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Thursday, October 27, 2011

| October 27, 2011

Harsh Reality of Today’s Radio Business Forces Clear Channel’s Major “Reduction in Force.”  This latest round of firings is focused on Clear Channel’s small and medium markets and is affecting primarily on-air and programming staff.  Internally, Clear Channel stations are broken down into three categories: the majors, the mids and the small markets – the latter sometimes referred to by insiders humorously as the stations that are for sale.  But in this economy those small stations – many of which were purchased in the late 1990s as the then-Randy Michaels-led radio group was buying stations at an astounding pace – are for all intents and purposes under water.  The company analyzed each station in an hour-by-hour fashion to determine how much it costs to program and execute the product versus how much it is making.  Programs and hosts whose shows are in the black are likely to be retained; those in the red are those about whom you are reading today.  The company is not describing this strategy as cost cutting but leveraging the quality programming it owns and distributing it to the small – or regional – markets.  The reality is that Clear Channel has a lot of debt it must pay off and – not unlike the homeowner who bought before the housing bubble burst and owes more than his house is worth – must make drastic cuts and hope that it can continue to engage listeners and serve advertisers with “Premium Choice” programming from afar and managers doing more jobs within the same work day.  This situation is unique to neither Clear Channel nor the radio business.  The following list of people working in news or at talk stations for CC are reported to have been let go.  This list is not complete and doesn’t include those from music-formatted stations.  Reports indicate several hundred employees will be out when all is said and done.  The list: KFAB, Omaha PM drive host Tom Becka; Clear Channel Hudson Valley news director Cameron Hendrix; WERC, Birmingham, Alabama news director Mark Evans; WHAM, Rochester news anchor Beth Adams; WSYR-AM/FM, Syracuse talk host Jim Reith; KWTX, Waco, Texas PD and morning host Shane Warner; WJBO, Baton Rouge, Louisiana mid-morning talk host Clarence Buggs; and WGY and WOFX, Albany assistant PD Steve Bleznyk.

Cumulus Los Angeles Cuts Include Legendary Jock Jim Ladd.  So far the cuts at Cumulus’ Los Angeles stations have not affected any air talent at news/talk KABC.  Production directors at both KABC and KLOS-FM – Howard Hoffman and Mike Sherry, respectively – are out as is KLOS-FM program director Bob Buchmann.  But Southern California radio fans are shocked to find legendary jock Jim Ladd – ironically, the subject of Tom Petty’s “The Last DJ” – has been sacked.  The 63-year-old Ladd received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005.

Lionel Expands Role at New York’s WPIX-TV. What began as his doing a short form commentary running once per day on the evening news has expanded to multiple roles and appearances for the iconoclastic talk radio veteran and podcasting pioneer on the Tribune Company-owned Channel 11 in the Big Apple. Lionel has just debuted his weekday “5@5” segment on the daily newscast in addition to being featured on PIX 11 seven nights a week with fresh video commentary on its 10:00 pm newscast. Lionel, an ex-prosecutor and criminal defense trial lawyer, has also inaugurated his “Lionel’s Law School” segment. Plus, he appears weekly as PIX 11’s resident “News Decoder” on its Monday morning news broadcast and at pix11.com. Lionel’s commentaries are also broadcast nationally through Tribune Company’s affiliates including KPLR 11 in St. Louis. Lionel, a regular TALKERS columnist, has gained national attention as a talk “media station” groundbreaker with his lionelmedia.com.

Rusty Humphries Named National Radio Spokesman for Vietnam Memorial Effort.  The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is spearheading a campaign to build a multi-media education center adjacent to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC.  In addition to his duties as national radio spokesman, Talk Radio Network host Rusty Humphries is leading the “Veterans Day Challenge” to raise funds for the center.  He will also serve as emcee at a gala benefit at the Capital Hilton in Washington, DC on November 11 that will feature actor Tom Selleck.  Humphries’ father died in Vietnam in 1969 when Rusty was just three years old.  Humphries says, “Every time I’m in Washington, I visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, gaze up at my father’s name on Panel 34W, Line 84, and wish that I’d have gotten to know the man whose name appears there, my father.  The Education Center at the Wall will provide a living memorial to these heroes – not just the men and women like my dad whose names appear on the Wall, but all veterans, from Bunker Hill to the present day.”

Tom Marr’s Contract at WCBM Extended Again.  Veteran talk show host Tom Marr of WCBM, Baltimore has been given another extension of his unique contract until 2015.  Marr first signed a no-cut deal with the independently owned heritage station in September of 1977.  It was then extended until 2009.  Marr reached an agreement on July 3, 2008 with the late owner of WCBM, Nick Mangione, Sr., to extend through 2012.  Now Marr has signed an extension with WCMB president Mary C. Mangione that will run until 2015.  Upon signing the deal, WCBM VP Nick Mangione, Jr. tells TALKERS, “Ownership is very pleased to have Tom’s commitment to remain on WCBM’s team.  Tom performs a public service that is informative, beneficial, and entertaining for our listeners.”  Marr comments, “I am delighted that my career will end with WCBM and the Mangione Family Enterprises.”  Pictured here at the signing ceremony are: WCBM VP Nick Mangione, Jr. (standing); seated (l-r) are Mangione Family Enterprise attorney Joe LaVerghettaMangione Family Enterprise president Mary Mangione, and host Tom Marr.

Clear Channel Adds FM Simulcast to WVOC, Columbia, South Carolina.  The victim this time is urban WXBT-FM at 100.1 and, of course, the entire staff of the music station as CC gives news/talk WVOC an FM presence.

Ric Edelman’s “Truth About Money” Public TV Show Heads into Season Two.  Author, broadcaster and financial advisor Ric Edelman will produce a second season of his public TV show that shares the same name as his nationally syndicated talk radio show – “The Truth About Money with Ric Edelman.”  Season one hit public TV stations across the country earlier this spring and season two will be ready for air in April of next year.  Executive producer Russ Hodge says, “Public Television executives and viewers around the country were so taken with the solid financial guidance they received from Ric, they wholeheartedly endorsed the notion of our coming back for another season.  It’s no secret Ric is recognized as one of America’s top financial advisors, and in these uncertain economic times, viewers gravitate to his expertise and know-how.”

USRN Offers Kim Iversen Show in New Format.  “Your Time with Kim Iversen” has been available in syndication via United Stations Radio Networks talk-intensive music show for Hot AC stations since 2007.  Now, after partnering with Entercom – the company that created the show – to bring it into wider syndication earlier this year, USRN announces that show is available as a live feed or a “build your own show” format.  Beginning November 13, the live feed will be a two-hour, personality-driven talk show airing live from 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight ET.  Stations wishing to continue airing music in the show can use the show segments around music to build a five-hour program.  USRN EVP of programming Andy Denemark says, “Kim is an amazing talent, but we found that programmers had varied opinions on how they wanted her show to air.  Some wanted strictly a talk block, others were happy with the Hot AC show and still others wanted her content mixed with CHR or alternative music.  Now, every affiliate gets their wish!”

ABC Digital Clients Now Get News from ABC Sports.  Stations subscribing to ABC Digital for news feeds for their websites now can get sports content from ABC Sports, according to ABC News Radio VP/GM Steve Jones.  “By adding sports headlines to our lineup of ABC Digital choices, we’re enhancing our radio customers’ websites at no additional cost to them.  Several of our partners have expressed an interest in adding a recognized sports brand and we’re pleased to make ABC Sports – a name steeped in tradition – a new category they can add to their station’s website with the simple click of a button.”  ABC Digital service was recently launched by ABC News Radio and Cumulus Media Networks.  The ready-to-post online content is produced and updated 24 hours a day and includes breaking news, exclusive stories, photos and graphics. Stations also have the option to brand the service locally, monetizing the content through local sponsorships.

Barb Yoder Moves into GM Seat at Salem Communications’ Tampa Cluster.  A series of management promotions at Salem Communications means a promotion for Tampa and Sarasota cluster general sales manager Barb Yoder and an open GSM post at the stations.  Yoder moves into the GM post as former GM Chris Gould moves to the corporate level in the vice president of program development position based in Camarillo, California.  Gould replaces Ron Walters who is promoted to senior vice president, ministry relations.

Affiliate Relations Pro Rich Rapiti Victim of Dial Global-Westwood One Merger.  New York-based affiliate relations pro Rich Rapiti lost his position as part of the consolidation of Dial Global and Westwood One.  He’s available for his next challenge and can be reached at rapiti@comcast.net or 973-809-3049.

Former Cap Cities/ABC COO Dan Burke Passes Away at 82.  Dan Burke and partner Tom Murphy are credited with building Cap Cities into a major broadcasting force and buying ABC to create Cap Cities/ABC.  The two ran the company for a decade before selling it to Disney in 1996.  Salem Radio Network VP of news/talk programming Tom Tradup remembers working for Burke when he was GM of WLS, Chicago.  “I will always remember Burke’s steely eyes and his tough questioning (especially at this time of the year during budgeting!) as we s-l-o-w-l-y turned WLS from the 23rd station in Chicago and put it on track to become a top-five news/talk giant.  He was firm but fair, and if people in Chicago enjoy WLS in 2011…they probably can thank Dan Burke more than anyone else for showing patience and for keeping others within the company from panicking as WLS grew and ultimately prospered in the #3 radio market in America.”

Friday, August 26, 2011

| August 26, 2011

Glenn Beck Israel Event Featured on GBTV Media Station.  Premiere Networks nationally syndicated talk star Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Courage” rally in Israel did not get the same press his “Restoring Honor” rally at the National Mall in Washington, DC one year ago did.  However, Beck’s address before the reported crowd of 1,700 near Jerusalem’s Temple Mount and the reported 3,000 watching from a nearby viewing station was both beamed live to and archived on GBTV.com – the new media station programmed by Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts company.  Beck’s new live, streaming “TV show” debuts on September 12 on GBTV.com and no doubt Beck hopes it will replace his Fox News Channel program that ended in June in the minds of many of his hard-core P1s.  Regardless of criticism leveled at Beck by consumer media journalists for his message, one can argue that Beck and his staff may just be building a sterling example of well-programmed, revenue making digital news/talk content (media station) for the new era.

Cox Announces FM Sports Coming to Birmingham While Crosstown WJOX-FM Host Paul Finebaum Sues Employer Citadel.  Cox Media Group confirms to the Birmingham Business Journal that it will flip country WNCB-FM to sports on Tuesday, August 30.  General manager David DuBose says Eli Gold and Stan White will co-host the morning drive show, Matt Coulter – a former WJOX-FM host – will handle the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm show and the station will be a Yahoo! Sports (formerly Sporting News Radio) affiliate.  Meanwhile, across town Citadel’s WJOX-FM and popular market sports personality Paul Finebaum are in a legal tussle.  At issue it appears is Finebaum’s contention that Citadel has not shared revenue for his program according to the terms of his contract and the sum in question exceeds $75,000, again according to the Birmingham Business Journal.  Finebaum’s attorney, Russ Campbell, refused to comment to the Journal but WJOX-FM general manager Bill Thomas issued a statement saying, “I feel very confident that the actions of Citadel and its employees with respect to Paul have been appropriate, and I expect that to be demonstrated if his lawsuit continues.”  Finebaum, whose popular show is known for superserving rabid fans of SEC football and basketball, is under contract with WJOX-FM through January of 2013.  The Citadel station serves as the flagship for Finebaum’s program.  Cox’s DuBose says if Finebaum’s legal situation clears up, they would be interested in talking to him.  

Cox Media Group Names Format Captains.  Cox Media Group elevates seven program directors to format leaders for the company who will report to new director of radio programming Steve Smith.  WHIO-AM/FM, Dayton OM/PD Nick Roberts (who also oversees news/talk programming in the Louisville cluster) is named the format leader for news/talk.  CMG Group VP Ben Reed says of the move, “CMG has tapped into the amazing talent that exists within our radio businesses to help chart an even more competitive course that will provide the best music and news/talk formats for our valued listeners.  Industry veteran Steve Smith, who joined CMG last month, will oversee this proven team and will provide a cohesive link between our local markets and our group vice president leadership team.”

Norm Pattiz’ Courtside Entertainment Group Teams with Westwood One for First Special Broadcast:  Bill O’Reilly’s Presidential Town Hall.  The three-hour special broadcast event in which Republican candidates for president in 2012 will answer questions from Fox News Channel star Bill O’Reilly is scheduled for November 7, airing live from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET.  Pattiz announced the formation of Courtside Entertainment and its relationship with Westwood One to distribute content at the beginning of the year.  Now, the partners offer their first special program.    Westwood One president Rod Sherwood states, “Bill O’Reilly knows the Republican political landscape inside and out, and his ‘Presidential Town Hall’ will bring his unrivalled wit and wisdom to radio listeners early in the campaign season.”

KMBZ-AM/FM, Kansas City Wins Kansas Association of Broadcasters Station of the Year.  Entercom’s news/talk KMBZ-AM/FM is named the Large Market Station of the Year by the Kansas Association of Broadcasters for 2011.  The station also wins seven other news and programming awards.  Program director Neil Larrimore says this is a great honor for KMBZ.  “This is truly the result of a TEAM effort across the board!  Everyone at KMBZ works hard every day to make sure that the best news and talk radio product is put on the air, and these awards are testaments to their dedication to that mission!  There is a reason Kansas City trusts NewsRadio 98.1 FM & 980 AM KMBZ.”

Salem Radio Network Announces 9/11 Anniversary Programming.  SRN VP/news & talk programming Tom Tradup says SRN will produce a 90-minute live special titled, “9/11: America 10 Years Later,” on Sunday, September 11 anchored by SRN News White House correspondent Greg Clugston.  The program airs from 8:30 am to 10:00 am.  SRN News Senate correspondent Linda Kenyon — who was at the Pentagon the day of the attack — and SRN News House correspondent Wally Hindes will join Greg on the program live from SRN’s Washington, DC studios.  Salem also plans a weeklong series of reports leading up to the September 11 broadcast.

Ric Edelman Celebrates 3,000th Broadcast of TV Program.  Independent financial advisor, author and broadcaster Ric Edelman announces his public television program “The Truth About Money with Ric Edelman” just celebrated its 3,000th airing.  The program, produced by 3 Roads Communications, has been picked up by more than 175 public TV stations.  Edelman hosts an independently syndicated weekend radio program of the same name that is heard across the nation.

WHO, Des Moines PM Drive Host Simon Conway to Emcee Political Rallies.  Iowa talk show host Simon Conway announces he’ll be emcee for the Presidential Candidate picnic taking place at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines on Saturday, August 27.  Attendees already confirmed include: Texas Governor Rick Perry, Congressman Ron Paul, Congressman Thad McCotter and former New York Governor George Pataki (who is rumored to be ready to announce his candidacy).  Conway says he’ll also emcee the Sarah Palin “Restoring America” rally in nearby Indianola, Iowa on September 3 where some believe Palin will announce her candidacy.

Sports USA’s Joe Morgan Show Debuts.  Baseball Hall-of-Famer and broadcaster Joe Morgan debuted his new one-hour daily radio show on Monday, August 22.  For its first week on air, Morgan’s interview-intensive program featured conversations with baseball greats Morgan conducted at the recent Baseball Hall of Fame induction.  Sports USA president Larry Kahn says of Morgan’s new show, “‘The Joe Morgan Show’ is unique content for sports fans to tune in to because Joe has conversations with athletes and allows us to listen to stories most people have never heard before.  Listeners will have more insight as a fan because Joe can get closer to these athletes in a relaxed setting compared to regular members of the media doing interviews.”

Urban Talk Host Bev Smith Reportedly Ending Radio Show.  According to the Redding News Review, American Urban Radio Network talk host Bev Smith’s show will end soon.  The reports are not clear.  Redding News Review reports one source saying Smith is battling breast cancer although there has been no official word from AURN on the status of Bev Smith’s program.  The program is fed live from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm nightly.

 

2012 Presidential Race/Obama Vacation Top News/Talk Story for Week of August 22-26.  The GOP candidates and the issues facing the nation as the 2012 presidential campaign season heats up – combined with chat about President Obama’s vacation – landed atop the Talkers Ten chart for the week of August 22-26.  Coming in at #2 was the turmoil in Libya.  At #3 was the violence in Syria and at #4 was the financial markets instability.  The Talkers Ten is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio across America based on ongoing research from TALKERS.  It is published every Friday at Talkers.com.  To view this week’s entire chart, click the banner below.

Honoring a Pioneering Company.  KDKA, Pittsburgh morning drive host Larry Richert (l) is seen here with KDKA promotions staffers Lisa Herald (to Richert’s right), Chelsea McCartney (far right), and Ed Reis (in top hat) portraying the celebrated entrepreneur and engineer George Westinghouse.  KDKA broadcast from Westinghouse’s Cranberry, Pennsylvania campus to help celebrate its 125th year in business.  Westinghouse Corporation put KDKA on the air on November 2, 1920 and the rest, as they say, is history!

TALKERS Weekly Affiliation Roundup.  The Wall Street Journal Radio Network clears “The Daily Wrap from The Wall Street Journal with Michael Castner” on WTKK-FM, Boston…..TRN’s “Watchdog on Wall Street” with Chris Markowski picks up KWKC, Abilene, Texas.