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Thursday, September 27, 2012

| September 27, 2012

Big Changes in Atlanta Talk Radio: Clear Channel to Flip WGST-AM/FM, Atlanta to Spanish or Comedy and Rush Limbaugh Moves to Cox’s WSB-AM/FM.  Exactly what format Clear Channel Media and Entertainment will flip longtime news/talk WGST-AM (which is simulcast on an FM translator at 92.3) to – whether it will be a Spanish format or a comedy format – remains to be seen.  But talk pro Rusty Humphries, who handled PM drive for the station is gone and Premiere’s Glenn Beck ran in his place Wednesday.  The status of morning hosts Rob Johnson and Dave Merlino is not known, however WGST is airing “The Wall Street Journal This Morning with Gordon Deal” in place of Johnson and Merlino.  Humphries, who hosts a separate program that is nationally syndicated via Talk Radio Network, tells TALKERS magazine, “It is always sad to see a news/talk facility such as WGST change to another format but I am grateful for the time I had there and was able to spend doing local radio in Atlanta.  The people at Clear Channel are fine people and I enjoyed working with them.  For me, the good news is that I will have a lot more time to devote to my nationally syndicated TRN program which is growing by leaps and bounds.”  Attempts by TALKERS to get response from Clear Channel management in Atlanta confirming the format change have not been successful.  Meanwhile, across town at Cox Media’s WSB-AM/FM, the station announces Rush Limbaugh, who is heard on WGST, will move to WSB beginning Monday, October 1.  At the same time WSB announces a new long-term deal with Premiere’s Sean Hannity for the PM drive slot and the return of “Atlanta’s Evening News” airing from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm hosted by Erick Erickson.  Cox Media’s Clark Howard will still emanate from WSB for his nationally syndicated program heard on some 200 affiliates across the country but will move to the 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm slot on WSB.  In order to accommodate the Limbaugh acquisition, the Neal Boortz program moves to the 8:30 am to 12:00 noon slot.

Armstrong & Getty Return Today.  KSTE, Sacramento-based morning duo Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty are back on the air this morning with Armstrong telling Sacramento TV station KTXL “Fox40” that the reason the duo was off the air on Tuesday and Wednesday was due to an “internal” reason and not because of their call to have listeners post cartoons, photos etc. that criticize Islam.  It had been widely reported the two had been suspended for the incident.  In fact, Armstrong tells the TV station the audio file of Monday’s controversial show will return to the online archives soon.  He says they will address the matter first thing today on the program at 6:00 am PT.

Talk Host Phil Valentine Decries Political Correctness.  Writing that the fear of offending those groups of people from which terrorists have sprung has put the shoe on the other foot and now the media is being terrorized, nationally syndicated talk host Phil Valentine laments the state of the media in America.  He says, “I’ve often joked that the only two groups we in talk radio can get away with offending are the deaf and the Amish.  Other offenses might require throwing yourself at the mercy of Jesse Jackson or apologizing to some LGBT group.  Now there is an offense from which you may never come back and that is offending a Muslim.”  Valentine penned this piece for TALKERS after hearing about the case of Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty.  Valentine’s piece is an interesting look at the intersection of politics and media in our current age.  Read it here.

Media Blogger Rich Lieberman Stands By Ronn Owens Story.  Rich Lieberman, who operates the 415 Media blog, wrote a post recently predicting that KGO, San Francisco talk legend Ronn Owens would have his contract – which expires at the end of this year – bought out and he would disappear from KGO early with the station moving in a newsier direction.  TALKERS reported this and Owens responded that Lieberman’s report is “totally made up.”  He also told TALKERS Lieberman has been attacking him for the past year for the changes that have taken place at KGO since Cumulus Media took over the station.  Now, Lieberman tells TALKERS he stands by his story.  “My sources are strong and I believe in them.  This has been a story I have sat on for nearly three weeks.  I finally went with it after talk and e-mailing Bay Area broadcast people familiar with the subject at hand.  I do NOT just dish out any speculation and innuendo without first trying to get it right.”  Apparently, only time will tell what the future holds for Ronn Owens at KGO.

20 Years and Going Strong.  Nationally syndicated talk superstar Dave Ramsey is pictured here holding the pewter statuette of a classic radio microphone given to him by his staff in honor of his 20th anniversary in the talk radio business.  Ramsey’s “official” anniversary is tomorrow – September 28 – and commemorates the day he and some friends took to the air on WWTN-FM, Nashville in a brokered time deal with the then-bankrupt station.  On Friday, a special episode of the program will air and include well-wishes from celebrities, friends and family; glimpses into the party at Ramsey’s Financial Peace Plaza; a look back at the history of the show; and calls from long-time listeners and second-generation callers.  Video of the show will be streamed live online.   Ramsey says, “I’m still surprised and honored that people call me at some of the most difficult and personal moments in their lives.  Giving people hope for their future and seeing lives changed is why I do this every day.”  He also credits his team for helping him achieve the success he has.  “I didn’t do this on my own.  Our producer, Blake Thompson, associate producer, Lara Johnson, engineer Matt Aaron and many other people have made it what it is today.  I have the best crew in radio, and we’ve been together for a long time, which is unheard of in the radio industry.”

The Young Guns of Talk Radio.  Ask anyone, especially those working for the consumer media, and they’ll tell you that personalities working as hosts on news/talk stations are all old, white men.  Radio’s general lack of a “farm system” doesn’t help that misconception much, but the truth is there are young people – some men and some women – working in news/talk radio today.  TALKERS executive editor Kevin Casey writes about some of the young broadcasters working in news/talk now.  Not all of them agree that by being young, they have the ability to attract a younger audience to the format.  But some believe it can be a factor.  KNST, Tucson host and PD Garret Lewis, for example, says, “The fact that I’m 35 and my friends are around my age gives me an advantage because I know what makes a person in their late 20s and 30s get fired up emotionally and what interests them.”  Hosts talk with Casey about the issues of the demographic, who inspired them, how they approach their programs and what, if anything, can be done to get young people into the talk business.  Read this story here.

Looking for Political Ad Dollars.  Getting those political ad dollars – even getting them late – is a nice boost to a station’s or group’s revenue.  TALKERS magazine managing editor/West Coast bureau chief Mike Kinosian talks with Portland Radio Group president and general manager Cary Pahigian about status of political money.  Pahigian says if you’re not in a potential swing state, the numbers (at least for presidential dollars) for radio are not rosy – at least not yet.  “With the exception of a few states, there does seem to be a lull,” Pahigian says.  He says the same pattern has developed over the past few election cycles.  “Depending on the landscape and circumstances, television is first in line and radio is second.  Everything changes though if there are issues and/or a tight race going on.”  Read Mike Kinosian’s full story here.

Three Senators and a Hopeful.  WIBC, Indianapolis late morning host Greg Garrison was visited by three U.S. Senators and one who hopes to become the next senator from the state of Indiana on his program on Wednesday during a campaign swing through the state capital.  Pictured here (from l-r) are: WIBC’s Todd Meyer, Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Garrison, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), Indiana State Treasurer and senatorial candidate Richard Mourdock, and Senator Dan Coats (R-IN).

Presidential Campaign Polls, Libya-al Qaeda Connection, Iran/Middle East Tensions, and NFL Referees Status Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/26).  The conflicting presidential election polls; the continuing query into the cause of the Libya terrorist attack; the state of Iran’s nuclear weapons program and the political climate in the Middle East; and the status of the NFL’s referee situation were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

| September 26, 2012

Ronn Owens Disputes Reports of His Demise at KGO.  Addressing yesterday morning’s lead story on the TALKERS magazine morning headlines, attributed to San Francisco media blogger Rich Lieberman, KGO talk show host Ronn Owens tells TALKERS there is no truth to the report that his contract will be bought out before it ends on December 31 and that the station will replace him with a newsy program.  Owens also tells TALKERS he has no knowledge of Cumulus Media’s plans beyond his contract but says, “Cumulus has been totally nice to me.”  Owens says Lieberman “has been attacking me for over a year for the changes that have taken place at KGO,” referring to the dismissal of other talk show hosts and staffers that took place after Cumulus assumed control of the station.  Owens says Lieberman’s blog story is “totally made up.”  He says, in fact, his agent is not Don Buchwald but is David Katz.  He also says he does not make a seven-figure salary and never said that his ego is too big to be paid $300,000, as Lieberman reported.  Regarding his future at KGO, Owens tells TALKERS, “San Francisco is the crown jewel of places to live and whatever happens after December 31 happens.”

CBS Radio’s Atlanta Sports FM Will Be “SportsRadio 92.9 The Game.”  Set to debut in mid-October, CBS Radio’s new FM sports talk outlet – the soon-to-be-former Triple A WZGC, Atlanta will take the handle “SportsRadio 92.9 The Game.”  Media chatter around Atlanta is that the station may reveal its lineup as early as next week in order to give the sales staff something concrete to pitch to clients prior to the launch.  Earlier media reports alluded to the possibility that “Two Live Stews” Doug and Ryan Stewart – recently dropped from crosstown WQXI “790 The Zone” – might pop up on the station but TALKERS sources indicate that will not be the case.  The programming philosophy we’re hearing about for this station is being termed as “fresh.”  Stay tuned!

Nation’s Biggest Talk Hosts Sign On to Petition Against TV Networks for Biased Election Coverage.  The missive detailing a complaint against ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN for “rigging this election and taking sides in order to pre-determine the outcome,” is penned by the conservative Media Research Center’s L. Brent Bozell III but it is signed by some of the country’s top nationally syndicated talk show hosts.  Premiere’s Rush Limbaugh, TRN’s Laura Ingraham and Cumulus Media NetworksMark Levin signed the open letter.  In it, Bozell writes, in part: “A free and balanced media are crucial to the health of this country.  It is your duty as journalists – as outlined in the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics – to ‘distinguish between advocacy and news reporting,’ while simultaneously ‘seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.’  There is a reason why the media are viewed with such disdain by the American public, as evidenced by every recent poll on the issue.”

Armstrong & Getty Reportedly Suspended for Call to Criticize Islam.  The suspension has not been confirmed by Clear Channel Sacramento management but the duo of Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty were off their KSTE, Sacramento flagship station as well as KKSF, San Francisco (where the show is simulcast) on Tuesday morning after the show sent out a press release promoting its call to listeners to post videos and photos critical of Islam and the prophet Muhammad to “flood the world with cartoons, movies and songs saying bad things about Muhammad until they finally grow up.  In other words, free speech,” stated Jack Armstrong.  The political blog The Right Perspective is reporting the duo have been suspended though it doesn’t state a period or confirmation of the sanction.  KTXL-TV, Sacramento produced a piece on the controversy and also was unable to get a comment on record from Clear Channel’s Sacramento management.

Radio’s Strengths in the Media Landscape.  Radio consultant Holland Cooke says the best session he attended at the recent 2012 Radio Show in Dallas was by Arbitron senior VP/marketing Bill Rose and highlighted how “Radio provides opportunities to reach consumers when advertising is relevant to what they are doing.”  Cooke says, “This document [the study cited] is a powerful selling tool, and real instructive to programmers and on-air talent…especially on-air talent that sells (and smart on-air talent does).”  The data Rose used in his presentation was from USA Touchpoints, a national sample that captures media usage, shopping behavior, emotional mindset, via smartphone app, every half hour, from 10-day panelists.  Read Holland Cooke’s report and analysis here.

WWNC, Asheville AM Drive Co-Host Jerri Jameson Moves On.  Morning drive co-host Jerri Jameson announces she will exit the Clear Channel station October 12 to pursue other interests.  Jameson writes on her station blog, “After more than 10 years with Clear Channel Asheville, it is time for me to move on from radio.  It was a difficult decision.  I have gotten to know some truly wonderful people in our great community and for that I will always be grateful.  Waking up each morning to share the daily goings on around town, the state and the world with you has truly been an honor I will treasure forever.”

The Young Guns of Talk Radio.  Ask anyone, especially those working for the consumer media, and they’ll tell you that personalities working as hosts on news/talk stations are all old, white men.  Radio’s general lack of a “farm system” doesn’t help that misconception much, but the truth is there are young people – some men and some women – working in news/talk radio today.  Tomorrow at Talkers.com, executive editor Kevin Casey writes about some of those broadcasters and their thoughts on being young and on the air in the news/talk business.

Willie Geist to Join NBC’s “Today.”  According to Brian Stelter’s Media  Decoder in The New York Times, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” cast member Willie Geist will become co-host of the 9:00 am hour of NBC’s “Today” program.  The deal has not been officially announced and Stelter reports Geist will still appear on “Morning Joe,” probably during the 6:00 am hour but will give up the “Way Too Early” 5:30 am newscast he’s been anchoring.  It’s also believed Geist will fill in for Matt Lauer when he is absent.

Rumors of Big Names Being Sought to Run CNN.  Sony chairman Howard Stringer is one of the executives rumored to be on the list of those being sought to take charge of struggling CNN when current chief Jim Walton leaves at the end of the year.  The New York Post reports a source inside CNN states, “We should know something in a month, perhaps before the elections. Unlike CNN International, we just don’t have someone with a mission.  We need our Roger Ailes.”  Other media execs reportedly being considered are former NBCUniversal president and CEO Jeff Zucker, former ABC News president David Westin, and former NBC News chief Neal Shapiro.

Odds & Sods. CBS Radio’s all-news KNX, Los Angeles takes its “KNX on Your Corner” live remote series to Glendale, California on October 19.  The day of programming will include features about Glendale’s history, current issues and plans for future growth. Coverage will include live interviews with city officials and other special guests.  The station will continue the series in Beverly Hills on December 7…..SiriusXM will present live coverage of the 2012 Ryder Cup golf tournament.  The biennial event pits the US against Europe and is being played this year at Medinah Country Club in Illinois.

Part of the Skyline.  CBS Radio’s all-news KYW, Philadelphia is now a part of the city’s skyline after the station put up a new, lit call letter sign atop its offices at 400 Market Street in downtown Philly.  The KYW logo and the iconic CBS “eye,” were hung over this past weekend and faces east, making it visible from Camden, New Jersey, I-95 and the Ben Franklin Bridge.  The station notes this was not a simple building procedure.  “The difficult process of hanging an illuminated sign above street level, particularly in the downtown area, took five years before receiving city zoning and art commission approval.  KYW is now the only radio station in Philadelphia County to be granted this right.”

Obama on ‘The View’ and at the UN, Iran’s Bluster, Criticism of Religious Figures, Libya Aftermath, and NFL Replacement Officials Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/25).  President Obama’s Appearance on ‘The View’ and his speech at the United Nations; Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s blustery speech at the UN and his appearance on Piers Morgan; criticism of religious figures; analysis of the aftermath of the Libya attack and furor over the NFL’s replacement officials were some of the most-talked-about-stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

| January 4, 2012

Don Martin Interviewed on TALKERS TV.  He is one of the most influential management figures in sports talk radio.  Don Martin wears both national and local feathers in his sports cap serving as vice president/general manager of Fox Sports Radio and general manager/program director of sports talk KLAC, Los AngelesTALKERS special features correspondent Mike Kinosian caught up with Martin at the recent Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum (10/20/11) and interviewed him about the state of sports talk radio including the local and national perspectives, where to find new talent and the importance of stations having play-by-play associations with a popular sports franchise.  Martin also discusses the impact that the PPM is having on the sports talk genre saying that it is showing the format in a positive light.  According to Martin, sports talk radio is one area of the talk media world that is less impacted by these difficult times than most.  He credits the fact that so many talented hosts are out of work as providing a vibrant talent pool from which to pick when openings come and points to the continual crop of retiring athletes as being another source of potential sports talk broadcasters.   Check out this must see video in the TALKERS TV box on the right side of this page.

KSFO, San Francisco Makes Program Changes; Melanie Morgan Returns to AM Drive and J.D. Hayworth Takes Over Late Mornings.  Almost four years after exiting the AM drive show she co-hosted with Lee Rodgers, Melanie Morgan is back on the Cumulus Media station alongside morning host Brian Sussman.  KSFO program director Paul Hosley states, “We’re thrilled to have Melanie back on KSFO.  She’s very popular with listeners and we’re looking forward to her many contributions on the revamped morning show.”  Cumulus fills the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon slot vacated by Rush Limbaugh when the Premiere Networks star moved across town to Clear Channel’s new KKSF with former Arizona congressman KFYI, Phoenix talk host J.D. Hayworth.  Hayworth says of his new gig, “As a ‘recovering’ Congressman, I’ll ‘pull back the curtains’ and explain why politicians do the things they do.  With the help of KSFO listeners, we’ll endeavor to provide common sense and clarity in these challenging and confusing times.”

Bob Lonsberry to Host Local Show for Clear Channel’s WSYR-AM/FM, Syracuse.  Bob Lonsberry tells the Syracuse Post-Standard he’ll make his new show local for Syracuse listeners even though he’ll be a commuter from his home market of Rochester where he hosts the midday show on WHAM.  Lonsberry takes over the 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm program beginning January 9.  The shift was formerly held by Jim Reith who exited the station at the end of October.  Lonsberry tells the paper, “I want something that literally speaks to a Syracuse listener, is representative of them and is a service to them.”  Lonsberry will lead into WSYR-AM/FM’s 5:00 pm news-oriented  “Daily Wrap with Joe Galuski and Kevin Schenk.”

Gene Burns to Begin KKSF, San Francisco Show Next Week After Apparent Health Issues.  The new lineup at Clear Channel’s KKSF, San Francisco began this week but former KGO talk host Gene Burns was missing in action.  Numerous reports in the media trades cite a mini-stroke suffered by Burns as the reason he’s not on the air.  However, Bay Area blogger Rich Lieberman reports that Burns did not suffer a stroke of any kind, that he has another unspecified medical condition and is expected to be on the radio next week.

WXOS-FM, St. Louis Tweaks Lineup; Former Cardinal Chris Duncan Moves to PM Drive.  Hubbard Radio’s 101 ESPN (WXOS-FM) moves former St. Louis Cardinals star Chris Duncan from his role on the evening show to “The Fast Lane” PM drive program where he’ll work alongside Randy Karraker and D’Marco FarrBob Ramsey, who had been part of the “Fast Lane” show, moves to the 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm show with co-host Brian Stull for the newly named “Stully & Rammer” show.  Ramsey also maintains his role as voice of the St. Louis Billikens calling St. Louis University men’s basketball games on the station.  Program director Kent Sterling states, “We are excited to put Chris Duncan on ‘The Fast Lane.’  He is a unique communicator with an incredible work ethic, and a great guy.  He has lived a life in the eye of the sports hurricane and he speaks with an authority that is captivating.  Media is all about finding great communicators and Chris is one of the most gifted in America.”

CBS Radio Announces Debut of DC All-News Outlet.  CBS Radio’s all-news WNEW-FM, Washington will hit the airwaves on January 19 and will feature the following talent lineup: Bill Rehkopf and Amy Morris in AM drive, Jenny Glick and Chas Henry in middays, Evan Haning and Nancy Lyons in PM drive, and Sarah Jacobs and Cheryl Simone in evenings.  Program director Robert Sanchez says of the new station, “We are very excited to have put together such a great group of professionals who have spent many years covering local and national news.  Each brings a specialty to WNEW creating a great team which will deliver important and compelling news that matters to local residents.  When Washington needs to know, this team will have them covered.”

Rob Williams New OM/PD at WQRT, Cincinnati; New PM Drive Show Debuts.  The Florence, Kentucky-licensed talk station owned by Christian Broadcasting System Ltd. names former Clear Channel programmer Rob Williams operations manager and program director for “Real Talk 1160” – WQRT.  Williams replaces Cary Pall.  At the same time, as talk host Andy Furman begins his new position hosting morning drive on the Fox Sports Radio Network, he leaves WQRT and makes way for “The Other Guys” afternoon sports talk show featuring Fox Sports Ohio’s Jeff Piecoro, former producer and co-host of the Furman show Rick “the Brick” Wall, and Metro NetworksJeremy “J-Lance” Lance.

Iowa Caucuses, Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions, Fracking-Related Earthquakes and Financial Markets Activity Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/3).  The GOP Iowa Caucuses held yesterday, Iran’s nuclear ambitions and warnings to the U.S. about carriers in the region, reports of earthquakes in Northeastern Ohio thought to be related to oil and gas fracking and the first financial markets activity of the new year were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Mona Lipschitz Debuts New Column.  Full of gossip, rumors, personal asides and unbridled opinion about the industry and the people in it, Mona Lipschitz debuts her new column “Straight from The Lip” today at Talkers.com.  In it she offers some keen insights about recent changes at Merlin Media and Cumulus Media as well as some pointed advice for Anderson Cooper.  Mona has been the news editor of TALKERS magazine for the past 21 years and she knows where all the bodies are buried in this business.  Let the dishing begin!  To read the first installment of “Straight from The Lip,” click here.