Pope Francis held the first-ever televised virtual audience with Americans earlier today, in what ABC News called an “historic event” moderated by ABC World News Tonight anchor David Muir. In the first-of-its-kind global gathering, Pope Francis heard the stories of the people while delivering his message to hundreds in Chicago, Los Angeles, and McAllen, Texas simultaneously from the Vatican via satellite. During the interactive virtual audience, the Pope spoke with students at the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago, individuals from homeless shelters near Skid Row in Los Angeles, and immigrants at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church near the United States-Mexico border in McAllen. The event provided an opportunity for the Pope to connect with people in places he wanted to visit, but is unable to during his upcoming trip to the United States. ABC News Radio is offering excerpts from Muir’s papal interview beginning today, as well as access to a one-hour ABC News special from the event that will air this weekend.
Lana Zak (left) joins Karen Travers, Mary Bruce, Bazi Kanani, Kenneth Moton and Stephanie Ramos as the newest member of ABC News Radio’s Multi-Platform Reporter team. The award-winning reporter began her career with ABC News as an anchor/producer for Diane Sawyer at Good Morning America … Congrats to KGO/San Francisco mid-morning host Ronn Owens, who sounded right on top of his game as he returned to his show today following recent surgery to treat his Parkinson’s symptoms … Longtime KOGO/San Diego host Bob ‘Sully’ Sullivan steps down as co-host of the iHeartMedia News/Talker’s DeMaio-Sullivan Report, amid rumors of tension over the direction of the show since Sully was paired with former SD City Councilman Carl DeMaio last April. Sullivan will reportedly remain with KOGO as a business editor and fill-in host, while DeMaio is now hosting the mid-afternoon program solo … In news of another departure, news veteran Joe Gillespie has left the building at KXNT/Las Vegas, after “five adventurous years” with the CBS Radio News/Talker. No word yet on where he’s headed next, but friends and colleagues can reach Joe HERE.
Salem Media Group announced today that it is re-naming its top-of-hour news product in a joint partnership with Townhall.com — the Salem-owned website that reaches a reported 3 million unique visitors every month. Salem will continue delivering its long-running SRN News feed at :55 past each hour, primarily for Christian stations. The new top-of-the-hour broadcast will be designed for News/Talk stations and will carry the ‘Townhall.com’ branding. “We will continue to offer the outstanding reporting that is a hallmark of SRN News with great anchors and respected correspondents like Greg Clugston at the White House, Linda Kenyon at the Senate and Wally Hindes at the House,” said Salem Radio Network Senior VP Phil Boyce. “The new brand extension will allow us to better market the product for News and Talk stations, and we can’t think of a better partner to have than the respected and well-known Townhall.com.” Sirius XM’s Patriot channel will be among the news service’s charter affiliates when it debuts on August 31st, with additional affiliates, including KSEV/Houston, also already on board.
Westwood One News adds well-respected anchor/correspondent and award-winning newsman Chas Henry to the network’s news team. A familiar voice in Washington, DC, Henry (left) has been an anchor at Hubbard Radio’s DC all-news WTOP and a TV reporter for NewsChannel 8 and ABC7. Most recently, he served as an anchor and national security correspondent at CBS Radio’s Washington all-newser WNEW-FM. “We are thrilled that we have the opportunity to bring aboard an anchor and reporter with the talent and reputation of Chas,” said Bart Tessler, Westwood One EVP/News & Talk. “Our affiliates and listeners will benefit from his anchoring afternoon drive newscasts, his national security sources, and his reporting.” Meanwhile, WW One reports that it’s 24/7 news service (powered by CNN) has passed a milestone 750 affiliates since its launch last January, with nine of those outlets located in the Top 10 markets.
Longtime KGO/San Francisco host Ronn Owens took to his Facebook page today to update fans on the progress of his recovery from recent surgery. A post-surgery fall down the stairs at his home slowed his recovery a bit, but Owens (pictured sporting a nice three-day growth of ‘I don’t have to leave the damn house today!’ beard) reports he’s still on track and optimistic the recent procedure will help to reverse his Parkinson’s symptoms by some 5-7 years. The legendary Bay Area talker also said he plans to be back on the radio on Monday (8/31) and expressed his gratitude for all the support he’s received from fans and colleagues. “Thanks so much for all of your kind wishes, prayers and support during this time,” he said. “I can’t describe what it’s meant to me and my family. We feel incredibly fortunate to have had all of you along with us for this journey. Thanks too, to Brian Copeland for stepping in and doing a great job hosting the show in my absence. I look forward to catching up with all of you on Monday.”
KDWN/Las Vegas officially names local radio vets Dave Carney and Chad Forster (left) as the new morning duo for the Beasley Media Group-owned News/Talker. Already on the air and hosting a ‘soft launch’ of the new program for the past few weeks, Live In Las Vegas with Dave and Chad airs Monday-Friday, from 6-9am. The show takes over hours previously held by Alan Stock who recently exited … It was a decade ago this week when Entercom News/Talker WWL/New Orleans turned into ‘The Hurricane Station’ for southern Louisiana and much of the Gulf Coast, as Hurricane Katrina and a major levee break wreaked havoc on the Crescent City. Our broadcast brothers and sisters across the pond at the BBC have produced a terrific profile of the station and its people who served as a literal electronic lifeline to millions during the many difficult days and weeks during and after the storm. See it HERE … According to a report by fashion, beauty and retail industry news website wwd.com, longtime Bloomberg Radio General Manager and veteran Talk radio programmer Al Mayers will take on additional duties as head of U.S. television for the network. Al succeeds Claudi Milne who segues to a new role heading up special projects for the business and financial news network.
Get well wishes to WMBD/Peoria and KXL/Portland talker Scott Robbins, co-host of the Robbins & Markley Show, who suffered a major heart attack on Monday (8/24) and has been hospitalized to undergo triple bypass surgery. Robbins and his 20-year on-air partner Jamie Markley (pictured) air weekdays from 9am-noon (PT) on KXL and 2-6pm (CT) on WMBD. Both News/Talkers are owned by Alpha Media … Chuck Sullivan, General Manager for Entercom/Milwaukee, expands his duties to now also include serving as GM for the company’s three-station Madison, WI cluster. Prior to joining Entercom Sullivan held similar positions with Cumulus Media in Fort Walton Beach/Destin FL and Mobile, AL, as well as Managing Partner of Ocean Broadcasting in Wilmington, NC … WTOP/Washington has announced the return of the Hubbard Radio all-newser’s online contest, Click for a Cause, which gives DC area non-profit organizations the chance to vie for one of three cash prizes. The first-place winner will be awarded $12,000 while the second and third-place winners will receive $10,000 and $8,000 respectively. Winners will be based on the highest number of votes (likes) received during the contest. Voting will take place Monday, September 14th through Friday, September 25th at www.wtop.com.
Bonneville conservative talk outlet KTTH/Seattle has named Todd Herman as the station’s new afternoon host. Described as “a lifetime Washingtonian who co-founded the first Internet radio network, theDial, helped start the MSN Video business unit at Microsoft and entered politics as chief digital strategist for the Republican National Committee,” Herman (left) has also developed a number of digital properties, including BuzzPo.com. “Talk radio was my first love in media and joining KTTH is literally something of which I’ve dreamed,” said Herman about his new gig. “To work with [fellow KTTH hosts] David Boze and Michael Medved on Seattle’s conservative Talk radio station is an honor matched only by the kind words I have received from KTTH listeners.” Herman takes over a slot most recently occupied by Ben Shapiro, who last week announced he was relinquishing those hours to help care for his infant daughter who is recovering from open heart surgery. Shapiro, who has been doing double duty as both afternoon host at KTTH and morning co-host at KRLA/Los Angeles, continues his wake-up duties at AM 870 The Answer.
Longtime Denver Sports radio programmer Tim Spence (right) is headed east and inbound to iHeartMedia, where he’ll oversee oversee programming for the company’s ESPN Radio affiliates WUCS/Hartford and WAVZ-AM/New Haven, and News/Talkers WPOP-AM/Hartford and WELI-AM/New Haven. The 30-year Talk radio programming veteran assumes the chair most recently occupied by Dave Zaslowski, who moved to take a new job in his hometown of Chicago.
• Bob Agnew has left the building at SoCal Sports/Talker KLAA (SportsRadio 830)/Orange-Los Angeles. Agnew joined the Los Angeles Angels’ flagship radio station in 2013, following stints at then Susquehanna-owned KNBR/San Francisco, KNEW-KKGN/San Francisco, KXNT/Las Vegas, and as an exec with the syndicated On The House with the Carey Brothers program.
• Mike Lupica and WEPN (ESPN 98.7)/New York have parted ways. No word yet on who might fill the station’s 1-3pm slot, that pits its occupant up against the opening hours of the formidable Mike Francesa on crosstown WFAN. Lupica will reportedly continue to maintain his role as part of ESPN television’s The Sports Reporters.
After leaving WREC/Memphis some five and a half years ago, Ben Ferguson has found that the only cure for those ‘Beale Street Blues’ is to return to iHeartMedia’s Mid-South News/Talker, where he’s taking up residence in his old familiar afternoon drive time slot — 4-7pm weekdays. Ferguson, who left WBAP/Dallas earlier this year after a three-plus year run with the Cumulus Media News/Talker, tells NTS MediaOnline Today he’s also just inked a new two year extension with CNN to continue serving as an on-camera political analyst for the cable news network. Along with his new local WREC show, Ben will continue hosting his long-running weekly nationally syndicated talk show that currently airs on a reported 100 affiliates every Sunday (7-10pm/ET), via the ICON Radio Network.