Art Bell and Wife Suing Michael Savage and WW1 for Defamation. In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California, radio talk host Art Bell and his wife Airyn Ruiz Bell are suing Michael Savage, Westwood One and parent company Cumulus Media for defamation, defamation per se, false light invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The Bells are seeking damages “in the amount to be proven at trial.” The complaint stems from a September “Savage Nation” broadcast in which Savage said, “I generally avoid gun questions. I know this from the first day in radio. I learned you never do certain topics where you can destroy your show. Third rail… You say UFOs, you wind up in the Philippines with a 10-year-old hooker and you are off the radio after a number of years. You can’t do UFOs. That’s an in joke, by the way, for people who understand the business. There are other topics you can’t do…” The Bells argue that to anyone who knows the business, it was obvious Savage was referring to Art Bell and further, that the “10-year-old hooker” remark refers to his wife, Philippines national Airyn Ruiz Bell. The Bells say they petitioned Westwood One for a retraction but their request was not honored.
WEEI, Boston Names New Leadership Team. The Entercom sports talker announces its new programming management team. It is promoting assistant program director Joe Zarbano to PD, taking over for Kevin Graham, who announced his exit from the station back in June. This comes after a six-month search that resulted in the station promoting from its “in-house talent bench.” In addition to Zarbano’s promotion, senior producer Ben Kichen rises to executive producer. He’s been lead producer for both the Glenn Ordway and “Dale & Holley” programs. He also produces Kirk Minihane’s “Enough About Me” podcast and hosts “Soccercast” for WEEI.com. Carlson Mozdiez, currently director of integrated marketing strategies for Entercom Boston, assumes the director of operations role for the cluster with special emphasis on the company’s WEEI.com digital platform. Entercom New England VP/market manager Phil Zachary says the search was necessarily long and intensive. “With its massive broadcast reach and associated digital assets, the WEEI brand is arguably among the most influential and complex in all of broadcasting. Many of our outside candidates simply couldn’t get their arms around all of it. As each month passed, it became clear to me that we had the talent right here in Ben, Carlson and Joe. Plus they each have that inimitable DNA of the true Boston sports fan.”
Brandys Promoted to Baltimore SVP/Market Manager for CBS RADIO. From her most recent position as VP, director of sales, Tracy Brandys is elevated to senior vice president, market manager and director of sales for CBS RADIO’s Baltimore stations, including sports talk duo WJZ-FM “105.7 The Fan,” WJZ-AM “CBS Sports Radio 1300,” adult contemporary WLIF “Today’s 101.9,” CHR WWMX “Mix 106.5,” as well as the CBS RADIO Up Close Performance Studio that hosts local and national sports figures and musicians. She replaces former Baltimore market manager Bob Philips who was recently named chief revenue officer for CBS RADIO. Company COO Scott Herman says, “Tracy’s years of sales and management experience, coupled with her intimate knowledge of our Baltimore stations and the overall market, made her the natural choice to take on this important role. Throughout her tenure with CBS RADIO Tracy has proven to be a powerhouse salesperson who has led and grown our revenue and market share in Baltimore and has been a trusted leader to our valued employees. We are delighted to reward her accomplishments with this well-deserved promotion.”
The News Media Alliance and National Association of Broadcasters Seeking Review of FCC’s Cross Ownership Rules. The News Media Alliance is going straight to President-Elect Donald Trump with a white paper that lays out its case for abandoning the 1975 rule that makes cross-ownership of electronic and print media illegal and the National Association of Broadcasters is petitioning the FCC for reconsideration of the 2014 Quadrennial Regulatory Review’s conclusion to maintain the ban (as well as other policies). Regular TALKERS readers are aware of the argument that the current state of media looks nothing like it did in 1975 and current regulations should reflect the current business conditions. News Media Alliance president and CEO David Chavern states, “While news organizations are innovating and adapting to a vastly different media landscape, antiquated government regulations and imbalanced policies are unnecessarily hindering investment and growth at news media companies. We encourage the new administration to revisit these regulations and policies as it charts a new course for our nation’s economic growth.”
Al Peterson to Cease Publication of NTS MediaOnline in New Year. After 10 years serving the spoken-word radio business, radio pro Al Peterson is announcing he’ll stop publishing his NTS MediaOnline Today and NTS MediaOnline Monthly come January. In a press release, Peterson says, “After serving as the News/Talk/Sports editor for 10 years at the top industry newspaper Radio & Records, to then creating NTS MediaOnline and building it into a reliable hub for news, information and conversation about talk radio for the last decade, it just feels right to start a new chapter in my life – one where I’m not waking before sunrise to a blank page and a daily deadline.” Working with Peterson during the last 10 years (and before that with R&R) has been his sales and marketing partner Brooke Williams. The statement says Peterson plans to enjoy more time with his family and pursue other interests outside the industry.
Report: Pandora and SiriusXM Talking Acquisition. According to CNBC, digital music pure play Pandora is talking with SiriusXM about being acquired by the satellite radio company. The report indicates that the talks are very preliminary but that this shows a change of heart after Pandora dismissed an informal offer of $15 per share from SiriusXM parent Liberty Media back in July. Liberty CEO Greg Maffei is quoted saying, “We think that the free space, whether it be commercial, terrestrial radio or Pandora, is still a very attractive space. And we talked about how we’d like to find a way to participate. I think the streaming business, which Pandora seems to have doubled down on, is a very unattractive business. So there are parts of Pandora that could be attractive. And there’s parts that we’d have questions about.” Read the CNBC piece here.
Trump Cabinet Nominees Top News/Talk Story for Week of November 28 – December 2. The growing list of cabinet nominees for the Trump Administration was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the election recount tied with Donald Trump’s claims of voter fraud. Coming in at #3 was the Trump-Carrier deal, followed by Trump’s flag burning comments 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.
Odds & Sods. News/talk WHBY, Appleton, Wisconsin is broadcasting in FM as well now with the addition of translator W287AU at 103.5. Woodward Radio Group brand manager Justin Hull states, “We are thrilled to be taking WHBY to the FM side of the dial. The new frequency, along with our revamped website and app, gives listeners another way to experience WHBY in all aspects.”…..Midway Broadcasting Corporation, the parent company of WVON, Chicago is hosting its 26th Annual Seniors Breakfast tomorrow (12/3) at the House of Hope. Seniors will enjoy a hot breakfast and live entertainment from three-time Grammy nominee Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues and Christmas carols from musical artist Uneqka…..Both satellite radio broadcaster SiriusXM and digital platform TuneIn will be broadcasting live from the Baseball Winter Meetings starting this Sunday, December 4, through Thursday, December 8.
Six Days Left for Gracies Early Bird Deadline. The deadline for early bird entries for the 2017 Gracie Awards is Thursday, December 8. The annual awards, presented by the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation, recognize “exemplary programming created by, for and about women in all facets of media and entertainment, as well as individual achievement.” All submissions must have been released, posted or aired between December 1, 2015 and December 31, 2016. Please note, this is a change from previous years’ timeline for eligibility. The final deadline for submissions is January 12, 2017 at 11:59 pm ET. See how to register submissions here.
The Yappy Tour Rolls Through WABC, New York. The recently published book, Yappy Days: Behind the Scenes with Newsers, Schmoozers, Boozers and Losers (AuthorHouse/Talkers Books), by veteran talk radio producer Bernadette Duncan (left), continues to burn up the airwaves. The coast-to-coast book tour rolled through New York City yesterday (12/1) as the author was interviewed by the legendary talk radio grand dame Joan Hamburg for her Saturday show (12/3) on the legendary WABC. Duncan tells TALKERS, “It was one of the highlights of my career being interviewed by the great Joan Hamburg. Not only is she one of my personal idols, but I can safely describe her as one of the best radio talkers of any era and a national treasure. Being on her show and the airwaves of WABC is deeply gratifying to me and hopefully to the thousands of radio enthusiasts who have been giving this book such wonderful support.” Yappy Days recounts Duncan’s 26-year career as a producer of radio talk shows working with such big-name talents as Larry King, Sally Jessy Raphael, Lou Dobbs, Tom Snyder, Gil Gross, Charles Osgood and many more during modern talk radio’s pre- and post-9/11 “golden era.” Plus, she tells stories about behind-the-scenes encounters with hundreds of guests from the worlds of show business, politics, media, business and literature. The interview is already posted as a podcast on the WABC website and can be heard by clicking here. Due to the strong response by hosts across the nation to the subject and Duncan’s lively air presence, the national “Yappy Tour” will continue to roll on through the first quarter of 2017. Duncan has already appeared on more than 40 local and syndicated programs. Hosts and shows interested in booking Bernadette Duncan can do so by calling Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413.