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Posts Tagged ‘Walter Sabo’

Joe Kernen, Andrew Ross Sorkin and the Skinny on Jessica Simpson’s New Role at Weight Watchers

LunchAtMichaelsNeither rain nor snow (not yet anyway) or a meltdown on Metro North’s Connecticut line (don’t ask!) can keep us from our appointed rounds on Wednesdays at Michael’s. Who else would tell you which talking heads (Star Jones, Joe Kernen, Andrew Ross Sorkin) were holding court in the dining room while pointing out the random sighting of a former beauty queen and even some titled ladies and lords? (Read on and you’ll find out.) We, not of the town car set, braved a very crowded train from Westchester (Note to fellow passengers: garlic on your breakfast isn’t a good thing!) to bring you all the earth-shattering goings on at 55th and Fifth today so you can eat at your desk while searching for Internet spoilers on Sunday’s series finale of Breaking Bad.

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Andy Amill and Diane Clehane

I was joined today by my intrepid Greenwich neighbor Andy Amill, VP of Media Sales at Weight Watchers. I’ve been a lifetime member of Weight Watchers since my days heading up Danskin’s PR department (just try having to wear spandex to work) and wanted to get the skinny on all the incredible innovations the company has implemented over the past year. Have you seen Jennifer Hudson lately? Exactly. Andy tells me that Jennifer has been “an inspiration” to Weight Watcher members. The dynamic multi-media campaign featuring the brand ambassador which launched in 2010 has helped attract plenty of new members. I am also fascinated by the technology behind the company’s barcode scanner app, which members can download to their smart phones. It lets the user zap the UPC of thousands of products in the supermarket and instantaneously get the Weight Watchers PointsPlus value. What will they think of next?

When I mentioned that the Weight Watchers center where I attend meetings had undergone a pretty dramatic makeover a few months back, Andy explained that many stores have been redesigned in the past few years with a contemporary look and feel. “They’re all uniform so members can find a center anywhere and they all look the same,” he tells me. “It really helps them stay connected.” Read more

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Lauren Berger Writes New Book for Young People Entering "Real World"

Lauren Berger Welcome to the Real WorldCareer Expert, Lauren Berger, releases her second book, Welcome to the Real World: Finding Your Place, Perfecting Your Work, and Turning Your Job Into Your Dream Career (Harper Business), on April 22nd. In this book, Berger shares everything she wishes someone told her after graduation. Her book is the essential guide to anyone starting their first, second, or third job. She encourages readers to be fearless, step outside of their comfort zones, and go after what they want.

John Sykes, Tommy Hilfiger and a Real-Life Warrior Princess

1003_mockup.gifAs the faithful readers of this column already know, lunch at Michael’s is never really just about lunch, but it is (usually) a lot of fun. And today was no exception. I was invited to join a ‘girl’s lunch’ for author Mindy Budgor hosted by Jolie Hunt, AOL’s former chief marketing officer. Jolie, who knows practically everyone in New York, told me she decided to get a group of women together for Mindy, who recently moved here from Chicago, and “pop her Michael’s cherry.” Alrighty then. When Mindy asked if she knew “any interesting women in New York,” Jolie sprung into action and gathered The Wall Street Journal‘s media editor Keach HageyKyle Gibson, executive producer of Newsweek The Daily Beast‘s Women in the World; Deborah Needleman, editor of The New Yorks Times T magazine; recently departed Lucky EIC Brandon HolleySara Nelson, Amazon editorial director of books and Kindle, Wenda Harris Millard and yours truly to dine and dish at Table One. Mindy brought along former Today show senior producer-turned-media trainer Amy Rosenblum and Andrea Lustig, author and contributing editor for Glamour.

I chatted (OTR, sorry) with newlywed Sara Nelson (Congrats!) and Brandon Holley before we sat down for lunch. Uber chic Brandon, who I first met during her days at Yahoo! Shine, told me she’s planning to spend the summer with her family in Montauk. I can’t say I blame her. When the rest of the gang arrived we sat in rapt attention as guest of honor Mindy told the story behind her new book, Warrior Princess, My Quest to Become the First Female Maasai Warrior (Allen & Unwin). I hadn’t known what to expect when Jolie told me she was hosting this gathering for her friend who was — really — the first ever female Maasai warrior. I certainly didn’t expect her to be the sweet 30-year-old woman sporting a Bulgari pendant I mistook for some tribal gem who regaled the group of tales of slaughtering goats and cows and drinking their blood (so much for my appetite.)

Jolie Hunt, Mindy Budgor and Diane Clehane

It turns out a woman’s magazine has an exclusive on Mindy’s story — the details are very hush-hush — so I’m not allowed to share the jaw-dropping tale she told us over lunch. Before I was advised of the embargo, I asked why this self-described “nice, Jewish girl” decided to quit her job in Chicago and go off to Kenya, and she told me, “I felt my values were out of whack.”

I’m sworn to secrecy on the rest of her story (a first at Michael’s, I know), but I can share what’s on Mindy’s own website. The Santa Barbara native bought a ticket to Kenya and set off to volunteer building schools and hospitals in the Maasai Mara. While she was there, she asked the chief why there were no female warriors. After being told that women “are not strong enough or brave enough,” Mindy and her fellow volunteer, Becca, knew what they had to do. Her journey from bored MBA student to fearless female warrior is definitely inspiring. No doubt there’s plenty of lessons in the book (and some interesting photos from her time in Kenya) for those of us trying to survive in the concrete jungle. I’m starting Warrior Princess tonight.  Read more

Star Jones, Charlie Rose and Manhattan’s Most Discreet Fine Jeweler

1003_mockup.gifThe line to get into Michael’s snaked onto the sidewalk today as the fall power lunch season finally got under way. There were talking heads (Star Jones, Charlie Rose) and media types (David Zinczenko, Jack Kliger) and the usual well-heeled crowd who just couldn’t wait to get down to business.

I was joined today by the dashing and delightful Edward Landrigan and Nicholas Landrigan, the father and son team at the helm of Verdura, the venerable jewelry house favored by style icons like Greta Garbo, the Duchess of Windsor and Marlene Dietrich and loved by contemporary stylistas like Sofia Coppola. Verdura’s signature bejewelled cuffs, which I’ve coveted forever, are truly one of the most sought after (and copied) pieces of jewelry ever designed.

 CEO “Ward” bought the company in 1985 and “Nico,” its president, has worked at the company since 2009. It was clear talking to these gents that the passion for fine jewelry runs in the family. Ward got the bug working at a jewelry store as a teenager, which set him on an unexpected career path for a fellow with a “blue collar New Jersey” upbringing. (“When I told my father I was going into the jewelry business, he asked me, “How are you going to make a living?’) His decades-long career included his tenure as head of the jewelry divison for Sothebys USA which brought him into the orbit of legendary jewelry lovers like Elizabeth Taylor. “Jewelry is the last talisman in today’s society,” Ward explains. “When a woman puts on a favorite piece of jewelry, whether its costume or the real thing, and her face lights up, it’s magic. There’s something very special about that, and it’s something I have always enjoyed about the business. I have a passion for it.”

Ward Landrigan, Diane Clehane and Nicholas Landrigan

Ward Landrigan, Diane Clehane and Nicholas Landrigan

‘Nico’ went to Brown and considered a career in the law while working in the Fraud Bureau of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office before joining forces with his father. “I wanted to make sure I really wanted a career in law before I actually committed to it,” recalls Nico. In the end, his path seemed all but predestined. ”From the time I was six until I was eleven, I thought what my father did was the coolest job in the world,” Nico told me. Says Ward: “On a trip to India when he spelled his name out in sapphires, I knew that was it.”

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(VIDEO) Howard Stern Marks 30th Anniversary of New York Debut at WNBC

Howard Stern was a personality that radio would not soon forget. But in 1982, listeners in the New York City area could only imagine what the hype was about.

And then August 30 happened.

Thirty years ago, Stern arrived in New York at WNBC Radio (clip below), complete with sidekick Robin Quivers, who first worked with Stern in Washington a year earlier. Of course, with his roots in rough and tumble Roosevelt, Long Island, this was Howard’s homecoming.

As characterized in his book and film, Private Parts, Stern dealt with internal clashes from day one at WNBC. Specifically, his verbal barrages with program director Kevin Metheny, not-so-affectionately called “Pig Vomit” in the film (“Pig Virus” in real life). Stern slightly altered the immortalized version of Metheny, changing his name to “Kenny Rushton,” played exquisitely by Paul Giamatti.

“The book and the script are fascinating, engaging, and entertaining,” Metheny tells FishbowlNY. “I think [there's] a fair and appropriate amount of artists’ liberties taken with factual elasticity in order to make a more interesting project.”

In one memorable scene, Giamatti’s Rushton attempts to teach Stern the key to success, announcing the call letters properly (W-N-N-N-N-B-C). (See clip after the jump)

“I’m certain that I was a pain in the tush with respect to putting the emphasis on the “N” in WNBC,” Metheny says.

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Al Brady Law, Acclaimed Radio Programmer, Personality, Dies

Today’s breed of radio listeners is likely unaware of Al Brady Law. But Law had three stints in New York radio from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. Law died Monday of a brain tumor in a New Hampshire nursing home. Reports put his age at 67.

His work was varied, from air personality to programmer. His start in New York took place as WOR-FM evening jock in 1969.

A year later, even though he bolted for Miami, Law was heard filling in on WWDJ, primarily on nights.

After some work in Denver, Law was back at WWDJ on a full-time basis. This time, he was like a player/manager in baseball. Law was named the station’s program director, along with his air work.

Now that management was agreeing with him, Law wanted more.

Following the short gig at ‘WDJ, Law appeared at WXLO where he was hired solely as the “99X” program director.

However, Law’s dual hats would return in a big way at WNBC Radio. In 1974, he was named a joint assistant program director and air personality. Later that year, Law took over as program director but only briefly before resuming his APD/weekend air work. He remained at the NBC flagship until 1976.

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Breaking: End of Line for Merlin’s WEMP as FM News

Merlin Media is ready to cut its losses as an all-news FM station. FishbowlNY has confirmed the upstart radio company, owned by Randy Michaels, is holding a full staff meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday. We’re told Merlin is also scheduling meetings at its Chicago newser.

Sources tell FishbowlNY that WEMP will become a hybrid News/Talk format, likely modeled after Merlin’s Philadelphia station, IQ 106.9.

Someone with knowledge of the situation says significant layoffs are expected at the meetings.

“They’re expecting the worst because they’ve already seen the worst.” the source tells FishbowlNY

Ahead of tomorrow’s meeting, we’re told that the new format is expected to launch in September. There’s no word if the meetings will expedite the tweaking.

WEMP has had nearly non-existent numbers since taking the 101.9 frequency from Emmis last summer. The station has been stuck at a .6 in recent months.

With endless struggles to find the right sound, several key managers, including VP of programming/news director Liz Aiello, and Merlin COO Walter Sabo, were shown the door by the start of 2012.

In May, WEMP hired Los Angeles News/Talk programming veteran Mark Austin Thomas to take the reigns into year-two.

WEMP Hires New VP/News Director

While WEMP/FM News 101.9 has enjoyed anything but a steady ride since launching last summer, perhaps this will mark the start of smoother sailing.

The Merlin Media All-Newser has hired veteran Los Angeles news director Mark Austin Thomas, All Access.com reports.  He’ll take on the same management role left vacated when original VP of programming, Liz Aiello who was dropped in February.

Thomas has extensive radio experience in the number two market, serving as news director and anchor at KABC-AM and KFI. He was program director at KLAC.  Also in L.A., Thomas has been anchor/host at KNX and KPCC.

Additionally, Thomas worked as news director and anchor at KSOL in San Francisco, and was host of public radio’s Marketplace Morning Report.

Since Merlin began its news format last August, the ratings have been dreadful. It’s been a consistent .7 in the last several Arbitron books.  Along with Aiello, station COO Walter Sabo exited before the start of the year. Several on-air staffers also were sent packing, as the station sought the right mix.

Sara Lee Kessler Exits FM News 101.9/WEMP

Change is in the air and on the air at the upstart newser 101.9/WEMP. FishbowlNY has learned that veteran broadcaster Sara Lee Kessler has left the station. Kessler, best known for her long-running stint as WWOR/Channel 9 anchor, had been a reporter for WEMP since its inception in August.

One source tells FishbowlNY that Kessler is among several staffers that may be let go due to “outs” in their contracts as Merlin Media is now in a cutback mode.

However, another person with knowledge of the situation was not familiar with any personnel changes, other than Kessler. Additionally, that person could not confirm if Kessler left on her own volition or was squeezed out.

There’s been turmoil at WEMP since signing on last summer. The station has struggled mightily to find an audience, which led to the ouster of VP of programming Liz Aiello earlier this year and COO Walter Sabo in December.

Last week, Randy Michaels and Merlin began the march toward the future, naming Eric Seidel interim program director.

WEMP inched ahead in the January Arbitron ratings to a .7.

Update: FishbowlNY has confirmed that evening anchor Maureen Langan and reporter Bob Brown have also left the station.

Merlin Media Tries to Work Magic in Finding a New Programming VP at WEMP

The wheels of the Merlin Media’s experimental All-News FM format are still coming off. As we reported over the weekend, WEMP 101.9 VP of programming Liz Aiello was fired Thursday, after just eight months with the company–six with the station firing on all cyclinders.

Updating the story today, FishbowlNY has learned that Merlin has handed the reins to veteran broadcasting exec Al Gardner, recently hired by Randy Michaels to helm a Philadelphia version of WEMP.

Sources also tell FishbowlNY that Merlin is conducting a nationwide for Aiello’s successor.

The ratings for WEMP have been abysmal, .5 in the most recent book, down .1 from the previous month.

There has been upheaval at Merlin Media in recent weeks, if not since first taking the air from Emmis’ WRXP in August.

Walter Sabo was ousted from his position as company COO before year’s end.

Liz Aiello Ousted as WEMP Programming VP

To say the ratings for WEMP/FM News 101.9 have been in the tank since hitting the air in August would be kind. In the latest Arbitron numbers, the Merlin Media start-up slipped from a .6 to a microscopic .5.

Those ratings indicate a failed experiment, and heads are rolling on Hudson Street.

Liz Aiello, VP of programming for WEMP, has been shown the door, FishbowlNY has confirmed. Aiello, hired by Merlin in June, had her last day Thursday.

Though she arrived with an extensive broadcasting resume, Aiello lacked any All-News experience. Aiello was a managing editor and executive producer at WABC/Channel 7. Aiello arrived at WEMP following a stint at Sirius XM Radio as SVP for Martha Stewart‘s channels. Aiello also was Howard Stern‘s one-time news director at Sirius.

Aiello’s departure comes in the aftermath of COO Walter Sabo‘s, who left before New Years.

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