WTOP, Washington Names McMearty Program Director. Three months after former programmer Laurie Cantillo and Hubbard Radio parted ways, the company names 23-year staffer Mike McMearty program director for the multi-platform news operation. McMearty moves up from his news director post to the new position of director of news and programming. Hubbard Washington SVP/GM Joel Oxley comments, “Mike has been an integral part of our success for more than two decades. He has led the newsroom to hundreds of industry awards for excellence in journalism, including 18 National Murrow Awards and more than two dozen honors already in 2015. I look forward to him taking the department to new heights.” The station reports that Jim Battagliese continues his role as director of traffic, transit and weather. Mitchell Miller is promoted to senior news director managing the newsroom weekday mornings, Darci Marchese moves up to a full-time news director weekday afternoons, and Jamie Forzato now will manage news operations on the weekends as weekend managing editor. Meera Pal moves to social and digital engagement director reporting to Julia Ziegler, who moves from web and operations manager of FederalNewsRadio.com to become the news director of WTOP.com. All of the changes will take place over the next several weeks.
Talkers New York 2015 Videos Begin Being Posted Today (6/22). Starting today with WFAN, New York superstar Mike Francesa’s opening “Keynote Greeting,” TALKERS will be posting videos of each of the sessions that made Talkers New York 2015’s agenda one of the most successful in the convention’s 18-year history. A session will be added each business day for the next nine days in a row, in the order that they took place at the event, until the entire agenda, video-recorded by Art Vuolo, is posted in a special Talkers TV feature sponsored by independent station owner, Michael Zwerling’s KSCO, Santa Cruz. The entire feature will remain posted for the rest of 2015. To see the opening session with Mike Francesa, please click here. Tomorrow: “The State of Radio Ratings” panel moderated by Premiere Networks/Fox News Channel icon Sean Hannity.
Mike Francesa Opens Talkers New York 2015 on Upbeat Note – See Video Today! In a video posted today (6/22), legendary WFAN afternoon drive personality Mike Francesa sets the tone for what proved to be a realistic, but highly optimistic and solutions-oriented, agenda at the recent industry mega-conference, Talkers New York 2015 (6/12). The tell-it-like-it-is broadcaster – who has been ranked at #1 on the TALKERS “Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk Radio” for the past two consecutive years – blasted the pessimism that he says permeates the radio industry and offered his assessment of the tremendous opportunities available to radio in the digital era. Francesa drew applause form the packed house stating, “It’s amazing the amount of negativity that exists no matter what part of the business you’re in… I’m here to tell you that even though I am a little closer to the finish [of my career] than I am to the start, back [in 1987] when I was pounding on the door at WFAN with Jeff Smulyan – it took me 18 interviews to get hired, folks — I would be as bullish on radio and as gung ho about getting a career and feeding my family on radio NOW… as I was back then.” Francesa discusses the multi-platform nature of programming content today and the need/opportunity to monetize every element of it. He praises the spread of smartphones as being equivalent to a theoretical resurgence of the old transistor radio and thus providing radio with universal portability… something it hasn’t enjoyed in decades. He discusses the importance of branding in today’s media environment and vehemently champions the importance of “live and local” being the key to radio’s survival and purpose in the coming era. To see Francesa’s entire speech, please click here.
Westwood One Names Ron Russo EVP Northeast Sales. Radio sales pro Ron Russo is named EVP, Northeast Region for Westwood One’s network sales division. In this position, Russo will “manage and oversee the New York sales office and be responsible for revenue growth and multi-platform brand integrations across all Westwood One assets, including network sales, spot sales, platform, digital, and events.” Russo will report to Westwood One president Steve Shaw. In a statement from WW1, the company notes that Russo comes to them from iHeartMedia where he was general sales manager for the NYC station group. “In addition to building and overseeing the sales teams, he was instrumental in managing the transition when iHeart purchased WOR-AM from Buckley Broadcasting. He also played an important role in securing the station’s radio rights to the NY Mets.” He worked for CBS RADIO at hot AC WWFS, “Fresh 102.7” before joining iHeartMedia. Russo says, “I am really looking forward to working with this great team of sellers and collaborating throughout the organization as we look for innovative ways to drive and accelerate results for our clients.”
Rob Ellis Lands at WPEN, Philadelphia. Former WIP-FM, Philadelphia personality Rob Ellis debuts on crosstown Greater Media’s WPEN, Philadelphia, partnered up with Harry Mayes. Ellis exited CBS RADIO’s WIP in March after failing to come to terms on a contract renewal with the station. Ellis, who also hosts “Breakfast on Broad” on cable’s Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, takes over as co-host of the midday show for Eytan Shander, who remains with the company. Former WIP personality Anthony Gargano also joined WPEN late last year as morning drive personality.
Odds & Sods. Both FOX Sports and ESPN are reporting that former San Diego Chargers player and longtime radio play-by-play analyst Hank Bauer has been let go from the radio broadcast team. Bauer served a one-game suspension last season – missing the final preseason game – after he used a Jewish slur during the third preseason game. He later apologized…..Westwood One presents coverage of the NCAA Division I Men’s College World Series Finals beginning this evening from TD Ameritrade Park Omaha in Nebraska. The best-of-three championship series between Vanderbilt and Virginia is being covered by (pictured here in front of the famous Road to Omaha statue standing from left to right) Ted Emrich, Scott Graham, and Kevin Kugler.
Dr. Joy Browne Tours Israel as Guest of Prime Minister – Meets with Victims of Terror. Nationally-syndicated (GCN) talk show host and clinical psychologist, Dr. Joy Browne returns to New York today (6/22) after an intense week-long tour of Israel on a fact-finding/counseling mission that brought her into one-on-one encounters with Israeli victims of terror. Browne (right) is pictured meeting with Israeli citizens at the Jerusalem headquarters of the OneFamily organization during what has been her first visit to the Middle East democracy this week. According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, during the emotionally charged encounter, which was hosted by OneFamily CEO Chantal Belzberg, Browne met with former residents of the US, Canada, and the UK who were physically and emotionally scarred in terrorist attacks across Israel during the past few years. “I am delighted and honored to be here,” Browne tells the Post. “After experiencing the aftermath of 9/11, we all share a common echo and I am impressed with the resilience of the people here who have worked or who are working to transcend fear and are getting on with their lives.” The perennially popular radio personality, in addition to interviewing and counselling victims, also interviewed the organization’s various psychologists and therapists for a future segment on her widely heard program. Browne’s trip to Israel was sponsored by the Office of the Prime Minister and America’s Voices in Israel. (Photo courtesy of the Jerusalem Post and Sarah Levin.)
FOX News Commentators Ellen Ratner and Jim Pinkerton Honored by Grenada’s St. George’s University. Media personalities Ellen Ratner and Jim Pinkerton were recognized with honorary doctorates from St. George’s University in Grenada for their charitable works. Pinkerton and Ratner – who work together as conservative and liberal commentators, respectively, on FOX News Channel’s “FOX & Friends Weekend” on the “Long and Short of It” segment – are known for separate charitable efforts. Pinkerton has been working with the school assisting with its cure strategy for diseases. Ratner has been working for years to provide some of the basic tools for subsistence farming to people in South Sudan. Ratner (third from left) and Pinkerton (fourth from left) are seen here receiving their honorary degrees.
Dallas Newsman Bob Morrison Dies. Former KRLD-AM and WBAP-AM, Dallas newsman Bob Morrison died yesterday (6/21) after a long illness. Salem Radio Network VP, News & Talk Programming Tom Tradup tells TALKERS, “When I served its VP/general manager, I hired Bob as news director of the USA Radio Network in 1999, and he brought a professional demeanor to reorganizing USA that was nothing short of amazing. His planning and execution of the national political conventions in 2000 remains a highlight, and nurturing his strong delivery and solid journalistic skills will always remain a highlight of my career.”
“American Family Farmer” Hosted by Doug Stephan Graduates from Experimental Lab to Terrestrial Platform. For the second time in its first 15 months of operation, TalkersRadio – the experimental talk radio platform launched in September, 2013 by TALKERS magazine – has spawned a program that has been picked up by terrestrial radio. The first TalkersRadio program to be acquired by terrestrial radio was “The Brent & Meg Show” hosted by the husband/wife team of Brent Seltzer and Meg McDonald. Now, “American Family Farmer,” hosted by highly accomplished talk show host Doug Stephan, will launch in January 2015 on two terrestrial syndication platforms — Washington, DC-based Radio America and Minneapolis-based Genesis Communications Network (GCN) – and be available for general radio affiliation. According to Stephan, the show is specifically geared to stations located in small- to medium-sized rural markets with signals covering locally owned-and-operated family farms. Although the program is a spoken-word presentation it would fit any number of music-formatted outlets as well as talk because it is only an hour per week and can run any time deemed convenient and appropriate for the station. “American Family Farmer” is an information and advocacy forum targeted specifically to the beleaguered sector of the American agriculture industry that is comprised of small, independent operators. What makes Stephan qualified to host such a specifically targeted program? The answer: In addition to being a dedicated lifelong radio broadcaster, he is also a dedicated lifelong family farmer! The program’s producers emphasize that this show is being marketed and produced as an entity completely separate from the other Doug Stephan properties. “American Family Farmer with Doug Stephan” is now available by barter on a market-exclusive basis. Interested stations should contact Bob K. Telephone: 774-643-6450. Email: email@example.com. For the complete details written by TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey, please click here.
What’s Next for TalkersRadio? TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states, “The graduation of ‘American Family Farmer’ and ‘The Brent & Meg Show’ to solid terrestrial platforms within the first 15 months of TalkersRadio’s existence is extremely gratifying – especially considering that both programs were conceived as ‘out-of-the-box’ concepts and never would have had the chance to develop into such special properties if it were not for this experimental platform.” According to Harrison, TalkersRadio will go on a one month “hiatus” for technical updates and improvements and come back in early January, 2015 with a new roster of programs headlined by “Healed Planet,” hosted by Alan Colmes, and “The Lionel Show,” hosted by Lionel. Harrison says, “‘Healed Planet’ – which deals with the leading edge of the human consciousness movement – shows a side of Alan Colmes’ wide realm of interests and journalistic skills that most people have not yet had a chance to experience. It’s a truly great radio show ‘in the bud’ and I am enthusiastic about its potential for development. ‘The Lionel Show’ presents the legendary and iconoclastic broadcaster – Lionel – in an unbridled format totally geared to his verbal genius. Although what he says neither breaks the rules of taste nor the bounds of legitimate clear thinking, I don’t think there has been a tightly wound terrestrial operation out there with the courage to put him on the air and let him run free without tinkering with the brilliant product that just oozes from his fertile mind… at least not up until now. I suspect that is about to change and the industry will catch up this year with and gain the benefits of what the ‘real’ Lionel has to offer.” TalkersRadio is powered by Boston-based Backbone Networks. Readers interested in learning more about TalkersRadio should contact Michael Harrison at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lincoln Financial to Exit Radio Biz; Entercom to Acquire LFM Assets in Four Markets. The deal announced this morning will see Entercom Communications Corp. acquire Lincoln Financial Media from Lincoln Financial Group for $105 million plus working capital. Entercom expects to take over operation of the LFM stations in late January and should close on the purchase in the second quarter of 2015. The agreement includes 15 radio stations in the Atlanta, Denver, Miami and San Diego markets, and it will expand Entercom’s station portfolio to more than 130 stations in 26 markets. The deal allows Lincoln Financial to get out of the media business and focus on its “core lines of business.” Entercom president and CEO David Field comments, “We are excited to announce the acquisition of Lincoln Financial Media and welcome the addition of their outstanding brands and talented broadcasters to Entercom. LFM is a great organization that has done an excellent job serving its listeners, customers and communities over many years and we look forward to building on that tradition. LFM is a perfect fit for us as it bolsters our position in Denver and expands our footprint into Atlanta, Miami and San Diego with terrific brands that have significant growth potential. Furthermore, it fulfills our disciplined acquisition criteria as it enhances our company’s competitive position and growth and should be accretive to shareholders in 2015 while having a minimal impact on leverage.” The stations to be acquired include: Atlanta outlets hot AC WSTR and sports talk WQXI; Denver stations country KYGO, rhythmic CHR KQKS, oldies KRWZ, sports talk KEPN and KKFN, and comedy-formatted translator K276FK; San Diego signals alternative KZBT, country KSON and KSOQ, and adult contemporary KIFM; and Miami outlets AC WLYF, classic hits WMXJ, and sports talk WAXY-AM/FM. The transaction is structured as an acquisition of the stock of LFM with a tax election that allows Entercom to receive a step-up in the tax basis of the station tangible and intangible assets providing additional future tax shields and enhancing future free cash flow. The $105 million purchase price will be paid in the form of $77.5 million in cash and $27.5 million in new perpetual cumulative convertible preferred stock that will be issued to Lincoln. Entercom expects to finance the cash portion of the purchase price through a combination of its existing $50 million revolver, cash on hand, and through other financing sources, if necessary.
Napa Valley Radio Promises New Local Content, Music in 2015. The new digital audio platform Napa Valley Radio – a service of Napa Broadcasting – is promoting new local content plus curated music streaming coming to the site in 2015. Napa Valley Radio is being led by longtime broadcasting executive Jeff Schechtman. The station marked its three-month anniversary with a message to listeners touting its local content – local election coverage including long-form interviews with candidates, local arts & music happenings, and promotion of the area’s wine industry – plus promises of the content to come. In what TALKERS editors consider a creative move, the station has partnered with Napa Community College to bring an infusion of youth to the project. Napa Valley Radio says the New Year will see more content originate by students at NCC and will also bring music shows of various genres to the station. It will be interesting to watch this local media venture as music rights fees are added to the station’s expenses but, regardless, this local approach to the digital audio service is one to watch and Napa Broadcasting appears to be dedicated to serving a broad spectrum of the community with a relevant mix of news, talk and music.
Howard Stern to Return to “AGT.” As tipped by the Hollywood Reporter, SiriusXM star Howard Stern will return to NBC TV’s “America’s Got Talent” as a judge. The show is entering its 10th season. In a Facebook post, Stern writes, “I decided that a life without ‘AGT’ is not worth living. America needs a caring, compassionate and wise judge, and who am I to deny the people what they want? It would be selfish of me to walk away.”
Sports Talker Tony Bruno Heard on BlogTalkRadio. Philadelphia native Tony Bruno – most recently heard on AM/FM radio on Greater Media’s WPEN-FM, Philadelphia “97.5 The Fanatic” in middays – is podcasting via BlogTalkRadio. In a statement from BlogTalkRadio, Bruno comments, “Deciding who to partner with was an exhaustive process. BlogTalkRadio is the ONLY company out there with a fully portable stream and call screener system built into one application and when they approached me with their new PRO STUDIO in full HD hosting platform, the choice was clear. I am excited to be a part of a company that is striving to bring both innovation and quality content directly to the fans.” Bruno is producing new shows twice per week, on Mondays and Thursdays.
CBS RADIO Announces Wing Bowl 23. The competitive chicken wing eating event that CBS RADIO’s sports talker WIP, Philadelphia debuted as a promotional prelude to the Super Bowl is in its 23rd year and will be held at the Wells Fargo Center on Friday, January 30 at 6:00 am. The station is presenting the now-nationally famous contest in conjunction with sponsors Steven Singer Jewelers and SugarHouse Casino. The station will broadcast the contest on WIP-FM as well as online via CBSPhilly.com. The $10 ticket price will help benefit the Philadelphia Police Department Survivor’s Fund, The Police Athletic League, the Comcast-Spectacor Charities and other beneficiaries to be named soon. CBS RADIO says that this year’s competition promises to be the biggest party and the prizes have a different twist. The overall winner of Wing Bowl 23 wins a 2015 Harley-Davidson FLSTF Softail Fat Boy Motorcycle courtesy of Barb`s Harley Davidson, along with $10,000 in cash and a Wing Bowl 23 Championship ring both courtesy of Steven Singer Jewelers. For the first time ever, SportsRadio 94WIP and Steven Singer Jewelers will give $10,000 cash to the Overall Runner Up as well. This makes it a $20,000 grand total of cash provided by Steven Singer Jewelers. Once again, WIP has two cars up for grabs: one for the top Local Eater and one for the top College Eater. The Wing Bowl 23 Local Winner has the chance to win a Chrysler 300 and the Collegiate Eater will win a Chrysler 200 both from Barbera`s on the Boulevard. The Wingette of the Year walks away with $5000 cash courtesy of Rumer Cosmetic Surgery and a Riviera Spas, Orchid 5 Person Hot Tub from Diamond Pools. PJ Whelihan’s is the official supplier of wings for WIP Wing Bowl 23, their eighth consecutive year as sponsor and supplier.
Important Guest. Pensacola talk radio personality Brandon Rathert (left), is pictured here with Qatar Ambassador Mohamed Jeham Al-Kuwari (right) in the WNRP “NewsRadio 1620” studios. Rathert tells TALKERS magazine that his program was graced with the presence of the Qatar ambassador through the work of the Panhandle Tiger Bay Club and Edward Howard (pictured here at center). Rather says he and Ambassador Al-Kuwari discussed the differences between the two countries and the similarities of its peoples. The ambassador shared some thoughts on relations between the Arab nations and the U.S. Al-Kuwari also made a $10,000 donation to a local charity.
Police Killings Protests, Potential Government Shutdown, CIA Interrogation Report, Rolling Stone-UVA Rape Story, Battle Against ISIS, Gruber and the ObamaCare Hearings, 2016 Presidential Prospects, and NFL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (12/8). The continuing protests against police killings of black Americans; the looming threat of a government shutdown; the controversy surrounding the CIA interrogation report expected to be released today; the flap over the Rolling Stone story about an alleged gang rape at a UVA fraternity house; the ongoing battle against ISIS; Jonathan Gruber’s appearance before a House committee on the Affordable Care Act; the list of potential presidential candidates in 2016; and the weekend’s NFL action were among the top news/talk stories yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
FCC Appears to Back Off of Newsroom and Issues Study. When it was announced last May, the proposed Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs the Federal Communications Commission would be undertaking rankled many lawmakers and broadcasters as it was perceived as an intrusion into broadcasters’ First Amendment rights in addition to being outside the bounds of the FCC’s jurisdiction. Now, according to a piece in Ad Week, the FCC appears to be backing off, or at least re-defining, the research intended to “study entry barriers” to information media to determine if there are small businesses unable to break into broadcasting. This would have been determined by quizzing news broadcasters about how they choose their stories. Last year, some GOP lawmakers termed it an “end-around” the Fairness Doctrine and heavily criticized the study as well as the jurisdiction of the FCC to getting into content matters. Earlier this week FCC commissioner Ajit Pai penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal arguing that the study is not necessary to filing its required report to Congress every three years on eliminating barriers to entry in the communications industry. He writes, “This claim is peculiar. How can the news judgments made by editors and station managers impede small businesses from entering the broadcast industry? And why does the CIN (critical information needs) study include newspapers when the FCC has no authority to regulate print media?” Whether or not the first field study slated for Columbia, South Carolina this spring gets underway as proposed or not remains to be seen. Ad Week reports it was told by an FCC rep that the agency “has no intention of interfering in the coverage and editorial choices that journalists make. We’re closely reviewing the proposed research design to determine if an alternative approach is merited.”
WGN to Program WKQX 87.7 Beginning Monday. As tipped by Chicago media writer Robert Feder, Tribune’s WGN will begin an LMA operation of WKQX-LP at 87.7 in Chicago starting Monday, February 17. Feder reports that under terms of the LMA with license holder Venture Technologies Group, the deal commences Monday at 1:02 pm on the 17th, a minute after Cumulus Media drops the alternative rock simulcast with 101.1 FM. President and general manager Jimmy de Castro tells Feder, “We’re outgrowing WGN with great talent. Everything we have said we wanted to do is based on the strength of WGN and our personalities. It’s all about getting the best spoken-word talent and getting more bandwidth.” Vice president of creative content for WGN, Todd Manley, will announce a full lineup soon but mornings will begin with Jonathon Brandmeier who’s been doing a morning program on WGN.fm since last September. Read Feder’s full story here.
Phil Hendrie Exits AM/FM Radio. Talk radio host and satirist Phil Hendrie announces he’s leaving the production and syndication of his daily AM/FM radio program after March 14 in order to fully focus on his podcast and other media ventures. He’ll continue doing “The World of Phil Hendrie Show” on TuneIn, iTunes, the Sideshow Network and www.philhendrieshow.com. He says that “Due to the tremendous positive growth this past year owing directly to his fans,” he’s decided that is the area where he should focus all his energies. He adds, “The digital world is where we have made our living the last seven years so as radio attempts to find itself we’ll put our energy in our digital and online product, our animation project, my one man show and of course TV and film opportunities wherever they may occur. To our fans, we haven’t gone anywhere! Our daily show will continue” on digital platforms.
Gerry Callahan Remark Irks Dunkin’ Donuts; Company Cancels Ads on WEEI Affiliate Stations. The Boston Globe is reporting that Canton, Massachusetts-based Dunkin’ Donuts has cancelled ad buys on stations in the region airing WEEI, Boston programming after WEEI morning co-host Gerry Callahan made a “disparaging comment,” presumably about the company’s donuts. In the Globe piece, Entercom Boston VP and market manager Phil Zachary says Callahan admits he “screwed up badly” with the off-the-cuff remark and that Zachary understands how Dunkin’ Donuts feels. “You just don’t call somebody’s baby ‘ugly,’ even if it’s unintentional.” Zachary wouldn’t say what Callahan’s words were. He says the ad buy was not a lot of money but that’s not the point. Dunkin’ Donuts has separate ad buys for WEEI, Boston, Callahan’s endorsements and WEEI’s O&O affiliate stations in Providence, Worcester and Springfield. The Boston deal ended in January before Callahan’s comment. Dunkin’ Donuts has been a long-time advertiser with WEEI, especially on Red Sox broadcasts which are ready to resume in a few months. How the incident will affect that remains to be seen.
TALKERS to Publish 2014 Heavy Hundred on Monday, March 3. The 2014 installment of one of TALKERS magazine’s most popular and, perhaps, controversial annual features – “The 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in America” – is being readied for publication Monday, March 3, 2014. Also known as “The Heavy Hundred” the ranked listing of 100 hosts and talent teams from around the country is based on a number of both quantitative and qualitative criteria and is determined by collective analysis of the TALKERS editorial board. It includes local and national hosts from a variety of genres falling under the umbrella of “general” talk or “news/talk” radio covering politics, health, finance, relationships, consumer tech, popular culture and a variety of specialties. (TALKERS launched a special and separate Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk two years ago.) Hosts on the list are selected from those working at the time of its publication on platforms that include commercial and public AM/FM radio as well as satellite radio (internet-only talk hosts are ranked by TALKERS in an annual feature titled “The Frontier Fifty”). According to TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey, “It is no secret that economic restraints facing the industry these past few years have contributed to shrinking the number of individuals working on the air across the nation. Although the 2014 edition of the Heavy Hundred will, of course, include many familiar names, the need for new blood, fresh voices and potential up and comers has never been greater. Readers will find this year’s roster will feature a number of new names and first-timers, which is quite exciting!” Companies interested in sponsoring segments of this widely-discussed and read (by hundreds of thousands of broadcasting industry members and consumers/listeners) feature should call 413-565-5413.
Radio Mercury Awards Final-Round Judging Panel Announced. Chief judge Matt Eastwood helped assemble the jury for the 23rd annual Radio Mercury Awards. The panel represents radio’s top advertising categories including automotive, communications, financial services, packaged goods, over-the-counter, retail, spirits, and quick-serve restaurants. Final-round judging panel consists of JWT New York group creative director Jill Applebaum; BBDO New York executive creative director Chris Beresford-Hill; Cog NYC founder Wayne Best; Grupo Gallegos chief creative officer Pablo Buffagni; Young & Rubicam Group New York chief creative officer Jim Elliott; DDB Chicago executive vice president/executive creative director Mark Gross; Publicis New York executive creative director Joe Johnson; and Deutsch New York chief creative officer Kerry Keenan. “This list is a ‘who’s who’ of well-established creative executives, and perennial award-winning agencies with a long history of creating exceptional, noteworthy creative executions,” remarks Eastwood, who is chief creative officer of DDB Worldwide Communications Group New York. “More importantly, our panel consists of brilliant thought leaders who have a true love and appreciation for the greatest writer’s medium of all time, radio.” Radio Creative Fund chair – and Radio Advertising Bureau president/CEO Erica Farber – adds, “We feel so incredibly privileged to have gathered such a pinnacle group of creative ambassadors for this year’s competition. The bar has been set high, but I am confident this group will help ensure that the mission of the Radio Mercury Awards lives on as we award the best creative audio commercials over the past year.” Prizes will be handed out in a variety of categories such as “Agency Production,” “Radio Station Produced,” “Student,” “PSA,” “Spanish Language,” and “Best of Show.” Deadline for submissions is April 1, with the awards event taking place June 4 at New York’s Le Poisson Rouge.
Southern California Broadcasters Association to Provide Quarterly Guidance Report. Planning and research material is for California advertising agencies, clients and its members. Southern California Broadcasters Association president Thom Callahan notes that, “The SCBA Quarterly Market Guidance Report fulfills a growing need among California ad agencies and clients to look ahead to the next quarter to learn, plan, create, and execute even more effective radio advertising campaigns based on market conditions, trends, and the upcoming quarter’s business environment. As an additional service to the advertising community, the SCBA will encourage face-to-face planning and development meetings with advertising agencies and major clients to provide full-year guidance and customization of our extensive market research.” The QMG report will give current and predictive regional economic data, radio category growth, and commentary on advertising and business trends. The report uses regional economic development corporation reports, member reports on market trends, Miller Kaplan Arase data, and audience measurement data. It will be posted late next month for second quarter 2014 guidance on the SCBA’s website (www.scba.com).
S-Class Mercedes-Benz to Have HD Radio. Mercedes-Benz of Mexico is launching its S-Class with HD Radio. iBiquity Digital is the developer of the digital technology and its chief operating officer Jeff Jury states, “We are very pleased to achieve the key goal of North American standardization with Mercedes-Benz. With this expansion, Mercedes-Benz drivers across Canada, Mexico and the United States have access to HD Radio technology in their cars. This coincides with our continuing efforts to bring HD Radio broadcasting to all markets across North America. By offering the technology as standard, Mercedes-Benz is ensuring that all their customers can enjoy the current services and be ensured of enjoying the coming ‘all-digital’ future.” The 2014 S-Class is now at dealerships across the United States and Mexico. More than 2,230 digital stations are on-air; over 1,480 HD2 and HD3 digital-only channels broadcast content that can only be heard with an HD Radio receiver.
Odds & Sods. WPEN-FM, Philadelphia “97.5 The Fanatic” sports talker Tony Bruno is scheduled to begin making weekly appearances on Keith Olbermann’s ESPN 2 program. The first appearance will be tonight (2/14) live from ESPN’s Times Square studios in New York City…..Cumulus Media’s KOH, Reno is holding a radiothon today at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa to benefit the Veterans Guest House which provides temporary housing for vets and their families while they are being treated at the Reno VA. This is the 11th annual radiothon the station has produced for the cause…..CRN Digital Talk Radio announces the winners of its first annual Food & Wine Awards. CRN Digital Talk Radio is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and is home to several food and beverage-oriented programs. It asked listeners to decide 2013’s Best Chef, Restaurant, Sommelier, and Winemaker. President and CEO Mike Horn says, “Food and wine are best enjoyed with good company. Our listeners deciding the year’s best of the best in the culinary and beverage arenas was very much akin to sitting down, honoring some great people, enjoying a fun meal.” This year’s winners are: Best Chef of the Year – Andrew Sutton – Napa Rose, Anaheim; Best Restaurant of the Year – Gary Danko – San Francisco; Best Sommelier of the Year – Paul Coker – St. Regis, Monarch Beach; and Winemaker of the Year Jeff Stewart – Hartford Family Wines…..Broadcasts of New York Yankees baseball on new flagship sports talk WFAN-AM/FM, New York will debut with the February 27 exhibition game versus the Pittsburgh Pirates. Yankees games moved from CBS RADIO‘s all-news WCBS after a new contract was negotiated in the fall.
Wichita Police Make Arrest in Case of Slain Radio Station Staffer. Police in Wichita have a suspect in custody in the early Monday morning slaying of Steckline Communications employee Daniel Flores. Authorities say that in responding to a Crime Stoppers tip, they pulled over Antwon Banks who proceeded to stab himself in the stomach. He’s in a local hospital under police guard and will be booked on felony murder charges when he’s recovered. He was apparently the ex-boyfriend of Steckline office manager Lisa Bryce, leading authorities to conclude that Flores was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Clear Channel Commits to Campaign for ‘American Heart Month.’ For the purpose of educating the public about heart disease, its risks and preventative measures, Clear Channel Media and Entertainment is committing more than $1 million worth of on-air media to that end. Today (2/14), Clear Channel is kicking off a two-week public service announcement campaign across its 840 radio stations to educate listeners on the symptoms of heart disease and stroke in honor of American Heart Month. Certain Clear Channel stations will air a comedic yet informative public service announcement voiced by Emmy-nominated actress Elizabeth Banks that highlights the signs of heart attack in women, while all other Clear Channel radio stations will air a second PSA, created by the Ad Council and the American Heart Association, to help people recognize and respond to the sudden warning signs of a stroke.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. New station affiliations for Cumulus Media Networks programming this week include: for Michael Savage – WTAR, Norfolk; KMPT, Missoula, Montana; WQSI, Tuskegee, Alabama; and WWBA, Tampa; Phil Valentine – WCOA, Pensacola; Mark Levin – WGKA, Atlanta; KMPT, Missoula, Montana; and WVOC-FM, Columbia, South Carolina…..The Genesis Communications Network-syndicated “Freedom Feens” with Michael W. Dean and Neema Vedadi is added to the program schedule at KNOX-AM/FM, Grand Forks.
Dave Ramsey Counsels Bobby Bones’ Staff and Listeners. Nationally syndicated financial talk superstar Dave Ramsey (right) sits in on the Premiere Networks-syndicated Bobby Bones show based at WSIX-FM, Nashville, right down the road from Ramsey’s home base of Brentwood. Ramsey appeared with Bones (left) after Bones show producer Ray lost his truck in a Super Bowl bet and is some $8,000 in debt. Ramsey talked to the crew and audience about various topics including the terrible odds of gambling, tax withholding, and even the psychology behind using the debt snowball to pay off debt.
ObamaCare Criticism Tops Talkers TenTM. The most-talked-about story on news/talk radio for the week of February 10-14 was the scrutiny of the rollout and effects of the Affordable Care Act and the delay in the employer mandate, according to ongoing research from TALKERS. Coming in at #2 on this week’s Talkers TenTM was the debt ceiling issue. At #3 was speculation about Hillary Clinton running for president in 2016 and at #4 was immigration reform. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
Still Pioneering After All These Years – 74-Year-Old Alex Bennett Is Building New Platform and Inventing “New” Talk Format. Some view their own age and/or that of others as a roadblock – a barrier to achieving an untold number of additional hopes and dreams. To others, age – more correctly – is merely a meaningless number with no attached strings or restrictions. It would have been quite easy and understandable for radio legend Alex Bennett to take leave and retreat from the business in which he has been an integral part for several decades. After all, the legendary broadcaster was 73-years-old when Sirius XM unceremoniously pink-slipped him last June after more than nine years of service at the satcaster (he turned 74 two months ago). Notwithstanding an imposing and lengthy list of accomplishments and vitae, which the native Californian could trumpet as an entree to retirement, he has become an entrepreneur with “Alex Bennett’s Great American Broadcasts” being the centerpiece of his novel take on talk radio. Bennett is innovatively and opportunistically using Skype to create “citizen panels” of up to 10 callers per clip interacting with him in on-air conversation at a time. To learn more about this creative venture and the ongoing adventures of one of radio’s truly cooler characters, read TALKERS managing editor Mike Kinosian’s feature piece posted today (2/5) in its entirety by clicking here.
SiriusXM Reports Revenue Up 12% in 2013. During yesterday’s Q4 conference call, SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer told investors and analysts that the company delivered on all of its guidance for 2013 and enjoyed a revenue spike of 12% for the year plus saw its subscriber base rise to 25.5 million. Meyer, like Mel Karmazin before him, is touting the company’s dedication to increasing free cash flow and, to that end, Meyer reports free cash flow was up 31% to $927 million for the year. Looking back on 2013 Meyer underscored the importance of deals that get SiriusXM radios into new cars and stated the satellite service is now available in 71% of cars sold in the United States. Meyer also spoke about the company’s strategy with regard to the “connected vehicle,” saying, “We’ve acquired a smart team of technology engineers who are accelerating development of our overall connected car architecture, including the combination of satellite receivers with LTE hardware, a strategy that should also yield benefits to our existing audio business…We expect connected vehicle services to deliver close to $100 million of revenue this year, and we expect to grow this at strong double-digit rates over the next many years. We are in the process of fully integrating the CV business into SiriusXM, and its financial results are embedded in our guidance today.” Thanks to Seeking Alpha for the conference call transcript. Members can check out the entire conference here.
Greater Media Suspends WPEN, Philadelphia’s Mike Missanelli for Gay Slurs. This story goes to show how even a seasoned pro like Philadelphia sports talk host Mike Missanelli can make the mistake of engaging with a critic online. Greater Media has suspended afternoon personality Mike Missanelli after he called a critic a “latent homosexual” in an email exchange. The station issued the following statement, “We are aware of the email communications between Mike and one of his listeners. This individual has been harassing Mike by email for several years, which is cause for concern, and we are working with Mike to try to identify this person and stop the abuse. However, that does not excuse Mike’s conduct. The content of his emails is unacceptable and does not reflect our values as a company. Mike has been suspended and understands that future similar conduct will not be tolerated.” The story broke after the email exchange was posted on Deadspin.com.
Beasley Broadcast Group Beefs Up Digital Division. In announcing the hiring of three new regional digital directors, Beasley reveals its dedication to digital sales efforts. In a statement, vice president of digital Stacey Sedbrook speaks about the expectations after bringing Eddie Thorpe, Adam Meltzer and Carolyn Cope aboard. “The formation of this team will surely be the foundation of our success. Having the right people on my team is as important to me as having the right products and services to sell. Eddie, Adam and Carolyn were hand selected for their talents, capabilities and, most importantly, their nimble thinking. Our objective is to drive revenues for our advertisers, especially those smaller businesses and growing brands in the communities we serve. To achieve this goal, our regional digital directors will assist Beasley’s local market sales teams in creating enhanced advertising campaigns that include digital products and services tailored to the specific needs of our existing and new clients.” Eddie Thorpe comes to Beasley from the Tampa Bay Times where he was senior digital director. He’s responsible for the Miami and Fort Myers-Naples markets. Adam Meltzer is responsible for the Philadelphia and Wilmington, Delaware markets. He most recently was multimedia sales manager for Wicked Local. Carolyn Cope also served with Wicked Local as senior digital account executive of major accounts and is now overseeing the Augusta, Georgia; Fayetteville, North Carolina; and Eastern North Carolina markets (Greenville-New Bern-Jacksonville). Sedbrook is responsible for the company’s Las Vegas group.
Klatt Yields the Winning Run. In this case, that is a good thing as The Winning Run is the name of the full-service consultancy that Len Klatt is opening. The former Premiere Networks senior vice president/director of research is gearing the new undertaking – which will have Los Angeles and New York City offices – to national media companies and talent, programming services and advertisers. Among his clients are Sound Mind, Compass Media Marketing, Big Shoes Productions, Reel World, and The Blaze Radio Network. “Len continues to do the best job industry wide in both interpreting audience numbers and explaining them to clients interested in exploring the value premise of audience engagement on radio, online, and in digital media,” comments Sound Mind president Kraig Kitchin, Premiere’s former president/chief operating officer. “We are fortunate to have his talents for the benefit of our sponsors.” Klatt remarks, “It is not just about columns and numbers, it’s about how they can be used to shape the story in such a way to advance my clients’ vision. With The Winning Run, I want to cover all the bases.” Before the nearly two decades he spent at Premiere, Klatt was Westwood One‘s New York City-based director of research. He began his media research career at Media Buying Services International.
Learfield Adds to Footprint with Nelligan Acquisition. One of the leaders in college sports play-by-play rights is adding 41 schools to its roster with the acquisition of Nelligan Sports Marketing. Learfield Sports will now hold the multi-media rights to 92 schools, which puts its total above that of its fiercest competitor – IMG Sports, which holds the rights to 79 schools. Learfield president and CEO Greg Brown tells SportsBusinessDaily, “In some cases, this will open up new markets for us. In other cases, it will further fortify what we’re doing…Early on in our discussions with Providence [Learfield owner Providence Equity Partners], we identified some strategic opportunities that would be productive for our business. Nelligan is consistent with the business we’re already in. This was right down the middle of the fairway for us.” Nelligan Sports founder T.J. Nelligan will remain with the new company in a leadership role. He comments that he doesn’t expect attrition with this merger.
Odds & Sods. Hubbard Radio’s WTOP, Washington is helping the National Multiple Sclerosis Society by naming it the station’s WTOP Charity of the Month recipient for February 2014. Through the program the MS Society will receive more than $20,000 worth of in-kind contributions to support Multiple Sclerosis awareness and programs, including 64 promotional announcements on WTOP and sister station Federal News Radio. Additional content and exposure for MS Society will be included on WTOP.com and FederalNewsRadio.com throughout the entire month of February…..Tribune Company’s WGN, Chicago announces the next in its “Blackhawks Live” series when forwards Kris Versteeg and Brandon Saad take part in the live event at the Old Town Pour House in suburban Oakbrook on February 24. The event includes a photo op with the players, an autographed photo and dinner, tax and tip. “Blackhawks Live” is a series of one-hour radio broadcasts hosted over dinner throughout the year featuring current Blackhawks players, legends and management. Blackhawks radio broadcasters John Wiedeman and Troy Murray host the event that includes a question-and-answer format between the hosts and the featured Blackhawks guests…..The New Jersey Broadcasters Association has created PSAs for member stations reminding drivers in the Garden State that it’s illegal to drive a vehicle that hasn’t had the snow and ice properly cleared off it. Interested stations can visit www.njba.com for information…..The Radio Television Digital News Association names WBIR-TV, Knoxville news director Christy Moreno to its board of directors, representing Region 8, which includes Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia.
WestwoodOne to Present Exclusive Coverage of Winter Olympics. When the 2014 Olympic Winter Games commence in Sochi, Russia on Friday, WestwoodOne will be the exclusive network for audio coverage. WestwoodOne’s programing will include: shortform coverage Olympic updates three times an hour, 24/7, from February 7- February 23; longform coverage – “Today in Sochi” including two hours of longform coverage for 17 consecutive nights; coverage of all U.S. Olympic Hockey (Men’s and Women’s) plus the gold medal games in Men’s and Women’s hockey regardless of who is playing.
Dana Loesch Visits ‘The View.’ Conservative talk media figure Dana Loesch – who just entered national syndication for her daily talk radio show via Radio America – appeared on ABC TV’s “The View” on Monday in her stead as a host on Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze where she hosts a daily, 5:00 pm program. Pictured here (center) between the program’s Jenny McCarthy (left) and Sherri Shepherd (right), Loesch spoke about her conversion from a progressive liberal to her current conservative philosophy and fielded questions from the four co-hosts.
Obama Administration Splits with Some Democrats, Philip Seymour Hoffman Death/Heroin Use in America, Hillary in 2016, Immigration Legislation/Amnesty Component, ObamaCare Criticism, Financial Markets Activity, and Sochi Olympics Troubles Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (2/4). The reported rift between Democrats on Capitol Hill and the Obama Administration on some issues; the aftermath of the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman and the light it’s shed on heroin abuse in America; the prospect of Hillary Clinton running for president in 2016; the proposed immigration legislation working its way through Congress and the possibility of amnesty for current illegals; ongoing scrutiny of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act; activity on the U.S. and world financial markets; and reports of the problems Russia is facing getting Sochi ready for the Winter Olympics were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.