KTRH, Houston’s Michael Berry Chats On Air with iHM CEO Bob Pittman. During a visit to the Houston offices of iHeartMedia, company CEO Bob Pittman took a few minutes to sit in on the Michael Berry show based at flagship station KTRH, Houston. He talked with Berry about his belief in the audio experience. “I’m bullish on audio…depends on how you count it, we’re probably the number two podcaster in the U.S., behind NPR. Podcasting has shown that, oh my gosh, people actually want to listen to people go in depth. Certainly, radio has this enormous listenership…but we’re adding these pieces to it to make this even better and we’re doing this because the audience wants it.” He also expressed his belief that smart speakers – such as Google’s Alexa – are the new clock/radio for the consumer’s home, citing their growth in popularity and ease of use. Check out the segment here.
PodcastOne Series “Up Close and Far Out with Michael Harrison” Rebranding with Expanded Scope. Beginning this week, in marking its third anniversary, the weekly PodcastOne series “Up Close and Far Out with Michael Harrison” will transition to a new name and incorporate a wider scope of guests and topics. Under the new title, “The Michael Harrison Interview,” the program will be less targeted to the talk media and radio industries and more aimed at a worldwide general audience consisting of what its host,TALKERS founder Michael Harrison, describes as “media freaks,pop culture aficionados, political junkies and the philosophically curious.” Although the newly positioned podcast will still include guests from the talk media field, it will also delve deeper into politics, science, the arts, technology, sociology, sports and philosophy. As far as the weekly audio interviews with talk media figures that “Up Close and Far Out” has encompassed are concerned, Harrison will continue to conduct them and post them on Talkers.com. According to Harrison, “Nothing will change in that regard. We have been very successful with the Talkers interviews and will continue to do them. I will basically be doing an extra podcast each week with this expanded vehicle.” In announcing the expansion of the PodcastOne series, company founder and executive chairman Norm Pattiz states, “I met Michael Harrison decades ago in Los Angeles when he was managing editor of Radio & Records. He also was a leading major market music and talk personality on KMET and syndicated nationally as a star performer on several of the top networks including Westwood One. He had an amazing range and skill set as a broadcaster. He voluntarily gave that up as the years passed to concentrate on his role as a trade magazine publisher and industry thought-leader. In time, most folks in the business forgot that he was one of the best interviewers and all around broadcasters in radio. I’m pleased to say that his performance on ‘Up Close and Far Out’ these past three years caused many people in the industry to take notice of his outstanding talent as an interviewer beyond just the topic of radio. It has led to a number of stand-out, major market fill-in appearances and now, this new podcast. I’m delighted to roll out one of the best kept secrets in the radio business – Michael Harrison as a world class talk show host.” To listen to the debut installment of “The Michael Harrison Interview” featuring a deep-dive conversation with The Federalist publisher Ben Domenech, please click here.
Judge Shoots Down Request by Nielsen and Bubba Attorneys to Use Electronic Devices in Pre-Trial Conference. When the pre-trial conference gets underway on Friday (2/9) at 11:30 in U.S. District Court in Tampa, the lawyers for both sides in the Nielsen vs Bubba the Love Sponge case will be without their laptops, iPads and smartphones. Lawyers for both parties filed a Joint Motion to Permit Use of Electronic Equipment, but were denied. Nielsen is suing Bubba the Love Sponge for $1 million for damages related to the ratings manipulation case in the Tampa market. Bubba is countersuing.
TALKERS News Notes. There’s a programming change at Dickey Broadcasting’s sports talk WCNN-AM/W229AG, Atlanta “680 and 93.7 The Fan” as the morning drive and late morning shows flip-flop. “The Front Row” with Steak Shapiro, Sandra Golden, and Brian Finneran moves to the morning drive slot and the Nick Cellini and Chris Dimino show moves from mornings to the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon daypart. The rest of the program schedule stays as is…..Another high-profile departure from NPR happens amidst allegations of sexual impropriety. This time, award-winning investigative journalist Daniel Zwerdling exits the organization, according to a report in The Current. The story says that all NPR would confirm is that Zwerdling is no longer on the staff. Zwerdling himself states that allegations of sexual harassment are untrue and that he retired from NPR in January. But, the story notes that “at least two NPR staffers reported Zwerdling to human resources in November.” It also reports that subsequent allegations go back to the mid-1990s. Zwerdling is quoted saying, “The allegations are not true. When the movement started sweeping across the nation recently to expose sexual harassers and predators, I applauded it. I still do. The current national reckoning regarding sexual harassment is a momentous opportunity for America to make itself a better, safer and more equitable country. Yet as many have already observed, there are also perhaps predictable and troubling collateral casualties along the way. The allegations against me are one of those instances.”
Former WFNI-AM/WIBC-FM, Indianapolis Staffer Loses Harassment Case Against Emmis. The complaint against Emmis by former WFNI and WIBC, Indianapolis digital brand manager Kristine Esser Slentz was dismissed after Emmis sought a Motion to Strike and a Motion for Summary Judgement and was granted those motions. The court also sustained Emmis’ objections to Slentz’s evidence as hearsay. In her complaint, Slentz said that two show producers with whom she interacted in the course of her job, called her a “bitch” behind her back and criticized her work, among other actions she says created a hostile work environment. But the court granted Emmis’ motions due to its agreement that any name-calling was hearsay – never heard by Slentz herself, and that the actions alleged on the part of the two producers, if true, did not cross the thresholds necessary for a hostile work environment claim.
Nominees Being Accepted for National Radio Hall of Fame. March 30 is the deadline for nominations for the 30th Annual National Radio Hall of Fame Induction that will take place in New York City in November. The NRHOF nominating committee wants you to know you should make suggestions for individuals in the following categories: Longstanding Local/Regional (20 years or more), Active Local/Regional (10 years or more), Networks/Syndication (10 years or more), Longstanding Network/Syndication (20 years or more), Music Format On-Air Personality, and/or Spoken Word On-Air Personality. National Radio Hall of Fame chairman Kraig T. Kitchin says, “We’re looking forward to celebrating this milestone anniversary in New York City. As we prepare for the special evening, it’s our priority to provide everyone the opportunity to be a part of it, starting with suggestions for our 2018 nominees.”
RAB: Radio’s Digital Revenue Grew 13.4% in 2017. This data comes from the Radio Advertising Bureau and Borrell Associates study called, “Benchmarking Local Radio Stations’ Online Revenues.” This is the 6th annual RAB-Borrell report that analyzes online ad revenue from more than 10,000 radio stations, as well as survey responses from more than 1,300 local businesses that buy radio advertising. Among the findings: 1) 85% of radio advertisers are also buying some form of digital advertising, and that three-quarters of them are buying digital and radio together; 2) digital ad revenue now accounts for 7.5% of the average station’s ad revenues, up from 6.3% last year; 3) digital revenue grew 13.4% in 2017, to a total of $700 million. The forecast for 2018 is even higher; and 4) radio advertisers’ top marketing goal is to acquire new business, and they rank social media and radio as the top two methods to achieve those goals. RAB president and CEO Erica Farber comments, “Digital has been integrated into all facets of broadcast radio’s offering both in programming and sales, and the results are definitely paying off. As radio continues to provide integrated marketing solutions to its advertisers we expect to see continued growth. The RAB is focused on providing digital training and continued knowledge building for our members so they can better serve their clients.” RAB members can get the full report here.
Dow Activity/Bitcoin Value Swings, Trump-Russia Investigation, Trump Requests Military Parade, Government Shutdown Threat/Immigration Policy, FBI Surveillance Memo/Texting Scandal, Illegal Charged with NFL Player’s Death in DUI, Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, Black Panther Film, LA Times Sale, and NBA Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/6). The Dow returns more than 500 points and the related fluctuating value of Bitcoin; the Robert Mueller-led investigation into possible connections between Trump campaign operatives; President Trump requests the Pentagon stage a military parade; the renewed threat of a government shutdown and President Trump’s insistence on immigration reform being tied to a spending bill; the release of the Nunes FBI surveillance memo and the suggestion that the FBI texting scandal involved Barack Obama; a twice-deported illegal alien is charged in the DUI death of Indianapolis Colts player Edwin Jackson; the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea; the political messages within The Black Panther film; the Los Angeles Times is sold to a SoCal billionaire doctor; and NBA action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. St. Louis morning drive personality Courtney Landrum re-ups with Entercom’s hot AC KYKY “Y98” on a multi-year deal. At the same time, the name of the morning show is being changed to “Courtney and Company.” The station says that “Y98” personalities Jen Myers, Kevin “The Intern” Berghoff, and Lance Hildebrand will remain on the show. Landrum began her professional career as producer for “The Steve and DC Morning Show” in St. Louis in the early 1990s. She joined “Y98” in 1999 as producer and co-host of “The Phillips and Company Morning Show,” and has been with the morning show ever since…..In Los Angeles, SVP/market manager Val Maki and VP/sales Janet Brainin make an unexpected exit from Meruelo Media Los Angeles, operator of classic hip hop simulcast “KDAY” – KDAY, Redondo Beach and KDEY, Ontario – and hip hop KPWR “Power 106.” Both transitioned to Meruelo after having been with Emmis at KPWR for years prior to the sale of the station to Meruelo…..KUPL, Portland “98.7 The Bull” evening personality Cassidy Quinn is covering the Winter Olympics embedded as a reporter for NBC. KUPL program director MoJoe Roberts says, “There is no better-suited person to capture the stories and behind-the-scenes moments than Cassidy! We can’t wait to see and hear these highlights come to life from her perspective.”…..Indiana-based Woof Boom flips former Christian contemporary WKHL, West LaFayette to adult contemporary (with new calls WLQQ) as “Q106.7” after purchasing the station from Educational Media Foundation…..Eric Garcia exits his audio revenue chief position at Spanish Broadcasting System and his additional position as VP/GM of WSKQ/WPAT, New York. At SBS New York, Albert Rodriguez COO of SBS is the interim general manager and Elizabeth “Liz” Paulino was promoted to general sales manager.
PPM Analysis: Adult Contemporary. Managing editor Mike Kinosian presents a look at the performances of radio stations based on data from Nielsen Audio’s Holiday 2017 PPM survey, today focusing on adult contemporary. The Holiday survey is usually a bonanza for adult contemporary outlets since Christmas music is such a part of their programming and the fluctuations in 6+ numbers from the December survey to the Holiday survey bear that out as “eight of 10 adult contemporary facilities noted here (80%) are up December 2017 – Holiday 2017, while 18% are down; the remaining 2% are steady.” Looking at a comparison of Holiday 2016 to Holiday 2017, “approximately the same number of adult contemporary stations on this sample decline year-to-year (49%) as improve (46%), while the remaining 5% are flat.” An amazing 38 AC stations ranked #1 in their respective markets (6+) during the Holiday survey. See the whole report here.
Dickey Broadcasting Inks 10-Year Deal with Atlanta Braves. From Atlanta comes news of Dickey Broadcasting Company’s new deal with MLB’s Atlanta Braves that’s described by the WCNN owner as “an unprecedented” 10-year extension for the company to continue to serve as exclusive radio rights-holder for Braves baseball through 2026. In addition, Dickey Broadcasting is announcing it will move its studios and offices to a new space in The Battery Atlanta, leasing loft office space on the 4th floor, overlooking the plaza and next to the Coca-Cola Roxy Theater in the new mixed-use development adjacent to the team’s new home – SunTrust Park. As part of the deal, Dickey’s WCNN and FM translator W229AG at 93.7 will air all regular season, preseason and post-season games – in addition to a plethora of Braves-related out-of-game programming. Dickey Broadcasting president David Dickey states, “This extension represents a new era for our relationship with one of the most storied franchises in professional sports. We’ve long been proud partners of the Atlanta Braves and now we’re excited that we can call them our neighbors at The Battery Atlanta. From expanded coverage opportunities to exclusive programming, we’ll be able to share the best stories from the team to all of Braves Country.” Dickey Broadcasting will also continue to manage the Braves Radio Network.
Sid Rosenberg to Replace Warner Wolfe on ‘Imus in the Morning.’ There’s been no official statement from Cumulus or WABC, New York, but it’s being widely reported that longtime “Imus in the Morning” sports anchor Warner Wolfe has “retired” from the Imus show effective immediately. Former Imus sports anchor (and current late morning WABC personality) Sid Rosenberg tells TALKERS he makes his return to that slot on Monday (11/7).
Devils, Prudential Center and iHeartMedia Launch The One Jersey Sports and Entertainment Network. A collaboration between the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center, along with iHeartMedia New York results in the launch of The One Jersey Sports and Entertainment Network, a “first-of-its-kind digital platform featuring all live regular season Devils hockey games and original Devils and New Jersey entertainment programming.” The platform is accessible via the Devils app and via iHeartRadio. Twenty-three regular season Devils games will be exclusively available on the platform and the rest of the regular season games will be simulcast along with broadcast partner CBS RADIO’s WFAN, New York. A press release adds, “Original programming on The One Jersey Network will include exclusive live and on-demand content from the Devils and Prudential Center featuring Devils coaches, players, alumni and fans; Devils, sports, entertainment, community and cultural podcasts; and diverse, world-class New Jersey-focused entertainment content from The Rock – the home of New Jersey sports and entertainment. The network will showcase prominent New Jersey personalities, journalists and up-and-coming talent from around the Garden State. A full programming schedule will be announced at a later date.”
ESPN New York’s Michael Kay and Don La Greca Face Off in ‘The Great Sports Debate.’ On Monday, ESPN O&O WEPN, New York “ESPN New York 98.7 FM” is presenting “The Great Sports Debate” at Fordham University’s Keating Hall, live on the radio and simulcast on the YES Network from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm ET. Afternoon drive personalities (Fordham alum) Michael Kay and Don La Greca “will face each other in a battle of wits about the hottest topics in sports, with Kay show co-host Peter Rosenberg as the moderator. Celebrity judges Rick DiPietro, Chris Canty and Bill Daughtry from the Hahn & Humpty show decide on the champion. The live showcase is being presented in conjunction with the school’s Department of Communication and Media Studies. It’s open to students, faculty and administrators at Fordham. In addition, a few lucky listeners who won an on-air contest will be in attendance.
Election 2016 Issues Top Talkers TenTM for Week of October 31-November 4. The presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week. At #2 on the Talkers TenTM was the FBI’s Hillary Clinton emails investigation. Coming in at #3 was the down-ticket U.S. House and Senate Races, followed by concerns about potential voter fraud and poll tampering at #4. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
PodcastOne Debuts Horror Series Starring Malcolm McDowell. On Halloween Day, PodcastOne launched a new dramatic, suspense series starring Golden Globe nominee Malcolm McDowell. “Dreadtime Stories” features McDowell taking on roles written by top writers, including Max Allan Collins (“Road to Perdition”) and featuring celebrity guest stars. Each story has new characters with the recurring elements of nail-biting suspense and dark humor. New podcasts will be available Mondays on a bi-weekly schedule. PodcastOne founder and CEO Norm Pattiz states, “This is a great new addition to our dramatic lineup, hosted by Malcolm McDowell, no less. I just listened to the first episode, and it’s great.” The series was co-created by Carl Amari, Tom DeFeo and Max Allan Collins and produced/directed by Carl Amari and Fangoria. Check it out here.
Carole Marks Honored for Contributions to the Preservation of Nature. In a ceremony at their facility in Mystic, Connecticut, the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center honored Focus Communications CEO Carole Marks for her tremendous contributions over the years to supporting the organization and its work in preserving nature – specifically flowers, pollinators (butterflies) and birds. Marks, who hosts the long-running, syndicated upper-demo talk radio weekend show, “A Touch of Grey,” is widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading experts on issues of concern to senior citizens and their families. She is also a dedicated champion in the battle against ageism in American society. Marks (left) is pictured at the event with the center’s executive director, Maggie Jones (right).
Ray Mariner to Program ‘106.1 The Ticket’ and ‘NASH FM 92.3’ in New Orleans. In a newly created management position at Cumulus Media’s New Orleans operations, programmer and air personality Ray Mariner begins leading the programming at country WRKN “NASH FM 92.3” and sports talker WMTI “106.1 The Ticket” on April 15. Mariner most recently was a personality on Dickey Broadcasting’s WCNN, Atlanta “680 The Fan.” He also served in the market as PM drive personality on Lincoln Financial Media’s CHR WSTR “Star 94.” Cumulus SVP of programming Mike McVay states, “Ray is a rare breed of programmer and talent. He has shown his programming acumen by performing and succeeding at the highest level. We’re excited to have him oversee the programming of both ‘NASH FM 92.3’ and ‘106.1 The Ticket’ in New Orleans.” Cumulus sports/talk format captain Jim Mahanay adds, “Ray Mariner is a strong addition to Cumulus’ programming team in New Orleans. He brings a great track record and tremendous talent to this important role at ‘NASH FM 92.3’ and ‘106.1 The Ticket.’ I look forward to having him lead our sports programming in this key market.”
Ron Jaworski’s WPEN, Philadelphia Show to Air Year Round. Former Philadelphia Eagles great Ron Jaworski has been hosting a weekly football show on Greater Media’s WPEN, Philadelphia “97.5 The Fanatic” during the regular NFL season but now the station makes his Wednesday evening 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm show a year-round deal. The station is kicking off the program with a live show from Riley’s Pub at Valleybrook Country Club in Blackwood, New Jersey tomorrow evening (4/9). Jaworski says in a statement, “I couldn’t be more excited to be extending the Ron Jaworski show to a year-round event. The NFL has become a 12-month league. It’s going to be fun talking with the Philadelphia fans about free agency, the draft, training camp and eventually when the games get started in September.”
NAB Show: Sound Bites from Sin City. Media consultant Holland Cooke is in Las Vegas reporting for RadioInfo from the NAB Show and here is some of what he’s gleaned from the convention. Cooke writes that although this convention is not a radio gathering – that’s in Indianapolis in September – he says, “The recurring theme radio people hear here is that stations can’t only be ‘in the radio business’ anymore.” Sales skills are probably the most important a broadcaster can have these days and there’s a lot of that kind of advice to be had. During the RAB’s Lunch-N-Learn session, CEO Erica Farber noted that three of radio’s sales mistakes are: being afraid to ask for “The Big Ask”; constant rep turnover; and selling to the same advertisers over and over. Read more of HC’s report here.
Syndication: Love or Money? Moving a radio program into the syndication realm is a challenging venture and it’s a move that can be started for the wrong reasons. In a column published today (4/8), Global Media Services founder Tony Garcia writes that for a show to have a chance at success in syndication – even one that is successful on the local level – there are a number of questions the producer of the show must answer before moving ahead. Garcia says, “If you are going to get the attention of program directors, your show and your pitch must to be relevant and compelling. What is it you are providing for the station and its audience? Are you solving a problem? Are you doing something that the station can’t easily do itself?” Read more about what Garcia suggests a potential show producer must be prepared to answer in his piece here.
Immigration Radio Row Takes Place in Washington Tomorrow. The annual radio row – organized by the Federation for American Immigration Reform – is dubbed “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” and the two-day event begins tomorrow at the Phoenix Park Hotel on Capitol Hill. FAIR says it features the largest gathering ever of talk radio hosts focused on a single issue. Dozens of hosts from across the country will spend two days discussing immigration policy with listeners, lawmakers, law enforcement, immigration experts, activists and members of the media live from radio row while broadcasting their shows back to their home markets. Credentialed members of the press are welcome. In particular, reporters covering the national immigration debate will have access to a wide variety of personalities and perspectives all in one location. For more information, contact Kristen Williamson, press secretary at: office 202-328-7004/cell 847-651-8611.
Q1 Radio Deals Top $300 Million on Strength of WBLS/WLIB Sale. According to SNL Kagan, first quarter 2014 radio deals topped the $300 million mark in value. This big quarter was largely the result of the $131 million (8.5 times cash flow) sale of urban contemporary WBLS and gospel WLIB from YMF Media LLC to Emmis Communications Corporation. The other big deal was the $74 million sale of 10 stations from South Central Communications Corporation to SummitMedia, LLC. SNL Kagan says that compared to the 2013 average of 7 times cash flow, the average radio cash flow multiple rose by half a point in the first quarter of 2014.
NRG Media Reports Completion of Change in Equity Investors. The change in equity investors that NRG Media, LLC announced in October of 2013 is complete. The company says the change solidifies “the new partnership between the Midwest-based media company and Cyrus Capital Partners, an investment management company that actively invests in debt and equity securities on a global basis.” Cyrus has approximately $4 billion in assets under management and its investor base is comprised of sophisticated long term institutional and high net worth investors. NRG CEO Mary Quass states, “We look forward to a long relationship with Cyrus Capital Partners and wish to thank Waitt Media and McCarthy Capital for their support over the last 9 years.”
Odds & Sods. Salem Radio Network nationally syndicated morning host Bill Bennett celebrates his 10th year with the network. His “Morning in America” program was visited on Monday by special guests including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, fellow Salem talk host Mike Gallagher and WestwoodOne personality Mark Levin…..Newsweb Radio adds local gay rights author and activist Wayne Besen to the weekend lineup at WCPT-AM/FM, Chicago to host a weekly Saturday afternoon program called, “I’ve Got Issues.” Newsweb president Charles Gross says of the progressive program, “We are excited about this hard-hitting new show that will debate the critical local and national issues that affect our lives.”…..CBS Radio News White House correspondent Peter Maer is being awarded the Merriman Smith Memorial Award for Presidential Coverage Under Deadline Pressure. Maer is receiving the honor for his reports at the Hampton Roads, Virginia shipyard where the president traveled to make his case on last year’s sequestration fight. The White House Correspondents Association says, “Peter Maer’s story on the potential impact of budget sequestration did what White House reporters too rarely do: It humanized a national political story, and managed to do so on an extremely tight deadline, no less.”
A Day at the Races. WBAP, Dallas talk show host Chris Krok (left) poses for a photo with “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson (right) at the Texas Motor Speedway during its “Duck Commander 500” race held over the weekend. Also in the photo is Krok’s son Isaac (center). Krok broadcast his program live from the speedway on Friday (4/4) and then hosted 80 listeners who bought tickets to be part of “Krok and His Flock” on Saturday. Krok and his listeners were able to tour the garage and pits.
ObamaCare Criticism, IRS Scandal, Russian Aggression in Ukraine, Common Core Controversy, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Search, and Student Athlete Compensation/NCAA Championship Game Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/7). Ongoing scrutiny of the rollout and effects of the Affordable Care Act; the move by House Speaker John Boehner to bring legal action against ex-IRS official Lois Lerner; Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine and fears he’s preparing to arm Iran; troubles with the Common Core standards as states drop the program; the continuing search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370; and controversy over compensating student athletes and the run-up to the NCAA Championship game were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.