Here I Come to Save the Day. It means that mighty radio is on the way! As tropical storm (or hurricane) Isaac bears down on an understandably nervous Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, local area radio gears up to do what radio does very well – provide practical information and emotional support to communities under siege by Mother Nature. It has been seven years since Hurricane Katrina roared through this region making history and leaving an indelible mark on the lives of millions of people. During that natural disaster — and a number of others both before and since – good ol’ terrestrial radio has risen to the occasion, in many cases putting competitive barriers aside, and served the community. In preparation for the coming storm, Entercom’s WWL-FM/AM went into wall-to-wall coverage mode preparing its listeners with updates on the approaching storm’s direction and progress. The radio station’s website this morning looks like something you would expect to see from the Weather Channel. Guaranty Broadcasting Group reports to RadioInfo it is all over the storm today with simulcasts on their various formats in the market that began at 5:30 am. Talk 107.3 FM began live simulcast coverage on Eagle 98.1’s 100,000 watt signal. Matt Kennedy and Brian Haldane are leading coverage with the Talk 107.3 FM morning show. Darren Gauthier and Scotty Drake will provide mid-day coverage. The husband and wife team of Bill and Karen Profita will anchor afternoon coverage. 104.5 ESPN’s Charles Hanagriff and Matt Moscona will take on coverage until midnight on the Talk 107.3/Eagle 98.1 simulcast. Bill and Karen Profita will return with the overnight shift beginning at midnight. The Talk 107.3 FM/Eagle 98.1 simulcast will continue throughout the hurricane as proves to be necessary. The simulcast will also feature live coverage from Guaranty’s TV partner WAFB Channel 9 with continuous updates from chief meteorologist Jay Grymes. Guaranty VP/market manager Gordy Rush tells RadioInfo, “We are thrilled to bring unprecedented 24 hour live and local coverage to South Louisiana with the names and voices that carried this region through the likes of Katrina and Gustav.” (Image courtesy of NASA)
Mark Masters’ TRN Companies File Lawsuit against Dial Global Claiming Monopoly Practices. These companies, (usually referred to generally in the industry as Talk Radio Network (TRN), include The Original Talk Radio Network, Inc., Talk Radio Network Enterprises, LLC and Talk Radio Network-FM, Inc. They have initiated the filing of a Federal action against Dial Global, Inc. and multiple other parties, asserting antitrust, anti-monopoly and other claims. In announcing that action, Mark Masters, CEO of the plaintiff companies, states, “This is a sad but necessary day for us. But the steps we take today are for the sake of the entire community of independent spoken word syndicators, and independent radio networks who depend on outside sale representation for their very financial survival. These independent producers, syndicators and networks serve America’s over 10,000 commercial radio stations, helping them save costs, and increase quality at a critical time to those stations’ survival in the current difficulties they face in navigating today’s national economic environment. Today, we reluctantly are forced to bring this action, as the largest group of independent spoken word syndicators/networks in the United States. In doing so, we hope this signals a beginning of the end to active monopoly and anti-competitive actions within radio’s independent spoken word syndication markets.” In the suit TRN lists a variety of marketplace operational grievances against Dial Global citing the recent demise of CNN Radio News as a prime example: “The plaintiff companies note in particular that the recent destruction of CNN radio (which was on over 1,100 radio stations in the US and had been operating for over 20 years), going into a presidential election, in favor of its immediate replacement by a branded news operation, at the election of its sales representatives, is a telling example of the threat posed by the ability of a small handful of unelected Wall Street executives who have achieved sufficient dominance in one sales market to force changes in the separate independent spoken word market, and the threat posed to other independent spoken word syndicators absent prompt corrective actions.” Masters goes on to state, “The sudden death of CNN Radio News, after 20 years, and in a presidential election year besides, is a veritable canary in a coal mine for independent spoken word syndication in radio.” The idea to file this lawsuit has obviously been brewing in the mind of Mark Masters for some time now. Attendees at the recent industry gathering presented by TALKERS magazine, “The New Media Seminar” in New York on June 7 might recall the TRN CEO hinting during his luncheon address about the possibility that his company might be taking unprecedented legal action against an alleged radio industry monopoly. Seems he meant it. RadioInfo tried contacting Dial Global CEO David Landau for comment this morning but was unable to reach him.
Good News for Fisher Stock Holders. Integrated media company Fisher Communications, Inc.’s board has declared a special cash dividend of $10 per share following the sale last December of Fisher Plaza for a reported $160 million in cash. The board also approved a quarterly cash dividend policy beginning in the fourth quarter of this year as a measure to return value to its shareholders. Fisher board chairman Paul Bible tells RadioInfo, “The special dividend is an opportunity to efficiently return capital to all of our investors following the sale of Fisher Plaza. The quarterly dividend policy reflects our confidence that the successful execution of our strategic plan will continue to generate the strong cash flows that will enable us to invest in the business while returning excess cash to our shareholders.”
CBS Sports Radio Names Eric Spitz Director of Programming; Chris Oliviero to Supervise New Division. WFAN, New York program director Eric Spitz is named the director of programming for CBS’ new sports talk radio network and the company announces CBS Radio SVP of programming Chris Oliviero will take on a supervisory role in the new sports talk venture. Spitz is a longtime WFAN employee, beginning his tenure there as a desk assistant back in 1987 when the station first debuted. Spitz split from WFAN for a period in 2002 when he was named vice president, operations and programming for Westwood One’s Shadow/Metro Traffic but returned to WFAN in 2005. In a statement, Oliviero comments on the new management structure. “Eric has a unique skill set ideal for building a sports radio network as proven by his tremendous success at WFAN. Eric has been involved with the pioneering radio station since the beginning and watched the format grow from its infancy to what is now one of the most successful in the industry. His perspective is exactly what’s needed to launch a sports radio brand that can stand the test of time. And his selection for this critical position proves the value we are putting on leadership with a strong editorial track record in sports programming. We are also fortunate to be able to call on the expertise of Mark Chernoff, who is without a doubt the most successful sports radio program director of all time. Mark has been one of the principals helping to lay the foundation for CBS Sports Radio and his continued guidance will be a huge advantage as we craft programming we are confident will be of great interest to our affiliates around the country.” The 24/7 sports programming network will launch on January 2, 2013 with Cumulus Media Networks as syndicator and sales partner.
Radio One Begins Operating WNOW-FM, Charlotte; Re-Brands as Old School 105.3. The former regional Mexican format is gone from WNOW-FM, Charlotte as Radio One flips it to urban oldies under the moniker “Old School 105.3” playing classic R&B from the 1970s and 1980s. The station will feature Tom Joyner’s nationally syndicated morning drive show and music the rest of the day. The official “takeover” day for Radio One is September 4.
Speaking of Tom Joyner…Denny’s Supports Tom Joyner to Help Raise Health Awareness in African American Community. Major national restaurant chain Denny’s and nationally syndicated morning host Tom Joyner are launching a nationwide sweepstakes to send one lucky listener and a guest to Philadelphia for a VIP experience at the “Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day Health Festival.” The health festival, a new addition to the “Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day” celebration will take place Oct. 19 and 20 at the Liacouras Center in downtown Philadelphia. The signature event will include a health expo where attendees can receive more than $1,000 in free health services including immunizations and dental exams, as well as lifesaving health information, seminars and live entertainment.
WRCN, Riverhead, New York Morphs from Classic Rock to Mainstream Rock. The Eastern Long Island classic rocker owned by JVC Media changed its format from classic rock to mainstream rock on Monday and changed its positioning slogan from “Long Island’s Classic Rock” to “Everything that Rocks.” According to RadioInfo resident rock radio historian Duane Doobie, “This switch should prove very successful for WRCN. Long Island has a very rich history in great album rock radio going back some 42 years to the original, legendary WLIR. Generations of Long Island kids have grown up loving this kind of radio and the culture it embraces. An album rock station plugged into current as well older music executed properly will find a huge and grateful audience.”
Hot 97 New York’s Chris Nadler Dies Unexpectedly. WQHT, New York’s Chris Nadler, who held the title lifestyle engagement director/music marketing at the Emmis station died unexpectedly on Friday, August 24. Details are few but Nadler was reported to be in his early 50s and a veteran of the music radio scene in NYC. In a statement, WQHT SVP and general manager Alex Cameron said, “There are no words to express how stunned and saddened I and the whole Emmis staff are as Chris was a longtime and widely cared for Emmis New York family member. He was a fantastic, creative and dynamic professional that can never be replaced. More importantly, he was a generous, selfless, person of integrity with a great sense of humor and true friend to so many. He was a dad, a husband, a colleague and dear friend. I certainly count him as one of my close friends and a special part of Emmis that will always, always be remembered.”
Cincinnati Talk Host Eric Deters to Surface at Rock Trimulcast. Just days after leaving Christian Broadcasting System’s WQRT, Cincinnati due to clashes with management, talk host Eric Deters (who has also worked at Clear Channel’s WLW, Cincinnati subbing for Bill Cunningham and hosting his own weekend show) will take over the morning show at Class X – the classic rock trimulcast that’s heard on WMWX, Miamitown, Ohio; WKCX, Crittenden, Kentucky; and WYNS, Waynesville, Ohio. No official start date for Deters has been given.
AC WRIX, Honea Path, South Carolina Possibly on the Block. The AC station with a local news and information focus and serves the Anderson, South Carolina market (30 miles south of Greenville) is in receivership and is being operated by Karen Small. Local media is reporting the station is being pursued by Greenville-based broadcaster Bob Nations. The Independent Mail reports an offer for the station is on the table but no further information is available. MEET THE NEW BOSS: Nations is seeking to assure the staff and the station’s listeners that if a deal goes down, the programming would remain the same.
Stern Still Maintains High Visibility by Skirmishing with Colleagues. There he goes again – using a publicity technique that has worked successfully for him for decades. Howard Stern is all over the news this week by getting into verbal food fights with other members of the media, including to a large extent his own bosses. The King of All Media (who among his many jobs works for NBC as a judge on TV’s America’s Got Talent) alleged on his Sirius XM radio show last Tuesday that an NBC executive made a “threatening kind of comment” to him after he blasted NBC late-night host Jay Leno as a “spineless maggot” and a “scumbag.” The insults were prompted by Stern’s “theory” that the widespread reports about Leno asking for cuts in his own salary to keep NBC from axing even more staffers than the 20 they cut for budgetary reasons from the Tonight Show are not exactly true. Stern opines, “It’s a smokescreen. Here’s what it really means, and you can take this to the bank: Jay Leno is a scumbag. That’s what that means. He’s a spineless maggot. Jay wanted to cut staff. He’s embarrassed to do it. He didn’t want to come off as a bad guy.” Now Stern is boldly proclaiming that he is not afraid of NBC’s threats: “Take my job away from me – who cares?” Stern said. “I will never, ever, ever endorse Jay.” As for whether Stern consciously applies this technique as a professional method to be in the news and gain favor among his loyal fans that distortedly see him as the small guy unafraid to stand up to power (his bosses) remains a mystery – but it sure has been going on consistently for many years.