— brief unauthorized history —
Talk Radio Network used to be a significant syndicator of Conservative talk programming. There is a development today suggesting the network will not regain its former glory.
TRN was the creation of Roy Masters, the founder of the Foundation for Human Understanding. Former stage hypnotist and soldier in the post WW2 British Army, Roy Masters created a religion and bought radio time in the middle of the night to spread his controversial views and teach people self-hypnosis. When the bidding war in Radio broke out after the 1996 Telecom Reform Act signed by Bill Clinton, TRN was sold to one of the companies that would become Clear Channel – they took Art Bell and returned the rest of TRN back to Roy.
His son Mark took over the operations and recruited some people who Clear Channel didn’t get – Laura Ingraham, Michael Savage, Rusty Humphries, John McCaslin, Jerry Doyle, Phil Hendrie, Monica Crowley and a few others – life was good.
Then Michael Savage refused to extend his contract and a legal battle started – ultimately Savage won his freedom, but as of last week says TRN has still not paid the legal expenses he was awarded. TRN filed suit against Westwood One, claiming they were telling radio stations to take the Westwood One shows instead of TRN – Westwood One owned the satellite and “repped” its own shows and TRN’s.
TRN had started an all news network in partnership with the Washington Times. When Reverand Moon – the benefactor of the Washington Times – died, that threw the Times into a funding crisis, which spilled over to TRN
— end history —
In August 2013, TRN announced the arrival of a new manager named Jim Watkins.
A lot went very bad very quickly. The first week of September 2013, most of the employees found they had no job. Recently hired Andrea Tantaros filed a lawsuit claiming TRN misrepresented their situation and breached her contract. john McCaslin walked out in the middle of his morning newscast. Rusty Humphries quit and never returned. Phil Hendrie left. Jerry Doyle quit, but ulmiately was convinced to return in a few months.
With two satellite channels to fill and no hosts left, Jim Watkins was suddenly in deep stuff, being in charge of syndication and affiliate relations. He went on the air, Roy and his sons pushed out some self help shows, one guy was brought in to keep the morning news show alive, the rest of the all news network was cancelled with no notice. A weekend host named Sam Sorbo plugged the Laura Ingraham / Andrea Tantaros hole.
What drove much of this change was the Cumulus folks – having hired Michael Savage – dropped TRN on most of their stations, causing severe decreases in affiliate counts and hence advertising revenue.
Sam Sorbo, Roy Masters and Jerry Doyle are the only weekday shows left on TRN today.
Today’s ominous news is that Jim Watkins has left.
He is going to return to Florida doing a local show. He undoubtedly has amazing stories to tell that we will never hear. Michael Savage said he expects to never see a dime from the TRN lawsuit. He’s probably right. Maybe the revitalized Westwood One (now owned by Cumulus) will offer to buy TRN for $10 if they throw in the coffee machine and 100 “Be Still and Know” CDs that can be sold on Sweetjack