After spending a decade outside the day-to-day radio business, veteran Chicago broadcasting executive Jimmy de Castro has been named President/GM for Tribune’s sole radio property, News/Talker WGN/Chicago. The move will reunite ‘Jimmy D’ with Tribune President/Local Programming Larry Wert, who de Castro hired as GM of the legendary WLUP-AM & FM back in 1989 when the station was owned by Evergreen, a company de Castro co-founded and later sold. He’ll also be reunited with two former “Loop” personalities, Jonathon Brandmeier and Garry Meier, who are both now on the team at WGN. “WGN is a station we spent a career trying to tear the walls down on and now I’m inside the walls with the WGN people trying to build those walls up,” de Castro told Chicago Tribune reporter Robert Channick. “My hope is to bring a new energy to a classic institution.” Most recently head of the Chicago-based Content Factory, de Castro will begin his new job on June 3rd. He assumes a chair that’s been vacant since the departure of Tom Langmyer last October.
Radio’s relief efforts for the victims of this week’s killer tornado in the town of Moore, just south of Oklahoma City, are fully underway, with broadcasters nationwide spearheading efforts to raise funds and supplies for those who’ve lost everything. Cox Media Group/Tulsa has already raised more than $40,000 in donations and sent three semi-trucks packed with water and supplies to help the American Red Cross relief efforts on the ground in Moore. CMG stations nationwide are also soliciting donations … The Blaze Radio Network is currently hosting a 24-hour broadcast to raise money for Mercury One’s Midwest Tornado Relief Fund. The fund has already raised some $1.4 million to help tornado victims … Meanwhile, WBAP/Dallas took its Morning News crew and midday host Ben Ferguson on location this week to Granbury, TX to raise funds for victims in that city who were hit hard by a tornado that blew through the region last week, killing six residents. All funds raised from the broadcast will go to Red Cross relief efforts in both Texas and Oklahoma. Pictured above at the live broadcast are (l-r): Morning News co-hosts Brian Estridge and Hal Jay, Red Cross volunteer Jeannie Siegel (widow of long-time former WBAP morning co-host Dick Siegel), Ferguson, and Morning News Sports Anchor Steve Lamb.
Former Guns ‘n Roses lead guitarist ‘Slash’ (left) stopped by the L.A. studios of FOX Sports Radio for a visit with sports host and comedian Jay Mohr (right). The pair talked about Slash’s time with GnR, as well as his upcoming projects that include a new solo album and a horror film, Nothing Left To Fear … Sports Radio 104.3 The Fan/Denver inks a multi-year extension with The Drive with Big Al and D-Mac co-host Darren McKee. McKee and former Denver Bronco Alfred Williams have co-hosted PM drive on the station since 2009 … Mike Taylor, morning host on San Antonio Sports/Talker The Ticket 760, adds a weekday 6-8am simulcast on sister station AM 1300 The Zone/Austin (KVET). The Clear Channel-owned outlet has also adjusted its midday hours to allow DirecTV Entertainment’s Dan Patrick Show and FOX Sports Radio’s Jay Mohr Sports to now air live in Texas’ capital city.
Shashi Seth has been named President of Tribune Digital Ventures, the recently formed division of the company charged with development of additional channels to expand the reach of Tribune’s local content. Seth’s resume includes prior stints with YouTube, AOL and Yahoo! … Alex Cadelago is upped from GSM to Director of Sales for CBS Radio’s Houston cluster that includes local Sports/Talker SportsRadio 610 and network affiliate CBS Sports Radio 650 … Slacker names John Hayase Chief Product Officer for the San Diego-based digital audio service. Hayase most recently served as VP/Client Solutions for e-commerce service firm ElasticPath … Film director and comic book aficianado Kevin Smith (Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back) dropped by the studios of WJR/Detroit this week, where he paused for an office wall souvenir with longtime station host and bestselling author Mitch Albom (pictured above).
Among the radio reporters who quickly responded to the scene of Monday’s devastating tornado in Moore, Oklahoma was Steffan Tubbs, Morning Drive anchor for KOA/Denver and National Correspondent for Clear Channel’s 24/7 News Source. According to Chris Berry, Senior VP of 24/7 News Source, sending Tubbs on this assignment was “like déjà vu” for both of them. Back in 1999, the town of Moore was also struck by a tornado and Tubbs — then a correspondent for ABC News Radio – was dispatched to cover that twister by Berry who, at the time, was running ABC’s network radio news operation.
Those were the chilling words and the thought that went through the mind of KTOK/Oklahoma City program director and 5-7pm host, Lee Matthews, when he first saw the F-5 killer tornado as it touched down south of the city on Monday afternoon. “When the tornado began to form, we could see it from our 11th floor windows. But the minute it touched down it grew instantly into a monster and the only view we had then was from the cameras of our TV partner KFOR/News Channel 4 and their nerves-of-steel helicopter pilot John Welch. My first thought was, ‘My God, this is May of 1999 all over again.’ The tornado was on the ground for 48 minutes. When it finally roped-off 17 miles later I thought, ‘We just watched people die.’” Looking toward the days, weeks and months ahead, Matthews told NTS MediaOnline Today, “We’ve finished rescue and response, recovery and reunification. Now comes clean up and — unfortunately — burial. In 1999 there was no FEMA so I believe the process will be a lot smoother and quicker this time. Even just a day later, power was already being restored.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Amol Sharma and Ben Fritz first reported that ESPN has initiated a significant layoff at the 24/7 Sports network, one that will impact “a few hundred” employees. No word on how many of those might come from the ranks of ESPN Radio. A statement released by the network said ESPN is “implementing changes across the company to enhance our continued growth while managing costs” … WSJ is also reporting that longtime Birmingham, AL Sports/Talk host Paul Finebaum will relocate to Charlotte, NC, after reportedly signing a new multi-platform deal with ESPN. Finebaum’s new show is slated to debut August 1st, just in time for the SEC football season … FOX Sports Radio’s Petros & Money (pictured above) were on hand at a SoCal casino recently to help the one and only Huey Lewis (center) celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of Sports, Lewis’ all time best-selling album. A new digitally remastered, two-disc 30th anniversary edition of the album was released earlier this month.
Women working in News and Talk radio were well represented at last night’s 38th annual Gracie Awards at L.A.’s Beverly Hilton Hotel. CBS Radio News reporter Heather Bosch (pictured) was honored with an award for “Outstanding Series” for her five-part report on Women Warriors. Among some of the women from spoken-word radio who also took home trophies at the Alliance for Women In Media Foundation’s yearly gala were: Jane Williams (Bloomberg Radio); Moll Anderson (SiriusXM); Brooke Gladstone and Mirela Iverac (WNYC/New York); Claudia Morell, Robin Shannon and Julie Clark (WFUV/New York) and Jacqueline Higgins Borstock (The Dr. Evelyn Higgins Show). See a list of all the 2013 Gracie winners HERE.
The NAB Education Foundation (NABEF) reminds broadcasters that the application deadline for the 2014 Broadcast Leadership Training program is May 31st. The program is designed to prepare senior broadcasters, particularly women and people of color, to own and operate radio and television stations or move into more senior positions within the industry. For more info click HERE … Marketron will host the second annual User Symposium at DC’s Grand Hyatt on June 19th. Marketron President/CEO Jeff Haley (pictured) reports attendees will range from end users of Marketron’s product suite and traffic systems, to executives of leading media groups. Attendees will collaborate on a number of topics including best practices for traffic management, sales tips and training, and effective integrations of interactive and mobile advertising for broadcasters. Get more info HERE.
KXL-FM/Portland talk host and Compass Media Networks syndicated personality Lars Larson (left) recently hosted a “First Amendment Friday” from local Portland gun shop Northwest Armory. An avid outdoor sportsman, Larson is pictured with Lewis Danielson, CEO of Crimson Trace, the company that makes a popular laser sighting device used by gun enthusiasts and military personnel around the world.