Remembering Alan Colmes
By Mike Kinosian
NEW YORK — Easily accessible and always highly informative, Alan Colmes was an automatic “go-to” guy for a juicy news item quote, long-form industry piece, or as a convention panelist. Quick wit he displayed was rooted in his days as a standup comedian and Alan Colmes was indeed a “standup” individual.
Bright, friendly, and entertaining barely scratch the surface in describing this progressive voice who competed – and succeeded – in a largely conservative talk radio world.
Sadly, that distinctive voice and message was silenced yesterday (Thursday, 2/23) as Colmes died at the age of 66.
Numerous times over the last roughly 30 years, he graciously chatted with me on- and off-the-record. The following is an edited version from my long-form personality profile of Alan when I was Inside Radio’s special features editor.
Former New York Radio Host and Programmer Rob Astorino Under Fire in Gubernatorial Race for Townsquare Media Consulting Income. Before leaving the radio business full time to run for public office – he’s now the Westchester County Executive – Republican Rob Astorino worked at WFAS, Westchester hosting a sports talk show and also worked at ESPN Radio New York where he was part of the team that transitioned WEVD to sports as WEPN. Astorino is running for governor and incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo’s campaign is making a deal about Astorino’s side job in which he collects $30,000 to consult Townsquare Media. According to a piece in the New York Daily News, the governor’s campaign is contending Astorino is violating the Westchester County charter by accepting outside income but Astorino’s camp states the money he earns is not in violation of county rules. Townsquare VP Alex Berkett tells the Daily News, “Mr. Astorino serves as one of a number of programming consultants that work with Townsquare Media. This role allows Townsquare to benefit from Mr. Astorino’s considerable professional expertise in radio programming.” Read the whole Daily News piece here.
Clear Channel Announces Corporate Additions and Promotions. From Clear Channel president national programming platforms Tom Poleman comes news that former Clear Channel programming executive Marc Chase has rejoined the company. Chase will serve in the national programming platforms division as VP/strategic services, marketing & innovation. Chase worked with Tribune during the Randy Michaels years and most recently was with Nuvoodoo. Other moves at CC include Darren Pfeffer being promoted to senior VP/music & entertainment marketing where he’ll continue to be in charge of CC’s promotions and events, including the iHeartradio Music Festival, the iHeartradio Jingle Ball Tour and the iHeartradio Country Festival. Also promoted are Marissa Morris and Adellyn Polomski who are VP/artist relations and director of artist relations & programs, respectively. At the same time as these announcements comes news that Zena Burns is exiting her position as the company’s first digital program director to pursue other interests.
Skip Essick Exits Cumulus Media’s KMJ-AM and KMJ-FM. For the past seven years, radio programming pro Skip Essick has been serving as PD at KMJ-AM and KMJ-FM in Fresno. Essick oversaw the splitting of the two stations into separate news/talk stations while they were owned by Peak Broadcasting. Last August, Townsquare Media agreed to purchase the stations from Peak and proceeded to sell them to Cumulus Media as part of a deal that saw Townsquare get Cumulus’ Dubuque and Poughkeepsie stations.
Schwartz Joins Yahoo! Sports as EVP Corporate Strategy. This is a newly created position at the Houston-based Yahoo! Sports Radio and the company’s CEO, David Gow, says the arrival of Jeffrey Schwartz “will provide unmatched opportunities for our affiliate and advertising partners to thrive.” Schwartz is charged with overseeing “business growth and partnerships, in addition to working with management to advance programming strategy, multi-platform marketing and promotional opportunities, and affiliate and talent relations.” Schwartz comments, “I look forward to working with the Yahoo! Sports Radio team and the quality sports product they have developed to enhance the brand, as well as opportunities for our partners. Yahoo! Sports, one of the top sports sites in the world, will be a great asset to our strategic plans.” Schwartz’s experience includes serving as manager of sales and promotion at classic rock WLUP-FM, Chicago “The Loop,” director of operations at sports talk WSCR, Chicago “The Score,” and director of operations at WMVP, Chicago “ESPN 1000.” Concurrent with Schwartz’s arrival, the company announces Amanda Deutchman joins in the new position of director, marketing and business development. She most recently was marketing and communications manager for Premiere Networks’ Fox Sports Radio Network.
Simons New PM Anchor at KXL, Portland. Joining co-anchor Val Stouffer at Alpha Media’s news/talk KXL-FM, Portland “FM NEWS 101” for the “Portland’s Afternoon News” program is Joe Simons. He joined KXL last year as a weekend morning news anchor. Simons previously served as the voice of the University of Idaho Women’s Basketball team for two seasons and hosted TV and radio shows in Idaho while also serving as a field reporter for KQQQ, Pullman, Washington. Simons says of his new gig, “I’m thrilled to be part of the incredible team at KXL. The amount of experience and talent our staff has is second to none. I hope to bring my unique perspective and enthusiasm to ‘Portland’s Afternoon News.’”
Kevin Jackson Joins WBOK, New Orleans. Conservative media personality Kevin Jackson – executive director of The Black Sphere LLC – joins the daily lineup at Bakewell Media-owned urban talk/gospel-formatted WBOK, New Orleans. Jackson has been producing a program that airs on weekends on Salem Communications-owned Florida outlets WGUL, Tampa and WLSS, Sarasota. Now his show will air nightly after the Al Sharpton program. Jackson says, “I’m happy to follow Al Sharpton, because there couldn’t be a bigger difference in thought. I believe black stations need to allow their listeners varying points of view, and I’m excited about the opportunity to have a predominantly black audience compare my viewpoint to Sharpton and Martin.”
Round Four of June PPM Data Released. The fourth and final round of June 2014 PPM data from Nielsen Audio has been released for 12 markets including: Austin, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Providence, Raleigh, Norfolk, Nashville, Greensboro, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, Memphis, and Hartford. The survey period was May 22 through June 18. TALKERS magazine’s sister publication RadioInfo has all of the numbers from subscribing stations here. In addition, managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his “Ten Takeaways” from this batch of ratings on the main page of RadioInfo.com here.
Horizon Broadcasting Re-Launches Local News and Information Site. What the company calls “the region’s most comprehensive website for local news and community information” – MyCentralOregon.com – has been re-launched by Horizon Broadcasting Group. The company owns five stations in the Central Oregon region and operates news/talk KBNW via an LMA with station owner SummitMedia. Horizon CEO Keith Shipman says, “We are excited to provide Central Oregon residents with a reliable option for real-time local news and community information. We found that over 90% of our past visitors to the site were primarily interested in viewing local and national news content, which is where we will place our emphasis. Local weather forecasts are a prime driver and we will rely on the expertise of AccuWeather to provide forecasts for communities throughout Central Oregon, complete with a 5 day outlooks and satellite radar images. Visitors to MyCentralOregon.com will find breaking local news from the KBNW news team featuring Glenn Vaagen and Kellen Pierce. Our national, international, political, entertainment, health and business news content will be robust thanks to our alliances with ABC News and The Wall Street Journal. Visitors will also be able to get the latest traffic information, including mountain pass conditions, road reports featuring cameras from the Oregon Department of Transportation, school closures and the latest gas prices throughout Central Oregon.”
Odds & Sods. When the 25th Annual American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament begins this week, NBC Sports Radio Network will broadcast live from Edgewood and Harrah’s Lake Tahoe. The Westwood One/NBC Sports Group-run networks will broadcast its sports talk shows from the site on Thursday, Friday and throughout the weekend…..KSCO, Santa Cruz announces the addition of the “Wagner & Winick On the Law” program to the station’s weekend lineup. Monterey College of Law Dean Mitchel Winick and Law Professor Stephen Wagner began hosting the weekly, one-hour radio program last Saturday, July 12…..AL.com reports that South Alabama sports is moving from longtime home Dot Com Plus LLC-owned WNSP-FM, Mobile to Clear Channel’s Mobile station group where Jaguar football games will air on adult contemporary WMXC while Men’s Basketball and Baseball will air on news/talk WNTM.
Spartanburg-Greenville Personality Bill Drake Dies at 73. South Carolina radio personality Bill Drake died on July 11 from complications after successful surgery to treat esophageal cancer. Although Drake also worked in Green Bay and Milwaukee during his career, he spent 29 years as morning host at WSPA, Spartanburg and then did mornings at WOLT-FM for seven years. His “Awake with Drake” program was last heard on WOLI, Spartanburg.
Albany Broadcaster Bob Ausfeld Passes Away. After years of heart troubles that required longtime Albany broadcaster Bob Ausfeld to have a heart pump implanted, Ausfeld went into surgery last week after a donor heart became available. Ausfeld did not survive the recovery from the surgery and died over the weekend. Ausfeld began his broadcasting career in the market at WPTR. He worked for Townsquare Media through 2011 and joined Albany Broadcasting as general manager for the company.
De la Hoya Visits Marc Hochman Show. WQAM, Miami afternoon drive host Marc Hochman (center), and co-host Zach Krantz (right), pose for a pic with fight promoter and Hall of Fame boxer Oscar de la Hoya (left) in Las Vegas. Hochman brought his show to Las Vegas for a special broadcast last week in anticipation of the Canelo vs. Lara fight at the MGM Grand.