After 23 years at the helm of Salem Media Group’s Philadelphia radio stations, Russ Whitnah has announced he’ll retire as VP/GM at the end of this year. Whitnah (pictured) has been the “face” of Salem in Philly since the company entered the market with the purchase of WFIL-AM in late 1993 (a second station — WNTP-AM — was added to the cluster in 1994). Beginning his broadcast career as a sales rep for Oklahoma State University’s campus radio station in 1972, over his 44-year career Witnah’s radio resume included stints in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Colorado Springs, Harrisburg and the Quad-Cities. “Russ has been a pillar for us in Philadelphia,” said Dave Santrella, President of Salem’s Broadcast Division. “He has personified the Salem mission day in and day out for many years.” Salem Operational VP David Ruleman has already begun a national search for Whitnah’s successor in Philly.
97.3 KIRO-FM/Seattle’s Ron & Don Show has teamed up with the Seattle Police Department, the Seattle Police Foundation, and mattress retailer Sleep Train, for the 2016 Beds for Kids Project. Created in 2014 by Seattle Police Officers Jeremy Wade and Ryan Gallagher, this year’s goal is to provide a minimum of 150 mattresses, bedframes, sheet sets, comforters and pillows to local children in need. KIRO hosts Ron Upshaw and Don O’Neill (pictured) have been passionate and active supporters of the Beds For Kids Project since its launch … Radio imaging and voiceover services company Benztown is busy compiling the company’s 3rd annual Benztown 50 List of Radio’s Biggest Imaging Voices (which will be released later this fall). Voice talents in the U.S. and Canada can get more details on the yearly list — which is based on multiple criteria — and apply to be included on it HERE … Fans of Vin Scully, the longtime voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers, will be able to hear the legendary broadcaster’s final audio broadcast on Sunday, October 2nd, via TuneIn’s MLB Radio. Sunday’s broadcast of the regular season’s final game between the Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants will mark the final sign-off for the iconic broadcaster, who is retiring after 67 seasons in the Dodgers’ broadcast booth.
BrietbartNews.com reported late yesterday (9/26) that Westwood One syndicated talker Michael Savage was “abruptly pulled off the air on Monday afternoon after launching into a segment on Hillary Clinton’s delicate health.” The report goes on to say that WABC/New York — Savage’s Cumulus Media-owned local affiliate in the Big Apple — pulled The Savage Nation from it’s usual afternoon time slot, with longtime WABC local duo Curtis & Kuby taking over live as the presidential debate action at nearby Hofstra University was kicking into high gear. The Breitbart story also reported that Savage’s live network feed was “suddenly cut off to many of his other affiliates and a replay of an earlier episode was substituted.” Breitbart reporter Aaron Klein said Savage characterized the alleged pulling of his broadcast as, “Pure sabotage.” We’d call that a pretty serious accusation by a host aimed at his network, so that’s why NTS MediaOnline Today reached out to Bart Tessler, longtime EVP News & Talk Programming for Westwood One, who gave us the not-quite-so-sensational real story behind the whole brouhaha with this simple clarification. “WABC decided to go local during afternoon drive yesterday to cover the presidential debate at Hofstra, a local as well as a national story. Affiliates are permitted to pre-empt programming on certain occasions when there’s a big local story. That’s the whole deal. All other affiliates carried The Savage Nation yesterday as usual.”
News/Talkers and others across the country hosted all sorts of Debate Night parties and other events last night, taking advantage of the massive listener interest in the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Cox Media Group News/Talk/Sports Format Coordinator Drew Anderssen checks in to report how CMG’s News/Talk stations banded together “before, during and after the debate to swarm and own the biggest political story/election cycle of our lifetime!” CMG News/Talkers WDBO/Orlando, WSB/Atlanta, KRMG/Tulsa, WOKV/Jacksonville and WHIO/Dayton all aired a two-hour pre-debate show, anchored by WSB’s Chris Chandler, while three CMG stations — WDBO, WSB and KRMG — fielded live focus groups in their respective markets to watch the face-off, then participate in a 90-minute post-debate reaction show (pictured). The stations also employed Futuri Media’s #RateTheDebate feature on their apps and websites, and report heavy usage of the Open Mic feature available on the CMG stations’ apps. “All-in-all, last night was an innovative approach for radio that ultimately gave us the assets we needed to own the story throughout the day today, and moving forward toward the next debates,” Anderssen told NTS MediaOnline Today.
On his Friday (9/16) show veteran New York City radio personality John Gambling surprised listeners by announcing at the top of the program that he was retiring from his midday show on Salem Media Group News/Talker AM970 The Answer (WNYM) effective immediately. Gambling joined the Salem News/Talker in March 2014 after a stint at crosstown WABC and a long run at crosstown WOR — where he was the third generation of Gambling’s to host mornings on the now iHeartMedia-owned station, preceded by his father and grandfather on the long-running Rambling With Gambling show. WNYM General Manager Jerry Crowley called Gambling “irreplaceable” and added, “I truly believe in my heart that what you and your family have done for broadcasting is amazing. Upon joining us, John single-handedly helped to brand AM970 The Answer on New York radio — that’s the power of the Gambling name.” Hear John’s live retirement announcement and his on-air conversation with Crowley (including some ‘secrets’ of John’s career not previously revealed) HERE.
Long running WHO/Des Moines morning hosts Van & Bonnie — Van Harden and Bonnie Lucas (left) — are offering both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, separately, the chance to sit-in with them for an hour on their show to accentuate the positive side of their lives, with no political talk. In fact, if there is a mention, or even a reference to their opponent, the wake-up duo promise they’ll sound a buzzer and change the conversation. Van and Bonnie have qualified that the offer is being extended only to the candidates, not to any of their surrogates. “A common complaint being heard is that there is so much negative in the campaigns,” says a press release from WHO about the offer. “This is a chance for listeners, and the nation, to hear positives with conversation and questions from Van and Bonnie on topics people deal with every day such as favorite foods, first cars, heroes and heroines, their childhood, the happiest moments in life and more. Both candidates have previously appeared on iHeartMedia’s heritage Iowa News/Talker.
Emmis Communications-owned FM News/Talk 97.1 KFTK/St. Louis is claiming rights to making Gateway City broadcast history, with the announcement of a significant expansion of its coverage of the St. Louis metropolitan region. Effective today (9/15) KFTK’s programming will be heard not only on FM 97.1, but also on FM 98.7 and AM 1490 – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Emmis has LMA’d the former AM 1490 WQQX from current licensee the Entertainment Media Trust, which flipped the station’s call letters to KFTK-AM as part of the deal. With the LMA of AM 1490, Emmis was also able to purchase a translator licensed to Atlanta, Illinois from Cornerstone Communications, relocating it to St. Louis to air on the unused 98.7 frequency. “Demand for our programming has increased tremendously,” said John Beck, SVP/Market Manager for Emmis/St. Louis. “We are doing something revolutionary that makes it easier for everyone in the metro to listen to FM NewsTalk 97.1 wherever they go.” Adding his comments on the expanded coverage, KFTK Program Director Jeff Allen said, “For years we’ve been getting requests to expand the reach of our signal and this move does that. Just choose the dial position that comes in best on the radio where you are.”
Legendary radio personality Joey Reynolds, who spent over 15 years leading the Royal Order of the Night People on then Buckley-owned WOR/New York, is returning to the Gotham City radio dial this Sunday night, with a new show that will air live on crosstown Cumulus Media News/Talker WABC. Joey’s new show will evolve into what he calls a “Triple-cast,” simulcasting on radio and TV, and also streaming on the Internet. Next month it will expand to co-owned KABC/Los Angeles, and will also be independently syndicated. On his debut show this weekend (9/18), Reynolds will welcome another New York City radio icon, ‘Cousin’ Bruce Morrow (pictured above with Joey). Before beginning his career in Talk radio, Reynolds is perhaps best remembered for his early Top 40 radio days that included stints at WPOP & WDRC/Hartford, WKBW/Buffalo, WIXY/Cleveland, WXYZ/Detroit, KMPCLos Angeles, and WIBG & WFIL/Philadelphia.
Braggin’ Rights: Congratulations to Dave Ramsey (left) and his team, as the independently syndicated Dave Ramsey Show marks a major milestone, blasting through the 575 affiliates mark this month. Through its broadcast and digital platforms, Ramsey’s show now reaches a reported 12 million listeners weekly … Salem Media Group/Dallas Operations VP/GM John Peroyea has resigned from the cluster. Salem is opening a nationwide search for a successor to Peroyea, who will continue to serve as a consultant to Christian Contemporary KLTY-FM/Dallas, reporting to Salem President of Broadcast Media, David Santrella … Windy City radio scribe Robert Feder reports that Hubbard/Chicago VP/Market Manager John Gallagher has left the building, following a two year run. Read more HERE … Zac Davis is named Senior Vice President of Programming for iHeartMedia/Richmond, VA. Davis was most recently PD for two of iHM’s Hartford, CT stations, WKSS and WKCI.
The Labor Day weekend traditionally begins the ‘official’ campaign for the White House, as voters start to pay closer attention to the race with Election Day 2016 now only about two months away. Following the summer’s Party conventions, both GOP nominee Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have remained fairly quiet with regard to radio ads in recent weeks, with Media Monitors reporting that the week of August 26th-September 4th no exception. Their absence gave Libertarian presidential hopeful Gary Johnson (pictured) an ‘all clear ahead’ at radio, where the Gary Johnson For President campaign aired 9,398 radio spots. Liberty Action Group, a PAC supporting Donald Trump, aired 1,495 radio ads for the candidate, while People For The American Way ran 7 radio spots against Trump. Hillary Clinton aired zero radio spots during Media Monitors’ 10-day survey period, however her campaign was the week’s big spender on television, where Clinton’s campaign ran 10,915 spots. That contrasts with 7,791 ads run on TV by the Trump campaign. Media Monitors will continue to analyze ad spending from the candidates through the November election.