Jesse Kelly Show Joins Premiere Networks. Talk radio host Jesse Kelly is moving from his current syndicator Key Networks to Premiere Networks, effective June 28. Kelly – a former U.S. Marine and a former Arizona congressional candidate – will air in the 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm ET slot currently occupied by Buck Sexton, who moves to the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET slot partnering with Clay Travis. Kelly will continue to be seen weekdays at 9:00 pm ET as host of “I’m Right with Jesse Kelly” on TV network The First. Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott says, “We couldn’t be happier to have Jesse at the helm of our weekday afternoon timeslot. His fresh voice will undoubtedly connect with and engage our audience with intelligent, witty conversation and bold opinions, while creating impactful opportunities for our partners.”
Jimmy Cefalo Returns to WIOD, Miami Air. According to a report in the Miami Herald, WIOD-AM morning personality Jimmy Cefalo has returned to the air after several weeks’ absence and told listeners he’s been diagnosed with a form of demyelinating disease that affects the protective covering of the nerve fibers around the brain, optic nerves, and spinal cord. ALS – amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – is a demyelinating disease but Cefalo was not diagnosed with that. He said, “We don’t know what exactly it is, what caused it, what will fix it. I’ll keep going as long as I can. One day I’ll just go, ‘Boom!’ Which is the right way to go, by the way, I’m convinced, after the last couple of months.”
Trump and Bill O’Reilly to Hold ‘History Tour’ Live Events. According to a piece in the Washington Times, Key Networks nationally syndicated radio personality and author Bill O’Reilly will go on a “history tour” with former President Donald Trump in December. The four live events before paying customers in Florida and Texas will address “exactly how things were accomplished, as well as challenges, both good and bad,” according to a statement from Trump. His statement adds, “These will be wonderful but hard-hitting sessions where we’ll talk about the real problems happening in the U.S., those that the fake news media never mention.” O’Reilly says, “My job as a historian/journalist is to get important things on the record in a fact-based way. These conversations with the 45th president will not be boring.” Bill O’Reilly will be one of the 50 industry speakers participating in TALKERS 2021. Check out the latest up to date agenda here.
SRN’s Tom Tradup Chats with ‘Seinfeld’ Star About New Film. Pictured above is former “Seinfeld” actor Wayne Knight (left) – who played the character “Newman” – speaking with Salem Radio Network V.P./News & Talk Tom Tradup (right) at Monday night’s Fort Worth, Texas red carpet premiere of “12 Mighty Orphans.” The SONY Classic Pictures film – starring Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen, and Luke Wilson – tells the story of a Depression-era orphanage in Fort Worth that produced an inspiring state football championship team that even drew praise from President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The film opens nationwide on June 18.
Radio Mercury Awards Call for Entry is Open. The call for entry for the 30th anniversary Radio Mercury Awards is officially open. The RAB announces that 15 trophies will be awarded in 12 categories, and the final round judges have the option to award a Best of Show winner. Starting this year, the Radio Mercury Awards is now accepting entries in any language for work that was broadcast, aired digitally, released or transmitted initially and primarily in the U.S. and its territories. For 2021, a new category, Purpose-Driven Spot or Campaign, will award a radio spot or campaign for an advertiser or corporation that promotes their actions and effort towards the public good and demonstrates how they addressed social, environmental or public health/safety issues. There are also updated categories, including Creative Radio Spot: Insightful Voice and Radio Station or Group Promotional Spot or Campaign. The call for entry deadline is on August 9. Finalists for the show will be announced in late September and winners will be announced at the 2021 Radio Mercury Awards event on November 17, during a virtual event. The Radio Mercury Awards is introducing a “Thirty Years in Your Ears” campaign produced in collaboration with chief judge Robin Fitzgerald and the creative team at BBDO Atlanta. The campaign highlights several of the Best in Show winners from the last 30 years of the competition. It can be viewed here and will be featured in social media and digital marketing. For more information regarding entry categories, guidelines, entry fees and deadlines, click here.
TALKERS News Notes. A couple of Chicago market notes from media writer Robert Feder: First, Wendy Snyder and Ramblin’ Ray Stevens are teaming up for a weekly program on Cumulus Media’s WLS-AM. “The Wendy and Ray Show” will air from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm on Saturdays. The two have been co-hosting a podcast and Stevens tells Feder, “The weekend show on WLS-AM 890 will be hyper local and will cover everything from block parties to the Bears. This is a true Chicago show hosted by two lifelong Chicagoans.” And second, Nexstar Media Group’s WGN-AM announces the return of “The Hamp and OB Show” starring former Chicago Bears Dan Hampton and Ed O’Bradovich. The program will air weekly during the football season…..ESPN’s Chiney Ogwumike is launching her own weekly podcast, “Chiney,” today (6/8). She’ll discuss current events in the sports world, primarily through the lens of an active professional athlete. Ogwumike plays for the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA and was the 2014 league rookie of the year. She first worked for ESPN in 2017 and in August 2020 began hosting “Chiney and Golic Jr.” on ESPN Radio, becoming the first Black woman to host a national, daily sports talk radio show…..The nationally syndicated “America Tonight with Kate Delaney” adds new affiliate station KUJ-AM/K254DK, Walla Walla, Washington to its roster of stations.
COVID-19, January 6 Report, Harris Latin America Trip, Ransomware Attacks/Crypto Recovered, Voting Rights Issue, and Alzheimer’s Drug Controversy Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/8). The fast-falling rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the rate of vaccinations, and the investigation into the Wuhan lab leak theory; the Senate report on the January 6 Capitol attack faults Capitol Police for inaction on threats; Vice President Kamala Harris tells Guatemalans not to come to the U.S. during Latin American trip; the increase in ransomware attacks and the FBI recoups millions in bitcoin paid to Colonial Pipeline hackers; Senator Joe Manchin’s decision not to back Joe Biden’s For The People voting rights bill; and the controversy surrounding the FDA’s approving Biogen’s Aduhelm Alzheimer’s drug were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERSmagazine.
Radio Programming Legend Tom Bigby Dies at 77. The programming mind that helped build some of the most successful radio stations in modern history has died at the age of 77 after several years of heart issues. Tom Bigby programmed a number of stations with heritage calls – WIFI, WNEW, KOST, and WXYT – but he’s best known for being the PD behind Philadelphia sports talker WIP. In noting his passing, a piece on the WIP website says, “Known for his at times contentious relationship with talent and his radio-ready voice, Bigby is the most well-known, well-respected, and most iconic PD in the history of WIP. His legacy will include many things, but from a WIP perspective, his belief that the Eagles were the biggest thing in town, and that the fans should be heard will be two of the most lasting for WIP. His ‘two-minute rule’ and ‘once during the week, and once on the weekends rule’ for callers will not be far behind.” TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison says, “Tom was a program director in the true sense of the title as it existed in radio’s most recent golden age. He understood just about every aspect of radio and applied that knowledge and experience to the well-balanced intersection of programming, sales, promotion, and technology that marked the great stations of that era and inspired them to value their air product above all else. He was also a quirky friend, formidable negotiator, and larger-than-life individual the likes of which make him a true industry legend.” At WIP, Bigby worked with Philadelphia talent that included Howard Eskin, Rhea Hughes, Angelo Cataldi, Glen Macnow, Tony Bruno, Jody MacDonald, and Mike Missanelli, to name a few. A number of these posted their thoughts about working for Tom Bigby at the WIP website. You can read them here. Bigby leaves behind his wife Phyllis, two children and four grandchildren.
Salem Media Group Unveils Podcast Platform. With the new year comes a new venture from Salem Media Group as it announces the formation of the Salem Podcast Network – what the company calls “a new entity focused on bringing conservative content to more listeners and viewers.” The network’s first podcast partner is author and documentarian Dinesh D’Souza, whose new podcast “Pardon Me!” will debut on January 11 across all podcast platforms, as well as SalemNow.com, YouTube, and Rumble. Salem Media Group SVP of spoken word Phil Boyce says, “This is a natural extension of the Salem brand, which is already considered one of the strongest in conservative media. Salem will be producing more content with meaningful names on the conservative side, so look for more big announcements soon. The future for podcasting is unlimited, and our efforts will tightly focus on hosts who will contribute to our brand and to the message.” The company announces that WIND-AM, Chicago “AM 560 The Answer” program director Marcus Brown is taking on the additional role of director of content strategy for the Salem Podcast Network. Salem Broadcast Division president David Santrella adds, “Salem’s brand of podcasting will remain consistent with what Salem is best known for — content that approaches the issues through a biblical worldview and a politically conservative lens. Podcast listeners will know that when they come to the Salem Podcast Network, they’ll find content that addresses the issues they care most about.”
WPRO-AM/WEAN-FM, Providence to Drop Andy Gresh Show. GoLocalProv.com tips us that Cumulus Media’s news/talk WPRO-AM/WEAN-FM, Providence and evening sports talk host Andy Gresh are unable to come to terms and Gresh will exit the station after his Friday evening program (1/8). Gresh tells the news site, “Basically, we have a business disagreement.” GoLocalProv.com reports that former Providence Journal sports reporter Kevin McNamara will host a one-hour program from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm and the 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm slot will be filled a by a syndicated program.
WNYM, New York Adds Ben Shapiro for Afternoons. New York news/talk WNYM “AM 970 The Answer” announces it is adding the Westwood One syndicated “Ben Shapiro Show” to its daily lineup. Salem Media Group says the program will air at 5:00 pm (except on Wednesdays when it airs at 9:00 pm). Shapiro’s podcast will air evenings at 9:00 pm. To make room, the station moves the Kevin McCullough program to a 7:00 pm start. Additionally, WNYM is adding “Real Estate Today,” the official radio program of the National Association of Realtors hosted by Stephen Gasque, to its program schedule. It will follow “Eye on Real Estate” hosted by New York City real estate expert Dottie Herman. Salem Media Group vice president and general manager Jerry Crowley says, “We’re always looking for ways to make our lineup stronger, and these changes will do just that. Shapiro is a rising young superstar on talk radio. The real estate show will give our listeners great information and content. Kevin McCullough will continue to do the great show we know and love.”
TALKERS News Notes. Former WJFK-FM, Washington afternoon drive host Chad Dukes teases a new sports talk program that’s set to debut on Monday (1/11). Dukes was fired by Entercom in October for what the company called “racist comments” on the “Big O and Dukes” podcast. The new program appears to be a digital streaming venture. His website says of the new program, “The Chad Dukes Show is going to be exactly what you’re looking for if you’re a looking for a radio show from Chad Dukes. Discussion of movies, video games, food, booze, music, football, fighting and copious amounts of ball busting. You want politics? You want COVID discussion? You want middle relief pitching analysis? Look somewhere else.”…..WOBT-AM/W267AF, Rhinelander, Wisconsin flips from country to sports talk. The NRG Media station is airing the complete weekday lineup from iHeartMedia’s sports WRNW-FM, Milwaukee “The Game” – Steve Czaban, John Kuhn & Brian Butch, The Crossover, Drew & K.B. – as well as FOX Sports Radio content in evenings and on weekends…..iHeartMedia Cleveland is launching two initiatives that it believes will improve the bottom lines of local businesses in 2021. All this month, local Cleveland area small businesses are encouraged to register online for the opportunity to be featured in a $25,000 iHeartMedia marketing plan. iHeartMedia Cleveland president Keith Hotchkiss says, “Last year was brutal for small businesses in our community. We believe the significant reach of our media assets, combined with this meaningful marketing campaign, will be the difference maker for a local company here in Cleveland. There are 36% fewer local businesses operating in the area than this time last year, according to Crain’s Cleveland.”…..Condolences to the family and friends of on-air pro Connie Kellie of the “Connie & Fish Morning Show” on Townsquare Media’s hot AC WLHT, Grand Rapids “Mix 95.7.” Kellie died on January 4 after a brief battle with liver cancer. Her radio partner Fish Calloway says, “Over 25 years ago, this incredible, smart and strong woman allowed me the opportunity to be a part of her radio career. Our journey will not only be with those who were touched by her immense talent but engraved in my heart. Thank you, Connie, for this adventure. I look forward to the day we meet again.”
MIW Group Announces Applications Now Being Accepted for ‘Mildred Carter Mentoring Program.’ The Mentoring & Inspiring Women in Radio Group announces that the application window for the 2021 Mildred Carter Mentoring Program is open. MIW says its heritage annual mentoring initiative “connects mentees with accomplished women recognized as leaders, mentors, and game-changers within all aspects of radio broadcasting.” The program is being sponsored by vCreative for the second consecutive year. Four candidates from the radio broadcasting industry within the sales, marketing, programming, and digital disciplines will be selected for the 2021 program. The deadline to apply is January 29. See mentee criteria and instructions on how to apply here.
Georgia Runoff Elections, Electoral Vote Count/DC Protests, Trump GA Secretary of State Call, COVID-19 Stats & Vaccines, Jacob Blake Case, and China Blocks WHO Scientists Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (1/5). Tuesday’s runoff elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats; today’s Electoral College vote count in the Senate and the protests taking place in Washington, DC; the aftermath of Donald Trump’s call to the Georgia Secretary of State seeking a reversal of his loss in that state; the spiking number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. and the rollout of the vaccines; prosecutors in Wisconsin reveal no charges will be filed against officer in shooting of Jacob Blake; and China blocks two WHO scientists investigating the origin of the coronavirus from entering the country were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.