Assorted Updates

This is a sticky post to list changes in radio

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Curtis Sliwa leaving WABC-AM in New York City

The founder of the guardian angels has decided he is going to run for mayor of New York City as a Republican. That means he’s got to stop being on the radio, at least temporarily. Curtis is 67 years old, so this might be his last time in the ring.

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Will Alex Jones inherit the Rush Limbaugh legacy?

The Infowars broadcast is live from 12 noon for 3:00 PM eastern time. As I’ve been reviewing radio stations the past few days, not only is Alex Jones not going away, he has picked up new affiliates among the independent radio stations.

Because I was paying attention, I was aware of the close relationship between Donald Trump, Roger Stone and Alex Jones in 2016. Almost every day Roger Stone was communicating information directly from the Trump campaign to Alex. Donald Trump even appeared on the Alex Jones show and made it clear that he was a long time listener to Alex Jones.

If Donald Trump is serious about running in 2024, or just getting payback on the Democrats, Alex Jones is likely to be a player.

A lot of the listeners to conservative radio seem to believe that Dan Bongino is the heir apparent to Rush Limbaugh, primarily based on a press release from Westwood One. I think his success is not guaranteed. Here is why:

  • Despite the rants from the left, Rush Limbaugh and his audience were pretty moderate.
  • Dan Bongino has no experience doing live radio other than occasional fillin. He has been doing a 1 hour podcast
  • Waiting until late May to launch might miss the window of opportunity
  • Advertisers may be scared of him – in the end, that drives the decisions
  • IHeart is not going to pick up his show
  • Cumulus / Westwood One has no backbone when it comes to controversy
  • With the exception of Mark Levin, who they inherited from ABC radio, Westwood One has been increasingly ineffective in syndication beyond the stations owned by Cumulus

Bongino has appeared on Infowars with Alex Jones. They largely believe the same things.

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Entercom/CBS running away from “radio”

Entercom Radio, which acquired the assets of CBS radio in 2017 has announced it is changing its name and moving its focus away from that obsolete technology called radio.

This comes about a decade after Bob Pittman over at iHeart/Clear Channel came to the same conclusion. Pittman declared that iHeartRadio was a platform for distributing entertainment content, and terrestrial radio was only one of the methods of distribution. Time shifting and audio-on-demand are the future. Individuals calling up radio stations to talk to The Host is no longer entertaining, partly because of the lower quality of cell phones compared to land lines.

Entercom is renaming itself as Audacy and will move its content away from There are several indications they intend to get more friendly with legal sport betting entities.

Hopefully, this is not an odyssey on the way to bankruptcy.

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Who is Frank Keeton ?

While doing some review of websites, I got to WLS-AM in Chicago, and my database indicated there had been a licensee change and the new owner is Frank Keeton Aircasters. This was a total surprise to me. Not only does the FCC say the WLS is owned by Frank Keeton, but also KSFO, KGO, WSBN and WBAP

My initial reaction with this must be some sort of a mistake in my nightly processing of the FCC data. But I tracked it backwards to the FCC, and they show the same thing. However, there is no application to transfer the ownership, and most of the places on their website still say it belongs to cumulus.

I just show what the FCC download says. Presumably, this will reverse itself in a day or two. Those stations are probably worth $20 million, so it would have been big news in the radio press if it was actually true. So if you notice incorrect licensee information, don’t panic!

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The New and improved Dana Loesch

This started out as a comment on another post, but it’s worthy of its own discussion

In case you aren’t aware, The Dana Show is syndicated by Radio America. Originally, she was a spokesperson for the NRA, she worked for Breitbart, and hosted a TV show on TheBlaze TV network. She is a big fan of Donald J Trump.

The liberal media is in a frenzy trying to pick the successor for the recently departed Rush Limbaugh. The AP wire story frames Dana as being an opponent of “angry radio”.

I do not dislike Dana, however I dislike syndicators that oversell their product.

The show is heard in “New York, Dallas, Atlanta, Houston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston, Phoenix, Seattle, Portland, Denver, Orlando, Tampa, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Jacksonville, Minneapolis, Raleigh, Omaha, Las Vegas, San Antonio and Washington DC.”

The Radio America website does not have a list of Loesch affiliates, which is not a surprise. Syndicators will enter relationships with so-called “rimshot” stations in major markets that don’t begin to cover the entire market.

The radio station listed as an affiliate in a Major market might carry an hour of the show on Sunday morning at 3:00 a.m. Advertisers need to be sure what they’re buying. I’ll spend a little time trying to validate their list, but I already am confident it’s a waste of time

Here is as far as I got before I lost inteest

For New York City, I have found WJJF in Montauk, at the far Eastern end of Long Island. It is a very weak FM station which has absolutely no coverage inside any part of New York City. This is a work in progress. Note that their list said “New York” and not New York City.

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EMF / K-Love / Air1 leaving California

EMF is one of the few radio operators making money, in a non-profit sense. The K-Love and Air1 networks are almost as big as NPR or Clear Channel.

They have decided to relocate from Rocklin California to Nashville, Tennessee

As of year end 2019, EMF had about $120 million in its war chest to buy more stations. It has about $50 million in long term debt.

Their operations in 2019 brought in about $208 million, with net not-profit of $82 million

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The new WABC-AM

It is possible you were distracted and did not know that iconic WABC-am in New York City was sold a year ago to a local investor.

Rita Cosby has just started a new show, replacing John Batchelor from 10:00 p.m. to midnight. The schedule also lists Bill O’Reilly as having a local show, but I’m not yet certain of that.

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Russ Martin dead at age 60

Most visitors to the website probably do not know who Russ Martin was. Russ Martin was a local talent at the freeFM station in Dallas Texas.

For a brief period, Mel Karmazin tried to save CBS radio from itself, until Mel was scared away by the ghost of CBS legendary newsman Edward R. Murrow. He brought controversial people to FM talk radio during an experiment targeted at young men called FreeFM. Howard Stern was to be the morning anchor nationwide, but he signed an agreement to go work at Sirius with his friend Mel and CBS would not release him from his contract.

Most of the last year at CBS, Howard Stern was promoting Sirius, which ultimately resulted in a lawsuit. Sirius eventually agreed to pay CBS $2 million to get the lawsuit dismissed.

Howard Stern had been very successful at Infinity broadcasting, before it was acquired by CBS / Viacom. As an epilog, CBS Radio no longer exists, having been merged into Entercom in 2017.

Without Howard Stern, CBS radio instead chose David Lee Roth, who was an absolute disaster, dooming the entire concept of male oriented hot talk. David Lee Roth had been the lead singer of the rock group Van Halen. My memory is that the shows were as dull as you would expect from a rock singer at 6:00 in the morning. Many days it appeared that he didn’t even show up to work, and they would just play music. The show ended after 4 months.

The freeFM affiliates had some shows they produced themselves, and some they got from the syndication. Penn Jillette, Tom Leykis, Opie and Anthony, Rover’s Morning Glory and Dr Drew’s Lifeline were some of the shows carried by FreeFM.

Russ Martin was the local FreeFM guy in Dallas Texas on KLLI-FM His “hook” was that he had acquired the Batmobile from the TV show and would use it at station promotions. His show eventually moved to iHeartradio’s KEGL-FM, where he had worked prior to joining Infinity Radio.

Russ was not as controversial as Howard Stern, but he was doing broadcast radio in Texas. He was moderately interesting, but not likely to wind up in the radio hall of fame in Chicago. Talking about your batmobile can only take you so far.

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No need to lie

I can’t begin to tell you how disappointed I am with James Golden, AKA Bo Snerdly, Rush Limbaugh’s executive producer

This is an interview in 2019 at Liberty University. At two minutes into the video, James brags that once Rush Limbaugh got established, the talk radio format went from 120 stations to 12,000

There is no way that that’s true or even close to true.

There are only a few more than 15,000 licensed radio stations in the United States as of 2021, if you don’t count Low Power FM, that did not exist in 2000.

If you add up political talk, sports, NPR, local full service, Spanish language talk and religious talk, maybe you can add up to 5,000 – but if that is the “talk radio” population, the baseline was not 120 stations. Public radio by itself it had more than 120 stations in 1988.

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