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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

| February 8, 2012

More Than 23 Million Tuned in to Radio Broadcast of Super Bowl According to Edison Research.  On the heels of the Dial Global-commissioned survey to determine the radio listenership to the NFC and AFC Championship games two weeks ago, DG follows up to ask Edison Research to study how many people listened to at least a portion of its Westwood One-produced broadcast of the Big Game.  Edison reports that via a live telephone interview survey conducted Monday after the game, “listeners accessed the live broadcast in multiple listening environments, including the home, while driving, at work and other locations, on over 680 stations nationwide.”  Given the money Dial Global spends for the rights to sports broadcasts throughout the year – and especially the NFL playoffs product – Co-president and CEO David Landau is delighted with the results.  “We are again excited, but not surprised, to see that our research findings highlight the strength of the Dial Global brand and the ongoing demand for radio broadcast coverage of live sporting events.  Dial Global is committed to showcasing the value of our content and exemplifying our commitment to being the most innovative, service focused company in the industry while supporting our affiliates and advertisers.”

Journal Communications Ups CFO Andre Fernandez to President.  The former NBC Universal SVP – with Journal Communications as chief financial officer since October of 2008 – keeps his CFO role but adds the president title.  Former president Steven Smith stays in his chairman and CEO position.  Smith says the new title recognizes the role Fernandez plays in the corporation.  “He has been instrumental in the continuing evolution of our business, the steady focus on building our local media brands and the sustained investment in our digital business.  Andre has also helped us maintain our strong financial disciplines which have led to Journal’s consistently improving balance sheet.  We look forward to Andre’s increased operational responsibilities across the company.”

WRKO, Boston Expands Midday Financial Show with Barry Armstrong.  The talk program hosted by the founder of the Armstrong Advisory Group is being renamed “The Financial Exchange with Barry Armstrong” and airs from 9:00 am to 11:00 am daily.  Vice president of AM programming for Entercom New England Jason Wolfe says, “Barry has done an excellent job with this program since its inception, and given the state of the economy in our country, I’m really looking forward to him being able to continue sharing his expertise in the business and financial arena, an arena that is still very top of mind for our audience.”  The station notes that Armstrong’s program regularly features heavyweight guests such as CNBC’s Larry Kudlow and Rick Santelli, Pimm Foxx from Bloomberg News, Fox Business’s Stuart Varney, and Eric Rosengren, CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.  The move means TRN’s Laura Ingraham airs in the 11:00 am to 1:00 pm slot and Jen Brien follows from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm.

Disney’s ABC News and Univision in Talks to Create New Cable News Channel.  The Wall Street Journal reports the two companies are in serious talks about creating a new cable news channel that would “broadcast in English, in an effort to keep pace with changing demographics among U.S. Hispanics and reach a new audience of English speakers.”  Neither company is commenting and the piece notes that the deal is far from done.  If it does happen, the operations center for the new channel would be based in Univision’s corporate home of Miami.  The initiative would be a departure for Univision by entering in to an English-language broadcast entity but an interesting aspect of the story as the WSJ notes the recognition that “U.S.-born Hispanics, who often speak English more than Spanish, are now fueling Hispanic population growth more than Spanish-speaking immigrants.”

American Jewish University in Los Angeles Presenting Talk Radio Discussion.   The fifth annual talk radio discussion presented by AJU is set to take place this Sunday, February 12.  Moderated by veteran broadcaster Bill Moran, the panel’s scheduled speakers include KFI, Los Angeles, personalities Bill Handel and Bill Carroll; Patt Morrison of KPCC-FM, Los Angeles and Southern California Public Radio; and Michael Harrison, founder of TALKERS.  Open to the public, the discussion will cover a variety of topics including Middle East tensions, health care, the economy, immigration reform, social media, the environment and a behind-the-scenes discussion about the talk media industry.  The event takes place between 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm at the AJU’s Familian Campus, 15600 Mulholland Drive in Bel-Air.  Admission: $25.  For more information or reservations call 310-440-1246.

WEEI, Boston Super Bowl Party Benefits Boomer Esiason Foundation.  Entercom’s sports talk WEEI, Boston held a Super Bowl party on Saturday, February 4 at Buca di Beppo in downtown Indianapolis.  The event raised $10,000 for the Boomer Esiason Foundation to fight cystic fibrosis.  Esiason – morning drive co-host at CBS Radio’s WFAN and Dial Global play-by-play analyst for Monday Night Football broadcasts – is a regular contributor to WEEI appearing weekly with John Dennis and Gerry Callahan during the NFL season.  Pictured here are (from l-r): Rich Saultz, VP of operations for Buca di Beppo, Boomer Esiason, Entercom VP/market manager Jeff Brown and WEEI VP of programming Jason Wolfe.

Colorado/Missouri/Minnesota Races, Obama Health Care Law Birth Control Controversy, Syria Violence, and California’s Prop 8 Overturned Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/7).  The GOP primary and caucus races in Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota, President Obama’s health care legislation and the mandatory birth control provisions that are creating controversy, ongoing violence in Syria and its role in the global stage, plus the overturning of California’s Prop 8 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

| February 1, 2012

Super Bowl XLVI Ground Zero for Sports Radio This Week.  The annual American ritual that is the NFL’s championship game is more than just a sports broadcasting event and has been for many years.  But this year’s game between the New England Patriots and New York Giants is especially intriguing and is creating enormous content, revenue and positive imaging for the spoken-word stations taking part on a level that rivals and perhaps exceeds a national political convention.  Some 100 sports stations, talk stations and network programs are filling the radio row and broadcasting from Indianapolis this week.  CBS Radio’s WFAN, New York is promising to deliver more than 50 hours of coverage leading up to, during and after the game with hosts Mike Francesa, Boomer & Carton, Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts.  Entercom’s WEEI, Boston is similarly situated in Indy broadcasting most of its programs from the site including Dennis & Callahan, Mut & Merloni and “The Big Show.”  Numerous sports talk stations from markets outside New England and New York broadcast from the site as are the networks – ESPN, Fox Sports Radio and others.  Sirius/XM Satellite Radio sports talk maverick Dino Costa is on the scene telling TALKERS, “You have no idea how much fun it is to be here and to be broadcasting from this amazing event.”  Dial Global has the national radio rights to the game (Giants and Patriots local rights carriers WFAN and WBZ-FM, respectively, can broadcast the game) and has cleared the game broadcast on more than 650 stations and has sold out the inventory.  Football is traditionally considered a television sport but football fans can’t always be near a television (or internet video feed) and that usually gives radio a healthy audience – as evidenced by Dial Global’s Edison Research-commissioned poll indicating more than 29 million Americans listened to at least a portion of the conference championship games this year.

KRMG-AM/FM, Tulsa Shifts Network Programming; Adds PM Drive News Hour.  Cox Media Group’s news/talk KRMG-AM/FM, Tulsa brings market news and talk pro Dan Potter back to the station to host a 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm program called “The KRMG Afternoon News with Dan Potter.”  Program director Drew Anderssen says, “KRMG listeners have told us it’s more important than ever for us to give them more frequent news, weather and traffic reports on their way home from work.  So, we’re taking action to address those needs.”  The station is also shifting Premiere NetworksRush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity from a one-hour delay to their live air times of 11:00 am to 2:00 pm and 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm CT respectively.  “With this change, listeners will now be able to hear what Rush and Sean have to say about events as they happen, not one hour later,” Anderssen states.  Dan Potter previously served as KRMG news director and morning news anchor before leaving the station in 2010 to attend to family matters.

Garrett Lewis Appointed to PD Post at KNST-AM/FM, Tucson.  Clear Channel Tucson ups morning drive host Garrett Lewis to the program director position, replacing former PD Chris Patyk.  Lewis – host of the “Morning Ritual” AM drive show since February of 2010 – signs a two-year deal to continue anchoring the morning show and stepping into the programmer’s role as well.  CC Tucson operations director Chris Pickett states, “Being able to keep Garrett is a big part of the evolution of KNST to FM.  His show has become must-listen radio and with his direction, I am confident that KNST will soar to new heights in the not-so-distant future.”

Current TV Enlists Guest Hosts for Ailing Keith Olbermann.  According to Mediaite, “Countdown” host Keith Olbermann’s chair is being filled by Bill Press and others while he recovers from a case of bronchitis.  Earlier, TALKERS reported that former New York Governor and CNN personality Eliot Spitzer was sitting in for Olbermann.  That was not correct as Bill Press has been hosting the show the past four nights.  However, Mediaite is reporting that Spitzer will host the program tonight (2/1).  Speculation is that Olbermann and Current TV have been butting heads lately – something founder Al Gore has publicly denied – and that Current TV may be testing the waters to see who might be a good fit for the network if Olbermann exits.

ESPN Radio Gets Back into the Detroit Metro on WCAR.  The Birach Broadcasting-owned station is licensed to Livonia, Michigan west of Detroit on the way to Ann Arbor.  Sima Birach, Jr. says, “Detroit is nationally recognized as one of the top three sports towns in America and we are ecstatic to bring the full force of the ESPN brand to Detroit’s loyal sports fans.  In addition to local programming which features some of Detroit’s iconic sports figures, we’re confident we’ll serve our listeners with the content they’ve been longing for.”  The station will carry the full lineup of ESPN Radio programming.

Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Puts ESPN Deportes on Chicago Translator.  The deal between Clear Channel and ESPN places the latter’s Spanish-language sports format on what has been a translator for Educational Media Foundation’s Christian WNKV-FM, Norco, Louisiana – we’re assuming EMF and CC have a deal for the latter to handle the programming.  According to ESPN, the 3-watt signal in Chicago at 95.7 FM covers “downtown Chicago and will also reach largely Hispanic/Latino neighborhood communities, including Cicero, Berwyn and Pilsen.”  ESPN Deportes Radio GM Oscar Ramos says, “This expansion is a milestone for the ESPN Deportes brand and yet another step forward in our effort to make ESPN Deportes Radio available to Hispanic sports fans nationwide.  We are thrilled with our agreement with Clear Channel Media and Entertainment to bring our comprehensive programming to Chicago fans while also providing a great platform for advertisers.”

Thom Hartmann’s “Big Picture” TV Show Gets International Distribution.  Dial Global nationally syndicated progressive talk host Thom Hartmann produces a TV program called “The Big Picture” which is already distributed to Free Speech TV and RT America.  Now, RT International announces it will distribute Hartmann’s show to cable systems elsewhere including the UK and Europe, Africa, Australia and South America.  RT International states it has a reach into 100 countries containing a half-billion households.  Hartmann says, “This is such an important time, with a U.S. presidential election as important as any I can remember, a global financial crisis, and tensions in the Middle East seeming to rise once again.  I look forward to the opportunity to share my common-sense progressive views on these issues and more with viewers throughout the globe.”

Talk Host Phil Valentine’s Global Warming-Challenging Film Debuts.  Nashville-based talk show host Phil Valentine’s movie “An Inconsistent Truth” hit the theater in Nashville last weekend and grossed more than $20,000.  Valentine produced and stars in the film that challenges anthropogenic global warming with Phil taking the role of a conservative Michael Moore-type documentary host.  (The film was co-produced by Ann Cates and executive producers David Harper, Joseph Edwards and Michael Costanza.)  Valentine used the power of his talk show in Nashville to promote the movie and drew good crowds based on the one-weekend gross.  This kind of project is indicative of the kind of promotional power a good talk show host can have with a quality product like Valentine’s movie.  Valentine says he’s thrilled with the first weekend’s showing in Nashville.  “We thought we may have something but we had no idea the response would be this strong.  I’m speechless.”  Valentine and distributor Rocky Mountain Pictures are weighing their next move in distributing the movie across the country over the next couple of weeks.  Check out the trailer here.

Valerie Geller Consults PBS Documentary.  The president of Geller Media International, Valerie Geller – a leading talk radio consultant – participated as an advisor to the PBS documentary film “Daisy Bates – First Lady of Little Rock” airing nationally on PBS-TV stations tomorrow  night (2/2) and in New York City on February 5.  The Independent Documentary Series production tells the story of  Daisy Bates, a complex, unconventional, and largely forgotten heroine of the civil rights movement who led the charge to desegregate the all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957.  In addition to being an informative slice of history, the film is a conversation starter bringing up a number of compelling and controversial questions. The “Little Rock Nine” faced unimaginable verbal abuse and threats to their very lives. Was it ethical for Bates’s NAACP to put children on the front lines of the desegregation battle — even if they volunteered to be there or chose to be there?  Geller tells TALKERS, “One of the joys of consulting work is the opportunity to help other people achieve their dreams. I’m honored to have had the chance to work with documentary producer Sharon La Cruise on her film.

Dave Vieser Exits WCHU-AM/FM, Ithaca Morning Show.  Management at the Saga Communications news/talk station tells CNYRadio.com that Dave Vieser left his APD and morning co-host role for personal reasons.  The move leaves program director/news director Geoff Dunn as solo host of the morning drive show but the station states on its website, “We are currently working on a transition plan for a new host of the program.  We will miss Dave, and wish him well.”

Florida GOP Primary, Syria Violence, Occupy DC, and Taliban-Pakistan Link Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/31).  Mitt Romney’s victory over Newt Gingrich in the Florida primary, the ongoing violence in Syria, the Occupy DC movement that is clashing with authorities and the suspected link between the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s government were some of the most-talked-about stories in news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.