NAB Show convention coverage by consultant Holland Cooke
The April NAB Show isn’t a radio convention, and the recurring theme radio people hear here is that stations can’t only be “in the radio business” anymore. Although NAB’s mission remains advocating for its member licensees, there are lots of people here who don’t work at stations. Conference themes such as “Where Content Comes to Life” and “Channel Opportunity” focus convention-goers on the reality that transmitter delivery is now merely part of broadcasters’ repertoire. And that the credibility and habitual use transmitters have earned is a big advantage competing with new-tech interlopers for audience and advertiser attention.
Lincoln Financial Media Fires WQXI, Atlanta’s “Mayhem in the AM” After Mocking Bit About ALS-Stricken Steve Gleason. The three sports talk personalities that made up the “790 The Zone” morning show “Mayhem in the AM” – Steak Shapiro, Nick Cellini and Chris Dimino – have been extremely contrite in the aftermath of their firing from the station by Lincoln Financial Media. Although Nick Cellini initially told the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho that his firing was, in a way, a relief and called the station a “sinking ship,” he later wrote to Ho saying his words were made “out of pure emotion” and said the station has been nothing but fair to him over the years. Both via the AJC article and social media, all three have expressed their sorrow for their actions and have reached out to former New Orleans Saints player Gleason to apologize. Still, many in the industry are shaking their heads and wondering how three grown men could , first of all, even come up with the idea to craft a bit that mocks an ALS patient and second, apparently, never think twice about it before going ahead with it on the air.
Reflections on a Tragedy and the Fundamental Role of Radio. That is the title of the closing keynote address at the recent Talkers New York 2013 (6/6) convention delivered by Jason Wolfe, VP programming for Entercom Boston. In a serious, heartfelt speech, Wolfe — whose company owns and operates news/talk WRKO and sports talk WEEI in Boston, among others — recounts the events and emotions of the tragedy surrounding the bombing of innocent civilians at the Boston Marathon from the perspective of being a radio broadcaster. He discusses the responsibility broadcasters have in dealing with unexpected hardships and crisis — in providing help, information and comfort to the population in their listening area. Wolfe is introduced by WOLB, Baltimore morning host and longtime local African American community leader/facilitator Larry Young. See Young’s introduction and Jason Wolfe’s entire speech on TalkersTV by clicking here.
TALKERS Debuts New “Media Broker Spotlight” Feature Today (6/18). In support of the idea that the time is right for displaced radio station managers and first-time buyers to get into radio station ownership, TALKERS in association with its sister trade publication RadioInfo and Sandi Bergman‘s brokerage website RadioTVDeals.com, is launching a weekly feature titled “Media Broker Spotlight.” Each week’s installment will focus on an individual broker deemed small and independent buyer-friendly — profiling the broker, sharing their opinions of marketplace conditions and highlighting three or four listed opportunities that fall into this category. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “We strongly believe many of the talented management veterans who presently find themselves on the beach due to the cutbacks plaguing the mega-corporate sector of the industry should consider going into radio station ownership. They should do so on a modest level going into local markets, rolling up their sleeves, working hands-on and breathing new life into properties that if purchased at the right price still have some tread on their tires. There are numerous sellers out there willing to play ball with buyers who show the will and know-how to operate a station properly, as well as numerous sources of local and non-traditional financing from investors who believe in the potential of community-oriented radio. Not every station in America is part of the Clear Channel/Cumulus/CBS complex… and they should not be overlooked. These independent “orphans,” if you will, can thrive with the proper amount of tender loving care. The future of AM/FM radio depends on this as do the careers of so many dedicated broadcasters who have a love for radio flowing in their veins.” This week’s opening installment features media broker Edward F. Seeger of Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina-based Seeger Media, LLC. To read the feature, click here.
Phil Hendrie Continues National Syndication of His Show Partnering with WYD Media Management. There was no reason to believe Phil Hendrie was going to hang up his headphones when news broke that he and Talk Radio Network were parting ways at the end of their deal this month and now Hendrie will forge ahead partnering with Ron Hartenbaum’s WYD Media Management beginning June 25. Hendrie says, “Ron gets my show and has a highly talented and motivated team behind him. Our longtime loyal affiliates and advertisers will appreciate the level of professionalism and sophistication they bring to the table.” Starting on June 25, Hendrie’s show will be distributed in a new time slot from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am ET with affiliates airing his “Comedy Gold” broadcasts through July 5. On July 8, Hendrie will be on the air live “as he weaves his famous web of satire and comedy.” Hartenbaum states, “Broadcast radio needs the breadth, depth and creativity of Phil Hendrie. There’s a whole new generation of listeners ready to join the ranks for what Phil has to offer. He’s a comic genius who’s going to grow in ways most people can’t even imagine…stay tuned!”
Dial Global Brings Ronald Furman Aboard as Chief Revenue Officer. Ronald Furman comes to Dial Global from his recent post as executive vice president and managing director of Insignia Sports/Entertainment where he led the go-to-market strategies across integrated television, digital, mobile, technology, social, event, live-game, and activation platforms for multiple content properties, including The Pro Football Hall Of Fame, The NFL Alumni Association, various NFL teams and emerging leagues such as WSOF/MMA. At Dial Global he’ll be responsible for the company’s overall revenue generation. He will be based in New York City and will report directly to CEO, Paul Caine. About Furman, Caine says, “Ron is a recognized industry leader who is proficient at building, developing, and leading high-performing sales teams across multiple media properties. And the timing is perfect, as we announce that Dial Global will broadcast over 90 games this season, including all Monday Night, Sunday Night, and Thursday Night Games, the Thanksgiving Day Triple Header, a full slate of Sunday Afternoon Games, the entire post-season, and Super Bowl XLVIII. His deep sports knowledge and client relationships are a perfect complement to our strength in the sports market, and we look forward to working closely with Ron as we continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in audio content and distribution.” During his career Furman has also worked as senior vice president, sports sales at Comcast/NBC Universal, and held senior vice president positions at the NFL, Viacom and Univision Communications.
Bloomquist Media Wins New York Festivals Gold in Community Service Documentary Category for ‘A Grateful Nation.’ Talk radio practitioners are by now well aware of Bloomquist Media’s work with the Fisher House Foundation – the organization that raises funds to provide housing for the families of American servicemen and women to be near their loved ones as they recover from injuries sustained in battle. In a cooperative effort, Bloomquist Media and Fisher House produced the Memorial Day radio special “A Grateful Nation,” which told four stories of service and sacrifice by members of the U.S. military and their families. Because Fisher House Foundation played a role in all of these stories, the organization’s message was organically woven into the compelling content. The program aired during Memorial Day weekend 2012 on news/talk radio stations, as well as Sirius XM satellite radio. Bloomquist Media president Randall Bloomquist says, “This award has tremendous meaning for us. We are always striving for excellence — to produce compelling radio that both entertains the audience and makes them aware of an important community cause. To be honored for creating a truly world-class radio program is a testament to the caliber of our work.”
American Radio Programs Win Honors at New York Festivals 2013 International Radio Awards. The competition for these prestigious awards is intense as broadcasters from around the globe submit entries. Some of the American winners in the 2013 competition include: ESPN which won a gold medal in the News Reports/Features category for “Breaking the Silence” – an edition of “The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap” and pubcaster WGBH, Boston which took home the gold in the News Programs category for its “Underground Trade.”
WHYN-AM, Springfield Morning Show Receives Local Accolades. Brad Shepard (l) and Bo Sullivan (r) – morning drive co-hosts at Clear Channel’s WHYN-AM, Springfield, Massachusetts – were named the favorite local radio personalities in polling by the readers of the Springfield Republican for its “2013 Reader Raves.” Sullivan has been with the station for some 15 years and Shepard was paired up with him for the AM show 10 years ago. Shepard tells the paper, “I really have to say ‘thank you’ to our listeners and everyone who voted for us. This was absolutely unexpected; we didn’t go out drumming up support.” Photo: Mark M. Murray, The Republican
Sports USA Adds Two Games to 2013 College Football Schedule. The tally of college football games being offered to affiliate stations now hits 20 as Sports USA announces the “Cowboy Classic” featuring LSU versus TCU on August 31 and the Big Ten matchup of Wisconsin at Ohio State on September 28 are added to the schedule. The Sports USA season begins on August 29 with USC at Hawaii.
Brad Wheelis to Exit ABC News Radio. The news organization is moving the origin site of all of its newscasts to New York and that means Los Angeles-based Brad Wheelis will leave the network at the end of this month. Wheelis has been with ABC News Radio since 2001 and he currently anchors the 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm hourly newscasts. Prior to joining ABC News Radio, Wheelis was an anchor at CBS Radio’s WCBS, New York.
Radio Executive John McConnell Teams with ACM to Form Broadcast Initiative. Longtime ABC Radio executive John McConnell – now president of Entertainment Radio Network and founder of McConnell Media, LLC – teams with veteran talent agents Marc Guss and Phil Sutfin, co-founders of leading talent management company ACM, to launch and spearhead ACM Broadcast. The New York City-based company aims to create “a unique business environment where established and burgeoning talent strategize on using radio and other audio broadcast platforms as the foundation to build their brand.” McConnell states, “I’ve always believed in the power of radio and am a proponent of making that a priority in a performer’s career. I look forward to working with talented individuals and helping them to realize their full potential as they soar to new heights.” About their new partnership, Marc Guss says, “John has always been one of my main go-to radio programming executives because of his innovative thinking. What a thrill it is to now be working together under the same roof with the same objectives.”
NSA Data Mining, Immigration Amnesty Proposal, Syrian Rebels Arms Aid Program, Atlanta Radio Hosts Mock ALS Patient, and Turkish Unrest Among News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/17). The ongoing controversy over the National Security Agency’s collecting phone and email records; the debate over amnesty to illegal aliens in the U.S.; the program to provide arms to Syrian rebels; the firing of Atlanta sports talk hosts for mocking former NFL player and ALS sufferer Steve Gleason; and the political unrest in Turkey were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
“Independence Day Wednesday” Provides Talk Radio with Interesting Programming Opportunities. According to a TALKERS magazine survey of talk stations across the country, the rare occurrence of July 4th falling on a Wednesday this year and not lending itself to a convenient four-day weekend, gave talk radio programmers an array of options in filling the schedule. Many gave their star performers the day off and replaced them with their own “best ofs.” Others used fill-in hosts – some cleverly taking it upon themselves to create their own Fourth of July “specials.” Others just did their shows as per the usual schedule. Almost all report that they spent extra time and attention revisiting the meaning of the holiday and the historic roots of American independence. Independence Day gives radio stations the opportunity to become engaged with local military, public safety, emergency response, community service and charitable organizations in their regions. WHYN, Springfield, Mass. morning co-host Brad Shepard performs his annual ritual of serving as master of ceremonies at the local East Longmeadow Independence Day Parade – a major two-hour regional tradition in Western Massachusetts drawing thousands of people. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, a resident of the area who attends the event each year, states, “Brad Shepard does a wonderful job announcing the details and color of this superb local parade for a large crowd of people who line the sidewalks and pack the town square in an idyllic New England small-town setting. It is an example of a beloved hometown radio personality engaging in true community involvement and a joy to behold.” Harrison (l) is greeted by Shepard (r) at the parade reviewing stand during a break in the action for a quick TALKERS photo.
When Is a Death Threat Free Speech? TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman explains some of the legal background in the murky area of free speech and language that can appear to be a threat to someone’s health or life. In the wake of the case of Timothy Demeuse – a Milwaukee man charged with a misdemeanor for writing threatening language about WIBA, Madison-based talk host Vicki McKenna – Weisman says what is considered a punishable offense is not always easy to predict. Read his column here.
Red Zebra’s Washington Redskins Radio Network Re-Inks Sam Huff and Sonny Jurgensen. National Football League Hall-of-Famers Sam Huff and Sonny Jurgensen have both re-signed with the Washington Redskins Radio Network for the 2012-2013 football season. The two will be in the booth with play-by-play man Larry Michael and WTEM, Washington’s Rick “Doc” Walker will serve as sideline reporter. Due to the rigors of travel, the 78-year-old Huff will work 12 of the 20 games – all home games and two road contests. Sonny Jurgensen and Sam Huff have been broadcasting Washington Redskins games together since 1981 – a span of over 600 broadcasts, including 25 playoff games and all three Super Bowl victories.
Odds ‘n’ Sods. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment promotes programmer Tony Travatto who moves from his post as OM and PD at CHR WNCI, Columbus to Detroit where he’ll serve as operations manager for the cluster that includes progressive talk WDTW and sports talk WDFN…..Spanish-language broadcaster Univision unveils the Univision America national talk radio network lineup that debuted on July 4. The lineup – which is expected to be heard on all of the company’s AM talk stations – includes a morning drive news block; relationships expert Dra. Isabel; current events talk with Fernando Espuelas; political talk with Helen Aguirre; and a sports talk show featuring Rafael Hernandez Brito…..Carl Amari’s “Hollywood 360” weekly nostalgia and trivia show is being syndicated nationally via Syndication Networks Corp. and Salem Radio Networks. The WIND, Chicago-based show is expected to be carried on many Salem Communications-owned stations.
Newspaper Decline Spells Opportunity for Talk Radio Sales. The problems facing daily newspapers are opportunities for local talk radio sales executives writes H & H Communications president Al Herskovitz. In this column, Herskovitz explains talk radio’s proven ability to drive traffic to the web combined with the unique personalities on the stations give it a one-two punch of marketing effectiveness. Read Al’s column here.
Fourth of July Holiday, SCOTUS ObamaCare Decision Aftermath, 2012 Presidential Race, Mid-Atlantic Storm Damage, and National Malware Threat Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (7/4). Holiday topics discussed on news/talk radio on July 4th included the holiday itself; the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s ruling on President Obama’s Affordable Care Act; the 2012 presidential race; the lingering effects of the recent Mid-Atlantic storms; and the threat of a nationwide malware attack on internet users, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
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.