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Talk Radio Network Makes Statement; Shuts Down ARNN

TRN Talk Radio Network America's Radio News Andrea Tantaros Jerry Doyle Rusty Humphries Mancow Monica Crowley Mark Masters Suspending Cease OperationsUpdate 9/9: Mark Masters has released a statement regarding the status of TRN.

Blaming all the company’s problems on Dial Global and not itself, the company shut down the America’s Radio News Network as of Friday, September 6 and is currently sending its Talk programming to affiliates until they find replacement programming. Nowhere does Masters address the comments by many of its employees regarding the termination of their employeent.

The remainder of TRN’s programming will continue unaffected as of now.

Are you Dial Global’s (Westwood One’s) Next Victim?

The truth about the proposed merger between Dial Global/Westwood One and Cumulus is a dark one for our industry. Dial Global/Westwood One’s market power in programming and sales representation, combined with Cumulus Network’s programming and distribution power in the top 100 U.S. markets, will have a devastating effect on most every area of the radio industry. Our previous experience with Dial Global/Westwood consists of improper, illegal, and/or unethical conduct that is set forth in the second amended complaint in our pending antitrust action against Dial Global/Westwood One and others. If this merger is allowed to occur, the results of our previous experiences with Dial Global/Westwood One will be magnified tenfold to radio stations and content producers, which will be at the mercy of the newly empowered Dial (Westwood One)/Cumulus and the leverage that can be brought to bear by this new behemoth.

If this merger is allowed to occur, the culture of corruption at Dial/Westwood, as described in our second amended complaint, and other filings, will surely infect and spread within the new behemoth entity and victimize the rest of the industry, resulting in a super monopoly.

Sadly, the actions described in the second amended complaint are forcing the TRN companies to cut back to the basic operating essentials pending resolution of the multiple issues raised in their legal actions against Dial Global/Westwood One. We had hoped that the change in management at Dial Global/Westwood One would bring about a new paradigm focused on correcting the prior harms in a manner which would be helpful to our companies and the industry as a whole. Sadly, recent events have shown that the opposite is true and that the behaviors that gave rise to the lawsuits against Dial/Westwood One are endemic throughout the Dial/Westwood One monopoly. The ruthless and unethical behaviors that have continued through multiple executive teams at Dial/Westwood are breathtaking in their scope and arrogance.

We encourage the rest of our industry to stand together, and with us, now. We have been in business for 20 years, and have had excellent relationships with the other companies in our industry during that time. But this is a horse of a different color. Please contact the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition ([email protected]) and the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice ([email protected] or (202) 307-2040), your state’s Attorney General, and your local member of Congress about the dangers of this proposed merger and its threat to your First Amendment rights, business and products. As for us, we will continue to pursue Dial Global/Westwood One in federal court and other appropriate forums, for monopoly and other improper behaviors, expose the behaviors described in the second amended complaint, and achieve ultimate victory from the tragedy that Dial Global/Westwood One have imposed upon our companies and others within the industry.

DIAL/WESTWOOD ONE SCORES INITIAL VICTORY WITH ARNN

The actions described in the second amended complaint with respect to America’s Radio News Network (“ARNN”), and additional actions which will be the subject of future filings, have now succeeded on an interim basis with respect to ARNN. Specifically, ARNN has been forced to suspend its broadcast operations, effective at the close of its broadcast day on Friday, September 6, 2013, pending the successful outcome of its actions against Dial Global/Westwood. ARNN has arranged for appropriate feeds to be provided to its affiliates for a reasonable period of time to enable them to secure alternate programming.

AS TO RUMORS OF OTHER ONGOING OPERATIONS

All of the TRN companies have been severely damaged by the Dial Global/Westwood One conduct addressed above and also addressed in the various legal actions which the TRN companies have brought, or will bring, against Dial Global/Westwood. That conduct has forced all of these companies to make wrenching internal decisions and to take painful internal actions. As Dial Global/Westwood One has been collecting our advertising revenues, but refusing to pay them over to us or to account for them, these companies have now been forced to reduce as many operating costs as possible. However, the current rumors of an alleged shutdown of broadcasting operations for non-ARNN programming are unfounded. Broadcasts of the other programs are continuing without interruption.

CALL TO ACTION!

If Dial/Westwood can do this to us, they certainly can do this to you – so you need to join together, and with us, in opposing this dangerous merger, with as much force as you can muster, so that you can have a future that is not controlled by a monopoly: http://www.trn1.com/uploads/files/SecondAmendedComplaint.pdf

Original Report 9/8: It appears that Talk Radio Network and America’s Radio News Network may have ceased operations.

A number of staffers have posted comments that they were let go on Friday without notice, while the following press release was issued by an anonymous TRN staffer today:

Media giant Mark Masters is suspending operations at the Oregon-based Talk Radio Network, which launched “The Michael Savage Show” and other high profile programming. The company has been refusing to communicate with staff and they are not issuing final paychecks to talent across the network. The company will not even confirm that we are no longer under contract with them. They are simply ignoring pleas for answers. I have heard through a phone call that the staff of America’s Morning News (100+ affiliates) has been told not to report to work Monday morning. Those stations (and possibly hundreds more) will check the satellite for their usual programming on Monday and get silence.

As many of us were 1099 contractors, we are not eligible for unemployment. Many of us are owed two months of pay at the termination of our contracts. One of those good people is a cancer patient who might not be able to afford her health insurance and treatments.

We need help and I hope someone hears our story.I would prefer to remain anonymous, but someone can reach me at [email protected] I have others who can collaborate on this story. Thanks for your consideration.

Rumors about the demise of TRN began popping up on Friday following a report at Talkers.com. Mark Masters, CEO of Talk Radio Network, claimed there were many inaccuracies in that report, but that a full statement would not be released until Monday. TRN programming includes Andrea Tantaros, Jerry Doyle, Rusty Humphries, Mancow, and Monica Crowley. They also own the America’s Radio News Network that produces long-form news blocks for stations. If you carry any of their programming it might be worth preparing alternate solutions in-case there is nothing produced to air in the coming days.

TRN has seen a rash of high profile talent departures recently. Michael Savage departed for Cumulus last year after winning a lawsuit against the company. Laura Ingraham left for Courtside Entertainment And Phil Hendrie, whose show was syndicated by TRN until moving to WYM Media Management/Dial Global earlier this year tweeted the following:

Talk Radio Network has been very vocal about its issues with Dial Global in particular. TRN head Mark Masters sued Dial Global last year; alleging monopolistic practices and anti-trust violations. That led to TRN moving its ad sales and affilate relations to Sun Broadcast Group in Februrary. The company was the first to come out against the pending Cumulus/Dial Global merger.

We’ll be monitoring this closely and updating as further information becomes available.

Profile photo of Lance Venta
Lance Venta is the Owner and Publisher of RadioInsight.com and a consultant for RadioBB Networks specializing in integration of radio and the internet. Lance has two decades of experience tracking the audio industry and its use of digital platforms.

15 Comments

  1. Profile photo of JeremyAndrews


    Within my ear, that would be most of WRMN-AM (1410)’s programming outside of the flagship Radio Shopping Show.
    http://www.wrmn1410.com/fans/index.asp?pg=2

  2. Profile photo of Nathan Obral


    The level of deflection and denial put on display by that announcement is simply astounding. I am speechless.

  3. Profile photo of kyl416


    Let’s see we got Dial Global/Westwood One/Cumulus, there’s also Premiere, Salem, United Stations and Compass. Heck some of Cumulus’s and Clear Channel’s own stations clear TRN programming. Where exactly is this monopoly? It sounds more like the rants of someone in their bunker wearing a tinfoil hat.

  4. Profile photo of Nathan Obral


    Especially since Laura Ingraham and Phil Hendrie DIDN’T sign with Cumulus or DialGlobal/WestwoodOne, but had their own independent syndication deals lined up. Savage became a free agent after his lawsuit against TRN… it was his choice, and his alone.

    There is no proof that any one of these three colluded with WestwoodOne or Cumulus to bring down TRN. None. Not only is that statement true desperation, it also destroys whatever credibility Mark Masters and TRN had remaining after this.

    In retrospect, the folly of trying to launch an all-news radio network in ARNN (in spite of NBC’s spectacular failure in NIS, which eventually led them to leave radio totally, in addition to AP’s All News Radio, which eventually died a quiet death after a decade of operation) may prove to be the point that TRN began their downfall.

    • Profile photo of K.M. Richards


      “… in spite of NBC’s spectacular failure in NIS, which eventually led them to leave radio totally …”

      Really, Nathan?

      Let’s look at the facts instead of your opinion-stated-as-fact:

      NIS failed in 1977.

      NBC then went on to start The Source in 1979 and NBC Talknet in 1981. Does that seem like they were put off by network radio as a result of NIS’ demise?

      They didn’t start selling stations until 1984, spun off the radio networks (including The Source and Talknet) to Westwood One in 1987, and didn’t completely exit radio until the sale of KNBR San Francisco in 1989.

      1977 to 1989 is a twelve-year span. How, then, do you make a connection between NIS’ failure and NBC exiting radio?

      • Profile photo of Nathan Obral


        NIS was a spectacular failure. Few stations actually cleared it, and NBC made the costly mistake of blowing up a successful adult Top 40 format in WRC/Washington in order to have it go against WTOP. TalkNet and the Source were legitimate services, but were nowhere as extensive as NIS was (TalkNet had – at it’s peak – about 10 hours of live programming on weeknights, while the Source was a secondary news feed to rock and contemporary radio stations).

        Outside of The Source and TalkNet, what else was in NBC’s radio offerings besides their hourly newscasts and “The Eternal Light?”

        ABC, CBS and even Mutual long ago surpassed NBC in total affiliate count, and flagship 66 WNBC sank into ratings oblivion after Stern was infamously fired. The network was perceived as an also-ran, even after they bought WJIB in Boston from… GE.

        Mind you, RCA was suffering though a whole host of problems throughout the 1970s and 1980s, making them a prime target for GE. But GE never wanted one bit of NBC’s radio ops – not even to manage and produce the newscasts… that task would fall on Mutual staff when Westwood One bought it. It was a break from tradition that, due to regulations, lasted for two years until KNBR – to the end, one of the few bright spots in NBC’s radio division – was sold to Susquehanna.

        Yeah, it’s a simplistic as simplistic can be. But it is what it is.

        • Profile photo of Lance Venta


          Nothing that happened 35 years ago has any impact on the radio industry of today. You can’t pin the failure of ARNN on NIS.

          FM in 1977 was the equivalent of streaming now. Growing in stature but not yet mass appeal. Most of NIS’ big affiliates were FM’s.

        • Profile photo of K.M. Richards


          While you make some excellent points in your reply, Nathan, it still remains clear that NBC remained committed to the radio business long after the failure of NIS, and I remain in disagreement with your statement that said failure led to NBC getting out of radio.

          NBC’s moves in the years immediately following NIS’ demise look more like a company looking for a way to survive in radio, not a way to get out of it. Given that they purchased the Boston station from GE — who was getting out of radio at that time — is it any surprise that once GE acquired NBC they would similarly divest all of the radio properties?

          It seems obvious that the GE acquisition had more to do with it than did the spectacular failure of NIS.

          Lance’s point is a good one as well; in every market but Washington NBC flipped their FMs to NIS (“now there’s an all news station on FM!”) and they all were even more spectacular failures than the network itself. While you mourn the loss of WRC’s music format, the fact is that it was the only NIS O&O that was successful.

          One has to wonder if the outcome would have been different if they had moved the rest of their AM music formats to FM and run NIS on AM, going up against WINS, KCBS, etc. Doing it the way they did sent a message to the industry that they weren’t as committed to the all-news format as they said they were, and is likely one reason they never got a NIS affiliate in Los Angeles.

          I agree that they didn’t play it well back in the mid-1970s with NIS. But that’s where our agreement ends.

  5. Profile photo of Nathan Obral


    As if this couldn’t get any more bizzare, the following just happened to Rusty Humphries…

    I was pulled off the air mid sentence TRYING to explain and defend the position of my syndicator. There was no bad intent nor would i have said anything negative on the air, that’s not who I am but I believe an explanation is necessary. Unfortunately there are people who have never been on the air who have zero business nor common sense who are running the technical controls. I apologize to my affiliate stations and listeners… I was there, prepared to do a good show. I was planning on giving you an explanation of a very difficult time in Talk Radio and then move on to the show. That seems to have not been an option even though I was not told ANYTHING!

  6. Profile photo of Nathan Obral


    Shoot. The above quote is from Rusty’s Facebook fan page. Somehow the link didn’t work as intended within HTML code…

    https://www.facebook.com/Talk2Rusty/posts/677919685569128:0

    • Profile photo of kyl416


      Of course the clueless lunatics on his facebook page who know absolutely nothing about the situation with TRN are blaming Obama and the liberals for him being pulled off mid sentence…

      • Profile photo of Nathan Obral


        In their defense, many of those listeners likely don’t frequent industry blogs like this one.

  7. Profile photo of MattParker


    First there was NBC News and Information Service.
    Then AP All News Radio.
    And CNN with two options for radio: Headline News audio or a wheel composed of CNN top and bottom of the hour news, sports reports, business reports and feature reports.
    Now ARNN.
    Nobody has ever made a go of a syndicated all news format.
    How long until somebody else tries? How long until somebody else fails?

    • Profile photo of Nathan Obral


      AP may have had the best possible shot of succeeding with an a la carte method of clearing feature reports and newscasts, and ran it with a way that it could be seemlessly integrated within whatever station aired it.

      And it failed.

      The Masters family should have known better than to undertake an expensive service with no track record of success in any way. Instead, with this and their foolish handling of Laura Ingraham, Savage and Phil Hendrie, they sowed the seeds for TRN’s destruction.

      • Profile photo of MattParker


        Very true, Nate. People listen to personalities, not to syndicators (or even stations). Radio should have learned that lesson the hard way in 1947 but it does not. Having money and a corner office breeds arrogance (and often stupidity).

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