Monday Memo: “Oh the Weather Outside Is Frightful…” in wint’rish New England, where consultant Holland Cooke reminds stations that – even with smartphones outnumbering radios in such regular use – information staples can still drive listening (and are sponsorable). Read his column here.
Pending Business: Pain Management. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications Corp, says that in 2021 we should eliminate the “pain point” from the radio sales process. “It makes no sense to me today or from the first day I was exposed to the ‘probe for the pain point’ strategy of selling. Discovering marketing solutions is a fluid, positive process anchored by a relationship built on trust, not finding the pain.” Read more here.
Bold Gold Media Group Honored with NY Senate Empire Award. The New York State Senate Empire Award is bestowed annually to “businesses or organizations that encourage other area businesses or have formed partnerships within the community, those that volunteer their time and services and demonstrate exceptional leadership in the community; or have contributed significantly to their community’s quality of life.” Bold Gold Media Group was recently honored with the New York State 2020 Senate Empire Award, presented by Senator Jenn Metzger. She says, “Bold Gold Media is deserving on so many counts, it’s hard to count them. You have been the voice of the Catskills; you have really been there for the community in a way that is really unusual for a media group. There are so many great community organizations that are doing such important work and you share information; you educate them especially with your local news. In a rural area many people are isolated and they need to know day-to-day and emergency information, and you play a vital role for our communities in providing that. On top of that, your volunteer work and sponsorship with the ‘98.3 WSUL Heart-A-Thon’ and the ‘Thunder 102 & 104.5 Country Cares for St. Jude Kids Radiothon’ is yet another way you give back to the community. This is a way for us to recognize you and express our great appreciation for all that you do.” Bold Gold New York general manager Dawn Ciorciari comments, “Helping our community is not just what we do, it’s who we are. This award belongs to our amazing team of hard-working local professionals and a community that gives us amazing content to talk about everyday.”
Salem Radio Network’s Charlie Kirk Named to 1776 Commission. Nationally syndicated Salem Radio Network talk host Charlie Kirk (founder of Turning Point USA), is one of 18 Americans President Trump intends to appoint to his President’s Advisory 1776 Commission. A memo from the Office of the White House Press Secretary offers the purpose of the commission: “As our nation approaches its 250th anniversary of glorious Independence, many of America’s school children are tragically being taught to hate our founding, hate our history, and hate our country. This must stop. The 1776 Commission will help ensure that every American child learns that they live in the greatest and most exceptional nation in the history of the world. That is why it is absolutely vital to teach America’s young people all that is inspiring and unifying in our history. We want our children to become patriots who love their country. The 1776 Commission will share the story of our nation’s miraculous founding, proclaim the self-evident truths contained in the Declaration of Independence, and explain how these founding principles have helped our people overcome great national challenges throughout our history – and how these principles can guide us to a great American future. All Americans should pay close attention to this work.” About his appointment, Kirk states, “I’m incredibly honored to be named to the president’s 1776 Commission alongside so many other patriots. America is the greatest nation to exist in the history of the world. Our nation’s virtues and our accomplishments must be passed on to the next generation if it is going to survive into the future. I have devoted my life to that mission, and I am beyond humbled to be able to continue doing so in this new role.”
Retired WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte Talk Host John Hancock Loses Foot to Infection. A story in the Charlotte Observer by Theoden Janes chronicles the recent health issues that retired WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte talk host John Hancock has been dealing with that resulted in the recent amputation of his right foot. Last fall, 68-year-old Hancock retired from Entercom’s WBT where he was afternoon drive host. He’d been diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes more than three years ago and took steps to lose weight and change his diet. But by his own admission, he fell off the healthy food wagon and put some of the weight back on. Then this summer, he began to notice tenderness in his right foot. As time passed it became worse until it was diagnosed as an infection. It was shortly thereafter that one of his doctors recommended the foot be amputated. He’s been fitted for a prosthetic leg that he’ll be getting early in the New Year.
WWL, New Orleans Talk Host Kristian Garic Returns to Air After Rehab Stint. New Orleans sports talk host Kristian Garic recently returned to the air on Entercom’s WWL-AM/FM after 29 days in a rehab program for alcoholism. Garic co-hosts the 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm “Sports Talk” program with Bobby Hebert. On his return, he penned an editorial piece on the WWL website explaining his situation, what he’s been through and the challenges that lay ahead of him as he works to remain sober. He wrote, in part, “Getting help was perhaps the hardest decision I ever had to make. Here I was, pretty successful, with a good job. My bills were paid, my kids are healthy and I’m a father actively involved in their lives. Nothing the matter, right? Not so fast. Just to give you the insight into the depth of my drinking; I didn’t just drink three or four beers and call it quits. I drank a 12 pack of beer and a fifth of whiskey nearly every night for the past ten years… I want to thank my co-workers and management at WWL (Diane Newman and Kevin Cassidy in particular), and our parent company Entercom. The outpouring of support from the few who knew of my addiction leading up to treatment is sincerely appreciated. That support will help me tremendously in my life-long battle against alcoholism.”
Judy Pielach Joins WLS-AM, Chicago as Contributor. Former WGN-AM news personality Judy Pielach is now part of the WLS-AM morning show hosted by Bruce St. James. The program is being billed on the Cumulus Media station’s website as “The Bruce St. James Show with Judy Pielach.” Pielach accepted a buyout from former WGN owner Tribune Broadcasting in 2018 and left her afternoon drive post at WGN. WLS-AM program director Stephanie Tichenor says, “Judy Pielach is a radio force majeure that has delivered the news to Chicago audiences for decades. Now, her strong voice, wit, and wisdom will be heard every weekday morning on 890 WLS-AM from 5:30 am to 9:00 am on ‘The Bruce St James Show,’ where she and Bruce will entertain and inform our Chicagoland listeners. Judy is a perfect match for Bruce. She’s local, she’s funny and she knows the news that Chicago is talking about.” Pielach adds, “When I left an iconic radio station two years ago seeking a new adventure, I never imagined I’d find it at another iconic radio station. It turns out, I just can’t stop talking. And, I especially like talking to Bruce. Really looking forward to the conversation on 890 WLS! A big thank you to Stephanie Tichenor for giving me this opportunity.“
Entercom Announces $1 Million Community Giveback Initiative. In an effort to help fellow businesses in the communities in which Entercom operates, the company is making a $1 million commitment to local restaurants, arts, and charitable organizations in the cities and towns where Entercom’s employees live and work. The employee-led initiative allows local managers to buy gift certificates and tickets that will then be disbursed to full-time staffers.
Congress Strikes COVID Relief Deal, COVID-19 Stats & Projections/New Strain Concerns, Trump Continues Election Fraud Claim/Martial Law Considered, Russian Hack of U.S. Government Networks, and Georgia Runoff Elections Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. Congress agrees to a $900 billion COVID relief package; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., projections for post-Christmas cases, and the report of a new and more transmissible strain in Europe; Donald Trump continues to claim election fraud and reports of a White House meeting discussing martial law to stay in office; the breadth of the Russian hack of U.S. government computer networks; and the Georgia runoff elections for the state’s two U.S. Senate seats were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. There’s a holiday special program for Country top 40 affiliates as “Bob Kingley’s Country Top 40 with Fitz” presents “Christmas In America with Fitz and special guest Carrie Underwood,” a six-hour Christmas music celebration. CT40 says, “This six-hour music-intensive radio special offers country music’s most loved Christmas songs – past and present, the stories behind them and wonderful memories and traditions of the holidays. This year we are honored to have Carrie Underwood join Fitz as we also feature music from her new Christmas album My Gift.”…..iHeartMedia Philadelphia’s WRFF-FM “ALT 104.5” is teaming up with Crew Nation – a global relief fund for live music crews – to throw a virtual New Year’s Eve celebration featuring Bastille on Thursday, December 31 at 8:00 pm, with a pre-show starting at 7:00 pm. All ticket sale donations will support Crew Nation/Music Forward Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that extends a helping hand to the touring and venue crews that have been impacted by the pandemic and depend on shows to make a living.
By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — I wrote this during the first big blizzard of the season – not the last — and much of the East got whacked. Weather has been increasingly extreme most everywhere in recent years, and brutal hurricanes and raging wildfires and heat waves and floods and droughts will continue. What the heck, we’re probably mathematically overdue for an earthquake too.
Even wackier than the weather: The news. And don’t expect things to “settle down.” Though less-erratic, the incoming administration will be no less-newsworthy. Notwithstanding longer-term optimism over vaccines, the pandemic’s worst days lie just ahead; and the injured economy is as-directly impactful on listeners’ day-to-day survival. Repairs on President Joe Biden’s To-Do list are matters that transcend political arm-wrestling. Watch infrastructure (translation: “jobs”).
By Holland Cooke
The dang BEACH BOYS, who contributed so much volume-up TSL when Baby Boomers were young. Now, radio seems to think they were one-hit wonders…maybe two, if “The Man With All The Toys” is also airing. Otherwise, FM affords “Little Saint Nick” the same status as those barking dogs and mischievous Chipmunks, one-and-done until next year.
Talkers New York 2015 ‘Fireside Chat’ Video featuring Dialogue Between Michael Harrison and John Dickey Posted Today. Billed as a “Fireside Chat” in one of the keynote sessions of the just-concluded Talkers New York 2015 convention, TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison conducts a one-on-one conversation with Cumulus Media executive vice president of content & programming, John Dickey. In a series of what Dickey describes as “really tough questions,” Harrison asks him about a wide variety of subjects including how he handles the stress of being significantly responsible for the operation of one of the largest and most complex radio broadcasting companies in the history of the medium; whether or not the platform of radio can ever be accurately measured in terms of ratings; what position talk radio occupies within the overall Cumulus plan going forward; whether or not there is room for qualitative selling and non-traditional revenue generation at large, corporately owned stations; and if there is a future for the personality oriented disc jockey in music radio, among other topics. Dickey responds with thoughtful and candid answers before a fully engaged, packed house of professionals from all segments of the industry in a room so quiet, one could hear a proverbial pin drop. On the subject of stress, Dickey says it is a matter of “balance…balance in life” putting work and family into their proper perspectives. He ties that into programming — repeatedly stating that successful radio formats must maintain an effective balance of elements as they evolve forward with their “natural life cycles.” Dickey discusses the importance of “branding” in today’s commerce, underscoring his company’s commitment to and “heavy investment” in the talk format stating, “We are the ‘custodians’ of some of radio’s greatest brands,” making it clear that Cumulus takes that responsibility very seriously in the talk arena. He makes the point, “We must, however, arrive at an understanding of what constitutes the talk format today” pointing out that talk radio needs to “broaden the conversation” because “people talk about a lot of things.” On the subject of ratings (immediately following a powerful panel discussion about the state of audience measurement moderated by Sean Hannity during which Nielsen’s feet were held to the fire), Dickey is measured and fair in his criticism of Nielsen stating, “The ratings are accurate… but only to a point.” He says, “Nielsen needs to be [more forthcoming] about the ‘margin of error’ [in their metrics] – they owe us more than they are giving us.” Looking back at the conversation, Michael Harrison says, “John Dickey is one of the brightest young men I have ever met in this business and I have no doubt in my mind about his love for and commitment to radio. Neither he nor his brother Lew have easy jobs…and, like all human beings, they are far from perfect, not to mention the entire radio industry is challenged by the circumstances of the times… so operating the second largest ownership group in the history of the medium in the second decade of the 21st century is an extremely daunting task. Unlike so many of today’s powerful executives in both business and government, they admit their mistakes and are always trying to learn and improve.” To view the “Fireside Chat” in its entirety including an introduction by rising talk star Ethan Bearman, please click here.
Nielsen Unveils its Total Audience Report; Radio Leads Weekly Reach of Adults. Senior vice president of the audience insights division at Nielsen, Glenn Enoch, says that in preparing the first-ever Total Audience Report, the company is “using the best available data and have done all we can to make this an ‘apples-to-apples’ comparison, but it is important to remember that these platforms are measured by different methods using different samples and different crediting rules.” Enoch is referring to the challenge of finding one way to express the consumption of three different media platforms – TV, radio and digital. That said, radio practitioners are happy with the results indicating that on a weekly basis, radio reaches 93% of the adult population compared to television’s 87% reach. Digital is broken up into three segments – PC, smartphone, and tablet – and those reach 54%, 70% and 35% of American adults, respectively. However, when one looks at the weekly hours and minutes spent with each medium, television comes out on top across all adult demographics and radio comes in second. The data shows that, for persons 35-49, the average hours/minutes during the week spent with television was 33:05, for radio 13:39, for PCs 6:58, for smartphones 8:52, and for tablets 4:50. In tallying the number of days per week of usage for each medium for persons 18-49, smartphones come out on top with 5.9. Radio is close behind with 5. Television is third with 4.7, followed by tablets at 4.6 and PCs with 3.6. In a memo to his sales stall, Cumulus Media chief marketing officer Pierre Bouvard writes, “While radio is known as a frequency medium, we have always had significant reach. Radio’s reach has remained consistent while television has eroded. Radio now finds itself as America’s number one mass reach medium.”
New York Festivals Winners. Pictured here at Monday evening’s New York Festivals International Radio Program awards ceremony at New York Penthouse are Grand Jury member Geller Media International’s Valerie Geller (center); SiriusXM host Paul Bachman, Bronze Radio Winner in the Best Children/Young Adult Program for “Couch Potato Stew on Kids Place Live” (left); and SiriusXM VP Frank Raphael (right). The New York Festivals International Radio Program awards is an annual radio program competition executed in collaboration with the United Nations Department of Public Information. The United Nations Awards were established in 1990 to honor programs highlighting global concerns of interest to the UN.
Odds & Sods. The Edward R. Murrow Awards from the RTDNA will be handed out on October 12 in New York and CBS Radio News will receive the awards for Best Newscast and Best Continuing Coverage for the third straight year. Outstanding coverage of the downed Malaysian airliner in the Ukraine earned CBS the Best Newscast for its July 18 edition of World New Roundup by Steve Kathan and Paul Farry. The Continuing Coverage award was given for CBS’s yearlong reporting of the war on ISIS.….Chicago media writer Robert Feder is reporting that Cumulus Media’s news/talk WLS-AM, Chicago has secured the rights to Chicago White Sox baseball for a six-year deal that would start with the 2016 season. Currently, White Sox baseball is heard on CBS RADIO’s sports talk WSCR “670 The Score.”…..It didn’t take long for former San Diego Chargers analyst Hank Bauer to find a new gig. The former Chargers player will join Sports USA as a play-by-play analyst for its NFL broadcasts beginning in September. Bauer’s deal to work in the Chargers radio network booth was not renewed after 17 years…..Jon Laaser is named the new radio play-by-play man for Virginia Tech football starting this fall by rights holder IMG. Laaser will work in the booth with color man Mike Burnop.
Alan Colmes Recalls Playing Gunhill Road in His DJ Days. Mainstay radio and TV talker Alan Colmes of FOX News Radio and FOX News Channel is pictured at left at Talkers New York 2015 (6/12) being interviewed for a documentary film being produced about the legendary pop/rock band Gunhill Road that he recalls from his early days as a DJ spinning rock ‘n’ roll. The trio had a great time schmoozing with radio broadcasters from both music and talk formats at the recent mega-conference. Gunhill Road had two FM rock radio album favorites and the hit single “Back When My Hair Was Short” in the early 1970s. They surprised the music world recently by releasing an unexpected album with 19 new tracks titled Every 40 Years (Gunhill Road Records) that has garnered some airplay on AC and triple-A formats as well as a ton of interviews on talk radio – talk show hosts with a taste for pop culture find the group’s personal story fascinating. The group attended the conference to appear with various radio folk in the forthcoming documentary (“Back When My Hair Was Long”) about their extremely unlikely two-part journey from the 1970s to the modern digital era set for theatrical release in 2016 and to promote their latest single, “I’ve Got To Learn To Cry (featuring American Idol’s Julia DeMato). Pictured above: Gunhill Road members (l-r): Glenn Leopold, Steve Goldrich and Paul Reisch with talk radio legend Tom Leykis.
The Dump Buttons Start Season with Narrow Loss. Pictured here after their first game of the season – a very close 10-9 loss to Bloomberg News – are the players on the Cumulus Media New York co-ed softball team, The Dump Buttons. They represent hot AC WPLJ, news/talk WABC, and urban contemporary WNBM. Top row (from l-r): the Don Imus show’s Lou Rufino, WPLJ digital/social media producer Sheila Watko, Joan Hamburg producer Matt Meany, WABC account executives Jamie Roberts and Jose Torres; and Bryce Grafton (Jayde’s boyfriend). Bottom row (from l-r): WPLJ GSM Mary Jo Vetrano, WNBM midday host La Loca; WPLJ morning show co-host, Jayde Donovan; Curtis & Kuby producer Flipper; WABC personality Curtis Sliwa.
The 28th Annual Geraldo Golf Classic. 77WABC personality Geraldo Rivera (left) is here with honoree Steven G. Santino (right) at Monday’s Geraldo Golf Classic at Edgewood Country Club in River Vale, New Jersey. Geraldo’s radio show was broadcast live from the event and golfers participated in contests, watched the broadcast, golfed, and enjoyed an extended cocktail hour in the evening. All proceeds benefit Life’s WORC, which provides support and services for individuals with developmental disabilities.
Charleston Church Massacre Aftermath/Confederate Flag Controversy, Pope’s Climate Encyclical, Obama Trade Deal, 2016 Presidential Prospects, ISIS Activities, Iran Nuclear Program, White House Ransom Policy, and Skinny Jeans Hospitalization Case Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/23). The aftermath of the Charleston church killings and the related South Carolina Confederate flag issue; the recent climate change encyclical from Pope Francis and the controversy over the beliefs of his science advisor; the revived fast-track trade bill; the activities of the 2016 presidential candidates; the military progress of ISIS and world reaction to its grisly tactics; potential cooperation between the US and Iran and the latter’s nuclear program; the new White House policy that would not legally pursue families that pay ransom for family members held by terrorist organizations; and the case of a woman hospitalized due to ill effects from “skinny jeans” were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.