Monday Memo: Start in the Middle? If you’re a radio newscaster, consultant Holland Cooke warns that “this week’s column is like a solar eclipse. Look away!” But for DJs, hosts, and commercial copy writers, he has a curious suggestion. Read it here.
More Than $500,000 Raised in WMAL Fisher House Radiothon. Commenting on Cumulus Media Washington DC’s just-concluded two-day radiothon for the Fisher House, WMAL PD/Cumulus Media vice president of news/talk, Bill Hess, remarks, “Wow, listeners once again have come through with their support for the wonderful work of the Fisher House Foundation, donating $523,866 to this year’s radiothon. I say ‘thank-you’ from the bottom of our hearts. The Fisher House is recognized as one of the premiere nonprofits working to support quality-of-life for our military and their families. Ever since its inception (30 years ago next month), it has saved military and veterans’ families an estimated $451 million in out-of-pocket costs for lodging and transportation; more than 32,000 families were served in 2018. Over the past 17 years, WMAL listeners have donated more than $7 million to the Fisher House Foundation. Pictured left to right are Hess, WMAL on-air talents Larry O’Connor, Chris Plante, and Vince Coglianese, and Fisher House president Dave Coker.
Cumulus Media Transfers Howell To Little Rock. Inbound from Oklahoma City where he was an on-air talent at Cumulus Media sports talk WWLS “98.1 The Sports Animal” and executive producer of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s radio broadcasts, Toby Howell arrives as program director at co-owned Little Rock news/talk KARN-FM “News Radio 102.9,” sports talk KARN-AM “920 The Sports Animal,” and the Arkansas News Network. He will also program religious KAAY. Cumulus Media Little Rock market manager Keith Liesman remarks, “We are very happy to get a guy like Toby with his radio background and look forward to watching him grow [our brands] across the Little Rock community.” Howell notes, “I’m very lucky to be able to work with the Cumulus Media group in Little Rock. To be in the news format at a time like this with 2020 on the horizon is very exciting.” He replaces Peter Thiele who exited roughly nine months ago.
Hubbard Radio Talent Institute Coming To Northern Arizona University. Along with support from the Arizona Broadcasters Association, the Hubbard Radio Talent Institute is set to launch next summer (July 13 – 22) at Northern Arizona University. Hubbard Radio chief executive officer Ginny Morris comments, “All of us at Hubbard are proud to partner with Dan Vallie and the Arizona Association of Broadcasters on bringing this proven program to Northern Arizona University. The program is a great asset for the industry and a wonderful and expansive experience for the students that participate.” Vallie founded the National Radio Talent System in 2013 so radio stations can recruit young talent from their own region or nationally. Arizona Broadcasters Association President/CEO Chris Kline states, “There’s nothing more important to the future of broadcasting than helping to build the next generation of media leaders. The Hubbard Radio Talent Institute is exactly what we need in Arizona to ensure that new ideas continue to flood into the radio industry from young broadcasters. We couldn’t be more excited to support this program, to meet the participants, and to build new relationships.” NAU Media Innovation Center director Brian Rackham remarks, “We are delighted to be part of this prestigious opportunity for our students. There are jobs out there waiting for our graduates and the Hubbard Talent Institute is a great pipeline to the industry. We look forward to partnering with a great radio group like Hubbard, and the experts at the National Radio Talent System.” Sessions during the ten-day talent institute include on-air, production, news, sports, social media, podcasting, promotions, videography, sales, engineering, and includes the RAB’s radio marketing professional course. Applications are being accepted from college students/young talent from all universities in the region. Final application deadline is March 6, 2020; only 25 students will be accepted.
TALKERS News Notes. After an 11-year run on WTOP-FM “Washington’s Top News,” Chris Core will retire from the Hubbard Broadcasting DC all-news operation one week from Friday (12/20) following his “Core Values” commentary. He previously spent approximately 25 years at cross-town news/talk WMAL as a newscaster and sports anchor ….. This week, former Arizona congressman and Newsmax anchor JD Hayworth is doing his first live and local Phoenix news/talk show in approximately ten years. Guest-hosting today (Monday, 12/9) through Wednesday (12/11) for Seth Leibsohn in afternoon drive (3:00 pm – 6:00 pm) on Salem Media Group-owned KKNT “AM 960 The Patriot,” Hayworth was Mike Huckabee’s “designated guest-host” and has filled in for Michael Savage, Mark Levin, Mike Gallagher, and Laura Ingraham ….. Tomorrow’s (Tuesday, 12/10, 6:00 am – 7:00 pm) 12th annual Toy Field presented by Cumulus Media Nashville and Planet Fitness will benefit The Salvation Army’s “Forgotten Angels” program. Toys collected at Nissan Stadium will help fulfill the dreams of many “forgotten children” this holiday season. The Salvation Army will reach nearly 8,500 “angels” – less fortunate children and elderly. According to Salvation Army Nashville area commander Ethan Frizzell, “Thousands of toys have been donated throughout the years and we hope to see the same enthusiasm this year. We would not be able to provide for all these children, without the support of Cumulus Media and our community.” In addition to news/talk WWTN “Super Talk 99.7 WTN” and sports talk WGFX “104.5 The Zone,” Cumulus Media Nashville consists of country outlets WSM-FM “Nash Icon 95.5,” and WKDF “103.3 Nash FM,” and urban AC WQQK “92-Q.” ….. According to The Des Moines Register, former Des Moines sports talk host Marty Tirrell (KBGG, KXLQ, KXNO) has pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud in federal court. Indicted this past February, Tirrell accepted a plea deal Friday (12/6) and faces a maximum of 20 years in prison when he is sentenced at a hearing April 7; nine other counts were dismissed. He was charged of scamming victims out of $1.5 million in a sports ticket reselling scheme …. The Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters is accepting entries for its annual “Excellence in Broadcasting Awards” competition, which recognizes outstanding performance among radio and television stations. All entries must be submitted electronically – the deadline is January 6 (2020). Winners will be showcased during the “Excellence in Broadcasting Awards” luncheon March 30 at The Hotel Hershey. Meanwhile, the Colorado Broadcasters Association is inviting radio and television stations in that state to compete in over 50 categories; entry deadline is (Friday) January 10 (2020). The “Awards of Excellence” celebration will take place (Friday) April 17th in downtown Denver at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.
iHM Charleston Fundraiser Brings in Over $176,000. The 12th annual iHeartMedia Charleston “Cares for Kids” radiothon raised over $176,000 to benefit Medical University of South Carolina Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital. According to iHeartMedia Charleston area president Alene Grevey, “We’ve anticipated broadcasting from the brand new MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital for 12 years. Seeing this labor of love come to fruition thanks to the generosity of iHeartMedia Charleston’s listeners and advertisers is so inspiring.” This year’s two-day, fundraising “Cares for Kids” broadcast was held last Thursday (12/5) and Friday (12/6) from 6:00 am – 7:00 pm. The event featured iHeartMedia Charleston on-air talents Ric Rush, Brian Cleary, Kelly Golden, and Gary Goldman, as well as WCSC-TV personalities Justin Biegel, and Kaitlin Stansell. The radiothon featured more than 40 stories from MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital patients and their families. In addition to WSCC “94.3 The Lowcountry’s News Station,” iHeartMedia Charleston is comprised of adult contemporary WXLY-FM “Y-102.5 Better Music For A Better Workday,” and WEZL “103.5 Charleston’s #1 Station for New Country.”
PPM Analysis: Urban Contemporary. The music-intensive format in the spotlight this month is urban contemporary. Based on data from Nielsen Audio’s November 2019 PPM survey period, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian notes that approximately half the stations on his urban contemporary panel improve (49%) October 2019 – November 2019 (6+). Meanwhile, a virtually identical 51% of urban contemporary panelists show November 2018 – November 2019 growth. Five urban contemporary stations ranked second (6+) in November 2019; the typical format finish was #11.41 (6+). See Mike Kinosian’s entire report here.
Beasley Media Group Holiday Soiree Features Lady Antebellum. As part of the company’s third annual “Holiday Soiree” client party last Thursday (12/5) in New York City, Beasley Media Group welcomed performances by Lady Antebellum; Joe King and Issac Slade from The Fray; and actor/musician David Duchovny. Beasley Media Group chief executive officer Caroline Beasley, president Bruce Beasley, and chief operating officer/executive vice president Brian Beasley thanked guests for their ongoing support. Shown from left to right are Big Machine Label Group senior vice president of promotion Mathew Largis; Dave Haywood (Lady Antebellum); Beasley Media Group national country brand manager/country WKLB, Boston program director David Corey; Hillary Scott (Lady Antebellum); Beasley Media Group executive vice president of programming Justin Chase; and Charles Kelley (Lady Antebellum).
More Music Radio News and Career Moves. Twenty-six year WMGK “Classic Rock 102.9” midday personality Debbi Calton officially retired from the Beasley Media Group Philadelphia outlet last Friday (12/6). Prior to joining WMGK in 1993, Calton spent 10 years at cross-town rocker WYSP ….. Per The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, morning host Courtney Landrum and evening talent Jill Devine have departed Entercom St. Louis hot AC KYKY “Y-98.” A member of the station’s morning show the past 20 years, Landrum was promoted to top billing (“Courtney & Company”) two years ago when Guy Phillips left the station after a 38-year run. Jen Myers, Kevin Berghoff, Lance Hildebrand, and Tim Convy remain at the retitled “Y-98 Morning Show.” Devine joined “Y-98” eight years ago. She previously worked in the market for CHR KSLZ “Z-107.7”; country KSD-FM “93.7 The Bull”; and hot AC WVRV “101.1 The River” ….. In celebration of their 20th year in radio syndication, “Big D & Bubba” were treated to a surprise party last Friday (12/6) at Silverfish Media’s Nashville studios where company president Patrick Thomas recalls that, “On December 6, 1999, The Big D & Bubba Morning Show first aired in Amarillo [Texas]. That marked the beginning of syndication for the show, which was based at WYNK, Baton Rouge. Syndicated mornings in the country format was widely known to be an impossible task.” According to Patrick, it is the country’s longest-running syndicated morning show and has more than 75 affiliates. Helping to note the occasion in person were Compass Media Network chief executive officer Peter Kosann, and fellow syndicated country talents Lorraine Crook & Charlie Chase (“Crook & Chase), Evan Paul, and Amber Atnip ….. Wrapping up last week’s (12/2 through 12/6) “Stuff-A-Bus” toy drive to benefit the Marine Corps “Toys for Tots” program, iHeartMedia Pittsburgh CHR WKST “96.1 Kiss FM” collected 70 school buses worth of new unwrapped toys. Senior vice president of programming David Edgar notes, “[This] is one of our biggest events throughout the year. The overwhelming response from ‘Kiss’ listeners and the Pittsburgh community will help many children have a great holiday this year.” ….. Through the Smiley morning show’s 23rd annual, 36-hour “Make-A-Wish Request-A-Thon,” Cumulus Media Indianapolis CHR WZPL “99.5 ZPL – Indy’s Number One Hit Music Station” raised $839,638 for central Indiana children with life-threatening illnesses. Listeners called in last Thursday (12/5) and Friday (12/6) to request their favorite songs in exchange for a Make-A-Wish Foundation donation. Throughout the broadcast, WZPL shared inspiring wish stories from local Make-A-Wish kids and their families. Cumulus Media Indianapolis vice president/market manager Chuck Fredrick comments, “What a great way to head into the holiday season helping so many kids’ wishes come true in our community.” Operations manager JR Ammons adds that, “Thanks to the generosity of listeners and sponsors, we were able to surpass last year’s record total of $736,298. As a result, Make-A-Wish will be able to grant 83 wishes for kids here in central Indiana with life-threatening illnesses.” Over the course of the last 23 years, WZPL has helped raise more than $7.5 million for Make-A-Wish ….. Rosemont, Illinois’ Allstate Arena was the site of this past Saturday’s (12/7) 20th annual “B-96 Pepsi Jingle Bash” presented by Entercom Chicago CHR WBBM-FM. Katy Perry headlined the event. Entercom Chicago senior vice president and market manager Jimmy de Castro comments, “The ‘B-96 Jingle Bash’ has been a must-see holiday event in Chicago for two decades and has become a highly anticipated night of pop music and a beloved holiday tradition.” ….. Concluding today (Monday, 12/9) is iHeartMedia Atlanta CHR WWPW’s fourth annual “House of Toys,” a six-day “Power 96.1” fundraising event to help collect toys for the “Toys For Tots” program. Morning drive personality PK notes, “We want to be sure every child has the best holiday they can. We are thrilled to team up with our listeners once again and help underprivileged children receive the joy of a new gift this holiday season.” WWPW’s fundraiser is presented by Delta Community Credit Union ….. Filling the midday spot at Adams Radio Group Fort Wayne, Indiana’s country WBTU “US-93.3” is Erica Gray, who most recently had the same responsibilities in Gainesville (Florida) at Gillen Broadcasting CHR WYKS “Kiss 105.3.” ….. The inaugural “Not So Silent Night” benefit concert featuring local artists will be held this Friday (12/13) at Panama City, Florida’s Salty Hobo. Proceeds from the event – sponsored by iHeartMedia Panama City’s WDIZ “96 Rock” – will benefit the Toys for Tots Program. Program director Paco notes, “We look forward to an evening filled with music and holiday giving.”
Radio Personality Tom Joyner Honors Tuskegee Airmen. As part of a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event, nationally syndicated “fly jock” Tom Joyner presented the Martin Luther King Jr. Day convocation at his alma mater Tuskegee University where he also saluted the Tuskegee Airmen, of which his father was one. Pictured here is Joyner (l), his son Oscar (r) and photos of Joyner’s father and the Tuskegee Airmen program. Joyner then joined others in a discussion about the Tuskegee Airmen as portrayed in George Lucas’ new film “Red Tails.” Joyner’s father was a flyer and his mother worked in the office at the program.
“Free Talk Live” Donates to St. Jude’s After Dare Offered to Michael Savage and Mark Levin. TALKERS readers may remember that in response to Talk Radio Network host Michael Savage’s offer of $1 million to Newt Gingrich to drop out of the race and of Cumulus Media Network host Mark Levin’s offer of $100,000 to Savage to end his radio show, “Free Talk Live” host Ian Freeman offered to donate $1,000 to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital if either Savage or Levin would have lunch with a Muslim or undocumented worker, do less than 40% of the talking and document the event with video. Freeman tells TALKERS, “As expected, neither Mark Levin nor Michael Savage took us up on our offer…they failed. Of course, why should they bother? If they actually listened to the people they appear to hate, they might learn something and discover they actually have the capability to empathize with other people.” Freeman says “Free Talk Live” held up its end of the bargain and is donating $1066 to St. Jude’s “in the name of peace, freedom, and compassion for other humans.”
WRKO, Boson Talk Host Howie Carr Publishes Crime Novel. Longtime Boston Herald columnist and Boston talk radio institution Howie Carr publishes another book, but this time, instead of being about real criminals like his previous tomes about famous Boston crime figures, this one is a fictional work in the spirit of the noir novels he consumed as a youngster. The WRKO, PM drive host appeared at a Boston-area Barnes & Noble over the weekend to promote Hard Knocks (Forge Books 2012) and chat with his fans about Boston crime legends. Carr tells the Hingham Patch, “I’ve been reading these things since I was a kid so I’ve always wanted to write something like this. I wrote it a while back but it was before I had anything published. Then I wrote the non-fiction books and they did really well. It’s easier when you’ve had some success, even in non-fiction, to get fiction published so I took advantage of my opportunity.”
Spike Eskin Returns to the CBS Philadelphia Operation. The son of Philadelphia sports talk legend Howard Eskin was a jock at CBS Radio’s rock WYSP-FM, Philadelphia until it met its fate as the FM simulcast of sports WIP in the fall of last year. Now, Spike Eskin returns to the CBS Philly operations as editor of the CBSPhilly.com sports section. He’ll also handle some sports duties for the company’s all-news KYW.
Connecticut AMs Strike Deal to Carry Hartford TV News Content. Two Crossroads Communications AM stations in Connecticut have agreed to a deal to broadcast Meredith Corporation’s WFSB-TV’s 12:00 noon and 6:00 pm newscasts. WFSB-TV is a CBS affiliate and the two stations to carry the programming are WMRD, Middletown, Connecticut and WLIS, Old Saybrook, Connecticut.
GOP Primary Race/Huntsman Drops Out, Iran Nuclear Ambitions, Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, Rising Gas Prices and Italian Cruise Liner Disaster Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday. Jon Huntsman drops out of the GOP primary race prior to last night’s South Carolina debate, Iran’s military and nuclear ambitions, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, prices continue to rise at the pumps as many experts predict high gas prices for some time and divers continue to search for missing people in the grounding of an Italian cruise liner. These were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
On Any Given Monday. In a PPM world, holidays such as Labor Day cannot be considered a programming throw away. In a special feature story written by associate editor Alan Linder, published yesterday, radio execs tell TALKERS that although star hosts are still usually given time off for three and four day weekends, holidays must receive the same level of programming attention as regular weekdays. This is generally accomplished by upgrading the production value invested in creating “best-of” shows or, in the case of stations using the “live-and-local” element as a signature asset, being sure that the station’s talent bench of fill-in hosts is up to the task of keeping the audience satisfied. No longer are “best-of” shows just “okay” recent shows kept in the can for repeats on holidays. They are special montages of outstanding elements culled from a variety of shows supplemented by previously unheard features and interviews prerecorded especially for such occasions. For the live-and-local stations, careful thought and care is given to the selection and nurturing of fill-ins. In today’s competitive talk radio, bench and weekend talent (including the emergence of “super part-timers”) are as important to the line-up as designated hitters and relief pitchers are in baseball. Then there’s the dedicated syndicated morning star who loves what he does so much that he never misses a live show regardless of whether it is a holiday. Read all about it here.
Today Is the First Official Day on FM for WIP, Philadelphia. The changeover actually began Friday as rock WYSP-FM, Philadelphia played its last song (“Fade to Black” by Metallica) and flipped to a simulcast of sports WIP. The station is now positioned as “94 SportsRadio WIP.” The first day of WIP on FM was also the last day of the regular afternoon program for Philadelphia sports talk legend Howard Eskin. He signed off his regular program after a 25-year career hosting a sports talk show in Philly. Eskin remains with the station to host Eagles game day programming and will continue to work with WIP on part-time projects while exploring other media options. The station’s new schedule premiers today with Angelo Cataldi remaining in AM drive, Comcast SportsNet host Michael Barkann joining Eskin’s former partner Ike Reese for the 10:00 am to 1:00 pm show and Anthony Gargano and Glen Macnow in the 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm time slot. On Friday, Sirius XM’s Howard Stern appeared on WYSP-FM with Spike Eskin (Howard Eskin’s son who stayed on the air with his dad for his last show) to talk about his love for Philadelphia and bid adieu to the rock station. WYSP-FM was the first station to pick up Stern’s program as it began its move into syndication from New York’s WXRK-FM. On a side note, Longport Media’s WBSS, Atlantic City, New Jersey will begin simulcasting WIP soon. Longport Media president David Coskey tells the Press of Atlantic City Philadelphia sports is an important part of his market’s interest so the move makes sense. By the way, if you haven’t read TALKERS special features correspondent Mike Kinosian’s excellent piece on CBS Radio’s FM sports talk stations, check it out here.
Emmis Communications Receives Delisting Notice. Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan was not surprised by the NASDAQ notice that it has until February 27, 2012 to get its stock price above $1 for 10 consecutive business days or be delisted. The notice came just a day before Emmis closed on the sale of WWWN-FM and WLUP-FM, Chicago and WEMP-FM, New York to Merlin Media for $120 million. Emmis is using the influx of cash to pay down debt while retaining an interest in the Merlin properties.
WWL-AM/FM, New Orleans Talk Host Garland Robinette Cited in Bribery Probe. Robinette’s attorney tells the New Orleans Times-Picayune that his client – the WWL-AM/FM “Think Tank” host – has been told he is not a target of the investigation. But federal authorities have spoken with Robinette numerous times after the investigation showed Robinette received $250,000 from local landfill owner Fred Heebe. The issue here is Heebe’s campaign to shut down two other competing landfills in the area, theoretically so that his facility could accept more of the post-Katrina waste needing to be dumped. Robinette enters the picture due to the money he received and his addressing the landfill issue regularly on his radio program in which he stated he believed the two competing landfills were not safe. Robinette, through his attorney, states the money he received from his friend Heebe was a personal loan that he expects to pay back. Meanwhile, Heebe allegedly paid $460,000 in bribes to a former state official to lobby to close one of the competing landfills.
Atlantic Coast Radio Splits WLOB-AM/FM, Portland Talk Simulcast. WLOB-AM remains news/talk but the FM side picks up the sports programming signal from WPEI-FM and begins simulcasting it. WLOB-FM is licensed to Topsham, Maine near Brunswick and gives Atlantic Coast coverage for the northern side of the newly expanded metro while WPEI-FM is licensed to Saco, Maine to the south of Portland, thereby covering that side of the market.
Jobs Creation, 2012 GOP Candidates, Post Office Financial Woes and Texas Wildfires Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (9/5). President Obama’s and Congress’ plans for jobs creation, the 2012 GOP presidential candidates, the looming threat of the USPS shutdown and the wildfires affecting Texas were all among the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday.