Casey Kasem — the “King of the Coundowns” — has died at the age of 82 following a lengthy illness and a bizarre family battle over his care that has played out in the public eye for the past few months. Kasem founded the “American Top 40″ nationally syndicated radio show in 1970 which he hosted until 2004. He then hosted several other countdown shows until he retired from the industry in 2009. Fans will never forget Casey’s signature sign-off: “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.” Read the full story of Kasem’s broadcast career and listen to CLASSIC AUDIO from his National Radio Hall of Fame induction bio page HERE.
Statement from Ryan Seacrest, Kasem’s successor at AT40: “It’s a sad day for the broadcasting community and for radio listeners around the world. When I was a kid, I would listen to Casey Kasem’s AT40 show every weekend, and dream about someday becoming a radio DJ. So when decades later I took over his AT40 countdown show, it was a surreal moment. Casey had a distinctive friendly on-air voice, and he was just as affable and nice if you had the privilege to be in his company. He’ll be greatly missed by all of us.”
Statement from Darren Davis, Clear Channel Networks President: “People all over America have fond memories of Casey counting down the best songs each week. I can vividly remember listening to American Top 40 each Sunday morning when I was a kid, and Casey’s polished style and dedication to his craft helped me fall in love with radio. He was a true gem, and I’m grateful I got to meet him several times over the years. Casey was such a wonderful man.”
Statement from Premiere Networks: “Everyone at Premiere Networks offers our sincerest condolences to Casey Kasem’s family and friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this most difficult time. One of the most recognizable voices in radio and television, Casey set a gold standard for all broadcasters as the creator and host of American Top 40 for nearly 40 years, and he set the bar even higher outside the studio with his dedication to numerous charitable causes. While we’re deeply saddened to say good bye to our dear friend, Casey’s legacy will live on in the hearts of his millions of fans worldwide.”
As NTS MediaOnline Today subscribers first learned via our earlier ‘Breaking News’ email, KOMO/Seattle’s news helicopter crashed during morning drive today, resulting in a fiery explosion at Seattle Center, near the base of the city’s iconic Space Needle. The news ‘copter was apparently taking off from the 5th floor helipad atop Fisher Plaza when something went terribly wrong, causing it to crash and explode on busy Broad Street, which was filled with morning rush hour drivers and pedestrians. KOMO News reports that two people were found dead inside the wreckage, while one other person was taken to a hospital in critical condition with life-threatening injuries. The two victims have been identified as former longtime KOMO News photographer Bill Strothman and pilot Gary Pfitzner. Strothman (pictured) worked for many years at KOMO News and was well-known to many of the stations’ employees. After retiring from KOMO, he worked as a free-lancer and also as an employee of the helicopter leasing company that operates the KOMO News chopper. At least two cars were struck and set ablaze by the copter as it crashed onto the street. A report updated at the KOMO website says the chopper that crashed — a Eurocopter AS350 — was not the stations’ regular helicopter, it was a temporary replacement for one currently in the shop undergoing an upgrade. Read more details on this morning’s tragic accident HERE. (photo from the KOMO News website)
As NTS MediaOnline Today readers first learned in a ‘Breaking News’ email bulletin late last Friday afternoon (3/14), Clear Channel Media and Entertainment has announced the creation of a new Major Markets Operating Group. The Group will consist of four divisions under leaders who will report directly to Bob Pittman, Clear Channel’s Chairman and CEO. Effective immediately, the new Major Markets Operating Group’s four divisions led by Hartley Adkins, Executive Vice President; Tom McConnell, Executive Vice President; Kelly Kibler, Senior Vice President; and Greg Ashlock, formerly President of Clear Channel/Los Angeles, who will now expand his responsibilities as President of Clear Channel/Southern California. Matt Martin will continue in his position as President of Regional Markets. Meanwhile, Tom Schurr, who had been President of Operations for Major Markets, has left the company. “It’s critical that we are able to coordinate and integrate our resources faster and more responsively,” said Pittman in a statement released by the company late on Friday afternoon (3/14). “With our new Major Markets Operating Group, we will accelerate our decision-making, increase our flexibility and improve results, as well as increase the empowerment and accountability of our individual market leaders. We’re pleased to expand the responsibilities of these four strong leaders within Clear Channel.”
Tom Langmyer has been named VP/General Manager of Journal Broadcast Group’s Milwaukee radio operations, including heritage News/Talker WTMJ-AM and Adult Hits WLWK/Lake FM. In his new job Langmyer will also be responsible for Journal’s Milwaukee play-by-play sports radio business, while continuing to support the company’s spoken-word radio stations in his current role as VP/News and Talk Programming. He takes a chair most recently occupied by Steve Wexler, who is stepping away from his day-to-day GM duties in Milwaukee following a recent promotion to EVP/Radio, where he’ll now focus on the company entire 35-station radio division. “Tom is a trusted leader with a well-known track record of success,” Wexler said. “Our radio stations are in excellent hands with Tom at the helm. He has already made significant contributions to our company, and I’m thrilled to have a broadcaster of his caliber running our flagship stations.” Prior to joining Journal last August, Langmyer’s radio resume includes stints as VP/GM at WGN/Chicago and KMOX/St. Louis, and as Vice President of News/Talk for CBS Radio. Tom cut his broadcast teeth in Buffalo, where he worked at both WBEN and WGR.
NTS MediaOnline Today is sad to report the death of Talk radio pioneer Bob Grant, who died on New Year’s Eve, Tuesday (12/31). He was 84. After a post-college gig at WBBM/Chicago, Grant would go on to become one of the inventors of so-called ‘controversial’ Talk radio, first taking over for the legendary Joe Pyne in 1964 at KABC/Los Angeles, after having worked as a TV and radio personality at crosstown KNX. But Bob’s biggest Talk radio success would come after making a move to New York, where, over more than four decades he was heard on WMCA, WABC and WOR. Grant’s often tumultuous NYC radio career took a brief hiatus when he became part of the lineup at one of America’s very first FM Talk radio stations, WWDB/Philadelphia. He was also the author of the bestselling book, Let’s Be Heard. Read more on the life and career of the Talk radio icon who inspired dozens of modern-day hosts, along with details on funeral arrangements, HERE.
Current WIP-AM & FM/Philadelphia Program Director Jeff Sottolano has been upped to Director of Programming for CBS Radio, a new position from which he will offer support to the company’s 27 major market PD’s and help to drive overall growth for CBS’ 126 radio stations. “Jeff has consistently and successfully answered every challenge he’s faced during his career at CBS Radio,” said EVP/Programming Chris Oliviero in a release announcing Sottolano’s move up the corporate ladder. “With such diverse format experience and a respected reputation, both in and outside our company, I have no doubt he is ready to tackle this exciting and critical next chapter. Jeff will be a great complement to our corporate programming team.” Sottolano joined CBS Radio in 2001 at WZNE/Rochester, rising from intern to Program Director and on-air personality during his tenure with the station. In 2006 he moved to WYSP/Philadelphia, where he was promoted to PD in 2008 and also was instrumental in launching Danny Bonaduce’s morning show that same year. In 2011 he assumed programming oversight at WIP when the heritage AM Sports/Talker launched an FM simulcast on WYSP as ‘SportsRadio 94 WIP.’ Sottolano also created the lineup for Phillies 24/7, the WOGL-HD4 channel dedicated to all things Philadelphia Phillies. In his new New York City-based gig, Sottolano will also be charged with “maintaining ongoing communication with external industry and charitable organizations,” as well as “working closely with the division’s digital media business to ensure a seamless cross-platform product and brand experience.”
Effective January 1st, Clear Channel will move The Rush Limbaugh Show in 3 major markets. As already expected, Limbaugh’s Premiere Networks syndicated daily show will move from WABC/New York to CC’s crosstown WOR. Additionally, Limbaugh will move from his current home at KKSF/San Francisco to Clear Channel clustermate KNEW which will rebrand as an all-conservative Talk outlet. But the big news is that Rush will be moving from his longtime Los Angeles affiliate KFI, to co-owned KTLK, which will flip from it’s current progressive Talk lineup and rebrand as new all-conservative talker ‘The Patriot.’ CC says the moves in SoCal and the Bay Area are being made to utilize the audience draw of Limbaugh’s show to build underdeveloped stations in both clusters, with the goal of giving the company two strong Talk stations in each market. Clear Channel has previously made similar moves with Limbaugh’s program in a number of other markets including Houston, New Orleans, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and others. Brian Glicklich, acting as a spokesperson for the Limbaugh camp, commented on the pending moves telling NTS MediaOnline Today, “Rush Limbaugh has built the ratings and revenue of hundreds of America’s most successful radio stations, and is looking forward to doing the same at these new Clear Channel homes.”
Industry veteran Peter Bolger has been named Operations Manager and Program Director for Cumulus Media News/Talker WLS-AM/Chicago. Bolger was most recently PD at Clear Channel News/Talk News/Talk WOAI and Sports/Talker The Ticket 760 in San Antonio. Prior to his years in Texas, Bolger had a nearly 20-year run at WIOD and WINZ/Miami. Bolger inherits a lineup at WLS-AM that includes the Bruce Wolf & Dan Proft Morning Show (the duo replaced the long running Don Wade & Roma Show in wake-ups last year following the illness and subsequent death of Don Wade), John Kass & Lauren Cohn, the Roe Conn Show with Richard Roeper and Premiere Networks syndicated Rush Limbaugh Show. “I think Chicago radio is the best there is,” said Bolger (pictured) about his move to the Windy City. “Fortunately, we have incredible talent and deep resources at WLS-AM and FM. I want to thank John Dickey, Mike McVay and Donna Baker for the opportunity to be part of the historic WLS brand. I can’t wait to get started.” Tracy Slutzkin, who has served as PD since former OM/PD Drew Hayes moved to co-owned KABC/Los Angeles last January, will return to her previous post as Assistant Program Director.
Veteran News/Talk radio programmer Randall Bloomquist is joining Cumulus Media as Corporate Program Director for the company’s News/Talk stations. Most recently head of marketing communications and content creation firm Bloomquist Media, Randall’s prior Talk radio programming resume includes stints at WMAL/Washington, WGST/Atlanta, WBT/Charlotte and WRVA/Richmond. “I’m thrilled to join Cumulus at this exciting time in the history of radio and audio content,” said Bloomquist (pictured). “Cumulus is a true audio platform company well-positioned to help shape the future of our industry. I look forward to working with John Dickey, Mike McVay and the rest of the Cumulus News/Talk team to create great radio that resonates with listeners and delivers for clients.” Concurrent with Bloomquist’s arrival at Cumulus’ Atlanta headquarters, Jim Mahanay — who has been overseeing programming for all of Cumulus’ News/Talk and Sports/Talk stations, will now concentrate his efforts on the company’s growing focus on Sports radio with the newly minted title of Corporate Program Director/Sports.
Longtime WLW/Cincinnati programmer and Clear Channel corporate News/Talk radio programming VP Darryl Parks has been let go after more than a decade at the Ohio cluster. Talk industry wags across the country reacted with surprise to the news of Parks’ abrupt dismissal from a company that he’s called home for more than two decades — dating all the way back to the pre-Clear Channel days of Jacor Communications. Veteran Cincinnati media reporter John Kiesewetter (who first broke the news of Parks exit), labeled him as “arguably the most influential person in Cincinnati radio” during his tenure as PD at WLW, where he guided ‘The Big One’ to a decade of #1 ratings. Darryl’s also a familiar voice to WLW listeners as host of a weekly 9-11am talk show every Saturday. Read more from Kiesewetter HERE. Friends and industry colleagues — not to mention smart managers out there with an opportunity to lock up the experienced Talk radio pro — can email Darryl directly HERE.