BREAKING NEWS: NTS MediaOnline Today is sad to report that longtime broadcast programming veteran and current KGO-KSFO/San Francisco PD Kevin Metheny died suddenly today (10/3). A post at Kevin’s Facebook page from his sister states: “I can’t even believe I’m saying this, but my brilliant big brother, Kevin Metheny passed away today. I have no words. Just deep, deep sorrow. He was a good brother and friend. He had a wonderfully crazy, bigger-than-life LIFE. I’ve always admired him and his accomplishments. It still doesn’t even feel real. I guess I’ll probably say more once I’m able to grasp what has happened.” Friends and colleagues are paying tribute to Metheny on his Facebook page HERE.
John Dickey, Executive Vice President, Programming and Content for Cumulus Media released this statement late Friday night: “Kevin Metheny’s sudden passing this afternoon is a devastating personal and professional loss for his broadcasting family at Cumulus, and for the entire radio industry. Kevin was a legendary broadcasting talent who touched many lives in his remarkable 44-year career, and whose successes made an indelible mark on radio. His reputation and accomplishments are simply unparalleled and we are grateful for having had the opportunity to work with him as PD of WJR in Detroit and most recently, as Operations Manager of KGO and KSFO in San Francisco. His Cumulus family extends our deepest sympathies to Kevin’s loved ones. We will miss him profoundly.”
CBS Radio and Beasley Broadcast Group have signed a definitive agreement to swap 13 stations in Tampa and Charlotte, as well as one AM station in Philadelphia, for two FM stations in Philadelphia, and three stations in Miami. As a result, CBS Radio will for the first time have a presence in Miami, the nation’s 11th largest radio market. “This transaction reinforces our strategy to concentrate on large market properties,” said Dan Mason, President and CEO, CBS Radio. “We already have television duopolies in both Philadelphia and Miami, so these new stations will be a terrific complement to our existing local broadcasting portfolio, and a welcome addition to the overall CBS family.” Meanwhile, Beasley Chairman/CEO George G. Beasley added, “Throughout Beasley Broadcast Group’s 53-year history, we have actively managed our station portfolio with the goal of serving the local communities where we operate, diversifying our operations, managing risk and improving financial results. The asset exchange agreement with CBS Radio addresses all of these strategic objectives as, upon completion, we will expand our station base by nine stations and add completed clusters in Tampa and Charlotte which complement our already strong mid-Atlantic presence. Furthermore, the transaction is also consistent with our long-term strategy to operate leading clusters in large- and mid-size markets.” Talk formatted stations NTS MediaOnline Today spotted that are involved in the swap include: WQAM/Miami (which moves from Beasley To CBS), along with 98.7 The Fan and CBS Sports Radio 1010/Tampa (WHFS-FM & AM); CBS Sports Radio 1660 and SportsRadio 610/Charlotte (WBCN-AM and WFNZ-AM) and CBS Sports Radio 610/Philadelphia (WIP-AM), which all move from CBS to Beasley.
As we first reported in a ‘Breaking News’ email earlier today, longtime KNX/Los Angeles Director of News and Programming Andy Ludlum has exited the heritage SoCal all-newser. Ludlum (pictured), who joined CBS Radio/Los Angeles in 1998 and has worked for both KNX and one-time CBS Radio clustermate KFWB during his tenure, sports a resume of more than 35 years of radio and TV news experience, including stints in San Jose, Seattle and Kansas City before moving to L.A. in the mid-1990s. “We parted ways with Andy last night (9/22),” CBS Radio/Los Angeles VP and Market Manager Dan Kearney told NTS MediaOnline Today. “We are starting a nationwide search for a new KNX Program Director immediately.” Kearney also noted that KNX News Director Julie Chin will serve as interim PD of the station until the opening is permanently filled.
As reported via our “Breaking News” email earlier today, ABC News President James Goldston announced that, starting in January 2015, Disney-owned ABC will take back control of distribution and marketing for ABC News Radio. The announcement comes in advance of the clock running out on a deal with Cumulus Media, which acquired syndication and marketing rights to ABC News Radio when the company acquired Citadel Broadcasting back in 2011. Cumulus/WW One also distributes and syndicates CBS Radio News, NBC Radio News and it’s just announced new “white label” news product powered by CNN NewsSource. Goldston also reports that a new alliance between ABC and Skyview Networks will “help us deliver our content and bolster our sales efforts.” Calling it a “new era” for the network Goldston added, “We’re taking these important steps now to work more closely with our terrific, long-standing station partners and better position us for digital audio growth in the future. I’m confident that with [ABC News Radio VP/GM] Steve Jones and his team leading the charge, there are exciting new opportunities and many more great days ahead at ABC Radio.” ABC News Radio currently airs on a reported 2,000+ affiliates nationwide.
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.”