By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor/West Coast
LOS ANGELES — Recording artists running the gamut from Bing Crosby to Sam Cooke to Janet Jackson and Luther Vandross (among others) have wonderfully warbled to remind us that the “The Best Things in Life Are Free.”
A 1956 film that starred Gordon MacRae accentuated the point as well.
Offering a different take in the predominantly uplifting sentiment are the Beatles, who – while acknowledging the fact – nonetheless suggested those “free” things could be kept in exchange for “money” – but – that’s another story.
Smart, Funny, and Unedited
Back to the positive point: Words are free and no one in talk radio is more adroit, melodious, and astute in his splendid employment of the vocabulary than brilliantly witty Lionel, who generously remarks, “If you like my words – take them – they are not mine [anyway], they are yours. As a sesquipedalian and a logophile, I love the mother tongue. Do not marvel at the fancy words. It is part of who I am. I will never try to make people feel stupid. People love smart and funny – they crave it.”
These days, not only does Lionel get to demonstrate how deliciously lovely the language may be when utilized with panache, he also offers a veritable talk radio clinic.
On one hand, it is a fresh and innovative concept, while on the other, there is enormous simplicity to a back-to-the-basics approach. “It came about through the genius, foresight, and wherewithal of [TALKERS publisher] Michael Harrison,” Lionel comments of his Saturday, 9:00 am – 10:00 am ET TalkersRadio show. “It is just a joy and Michael is the preeminent voice in talk radio. Since the beginning, he has told me what I need to do must be the best.”
Cuts at Cumulus-Owned WestwoodOne Happening; SVP Amy Bolton Exits. The names of those being let go are coming out as Cumulus Media begins the cuts at WestwoodOne that have been expected since the acquisition of then-Dial Global closed. Numerous high-level executives are being shown the door – in many instances where there are duplicative positions between WestwoodOne and the Cumulus Media Networks. Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey is promising investors he can realize $40 million in synergies and eliminating these positions is one of the ways he hopes to accomplish that. WestwoodOne SVP and general manager of news & talk Amy Bolton – who’s been with the organization going back when it was Jones Radio Networks – is let go. Also reportedly out in this round of cuts are: chief marketing officer Christina Albee; EVP/Eastern director Eileen Decker; and SVP of research Paul Bronstein.
Lionel Joins TalkersRadio in Development of New Show to Launch This Weekend. One of the most original personalities in the business, radio talk show host Lionel, is launching a new program on TALKERS magazine’s online radio station, TalkersRadio, tomorrow morning (2/1). The self-titled show “Lionel” will air live on the “experimental” talk show platform Saturday mornings between 9:00 am and 10:00 am ET and run as a regular weekly series. It will feature the intellectually stimulating talk media star in an hour of free-form conversation and reflection about the wide variety of topics that fall within his realm of interest. Lionel describes his plans for the new program as “spoken thought not spoken word” telling TALKERS, “The show will be the editorial cartoon versus the editorial. Broadcast idea topiaries. Stream of consciousness meets targeted subject selection. No left-right paradigm blather. No bumper sticker, playbook, echo chamber drivel. As I feel, as I want, as I please.” A veteran of such major outlets as WABC and WOR, New York among others, as well as being a podcast pioneer at lionelmedia.com, the quirky, satirical and extremely original observer of the human condition has been enjoying tremendous success conceiving, writing, producing and performing daily commentaries on the heritage WPIX-TV, Channel 11 in New York City. The ex-prosecutor Lionel has also added his insight and experience as its resident legal analyst. However, he has not forgotten his roots in and love for radio and promises that his 9:00 am to 10:00 am Saturday show will provide Lionel enthusiasts around the country with a version of his work that is “like nothing they have ever heard before. This will truly be Lionel unchained!” On making the announcement of Lionel’s joining the station, TalkersRadio general manager David Bernstein says, “Lionel joining this ‘audio workout space’ is a perfect example of what TalkersRadio is about and hopes to achieve – and that is to provide select people in this business as well as potentially outstanding newcomers with the opportunity to try and develop things that are not being done in the traditional on-air space for the sake of moving the industry forward.”
Cox Flips KONO-AM, San Antonio to Sports Talk. The AM side of the KONO-AM/FM simulcast flips to sports talk using the CBS Sports Radio Network after more than 20 years airing the classic hits format of sister KONO-FM. Cox Media Group San Antonio vice president and market manager Dan Lawrie states, “We’re excited to bring this level of quality sports programming to San Antonio. Additionally, South Texas sports fans should be glad to welcome the return of the Jim Rome show after a two-year absence in the market.” CBS Sports Radio program director Eric Spitz adds, “We’ve put together a tremendous lineup of experienced hosts with strong opinions and personalities who perfectly capture the passion and excitement of the sports fan. With sports, the action never stops, and CBS Sports Radio provides listeners with cutting-edge analysis, high-profile interviews and late breaking news.”
WCKG-AM, Chicago Names Leslie Harris Director of Community Programming. At the Matt Dubiel-run DuPage Radio LLC, market personality Leslie Harris is named director of community programming and host at the suburban talk station. Harris recently exited NextMedia’s suburban rocker WERV “95.9 The River” and Dubiel comments, “Leslie was the full addition I made at WERV and I am over the moon excited to have a Downers Grove rock mamma as part of our local team.”
Good Karma Sells Janesville, Wisconsin Stations to Local Operator. Two stations in the Janesville, Wisconsin market – rock WWHG “105.9 The Hog” and sports talk WTJK “ESPN Radio 1380” – are being sold by Craig Karmazin’s Good Karma Broadcasting to Scott Thompson who operates stations in nearby Monroe, Wisconsin and Freeport, Illinois. The Janesville Gazette reports that Thompson plans to keep the staff already in place at both stations and possibly add an employee. He tells the paper WTJK may air less ESPN content and more local news. Thompson takes over under an LMA while the transaction works its way through the FCC approval process.
WEEI-FM, Boston Begins Friday Night Promotion. In a partnership with local watering hole The Greatest Bar and local media sources Dirty Water TV and DirtyWaterNews.com, Entercom sports talk WEEI-FM begins broadcasting the “Planet Mikey” show with Mikey Adams live from The Greatest Bar Friday, February 7 from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm. The show will feature celebrity guests from the world of sports and entertainment. WEEI brand manager Kevin Graham, citing the bar’s proximity to the TD Garden, states, “It’s a natural fit to partner with the Dirty Water brand and The Greatest Bar. Combining Mikey’s unique entertaining style, the Dirty Water connections for guests and content, and the proximity to the TD Garden will make for a fun atmosphere and a great listen on ‘93.7FM WEEI’ and the WEEI Sports Radio Network.” Bill Fairweather is co-owner of The Greatest Bar and creator of Dirty Water TV. He says WEEI-FM is the perfect radio partner for Dirty Water’s growing array of media entities. “When we decided to add radio to the growing menu of media options that our brand delivers to Greater Boston and beyond, WEEI – with its strong sports focus – was a natural partner for us. Entertainment and celebrity mix very well with sports and The Greatest Bar is the perfect location to bring those topics together. We’re excited to have the opportunity to add these new dimensions to WEEI’s radio offerings.”
Odds & Sods. In honor of Rosa Parks Day on February 4, the Premiere Networks-syndicated Comedy 24/7 format will air special clips of comics of the civil rights era talking about the issue. African American comedians including Dick Gregory, Godfrey Cambridge and Slappy White were outspoken about necessary changes to be made in our society during that time and the format will air special tracks by these comedians and others as they spoke out in the language of the times at :57 after the hour all day on February 4…..Former NFL coach and executive Mike Holmgren will serve as a football analyst with Clear Channel’s sport talk KJR, Seattle next season after handling the same duties in 2013…..Milwaukee Brewers radio play-by-play voice Bob Uecker will step back a little bit from his duties with the team beginning this season as he’ll call fewer road games for flagship WTMJ, Milwaukee. Uecker, who turns 80 this year, will still call all home games and be present for spring training in Arizona.
Joy and Hope Amidst the Misery. Pictured here with children in Port Au Prince, Haiti is Salem Radio Network VP/news & talk programming Tom Tradup. He tells TALKERS he is there with Salem Radio News documenting conditions in Haiti on the fourth anniversary of the devastating 2010 earthquake that left 300,000 dead and millions homeless. He’s embedded with the relief organization Food for the Poor and has been visiting slums, orphanages and feeding centers for the news network’s five-part special series on “The Poorest of the Poor.” Tradup reports that Salem VP/director spoken word format Phil Boyce (who also is serving as operations manager of the New York stations) is there working on documenting the trip for a New York market broadcast.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. New York-based XtreMEDIA announces a number of affiliates joining three of the company’s offerings. First, the daily Kevin McCullough show is added to the program schedule at WCIS-AM, Morganton, North Carolina; WCST-AM, Berkeley Springs, West Virginia; WGEA, Geneva, Alabama; and KNLB-FM, Blythe, California. The nightly Steve Deace program joins the lineup at WGTK-AM, Louisville; WTOH-FM, Columbus; and WWTC, Minneapolis. Finally, the weekend “Baldwin/McCullough” show is now heard on WMRC, Milford, Massachusetts and WYPV-FM, Mackinaw City, Michigan…..The GCN-syndicated “America Tonight” with Kate Delaney joins the program schedule at WKVL, Knoxville.
The State of the Union Address Top Talk Radio Story This Week. According to the Talkers TenTM, the president’s State of the Union Address was the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio during the week of January 27-31. At #2 this week was criticism of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. Following at #3 was new immigration legislation and the prospect of amnesty and at #4 was the extreme winter weather affecting much of the nation. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week. It is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS and is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief
LOS ANGELES — In just an approximately six-week period, Americans have:
• Relished our freedom by participating in our democracy’s fundamental building block – the electoral process – which this year happened to include another historic presidential election
• Helplessly watched parts of our country’s northeast region savagely pounded by the storm of a lifetime
• Attempted to aid our neighbors regroup from “Sandy,” while simultaneously starting the annual tradition of gathering families to give thanks; anxiously began the official start of the holiday season; and heard (many adult contemporary) stations maintain their ritual of playing continuous Christmas favorites
• Been shocked, horrified, and in a state of speechless disbelief as deranged gunmen ended the lives of defenseless victims in a Portland shopping mall and a Connecticut school
Lionel Joins Morning Show at Merlin Media’s WWIQ, Philadelphia. Talk media personality Lionel – known for his years of expanding talk radio’s dimensions with successful stints in national syndication and in local markets gigs including New York City – joins the morning drive show at Merlin Media’s WWIQ, Philadelphia beginning today. Lionel, who anchors Tribune’s WPIX-TV, New York’s “Morning News” from 4:00 am to 6:00 am and produces commentaries for the station that air on its 10:00 pm news, will join the program with Al Gardner from 6:00 am to 8:30 am. In addition to these “traditional media” gigs, Lionel has been operating the digital media station LionelMedia.com for the past several years.
Gregg Henson Named PD at WPGB and WBGG, Pittsburgh. Sports talk and news/talk pro Gregg Henson takes the programming reins at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s news/talk WPGB, Pittsburgh and sister sports talk WBGG “970 ESPN.” Henson most recently served as director of programming operations at Federated Media’s WOWO, Fort Wayne, Indiana. Henson says, “I’m excited to return to the Clear Channel family and I look forward to working with the excellent staff at ‘FM News Talk 104.7’ and ‘970 ESPN.’ Pittsburgh’s passionate and loyal Steelers and Penguins fans make this an exciting new opportunity.” CC Pittsburgh OM David Edgar states, “Gregg has the skills and passion to lead our sports, talk, and news programming on all of our brands in Pittsburgh to new levels of success. His past experience will be a great asset to the Clear Channel Pittsburgh team.” Henson replaces Jay Bohannon who exited the cluster last month.
Dave Ramsey Celebrates 20th Anniversary in Radio with Big Nashville Bash including Affiliate Meetings and Gala Live Broadcast. This past Friday, September 28, nationally syndicated radio talk show host Dave Ramsey marked his 20th year in radio with a special episode of “The Dave Ramsey Show.” The program took place before a live audience of more than 2,000 listeners in a huge tent in the parking lot of Ramsey headquarters in suburban Nashville. It included calls from long-time listeners and well-wishes from friends and celebrities such as Brad Paisley, George Stephanopoulos, Mark Cuban, Billy Gibbons, Piers Morgan, Zac Brown, Neil Cavuto, Darrell Waltrip, and Glenn Beck. Video of the show was streamed live online. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam declared September 28, 2012 Dave Ramsey Day in the state of Tennessee. He presented the proclamation to Ramsey during the first hour of the radio show (see photo). The show was the culmination of Ramsey’s fifth annual Affiliate Executive Council (AEC) meeting held last week between Wednesday and Friday (9/26-28) in which he and his staff provided some 60 executives from his affiliates across the country with seminars, workshops breakout sessions and entertainment activities experienced in true Nashville fashion. A highlight of the AEC event was an industry trade panel featuring professionals who have never been on one stage together. The panel focused on current industry issues and events and was moderated by Radio Advertising Bureau CEO Erica Farber. Al Peterson from NTS Media Online, Gene McKay from Inside Radio, and Michael Harrison from TALKERS and RadioInfo participated on the panel (see photo). According to Harrison, “Attending the Ramsey event was an eye opener into how this amazing broadcaster and his superb staff have created a viable, productive partnership with their affiliate radio stations as well as a personal bond with them on a level unmatched by any other syndication company or network in the business. Ramsey has created a business model and success story worthy of emulation, indeed!”
Syndicators Hit the Deck Running Today to Promote Shows to Stations Left Unprepared for Savage Exit. After a weekend during which approximately 300 radio station managers who were affiliated with TRN’s Michael Savage Show (“The Savage Nation”) were trying to figure out what to put in the gaping vacancy left in their schedule by the sudden exit of Michael Savage from the airwaves this past Friday, the syndication and network community are readying a mad dash to get to them and have them consider taking any of a number of their available programs as its replacement. Savage left the airwaves without warning after scoring a victory in a fierce legal battle with TRN to get out of his existing contract (see story below). Talk Radio Network has teased that it will name Savage’s replacement (as “radio’s October surprise”) – at least within its stable of available hosts – sometime today.
Talk Host Michael Savage Produces First Internet-Only Broadcast. Former Talk Radio Network nationally syndicate host Michael Savage – who won his arbitration case against the company last week to get out of his contract and left terrestrial immediately thereafter – produced his first Ustream-hosted webcast on Sunday evening (9/30). Savage broadcast for about an hour. His website encourages visitors to check back for announcements of future broadcasts. The video is not being archived for repeat views at this time – so it must be watched live – and chatter on Ustream’s message board reveals some Savage fans are irked by that move. Could it be that Savage is trying to create an appetite for a pay model? The arbitrator’s decision voided Savage’s contract with TRN and allows him to work anywhere he likes. Stay tuned!
TRN’s America’s Radio News Network Inks with Armed Forces Radio Network. Talk Radio Network-owned America’s Radio News Network announces it has signed an agreement with Armed Forces Radio Network to serve as the top-of-the-hour news on the broadcast service for American military personnel. American Forces Radio Network Worldwide director Jef Reilly, tells ARN, “The troops want news, not agendas, and I think you’re delivering that.” ARN/ANN vice president for news John McCaslin says, “Our expanding team of news anchors, producers and board operators is extremely proud to enlist the trust of the millions of men and women of America’s armed forces, who every day put their lives on the line and sacrifice so much for those of us here at home.”
Hubbard Radio’s WTOP, Washington Brings Del Walters Aboard Full Time. Washington, DC’s all-news WTOP announces broadcast journalist Del Walters is promoted to a full-time position with the station. WTOP states, “For more than two decades, Walters has been broadcasting in the Washington/Baltimore area, working as an anchor and investigative reporter for various stations including WJLA in Washington and WMAR in Baltimore. Walters joined WTOP in 2010 as a part-time anchor and reporter but will now step into a full-time role.”
Clear Channel Flips WGST, Atlanta to Spanish Sports Talk. Last week we reported that Clear Channel Media and Entertainment would be dropping the news/talk at heritage WGST, Atlanta and flipping to either a Spanish-language format or all-comedy. CC chose to go with Spanish sports talk and debuted 640 ESPN Deportes on Friday afternoon.
Radio Vet Ron Cutler Shares Secrets of his Financial Success in New Radio Biz Book. Radio veteran Ron Cutler turned a $15,000 investment in this industry into a $10 million payoff and now he’s written a book explaining how he did it. The colorful radio and business book is titled How I Turned $15,000 into $10,000,000 (HIT) and You Can Too, and it serves up a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse into the radio business. The advice is based on Cutler’s colorful experience as a top-rated Philadelphia DJ “Ron Diamond”; as the original owner and creator of the legendary KOME, the San Jose FM radio station that he sold to Michael Wiener and Gerald Carrus who formed Infinity Broadcasting making KOME Infinity’s first station; as the creator of 15 hit radio shows and services, Cutler was instrumental in launching the national shows of Rick Dees, Tom Joyner and Cousin Brucie; as the owner of Cutler Comedy Networks, a leading comedy programming company that serviced more than 4,000 radio stations and was acquired in 1996 by Premiere Radio Networks; and as an entrepreneur in numerous entertainment ventures. He tells TALKERS, “My path wasn’t an easy one. At this stage in my life, I’d like to help others get a leg up, particularly during this challenging economy. Perhaps the lessons that taught me resilience, determination and self-reliance will resonate with others.” For more information visit www.roncutlerbooks.com. To interview Ron Cutler contact Amir Forester at 310-857-6207 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.