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Boston Marathon giving runners access to elite racers' music

The Boston Marathon is giving runners who use music as motivation free access to elite competitors' playlists and tips.

John Hancock, which sponsors the marathon, says it's teamed up with Spotify to let participants in next month's race listen to champion runners' favorite music.

Elite athletes contributing tracks to the project include four-time Olympian Shalane Flanagan, who holds the American women's record on the Boston course; 2014 winner Meb Keflezighi; and Tatyana McFadden, a Paralympics gold medalist and four-time Boston Marathon champion.

Along with the music, athletes have recorded advice designed to help runners make it to the finish line.

Runners can compile a custom playlist of music that most closely matches their pace and running style.

The 122nd Boston Marathon is April 16.


This story has been corrected to show the spelling is Meb Keflezighi, not Keflizighi.

After broken hand, Flight of the Conchords tour postponed

The music comedy group Flight of the Conchords has postponed a series of tour dates after Bret McKenzie injured his hand in what he called a "very rock 'n' roll injury — falling down some stairs."

In a statement posted on the band's website on Sunday, McKenzie said the upcoming United Kingdom tour of the Flight of the Conchords would be rescheduled after he broke two bones in his hand. McKenzie says he will be prevented from performing for several weeks.

The group's 13 U.K. performances were to begin on Sunday in London.

McKenzie and Jemaine Clement recently reunited for a series of North American shows. Their HBO series ran from 2007 to 2009.

Cirque du Soleil performer dies after fall during Tampa show

A Cirque du Soleil acrobat who fell during a Saturday performance in Tampa, Florida, died from his injuries, a hospital spokeswoman told WTSP on Sunday.

>> Read more trending news

According to a video viewed by WTSP and The Tampa Bay Times, the aerial acrobat lost his grip on a ribbon strap during the company’s “Volta” show and fell 10 feet to the stage below.

A spokesman for Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group identified the performer as Yann Arnaud, a longtime aerialist, WFLA reported.

The show was stopped, and Arnaud was taken to Tampa General Hospital. He died from his injuries, spokeswoman Ellen Fiss told WTSP. 

The two performances scheduled for Sunday were canceled, the company in charge of publicizing the show said in a statement.

"The entire Cirque du Soleil family is in shock and devastated by this tragedy. Yann had been with us for over 15 years and was loved by all who had the chance to know him," company CEO Daniel Lamarre said. "Over the coming days and weeks, our focus will be on supporting Yann’s family and our employees, especially the ‘Volta’ team, as we go through these difficult times together."

Arnuad’s death is the second performer fatality in Cirque du Soleil's history, WTSP reported. According to the BBC, Sarah Guillot-Guyard, 31, died during a 2013 show in Las Vegas when she fell 94 feet to the floor when a safety wire detached.

Olivier Rochette, a 43-year-old technician, died in 2016 while setting up for a performance.

'Black Panther' tops box office for 5th straight weekend

Not since "Avatar" has a box-office hit had the kind of staying power of "Black Panther." Ryan Coogler's comic-book sensation on Sunday became the first film since James Cameron's 2009 smash to top the weekend box office five straight weekends.

The Disney release grossed $27 million in ticket sales over the weekend, according to studio estimates, pushing its domestic haul to $605.4 million. Worldwide, "Black Panther" has grossed more than $1.1 billion.

Though "Black Panther" has had little competition to contend with throughout February and March, such consistency is especially rare in today's movie-going world. Before "Avatar," the last film to do it was 1999's "The Sixth Sense."

That left second place to the MGM-Warner Bros.' rebooted "Tomb Raider," starring Alicia Vikander as the archaeologist adventurer Lara Croft. The $90 million film opened with $23.5 million, largely failing to stir much excitement among moviegoers. Critics gave it mediocre reviews (49 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) and ticket-buyers responded with a "meh," giving it a B CinemaScore.

With Vikander stepping in for Angelina Jolie, Roar Uthaug's "Tomb Raider" is an attempt to rekindle a video game-adapted franchise that faded quickly the first time around. The 2001 original opened $47.7 million and grossed $274.7 million worldwide, but the big-budget 2003 sequel flopped, opening with $21.8 million domestically and grossing $156.5 million worldwide.

Jeff Goldstein, distribution chief for Warner Bros., said "Tomb Raider" came close to studio expectations in North America but that international ticket sales were a primary focus. "Tomb Raider" was no. 1 overseas, grossing $84.5 million, including a $41.1 million in China.

"International was always a key part of the strategy," Goldstein said.

Of course, the continuing success of "Black Panther" also didn't help "Tomb Raider." When release dates were being set a year ago, few could have foreseen "Black Panther" no. 1 five weeks in. "How could you?" Goldstein said.

"Black Panther" has shown considerably fewer legs in China, however. Though it has grossed $96 million in two weeks of release in China, "Black Panther" slid steeply in its second weekend.

Yet last week, "Black Panther" even bested Disney's own "A Wrinkle in Time," Ava DuVernay's adaptation of Madeleine L'Engle's 1962 novel of the same name. In its second week, "A Wrinkle in Time" dropped 50 percent with $16.6 million in ticket sales.

The surprise of the weekend was the Lionsgate-Roadside Attractions Christian drama "I Can Only Imagine," which grossed $17.1 million on 1,629 screens — less than half the number that "Black Panther," ''Tomb Raider" and "A Winkle in Time" played on. The film, which co-stars Dennis Quaid and Cloris Leachman, cost only $7 million to make. It stars J. Michael Finley as the singer behind one of the most popular Christian songs, by the band MercyMe.

"I Can Only Imagine" doubled expectations by sticking to the typical tactic of "faith-based" releases with a grassroots marketing effort that focused on Southern, Southwestern and suburban moviegoers. Eighty percent of the audience was over 35.

It's the biggest opening weekend ever for Roadside Attractions, the 15-year-old indie distributor whose previous titles include "Mud" and "Manchester by the Sea."

"We did really work the film. Starting with the beginning of October, we were screening the film for faith-based influencers," said Roadside co-founder Howard Cohen. "So it had a really classic playbook for these type of movies. But a lot of movies do it and it doesn't work as well."

Playing to a virtually opposite audience was 20th Century Fox's "Love, Simon," the first film from a major Hollywood studio featuring a gay teen protagonist. Whereas "I Can Only Imagine" catered to the suburbs, "Love, Simon" thrived mainly in urban areas.

Greg Berlanti's film, adapted from the best-selling young-adult novel "Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda," stars Nick Robinson as a gay 17-year-old who has yet to come out when another closeted boy from his high school begins an anonymous e-mail romance. The film garnered strong reviews (91 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences agreed, giving it an A-plus CinemaScore.

"I feel good that we released this film. I feel great that we had the kind of exit polls that we did," said Chris Aronson, distribution chief for Fox. "I think audiences are going to continue to find this jewel of a film that Greg Berlanti created."

Fox Searchlight's Oscar winner "The Shape of Water" also launched in China this weekend with $10.4 million following its best-picture win. The biggest post-Oscars boost has been overseas, where "The Shape of Water" grossed $17 million over the weekend.

According to comScore, the weekend was down 50 percent from the same weekend in 2017 when Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" opened with a record-breaking $174.8 million.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers also are included. Final three-day domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. "Black Panther," $27 million ($30 million international).

2. "Tomb Raider," $23.5 million ($84.5 million international).

3. "I Can Only Imagine," $17.1 million ($195,000 international).

4. "A Wrinkle in Time," $16.6 million ($3.2 million international).

5. "Love, Simon," $11.5 million.

6. "Game Night," $5.6 million ($3.7 million international).

7. "Peter Rabbit," $5.2 million ($14.5 million international).

8. "Strangers: Prey at Night," $4.8 million.

9. "Red Sparrow," $4.5 million ($8.9 million international).

10. "Death Wish," $3.4 million ($1.3 million international).


Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to comScore:

1. "Tomb Raider," $84.5 million.

2. "Black Panther," $30 million.

3. "The Shape of Water," $17 million.

4. "Peter Rabbit," $14.5 million.

5. "Operation Red Sea," $11.7 million.

6. "Red Sparrow," $8.9 million.

7. "Coco," $6.5 million.

8. "Amazing China," $6.1 million.

9. "Now I Will Meet You," $5.9 million.

10. "Bajrangi Bhaijaan," $4.8 million.


Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at:

Egypt censors play 'Before the Revolution,' director appeals

Egypt's state censors prohibited the performance of a play just hours before its Sunday premiere in Cairo, the latest episode in authorities' unrelenting crackdown on free speech.

Director Ahmed El Attar cancelled the Sunday and Monday showings of Before The Revolution, a two-actor piece that depicts feelings of oppression and stagnation in Egypt before its 2011 popular uprising, saying that to remove five scenes as required by the censors heavily distorted the piece.

The play, which had been set to show in a 100-seat theatre for six nights, is part of the Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival, the biggest arts event in Cairo's city center, supported mostly by foreign cultural institutes and embassies as well as UNESCO.

"The director and playwright El Attar saw that removing five scenes has a negative and strong impact on the dramatic construction and the work of art, draining its artistic and literary content," organizers said in a statement.

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who led the 2013 overthrow of an elected but divisive Islamist president, has waged a massive crackdown on dissent and free speech, and authorities have ratcheted up pressure ahead of an upcoming election he is set to win virtually unchallenged.

After all potentially serious competitors were arrested or intimidated out of the race, on March 26-28 Egyptians will vote either for el-Sissi or a little-known politician who supports him and has not campaigned. Posters of el-Sissi look down over most major thoroughfares across the country.

Meanwhile, authorities have taken a hard line against any critical media, arresting several reporters while the country's chief prosecutor described critical journalists as "forces of evil" who "undermine the security and safety of the nation through the broadcast and publication of lies and false news."

Sunday's censoring would be the second time authorities have cracked down on a play ahead of the election — six people were also arrested this month for their involvement in a piece at a Cairo sports club seen as insulting to security forces because it referenced a controversial police figure who had killed Israeli tourists in 1985.

El Attar, who is also the art festival's general manager and artistic director, has appealed for a second censorship committee to watch the show on March 19th, hopefully allowing it to be shown without the proposed cuts.

The playwright's social satire has been appreciated in Europe, most recently with 2014's The Last Supper, a critique of Egypt's Cairo elite and a class-led patriarchy that was well received at theatre festivals.

In Before The Revolution, El Attar says that while he found it too early to address artistically the events of 2011, he hoped to examine some of the conditions that led to the revolt that overthrew Egypt's long-term autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

"I want to convey the emotions of the period," he told The Associated Press in an interview last week. "I think it was a rough period, it was a time when it was all suppression and defeat, I mean it was hard. So I want (the audience) to feel that."


Follow Brian Rohan on Twitter at :


Associated Press writer Maggie Hyde contributed to this report.

At State Department, Heather Nauert's star is ascendant

When the ax fell on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, his spokeswoman was half a world away, a distance he and his inner circle preferred and enforced.

Now, it's Tillerson who's on his way out after his unceremonious firing by President Donald Trump, and Heather Nauert whose star is ascendant.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Nauert are among the few women in the Trump administration with high-profile voices on foreign policy. Only three State Department officials — all men — now outrank Nauert, a former Fox News anchor who declined comment for this story.

Nauert's meteoric rise comes even though just a week ago she seemed not long for the job. Then Tillerson lost his.

She was denied the kind of close access to the boss that all recent successful State Department press secretaries enjoyed. So Nauert tried to defend Trump's top diplomat and explain his activities to reporters from around the world without being able to travel on any of Tillerson's international trips or attend most of his Washington meetings.

Frustrated at being sidelined, Nauert almost quit several times. She had been telling associates she was ready to move on.

The moment that Trump canned Tillerson by tweet, Nauert was in a Hamas-built tunnel on the border near the Gaza Strip, on a tour organized by the Israeli military to show U.S. officials the smuggling routes used by militants. Caught by surprise by the move back in Washington, Nauert cut the tour short and returned to Jerusalem to deal with the crisis. Soon, Trump also fired the undersecretary of state who publicly defended Tillerson.

The president named Nauert to that suddenly vacant position, near the top of the hierarchy of American diplomacy.

Nauert told associates she was taken aback and recommended a colleague for the job. But when White House officials told her they wanted her, she accepted.

The new role gives Nauert responsibilities far beyond the regular news conferences she held in the briefing room. She is overseeing the public diplomacy in Washington and all of the roughly 275 overseas U.S. embassies, consulates and other posts. She is in charge of the Global Engagement Center that fights extremist messaging from the Islamic State group and others. She can take a seat, if she wants, on the Broadcasting Board of Governors that steers government broadcast networks such as Voice of America.

Less than a year ago, Nauert wasn't even in government.

Nauert, who was born in Illinois, was a breaking news anchor on Trump's favorite television show, "Fox & Friends," when she was tapped to be the face and voice of the administration's foreign policy. With a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, she had come to Fox from ABC News, where she was a general assignment reporter. She hadn't specialized in foreign policy or international relations.

It was almost clear from the start that Nauert wasn't Tillerson's first choice.

She resisted the ex-oilman's efforts to limit press access, reduce briefings and limit journalists allowed to travel with him. Tillerson had preferred Genevieve Wood at the conservative Heritage Foundation, according to several individuals familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to publicly discuss Tillerson's personnel decisions.

When Nauert arrived at the State Department in April 2017, she found relations between Tillerson and the diplomatic press corps in crisis. No longer were there daily briefings that had been a State Department feature for decades. Journalists accustomed to traveling with Republican and Democratic secretaries for decades found they were blocked from Tillerson's plane. Department spokespeople had no regular access to Tillerson or his top advisers.

Shut out from the top, Nauert developed relationships with career diplomats. Barred from traveling with Tillerson, she embarked on her own overseas trips, visiting Bangladesh and Myanmar last year to see the plight of Rohingya Muslims, and then Israel after a planned stop in Syria was scrapped. Limited to two briefings a week, she began hosting a program called "The Readout" on State Department social media outlets in which she interviewed senior officials about topics of the day.

All the while, she stayed in the good graces of the White House, even as Tillerson was increasingly on the outs. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders described Nauert as "a team player" and "a strong asset for the administration."

And she didn't shy from taking on foreign foes.

"The idea that Russia is calling for a so-called humanitarian corridor, I want to be clear, is a joke," Nauert said at one recent briefing where she took Moscow to task for its actions in Syria, where it has used military power to support President Bashar Assad's government.

Such comments have earned her the wrath of Kremlin officials and state-run media. Faced with pointed questioning by reporters from Russian news outlets at her briefings, Nauert often has lashed out, accusing them of working for their government.

"You're from Russian TV, too. OK. So hey, enough said then. I'll move on," Nauert told a reporter last month after Russian President Vladimir Putin presented an animated film clip showing a missile headed toward the U.S.

The comment sparked an intercontinental war-of-spokeswomen.

"If the StateDept dares to shun our journalists alongside with calling them Russian journalists one more time, we will carry our promise. We will create special seats for so called 'US journalists,'" Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova tweeted.

It didn't end there.

First, the Russian Embassy in Washington congratulated Nauert "and, of course, all female employees" of the State Department on International Women's Day. Nauert responded with gratitude and a dig, saying Moscow should use the day to "live up to its international commitments & stop bombing innocent men, women & children in #Syria."


This story has been corrected to show that only Nauert, not the entire delegation, cut the trip short after Tillerson's firing.

Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt:  5 things to know

It’s hard to call Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt an overnight sensation. After all, she’s been following basketball at Loyola University-Chicago for more than a half century and said she saw the Ramblers win the NCAA title in 1963. But thanks to television, the internet and social media, the 98-year-old nun has become a media darling.

>> Read more trending news

With victories against Miami and Tennessee in the NCAA Tournament, the Ramblers are hoping for more spiritual guidance when they face the winner of the Cincinnati-Nevada game in next week’s Sweet 16.

Here are some things you might not have known about Loyola-Chicago’s inspirational leader.

Praying for victory: As the basketball team’s chaplain since 1994, Sister Jean begins every prayer the same way: “Good and gracious God.” But if you’re thinking she does not invoke the deity for a little help to win, think again. “I ask God to be especially good to Loyola so that, at the end of the game, the scoreboard indicates a big ‘W’ for us,” she told The New York Times. She ends every prayer with an emphatic “Go Ramblers.” Judging from some of the shots Loyola-Chicago has been burying during this tournament -- Clayton Custer’s game-winner against Tennessee comes to mind -- these prayers have been answered so far.

She’s a Hall of Famer: Loyola-Chicago inducted Sister Jean into the athletic department’s Hall of Fame in 2017, making her the 173rd member to be enshrined. Born in San Francisco in 1919, Sister Jean played basketball in high school.

Good scouting: Every season, Sister Jean researches the boxscores of upcoming opponents, using her sharp eye for detail to point out flaws in the Ramblers’ next foe. Coach Porter Moser found a manila folder on his desk on his first day as coach, according to Sister Jean had compiled a scouting report on the Ramblers to help the new coach.

“She lights up every room she goes into.” Moser told the Times. “She’s always smiling. She has an energy about herself. I connect with that.”

She has her own bobblehead: Loyola-Chicago held a bobblehead promotion night for Sister Jean in 2011.

Super sneakers: Sister Jean has a pair of maroon-and-gold Nike sneakers that she wears during each game. Two names are stitched on the sneaker’s heels: “Sister” on the left heel, and “Jean” on the right.

It’s been quite a ride for Loyola-Chicago, which has knocked off two highly touted program. Now, the Ramblers will have to go against Sister Jean in the Sweet 16: She picked the Ramblers to lose in that round.

WATCH: Bill Hader's Stefon returns to 'SNL,' and fans just can't get enough

He's baaack!

"Saturday Night Live" alum Bill Hader returned to the comedy show as host this week – and, much to fans' delight, revived his beloved character, New York City correspondent Stefon.

>> Click here to watch the full sketch (WARNING: Viewer discretion advised)

Hader brought his character-breaking comedy to "Weekend Update," recommending some unusual St. Patrick's Day hot spots.

>> Read more trending news 

"New York's hottest club is Gooosh," Hader's Stefon said. "Inspired by true events, this former CVS, which became a Chase Bank then became a CVS again, has a troubling yet familiar feel, like when Larry King would play himself in a movie."

>> See the clip here

Another suggestion? "If you're Irish, or just white and violent, I have the St. Paddy's place for you. New York's hottest Irish club is 'Off to Church, Mother,'" he said, adding, "This place has everything: Peeps, TED Talks, Roman J. Israel, Esq., and be sure to hit the dance floor and do a jig with Ireland' s hottest Farrah-cauns — leprechauns that look like Farrah Fawcett."

>> Watch the clip here

John Mulaney, Stefon's co-creator, also joined Hader as Stefon's lawyer, Shy.

During the segment, fans flocked to Twitter to sing Stefon's praises. Scroll down to see what they were saying.

Iron Maiden's Reaction to Lawsuit is 'Sour Grapes,' Says Challenger

The music manager who launched a legal dispute with Iron Maiden over “Hallowed Be Thy Name” has called the band’s reaction “sour grapes.”

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Campaign Launched to Rename English Town After David Bowie

A campaign has been launched to rename the English town of Aylesbury to “Aylesbowie” in recognition of David Bowie.

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