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Tuesday, May 5, 2020

| May 5, 2020

Westwood One: Strategies for Creative and Marketing in COVID-19 Era. The latest Westwood One Blog presents some of the takeaways from a number of studies looking at what makes effective creative and what constitutes a reasonable marketing plan in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic. According to NuVoodoo research, clients should reconsider any copy that includes “We’re all in this together” as 35% of those surveyed are already tiring of it and that number is only likely to grow. System1 finds that ads that delivered a “a strong connection to local community and togetherness” appear to be working well. Other aspects System1 believes are effective include use of “established brand characters, ads that make use of familiar scenarios or taglines, ads set in a specific time and place in the past, ads that highlight the human connection in the current state of ‘betweenness.’” However, coronavirus ads run the risk of not being perceived as unique and marketing pro Mark Ritson laments the generic ads ring as cliched and not “distinctive.” Read the blog here.

Entercom Adds Translator to WYRD-FM, Greenville. The news/talk station gets an FM translator simulcast as W236CD, Seneca, South Carolina begins airing the station’s audio.  Entercom says the addition of this frequency to WYRD-FM’s broadcast “extends the reach of the Upstate’s No. 1 news/talk radio station to Pickens County and into Oconee County, bringing its coverage to additional cities including Seneca, Pickens, and Clemson for the first time.” Entercom Greenville-Spartanburg SVP and market manager Steve Sinicropi adds, “‘106.3 WORD’ serves a vital role as the Upstate’s trusted source of information. We are thrilled to expand the over-the-air signal for ‘106.3 WORD’ to Pickens and much of Oconee County on 95.1 FM during this critical time in which demand for live and local news and talk is rapidly rising. This expansion allows us to maximize our reach in the region and more broadly meet the needs of our listeners and advertisers.”  In 2019, the station expanded to Anderson County on 101.5 FM.

Entercom Files Motion to Dismiss Discrimination and Retaliation Case. Former WIP-FM, Philadelphia account executive Maria McBride is suing Entercom claiming that she was discriminated against and suffered retaliatory actions after complaining to her superiors.  Entercom filed a Motion to Dismiss based on a jurisdictional error (claiming it should have been filed in Eastern Pennsylvania District as opposed to New Jersey District) as well as arguments that McBride failed to sufficiently demonstrate a hostile work environment or a retaliation claim.  In response, McBride’s attorney argues since the bulk of McBride’s clients were located in New Jersey, the suit was filed in the proper district.  Her attorney also lays out arguments that McBride has satisfied pleading requirements for her claims.

COVID-19 Statistics and Projections, States Begin Re-Opening, Lockdown Protests, Pressure on China, Michael Flynn Case, and Presidential Race/Joe Biden Allegations Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/4). The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the death toll, and projections for future cases; a number of states begin re-opening their economies; groups of protesters rail against the social distancing requirements in their states; the U.S. and other countries put pressure on China to open up to investigation into the origin of the coronavirus; Republicans seek an investigation into the FBI’s treatment of Michael Flynn; and the presidential race and the allegations of sexual assault against Joe Biden were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

FOX News and Spotify Ink Deal for Podcast Distribution. The new deal between FOX News Media and Spotify will have the latter distributing FOX News Podcasts on its global audio streaming platform.  Effective today (5/5), FNR’s catalogue of more than 20 original series, including three new programs slated to debut in May — “The Trey Gowdy Podcast,” “The Proud American Podcast Series” and “FOX Top 5” — will be made available globally on Spotify, reaching more than 286 million monthly users. FOX News Radio VP John Sylvester says, “Throughout these unprecedented times, FOX News Audio has become a destination for listeners to get up to the minute information, whether it’s the latest on the current coronavirus pandemic, insights from the 2020 presidential campaign or in-depth interviews with leading newsmakers. We are pleased to partner with Spotify, offering their millions of subscribers worldwide access to our best in class content.”

TALKERS News Notes. Rochester producer and radio personality Pauly Guglielmo is leaving the “Brother Wease Show” on iHeartMedia’s classic rock WAIO-FM “Radio 95.1” to pursue his marinara sauce manufacturing career full time. Guglielmo began selling his grandfather’s marinara sauce commercially in 2014. Recently, he had the opportunity to acquire the plant that’s been making the sauce. The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle has the story here…..The latest episode of the podcast “The -30-: The End of the News,” hosted by Save Journalism Project co-founder John Stanton, features Joshua Koran, head of innovation labs at Zeta Global, discussing “the current digital ad marketplace, how dominant players like Google can ‘play by a different set of rules,’ and how Google will continue to engage in the same kinds of data collection and measurement it claims harms the privacy of consumers when others do it.” Listen to the podcast here…..The weekend radio show, “The Radio Free Hillsdale Hour,” from Hillsdale College is being added to the lineup at Starnes Media Group’s KWAM-AM/W300DE, Memphis “The Mighty 990.”

Music Radio News and Career Moves. Nashville CHR WNFN-FM re-brands as “Hot 106.7.” To celebrate, the Midwest Communications station is launching the new brand with its $5K Payday awarding someone in the Middle Tennessee area $5,000.  Station brand manager Joe Breezy says, “I fully expect ‘Hot 106.7’ to be a Nashville powerhouse. Nashville is one of the hottest cities in the country, so it’s about time we turn up the heat with the all NEW, ‘Hot 106.7.’”…..iHeartMedia Chicago stations are honoring Chicagoland teachers and nurses in a weeklong celebration, kicking off on National Teachers Day (today 5/5) and culminating on International Nurses Day on Tuesday, May 12. Throughout the week, each station will feature on-air shout outs for teachers and interviews with school principals, parents and students.  From May 6 through May 8, 103.5 KISS FM’s midday host Showbiz Shelly will host Zoom classroom takeovers to speak directly with students during the week of celebration…..Entravision Communications Corporation announces the launch of Entravision Digital, a division that consolidates its digital reach, data, creative, and programmatic capabilities into a unified solutions offering.  Entravision chairman and CEO Walter F. Ulloa says, “By combining our comprehensive digital capabilities into Entravision Digital, advertisers and agencies have a single source to access a rich combination of audiences, media, performance solutions, and consumer insights. Entravision Digital has a global reach and is an exceptional complement to our television, radio, and digital media assets serving the U.S. Hispanic market.  We are excited to extend the Entravision brand to these businesses and look forward to continued success in the media technology marketplace.”

Friday, September 7, 2012

| September 7, 2012

Contentious End to Democratic National Convention for Some Talkers on Radio Row…But Not All.  By now, many talk media people are aware of a piece by conservative pundit John Fund in the National Review Online that beats up the Obama Administration in which he alleges it kept high-level Democrats from appearing on radio programs hosted by conservatives that camped out on radio row at the convention.  Radio America’s Roger Hedgecock and Breitbart Radio’s Larry O’Connor are quoted in the piece saying they were frozen out from getting any decent guests.  Hedgecock reportedly packed up and left early while KRLA, Los Angeles morning show co-host Ben Shapiro says his attempt to get John Podesta on their show with Heidi Harris and Brian Whitman was stopped when Podesta’s handler intervened.  However, nationally syndicated talk host Kevin McCullough (also principal of content creator XtreMedia) has a different take.  He writes, “If talk show hosts are outraged that big names aren’t sitting down to speak with them in Charlotte, then they are only weakening their own brand.  Have we not learned anything from the attacks on Limbaugh and fellow talkers?  Are we actually claiming that guests are the prerequisite for what should be our own success?  We have the bully pulpit of a live microphone every day, and if a talker can’t turn that into a distinct advantage for their own purposes every day, then they are simply in the wrong business.  Talk hosts, but specifically CONSERVATIVES, should be slow to anger when liberals refuse to go on our platforms.  As a conservative, I’m eager to go on liberal outlets, because I actually have the chance to put my ideas in front of people who disagree with me — I actually have a chance to win them over. Whining because people who disagree with you won’t come on your show is pretty much the polar opposite of that idea.  As idea generators we should never be dependent upon someone sitting across a table from us to be interesting, to have something to say, or to be able to say it well.  I hope that the younger generation of talkers will observe this fundamental truth…The more you depend on other people to generate YOUR success, the less successful you will ever be!”

Newsy Approach at the DNC Gets the Guests.  TRN-operated America’s Radio News Network reports it had no problems getting high-profile Democrats to sit in front of its microphones.  ARNN – which provides 15 hours of long-form news content to its more than 350 affiliates – reports to TALKERS that on day three of the convention it delivered reports to its stations that included interviews with: Rev. Jesse Jackson, Delaware Governor Jack Markel, Senator Kent Conrad, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, among others.

Talk Host Ray Lucia Responds to SEC Actions.  Yesterday, TALKERS magazine reported nationally syndicated financial advice talk host Ray Lucia’s company – RJL Companies – is being charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission with misleading potential investors and violating several sections of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.  Lucia says his company will vigorously defend itself in the case against a slide presentation his company has not used in two years.  He cites former SEC Commissioner, Roel Campos, who is now the head of Locke Lord’s SEC Enforcement and Regulation practice, who made the following statement: “It is disappointing that the SEC would file an administrative matter because it principally disagrees with an inflation rate that has been used regularly by economists and other professionals.  No harm is alleged to have occurred to any investors and this matter appears to reflect an honest disagreement about statistics and estimates of investor returns under hypothetical situations.  Mr. Lucia disagrees strenuously with the SEC’s allegations that affected his estimates of possible returns.  This type of matter should have been resolved during the inspection process.”

Talk Host Phil Hendrie Disagrees with Syndicator’s Suit Against Dial Global Et Al.  Consider TRN-FM-syndicated talk show host Phil Hendrie not one who supports the suit by TRN CEO Mark Masters against Dial Global and numerous other industry program suppliers.  Hendrie issued a statement that after reading the suit and, especially the paragraph that states, “Today, by bringing this Action, Plaintiffs stand not only for themselves, but also for every smaller independent syndicator, network or programming producer, and for the hosts, producers, technicians and other Americans whose livelihoods are dependent upon these independent syndicators,” his response is as follows: “I’d like to make it very clear that TRN does not represent my views and I certainly don’t need them ‘standing up’ for me in regard to this lawsuit, which I don’t support.  My livelihood is not dependent on TRN.”

ESPN Makes Inroads Against WFAN in New York City.  In a piece in the New York Daily News, writer David Hinckley reports ESPN’s WEPN-AM/FM – to split apart when the AM side becomes ESPN Deportes today – climbed a hair above longtime CBS Radio’s sports talk market dominator WFAN in the midday slot of 10:00 am to 1:00 pm in the ratings (we’re assuming persons 6-plus) for Colin Cowherd’s and Mike Lupica’s shows.  Hinckley’s story points out that WEPN’s David Roberts admits the flip of WEPN-AM to Spanish language may affect some of its English-speaking audience but the new 98.7 signal has been a smash for the station overall.  Read Hinckley’s piece about sports talk in New York City here.

Barron’s Names Ric Edelman #1 Independent Financial Advisor in America.  The radio and television talk show host and principal of the Edelman Financial Services firm – which manages more than $7.9 billion for more than 17,000 clients – is named the number one independent financial advisor in the nation by Barron’s for the third time.  Edelman states, “I am excited and honored.  We are committed to sharing our knowledge with consumers across the country.  To be recognized by Barron’s repeatedly for these efforts is truly gratifying.”  In addition to his independently syndicated talk radio program, “The Truth About Money,” that emanates from flagship WMAL-AM/FM, Washington and is heard in 57 other markets, Edelman hosts a public TV program of the same name.

President Obama’s Record Tops the Talkers TenTM for the Week of September 3-7.  The president’s record during his first four years in office was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, set against the backdrop of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.  Coming in at #2 this week was the DNC speeches.  At #3 was the controversy over God and Jerusalem in the Democratic Party platform and at #4 was the United States’ slide on the global competitiveness scale.  The Talkers TenTM – a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio – is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine and is published every Friday at Talkers.com.  See this week’s entire chart here.

TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup.  The XtreMedia-produced Sunday evening “Dani Johnson Radio Show” is picked up by affiliates: KTUR, Salt Lake City; KKVV, Las Vegas; WDRU-AM/FM, Raleigh/Durham; WTRU-AM/WSAL, Winston-Salem; WTRU-FM, Greensboro; WLES-AM/FM, Richmond, Virginia; and KTIA, Des Moines…..“Free Talk Live” featuring hosts Ian Freeman and Mark Edge is picked up by WDOV, Dover, Delaware…..Premiere NetworksBob & Tom show is added to the morning drive slot at KGON, Portland…..“Into Tomorrow” with Dave Graveline is added to the program schedule at WXDE, Lewes, Delaware and WSOY, Decatur, Illinois…..The weekend “Café Mocha” show hosted by MC Lyte, Loni Love and Angelique Perrin joins the programming lineup at WHUR, Washington, DC; WKJS/WKJM, Richmond, Virginia; WKZJ, Columbus, Georgia; WBGA, Brunswick, Georgia; KZWA, Lake Charles, Louisiana; and KKST, Alexandria, Louisiana.

Talkin’ and Walkin’ After Midnight.  Syndicated talk show host Dr. Daliah Wachs of KDWN, Las Vegas; Genesis Communications Network, and Sirius XM Satellite Radio is the current star of TALKERS TV (see video box at upper right) where she is seen and heard singing the Patsy Cline classic “Walkin’ After Midnight” (although Dr. Daliah tells TALKERS she was doing the more recent Kelly Clarkson arrangement).  The impromptu performance took place at TRN-syndicated host Jerry Doyle‘s Labor Day BBQ at his home near Las Vegas.

Friday, May 4, 2012

| May 4, 2012

CNN Ratings Cause for Concern at Headquarters.  The executives at Time Warner and subsidiary CNN/U.S. are displeased with cable news/talk channel CNN’s performance in the April Nielsen ratings after much time and money has been spent tweaking the programming there.  The New York TimesBrian Stelter reports that sources say Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes has made his dissatisfaction with the channel’s performance known to his subordinates.  Over the past 18 months CNN has made numerous programming changes including replacing Larry King with Piers Morgan in the 9:00 pm ET slot; the addition of Soledad O’Brien as host of the morning show; and a new 7:00 pm ET show with Erin Burnett.  CNN has long stated publicly that it delivers a unique news product around the clock with which advertisers like being associated.  In fact, the entire CNN unit (including other domestic and international channels) is poised to make a record $600 million in operating profit this year.  The company issued the following statement in response to reports about the April ratings.  “Despite the perennial ratings stories and quotes from anonymous sources, CNN continues to deliver quality journalism which is uniquely valuable to audiences, advertisers and distributors.  In fact, CNN is on track to deliver its highest profits in its history and continues to reach more people on more platforms than any other TV network.”  Still, as Brian Stelter writes, “Performance of CNN/U.S. drives public perception — and employee pride — and declines there may gradually damage CNN’s networks as a whole.” TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison adds, “CNN would probably do better in both ratings and revenue if they stopped obviously competing with Fox News Channel and MSNBC in trying to be entertaining and opinionated concentrating, rather, on really being journalistic on a level not seen for years on American television.  There is an opening in the marketplace for such a product a mile wide and a deep need and hunger for it by a significant segment of the public.”

CC Media Holdings Reports Q1 Revenue Hike of 3%.  That 2012 first quarter revenue increase comes as CC Media Holdings posts $1.36 billion in revenue compared to the $1.32 for the same period a year ago.  Clear Channel Media and Entertainment – which excludes the parent company’s outdoor divisions – was up 6% or $39 million compared to the first quarter of 2011.  CC Media Holdings CEO Bob Pittman states, “Since the start of 2012, we have continued to invest in our rapidly growing digital products and services, while strengthening our operations to better serve our marketing partners and our consumers.  We have enhanced our ability to help our partners take advantage of the unique size and scale of our media, entertainment and outdoor assets, with a particular focus on multi-platform solutions that no other company is able to deliver.”

KTRS, St. Louis Officially Announces Martin Kilcoyne Midday Host.  Monday’s story announced CH Holdings’ KTRS, St. Louis was parting company with midday talk host JC Corcoran and would replace him with KTVI-TV, St. Louis sports director Martin Kilcoyne.  The station makes that official with general manager and partner Mark Dorsey stating, “Martin is a proven broadcaster, both in television and radio, and KTRS looks forward to bringing his personality, wit and opinions to the airwaves.”  Kilcoyne will assume the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm show beginning Monday, May 14.  He says of his new gig, “I am thrilled to have an opportunity like this.  I’m a sports guy, but I love to talk about all things.  The plan is to have a show that St. Louis will find lively, topical and fresh.  I’m not Ted Koppel, but I’m also not Ted Baxter.”

First Quarter Positive for Salem Communications.  The first quarter of 2012 has been pretty good for Salem Communications and subsidiary Salem Broadcasting.  The parent company is reporting an increase of 6.1% on revenue of $54.3 million compared to the same period one year ago.  On the broadcasting side, Salem is up 2.9% on revenue of $44 million.  Broadcasting still makes up the bulk of Salem’s revenue but digital continues to perform well rising 33% over the same period in 2011 on revenue of $7.4 million.  The company is bullish about Q2 projecting a revenue increase of a couple percentage points with a total revenue goal of more than $55 million for the quarter.

Legal Battle May Ensue Over Merlin Media’s Blago Billboard.  This billboard pictured here is one of several purchased by Merlin Media in the Chicago area promoting all-news WIQI-FM – FM News 101.1.  Crain’s Chicago Business reports Merlin consultant John Gehron commenting on the marketing campaign saying, “We wanted to have something that we thought would be fun and get people’s attention.”  And apparently it has.  Attorney Sheldon Sorosky, who represents former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich – currently serving a 14-year prison sentence for corruption – says the use of Blagojevich’s image may violate an Illinois law prohibiting one’s image from being used for commercial gain without one’s consent.  Sorosky tells Crain’s it’s called the Right to Publicity Act and it states, “A person may not use an individual’s identity for commercial purposes during the individual’s lifetime without having obtained previous written consent from the appropriate person or persons.”  Sorosky says they have not decided whether to take legal action or not at this point.

Ric Edelman Celebrates 20 Years on the Radio This Weekend.  Nationally syndicated talk show host Ric Edelman, host of “The Truth About Money with Ric Edelman,” marks 20 years on the radio with his broadcast this weekend.  Edelman, an award-winning financial advisor, heard along with financial advisors Brandon Corso and Anderson Wozny, is heard in 56 markets including on WABC, New York; WLS, Chicago; and WMAL-AM/FM, Washington, DC.  He says, “It is a genuine privilege to do this show.  As I always say, ‘Money doesn’t come with instructions,’ so I’m honored for the opportunity to share my knowledge with so many listeners from across the country.”  Edelman, a member of TALKERS 2012 “Heavy Hundred,” is also seen on public television across the country as his TV program of the same name is in its second season.

Pamela Furr to Join New Atlanta All-Newser.  Talk show host and news anchor Pamela Furr confirms via Facebook that she’s headed to Atlanta to become part of the Cumulus Media FM all-news outlet slated for WYAY-FM in a few weeks.  The company has confirmed it will turn the outlet into an all-news station soon and obviously has begun hiring.  Furr most recently worked full time at Clear Channel’s WPTI-FM, Greensboro-Winston-Salem as co-host of the morning drive show.  She’s been freelancing doing news at CC’s WRDU-FM, Raleigh the past few weeks.

Atlanta Business Chronicle to Provide Content for Cumulus’ “All News 106.7.”  When Cumulus Media flips the switch on WYAY-FM, Gainesville, Georgia turning it into “All News 106.7,” the Atlanta Business Chronicle will provide exclusive business updates at :20 and :50.  In a statement, Cumulus co-COO John Dickey says, “Our partnership with the Atlanta Business Chronicle is consistent with our mission of bringing the most credible news and information to Atlantans 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  ABC is the definitive business news brand in Atlanta and 106.7 will be the definitive radio news and information brand in Atlanta.”  ABC publisher Ed Baker states, “It’s exciting that intelligent Atlantans are finally getting a much-needed all-news format.  We’re very excited to be a part of something new and different.  Quality business reporting is more important than ever and this partnership will allow us to deliver something special to our community.”

Cumulus Brings Celebrity News Blogger Perez Hilton Aboard for Nightly Radio Show.  At the same time the company announces that the new “Perez Nights Live” will replace Dial Global’s “Billy Bush Show” on stations where it airs and expects the show to debut on about 50 affiliate stations.  “Perez Nights Live” will feature Perez Hilton and co-host Adam Bomb and will consist of celebrity news chatter and music.  Cumulus co-COO John Dickey states, “Successful contemporary stations all have one thing in common: They keep their listeners on the cutting edge of music and pop culture.  Leading stations in our business set trends.  Perez doesn’t report on pop culture, he is pop culture.  ‘Perez Nights Live’ will take the important evening daypart and turn it into a brand enhancing experience.”

2012 Presidential Race Lands Atop Talkers TenTM for Fifth Straight Week.  The 2012 presidential campaign was again the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week of April 30 – May 4, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.  The race barely beat the case of Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng which landed at #2 followed very closely by President Obama’s Afghanistan visit and the government’s release of Osama bin Laden documents tied at #3.  The shocking death of retired NFL star Junior Seau came in at #4.  The Talkers TenTM is a chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is published each Friday at Talkers.com.  View the entire chart for this week here.

TALKERS Weekly Affiliation Roundup.  The “At Home with Bob Vila” feature from Compass Media Networks debuted this week on such signals as KOGO-AM/FM, San Diego; WTKK-FM, Boston; KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno; KFNN, Phoenix; and KVON, Napa, California…..Courtside Media Group’s “One Minute Clinic with Dr. Drew” is being aired on Hubbard Broadcasting’s WTOP-FM, Washington…..“The Small Business Advocate with Jim Blasingame” is picked up by WZFG, Fargo; WHTX, Youngstown; and WGGH, Marion, Illinois….. “The Doctor’s Orders Radio Show” with Dr. Kipp Van Kamp is added to WTKI-AM/FM, Huntsville, Alabama and WEKI-AM/FM, Decatur, Alabama.

Profiling Courage.  That’s KIRO-FM, Seattle talk show host Dave Ross (r) pictured with Sgt. Leroy Petry (l).  Ross recently interviewed the Medal of Honor recipient for inclusion in the Memorial Day radio special “A Grateful Nation” – a one-hour program produced by the Fisher House Foundation and distributed by Premiere Networks.  Sgt. Petry is an Army Ranger who lost his hand while saving two comrades after he grabbed and tossed an enemy grenade during a battle in Afghanistan.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

| March 1, 2012

Entercom Kansas City Officially Announces Debut of “The KMBZ Business Channel.”  The news leaked out via a local PR firm earlier this week but now Entercom Kansas City confirms its classical “Radio Bach” – KUDL, Kansas City – is being flipped to financial talk and will be branded “The KMBZ Business Channel on 1660 AM.”  Jack Landreth, program director of the KMBZ brand of stations, states the flip fills a void in the market, “‘The KMBZ Business Channel’ is a natural extension of our award-winning KMBZ News/Talk station.  Building on KMBZ’s many years of success, we are launching a business station dedicated to business leaders and investors.  By offering clear, concise business reports on Newsradio 98.1 FM and expanding those reports on ‘The KMBZ Business Channel on 1660,’ we will create a unique radio synergy.”  Vice president and general manager Dave Alpert says the station will focus on business news as it happens and opinions about financial issues.  “Business news is no longer just a stock market update.  In today’s fast-paced world, business is a 24-hour news cycle…We will deliver the very best business reporting and direct access to the insider opinions that drive business throughout Kansas City and around the country.”  Alpert and Landreth say their target audience is affluent, well-educated, homeowners over the age of 35, with household incomes over $100,000.  “With Newsradio 98.1 FM, KMBZ already delivering a business-to-business audience, the ‘KMBZ Business Channel’ will cultivate a broader base of influential listeners across high-income levels from wired workers and educated professionals to CEOs and managers.”

News Staffers Exit Merlin Media’s FM News 101.9 in New York.  Mediabistro FishbowlNY reports the departure of three on-air staffers from WEMP-FM, New York.  The site says former WWOR-TV anchor Sara Lee Kessler, who’d been with WEMP-FM since its beginning last August, has exited as have evening anchor Maureen Langan and reporter Bob Brown.  There’s no information whether any of the three were let go or left the station voluntarily.  This news comes a week after Eric Seidel was named interim program director at the all-news station.

ESPN Brings Former Colts Exec Bill Polian Aboard as NFL Analyst.  The sports media giant announces former Indianapolis Colts vice chairman Bill Polian is joining ESPN on March 12 – the day before NFL free agency begins – and will be seen on ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” “NFL Live,” “NFL 32,” as well as heard on ESPN Radio.  Polian will also write for ESPN’s digital initiatives and ESPN The Magazine.

Michael Patrick Shiels Exits Lansing-Based “Michigan’s Morning Show.”  Talk show host Michael Patrick Shiels and Cumulus Broadcasting have parted company with Shiels doing his last broadcast based at WJIM, Lansing and the 10-station Michigan Talk Network on Tuesday (2/28). Michigan Talk Network general manager Dave Minock tells Michigan Live, “He’s decided to move on and we’re carrying on as you can imagine.”  Minock says the program – distributed to the company’s WJRW, Grand Rapids and eight other stations around the state – will feature guest hosts until the company finds a permanent replacement for Shiels, who tells the site, “It was an amicable parting and I’m hoping I’ll get the opportunity down the road to reconnect with my Michigan listeners.”

Ric Edelman Public TV Series Wins Six Awards.  Top-ranked financial advisor and talk media personality Ric Edelman’s “The Truth About Money” public TV program is honored with six Telly Awards.  The awards honor outstanding international video and film productionsEdelman’s radio program of the same name is heard in 54 markets on commercial talk stations across the U.S.  His public TV program was just renewed for a second season.  The program won awards in three categories – education, information and editing.  The program is dedicated to educating public television viewers about the latest data and research regarding how to save and invest their hard-earned dollars, while providing an entertaining framework.  Guests have included everyone from wealthy publisher Steve Forbes, to divorce guru Raoul Felder, to CNBC anchorwoman and Wall Street mainstay Maria Bartiromo.

Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Names Tim Castelli EVP of Digital Sales.  The longtime digital advertising executive who most recently worked at America Online becomes executive vice president of digital sales reporting directly to chairman and CEO John HoganTim Castelli will be in charge of national digital sales efforts and developing innovative advertising products and programs across several Clear Channel Media and Entertainment divisions, including strategic partnerships, national programming platforms and national advertising platforms and iHeartRadio, Clear Channel’s digital radio service.  John Hogan states, “Tim is recognized for his innovation and tactical expertise.  His understanding of advertisers’ needs and objectives will help them take even greater advantage of our unmatched resources.”

Broadcasters Foundation of America Raises More Than $250,000 at Golden Mike Award Dinner.  More than 250 radio and TV broadcasters attended the 2012 Golden Mike Award Dinner at the Plaza Hotel in New York City on Monday, February 27 to honor award recipient Dennis Swanson, president of station operations for Fox Television Stations.  The black-tie fundraiser collected more than $250,000 to support the BFoA’s mission of providing aid to broadcasters in desperate need.  Pictured here is Swanson (second from left) accepting the award from “Inside Edition” host Deborah Norville and Broadcasters Foundation chairman Phil Lombardo (second from right) and president Jim Thompson (far left).  In attendance were broadcasting luminaries serving as presenters including Roger Ailes of Fox News; Dr. Mehmet Oz, the syndicated TV show host and cardiac surgeon; Elsie McCabe Thompson of the Museum for African Art; and Larry Wert of NBC-TV.  Also during the evening, the Foundation recognized Rick Buckley, a longtime supporter of the Broadcasters Foundation who served as its treasurer for many years.  A fund established in Buckley’s name after he passed away suddenly in July has generated $50,000 to help broadcasters in need.

Star on the Rise: Florida Talk Show Host Burnie Thompson Making Statewide Waves from Base in the Panhandle.  Former Air Force Captain and college English teacher Burnie Thompson has been in the talk radio business since 2007 when he began broadcasting from his home base in Panama City, Florida.  Since that time, with the help of Don McCoy of McCoy Media, he’s expanded his daily 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET program from his flagship at Magic Broadcasting’s WYOO-FM, Panama City to stations in Jacksonville, Pensacola and Ft. Walton Beach.  Stations in Tallahassee and the Gainesville/Ocala markets are set to begin airing the daily show within the next few weeks.  Thompson also produces a weekend version culled from the best of the weekday show that currently airs on 13 stations across Florida.  Thompson has made so many inroads in such a short time that U.S. Senator Marco Rubio has reportedly dubbed him “Florida’s Voice of Freedom.”  Thompson is riding what he cites as a trend in talk radio making statewide programs more relevant and potentially popular than in the past.  That, coupled with Florida’s burgeoning image as a center of rapidly growing importance from a demographic and political standpoint on the national scene, gives Thompson’s syndication venture that much more gravity.  He says more important to his affiliates is the fact that his show became one of the highest-rated radio shows in Panama City for four consecutive years.  Many local businesses have hired him to endorse them, making the show a top revenue producer.  Thompson tells TALKERS, “The show is a mix between a 21st century town hall and your favorite saloon; a place where ideas collide and reason prevails.  Every day on the radio, I strive to expand freedom and protect the family budget from government plunder by giving Floridians a place to link arms.  I just want to make a difference in the Sunshine State – perhaps make it a little freer, and a little more prosperous.  Then we’ll expand our horizons.”  Thompson has been a freelance writer for more than a decade having work published in The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Washington Times, The Orange County Register, The Tallahassee Democrat, The Panama City News Herald, and more than a dozen other publications.  He has a master’s degree in journalism from USC, a master’s in English from Penn State and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Cal State Fullerton.

Mitt Romney’s Michigan and Arizona Sweep, Deadly Midwestern Storms, Ohio School Shooting Aftermath, North Korean Nukes Deal, Iran Tensions, Health Care Birth Control Controversy and Pop Icon Davy Jones’ Death Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/29).  The GOP primary race in the wake of Mitt Romney’s victories on Tuesday; the deadly storms that swept through the Midwest; the Ohio school killings aftermath; the deal struck with North Korea to halt its nuclear weapons program; ongoing tensions over Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions; the action in Washington over the health care birth control controversy and the death of pop icon Davy Jones were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday (2/29).

Alex Jones Rocks Orlando.  Genesis Communications Network nationally syndicated talk sensation Alex Jones is pictured here mugging for the camera at Orlando Jai Alai on February 26 alongside Star Over Orlando‘s WEUS midday talk host Doc Holliday.  Jones’ standing-room-only appearance included a live radio broadcast, a showing of his latest documentary film and an accompanying speech that WEUS says was, “a rousing affair that brought down the house!”  WEUS carries Jones’ radio show live from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET.

Monday, February 27, 2012

| February 27, 2012

GOP Candidates Flocking to Talk Radio in Close Primary Race.  In a piece on Mitt Romney’s talk radio appearances in Michigan and Arizona prior to tomorrow’s primaries in those states at Politico yesterday (2/26), writer Keach Hagey speaks with local and national talk show hosts on candidates’ use of talk radio during a campaign like this.  The piece notes that Romney has historically been a bit aloof towards talk radio – unlike Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich – but with the race with Santorum particularly close, he’s been all over the medium.  Hagey quotes TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison offering the reason for this turn of events.  “When they’re ahead, they don’t like going on talk radio because they are afraid of making a mistake, and talk radio is a wonderful place for making a mistake.  If he were clearly the front-runner, then he would do less talk radio.”  During a GOP primary race when candidates are speaking to core voters on conservative talk radio-formatted stations, they use the medium to differentiate themselves from the others.  Hagey’s piece quotes Santorum national communications director Hogan Gidley saying, “Mitt Romney’s well-funded attack machine is on their seek-and-destroy mission, and talk radio is often the avenue Rick Santorum uses to dispel those false accusations.  We have been on talk radio probably more than any of the other candidates combined.”  With the Michigan and Arizona primaries tomorrow, Talk Radio Network-syndicated “America’s Morning News” with John McCaslin and Dana Mills is the beneficiary with interviews with  Mitt Romney at 8:15 am today and Rick Santorum at 8:30 am.

INNOVATIVE MODEL SET FOR NEW MEDIA SEMINAR 2012.  Plans have been set for the 15th annual installment of the New Media Seminar, the longest-running, largest and most important annual talk media industry convention.  This year’s version marks the innovative launch of an updated model sensitive to the tough economic and stressful conditions of the times. Significant restructuring has been applied to lower the costs of registration, accommodations and travel as well as moving the event from the weekend to a weekday.  According to TALKERS founder Michael Harrison, “Both conferences will be national in scope and regional in flavor, a recipe that worked amazingly well at last year’s successful experiment, the Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum.”

NMS 2012 will consist of two one-day conferences.  The first will be held in New York City on Thursday, June 7, 2012 at the Concierge Conference Center on Manhattan’s East Side.  The second – presented in association with the Los Angeles Press Club – will take place on Thursday, October 11 in Los Angeles at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood.

According to Harrison, “We learned a tremendous amount at last year’s ‘happening’ in L.A.  There is something very exciting, fulfilling and productive about one single, power-packed day with no time-wasting fat or money-wasting frills.  It was executed purposefully under the radar to test the waters for this new model on a national scale and it succeeded beyond our wildest expectations, reaching maximum registration capacity in a matter of days.  Although the New Media Seminar has actually grown consistently larger and has been a sell-out every year of its existence, we recognize that conditions are such that a change would eventually be necessary as well as beneficial to the working person in our business – at least during this stressful period of tight budgets and high industry economic uncertainty.  At TALKERS we insist on being ahead of the curve.  Industry conferences need to include and be accessible to professionals in the trenches as well as the corporate elite.  This new model is a gift to the business.”

Because quick sell-outs for each event are expected, registration will be limited to working media.  For registration and sponsorship information, call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413 or e-mail her at barbara@talkers.com.  Further details, agenda updates and hotel information will be announced in the coming days here at Talkers.com and in the TALKERS morning headlines e-mailer.  Stay tuned!

NPR Announces Promotions and New Executive Structure.  NPR promotes Kinsey Wilson to the position executive vice president and chief content officer and makes Margaret Low Smith the senior vice president of NPR news, a position she’s been serving in the “acting” vein since last January.  NPR president and CEO Gary Knell states, “This is a time of great opportunity for NPR and our member stations.  In Kinsey and Margaret we have two journalists, strategists and leaders with a keen understanding of the craft that distinguishes NPR – and how we must continue to innovate and evolve.  Our collective aim is to work with stations to become an unrivaled leader in news and cultural coverage that reaches all Americans, no matter how they tune in.”  Wilson has been with NPR since 2008 as SVP and general manager of digital media.  NPR also announces Eric Nuzum steps permanently into the vice president for programming role.  Plus, vice president of diversity in news & operations Keith Woods is charged with broadening with member stations to support public radio’s drive for greater diversity in its audience, staffing and content.  Woods will work closely with vice president for membership and audience partnership Joyce MacDonald.

Ric Edelman’s Weekly Financial Talk Show Clears KFI, Los Angeles.  “The Truth About Money with Ric Edelman” – the nationally syndicated financial talk show hosted by one of the nation’s top-ranked financial advisors – is added to the weekend lineup at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s KFI, Los Angeles airing Sundays from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm.  Edelman’s program is now heard in 54 markets, including 25 of the top 30 markets.  Edelman says. “I’m excited to join KFI’s outstanding lineup and look forward to bringing financial education to so many people in Southern California.”

KGO, San Francisco Makes Changes to Weekend Schedule; More News Content Added.  Responding to listener feedback, the Cumulus Media Group station announces changes to its weekend schedule that includes the addition of traffic reports every 10 minutes plus live weather reports with ABC 7 meteorologists to serve listeners out in their cars on the weekend.  News and program director Brian Hosley announces two new programs: “Cooking with Ryan Scott,” airing Saturdays from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, and “The Monty Show,” hosted by Tim Montemayor and airing from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.  Hosley says Montemayor’s show will address local and timely issues.  Montemayor is an East Bay resident who has worked in Los Angeles, Chicago and St. Louis as well as being syndicated nationally with Sporting News Radio.  “He is a self-proclaimed ‘news junkie’ and is excited to talk with listeners about the stories that matter to them most.”

Cox Media Group’s WXKT-FM, Gainesville, Georgia Prepares for Martha Zoller’s Congressional Run.  The station positioned as “Bulldog 103.7” – Cox Media Group’s talk and sports hybrid WXKT-FM – is running a contest for a fill-in for “one of our most popular hosts” who “will be occupied for a few months.”  The station doesn’t mention Martha Zoller by name but the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon host has said she’ll run as a Republican for the new congressional seat created by population changes and redistricting.  The station is asking, “Do you have strong ties to the Gainesville area?  Do you keep abreast of local, state and national issues?  Can you have civil discussions with those who hold differing viewpoints?  Can you keep talking and keep it interesting for hours on end?  Then Bulldog 103.7 has a microphone with your name on it.”  Applicants must write the station and in 100 words or less tell why they should get the gig.

Clear Channel’s Hartford Sports Talkers Split Affiliation.  The new FM sports talk station Clear Channel Media and Entertainment put on the air recently – WUCS 97.9 FM ESPN – has been simulcasting with AM sister WPOP.  Beginning March 5, WPOP will break off from the simulcast and affiliate with Fox Sports Radio.  It will also carry the DirecTV-produced and Premiere Networks-distributed Dan Patrick show.

Opinion: Richard Neer Responds to Phil Valentine.  Regarding the debate over the use of terms or phrases on broadcasts or in print historically regarded as ethnic slurs, TALKERS sports editor Richard Neer responds to Dial Global Nashville-based talk host Phil Valentine who wrote this opinion piece called “Controlling the Language” published by TALKERS on Friday (2/24).  Valentine was responding to Neer’s original column published last week here.  In his response, Neer contests the notion that “words can’t hurt” and points out humanity’s tendency toward ethnic pride as one of the underlying reasons why ethnic slurs exist in the first place.  Read Neer’s piece here.