Alpha Media to Buy WFTL and WMEN in Palm Beaches. This deal brings two spoken-word formatted AMs into Alpha Media’s West Palm Beach station group, joining current holdings adult contemporary WEAT “Sunny 107.9” and hot AC WRMF. News/talk WFTL, West Palm Beach and sports talk WMEN, Royal Palm Beach are being sold by Mark Jorgenson’s ACM JCE IV B, LLC to Alpha for $ 2 million. Jorgenson’s firm acquired the stations from James Crystal in a 2015 bankruptcy auction. Alpha begins operating the two stations under an LMA until closing.
Westwood One and Entercom Partner to Syndicate ‘Beyond Reality Radio.’ Last August, Entercom launched the “Beyond Reality Radio” program across a number of its news/talk stations. Now, the company is partnering with Westwood One to put the program into national syndication. “Beyond Reality Radio” airs weeknights live from 12:00 midnight to 2:00 am ET and is co-hosted by Jason Hawes, co-founder of The Atlantic Paranormal Society and the creator and star of Syfy’s hit “Ghost Hunters,” and JV Johnson, a long-time paranormal investigator and former publisher and editor of TAPS’ ParaMagazine. Entercom stations airing the show include: KJCE, Austin; WRKO, Boston; WBEN, Buffalo; KEZW, Denver; WSKY, Gainesville; WYRD, Greenville; WBZU/WKZN/WILK, Wilkes-Barre; KMBZ, Kansas City; WWL, New Orleans; WBT, Charlotte; and KNSS, Wichita. Westwood One will roll out syndication to stations nationwide and represent ad sales as it launches on March 6.
TALKERS News Notes. In the Triangle market, Capitol Broadcasting’s sports talk WCMC, Raleigh “99.9 The Fan” and its affiliate digital platform WRALsportsfan.com partners with contributor Lauren Brownlow to present a special, eight-episode podcast investigating the “supernatural history” of North Carolina State University and the legendary “curse” that haunts Wolfpack Nation. Brownlow says, “Growing up in North Carolina and covering the area teams for over a decade, I’ve long been fascinated with the dedication of NC State fans in spite of a recent string of bad luck, which contrasts sharply with a rich and successful overall athletic history. When I learned about the recently conceived concept of ‘NC State Stuff – What can go wrong for NC State will go wrong,’ and that it had a name, I knew I had to learn more about it. I’ve never believed in it, but I kept an open mind going into this podcast and wanted to figure out, once and for all, if there’s anything to it.”…..Entertainment consulting firm Paragon Media Strategies names Michelle Conrad as social+mobile+digital consultant. Paragon CEO Mike Henry said, “It’s great to add a true Millennial to Paragon’s consulting ranks. Michelle Conrad is a native digital user and lifelong social media explorer. Michelle brings hands-on experience working with entertainment brands, including ABC, Nickelodeon and GoPro. She is uniquely suited to ensure that the social, mobile and digital experience is completely in synch with the overall brand experience.”…..Westwood One reports the results of a Nielsen study it commissioned to examine the return on investment for advertisers using WW1’s coverage of NFL football and NCAA basketball play-by-play. WW1 says some of the key findings of the study include that, 1) radio elevated key brand perceptions. For example, those exposed to Westwood One’s NCAA basketball audio were 37% more likely to indicate the motorcycle manufacturer was the brand for people like them versus those who were not exposed to the campaign; 2) the radio campaign had significant advertiser recall among key demographics for the brand. Among those who have ever owned a motorcycle, those exposed to Westwood One’s NCAA basketball audio were 72% more likely to recall the brand’s ads; and 3) radio had a stunning impact on every stage of the purchase funnel, including purchase intent: Compared to those who had not heard the campaign, those exposed to the radio campaign had a 63% increase in plans to purchase the brand. See more of the results in WW1 chief insights officer Pierre Bouvard’s blog post here…..The Radio Advertising Bureau names 17-year RAB staffer Tiffiney Wyatt to the newly created position, business development & insights associate. At the same time, joining the membership team at the RAB is Rita Landells.
Trump’s Travel Ban Battle, North Korea Missile Incident/Trump Security Questions, Michael Flynn Under Fire-Resignation, California Dam Concerns, ‘SNL’ Trump Sketches, Tumultuous GOP Town Halls, and Sunday’s Grammy Awards Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/13). The court battles over his original travel ban and potential new executive travel orders from President Donald Trump and related protests over his perceived anti-immigration stance; North Korea’s weekend test of an ICBM and related questions about presidential and national security after Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe learned of and discussed the matter in the Mar-A-Lago dining room; National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn resigns after ongoing questions about his improper communications with Russian diplomats; the status of a Northern California dam spillway as it threatens the residences of some 200,000 evacuees; the flap over the series of Trump Administration spoofs aired on “Saturday Night Live”; the raucous town hall receptions some GOP lawmakers are receiving in their districts; and Sunday night’s Grammy Awards 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. Music radio pro Zakk Babb stays in the Entercom family in his new position as afternoon drive personality and imaging director for CHR WZPL, Indianapolis. Babb has been hosting evenings at Entercom’s hot AC WSTR, Atlanta “Star 94.1” – a position he’ll continue to hold as he’ll voice track the show from Indy…..Due to his ongoing cancer treatment, John Thomas is stepping away from his SVP of programming role at iHeartMedia’s Springfield, Massachusetts cluster in which he oversees programming at news/talk WHYN-AM, hot AC WHYN-FM, and country WRNX. In a Facebook post, Thomas writes, “After a lot of prayer, weighing the pros & cons and deep soul-searching – I’ve decided to resign from my position @ iHeart in order to FOCUS 100% on my HEALTH! Over the course of the next several weeks – I’ll be transitioning in order to put myself in the BEST possible position to benefit from the clinical trial that I started a few weeks back.”…..Cumulus Media announces that the nationally syndicated Kidd Kraddick show – starring Kellie Rasberry, Big Al Mack, J-Si Chavez and Jenna Owens – is the new morning program on its CHR KBIU, Lake Charles “HOT 103.3.”…..In the Lafayette, Louisiana market, programming pro Tyrone Davis exits Delta Media’s urban contemporary KFXZ “Z105.9” where he’d been serving as program director and music director. His duties will be assumed by operations manager Erik Tobias.
WRKO, Boston Elevates Czarnecki to Program Director. For more than a year, Michael Czarnecki has been serving Entercom’s news/talk WRKO, Boston as APD and operations manager. Now, vice president and market manager Phil Zachary announces Czarnecki is rising to program director for the station. “Michael tweaked the station’s lineup and groomed our entire air staff to be at peak performance for this election cycle. We’re now reaping the benefits of his coaching and vision as new cume flocks to WRKO every day. This promotion is well deserved and overdue.” Czarnecki comments, “It’s been an honor and a privilege to be a part of revitalizing the heritage brand that is WRKO, and this is just the beginning. Special thank you to Phil Zachary and to Entercom for having faith in me and giving me the guidance and tools needed to get here.” Prior to arriving at WRKO 15 months ago, Czarnecki was APD at iHeartMedia’s hot AC WHYN-FM and country WRNX-FM in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Emmis Sells Terre Haute Signals in Three-Way Deal. In this three-way transaction, Emmis Communications is, as had been promoted during the lead-up to the company’s go-private bid, selling off its Terre Haute, Indiana radio stations for a total price tag of $5.2 million. Here’s how it breaks down: Midwest Communications is buying country WTHI and the intellectual property of classic rock WWVR “The River” for $4.3 million; the WWVR assets (minus the intellectual property), sports WFNF-AM and its translator W258BA, plus hot AC WFNB, Brazil, Indiana goes to Dave Crooks-owned DLC Media for $900,000. Since the acquisition would put Midwest over the FCC limit, Midwest will sell country WDKE, Seelyville, Indiana to DLC Media for an undisclosed sum. Emmis chairman and CEO Jeff Smulyan says, “The sale of our stations in Terre Haute, while difficult, will help us further our goal of de-levering our balance sheet. We are thrilled the buyers value radio and have long traditions of success in smaller markets, like Terre Haute. I’d also like to thank our people at these stations. They have been tremendous stewards of their brands and wonderful ambassadors of Emmis’ culture. We wish them continued success.” The deal is expected to close in 2017.
Riehl Upped to Corporate Controller for Beasley Broadcast Group. Rising from her position as business manager at Beasley Media Group’s Fayetteville, North Carolina cluster is Robin Riehl. She becomes the corporate controller for the company, effective November 1, based at its headquarters in Naples, Florida. Riehl comments, “The radio business is my passion and I am honored to fulfill my dream of working with Beasley in the corporate office! The Beasley Media Group is my professional home and I remain deeply grateful for my start with Beasley in our outstanding Fayetteville cluster.”
TOMORROW is the Day for the Hillsdale College/TALKERS Magazine Presidential Election Talk Radio Debate in DC. On Friday (10/14), TALKERS magazine and Hillsdale College join forces to present a dynamic talk radio debate about the Presidential Election of 2016. Moderated by TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, the diverse panel of participants will include (in alphabetical order): Thom Hartmann, syndicated host, WYD Media; Hugh Hewitt, syndicated host, Salem Radio Network; Joyce Kaufman, afternoon host, WFTL, Ft. Lauderdale/Miami; Joe Madison, morning host, SiriusXM “Urban View” channel; Larry O’ Connor, morning co-host, WMAL, Washington, DC; and Chris Stigall, morning host WPHT, Philadelphia. The event takes place tomorrow at Hillsdale’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship, 227 Massachusetts Avenue, NE, Washington, DC. It will start at 11:00 am and run for about 90 minutes followed by a “meet and greet,” one-hour lunch reception. The event will be open to members of the media and press but seating will be limited and pre-registration is required. To register, call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413. Announcing the event, Michael Harrison states, “What a wonderful lineup! This debate will include all the key perspectives represented on American news/talk radio. TALKERS is delighted to be back in Washington, DC creating political talk happenings of this nature. We are looking forward to this being just the first of a long series of forums that we are planning to present in conjunction with the enlightened educators at Hillsdale College.” Hillsdale College, based in Hillsdale, Michigan and established in 1844, is widely recognized as one of the finest, private liberal arts colleges in America.
New PodcastOne Show Launches Starring Neil Strauss and Gabrielle Reece. The first episode of “The Truth Barrel” podcast launched yesterday (10/12) featuring Rolling Stone contributing editor and author of best-sellers The Game and The Truth, Neil Strauss, and former pro volleyball star, NBC’s “Strong” host, and model Gabrielle Reece. PodcastOne says the show grew out of Strauss and Reece’s regular, celebrity pool-fitness workouts, which end with alternating deep conversation in Reece’s 220-degree barrel sauna and plunges in a metal bath filled with ice. “Each week, the co-hosts sweat the truth out of some of the most famous, knowledgeable, and interesting people in the world, from Grammy-winning musicians to gold-medal Olympians. The end game is to learn from these experiences and solve the biggest challenges in life that most people are too afraid to discuss.” New episodes appear every Tuesday at PodcastOne.com, the PodcastOne app and iTunes.
Odds & Sods. Lubbock, Texas news/talk KFYO adds an FM signal to its programming with the addition of translator K229BY, Lubbock at 95.1 FM. Townsquare Media Lubbock market manager Philip Hand states, “Today is another banner day in KFYO’s storied 90-year history. The addition of the 95.1 FM frequency to KFYO will allow KFYO’s highly rated news/talk programming to become more accessible in the largest population center we cover.”…..Sports media personality Trenni Kusnierek – whose day job is anchor and reporter for Comcast SportsNet New England – is joining Entercom’s WEEI-FM and the WEEI Sports Radio Network as a weekend and substitute program host. Kusnierek’s resume includes time spent as a sports reporter and talk show host at Scripps’ WTMJ and Good Karma’s WAUK “ESPN 540” in Milwaukee. She’s been a reporter and anchor for the MLB Network, the NFL Network and The Big Ten Network and she covered the 2016 Olympics from Rio de Janiero in August…..Salem Media Group Twin Cities is hosting the 4th annual “Clean Comedy” night starring comedian Amy Barnes. This event is November 5 at Revive Brooklyn Park Church and, in conjunction with Second Harvest Heartland of St. Paul, also consists of a canned food drive to aid in the fight against hunger in the Twin Cities…..Neuhoff Media’s news/talk WSOY, Decatur, Illinois hosted the 15th Annual Food Drive at Airport Plaza Kroger and generated more than 1,400,000 pounds of food for 10 regional food pantries in the Decatur/Macon County area in 12 hours. Local corporate partners, ADM and the Howard Buffett Foundation contributed $100,000 each, while schools, business and community groups combined for donations that resulted in the largest local food drive to date.
The Presidential Race, Wikileaks Document Dump, Clinton Emails Decision Questioned, U.S.-Russian Tensions, MLB Playoffs, and NFL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/12). The activities of presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton; the Wikileaks document dump revealing emails between Hillary Clinton and staffers; the Fox News report that investigators in the FBI and CIA were unhappy with James Comey’s decision not to indict Hillary Clinton in the private email server case; the tensions between the U.S. and Russia over military operations in Syria and allegations the Russians are meddling in the U.S. election; the Major League Baseball playoffs, and NFL action were among the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Erie Radio Personality Jim LeCorchick Dead at 69. Longtime Erie, Pennsylvania radio personality Jim LeCorchick passed away this morning (10/13) after collapsing at the Connoisseur Media studios. According to GoErie.com, LeCorchick, who hosted the morning show at news/talk WJET-AM, walked into the studio of sister rock outlet WRKT “Rocket 101” and asked the jocks to call 911. GoErie.com reports that LeCorchick was a commentator for both WJET-AM and the WFNN-AM “Sports Blitz” afternoon show. He also served as a play-by-play and color commentator for area college and high school sports games over the years.
Packed Talkers New York 2015 Conference a Hit with Attendees. Talk media industry practitioners jam-packed the India House in Manhattan’s Financial District on Friday, June 12 for a full day of presentations, panels and speeches as TALKERS magazine celebrated its 25th anniversary serving the talk radio industry at its 18th annual New York-located national conference. The day began with a continental breakfast and reception titled, “Breakfast with Hannity,” sponsored by the Premiere Networks-syndicated talk radio superstar. WFAN, New York sports talk legend Mike Francesa kicked off the presentations with a powerful and informative welcoming speech. Panel discussions included such topics as “The State of Radio Ratings,” “The Big Picture,” “Generating Talk Radio Revenue,” “Programming Talk Radio in 2015,” “Variety, The Spice of Life,” and “Navigating a Talk Host Career.” The program also included a one-on-one “Fireside Chat” between TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison and Cumulus Media EVP, content & programming John Dickey, plus the TALKERS Awards Presentation during which WOLB, Baltimore morning host Larry Young received the “Humanitarian of the Year Award,” Howard Stern co-host Robin Quivers received the “Woman of the Year Award,” CBS Radio News VP Harvey Nagler was presented the “Lifetime Achievement Award,” and ABC Television, director, business continuity Howard B. Price received the “Freedom of Speech Award.” Michael Harrison states, “We are deeply gratified, humbled and grateful by the SRO turnout and the tremendous love and support we have consistently received that has allowed TALKERS and all its various projects to make it to the quarter-century milestone. This conference exuded a level of confidence about the future of the talk industry held by its key players that we haven’t seen in years!” Video of each of the sessions and presentations will be made available online via Talkers TV, along with detailed story and photographic coverage of the conference, beginning next week. Above right, FOX News’ Brian Kilmeade, WFAN’s Mike Francesa and Sean Hannity share a joke. Lower left, Premiere Networks’ Julie Talbott (left) presents the Woman of the Year Award to Robin Quivers (right).
iHeartMedia to Create New Boston Home for Rush Limbaugh on WKOX. Dropping the Spanish music format “Mia 1430,” iHeartMedia will launch “Talk 1430” WKOX on Monday, June 29 with Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh as the centerpiece along with company stalwarts Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck surrounding him. WKOX is licensed to Everett, Massachusetts and its primary signal covers the city of Boston and reaches many of its suburbs. iHeartMedia is going with a sports and talk hybrid using FOX Sports Radio content in addition to syndicated talk programming. Here’s the lineup: “FOX Sports Daybreak with Andy Furman & Mike North” in AM drive; Glenn Beck from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon; Limbaugh; Sean Hannity from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm; “America Now” from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm; Westwood One’s Mark Levin from 9:00 pm to 12:00 midnight; and FOX Sports Radio during overnights. iHeartMedia Boston market president Alan Chartrand says, “We are excited to bring this powerful lineup of talk show hosts to our cluster here in Boston. We are confident that the biggest names in the talk radio format will serve our listeners and advertisers well.”
Canada’s Numeris Orders Voltair Units Disabled Until Further Notice. Canada’s Numeris – formerly called the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement – has ordered all Canadian radio stations to disconnect their Voltair units from their audio chains. The audio processor manufactured by 25-Seven – a division of TelosAlliance – has been a controversial topic within U.S. broadcast circles recently for reportedly enabling stations in Nielsen’s PPM markets to “amplify” the encoding that PPM receivers use to “hear” in order to give stations credit for listening. As was discussed at the Talkers New York 2015 conference on Friday (6/12) on the “State of Radio Ratings” panel, Voltair is currently being tested by Nielsen but no such edicts have been issued here. Canada’s Numeris states in a letter to station owners that the order to shut off Voltair comes because of the “importance of a level playing field.” Numeris admists it doesn’t know if the technology is affecting ratings or not but that it expects to have an analysis of Voltair done within 60 days.
Cumulus Media Elevates Hess to Corporate PD of News/Talk. A session moderator at last Friday’s (6/12) “TALKERS New York 2015,” Bill Hess takes on corporate responsibilities in addition to his role as program director of Cumulus Media Washington, DC news/talker WMAL-AM/FM. According to Cumulus executive vice president of content and programming John Dickey, “Bill is one of the format’s best minds. We look forward to sharing him within our company.” Senior vice president of content and programming Mike McVay comments, “This promotion enables us to take advantage of Bill’s previous experience as a corporate programmer and rewards him for the amazing job that he is doing at WMAL.” Hess remarks, “I deeply appreciate – and am incredibly energized by – this opportunity to work with John Dickey, Mike McVay, and our team of talented programmers as we continue to drive the success of the industry’s leading platform of news-talk brands, both on-air and digitally.” Formerly senior vice president of programming for Air America Radio, Hess was brand manager for Clear Channel/iHeartMedia and was PD of talk stations in Providence (WHJJ); Springfield, Massachusetts (WHYN-AM); and Worcester, Massachusetts (WTAG), as well as operations manager of Washington, DC progressive talker WWRC, sports WTEM, and conservative talk WTNT. The Philadelphia native has programmed FM music stations in Washington, DC (adult contemporary WASH and classic rock WBIG); Providence (hot AC WSNE and classic hits-oldies WWBB); Springfield, Massachusetts (hot AC WHYN-FM); and Worcester, Massachusetts (adult contemporary WSRS).
New Course Set at WRKO, Boston. In a press statement announcing the hiring of Alison Harris as sales manager for Entercom’s news/talk WRKO, Boston, VP and market manager Phil Zachary says filling this two-year-vacant post signals the station’s readiness to forward with the next step in its evolution. He comments, “Like every talk radio station in America, WRKO has been evolving with the changing media habits and demographic shifts in our society. We did not want to fill this important position until our course was set for the future and we found the perfect candidate. I’m thrilled we’re now at that point and that Alison was available to us.” Harris is a 22-year media pro who was most recently with Clear Channel Outdoor’s Washington, D.C./Baltimore Division as vice president of sales. The Boston news/talk will part with Premiere Networks’ Rush Limbaugh next month and says it will announce its new, official lineup a little later this month.
Odds & Sods. Boston journalist and talk show host Michele McPhee told her listeners on Friday afternoon that she expects to beat the charges leveled against her after a late night incident on Thursday that resulted in her being arrested for DUI, resisting arrest and assaulting an officer. McPhee – heard on WMEX, Boston in afternoon drive – says she can’t comment specifically on the advice of her attorney. She was pulled over after a police officer reported seeing her car swerve on I-93 in South Boston. The Boston Herald reports she became belligerent with the officer and even sustained a head injury while the officer was arresting her…..Salem Media Group names Randy Bush general manager of its Little Rock station group that includes Christian contemporary KKSP, Christian teaching KDIS and news/talk KHTE “96.5 The Answer.”…..Townsquare Media announces Mike “Sandman” Sanders is the new operations manager for its Billings, Montana cluster that includes news/talk KCHH “Newstalk 95.5.” He was most recently with Riverbend Communications as music director and afternoon personality at adult contemporary KCLE, Idaho Falls “Classy 97.3.”
Nielsen Audio Releases Fourth Round of May 2015 PPM Data. The fourth and final round of May 2015 PPM ratings 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 May 2015 survey period covered April 23 through May 20. You can find the complete ratings from subscribing stations here. Additionally, TALKERS and RadioInfo managing editor Mike Kinosian provides his “Ten Takeaways” from this group on the main page of our sister publication here.
NJBA Conference and Gala Begins This Week. The annual New Jersey Broadcasters Association Conference and Gala opens this week in Atlantic City with his year’s theme: “Broadcast Has New Attitude.” NJBA president & CEO Paul Rotella states, “We’re going to hear from a variety of voices during this conference which will provide you with the latest and most substantial evolution in research, technology and advancement in audience measurement.” During the conference, the NJBA will be honoring FOX News’ Judge Andrew P. Napolitano as its recipient of the Howard L. Green Humanitarian of the Year. Also, Greater Media’s Peter Smyth will induct Dan Finn, Harry Hurley, Dick Swetits, and Kevin Williams into the NJBA Hall of Fame.
‘Get Well’ Wishes to Gabe Hobbs. Longtime radio pro and Gabe Hobbs Media principal, Gabe Hobbs is recovering from a ruptured disc in his lower back. He writes to the industry that he’s been largely unable to communicated while literally “on his back” in the hospital for the better part of the last two weeks. He writes, “As some of you may have heard, I have been hospitalized with a ruptured disk in my lower back for a couple of weeks. My back just seemed to explode on the afternoon of May 26th and I’ve been largely unable to answer emails, phone calls or texts ever since. I couldn’t even sit up or walk for 9 days. I’m finally able to do a little work on the computer and have somewhat cogent phone conversations at this point…My apologies as I know many of you are wondering if I just dropped off the face of the earth. Everyone at TALKERS wishes Gabe a speedy recovery.