FCC Grants Waiver of Ownership Regs for Sinclair Telecable in Austin. When Emmis Communications and Sinclair Telecable agreed to a $39.3 million deal for the latter to acquire full ownership of the Austin cluster that the two companies have been co-owners of since 2003, the result would have put Sinclair over the FCC’s ownership limit. The companies applied for a waiver from the FCC and on Friday (9/27), the Commission granted the waiver. Emmis owns 50.1% of the cluster and Sinclair owns 49.9%. Emmis sought the waiver, calling the Austin co-ownership “unique” and the sale of its stake to the other “more akin to a corporate restructuring.” FCC audio division chief Albert Shuldiner agreed, and in his ruling said that it’s obvious that Emmis and Sinclair are not trying to get around the ownership caps. “In fact, it appears that this transaction is part of Emmis’ ongoing efforts to divest its radio stations.” The Austin station group includes: news/talk KLBJ-AM, alternative KROX, adult contemporary KGSR, regional Mexican KLZT, and adult hits KBPA (as well as HD2 stations “Austin City Limits Radio” and “Latino 102.7”).
Monday Memo: Play the Hits. If you host an ask-the-expert show, you’re working “a sales funnel.” This week, in part two of a series, consultant Holland Cooke explains how weekend talk radio hosts can borrow a success technique from music radio. Read it here.
Impeachment Inquiry/Ukraine Aid Issue, Biden Campaign’s Giuliani Request, 2020 Presidential Race, MBS’ ‘60 Minutes’ Interview, Hong Kong Protests, Netanyahu’s Future, and Kanye’s ‘Jesus Is King’ Album Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The Democrat-led impeachment inquiry against President Trump and the related issue of the president’s withholding of approved aid for Ukraine; the Joe Biden campaign’s request of news organizations to stop giving Trump attorney/adviser Rudy Giuliani air time; the Democrats vying to challenge Trump in 2020; Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman denies ordering the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi during “60 Minutes” interview; the continuing protests in Hong Kong as the 70th anniversary of the Communist Takeover approaches; the future of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he tries to build a coalition with his main rival; and the controversy over Kanye West’s Jesus Is King album that failed to be released were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
iHeartMedia Announces Second Annual iHeartRadio Podcast Awards. In a press release, iHeartMedia says that in celebration of International Podcast Day, it is announcing the return of the iHeartRadio Podcast Awards to the iHeartRadio Theater Los Angeles on Friday, January 17, 2020 at 8:00 pm PT. It will be broadcast and streamed live across iHeartMedia stations nationwide. The awards will cover 30 categories and the live event will feature appearances by award nominees, celebrity presenters, and other special guests. iHeartPodcast president Conal Byrne says, “When we introduced the iHeartRadio Podcast Awards last year, we knew we wanted to celebrate the most talented podcast creators out there – the key reason that podcasting continues to grow exponentially. The response to last year’s awards was amazing. This is the one time of the year that all the most popular podcasters come together to celebrate the community of podcasting truly as colleagues, not competitors. The iHeartRadio Podcast Awards bring everyone into one room – the biggest hosts, producers and distributors – all committed to this amazing podcast medium and to seeing its incredible growth continue.”
TALKERS News Notes. From the Windy City, media writer Robert Feder reports two items of note. First, Nexstar Media Group is making a change to news/talk WGN-AM, Chicago’s imaging. Chicago media figure Bill Kurtis is no longer voicing the station’s imaging. That is duty is now being handled by New York-based voiceover pro Steve Kamer. Feder notes that new jingles for WGN-AM now use the familiar music from sister WGN-TV’s newscasts. Feder quotes a Nexstar spokesman saying, “We are embracing our Midwest roots. Going to bring back the warmness of WGN — a station for everyone.” Second, Jennifer Weigel moves from serving as co-host of the “Mancow in the Morning” program on Cumulus Media’s WLS-AM to hosting her own program airing from 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight on the station, replacing the syndicated John Batchelor program. WLS-AM PD Stephanie Tichenor calls it “the only locally produced, female-hosted show in our market”…..SiriusXM’s MLB Network Radio channel is presenting a special radio documentary celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1969 “Miracle Mets” World Series victory — the memorable first world championship in the young franchise’s history following seven consecutive losing seasons. Titled, “Amazin’: A Celebration of the 1969 Mets,” it features new interviews with several members of the ’69 Mets including Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, Ed Kranepool, Cleon Jones, Ron Swoboda, Jerry Koosman, Jerry Grote, Duffy Dyer, Rod Gaspar, Wayne Garrett, J.C. Martin, Jim McAndrew, Bobby Pfeil, Art Shamsky and Al Weis, as well as manager Gil Hodges’ wife Joan and son Gil Jr., and Tommy Agee’s wife Maxcine. Listeners will also hear previously recorded memories from Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver. SiriusXM’s Ed Randall hosts the special…..Digital audio advertising firm DAX brings Chris Blackburn aboard to serve as EVP for sales and business development. Blackburn was most recently with SoundCloud where he was responsible for overseeing and growing its worldwide ad-sales business…..Below, WNRI, Woonsocket, Rhode Island talk show host John DePetro (right) poses for a photo with Southeast Massachusetts Sheriff Tom Hodgson (left) on the White House lawn during a ceremony in which America’s Sheriffs and Angel Families presented President Trump with a plaque of appreciation for his work combating illegal immigration.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Programing pro Steven Lewis is named program director and afternoon drive host at Cumulus Media’s rock WNDX, Indianapolis “93.9X,” effective October 7. He moves to Indy from Cincinnati where he was assistant director of custom/national programming for iHeartMedia. WNDX operations manager Christopher “Boomer” Layfield says, “‘93.9X’ shot out of a cannon to incredible audience response when we launched back in May, thanks to Doug Hamand, Troy Hanson, Derek Madden, and Jim Kurdziel. We’re now adding just the right mad rock programming genius to make us dangerous… in a good way. Steven is ideally suited to lead this team. I share his vision and look forward to working with him to firmly establish the ‘93.9X’ brand in Indy.”…..iHeartMedia’s alternative KTBZ, Houston “94.5 The Buzz” names Tessa Barrera co-host of “The Rod Ryan Morning Show” alongside Rod Ryan, Alex Middleton, and executive producer, Jose “The Chile” Santos. Station PD Elliott Wood says, “Tessa brings an amazingly strong on-air presence along with an accomplished set of skills in radio, news, sports, and television.” She comes to Houston from the company’s news/talk KFI, Los Angeles where she served as a news anchor and executive producer…..It’s getting close to Jingle Ball season for the 12 iHeartMedia CHR stations that are hosting a Jingle Ball concert. With Capital One again on board as the title sponsor, the company announces that some of the acts seen will include: Taylor Swift, Camila Cabello, Halsey, 5SOS, Lizzo, Dan + Shay, Monsta X, Fletcher, Jonas Brothers, NF, Niall Horan, French Montana, Why Don’t We, Zara Larsson, and Lewis Capaldi.
Sports Talker Dan Sileo New AM Host at ‘The Mighty 1090’ in San Diego. Sports talk personality Dan Sileo – who’s been working at stations in Florida for the past several years – joins Broadcasting Corporation of the Americas-operated XEPRS, San Diego “The Mighty 1090” where he’s the new morning drive host beginning today (2/3). Sileo most recently was hosting a show at James Crystal Radio’s WMEN, West Palm Beach but was fired from that station in early November of 2013 after shooting off a controversial tweet. Sileo has also worked at Beasley’s WQAM, Miami and Clear Channel’s WDAE, Tampa. He takes over the morning show at “The Mighty 1090” from market pro Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton who will remain with the station in another capacity. Program director Mike Shepard says, “I am thrilled to welcome Dan to ‘San Diego’s Sports Leader, The Mighty 1090.’ Dan is a passionate, outspoken, engaging and incredibly knowledgeable sports radio personality. His track record of major market success is remarkable and Dan is a perfect addition to the Mighty 1090’s top-rated, all-star lineup.”
New Talk Station to Air in DC Market. The Laurel, Maryland-licensed WILC flips from Spanish music to a hybrid of talk and oldies. The ZGS-owned signal is being operated by Wallis Communications under an LMA and the new format debuts today (2/3). In a statement, the company says the program schedule is not complete but the station will be “libertarian and conservative talk radio.” Chief operating officer and general manager Bryan Berner says, “All of us at WILC and Wallis Communications look forward to serving the people of the region and bringing a common sense, fresh perspective to talk radio in the Washington, DC market.” Programming will include Premiere Networks’ Glenn Beck, Wallis Communications’ “The Dr. K Show,” “The Capitol Hill Show with Tim Constantine” and WestwoodOne’s Dennis Miller. Overnights will showcase vintage radio as the digitally remastered Wolfman Jack will air.
Mike Gallagher Causes Stir with Hoffman Death Observations. Nationally syndicated talk show host Mike Gallagher’s observations in the aftermath of the untimely death of actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman caused such reaction that his post to his MikeOnline.com site logged more than 50,000 views and drew threats to him, his family and even his dog. Speaking about the suspected heroin overdose that took Hoffman’s life, Gallagher stated, “Another senseless death. This time, one of the greatest actors of our time. I wonder if he started with marijuana…If you want to get pot lovers mad, dare to even ask the question if an Oscar-winning movie star who is found dead in his bathroom with a needle stuck in his arm started with marijuana.” Gallagher has stood firm in his stance against the legalization of marijuana as some states move to legalize and decriminalize the drug.
To Get Listeners to Your Website, Don’t Threaten to Bore Them! Digital media consultant and TALKERS columnist Chris Miller wonders why we tend to turn the marketing part of our brains off when we go “online.” We can write good, tempting ad copy for radio but all we’ve learned goes out the window when it comes to our websites. Miller says that one of the worst ways to get someone to your website is to offer them “all of the details” when they get there. Not very tempting is it? More details. Instead, put your marketing skills to work in the same way you would with a spot. “A good commercial will do a better job getting business through a client’s front door than a bad commercial will. It’s the exact same thing getting people to go from your broadcast to one of your digital platforms…or move from one digital platform to another. Opportunity is knocking.” Read Miller’s entire piece here.
Clear Channel Tweaks Lineup at WVOC, Columbia. The South Carolina news/talk station drops the early evening “Sports Talk” show syndicated by Learfield Sports that aired in afternoon drive and adds Premiere Networks’ Sean Hannity for the 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm slot. The “Sports Talk” program is hosted by Phil Kornblut, Kevin McCrarey and Tom Hayes. According to The State, Learfield’s “Sports Talk First Edition” – which aired on CC’s sister sports talk station WXBT “560 The Team” from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm – is also being replaced. A local sports talk show featuring former South Carolina footballer Rick Sanford will air in the time slot instead. Learfield tells the paper it is working to place the shows on new affiliates in the market.
Mike Francesa Fans (and a Few Critics) Gather for FrancesaCon in NYC. Sports talk pioneer Mike Francesa – afternoon drive host on CBS RADIO’s WFAN-AM/FM, New York – said after learning of the weekend event that the participants would probably be half fans, half critics. How the numbers came down is unclear but the fact that an estimated 400 gathered at an Upper East Side bar on Saturday (2/1) to celebrate, imitate and even mock Francesa, shows how big he is in New York. A piece by Jim Baumbach in Newsday tells the story but the short version is as follows: 23-year-old friends Michael Leboff and Ron Haraka came up with the idea of FrancesaCon as a gathering of Mike Francesa fans. Little did they know that not only would people show up in droves, but they came dressed as Francesa, carried the appropriate props (Diet Coke cans), and did some very good imitations of the man himself. Some even came dressed as Francesa’s longtime former partner Chris “Mad Dog” Russo and classic Francesa-Russo back-and-forths took place in the bar. Check out Baumbach’s story in Newsday here.
FCC Grants Tribune Cross-Ownership Waivers. The license renewals for several Tribune-owned television stations were being challenged by the United Church of Christ, the Media Alliance and the Teamsters. The commission handed down rulings on Friday that granted renewals for the licenses though it also granted the petition for reconsideration to the UCC and Media Alliance. The FCC also reaffirmed the permanent waiver for Tribune in the Chicago market where it owns the Chicago Tribune newspaper, WGN-TV, and WGN-AM. In making the decision, the commission ruled that “Given the ‘uniquely long-term symbiotic relationship between [Tribune’s] broadcast stations’ and the Chicago Tribune that provides a special benefit of continued cross-ownership, coupled with the slight cost to diversity in Chicago’s massive media market of continued cross-ownership, Tribune has in fact shown sufficiently ‘unique or special circumstances’ to justify the granting of a permanent waiver of the NBCO (newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership) Rule to its Chicago licensees.”
L&L Closes on Border Media Trust Stations. Seven Texas radio stations that were in the Border Media Trust are now owned by Larry Wilson’s L&L Broadcasting. The stations include San Antonio-licensed outlets news/talk KTSA, sports talk KZDC, adult hits KJXK “Jack 102.7 FM,” regional Mexican KLEY-FM, Jourdanton, regional Mexican KJAH-AM/FM, Pearsall, and CHR KTSM, Floresville. The station group cost L&L $31 million and puts the company into market #28.