By Thomas R. Ray, III CPBE, AMD, DRB
Tom Ray Consulting
NEW YORK — Greetings from 29,000 feet over Colorado. I’m returning from the NAB Show in Vegas and there were some very interesting items to see this year. I am going to wait until next week so I can put together a good article regarding IP codecs, so please stay tuned for that. I moderated a session in the Broadcast Engineering Conference on Sunday, April 7, called “IP for Radio”. A lot of good information came out of that session – I need to go back and review my notes.
Mike Francesa to Address Industry at Talkers New York 2013. The list of major speakers continues to grow as WFAN, New York afternoon drive sports talk goliath Mike Francesa joins the roster of industry leaders who will be speaking at “TALKERS New York 2013,” the 16th annual installment of talk radio’s longest-running and most important annual convention. Francesa will deliver a solo keynote address titled, “The Sports Talk Radio Phenomenon.” He will discuss how sports talk fits into the general radio industry, where it is going both locally and nationally and how it operates within the business model of the PPM world. Francesa, who has been a major host on WFAN since the late 1980s, is also seen across the nation on the YES Network simulcast of his radio show and hosts a syndicated weekend program “The NFL Now” in addition to participating in numerous other sports broadcasting projects. He is currently ranked number one on the TALKERS Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk Radio Hosts holding the position as the Most Important Sports Talk Radio Host in America. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “The addition of Mike Francesa as the sports talk radio keynote speaker at this year’s conference puts it over the moon. One of the big buzzes of the business is the relentless growth of this exciting branch of the talk radio universe. Who better than the king of the format to give insights into the genre’s place in the scheme of things? We are delighted!” More headliners will be named in the coming days along with the 50-plus speakers that will be participating in the conference. The event is set for Thursday, June 6, 2013 at the Concierge Conference Center on Manhattan’s East Side. Registration for the day including all activities and food service is $199 per person. An advance sellout is expected due to space limitations. Registration is limited to members of the working media and can only be taken via telephone. For registration and sponsorship information call 413-565-5413. Complete agenda details are being posted daily. Stay tuned.
Todd Schnitt Not Giving Up on Bubba the Love Sponge Lawsuit. The Tampa Bay Times reports talk show host Todd Schnitt has fired his legal team, hired a new lawyer and is continuing to pursue legal action against former crosstown rival Bubba the Love Sponge (Todd Clem). The first trial ended in a victory for Bubba as the jury decided not to award Schnitt and wife Michelle damages for defamation over a series of criticisms and accusations Bubba leveled at Schnitt when he competed with Bubba in morning drive as MJ Kelli. Now, Schnitt has fired C. Phillip Campbell and Jonathan J. Ellis and has hired Wil Florin to represent him and his wife. Regular TALKERS readers are aware of the bizarre elements of the previous trial: Campbell being pulled over for DUI while driving the car of a young paralegal who, unbeknownst to him, worked for Bubba’s lawyer’s firm; the tip-off to police that Campbell was driving the car was made by someone from that same firm; and Bubba’s lawyers had possession of Campbell’s briefcase for 18 hours (though they say they didn’t open it). That missing briefcase is the basis for the new suit. How this will end is anybody’s guess, but one thing is for sure: Both Schnitt and Clem are spending a lot of money on legal fees. Yes, they are getting a lot of publicity for their radio programs but it is very expensive publicity.
Laura Ingraham Added to American Forces Network. Courtside Entertainment Group announces today that the Laura Ingraham show is being added to the American Forces Network with the opportunity to be heard by more than one million U.S. service members and their families. Ingraham states, “It is fantastic to be back on the air – and it feels even more special knowing that all of our friends listening on Armed Forces Network can hear us around the globe. The energy and enthusiasm from listeners, affiliates and advertisers since I returned to the airwaves has been overwhelming. From Tucson to Jacksonville, from Washington, DC to Seattle, Americans are energized and enthusiastic about our daily conversation about our country’s past, present and future. Politics is important – but so is the culture around us. As a single parent of young children and a cancer survivor, I have a unique perspective that connects me with listeners of all political stripes. Our conversation is a fun-filled ride that moves beyond the Beltway to the real-life ups and downs we all face.”
Veteran Media Executive Lynne Constantini Joins Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze. The former EVP of affiliate sales and marketing at Scripps Networks Interactive and SVP of programming at Time Warner Cable joins TheBlaze as president of business development. In her new position Lynne Constantini will oversee the growing network’s content distribution efforts, as well as affiliate marketing, advocacy, business affairs and business development initiatives. She previously negotiated TheBlaze’s successful carriage deal with DISH as an outside consultant. Constantini says, “As a cable industry executive and consultant, I have been attracted to the rare independent network that has strong, unique content and a passionate engaged audience that drives results for operators and that is what I have found with TheBlaze. TheBlaze is unlike other start-up networks; it has a built-in loyal audience, a full slate of live, original programming, speaks to an underserved and growing conservative audience and has extensive marketing reach through affiliated media assets including on radio and on the web. I am excited to work with Glenn, Chris Balfe and the rest of the team on building TheBlaze and continuing the network’s success in improving the businesses of its distribution partners.”
Listeners Are Busy and Talent Is Spooked. That’s the assessment of radio consultant and TALKERS columnist Holland Cooke who asks broadcasters the provocative question: “RU@Speed-of-Life?’ In today’s article, Cooke says radio programmers must get up to speed (literally) with the intense pace of modern life which, when coupled with the PPM, puts tremendous pressure to manage air time in a way that is in keeping with today’s breakneck tempo. For example he advises hosts not to begin their shows by listing all the things they’ll be doing before the show ends. He says programming clock designers should go the extra step in designing transitions between programming elements (such as newscaster to talk show host segments) in a completely seamless manner. Never stop the action through over-explanation. Don’t miss this timely and informative piece. Read it here.
Talk Host Ralph Bailey Begins KERN, Bakersfield Program Next Monday. After quitting his talk show at Buckley Broadcasting’s crosstown KNZR on Thursday after an eight-year stint, Ralph Bailey will take over the PM drive program on American General Media’s KERN. Bailey wrote on his Facebook page, “It is official!!! I signed a contract today to join American General Media. I’ll be Scott Cox‘s guest today at three and begin my own 3-6 p.m. drive time show on Monday, March 4. I could not be happier! I have security in a business that is not that secure and for the first time in my life I’m making a little scratch! I’d like to thank Rogers Brandon and Toni Snyder. It is great to feel wanted and appreciated.”
KERN, Bakersfield’s Scott Cox to Anchor The Californian-AGM Morning Show Endeavor. Talk radio personality Scott Cox is moving away from the PM drive slot that Ralph Bailey is taking over in order to host a new morning program that is a joint effort of American General Media and The Bakersfield Californian. The show – “First Look with Scott Cox” – will emanate from The Californian newsroom in which a radio studio has been built. While KERN will provide the producers and technical expertise, the newspaper’s reporters will be regular guests during talk segments. Californian CEO Richard Beene says of the initiative, “The Bakersfield Californian has always prided itself about being on the cutting edge of technology (our website bakersfield.com was launched back in 1995) and we are keenly aware that readers and advertisers are finding new ways to obtain content and reach their advertisers. That’s why change is part of our company culture, and serving our readers and advertisers on multiple platforms is something we talk about every day.” The program will also be streamed live in high-definition video on the paper’s website. Beene writes in his editorial in the paper, “’First Look’ will add to The Californian‘s existing video programming, which includes ‘BVarsity Live,’ live local sports and breaking news. The Californian plans to expand its live video programming later this year. So yes, newspapers are alive and well, changing and evolving. Join us in March for ‘First Look.’”
Not All That Glitters is Gold. According to radio digital consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller, broadcasters should avoid falling under the spell of Facebook “likes” and the impulse to “go viral” — which he describes as “shiny, distracting objects.” He advises, “The number of Facebook ‘likes’ you have is almost completely without meaning. In addition, working to have something go viral is probably taking you away from what you should be doing!” Read Chris Miller’s informative and valuable article here.
ESPN O&O KESN, Dallas Parts Company with Ben & Skin. Sports talk KESN, Dallas and midday personalities Ben Rogers and Jeff “Skin” Wade were not able to come to terms on a new contract and the duo have left the station. They wrote on their Facebook page. “We have declined a final offer from ESPN on a new deal. We’re parting ways with them for now. Future is unwritten. Thank you for your support throughout the years. We are eager to write the next chapter of our adventure. Stay tuned.”
John Sweeney Exits WGDJ, Albany. The former Republican congressman from New York began a one-hour daily talk show at Capital Broadcasting’s “Talk 1300” two weeks ago but has left the station. The Albany Times-Union reports John Sweeney’s exit comes after it became apparent that the 11:00 am to 12:00 noon time slot was too much for the attorney and political consultant. Owner and GM Paul Vandenburgh told the paper too many unforeseen scheduling conflicts have made the show untenable.
TECHNICAL WATCH: Radio Moves Beyond ISDN to Deliver Studio Quality Remote Audio. Welcome to the Age of the IP Codec. Back in the “good old days,” if you wanted to get audio from point A to point B you had basically two choices: a dedicated land line from good old Ma Bell (a.k.a, the phone company) or you sent a tape. Then, Ma Bell decided to get rid of dedicated equalized services – at least interstate. These days, it’s very difficult if not impossible to get a dedicated broadcast service even in the same city. This prompted devices like the Comrex two-line and three-line frequency extender systems. These allowed someone to utilize two or three dial-up lines to get audio from one place to another with reasonable audio quality. The next step was ISDN – a digital dial-up service. With the development of devices such as the Telos Zephyr, FM quality audio was easily passed, with very little audio delay, between two locations. This has been the norm now for close to 20 years. Enter the IP codec – essentially ISDN on steroids. IP codecs utilize the internet as the transport medium. Now, for just the cost of the internet service you already have installed, you can literally transport audio all around the world – in many instances with slightly more round-trip delay than with ISDN, but that is easy to work around using mix minus. Noted radio technical consultant and TALKERS columnist Tom Ray brings us all up to speed on this new era in remote audio delivery in a must-read clear and concise article, here.
Salem Radio News Series Spotlights “The Poorest of the Poor.” SRN vice president/news & talk programming Tom Tradup (pictured here in Guatemala) spent the last week in that Central American country as Salem Radio News prepared a news series titled, “The Poorest of the Poor.” Speaking about his experience there, Tradup tells TALKERS, “Guatemala is only a few hours by plane from the U.S., but living conditions for youngsters are light years away. And the statistics take on heartbreaking new meaning when you actually spend time with children there. We embedded with the American relief agency Food for The Poor to cover both the tragedy and the hope for impoverished children in Guatemala.” Tradup says Guatemala has the highest malnutrition rate of any country in the Western Hemisphere. The week-long SRN News special series will profile the challenges facing government and private agencies targeting ways to reverse the grim statistics on malnutrition and infant mortality in Guatemala.
Odds & Sods. Lisa Bloom – daughter of former radio and television talk show host (and high-profile attorney) Gloria Allred – is joining NBC’s “Today” show as a legal analyst says TVNewser. Bloom hosted the CourtTV show “Lisa Bloom: Open Court” from 2001 to 2009…..Arbitron’s Carol Hanley is named to the Allliance for Women in Media board of directors. Hanley serves as SVP, chief sales officer for Arbitron.
Harlem Shake Takes Over KDKA. The YouTube phenomenon “Harlem Shake” invades the newsroom at CBS Radio’s KDKA, Pittsburgh. This still shot is from a video posted on the KDKA-TV website and shows late morning talk host Marty Griffin (in the Santa hat) leading the rest of the crew – including morning hosts Larry Richert and John Shumway and Shelley Duffy, PM drive host Bill Rehkopf, midday host Mike Pintek, sports reporter and weekend host Rob Pratte and creative services director Kelly Pidgeon – in boogeying to the tune.