By Walter Sabo
NEW YORK — It is hard to overstate how much I love radio and believe in its future. This article suggests a necessary, urgent corrective action that must be taken to give AM talk radio a viable future.
First, my credentials for making this case: Starting in 1990, I launched a large number of major market FM talk stations such as “New Jersey 101.5,” KLSX-FM in Los Angeles and “Real Radio 104” in Orlando. Simultaneously I consulted WOR, WIOD, WRKO, WISN and many others. For eight years, from pre-launch, I was the on-site consultant that built out all Sirius Satellite radio channels, music and talk. Prior to that I was the VP/GM of the ABC Radio Networks. EVP in charge of the NBC FM stations where adult contemporary was created and perfected. History shows that most successful media companies are product-driven. The wrong product results in failure.
For WQAM – Three’s A Crowd in PM Drive. Today’s arrival (Tuesday, 8/11) of Channing Crowder will transform the afternoon drive program (2:00 pm – 6:00 pm) of CBS Radio-owned WQAM “Miami Sports Radio 560” into a three-person affair, as the former Miami Dolphins linebacker joins Marc Hochman and Zach Krantz. Regarding Crowder, program director Ryan Maguire comments, “His insight as a former college and professional football player – as well as his one-of-a-kind brand of humor – will be a great addition to what Marc and Zach bring to the table every day. This is going to be a very unique, locally focused program that will be entertaining and insightful.” Crowder remarks, “I am excited for the opportunity to work with ‘Hoch’ and Zach. We are going to bring listeners a different kind of show they won’t be able to find anywhere else.” A former all-South East Conference player at the University of Florida, Crowder began at WQAM in 2009 as a contributor. Prior to becoming part of “Hochman, Crowder, & Krantz,” he co-hosted the station’s mid-day (1:00 pm – 3:00 pm) program.
Pittsburgh Broadcaster in Online “Crowd-funding” Campaign. The “Don’t Spy on Me” project, which began last Monday (8/3) and ends in three weeks (9/1), creates an internet show for Pittsburgh talk host Dimitri Vassilaros. Online programs, of course, are not subject to Federal Communications Commission regulations, so callers are able to speak freely. Vassilaros tells TALKERS, “Forgoing short-term revenue to create long-term value has helped many internet startups become desirable to investors. This new radio show will provide people with a platform where they can express their thoughts, amplify their voices, and talk back to all authoritarians. Internet freedom means unlimited choices, not government restrictions. Your right of privacy is worth fighting for.” Vassilaros’ background includes being a talk show host on Pittsburgh stations KDKA-AM and WTAE, as well as a columnist/reporter for The Pittsburgh Tribune Review.
“Something To Think About” Notes Affiliate Benchmark. Seven months after its debut, the weekday vignettes that its syndicator – Westwood One – labels a “slice of Americana” eclipse the 150-station mark. In fact, the station count for the segments voiced by former Michigan congressman/ex-FBI agent Mike Rogers that stations air thrice daily is up to 156. Westwood One senior vice president of affiliate sales Dennis Green states, “We have been searching for a strong voice that provides a common sense and thought-provoking take on relatable topics that concern all Americans. Mike Rogers brings that home in his commentary, which gives listeners a chance to pause and reflect on the ideals that are important to us all and are without any political bias.” Outgoing House Intelligence Committee chair Rogers remarks that surpassing the 150-station mark so fast is “really exciting” and that listener feedback is inspiring. “It truly is an honor to be welcomed into cars, homes, and businesses of so many people across the country. Sometimes, it is the simplest message that has the greatest impact.” Among those airing the commentaries are Cumulus Media New York talker WABC; co-owned Chicago talker WLS-AM; San Francisco talk sibling KSFO; iHeartMedia-owned Miami talk outlet WIOD; and CBS Radio Pittsburgh talker KDKA-AM.
Odds & Sods. The lucky guy who is all smiles is McGraw Milhaven. The KTRS, St Louis morning man recently took 40 listeners on a 12-day, six-country, 11-city tour of Europe including stops in Berlin, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and London. Milhaven is seen here capturing a memory at the Tower Bridge over the Thames.
Beck in the War Room. Sporting an orange ball cap, Premiere Radio Networks host Glenn Beck was among hundreds who turned out last night (Monday, 8/10) in Dallas for the world premiere of the Kendrick Brothers’ film “War Room.” Salem Radio Network vice president of news & talk programming Tom Tradup (on Beck’s left) interviewed Beck, as well as area dignitaries and “War Room” cast members. The red carpet event was held at Dallas’ Majestic Theatre.
Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Megyn Kelly were the Most Talked About People on News/Talk Radio Yesterday (8/9). Top topics included GOP Debate(s) on Fox, the Iran Nukes Deal and Immigration Reform. According to TALKERS research, fallout from last week’s audience record-breaking GOP debate on Fox News Channel continues to dominate conversation on news/talk radio across America. Other hot topics include the presidential election in general – especially Bernie Sanders’ encounters with the Black Lives Matter movement, Hillary Clinton’s email controversy and Jeb Bush’s problems gaining (or holding onto) traction.
Rick Sanchez Joins WIOD, Miami in New Lineup. Clear Channel Media + Entertainment news/talk WIOD, Miami announces a new program lineup that includes cable news/talk veteran Rick Sanchez in the late morning slot. Program director Grace Blazer says on the station’s website, “Our new lineup reflects 610 WIOD’S strengthening commitment to high-quality local news, accurate weather, important traffic conditions, and the perfect balance of highly talented local and national personalities. The result will be a topical, informative and entertaining listener experience for the residents and businesses of South Florida.” The lineup includes “South Florida’s First News with Jimmy Cefalo” in morning drive, Sanchez from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon followed by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck. The new program schedule takes effect on January 6.
Cuts at CBS Chicago Leave Anchor/Reporter Steve Grzanich Out. Chicago media writer Robert Feder has been writing about budget-related cuts at the CBS Radio cluster in Chicago for several days and now we know more about who’s been affected. At all-news WBBM-AM, anchor/reporter Steve Grzanich exits after 20 years with the station. ChicagoRadioandMedia.com tips us that Grzanich posted the following message on his Facebook page: “Dear Friends: I have breaking news…about me! After 20 years, I am signing off at WBBM Newsradio to explore other opportunities. I am hungry for a new challenge and must embark on the journey to find it starting now. But don’t go away! I’ll still be here in Chicago and on Facebook with news, weather and other stuff…just not on the 8s. Thank you for listening! Stay tuned for news about my next chapter.” The cluster also saw the release of longtime production/imaging staffer Michael Horn who worked for sister CHR WBBM-FM “B96.” Horn has been working with Killer Hertz since May of 2012 and ChicagoRadioandMedia.com reports he will continue to do freelance imaging work while he looks for his next opportunity. Feder reports that a number of sales staffers have been let go from the cluster.
Other CBS Radio Cuts Hit Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Atlanta. According to sources in Southern California, there have been four layoffs at CBS stations there including KTRH news anchor Bob Malik and KNX traffic reporter Tommy Jaxson. The two others are believed to be front office staffers. In Pittsburgh, changes come to sports talk KDKA-FM “93.7 The Fan” as Vinnie Richichi exits the Vinnie & Cook midday program and Paul Alexander leaves the morning drive show. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Bob Smizik reports that Richichi and Ron Cook never got along, it was obvious on the air and that led to Richichi’s departure, plus morning host Gregg Giannotti was not happy working with Alexander. Finally, in Atlanta Kendra G. and Christopher “Crash” Clark exit the Ryan Cameron morning show at urban contemporary WVEE “V103.”
Lineup Changes at Fox Sports Radio Network in the New Year. The national lineup from Fox Sports Radio Network will look a little different come January 5, 2014. Gone from the 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm ET slot will be Pat O’Brien and Steve Hartman from “Fox Sports Primetime” with replacement(s) to be announced later. J.T. the Brick moves from the overnight slot to the 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm ET slot accompanied by sidekick Tomm Looney, displacing the current Petros & Money show. Petros Papadakis and Matt “Money” Smith will continue to be heard on Clear Channel’s KLAC, Los Angeles. Rob Dibble and Amy Van Dyken leave “Fox Sports Tonight” and the NFL Network’s and Fox Sports Network’s Jason Smith takes over that show airing from 10:00 pm to 2:00 am ET while Fox Sports Radio weekend personality Ben Maller becomes the 2:00 am to 6:00 am host.
Cox Enterprises Promotes Dyer to President/CEO. Current chief operating officer John Dyer will be elevated to Cox Enterprises president/chief executive officer when he officially succeeds retiring CEO Jimmy Hayes on Wednesday, January 1. Cox Enterprises is the parent company of Cox Media Group. According to Cox Enterprises chairman Jim Kennedy, “In the 36 years John has worked at Cox, he has always done a terrific job and always risen to meet every new challenge he was presented. He has been an incredible chief operating officer and he understands all our businesses. He is committed to our employees and our customers. I am excited to work with [him] as he leads our company in an exciting future.” Dyer comments, “Cox is a company that values its employees, delivers superior products and services to its customers, and strives to be a responsible and sustainable corporate partner in the communities in which we operate. I am excited about the ways we will continue to grow our existing businesses and invest in future opportunities.” In addition to Cox Media Group, Dyer will be responsible for Cox Communications, Manheim, and AutoTrader Group, as well as corporate functions including financial operations, human resources and administration.
Bob Murray Takes Leave from WTAX, Springfield to Battle Brain Tumor. “Morning Newswatch” host Bob Murray tells listeners in an open letter that he is taking time from the Saga Communications news/talk outlet to focus on “getting better and being with loved ones.” Murray writes: “As you have probably heard, I have decided to elect for an extended medical leave of absence from my post as the host of the ‘WTAX Morning Newswatch’ due to newly discovered health concerns. Many people have enquired (sic) into what is going on, and I thought it would be best you hear it from me. I have been diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer and will be taking this leave from work as an opportunity to focus my time on getting better and being with family and loved ones. While this is far from an ideal situation, we are remaining positive and focusing on staying strong. In the days following the announcement, it has been so incredibly humbling to feel the outpour of prayers and support from all directions, and I am pretty positive I will never be able to properly express how much that means to my family and me. I also want to thank the WTAX family and central Illinois area for their many years of loyal listenership. It has truly been an honor to start each day with you, tackling the issues that matter to us. I hope to be back in the capital soon, focusing on what I love, delivering the news, sports, entertainment and important local happenings to you.”
‘Jay Talking’ Permanent Overnight Show on WBZ-AM, Boston. Bradley Jay’s “Jay Talking” program is now the official overnight program on CBS Radio’s news and talk WBZ-AM, Boston. Jay has been working in the news and talk realm for some time (he also serves as the executive producer for “Nightside with Dan Rea”) but he got his start in music radio and worked at the legendary rock outlet WBCN. In fact, he hosted the last show at “The Rock of Boston” before a frequency swap and format change ended the station’s run.
NRG, Omaha Names Davis KOOO Brand Manager. In addition to being appointed brand manager of NRG Media, Omaha adult hits KOOO “Big O 101.9,” talk host Crash Davis takes on marketing director duties for that Nebraska market’s entire NRG cluster. Operations manager Jeff Lynn comments, “Crash has been an integral part of our team for the past year. He is very versatile and has a keen sense of what the Omaha listener wants and loves about ‘Big O.’ He brings many of the talents and skill sets we need to propel ‘Big O’ to new heights in the ratings and to drive results for our advertisers.” Davis remarks, “I am delighted to have a more prominent role on a station I have watched evolve over the past several years. I have great respect for [morning talent] Dave Wingert and the rest of the on-air team. Our great variety of music and the content we talk about resonates with listeners. I will do my part to enhance our reputation with the listeners and advertisers.” Davis has been in Omaha radio the past 15 years, including as a host on NRG talk outlet KOIL “The Mighty 1290” and as the afternoon drive talent on cross-town Clear Channel-owned talk station KFAB.
Salem Selects Dr. Frank Wright As President/COO. Eleven-year National Religious Broadcasters president/chief executive officer Dr. Frank Wright will join Salem Communications Corporation on Wednesday, January 1 as president/chief operating officer. Dr. Wright will report directly to Salem chief executive officer and director Edward Atsinger. “Frank has more than 20 years of experience working in – and with – broadcast media organizations,” Atsinger comments. “He has also developed a robust network among DC-based public policy organizations, as well as DC-based political organizations. Frank is an effective leader and team-builder with a strong entrepreneurial background, and he has extensive executive experience in strategic planning and organizational structure. I expect him to hit the ground running and work closely with me in executing our business strategies.” Before joining the NRB, Dr. Wright spent seven years as executive director of the Center for Christian Statesmanship; he has a doctorate in finance.
Will Salem Purchase Eagle Publishing on January 15? The story that Politico reported late last week is a done deal, according to BuzzFeed which states staffers at Eagle Publishing have been told the sale will take place on January 15. According to the BuzzFeed piece, Salem Communications will add to its conservative print and digital assets with the acquisition and that as many as 90% of staffers will remain with the Eagle division; it’s the upper management positions that will be eliminated due to redundancy. Eagle operates RedState.com, Human Events and Regnery Publishing. Salem recently acquired Twitchy.com from conservative pundit, columnist and author Michelle Malkin.
Sean’s New Digs! Premiere Networks nationally syndicated talk star Sean Hannity (right) is pictured here with pundit and author Ann Coulter (center) and fellow Premiere star Glenn Beck (left) at Hannity’s new Premiere Networks studios at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Hannity leaves his longtime home base at WABC, New York at the end of the year and his program will emanate from flagship WOR, New York beginning in January.
Budget Deal, NSA Data Mining Ruling, ObamaCare Criticism, Mega Millions Jackpot, and Limbaugh-Pope Francis Marxism Flap Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/17). The battle in the U.S. Senate over the details of the Congressional budget deal; the aftermath of a judge’s ruling the NSA data mining program “probably unconstitutional”; scrutiny of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act; the $636 million Mega Millions jackpot; and the continuing flap over Rush Limbaugh’s comments about Pope Francis’ “Marxist” economic philosophy were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
By Walter Sabo
NEW YORK — Bob McAllan is the CEO of Press Broadcasting. He put on the two most successful FM Talk stations in the world: New Jersey 101.5 — going into its 22 year — and WTKS-FM Real Radio 104.1 Orlando, launched 1994. Bob and GM John Dziuba made a strategic decision that enabled the station’s hosts to present the most controversial, often outrageous opinions with minimal fallout.
Their single decision gave management the freedom to sell advertising on the stations, defend the hosts and manage the talent in an environment void of fear. Bob and John decided that their STATIONS must never present an opinion or point of view. Simultaneously they realized that to have winning stations, the hosts must have well prepared, very strong points of view on every single topic.
After consulting and operating the largest talk stations in the world, I believe the paragraph you just read sums up the programming infrastructure for success.
Picking the right topics when working in multiple markets
By Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo
Radio Talk Show Host
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo – a member of the TALKERS Heavy Hundred – is the host of mornings on KPRC, Houston; late afternoons on WOAI, San Antonio; weekends locally on KOA, Denver and weekends nationally on The Weekend show. He is also a major “go to” fill-in host for such hosts as Glenn Beck, Todd Schnitt and many others.)
HOUSTON/SAN ANTONIO/DENVER/EVERYWHERE — “Good morning, Houston.” “Good afternoon, San Antonio.” “Happy Saturday, Denver.” “Good Weekend, America.” These are all things I’m lucky enough to say either every day or every week. It’s a supreme compliment to have the support of the stations in these markets and from Clear Channel and Premiere and quite a challenge. Each show has its own feel, flow and audience make up and reaction. So, over the last 11 years, I’ve learned what works everywhere and what is market specific.