By Tom Tradup
Salem Radio Network
V.P. News/Talk Programming
2020 has presented talk radio with many challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic — which has personally impacted many in our industry including the amazing infection-through-recovery story of John McConnell. We’ve also been asked to cover nationwide riots — oops, I mean “peaceful protests”— following the senseless killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, the contraction of the radio industry including layoffs and pay cuts, and operating day to day with masks and social distancing.
Legendary Radio Personality Dan Ingram Dies at 83. New York all-news WINS-AM reports that legendary radio jock Dan Ingram died on Sunday evening (6/24) at his home in Florida after several years of dealing with health issues. He was 83. Ingram is widely considered to have been the greatest disc jockey in the history of American top 40 radio. Ingram first got into radio during his student days at Hofstra University on Long Island. He worked at WABC-AM during its heyday as a top 40 powerhouse (from 1961 to 1982). After that, he did several weekly syndicated radio programs and, in 1991, joined the air staff at WCBS-FM, New York. TALKERS founder Michael Harrison, who shared the honor of being one of the charter inductees into the Hofstra University Radio Hall of Fame with Ingram, issued the following statement, “Dan Ingram was larger than life on WABC in its pop music heyday. He was, in my opinion, the greatest top 40 radio disc jockey of all time – not just being a master of compacted content delivered by an awesome voice with a remarkable range, but a genius practitioner of timing that made the flow of elements, including his announcing, that rushed out of the speakers truly symphonic in nature. He raised the presentation of pop radio formatics to an art form. His influence on our industry’s music presenters and talk show hosts alike was absolutely profound.” Industry chronicler Art Vuolo created a tribute video to Ingram that you can see here.
Scripps Strikes Deal to Sell Tulsa Cluster. Regular TALKERS readers are aware that E.W. Scripps recently announced it is in the process of selling off its radio assets to focus on being a television company. Now, we learn that Scripps has entered into a deal with Oklahoma City-based Griffin Communications to sell its Tulsa radio cluster to the company for $12.5 million. The stations include: news/talk KFAQ, CHR KHTT, country KVOO, country KXBL, and classic hits KBEZ. Although Griffin operates a statewide radio network, these will be the first radio stations it has owned in many years. It currently operates television stations in Oklahoma City and Tulsa as well as outdoor companies. Scripps has a total of 34 stations to sell, including the Tulsa group.
TALKERS Begins Posting Videos Today of the Recent TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! Convention – First Up: SiriusXM Host Karen Hunter Receives the Freedom of Speech Award. Today (6/25) TALKERS magazine begins posting individual events from the recent TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! convention held in New York City on June 8. Each day, another session will be posted in the order that they originally took place. Today’s first installment features the presentation of the Gene Burns Memorial Award for Freedom of Speech (“Freedom of Speech Award”) by TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian to SiriusXM Satellite Radio host, book publisher, Hunter College professor, and former New York Daily News/Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, Karen Hunter. The presentation was captured on video at the convention’s opening breakfast. To view the video, please click here.
National Radio Hall of Fame Inductees Announced; Public Votes in Mark Levin and Industry Panel Honors Six Talk Personalities. The public cast more than half a million votes for the two categories open to them for induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame: Spoken Word Format On-Air Personality and Music Format On-Air Personality, and Westwood One syndicated host Mark Levin will be inducted in the former category while Kid Kelly was honored in the latter category. Four of the categories were decided by a voting participant panel comprised of nearly 1,000 industry professionals. Those inductees are: Jonathon Brandmeier, Active Local/Regional, 10+ years; Jim Kerr, Longstanding Local/Regional, 20+ years; Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg, Active Network/Syndication, 10+ years; and Dr. Laura Schlessinger, Longstanding Network/Syndication, 20+ years. The NRHOF nominating committee also decided to induct four individuals for their contribution to the industry. They chose: Nanci Donnellan, a.k.a. The Fabulous Sports Babe; longtime WFAN, New York sports talk host Mike Francesa; New York broadcast legend (WOR-AM and WABC-AM) Joan Hamburg; and classic rock programmer and consultant Fred Jacobs. NRHOF chairman Kraig T. Kitchin says, “It’s our mission to recognize the most impactful personalities and individuals to our medium and honor them. We’re proud to induct these individuals for their contributions into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2018, our 30th year.” The induction ceremony takes place November 15 at Guastavino’s in midtown Manhattan.
Glenn Beck Walks Off Camera During Segment with CNN’s Brian Stelter. Before Premiere Networks nationally syndicated talk star Glenn Beck unclipped his lavalier mic and walked off the set, he was already frustrated with CNN’s Brian Stelter and the way the segment was going. But when Stelter brought up Friday’s Daily Beast piece titled, “Glenn Beck’s Media Empire Implodes. Again,” Beck had had enough. See the video here. The story cites sources that report there’s been another round of layoffs at Beck’s TheBlaze. That news comes as Beck told his listeners he’s selling his Dallas-area house because he fears the economy and doesn’t “want to be sitting with a big huge house.”
Financial Talker Ray Lucia Wins at SCOTUS; to Get New Hearing in ‘Buckets of Money’ Case. Financial talk radio personality – and investment adviser – Ray Lucia won a major battle at U.S. Supreme Court that will have repercussions on how the Securities Exchange Commission will work going forward. Five years ago, an SEC administrative judge barred Lucia from the investment adviser industry and ordered him to pay a $300,000 fine related to his “Buckets of Money” strategy that the judge ruled misled investors. Lucia challenged the constitutionality of the administrative judge system and won a 7-2 decision at the Supreme Court as it ruled that administrative judges appointed by low-level staffers are unconstitutional. The doesn’t get Lucia off the hook in the “Buckets of Money” case, but it gets him a new hearing.
Michael Harrison Appears on HLN’s ‘Opinion Nation’ Hosted by Carol Costello. Pictured above is TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison on HLN’s “Opinion Nation” discussing the topic, “Should we publicly shame people over their politics?” The other panelists were former Bernie Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver and GOP strategist Kevin Madden. Weaver and Madden argued over whether the separating of families at the border is egregious enough to warrant the kind of public displays against administration officials that we’ve been seeing in the news. Weaver said yes. Madden said no. Harrison said we must practice civility in public and engage in constructive dialogue over our differences and stop demonizing those with whom we disagree, or we’ll never reach consensus or the kind of compromise necessary to run a civilized democratic society. He said, “The place to settle these differences is the ballot box, not the street, theaters, or public restaurants.”
SRN’s Mike Gallagher Broadcasts Live from Rio Grande Border. With illegal immigration policy the most-talked-about topic on news/talk radio, Salem Radio Network star Mike Gallagher (above) spent the weekend talking to people in the Rio Grande valley in advance of his live broadcast from the region today (6/25). SRN calls it “a ground-level, three-hour exclusive report from the sizzling U.S./Mexico border…as only Mike Gallagher can deliver!”
TALKERS News Notes. WABC, New York morning personalities Bernard McGuirk and Sid Rosenberg are broadcasting live from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City on Thursday and Friday (6/28-29) to celebrate the entertainment destination’s grand opening…..Westwood One News is exploring the music, movies, and TV shows of the year 1968 via the special “1968: Turn on, Tune in, Change Channels.” WWO says it’s a “half-hour news special, featuring archive audio and new analysis,” available to Westwood One News affiliates for the Fourth of July holiday and the following weekend. It will also replace “The Week in Review” July 7-8..…Indiana Radio Watch publisher Blaine Thompson reports that Doug Zook has exited his role as host of “Anderson Live” on Woof Boom Broadcasting-owned news/talk WHBU, Anderson, Indiana. Weekend talk host Steve Guinn is assuming hosting duties for the 7:00 am to 9:00 am program…..WTMJ, Milwaukee is presenting its inaugural “Brewers Classic” game celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the Milwaukee Brewers’ dramatic 2008 season-ending win against the Chicago Cubs with a re-broadcast of the play-by-play on July 18…..WCHV Charlottesville, Virginia’s Joe Thomas was awarded the “Outstanding Feature Reporting” award by Virginia Association of Broadcasters for the station’s live coverage of the August 12, 2017 riots in Charlottesville…..In the public media sphere, WNYC, New York chief content officer Dean Cappello exits the station after a 21-year career there. Prior to this year, Cappello was in charge of the organization’s national shows and podcast efforts, but he recently pulled back and was focusing solely on New York’s WNYC-AM/FM.
Trump Illegal Immigration Policy/House Immigration Bill, Sanders-Nielsen Restaurant Incidents/Maxine Waters Speech, Stormy Daniels Meeting Canceled, Saudi Women Drivers, Glenn Beck-Brian Stelter Interview, Erdogan Wins ‘Re-Election,’ and MLB Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The controversy over the separation of parents and children during enforcement of immigration violations and the related House immigration bill; Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kirjsten Nielsen’s public restaurant experiences and Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ speech encouraging people to harass administration officials in public; Stormy Daniels’ attorney’s public complaint about canceled meeting with special counsel investigation; women in Saudi Arabia begin legally driving cars; Glenn Beck walks off the set of an interview with CNN’s Brian Stelter; Recep Tayyip Erdogan is “re-elected” leader of Turkey; and Major League Baseball action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
PPM Analysis: Urban AC. Managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s May 2018 PPM survey, today focusing on urban AC. Comparing numbers from Nielsen’s May 2017 to this year’s survey, 51% of urban AC stations saw their weekly (6+) AQH go up and 46% declined. Nine urban AC outlets ranked #1 (6+) in their respective markets in May, including by iHeartMedia’s WVAZ, Chicago, which has been #1 for the past five surveys. Radio One’s WFXC, Raleigh notches its 12th #1 rank in a row. See the story here.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. On-air pro Tracy Dixon inks a multi-year extension to continue with Bonneville’s country KYGO, Denver where she co-hosts the “Tracy & Guy” morning program with Guy David. Program director John E. Kage comments, “‘Tracy & Guy’ have been steadily rising in the ratings and are poised for great things in the Denver market. Tracy is an all-around media threat with her great work leading the morning show, her natural presence on TV with CBS, and her incredible social skills and onstage presence. Her work in the community, as well as with St. Jude, makes all of us at Bonneville proud.”…..Great Plains Media brings on-air pro Joshua James aboard to host middays on CHR KKSW, Topeka “105.9 KISS.” KKSW program director Beth Cruise states, “We are thrilled to welcome Joshua James to the ‘105.9 KISS’ family. His enthusiasm and love for the community will be a perfect fit with our long-term relationship with the University of Kansas Jayhawks and our listeners in Topeka and the western suburbs of Kansas City.”
ESPN Moves Craig to Network PD; Ups Hurley to WEPN, New York PD. Sports programmer Justin Craig is promoted from PD of WEPN, New York to senior director, programming and operations for the ESPN Radio network. The sports giant says that Craig will be responsible for all aspects of ESPN Radio programming and production, including oversight of “Mike & Mike,” “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz,” “Russillo & Kanell,” and nighttime and weekend programming. Craig is now based at ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol and reports to David Roberts, vice president, ESPN Network Content. With Craig’s move to Bristol, WEPN APD Ryan Hurley is elevated to program director. Jonathan Winthrop, who has previously served as a producer at WEPN, adds APD duties and continues to produce the Stephen A. Smith show.
TALKERS Personality Profile: KSCO, Santa Cruz Owner, Michael Zwerling. One of the most colorful owner/operators of a local radio broadcasting company, Michael Zwerling, is the subject of an audio personality profile posted today (3/20) on Talkers.com. Since 1991, Zwerling (known to his friends and colleagues as “MZ”) has owned heritage news/talk 10k flamethrower KSCO-AM 1080. The station puts out a giant signal covering the Monterey Bay area as well as huge swath of Northern California territory. KSCO first went on the air in 1947. Zwerling has subsequently gained a national reputation for his unique ownership and management style that has turned KSCO into a dynamic combination of mostly locally produced content punctuated by carefully selected national programming. Under Zwerling’s guidance, KSCO is financially fueled by a potent combination of traditional advertising sales and the generation of non-traditional revenue. In the hour-and-a-half interview conducted by TALKERS founder Michael Harrison, Zwerling discusses what it has been like operating a conservatively oriented station (featuring Rush Limbaugh) in a predominantly liberal market. He talks about his early, quirky days in broadcasting, the nuts-and-bolts of local radio station ownership in the modern era, the pros and cons of carrying Limbaugh over the years, his late mother and locally beloved broadcaster, Kay Zwerling, and his remarkably lucrative relationship with the multi-level marketing health products company, Youngevity. To listen to this candid dialogue with the man described by Michael Harrison as one of the most interesting and eccentric owners in radio today, please click here.
‘The Big Talker’ Returns to Wilmington, NC. Talk show host Chad Adams is reviving “The Big Talker” on WFBT-FM, Wilmington, North Carolina (licensed to Carolina Beach) under an LMA from Carolina Christian Radio. His Red Wolf Broadcasting will operate the station and his regionally syndicated talk show – also heard in Charlotte and Greensboro – will be heard from 9:00 am to 11:00 am. It will follow the local “Mornings With Pam and John” program with husband-and-wife team John and Pam Dismukes. Other shows to air on the station include: Radio America’s Dana Loesch, the Dave Ramsey show, SRN’s Mike Gallagher, and Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity and the overnight “Coast to Coast AM” with George Noory. Originally, “The Big Talker” was heard on WNTB-FM and WUDE-FM. WFBT-FM’s frequency is 106.7. It was formerly WMYT and was put on the air by Curtis Wright’s and George Bell’s Talk Media TV in 2013.
TALKERS News Notes. The morning drive show at Cumulus Media’s news/talk WGOW-FM, Chattanooga – hosted by Jeff Styles, Jim Reynolds and Bill Lockhart – expands by an hour to air from 6:00 am to 10:00 am, eliminating the Reynolds-hosted hour, “The Nth Degree.” At the same time, Styles – who had also been hosting the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon program, “Fred The Show,” gives up that program to new host Brad Giese…..WGN, Chicago launched a new weekend program on Saturday (3/18). The two-hour show “On the Road with Dane Neal” airs from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. WGN says that this program is more than just a car show, “Neal will explore the relationship of people and their cars. Topics will include motorsports, day trips, cruise nights, technology in the car and more.” His first guests were Food Network’s Guy Fieri, Expedia’s Sarah Gavin, and NASCAR champion Kevin Harvick. Neal comments, “I’m excited to be able to take a radio road trip with listeners each week. We’ll share great stories about racing, innovation in driving and the great car culture of Chicago.”
Rising Country Music Star Pens and Records Inspirational Patriot Song for Both Music and Talk Radio. Singer/songwriter Dede Wedekind is a rising star in country music circles (Indie Music Channel’s 2016 Best New Female Artist, plus a number of other music industry honors) and she is now attracting the attention of talk radio hosts doing interviews about her new soul-stirring, patriotic release titled “America United.” The song was originally written by Wedekind and her husband in a flash of inspiration coming from the pulpit while attending church on a Sunday in 2012. Garnering attention across her fan base for years, the couple then tweaked the song in the wake of the 2016 presidential election, resulting in another IMEA Award for the independent artist. She tells CCM Magazine, “To me, everyone who hears ‘America United’ seems to like and relate to the overwhelming message of this song—which is the necessity of uniting all Americans once again. This song isn’t about a particular political party, being conservative or liberal, or even being Democrat or Republican—it’s about making America a great nation once again. ‘One nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.’” Wedekind continues, “In the original version written in 2012, it features President Ronald Reagan‘s message of making America great quoting the line, ‘Once again, make America Great. When President Donald Trump decided to run last year, my husband Larry and I had already decided to update ‘America United’ to make it a better song with a more concise message and better production. We then decided to also incorporate Trump’s slogan, which, again was completely based on Reagan’s original message. We repeated the slogan in the chorus of the 2016 version, since it was already a part of the original song, and more importantly felt strongly that God had given it to President Reagan, and now again to President Trump.” To listen to and download Dede Wedekind’s “America United” and obtain contact information to book an interview with her, please click here.
Trump’s Obama Wiretapping Accusations, Gorsuch Confirmation Hearings, GOP Health Care Bill, U.S.-Germany Relations, North Korea Missile Program, Rock Legend Chuck Berry Dies, and March Madness Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. President Donald Trump’s accusation that former President Barack Obama ordered wiretaps of Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign; Supreme Court judge nominee Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings begin today; speculation about the fate of the GOP health care bill; President Trump’s belief that Germany owes the U.S. money for its NATO membership and his meeting last week with Angela Merkel; North Korea’s nuclear missile program and its threats to hit American targets; rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Chuck Berry dies at age 90; and the action during the first weekend of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Stephanie Miller Announces ‘Sexy Liberal Resistance Tour’ 2017. Progressive radio talk show host and comedienne Stephanie Miller is announcing the 2017 version of her Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour – this year titled the “Sexy Liberal Resistance Tour 2017.” On this tour will be Miller, John Fugelsang and Frangela. A press statement from Miller reads, “Touring for several years as the Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour, the election forced us to rethink early retirement and return to the stage for a multiple-city tour. We face Washington and laugh out loud at the tragic comedy of politics, to throw our finest, most scathing satire at the feet of our not-so-elected politicians. To fight on with comedy…to offer the real fake news…to offer true alternative facts.” The tour does 10 dates this year beginning in Madison on April 22 and ending in Maui, Hawaii on December 23. Cities include Phoenix, Albuquerque, Seattle, Denver, Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
SRN’s Tradup Promoting Brantley Rescue Documentary. Next Thursday night (3/30) is the one-night-only Fathom national movie theater screening of the film Facing Darkness. The film was the result of a trip to the Ebola virus “hot Zone” in Liberia last summer during which Salem Radio Network VP/news & talk programming Tom Tradup (pictured at right) accompanied a film crew from non-profit charity Samaritan’s Purse to chronicle the successful, high-tech rescue of Dr. Kent Brantley during the deadly 2014 outbreak. Tradup, who is actively promoting the film via social media, says, “The courage of the Samairtan’s Purse team (including Dr. Brantley) who risked their own lives as the Ebola outbreak claimed thousands of lives all around them, is a truly inspirational story that is the centerpiece of a stunning documentary.”
TALKERS magazine Publishes the 2017 Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk. On Monday, March 13, we published the fifth annual TALKERS Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk – formally known as the 100 Most Important Sports Talk Radio Hosts in America. This annual list is compiled and ranked by the editors of TALKERS magazine – with input from industry leaders. As with our publication’s “sister list,” the 100 Most Important Talk Radio Hosts in America, the criteria are a number of hard factors – including ratings and revenue – as well as such soft factors as talent, recognition, impact, service and more. Executive editor Kevin Casey states, “This annual ranking of the most important sports talk radio hosts is one of the most difficult – but enjoyable – projects we undertake at TALKERS. The reason for that is the partially subjective nature of the criteria combined with the enormous number of talented and successful sports talk hosts working in America. Paring that pool of talent down to 100 is no easy task!” Casey also notes that TALKERS will be publishing the 2017 Heavy Hundred of News/Talk Radio in April. See the 2017 Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk here.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Beginning this Friday (3/24), Entercom Austin is shifting its urban adult contemporary contemporary outlet to a new frequency as it changes translator K242CC from the 96.3 frequency to 95.9. Appropriately, the station’s new brand is “95.9FM RnB.” Entercom Austin VP/market manager Stephanie Callihan states, “We are looking forward to welcoming all of our loyal listeners at our new home on the dial. We continue to be committed to providing the unparalleled radio experience that our fans have come to expect from us and will keep delivering for our fans at our new frequency.”…..Bonneville’s country KYGO, Denver welcomes Guy David aboard as the new co-host of the morning drive show with current AM personality Tracy Dixon. David heads to Denver from his current position at RBH Enterprises-owned country WFON-FM, Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin “107.1 The Bull.”…..Wesley Miller returns to his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio to program adult contemporary WMXY “MIX 98.9” and CHR WAKZ for iHeartMedia. Miller was most recently with Forever Media’s WGYY, Meadville, Pennsylvania “Froggy 100.3” hosting the morning show and serving as program director…..CBS RADIO country outlet WDSY, Pittsburgh “Y108” is hosting its annual Wine & Boots Bash to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital on Thursday, April 13 at The Twentieth Century Club in Oakland. The event will feature Warner Music Nashville country singer and songwriter Michael Ray. CBS RADIO Pittsburgh VP of programming Mark Anderson says, “Michael Ray was a part of Y108’s ‘Eight Man Jam’ concert two years ago. Michael’s career is on fire as he just achieved his second #1 hit single and we are thrilled to have him perform at Y108’s Wine and Boots Bash on April 13.” Ray broke into music as a contestant on The CW’s “The Next: Fame Is At Your Doorstep.” He co-wrote the 2015 Big & Rich hit “Run Away With You” and made his solo artist debut that same year with the #1 hit “Kiss You In The Morning.” He scored his second #1 hit just this week with his song, “Think A Little Less.”
Josh Turner Plays Stage 17 LIVE. The brand-new Cumulus Media New York performance space Stage 17 LIVE hosted country star Josh Turner on March 15. WNSH “NASH FM 94.7” air personality Jesse Addy spoke with Turner on the air the same day Turner spent his morning hosting the fourth hour of NBC TV’s “Today Show.” Pictured here are (from l-r): Jesse Addy, Josh Turner; WNSH program director John Foxx, and WNSH APD Mike Alan.