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Posts Tagged ‘Walter Sabo’

Walter Sabo Reportedly Out at as Merlin Media COO

With the clock about to strike midnight on 2011, it also appears to have struck midnight for Walter Sabo as Merlin Media chief operating officer.

Sabo, on his personal LinkedIn page, lists Merlin Media as his employer from May 2011 to December 2011 (8 months). Although, officially he joined the start-up company on June 27.

Merlin Media owns three radio stations, including FM News WEMP 101.9.

Adding further speculation that Sabo’s tenure may have ended with Merlin, the veteran radio programmer places his Merlin position is in the “past” category on LinkedIn.

On LinkedIn, he posts self-created businesses  Sabo Media and Hitviews as current jobs.

FishbowlNY attempted to reach Sabo and a spokesman for Merlin Media to confirm.

Merlin Media launched one of New York City’s first FM all-news stations in August,  a one-part cutting-edge, one-part experimental station.  

WEMP failed to gain ground in the overall December Arbitron ratings with a .6.  

Randy Michaels acquired WEMP and two other stations from Emmis in June.

Tom Brokaw, Vernon Jordan and the Shy Divorcee

1003_mockup.gifIt was SRO at Michael’s today. The dining room was so jam packed every sqaure inch was occupied by a mogul (Mel Karmazin!), media heavyweight (Tom Brokaw, Jon Meacham, Jeff Zucker), or social swan (divorcee of the moment, Mercedes Bass who moved to the Garden Room with pal Lynn Nesbitt when the decibel level and fabulousness of it all got to be too much).  Just a thought: if you’re looking for a quiet, out of the way lunch spot, you might want to consider going somewhere else on Wednesday.

I was joined today by Forbes‘ new editor, Randall Lane. In his new position, Randall is presiding over familiar territory to him: the lives of the ridiculously rich and ambitious. In a previous life, he was the editor of Trader Monthly which chronicled the age of excess of the Wall Streeter of days gone by.  That experience later provided plenty of fodder for his book, The Zeroes: My Misadventures in the Decade When Wall Street Went Insane. In the interim, he’s been an editor at large for Newsweek and written for The Daily Beast. Having worked with him years ago when he was the editor in chief on the startup Justice, which covered the hot trials and legal issues of the day, I was thrilled when I heard he’d gotten the top job at Forbes back in September.

Randall first worked at Forbes fresh out of college in the nineties and spent six years “chasing rich people” and working on the franchise’s venerated power lists which required (and still do) hundreds of hours of research and manpower. “In some ways, it feels like I never left,” he tells me.

Diane Clehane and Randall Lane
Randall Lane and yours truly

Since taking the helm, Randall has been on a mission to make the book more visually exciting with interesting photography (the arresting cover image of Bill Gates in the “World’s 70 Most Powerful People” issue is a winner), fresh design elements courtesy of the Brooklyn-based shop Athletics, a livelier front of book section and more in-depth profiles on people the Forbes reader wants to know about.  Exhibit A: The cover story in the November 7 issue on Dropbox’s Drew Houston, the 28 year-old mogul who turned down Steve Jobs and is now worth $600 million which drew one million hits on Forbes.com.

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Taking Taxi to the Top at WEMP

September marked WEMP’s first full month listed in the Arbitron survey. For the overall 6+ rating, the upstart newser dropped to a .5.

The ratings period began August 18, meaning Hurricane Irene coverage later that month was included.

WEMP had been part of the August ratings, but only five days worth at a 1.1.

WEMP/FM News COO Walter Sabo says a trend needs more than one month to establish itself.

Following the September PPM ratings, FishbowlNY spent some time with the Merlin Media executive.

Sabo hailed a cab following our Midtown meeting. Once in the taxi, the radio mastermind overheard his station filtering through the glass partition.

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Barbara Walters, Harold Ford, Jr. and Bravo’s Chris March

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We could barely keep up with the steady stream of A-listers who poured into Michael’s today. When we arrived a little before noon, there was a handful of power brokers quietly hunkering down to business over their Cobb salads in the back of the room. By the time Bravo’s latest star, designer Chris March arrived with Jennifer Geisser, the network’s senior vice president of communications, and publicist Alana McElroy, there was a palpable party vibe in the dining room.  Late arrival Harold Ford, Jr. worked the room like nobody’s business while social swans Muffie Potter Aston and Suzanne Johnson doled out air kisses like they were candy.

While it was a little hard to hear over the chattering crowd, I thoroughly enjoyed dishing with Chris, whose new show, Mad Fashion, premiered Tuesday night on Bravo. Chris, you might recall was a finalist on Project Runway. (Christian Siriano was the winner that season). His quirky couture and good natured personality ( gotta love that laugh!) made him a fan favorite. Chris tells me when Bravo’s resident boy wonder, Andy Cohen, got wind he was shopping a show around, he got in touch with Chris and insisted Bravo see it first. The deal was done in a matter of days.

Unlike most of those ubiquitous Bravolebrities, Chris isn’t into the fame game. “I didn’t do either show to get famous,” he tells me. “I did it to get to do the type of work I wanted to do.” Things have worked out pretty well on that score. On the Wednesday before the I Heart Radio concert in Las Vegas, Chris got a call from Lady Gaga’s office requesting he make something fabulous for her appearance at the show. In less than a week, he delivered the studded motorcycle cape she wore on stage. “That wouldn’t have happened without being on television.” Maybe, but the guy has definitely got it.  This is the same man who made Meryl Streep‘s last Oscar dress at his kitchen table. His secret weapon: a drama-free attitude when dealing with people who live and die for style.

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FM News 101.9/WEMP Begins Online Streaming

As WEMP begins its second full week as a 24-hour-a-day news station, listeners now have the option to hear 101.9 online.

WEMP began streaming on its website Friday.

But, before clicking the “Listen Live” for the news format geared to women loaded with lifestyle and entertainment features, visitors are encouraged to answer a few questions.

Merlin execs chose morning co-anchor (longtime, former WINS reporter) Alice Stockton-Rossini as the face for this experiment.

With a picture of Rossini on the page, she “asks” for input from new listeners. 

“I need your thoughts on the type of stories and information that would be most helpful to you all day,” Rossini writes.

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101.9 Adds Jock Dave Packer to Staff; Gives Rumor to Hybrid News/Music Format

New York’s new station at 101.9, which dropped the Rock format on Friday when it was fully taken over by Merlin Media, is preparing for a changeover to News.

Last week, we told you that several WINS anchors and reporters made the move to Merlin.

Now, FishbowlNY has learned that WCBS-FM fill-in jock Dave Packer has been hired. This fuels speculation that Merlin, behind COO Walter Sabo, would appear to be developing a similar format to one he created at WKXW/New Jersey 101.5.

At WKXW, Sabo was instrumental in programming a News/Talk station Monday through Friday, and an Oldies station on the weekends.

For now, 101.9 has kept the old WRXP call letters and a mix of 1980s pop/rock. But there are no jocks, just a female-voiced jingle announcing “101.9 FM New…” instead of saying ”News.”

Merlin Media Sets Friday for Takeover of 101.9

While the format is still to be determined, various reports say fledgling Merlin Media will remove Rock station WRXP 101.9 from the air on Friday. Reports say Thursday is the final day for the ‘RXP air staff.

On June 21, Randy Michaels assumed control of three Emmis radio stations, including ‘RXP.

Since then, Michaels brought in radio veteran Walter Sabo as COO, likely to run the day-to-day operations of the new 101.9.

Last week, FishbowlNY learned that Pete Salant was tapped to reunite with Sabo in an unspecified programming role. Salant ran Adult Contemporary WYNY in the early 1980s with Sabo as his boss.

Since buying the station, rumors have persisted that the new 101.9 would flip format. The most likely candidate for 101.9 is News/Talk, or some variation.

However, Merlin Media, in attempt to keep people guessing, recently registered www.1019wyny.com through Go Daddy.

Merlin Media Hires Veteran Radio Programmer Pete Salant

Merlin Media is taking another step toward the future.

Accomplished radio programmer Pete Salant has joined Merlin Media in an unspecified programming role, sources with knowledge of the information tell FishbowlNY. 

Salant made a name for himself as the program director and operations manager of WYNY from 1980 to 1983.  

Salant reteams with his former NBC boss–then-FM radio division executive VP Walter Sabo, now the Merlin Media chief operating officer.  While at 30 Rock, Salant led the team that pioneered the Adult Contemporary music format at WYNY, which climbed from number 22 to number one in Adults during Salant’s first six months. The station remained the highest rated music station among all FM and AM stations in New York City during his tenure.

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Merlin Media Takes Next Step with WRXP, Registers New Call Letters

Merlin Media, the start-up formed by Tribune castoff Randy Michaels, may have its new call letters ready to go. Perhaps, though, it’s all one big tease.

As we’ve been reporting for several weeks, rumors are running rampant that Merlin will flip former Emmis-owned Rocker WRXP 101.9 to a News/Talk station.

Now, All Access reports that Merlin has registered www.1019wyny.com through Go Daddy. The information lists Merlin Media, LLC as the registrant.

Of course, WYNY, which built its reputation by playing Adult Contempory, made the move to Country in the 1987.

However, bringing a Country format to 101.9 doesn’t appear likely.  

“There’s no chance,” one industry insider told FishbowlNY.

Walter SaboMerlin’s COO, is a longtime talk radio consultant.

Traffic Guru Jeff McKay Reportedly Headed to Merlin Media, New 101.9 FM Station

Last week, we told you that longtime traffic reporter Jeff McKay left Metro Networks after nearly 20 years. While McKay has been close to the vest about his next venture, the Daily News may have shed some light.

The paper reports today that McKay, known for his reports on 1010 WINS, will join Merlin Media. In turn, that will further fuel speculation that Randy Michaels upstart media company will flip WRXP/101.9 from a Rock station to News/Talk format.

Broadcasting  consultant Walter Sabo had been brought in to run Merlin. His background includes programming New Jersey 101.5/WKXW, a Metro affiliated station at which McKay also spent many years helping listeners negotiating jams with “The McKay Way.”

The Daily News reports that a timetable for the changeover isn’t known, but it’s not likely to be an extended process.

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