Monday, January 22, 2018

People Under 45 Watch Digital Video More Than Traditional TV

Watching digital – downloaded or streaming – video is now a more popular weekly activity for people under the ages of 45 than watching traditional TV, according to MarketingCharts’ 4th Annual US Media Audience Demographics report.

The report indicates that digital video surpassed traditional TV among 35-44-year-olds for the first time last year.

The findings are supported by a recent PwC study that found a surge in popularity for streaming video services among Gen Xers.

Older adults remain firmly in traditional TV’s corner, however. Among those ages 65 and older, for example, 93% use a TV set at least once a week to watch live, recorded, on-demand or pay-per-view TV (traditional TV), almost double the share (49%) who watch downloaded or streaming video.

There are some keen differences in video preferences when examining races and ethnicities, too. Non-Hispanic Black adults are considerably more likely to watch traditional TV (85%) than digital video (69%) on a weekly basis, as are non-Hispanic Whites (87% and 73%, respectively). But Hispanic adults are just as likely to watch digital video as traditional TV.

AI Is Changing The Consumers, Computer Relationship

Advancements in a bevy of industries are helping intelligent digital voice assistants like Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa become more sophisticated and useful pieces of technology.

Increasingly sophisticated voice assistants and the growing potential use cases they can assist in are driving consumers to adopt them in greater droves — 65% of US smartphone owners were employing voice assistants in 2015, up significantly from 30% just two years prior. Consumers are also eagerly adopting speaker-based voice assistants, with shipments of Google Home and Amazon Echo speakers expected to climb more than threefold to 24.5 million in 2017, according to a report from VoiceLabs.

However, there are still numerous barriers that need to be overcome before this product platform will see mass adoption, as both technological challenges and societal hurdles persist.

In a new report, BI Intelligence explains what's driving the recent upsurge in adoption of digital voice assistants. It explores the recent technology advancements that have catalyzed this growth, while presenting the technological shortcomings preventing voice assistants from hitting their true potential. This report also examines the voice assistant landscape, and discusses the leading voice assistants and the devices through which consumers interact with them. Finally, it identifies the major barriers to mass adoption, and the impact voice assistants could have in numerous industries once they cross that threshold.

Here are some key takeaways from the report:
  • Voice assistants are software programs that respond to voice commands in order to perform a range of tasks. They can find an opening in a consumer’s calendar to schedule an appointment, place an online order for tangible goods, and act as a hands-free facilitator for texting, among many, many other tasks.
  • Technological advances are making voice assistants more capable. These improvements fall into two categories: improvements in AI, specifically natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning; and gains in computing and telecommunications infrastructure, like more powerful smartphones, better cellular networks, and faster cloud computing.
  • Changes in consumer behavior and habits are also leading to greater adoption. Chief among these are increased overall awareness and a higher level of comfort demonstrated by younger consumers.
  • The voice assistant landscape is divided between smartphone- and speaker-based assistants. These distinctions, while important now, will lose relevance in the long run as more assistants can be used on both kinds of devices. The primary players in the space are Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana, Google Assistant, Amazon's Alexa, and Samsung's Viv. 
  • Stakes in the competition for dominance in the voice assistant market are high. As each assistant becomes more interconnected with an ecosystem of devices that it can control, more popular platforms will have a sizable advantage. 

Trump Turns Down NBC 'Super Bowl' Interview

President and former NBC reality-TV star Donald Trump will not sit down with his former network for the traditional pre-Super Bowl Presidential Interview.

According to Deadline-Hollywood, NBC has extended an open invitation to Trump in case he changes his mind.

It’s unclear why Trump has turned down the invitation for what has become a pre-Big Game tradition. Obama did the interview every year of his presidency. Deadline speculate it might be that he doesn’t want a repeat of last year’s interview – the first of Trump’s administration, in which he was interviewed on Fox by his friend and Fox News Channel star Bill O’Reilly; that chat clocked 12.2 million viewers, fewer than Obama’s interviews.

And, of course, Trump is the leader of the anti-NFL movement, having launched an attack in September against players who kneeled in protest during the national anthem.

Shutdown Impacts American Forces Network

American Forces Network viewers in Europe woke up to this message on their televisions on Saturday
Defense Department personnel and their families overseas woke up Saturday to much confusion, uncertainty and some anger about how their lives would be affected by the U.S. government shutdown, according to Stars&Stripes.

The shutdown became official at midnight Friday in Washington, D.C., after Democrats and Republicans in Congress failed to agree on a last-minute spending bill to fund government operations.

It didn’t take long for some DOD operations to grind to a halt: American Forces Network, which provides entertainment and command information to U.S. servicemembers worldwide through its television and radio services, was dark early Saturday morning in Europe.

Classical music was playing on its radio and television stations and the network posted a message online that said AFN services were not available due to the government shutdown.

The loss of AFN programming means U.S. military personnel overseas would have to find another way to watch the NFL’s NFC and AFC football championship games. The network received some angry comments on Facebook from viewers about the timing, though some of the ire was directed at members of Congress.

It wasn’t immediately known Saturday why AFN went off the air completely. In October 2013, the last time the federal government shut down, AFN maintained news and some radio services.

Add caption
What other programs or services on military bases overseas might be affected is still not clear. Most of the limited guidance that’s been put out on official social media channels indicate government organizations are still trying to sort out the way ahead.

Government civilians should report to work as scheduled on Monday, according to several Defense Department websites.

In Japan, AFN programming and social media stopped at 2 p.m. Saturday, according to a post on U.S. Naval Forces Japan’s official Facebook page.

Like in Europe, the network’s TV and radio stations played classical music. On Sunday afternoon, AFN Tokyo broadcast a radio documentary about controversies surrounding President Donald Trump’s administration.

A message posted Sunday afternoon to the official Facebook page for Camp Humphreys, South Korea, said some TV services had been restored.

“AFN TV has resumed limited service and is now broadcasting one sports channel and some news,” it said. “AFN 360 is back up on the internet. No broadcast radio is available yet, sorry.”

R.I.P.: Meteorologist John Coleman, Founded The Weather Channel

John Coleman, the jovial and energetic meteorologist who delighted San Diego television viewers for two decades and angered scientists for insisting that climate change is a hoax, died Saturday.

He was 83, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Coleman died at his home in Las Vegas, while surrounded by family, according to KUSI-TV, where he served as a forecaster from 1994 to 2014, when he retired.

His retirement capped a 60-year career during which Coleman co-founded the Weather Channel, which began as a little seen offering in the early days of cable television to a popular source of coverage of everything from blizzards and hurricanes to California’s wind-driven wildfires.

Alex Tardy, a forecaster at the National Weather Service, said Sunday, “‘This is a big loss for the weather community. He brought a lot of energy and color and enthusiasm to forecasting. My kids loved watching him on TV.”

Tardy also said Coleman never tried to push his skepticism about climate change being man made.

“We had good talks,” Tardy said. “I enjoyed it.’

Coleman was honored by the American Meteorological Society as Broadcast Meteorologist of the Year in 1983.   The organization credited Coleman for “his pioneering efforts in establishing a national cable weather channel,” according to the AMS website.

Coleman started his career in 1953 at WCIA in Champaign, Illinois, doing the early evening weather forecast and a local bandstand show called At The Hop while he was a student at University of Illinois. After receiving his journalism degree in 1957, he became the weather anchor for WCIA's sister station WMBD-TV in Peoria, Illinois. Coleman was also a weather anchor for KETV in Omaha, WISN-TV in Milwaukee and then WBBM-TV and WLS-TV in Chicago.

In 1972, Coleman and his craftsmen stage crew at WLS-TV created the first Chroma key weather map ever in use.

Coleman became the original weathercaster on what was then the brand-new ABC network morning program, Good Morning America. He stayed seven years with this top-rated program anchored by David Hartman and Joan Lunden.

In 1981, he persuaded communications entrepreneur Frank Batten to help establish The Weather Channel, serving as TWC's CEO and President during the start-up and its first year of operation.

After being forced out of TWC, Coleman became weather anchor at WCBS-TV in New York and then at WMAQ-TV in Chicago, before moving to Southern California to join the independent television station, KUSI-TV in San Diego, in what Coleman fondly calls "his retirement job." Coleman abruptly left KUSI while on vacation in April 2014, with no on-air farewell.

Coleman says he became an "outspoken skeptic" of global warming in 2007 after watching NBC's 'Green is Universal' week, where the studio lights were cut for portions of Sunday Night Football's pre-game and half-time shows. He has called climate change the "greatest scam in history," and has claimed that "the polar ice is increasing, not melting away. Polar bears are increasing in number."

R.I.P.: Jim Corby, WTVN Columbus Radio Personality

With deep shock and sadness WTVN reported over the weekend the loss of afternoon host John Corby on News Radio 610 WTVN died unexpectedly Saturday morning, January 20th, 2018. He was 61.

Corby was a staple of Columbus radio for over 30 years over two runs on 610 WTVN.

He started as WNCI’s News Director and morning show co-host and then was a personality on 610 WTVN from 1984-1994 before he left for KDKA in Pittsburgh.

He returned to 610 WTVN in 1997 in his current position as afternoon host.

“Corby”, as most people called him, was famous for his ‘regular guy’ approach, dry wit, and popular bits like The Big Bass Brothers and Billy Ray Vulgar.

iHeartMedia Columbus President Brian Dytko said, “We are beyond saddened with the sudden passing of John Corby.  John was a special talent and a one of a kind broadcaster. He touched the lives of so many WTVN listeners in Central Ohio. John was not only a great broadcaster, but a great friend to many of us. His familiar voice, charm, and companionship every afternoon will be missed.”

In addition to the thousands of loyal WTVN listeners, John leaves behind his wife, daughter, sister and his mother and father.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been determined. We kindly request the public respect the privacy of the Corby family.

Corby, a graduate of Ohio State University and a baseball player there back in his day, started as news director at WNCI 97.9 FM and morning show co-host, then moved to WTVN from 1984 to 1994. He left for a stint at KDKA in Pittsburgh before returning to Columbus and 610.

R.I.P.: Jim Rodford, Bassist For The Zombies, Kinks, Argent

The Zombies bassist Jim Rodford has died aged 76 just days after his final performance.

The musician, whose career spanned six decades and included 18 years with The Kinks, died on Saturday after a fall on the stairs, his cousin and the band's frontman Rod Argent confirmed.

According to The Indepedent, Rodford had just returned home to England after completing a short tour in Florida with The Zombies with his final on-stage appearance coming on 14 January.

Argent paid tribute to his “dear cousin and lifelong friend”, writing on the band's Facebook page: “It is with deep sadness that I learned this morning that my dear cousin and lifelong friend, Jim Rodford, died this morning after a fall on the stairs.

“Jim was not only a magnificent bass player, but also from the first inextricably bound to the story of The Zombies.”

Rodford had been working on his autobiography at the time of his death and is survived by his wife of 56 years, Jean and three generations of Rodfords.

The Kinks' Dave Davies paid tribute on Twitter, writing: “I'm devastated Jim's sudden loss I'm too broken up to put words together it's such a shock."

Walter James “Jim” Rodford was born 7 July 1941 and began playing bass in the late Fifties with St Albans' skiffle band The Bluetones.

He helped Argent form The Zombies in 1961, declining an invitation to join the group but coached them through their first rehearsals.

Following the break-up of The Zombies in 1968, he joined Argent's new band - the eponymously named Argent - with gold records and chart success following as they released "Hold Your Head Up" and "God Gave Rock & Roll To You".

When Argent split in 1976 Rodford joined The Kinks during their later years and remained until their dissolution in 1996 when he came full circle by eventually joining The Zombies - along with his son Steve on drums - as they were resurrected by Argent and Colin Blunstone in 1999.

He spent the next 18 years recording and touring with The Zombies until his last performance six days ago at the 30A Songwriters Festival in Miramar Beach, Florida.

January 22 Radio History

➦In 1889...The Columbia Phonograph Company began selling Edison phonograph cylinders and players in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Delaware. It derived its name from the District of Columbia, which was its headquarters.

➦In 1956..."Fort Laramie" debuted on the CBS Radio Network starring Raymond Burr as Captain Lee Quince.

➦In 1940...“The Right to Happiness” written by radio soap diva Irna Phillips was first aired on the CBS Radio Network.  The daytime serial had begun on NBC Blue three months earlier.  And it would switch between CBS & NBC two more times during its 21 year run.

➦In 2011...Radio Pioneer Ruth Ann Myer WMCA (PD), WMGM, WHN (PD), WNEW (PD) NYC died at age 80.

In 1960, WMCA began promoting itself by stressing its on-air personalities, who were collectively known as the Good Guys. Led by program director Ruth Meyer, the first woman to hold the position in New York City radio,  this was the era of the high-profile Top 40 disc jockey with an exuberant personality aimed at a certain audience segment. With the advent of the Good Guys format, WMCA became more "on top" of new music and started to become known for "playing the hits."

In the early 1960s, the top 40 format was still young, and the field was crowded in New York City. Two major 50,000-watt stations, WMGM (frequency now occupied by WEPN) and WINS, had battled each other, playing pop music for years. Then in 1960, WABC joined the fray and started featuring top 40 music. Ultimately, it was WMCA's earnest competition with rival WABC that forced WMGM (in early 1962) and then WINS (in spring 1965) to abandon the top-40 format. There was so much attention on the high-profile WMCA-WABC battle that WMGM and WINS were each summarily forced to find a new niche.

➦In 2012...Sportscaster Andy Musser, voice of the Philadelphia Phillies for 26 years, died at age 74.

He was part of a team, with Richie Ashburn and Harry Kalas, which broadcast Phillies games on both radio and television for 21 consecutive seasons from 1976 to 1997. He retired after the 2001 season.

Musser worked for WCAU radio and television in Philadelphia from 1965 to 1971. During this time, he served as the radio play-by-play announcer for the Eagles football as well as 76ers and Villanova Wildcats basketball. One of the youngest lead broadcasters in the National Football League at the time, he covered the Eagles games with Charlie Gauer for four years until the station lost the broadcast rights to WIP-AM in 1969.  Musser also called various events for CBS Radio, including Super Bowl VI and Super Bowl VIII.

Musser was the lead voice for Chicago Bulls telecasts on WSNS from 1973 through 1976, pairing with Dick Gonski in the first two seasons and Lorn Brown in the third.   Musser would call New York Knicks games with Cal Ramsey on WOR-TV (away) and Manhattan Cable Television (home) for the next four seasons from 1976 to 1980. He handled all the matches in the first three years, but only the home ones in the fourth.

➦In 2012...40-year voice of Milwaukee sports Jim Irwin succumbed to kidney cancer at age 87.

➦In 2016…Longtime Chicago news anchor and program host (WBBM-AM, WBBM-TV, WMAQ-TV, WLS-TV WGN-TV) Jim Conway, whose career in the Windy City began in the early 1940s and spanned four decades, died at age 94.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Pittsburgh Newspaper Editorial Irks Union

Journalists at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, along with former employees and some city luminaries, are expressing outrage over a pro-Trump editorial ordered up by the paper’s publisher that they view as endorsing racism.

Politico report the editorial, titled “Reason as racism,” argued that calling someone a racist is “the new McCarthyism” and defended the sentiment behind President Donald Trump’s reported suggestion that the United States take immigrants from an overwhelmingly white country such as Norway rather than “shithole countries” like Haiti or in Africa.

“It is not racist to say that this country cannot take only the worst people from the worst places and that we want some of the best people from the best places, many of which are inhabited by people of color,” the editorial read. “That’s not racism, it is reason.”

The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, which represents 150 employees at the paper, said in a letter to the editor that it was “collectively appalled and crestfallen by the repugnant editorial.”

“As a matter of course, the Guild does not weigh in on editorial positions, but this piece is so extraordinary in its mindless, sycophantic embrace of racist values and outright bigotry espoused by this country’s president that we would be morally, journalistically, and humanly remiss not to speak out against it,” wrote the Guild’s executive committee.

The Post-Gazette didn’t run the letter to the editor, which later circulated online, or another letter denouncing the editorial and signed by 28 former employees of the paper. “This is not the Post-Gazette we knew,” the former employees wrote.

Keep Reading

Radio Mercury Awards Announces 2018 Final Round Judging Panel

The Radio Mercury Awards has announced the final round judging panel for the 27th Annual Radio Mercury Awards. This year's panel of top-level agency creative leaders represents radio's top advertising categories including automotive, communications, financial services, packaged goods, OTC, retail, spirits, and quick serve restaurants. 

The jury, drawn together with the help of Chief Judge Sean Bryan, Co-Chief Creative Officer at McCann NY, comprises thought leaders from across the country, representing all size markets and diverse audiences for some of radio's top spending advertising clients.

Listed below is the 2018 Radio Mercury Awards Final Round Judging Panel:

•    Chief Judge Sean Bryan, Co-Chief Creative Officer, McCann New York; clients include: Microsoft, Verizon and Cigna
•    Chris Beresford-Hill, Chief Creative Officer, TBWAChiatDay NY; clients include: Accenture, adidas, eos, McDonald's, Michelin, Nissan, PepsiCo, TD Bank, Thomson Reuters, Tic-Tac and Travelers Insurance
•    Mitch Bennett, Exec. Creative Director, Fitzco, Atlanta; clients include:  Coca-Cola, Coke Zero, Odwalla, Checkers & Rally's, Synovus Bank, Quikrete, and Pergo.
•    Brad Emmett, Exec. Creative Director, Doner, Detroit; clients include: JBL, AutoTrader, Golfsmith, Duralast, Pet Supplies Plus and co-ECD Fiat automotive
•    Robin Fitzgerald, Chief Creative Officer, BBDO Atlanta; clients include:  Gatorade, Energizer, and Nissan
•    Mauricio Galvan, Creative Director, Anomaly; clients include: McDonald’s, Heineken, Nissan, Mastercard
•    Josh Gross, SVP/Executive  Creative Director, Energy BBDO Chicago; clients include: AT&T, Miller Lite, Hershey’s, Goya Foods, Dallas Pets Alive
•    Ciro Sarmiento, Chief Creative Officer, Dieste, Dallas; clients include:  Cricket Wireless, Miller Lite, Goya,  and  AT&T
•    Leslie Sims, Chief Creative Officer, Y&R NY; clients include: Dell, Campbell’s Soup, Merck, and Xerox

To learn more about this year's judges click here.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

January 21 Radio History

➦In 1919...actress/radio-TV host Jinx (Eugenia) Falkenburg was born in Barcelona Spain.  She was a movie actress & popular model before & during World War II , after which she and her husband Tex McCrary were hosts of “Meet Tex and Jinx” a local radio talk show they conducted from Peacock Alley in New York’s  Waldorf Astoria.  They also hosted NBC TV’s At Home show, while she was a regular on TV’s charades show Masquerade Party.  She died a month after her husband Aug 27, 2003 at age 84.

➦In 1927...the first opera broadcast on a national Radio network occured. Radio listeners in Chicago, Illinois heard music from Faust.

In 1935...WFI-AM in Philadelphia  merged with WLIT as WFIL.

WFIL was formed by a merger of two stations that were launched in 1922. One used the call letters WFI, the other was originally WDAR. Each was owned by a major Philadelphia department store; WFI was operated by Strawbridge and Clothier, while WDAR was run by Lit Brothers.

While operated independently of each other, the two were able to work out amicable share-time agreements (hundreds of other American stations at the time were unable to do so, and frequently engaged in "jamming wars"). Around 1924, WDAR applied for and received the custom call-sign WLIT. By the late 1920s, the two stations were working jointly on various programs, promotions, and sponsorship efforts. In 1935, the two operators agreed to merge with each department store having representation on the new board of directors.

The new call-sign became WFIL, a combination of the two previous identifiers (the fact that the new call letters were close to a phonetic spelling of "Philadelphia" was merely a happy coincidence).

➦In 1938...Legendary radio disc jockey Wolfman Jack was born Robert Smith. He died July 1, 1995 at 57.

Wolfman Jack
Smith was the younger of two children of Anson Weston Smith, an Episcopal Sunday school teacher, writer, editor, and executive vice president of the Financial World, and his wife Rosamond Small. His parents divorced while he was a child. To help keep him out of trouble, his father bought him a large Trans-Oceanic radio, and Smith became an avid fan of R&B music and the disc jockeys who played it, including "Jocko" Henderson of Philadelphia, New York's "Dr. Jive" (Tommy Smalls), the "Moon Dog" from Cleveland, Alan Freed, and Nashville's "John R." Richbourg, who later became his mentor.

After selling encyclopedias and Fuller brushes door-to-door, Smith attended the National Academy of Broadcasting in Washington, D.C. Graduating in 1960, he began working as "Daddy Jules" at WYOU in Newport News, Virginia. In 1962, he moved to country music station KCIJ 1050 AM in Shreveport, Louisiana as the station manager and morning disc jockey, "Big Smith with the Records". He married Lucy "Lou" Lamb in 1961, and they had two children.

Disc jockey Alan Freed had played a role in the transformation of black rhythm and blues into rock and roll music, and originally called himself the "Moon Dog" after New York City street musician Moondog. Freed both adopted this name and used a recorded howl to give his early broadcasts a unique character. Smith's adaptation of the Moondog theme was to call himself Wolfman Jack and add his own sound effects. The character was based in part on the manner and style of bluesman Howlin' Wolf. It was at KCIJ that he first began to develop his famous alter ego Wolfman Jack.

Wolfman Jack played the role of an all-night deejay in 'American Graffiti'
According to author Philip A. Lieberman, Smith's "Wolfman" persona "derived from Smith's love of horror flicks and his shenanigans as a 'wolfman' with his two young nephews. The 'Jack' was added as a part of the 'hipster' lingo of the 1950s, as in 'take a page from my book, Jack,' or the more popular, 'hit the road, Jack.'"

➦In 1946...“The Fat Man” began its 5-year run on ABC radio. J. Scott Smart, who played the portly detective, weighed in at 270 pounds in real life.

➦In 1978...The soundtrack of Saturday Night Fever reached number one on the album chart.

➦In 1984...singer Jackie Wilson died at the age of 49. He had been in a coma since his 1975 heart attack during a concert in New Jersey.

➦In 1989...Ted Nugent married his second wife, former radio traffic reporter for WLLZ-FM in Detroit, Shemane Deziel. They have a son together.

➦In 1997..."Colonel" Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's manager for 22 years (and briefly before that managed Eddy Arnold and Hank Snow) died following a stroke at 87.

➦In 1996...WYNY 103.5 FM NYC confirmed rumors that they were dropping country

➦In 1998...WNSR 105.1 FM BYC became WBIX “Big 105"

➦In 2004...FCC Chairman, Michael Powell, anounced his resignation - 2 years before his term was to be up.

➦In 2005...College DJ, Dave Plotkin, from Rollins College's WPRK-FM in Winter Park, Florida, set a record for the world's longest continuous broadcast by a single DJ. He stayed on the air for 110 hours.

➦In 2006...Country music singer Kix Brooks replaced Bob Kingsley as host of the syndicated radio show "American Country Countdown."

➦In 2010...WWRL dropped “Air America” format - 2010

➦In 2013...WRXP (now WNSH) 94.7 FM NYC becomes Country “NashFM”

Facebook Surveys User's 'Most-Trusted' News Sources

Facebook unveiled major changes Friday to the News Feed of its 2 billion users, announcing it will rank news organizations by credibility based on user feedback and diminish its role as an arbiter of the news people see.

According to The Washington Post', the move comes after the company endured harsh criticism for allowing disinformation to spread on its social network and for favoring liberal outlets over conservative ones. In a blog post accompanying the announcement, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg wrote Facebook is not “comfortable” deciding which news sources are the most trustworthy in a “world with so much division."

The new trust rankings will emerge from surveys the company is conducting. "Broadly trusted" outlets that are affirmed by a significant cross-section of users may see a boost in readership, while less known organizations or start-ups receiving poor ratings could see their web traffic decline significantly on the social network. The company's changes include an effort to boost the content of local news outlets, which have suffered sizable subscription and readership declines as news consumption migrated online.

The changes follow another major News Feed redesign, announced last week, in which Facebook said users would begin to see less content from news organizations and brands in favor of "meaningful" posts from friends and family. Currently, 5 percent of Facebook posts are generated by news organizations; that number is expected to drop to 4 percent after the redesign, Zuckerberg said.

Facebook and other Silicon Valley giants are grappling with their roles as dominant distributors of information in an era of foreign manipulation of social media platforms and dwindling revenues for many media outlets. On Friday, Google announced it would cancel a two-month-old experiment, called Knowledge Panel, that informed its users that a news article had been disputed by independent fact-checking organizations. Conservatives had complained the feature unfairly targeted a right-leaning outlet.

More than two-thirds of Americans now get some of their news from social media, according to Pew Research Center.

Chicago Radio: Cumulus Wants Merlin Deal Cancelled

With bankrupt Cumulus Media looking to pull out of a $50 million deal to buy WLUP 97.9 FM and WKQX 101.1 FM after four years at the helm, the Chicago rock stations could soon revert to their owner: Randy Michaels’ Merlin Media.

According to The Chicago Tribune, Michaelssaid Friday he is ready to take over the stations, if necessary, and promised listeners they would continue with their current rock formats, at least in the near term.

Randy Michaels
We are fully prepared to step in and operate the stations essentially as is,” Michaels said. “There are no changes being planned right now, other than behind the scenes.”

A bankruptcy judge is scheduled to rule Feb. 1 on motions filed Thursday by Atlanta-based Cumulus to reject a handful of “extremely unprofitable” contracts, including agreements to air Chicago Bulls and White Sox broadcasts on WLS-AM 890 and the deal to buy WLUP and WKQX from Merlin.

Cumulus has been operating WLUP and WKQX since January 2014 under a local marketing agreement with Merlin that included an option to transfer ownership of the stations. Cumulus paid Merlin a fee that escalated from $300,000 to $600,000 a month over four years, totaling more than $20 million since its inception.

In its filing Thursday, Cumulus said the stations have lost more than $8.4 million to date because expenses — including the monthly fees — exceeded revenues.

Merlin executed the option to sell the stations for about $50 million, based on a formula agreed upon in the 2014 contract, and filed a transfer application with the Federal Communications Commission on Oct. 24. Cumulus filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Nov. 29.

Michaels said he has no intention of withdrawing the FCC transfer application, which would require Cumulus to pay Merlin within five days of approval.

“That thing could pop any day,” Michaels said. “No one has opposed the application.”

Cumulus and Merlin have been engaged in discussions, but they have “not been able to arrive at revised terms,” Mary Berner, Cumulus’ CEO, said Thursday in a news release. Cumulus executives declined further comment.

On Friday, a source familiar with the situation said Cumulus would have to pay the $50 million to take ownership of the stations and has no intention of doing so.

Michaels said Cumulus has “not made a reasonable counterproposal,” but he did not rule out the possibility that the two sides could strike a revised deal before Feb. 1.

L-A Radio: Lisa Worden To Oversee KYSR Day-To-Day

Lisa Worden
iHeartMedia announced Friday that radio veteran, and recently appointed Vice President of Programming for KYSR Alt 98.7 LA’s New Alternative in Los Angeles, will expand her role and now oversee all programming for ALT 98.7 as Program Director.

In addition, Worden will continue as Alternative Rock Brand Manager for iHeartMedia’s National Programming Group.  As Program Director, Worden will manage the day-to-day programming operations for ALT 98.7 working closely with on-air personalities and sales to oversee the station’s on-air content, digital footprint and music programming.

“Having Lisa’s wealth of programming experience now available to us as a resource, it made logical sense for her to take a much more active role in the day-to-day as the PD of Alt 98.7 and we look forward to tapping into her skills,” said Andrew Jeffries Executive Vice President, West Division for iHeartMedia. “Her relationships within the industry combined with her knowledge of the format, specifically Los Angeles, will help accelerate the growth, of an already very successful station, into 2018.”

Worden recently joined iHeartMedia in November 2017 as Vice President of Programming for ALT 98.7 and Alternative Rock Brand Manager for the company’s National Programming Group. Worden brings over two decades of Alternative Rock programming experience to iHeartMedia, prior to joining iHeartMedia she was the Assistant Program Director and Music Director for KROQ-FM in Los Angeles. In 2003, Worden spent two years as the Program Director for WHFS-FM in Washington, DC before returning to KROQ-FM in 2005.

KYSR 98.7 FM (75 Kw) Red=Local Coverage Area
She was named one of Billboard’s Top Women in Music from 2010-2014 and one of Billboard’s Top Rock Programmers in 2016. Worden also received the Station Music Director of the Year award at the Worldwide Music Summit in 2011 and 2014.

Philly Radio: WOGL Extends Harvey Holiday

Entercom/Philadelphia has signed a contract extension with longtime Delaware Valley radio personality Harvy Holiday.

Holiday made the announcement on his Facebook page:

Holiday has been in broadcasting for a half-century or more.

Harvey Holiday
He started out in the mid-sixties working at WYNS 1160 AM (now WBYN) in Lehighton, Pennsylvania and served the Allentown market. From there, he went to WRAW 1340 AM in Reading and then on to WAAT 1300 AM (now WIMG) in Trenton. It was the oldest operating station in the entire state of New Jersey.

Next, Harvey went to WMID 1340 AM in Atlantic City. The station was a powerhouse in the 50s, 60s and early 70s. The only time, Holiday left the Delaware Valley was to jock on WSAR in Fall River, Massachusetts.

In 1970, Harvey Holiday moved to WDAS AM & FM. There, he was Program Director of WDAS-FM (plus an on-air shift) and later became Research Director for both AM & FM.

In 1985, he left the station to run WFIL 560 AM, an oldies station at the time. He also worked at Power 99, WPGR and WIOQ where he did morning drive.

On July 2, 1989, he started “Street Corner Sunday” from 7 pm until 12 midnight on WOGL. A year later, he went full-time at WOGL and has spent more than the last decade doing mid-day.

Report: Jeff Zucker Has 'No Interest' Running ESPN

Jeff Zucker
CNN is shooting down reports that its president Jeff Zucker is a candidate to run the Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN, according to The LATimes.

Disney has been looking for a new top executive to run the beleaguered sports media giant since the sudden departure of John Skipper, who left the company Dec. 18 to deal with a drug addiction problem.

The website Deadline reported Friday that Zucker, 52, has been in discussions about the job. But a CNN spokesperson said Zucker is happy in his current position and has no plans to bolt.

“Jeff loves his job at CNN and has no interest in running ESPN,” a representative for the cable news channel said.

Chatter that Zucker and Disney have talked about the position has circulated among sports TV executives amid questions about his future at CNN, where he is under contract at least through the end of the year.

CNN parent Time Warner Inc. is headed to federal court in March as the Justice Department has filed suit to stop AT&T’s $85-billion deal to acquire the media conglomerate. The government has raised concerns that the merger could raise prices for pay-TV subscribers.

Whoever runs ESPN will have to deal with changing habits of TV viewers who are increasingly turning away from cable to get their video content online. ESPN is coping with the decline in cable subscribers who provide substantial revenue for the channel while dealing with the escalating rights fees demanded by sports leagues.

Viacom CEO Paid $20.3M In 2017

Bob Bakish
Bob Bakish, a longtime international exec at Viacom who moved up to CEO in December 2016, made $20.3M in salary and bonus money in fiscal 2017, the company disclosed today in a proxy filing with the SEC.

In a residue of the pre-Bakish era, when ousted CEO Philippe Dauman was among the highest-paid CEOs in America, the statement showed that former COO and interim CEO Tom Dooley took home $53.6M in severance pay.

According to Deadline-Hollywood, the other key element in the Viacom proxy was the revelation that Ken Lerer, chairman of BuzzFeed and an influential media and tech player, will not continue on the Viacom board. The other nine board members have been re-nominated by the company to continue.

Shareholders will have their annual meeting March 8 in New York, according to the filing.

Bakish has applied a more low-key management hand than those of his predecessors as Viacom enters a critical phase in its comeback effort. As it regroups, the company also has been mentioned in a spate of reports of M&A conversations as media players look to scale up to keep pace with growing peers like Disney. Shari Redstone, who leads controlling shareholder National Amusements, has explored anew coming back together with CBS, two years after the companies abandoned merger talks.

LA Times Publisher Placed On Leave

Ross Levinsohn
Los Angeles Times Publisher and Chief Executive Ross Levinsohn was placed on an unpaid leave of absence Friday as the paper’s parent company, Tronc, investigates allegations of inappropriate conduct while he was an executive at other companies.

Times President Mickie Rosen will lead the newspaper in Levinsohn’s absence and Editor in Chief Lewis D’Vorkin will continue to manage the newsroom, Tronc CEO Justin Dearborn said in an email to employees. Rosen and D’Vorkin were both appointed to leadership roles in October.

Tronc said it has hired the law firm Sidley Austin LLP to review the allegations contained in a detailed report Thursday by National Public Radio. The report, by media correspondent David Folkenflik, found that Levinsohn was a defendant in two sexual harassment lawsuits and that he allegedly engaged in “frat-boy” behavior in work settings before joining The Times on Aug. 21.

In addition, NPR reported that Levinsohn allegedly used sexist and homophobic language when talking with colleagues and subordinates. In one instance, Levinsohn acknowledged that he had rated the relative “hotness” of his female colleagues while he served as an executive at the search engine AltaVista in the early 2000s, according to court documents reviewed by NPR. He also said he speculated about whether a female subordinate had a side job as a stripper.

“I want to reemphasize to you all that the Company takes any allegations of inappropriate behavior by its employees very seriously,” Dearborn said in a note to staff. “It is critical that in any such circumstances we conduct a thorough review so that we have a full understanding of what happened. We will not hesitate to take further action, if appropriate, once the review is complete.”

LA Times Newsroom Votes To Unionize

Journalists at the Los Angeles Times have overwhelmingly elected to form a union, a first for the 136-year-old news organization that for much of its history was known for its opposition to organized labor.

The union drive was launched publicly in October and culminated in an election earlier this month. Results, tallied Friday by the National Labor Relations Board, show workers voted 248 to 44 to be represented by the Washington, D.C.-based NewsGuild-Communications Workers of America.

“We respect the outcome of the election and look forward to productive conversations with union leadership as we move forward,” said Marisa Kollias, spokeswoman for Tronc Inc., The Times’ parent. “We remain committed to ensuring that the Los Angeles Times is a leading source for news and information and to producing the award-winning journalism our readers rely on.”

Guild organizer Kristina Bui, a copy editor at The Times, said: “This was a long time coming, and we’re all thrilled that this has finally happened. The newsroom has put up with so much disruption and mismanagement, and this vote just underscores how much of a say we need to have in the decision-making process. The newsroom is demanding a seat at the bargaining table.”

A staff organizing committee of 44 Times journalists had urged workers to unionize in response to years of corporate turnover, advertising declines and cutbacks that have shrunk The Times’ staff from more than 1,000 in the late 1990s to fewer than 400 today.

Management, in emails to workers, said a union would not be able to solve the fundamental financial challenges facing The Times and other newspaper companies, which have faced steady declines in print advertising revenue coupled with much slower growth — or declines — in online revenue.

Through the first nine months of last year, Tronc reported that print advertising revenue was down 17% from the same period a year earlier, while the company’s digital ad revenue fell 6%.

The NewsGuild, formed in 1933, represents 25,000 journalists, including reporters and editors at the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. The Los Angeles Times was one of the few major U.S. newspapers whose journalists were not part of a union.

Dayton Radio: Mark Neal EXITS Sports WING

Mark Neal has left WING 1410 AM after hosting Dayton Sports Scene for 15 years.

The Dayton Daily News reports Neal said he and wife have decided to take different career directions, which will take him away from the radio station he’s worked at for 18 years.

“When you get married, it’s a team effort,” Neal said. “And you have to do what’s best for the team.”

Neal had the longest-running sports talk show in Dayton. Dayton Sports Scene started 15 years ago with Neal as host, running half an hour twice a week. The eight years, the show was on 4-6 p.m. every weekday during drive time.

“When I first started, sports talk radio, 24/7 was new,” Neal said. “When I started working at the station in 2000  we were a CNN affiliate and we ran block programming in the afternoon. It’s really evolved.

Getting to do drive time, in my own home town, and being someone people got to know - this will always have a special place in my heart.”

Neal said he hopes WING-AM continues Dayton Sports Scene. Justin Kinner has hosted the show since Neal announced his departure.