novel, Christ The Lord: Out of Egypt, the story of Jesus Christ at age 7 as he and his family depart Egypt to return home to Nazareth.”
Odds & Sods. Saying it is focusing on the fan this NFL season, Westwood One is collaborating with its 500-plus AM and FM station partners to promote its prime time Monday, Thursday, and Sunday Night NFL broadcasts with exclusive content, special features, and local tune-in promotion. Every Monday, Thursday, and Sunday, NFL-affiliated stations will be able to access a Game Day package featuring game-specific audio highlights, on-air vignettes, special features, and customized tune-in promos featuring Westwood One Sports’ lineup of NFL announcers, including Kevin Harlan, Scott Graham, Kevin Kugler, Ian Eagle, and James Lofton…..Former St. Louis Rams player Will Witherspoon becomes part of the St. Louis Rams radio broadcast team for games heard on flagship WXOS, St. Louis “101ESPN.” Witherspoon joins the booth team of Steve Savard and former Rams star D’Marco Farr.
Cumulus Media New York’s ‘Bark in the Park’ a Succcess. The trio you see here are WABC, New York personalities (from l-r) Curtis Sliwa, Mark Levin, and Ron Kuby (plus Kuby’s pooches) at last weekend’s 4th Annual “Bark in the Park” at Overpeck Park in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey. Levin served as the host for the event. It was presented in conjunction with The North Shore Animal League America & Bergen County Animal Shelter/Adoption Center and Cumulus is proud to note that the adoption mission was a success as 19 dogs and 4 cats were adopted. Also taking part in the event were WPLJ’s Todd Pettengill and Race Taylor, “NASH FM 94.7” personality Kelly Ford, “Radio 103.9” host Roxie, plus WABC’s Geraldo Rivera.
Gaza Violence, Ebola Threat/Treatment Controversy, Immigration Policy/Southwest Border Crisis, Army General Killed in Afghanistan, ISIS Campaign/Threat to Christians, Mid-Term Elections/2016 Presidential Race, and Russia’s Ukraine Aggression Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/5). The ongoing strife in the Gaza Strip and the West’s Israel policies; the threat of an Ebola pandemic and controversy over a new treatment for the virus; the U.S.’s immigration policy and the border crisis in the Southwest; the assassination of U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Harold Greene in Afghanistan; the ISIS campaign to create a caliphate in Iraq and Syria and the group’s threat to Christians; the primaries for this fall’s mid-term elections and the 2016 presidential race; and Russia’s bolstering of troops along the Ukraine border were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
New York Losing Progressive Talk Outlet WWRL. Progressive talk host Karel – whose Long Beach, California-based talk show is heard on Access.1’s WWRL, New York – reports the station says it will flip to Spanish-language programming on December 27. The station airs progressive talk programming including Ed Schultz, Thom Hartmann, Premiere’s Randi Rhodes, and Leslie Marshall as well as non-political shows including Radio America’s Dr. Joy Browne, WYD Media’s Phil Hendrie plus various health and wellness shows. New York’s Amsterdam News reports the station is telling employees “low advertising revenue” is the reason for the format flip.
Brown Boosted to Bonneville International President. KSL Broadcast Group president Darrell Brown is promoted to president of parent company Bonneville International. Brown will oversee Bonneville’s 12 radio properties in Los Angeles, Seattle, Phoenix, and Salt Lake City, as well as Salt Lake City television outlet KSL-TV. “Bonneville International is known across the industry for its integrity and quality,” he comments. “As a group, these stations are committed to serving and building-up their local communities. I am honored to be part of Bonneville’s legacy.” Brown joined KSL last August, after having previously spent 28 years at McGraw-Hill Broadcasting.
Sports Talker WFAN, New York Sponsors Red Hot Chili Peppers-Headlines Show at Barclay Center. With the Super Bowl just across the river the next day, CBS Radio sports talk giant WFAN, New York is sponsoring a big event across the other river at the Barclays Center titled, “WFAN’s Big Hello to Brooklyn.” The announcement was made this morning as WFAN morning team Boomer Esiason (left) and Craig Carton (right) welcomed Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith (center) into the studio and announced his band will be headlining the show on Saturday, February 1, 2014. The concert will also include: New Politics, MS MR, J. Roddy Walston & The Business, and Basic Vacation. CBS calls it “the biggest weekend in sports and entertainment, and is the exciting conclusion to Barclays Center’s “Kickoff In Brooklyn” series which also includes championship boxing (1/30/2014) and a match-up between the Brooklyn Nets and the Oklahoma City Thunder (1/31/2014). CBS Radio SVP, strategic events and partnerships Amy Stevens says, “The intersection of sports and music is never bigger than during the weekend of the Super Bowl. Red Hot Chili Peppers are an American institution and rock ‘n’roll icons, and what better way to celebrate football’s championship than with this incredible lineup of artists for local fans and the thousands in New York from around the world.”
WFAN’s Mike Francesa to Exit YES Network. The New York TV simulcast of WFAN, New York’s Mike Francesa will end on January 31 after the current contract expires and WEPN-FM afternoon drive host Michael Kay’s program will take over the time slot on the Yankees-owned cable channel. The New York Daily News reports that the change was a financial matter and that CBS Radio was asking more for the rights to the program than YES wanted to pay. The Daily News piece speculates that cable’s Madison Square Garden Network may have the “inside track” with Francesa as he’s considered close to Garden management. The story also notes that fledgling cable channel CBS Sports Network, which is airing WFAN’s Boomer & Carton morning show, is not enticing to Francesa because he fears he’d have to change his content to appeal to the national audience.
Steak Added to WCNN Menu. In addition to existing members Sandra Golden and Brian Finneran, “The Front Row” on Dickey Broadcasting, Atlanta’s WCNN “Sports Radio 680 The Fan” will be comprised of Stephen “Steak” Shapiro as well. Formerly the 17-year host of “Mayhem in the AM” on Lincoln Financial Media’s crosstown WQXI “790 The Zone,” Shapiro has won numerous Georgia broadcasting awards and starts his daily 9:00 am – 12:00 noon assignment on January 2. WCNN president/general manager David Dickey comments, “I am excited to have ‘Steak’ back on ‘The Fan.’ He is one of the best-known and most-talented sports personalities in the country. ‘Steak’ will become an important part of what is already the region’s biggest and most-experienced sports-talk line-up. His homecoming is yet another example of Dickey Broadcasting’s ongoing commitment to invest in the best talent, the best content and the biggest partnerships.” Shapiro, who replaces Ray Mariner, adds, “‘The Fan’ gave me my start and is the reason I moved to Atlanta [from Boston] almost 20 years ago. I am ecstatic to be back doing what I love. ‘The Fan’ has been the number one sports talk station in the south for so many years. To be able to be a part of such a winning team with so many folks I have worked alongside in the past and consider friends is really thrilling.” Shapiro founded Big League Broadcasting in 1997 and was its president for roughly 14 years.
Dare to be Crap-Free. When it comes to online content, it’s easy to think you have a staffing problem or a time management problem or a resources problem, when what you really have is a crap problem. In a new column posted today (12/16) by noted digital radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller, he writes, “There’s stuff on your site that is irrelevant to your station and is keeping people from finding what they DO want to find there. Your social media is probably influenced more by what everyone else is doing in social media, rather than what will cause your biggest fans to love you all the more.” To read how Chris Miller can help you get crap-free and focused on results for 2014, please click here.
Odds & Sods. Connecticut talk show host Mary Jones announces she’ll retire from Buckley Broadcasting-owned news/talk station WDRC-AM, Hartford as of December 23 in order to spend more time with her husband and enjoy winters in Florida. Jones tells TALKERS it was a big decision but she is excited about the change….. WMAL-AM/FM, Washington “Mornings on the Mall” co-host Larry O’Connor is doing some double duty during the holiday season. O’Connor will sub for WABC, New York-based Geraldo Rivera beginning December 20 through the end of the year (and the end of his national syndication run) and will also sit in for WestwoodOne-syndicated personality Dennis Miller on January 2 and 3 – the last two days of his 10:00 am to 1:00 pm airing (the show begins airing from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm on 1/6)…..“Libertarian-conservative” media personality Wayne Allyn Root will be guest host on Cumulus Media Networks’ “Savage Nation” with Michael Savage from December 23 – 30. Root is author of The Ultimate Obama Survival Guide (Regnery 2013) and serves as a commentator on Fox News Channel and TheBlaze.
KSCO, Santa Cruz Personality Ethan Bearman’s Profile Rising. Talk radio personality and writer Ethan Bearman is getting more recognition in the Santa Cruz market as his locally focused talk show on Zwerling-owned KSCO, Santa Cruz grows in popularity. Recently, Bearman was a go-to media voice for a KION-TV news piece (captured here) on the anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. View that video here. Also, Bearman, who has intensely covered the hot issue of dirty needles, trash and other refuse in the town’s parks that’s making it unsafe for people to use, was part of a clean-up crew that made the news for its work. Read about that issue in a piece in the Santa Cruz Patch here. Bearman is a visible example of a growing trend in news/talk radio in which talk hosts are eschewing monolithic political party doctrine and instead are approaching their programs on an issue-by-issue basis.
Hawkins Scores With CRN Special. Over the weekend (Saturday, 12/14), former NBA player Tommy Hawkins premiered his CRN Digital Talk Radio holiday special “We Wish You a Jazzy Christmas.” According to CRN chief executive officer Michael Horn, “‘We Wish You a Jazzy Christmas’ is filled with holiday-themed jazz music, along with Tommy’s infectious, warm personality. His love of jazz and the holidays combine for such a treat. It is the perfect accompaniment for an evening by a Christmas tree.” Following a standout collegiate career at Notre Dame (where he was a two-year All-American), Hawkins went on to play in the NBA for the Los Angeles Lakers and Cincinnati Royals (now the Sacramento Kings). He later became vice president of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. For approximately 15 years beginning in 1970, “Hawk” was a staple on Los Angeles siblings KABC and KLOS. As part of his basketball-to-broadcasting transition Hawkins not only became KABC’s sports director, he also did “Sports Snorts” weekday mornings with remarkably talented Frazer Smith on KLOS. In addition to doing weekends on KKJZ “K-Jazz,” Los Angeles, Hawkins has written “Life’s Reflections: Poetry for the People.” His CRN special will play throughout the holiday season.
Over $120,000 Raised in KFXX Special Olympics Radio-thon. Entercom-owned sports outlet KFXX “1080 The Fan” afternoon drive (3:00 pm – 7:00 pm) hosts Isaac Ropp (pictured here at left with some female fans) and Jason Scukanec (second from right) anchored the third annual 28-hour Special Olympics Oregon radio-thon, which brought in more than $120,000. Program director Jeff Austin comments, “We are proud to partner with Special Olympics Oregon. The overwhelming support of our station’s staff, our listeners, and advertisers was a testament to the bond Isaac and Suke have with their audience.” Scukanec (“Suke”) states, “We cannot thank our listeners enough – Portland is a special community and this is a very special cause. We talk about sports and high-powered athletes every day, but these Olympians are the real athletes. They are the real champions and we are privileged to honor their spirit and dedication.” Special Olympics Oregon chief development officer Kim Bergstrom adds, “We are honored to partner with [KFXX]. Isaac and Suke’s radio-thon helps raise funds to support year-round sports training and competition opportunities for thousands of individuals with intellectual disability. In addition, they generate immeasurable awareness of the importance of Special Olympics Oregon programs for athletes and their families.” This year’s $120,000 radio-thon total surpassed last year’s mark by more than $45,000.
Broadcast Electronics Bumps Up Bealor To President. Effective immediately, Broadcast Electronics executive vice president of product development Tim Bealor is upped to president of the Quincy, Illinois-based company. “I am honored to be asked to lead BE into its 55th year and the next phase of the company’s growth,” he comments. “Next year is going to be an exciting time for Broadcast Electronics and its customers.” Bealor began his Broadcast Electronics career as a technician in 1975. Over the past 38 years, he has held a variety of technical, support, product management, sales leadership, and marketing positions with the company.