Chicago Tribune reporter Robert Channick spoke with WGN Radio President and manager Jimmy de Castro about yesterday’s announced decision to pull the plug on both it’s FM Sports/Talk experiment at 87.7 The Game (WGWG-LP) and the recently launched streaming venture, WGN.fm. As you’d probably expect, de Castro (pictured) cited economics as the driving force behind the decision to shutter both operations that were launched with a fair degree of fanfare some nine months ago. Tribune has a deal to operate WGWG through next September via an LMA with Venture Technologies Group, which owns the frequency. Asked what, if anything, will be airing on the 87.7 frequency come January 2015, de Castro (pictured) told the newspaper he really didn’t know yet but, “It’s not going to be sports, that’s for sure.” Read more (subscription required) HERE.
Meanwhile, Chicagoland Radio and Media reports on an announcement this morning by longtime Windy City radio personality Jonathan Brandmeier, in which he told listeners that despite the reported changes coming to his show’s two current Tribune-owned distribution platforms – 87.7 The Game (WGWG) and WGN.fm – his morning radio show will continue full speed ahead into the New Year, delivered digitally and online. ”We’ll live on at TuneIn.com and via the TuneIn app, and at BrandmeierShow.com,” said Johnny B. (pictured), who added that he remains in talks with Tribune and WGN Radio management about his future. “I would love to be able to put together a deal with the Tribune company. If it works out with the Tribune, I couldn’t be happier. That would be fantastic.” Read the full story HERE.
NTS MediaOnline Today hears rumors that a deal between Compass Media Networks and Dow Jones could be in the works that would allow Compass (which has handled affiliations and ad sales for the Wall Street Journal and MarketWatch Radio networks for the past year) to continue using Dow Jones’ northern New Jersey and DC broadcast studio facilities. Compass Media Networks has already announced it will takeover production of the WSJ Radio Network’s signature morning show, which has been dubbed with a new working title, This Morning with Gordon Deal. But could a deal to retain use of the WSJ studio facilities mean Compass is considering an expansion that would give the network the ability to assume production of more of the WSJ’s wide roster of financial and business news programs and features currently airing on a reported 600+ stations? Look for more details on this unfolding story next week in your regular daily afternoon updates from The Daily Digest of Talk Media.
In an interview that aired this morning on WFTL/Ft. Lauderdale, a local South Florida caller told mid-morning host Rich Stevens (pictured) that she, too, was a victim of sexual assault by legendary comedian and actor Bill Cosby. The woman — Therese Serignese, a now 57-year old, registered nurse from Boca Raton — claims that Cosby assaulted her in 1976 while she was visiting Las Vegas. “My younger sister and I were looking around the gift shop in the Hilton Hotel when a man came up behind me and put his hands on my shoulders and asked, ‘Will you marry me?’” Serignese told Stevens, noting she was 19-years old at the time of the alleged incident. “I turned around and instantly recognized that it was Bill Cosby. He was a big star, I mean anyone would have known him. We chatted for a few minutes and he invited me to come see his show that night, which I did, and then after the show someone came out and escorted me backstage to the ‘green room’ where there were a lot of other people. One-by-one everyone left until the end when it was just me and Bill Cosby left in the room. He stood in front of me with a glass of water and two pills and said, ‘Take these.’” Find out what Serignese says happened next HERE.
Multi-talented talk host Chip Franklin is headed to KGO/San Francisco, where he’ll host a new daily noon-3pm show beginning December 8th. Franklin, whose recent on air stints included a seven year run at WBAL/Baltimore followed by six years in wake-ups at KOGO/San Diego, is also a comedian, musician, filmmaker and Murrow Award-winning radio and TV writer. He’s written for and/or appeared on Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show, Conan O’Brien, The Situation Room, Larry King, The CBS Morning Show, CNN, HBO and Showtime. In his spare time he writes position pieces and prep for guests on Real Time with Bill Maher, Good Morning America and Face The Nation, while also touring and performing stand-up regularly at comedy clubs across the country. Commenting on his new Bay Area home, the self-described political independent said, “The current narrative is that San Francisco is all liberals, progressives and Democrats, mixed in with the occasional 4.9. Maybe, but I see it more as a city that simply embraces freedom and — more to the point — the free expression of ideas regardless of ideology. Whether it’s politics, art, music or comedy, it all starts with a passion for discovery of life here in the Bay Area, the wider world, and our inner lives.”
DC-based Judical Watch reports it has has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the FCC seeking “any and all records” related to the FCC’s controversial and now cancelled Critical Information Needs study in which the government sought to learn how news media makes editorial decisions about the stories they cover. The study caused a firestorm of feedback — especially on Talk radio and in media newsrooms nationwide — and from the NAB, which termed the study “constitutionally questionable.” Even FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai charged that continuation of the study would “thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country.” As a result of the blowback, the FCC announced back in February that it was suspending the project, but the conservative political watchdog group is seeking more details on it from the FCC via the FOIA lawsuit. Read more HERE … In the wake of this month’s election of a Republican governor to the Massachusetts State House for the first time in eight years, WBZ-TV News political analyst Jon Keller pens a feature on what impact conservative-leaning Talk radio personalities may have had on the election of new Governor-elect Charlie Baker, as well as the repeal of an unpopular gas tax hike. Read more HERE.
There’s no denying that a good size portion of the U.S. is currently experiencing an early winter season ‘big chill,’ however plunging temperatures could not compete with some warm-hearted News/Talkers determined to do good deeds despite the cold. This year’s NAB Marconi Award winner for ‘Medium Market Personality of the Year,’ KIDO/Boise morning host Kevin Miller, is living in the sub-zero Idaho cold outside a local Wal Mart all this week to highlight the plight of the homeless and collect turkeys for the Boise Rescue Mission. That’s Miller (pictured) with the Mission’s Reverend Bill Roscoe, showing his commitment to the cause by going full-on turkey for the fundraising effort. Says Miller, “It’s better to give a turkey than to be one, and that’s why we’re here.”
Meanwhile, in a part of the country where warm is generally defined as pretty much anything above 32 degrees, KFGO/Fargo recently served up free boxed lunches for highway workers hurrying to complete road construction projects in the region before winter settles in for its annual long run in North Dakota. Some 200 employees from various local companies and the Fargo NDDOT turned out to take a warm-up break and grab an on-the-house lunch at the Midwest Communications-owned News/Talker’s studios in South Fargo. That’s staff meteorologist Terry Spike (right) making his own unique construction fashion statement, wearing an orange safety vest and a pink hard hat to welcome the bundled-up workers in from the cold.
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Cincinnati has named Gary Sullivan — host of the weekly Premiere Networks syndicated At Home with Gary Sullivan show – as their 2014 honoree for Ohio Volunteer of the Year. The award is given each year to honor an individual for outstanding achievements and contributions to the local Habitat For Humanity affiliate and to the organization’s overall mission. Active with Habitat for more than two decades, Sullivan (pictured) also serves as a member of the Board of Directors and is a member of Executive and Development Committees. He’s also taught the home maintenance course to Habitat partner families in Cincinnati for the past 15 years. Quick to credit those around him upon receiving the honor, Sullivan told attendees at Habitat’s recently held annual Ohio conference, “I am embarrassed and humbled by this award, but also proud to accept it on behalf of all the hard working Habitat for Humanity volunteers.”
Harker Research namesake Richard Harker is back with a new and provocative post to his Radio Insights blog, in which he is critical of Nielsen’s Newswire ratings analysis releases that portray rating trends like a horse race. “The truth is that Nielsen’s format trends have nothing to do with how a majority of stations in a format are doing,” says Harker, who cites a recent Nielsen analysis that has fueled a lot of hand-wringing over the so-called ‘death’ of Talk radio. “The problem with the analysis was that most of the ‘trend’ was actually driven by what was happening at a few outsized major market Cumulus Media Talk stations,” he notes. “WABC/New York, KABC/Los Angeles, WLS/Chicago, KGO/San Francisco and others had lost a third of their collective quarter-hours. No reasonable rate of Talk station growth in the other PPM markets could make up for the cratering of these few stations. The listenership losses were the equivalent of an entire small PPM market signing off.” Read Harker’s full post HERE.
In the wake of the recently announced retirement of Salem Radio Network President Greg Anderson at the end of this year, Salem Communications will restructure its broadcast division, consolidating the company’s radio and network divisions into one as of January 1st. Current radio division president Dave Santrella (right) will assume the new title President of Broadcast Media, adding oversight of SRN, the SMR/VMR rep firm and a variety of digital assets to his current radio division responsibilities. Concurrently, Phil Boyce is promoted to SVP/Salem Radio Network and Spoken Word Formats and will oversee all program and revenue aspects of Salem’s News and News/Talk Networks. Longtime SRN VP News and Talk Programming Tom Tradup and Salem Communications National News/Talk and Business Talk PD John Butler will both continue in their current roles, reporting to Boyce (pictured), who will also retain oversight of Salem’s New York City stations and work with other aspects of Salem’s spoken-word formats, most notably as a program consultant for national ministries.