Industry News

KBLA Talk 1580 Founder Tavis Smiley to Be Honored

Prolific author and veteran talk media purveyor of current events with a focus on African American perspectives, Tavis Smiley, has been selected by the TALKERS editorial board to be the 2023 recipient of the highly prestigious Gene Burns Memorial Award for Freedom of Speech. The award is presented each year to a talk media practitioner whose work sets an example for the exercise and preservation of the First Amendment. Smiley, who has hosted shows on a diverse array of platforms such as BETCNNABCPBS, KABC Radio, and KGFJ Radio among others, joins such former recipient of the award as Rush LimbaughSean HannityBill O’ ReillyMark LevinMichael SavageGlenn BeckBob GrantThom HartmannAlan ColmesJoe MadisonKaren HunterAl FrankenBrian LambNorm PattizIan Freeman and others dating back to the origins of TALKERS in the late 1980s. Some 21 months ago, Smiley’s media company acquired an AM radio station in Los Angeles, the former hip hop legend KDAY, and transformed it into a new station and format – KBLA Talk 1580 – where he’s assembled an outstanding on-air staff, including himself, with the passionate mission of, as he puts it, “unapologetically serving people of color and who are politically progressive.” In making the announcement of this year’s recipient, TALKERS founder Michael Harrison states, “This is our longest-running and most-important award. Mr. Smiley has risen to the enormous talk radio challenge of providing underserved African Americans and progressives with a major commercial platform in the nation’s second largest market with a worldwide reach. In today’s political environment and struggling AM radio industry, it doesn’t get any more ‘First Amendment’ than that.” Tavis Smiley will be presented the award at the forthcoming TALKERS 2023 convention on Friday, June 2 at Hofstra University on Long Island where he will be one of 60 talk media luminaries scheduled to speak.  For more information about TALKERS 2023, see the story below. 

Industry News

TALKERS 2023 on June 2 Features Powerful Agenda and Speakers

TALKERS 2023, the 26th annual edition of the talk media industry’s longest running and largest convention is shaping up to be one of the storied event’s most important installments.  The power-packed, one-day event will be presented by TALKERS on Friday, June 2, 2023 on the campus of Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York in association with the prestigious university’s multi-award-winning station WRHU Radio. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison says, “We are delighted to be able to join forces again with our colleagues atMicrophone - Product Hofstra – the site of our very successful 2022, 2021 and 2016 events – and enjoy the remarkable resources that its Lawrence Herbert School of Communication brings to the table.” As was the case last year, this event will be held in a COVID-19 compliant environment based upon the circumstances at the time of the convention. TALKERS 2023 will boldly address key issues – some existential – facing the talk radio and talk media industries at this dramatically critical juncture of rapidly accelerating technological and societal change as well as identifying the remarkable opportunities inherent in these developments. It will also provide participants with unique and powerful networking opportunities. Attendance at the conference is limited to members of the working media and directly associated industries as well as students enrolled in accredited learning institutions. All attendees will be required to register in advance on the phone payable by credit card. Attendance will be limited, and the conference is again expected to be an early sellout. In-person speakers at TALKERS 2023 include (in alphabetical order):  Asa Andrew, M.D., talk show host, the Doctor Asa Show; Vince Benedetto, CEO, Bold Gold Media; Guy Benson, talk show host, Fox News Radio; David Bernstein, director of broadcast operations, TALKERS; Grace Blazer, VP, national NTS brand coordinator, director of news and AM programming Florida Region, iHeart Radio; Phil Boyce, SVP/Spoken Word Format, Salem Media Group; Ops VP, New York Region/ WMCA/AM970 the Answer; John Caracciolo, president/CEO, JVC Broadcasting; Kevin Casey, VP/executive editor, TALKERS; Heather Cohen, SVP, The Weiss Agency; Mandy Connell, talk show host, KOA, Denver; Michael Czarnecki, VP/programming, Binnie Media; Kevin DeLany, VP, News & Talk Programming, Westwood One; Spike Eskin, VP of Programming at WFAN, New York and CBS Sports Radio; Jimmy Failla, talk show host, Fox News Radio; Alex Fife, VP, operations, Southeast, iHeartMedia/Total Traffic & Weather Network; Dom Giordano, talk show host, WPHT, Philadelphia; Lee Habeeb, talk show host/producer, Our American Stories; Michael Harrison, publisher, TALKERS; Matthew B. Harrison, VP/associate publisher, TALKERS; media attorney; Harry Hurley, talk show host, WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company;  Jeff Katz, talk show host, WRVA, Richmond; Brian Kilmeade, talk show host, Fox News Radio/Fox News Channel; Kraig Kitchin, CEO, Sound Mind, LLC; Steve Lapa, president, Lapcom Communication Corp; Josh Leng, CEO, Talk Media Network; Mike McVay, president, McVay Media Consulting; Frank Morano, talk show host, WABC, New York; John T. Mullen, general manager, WRHU-FM/, Hempstead, NY; Chris Oliviero, market president, Audacy, New York; David Pakman, talk show host/commentator, the David Pakman Show; Walter Sabo, president, Sabo Media/talk show host, Sterling on Sunday; Tavis Smiley, talk show host/owner, KBLA 1580, Los Angeles; Todd Starnes, talk show host, the Todd Starnes Show/owner KWAM, Memphis; Doug Stephan, talk show host, the Good Day Show/CEO Stephan Multimedia; Greg Stocker, program director/brand manager, WPHT, Philadelphia; Joe Thomas, talk show host/program director, WCHV – Charlottesville, VA/PD, WRAD, New River Valley, VA; Paul Vandenburgh, talk show host/owner, WGDJ, Albany, NY; Jeff Warshaw, CEO/founder, Connoisseur Media; Lisa Wexler, talk show host, WICC, Bridgeport, CT/Connecticut probate judge; Michael Zwerling, talk show host/owner, KSCO, Santa Cruz; Martha Zoller, talk show host, WDUN, Gainesville, GA. More will be named in the days ahead. The all-inclusive registration fee covering convention events, exhibits, food, and services for the day is $379. Take advantage of the early bird fee of $329 available until 5:00 pm ET on Friday, March 31. Because space will be limited and a sellout is anticipated, all registrations are non-refundable. To register or to obtain sponsorship information, call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413.

Industry Views

Monday Memo: Who? When?

By Holland Cooke

Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care? YES.

— Myth: Call letters are less important in PPM markets than in diary markets, where that diary is a memory test.

— Fact: Call letters and timechecks are MORE important in metered markets, because there aren’t enough meters. Every…single…one…matters a LOT. And awareness drives use.

Sure, listeners wear watches, and tote smartphones, and there’s a clock in the dashboard. We’re not timechecking because they don’t know.

— Timechecks help make the station habit-forming. They teach listeners what-we-do-when.

— Timechecks imply that busy people (the ones advertisers want as customers) will be on-time if they listen. “WINS News Time…” on New York’s iconic All-News station sets a tempo.

— And timechecks are local information. Syndicated hosts forced to say “[minutes] before the hour” remind us that they’re somewhere else.

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In its 1960s Top 40 heyday, WABC’s promos boasted that more people listened every week “than any other station in North America!” And shortly before his untimely death, retired PD Rick Sklar told me the simple secret of his success.

— He compared the Arbitron ratings diary to “that little blue book you got in school when there was a quiz. There are two questions on the quiz: What did you listen to? And when did you listen?”

— Back then, most stations used turntables, but WABC already played music on carts. And right there, at the end of the song, there was a WABC jingle, and an ear-splitting “DING!” because timechecks were “WABC Chime-Time.”

— So “we gave them the answers to the quiz,” by DJ-proofing the station. Even if the jock was going song-to-song, he had to jump-in and timecheck.

And you are…?

Holland Cooke ( is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of the E-book and FREE on-air radio features Inflation Hacks: Save Those Benjamins;” and “Spot-On: Commercial Copy Points That Earned The Benjamins,” a FREE download; and “Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available from Talkers books.  Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke

Industry Views

Pending Business: The News Cycle

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

Photography - BroadcastingIt is an unpredictable thing, this news cycle that drives the headlines.

One day we’re talking about the shortcomings in the American banking system, the next day we’re talking about the ramifications of criminally indicting a past president of the United States. Will somebody please grab a copy of the Constitution? We may need a panel of experts to talk us through what this all means to those of us paying crazy prices for eggs.

The news cycle is spinning faster these days and your news/talk programming should prove to be the go-to source to take a short break from March Madness and slow the news cycle down. Please do not be sidetracked about selling through the negativity that may accompany many of these story lines. As a seller or sales manager, your singular objective is to connect the value of an engaged audience to match your advertiser’s goals, moving the sales process to a natural, positive conclusion. In plain English, stay focused on the goal and close your deals. Let’s review some basics.

— Complex issues are nothing new. Your tenured talk radio hosts have built their careers by helping loyal listeners gain a better understanding of the headlines driving the news cycle.

— Loyalty is the key. Like it or not, criminally indicting a former president of the United States has never happened before. It is complicated to say the least and your audience will trust your on-air talents to present the facts, opinions, and discussion. What does it all mean to me? The audience has been here before and chances are your on-air talent has delivered the clarity and focus they needed when it counted the most.

— Community check-in. Talk radio is the #1 source for your audience to get a better feel for how the community is reacting. That electronic, now digital water cooler is in overdrive. What is everyone thinking?

— The unfolding drama. Let’s face it, we all have an opinion and we all enjoy speculating on what’s next. Talk radio is the perfect forum where your audience will weigh in every day.

When your talk show hosts are front and center, doing what they do best in a meaningful and entertaining way, your advertisers experience the benefits of what only your great talk radio hosts can deliver.

Steve Lapa is the president of Lapcom Communications Corp. based in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Lapcom is a media sales, marketing, and development consultancy. Contact Steve Lapa via email at:

Industry News

Lineup Changes at Zimmer’s “ESPN Radio Jock 96.9”

Zimmer Midwest Communications announces a couple of changes to the program lineup at sports talk KBFL-AM/FM/K245CA “ESPN Radio Jock 96.9, 99.9 and AM 1060” in the Springfield, Missouri market. Effective today, station program director Tom Ladd is joined by Logan Weber as co-host of the 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm “Sports Talk” show. Weber also serves the station as producer of the station’s “The Sports Reporters” program. The “Sports Talk” program has been hosted by Art Hains since 1995 but in September of 2022,Vehicle registration plate - Graphics Hains had to step away from his hosting duties after being hospitalized by a life-threatening case of West Nile Virus. Ladd – the longtime voice of the Missouri State Lady Bears – has been hosting the show in his absence and is now joined by Weber. Zimmer operations manager Don Louzader says, “I can’t think of a better team to carry the torch for Art Hains than Tom and Logan. Tom has a tremendous amount of knowledge of the local, regional and national sports scene and has broadcast just about every sport in the Ozarks. Logan has shown a tremendous passion for sports here in southwest Missouri and will be a great complement to Tom on the show.” At the same time, the station announces that “The Sports Reporters” host Ned Reynolds is being joined by co-host Scott Puryear as the show moves to the new time 7:00 am to 9:00 am weekdays. Reynolds and Puryear worked together on the show from 2000-2011. Louzader says, “The boys are back in town and our listeners are in for a real treat when Ned and Scott get behind the microphone together.”

Industry News

Greg Chance Named SVP/Programming for iHeartMedia

iHeartMedia announces that Greg Chance is named SVP of programming for Des Moines, St. Louis, Indianapolis and the North Dakota Area, effective immediately. This group of markets includes more than 20 stations. Chance returns to the radio business and iHeartMedia after having most recently served as viceiHeart - Logo president for Diamond Oil.  Chance says, “I am profoundly humbled that iHeart would allow me this opportunity. I look forward to reuniting with my past colleagues and meeting new colleagues in the immediate future. This gives me a sense of peace and I’m extremely flattered and grateful. I look forward to diving back into all of these brands and vetting all the new ones. To say that I am excited to return, would be an understatement.”

Industry News

Black Business Beat Clears Audacy’s Hip Hop WXBK-FM, New York

Bloomberg Radio announces that its clearing of “Bloomberg Black Business Beat” content on Audacy’s hip hop WXBK-FM, New York “94.7 The Block” represents its “breakout into music radio formats, with business and money stories of interest to Black Americans that complement and enhance the music programming they love.”Product - Text Bloomberg Radio is distributed and repped by Key Networks. The “Bloomberg Black Business Beat” is hosted by journalist Justin Milliner and topics addressed range from the latest trends in Black-owned businesses and profiles of Black entrepreneurs, to a continuing look at diversity in the workplace and an inside look at the business of entertainment. Bloomberg Radio Syndication head Michael Lysak says, “‘The Block’ is such an important part of the soundtrack of New York City. We are proud to be a part of it. Justin Milliner does a masterful job of sharing stories of vital importance to Black Americans, without The Block’s music missing a beat. Here’s to Audacy for recognizing that reports like this don’t interrupt the programming – they enhance it.”

Industry News

FOX News Digital Again Tops in Multiplatform Views

According to the latest data from Comscore, FOX News Digital finished February 2023 as the top-performing news organization in the competitive set in both multiplatform minutes and multiplatform views. This marks fiveLogo - FOX consecutive months as the top news brand with multiplatform views and two straight years as number one with multiplatform minutes. While FOX News Digital – as well as – still lags behind in multiplatform unique visitors (97.4 million to’s 117.7 million), it has improved 23% in that category since February of 2022 while is down 8% during that period.

Industry News

TALKERS News Notes

— SiriusXM and sports talk personality Adam Schein agree to a new, four-year contract that keeps Schein hosting his daily late morning show “Schein on Sports” on the Mad Dog Sports Radio channel. Schein will also continue to host his newly rebranded SiriusXM podcast, now titled “Rise and Schein,” which features compelling long-form interviews with athletes and celebrities.

— Hillsdale College’s WRFH “Radio Free Hillsdale 101.7 FM” in Hillsdale, Michigan takes home the top honors at the 2023 Michigan Student Broadcast Awards, hosted by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. The station was named the “2023 College Audio Station of the Year” and received nine individual awards. Station general manager Scot Bertram comments, “Our student broadcasters and journalists are committed to producing high-quality content that keeps listeners engaged. We’re honored to have that work recognized by such a prestigious organization.”

Job Opportunity

Smiley Audio Media and KBLA, Los Angeles Seek Director of Sales

KBLA Talk 1580/SmileyAudioMedia, Inc. is seeking a director of sales who can plan, direct, and coordinateLogo - Graphics the actual distribution or movement of service to the customer. Coordinate sales distribution by establishing sales territories, quotas and goals, and establish training programs for sales representatives. Analyze sales statistics gathered by staff to determine sales potential and inventory requirements and monitor customers’ preferences. Candidates can learn more details here.

Industry News

Top News/Talk Media Stories Over the Weekend

The aftermath of the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and the state of the global banking system; Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s case against former President Donald Trump in the Stormy Daniels matter and Trump’s suggestion his supporters “take to the streets” in protest; Wyoming outlaws the abortion pill; the GOP race for the nomination in ’24; Vladimir Putin visits Mariupol, Ukraine as the Russian invasion continues; China’s Xi Jinping travels to Moscow to visit Putin for the first time since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; and the first rounds of the NCAA basketball tournaments were some of the most-talked-about stories in news/talk media over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Industry News

Michael Kay Renews to Continue ESPN New York Show

As reported by the New York Post, afternoon drive personality Michael Kay has signed a contract extension with Good Karma Brands-operated sports talk WEPN-FM, New York “ESPN New York” that is a “seven-figure deal per year and is for multiple years.” The Post reported in January that the 62-year old Kay was seriouslyMichael Kay - New York Yankees considering retirement. Kay announced the deal on his program yesterday (3/16) saying,  “When the story in The Post came out, I was pretty certain that was going to be it and I would leave the show after 21 years in September. It had been a great run, a long run. I just said, ‘That’s it. I’m probably too old to do it.’” Kay is supported on the show by co-host Don La Greca and Peter Rosenberg. The show is simulcast on the YES TV network. Kay also serves as the television play-by-play announcer for New York Yankees baseball games. Read the Post story here.

Industry News

Former Corpus Christi Talk Host Jim Lago Dies

The Caller Times reports the passing of former KKTX-AM, Corpus Christi talk radio host Jim Lago at the age of 74. He hosted the “Lago in the Morning” program on the iHeartMedia news/talk station prior to his retirement in 2019. Lago’s daughter tells the paper that he’d been diagnosed with lung disease and was just beginningGlasses - Human treatment. “He just took a turn for the worse.” The Caller Times obit says, “Lago worked in the oilfields as a young adult and returned to the job after Vietnam War service in the Marine Corps. Some of the oil company workers told him that he should try radio because he was entertaining and outspoken. In the mid-1970s he gave radio a try, first in Longview, near his hometown, before moving on to bigger cities.” Lago was inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame in 2016. Read the full obituary here.