Friday, April 10, 2020

April 10 Radio History

➦In 1915...Actor Harry Morgan was born Harry Bratsberg (Died at age 93  – December 7, 2011)  His career spanned six decades.

Morgan's major roles included Pete Porter in both December Bride (1954–1959) and Pete and Gladys (1960–1962); Officer Bill Gannon on Dragnet (1967–1970); Amos Coogan on Hec Ramsey (1972–1974); and his starring role as Colonel Sherman T. Potter in M*A*S*H (1975–1983) and AfterMASH (1983–1984). Morgan appeared in more than 100 films.

Morgan also hosted the NBC radio series Mystery in the Air starring Peter Lorre in 1947.

➦In 1922...WBT Charlotte, NC signed-on.

The station actually dates back  to December 1920, when Fred Laxton, Earle Gluck and Frank Bunker set up an amateur radio station in Laxton's home. Four months later, the station received an experimental license as 4XD. The trio decided to go commercial in 1922, and incorporated as the Southern Radio Corporation.

On April 10, the station signed on as the first fully licensed radio station south of Washington, D.C. WSB in Atlanta was the first station in the Southeast to actually broadcast, a month before WBT. However, the Commerce Department only authorized WSB to broadcast weather reports until it received its license a few months after WBT.

In 1925, the original owners sold WBT to Charlotte Buick dealer C.C. Coddington, who promoted both the radio station and his auto dealership with the slogan "Watch Buicks Travel." Coddington built a transmitter at a farm property he owned on Nations Ford Road in south Charlotte, where it remains today. He sold WBT to the two-year-old CBS network in 1929; CBS wanted to make WBBM in Chicago full time on 780 AM, which was a shared frequency with KFAB in Omaha, Nebraska and in order to do that they moved KFAB to 1110 AM. That was accomplished by directionalizing the signal of WBT. A series of power increases brought WBT to its current 50,000 watts.

New FCC regulations forced CBS to sell the station to Jefferson Standard Life Insurance Company, forerunner of Jefferson-Pilot, in 1945, though it remained a CBS affiliate.

For much of its history, WBT aired a variety of programming including news, sports, soap operas, and musical programs such as "Arthur Smith and the Crackerjacks." Smith, best known for writing the song that became the Deliverance theme "Dueling Banjos", went to work at WBT at age 20 at the invitation of station manager Charles Crutchfield. He played guitar and fiddle for musical programs on WBT before getting his own show. Crutchfield believed that Charlotte, not Nashville, could have ended up being the country music capital because of the station's early "Briarhoppers" and "Carolina Hayride" shows, which may have inspired The Grand Ole Opry.

WBT's Grady Cole
Grady Cole was WBT morning host for 32 years, replaced in 1961 by Ty Boyd, who hosted the morning show until 1973, playing such artists as Duke Ellington, Peggy Lee and Petula Clark. Then he moved to WBTV. He returned to WBT in 2008 to co-host the morning show while its regular hosts took time off.

WBT was the number one station in Charlotte for many years; among its employees were Charles Kuralt and Nelson Benton. But by 1970, WBT was down to number nine, and national advertising representative Blair Radio Network wanted ratings to improve. Jefferson Standard did not like the idea of change, but Blair enlisted Mel Goldberg to research what programming Charlotte needed. Even Crutchfield gave in, and WBT let go 28 staffers and spent $200,000 on changes that included new studios. It also canceled many programs that advertisers supported but which didn't attract enough listeners.

WBT's H.A. Thompson
Henry Boggan
On March 15, 1971, WBT switched to adult contemporary music during the day; Rob Hunter and H. A. Thompson were new DJs. Bob Lacey started at WBT in 1972 with a nighttime talk show "Lacey Listens". Two years later, WBT had reached number one again, reaching the highest Arbitron numbers on record to this day. Around the same time, the station dropped its longtime affiliation with CBS Radio and joined ABC. WBT won Billboard adult contemporary station of the year in 1976 and 1978. In 1979, "Hello Henry" Boggan began his nighttime talk show.

WBT made changes to its format on December 10, 1990, hoping to attract more women. The station dropped James K. Flynn, Thompson and Tom Desio, generating numerous protests.

John Hancock
Don Russell had hosted "Russell & Flynn" in the morning; the show was renamed "Russell & Friends." John Hancock became midday host, and WBTV personalities Mike and Barbara McKay began an afternoon program. Boggan, whose show had run in the afternoon, returned to his evening slot, replacing Desio, but was sometimes pre-empted by sports programs.

Lincoln Financial Group bought Jefferson-Pilot in 2006. The merged company retained Jefferson-Pilot's broadcasting division, renaming it Lincoln Financial Media. In January 2008, Lincoln Financial sold WBT-AM-FM and WLNK to Greater Media of Braintree, Massachusetts. It sold its three television stations, including WBTV, to Raycom Media--thus breaking up Charlotte's last heritage radio/television cluster. Greater Media had long wanted to expand into the fast-growing Charlotte market; its owner had wanted to buy WBT after hearing its signal at night on Cape Cod.

On July 19, 2016, Greater Media announced that it would merge with Beasley Media Group. Because Beasley already had the maximum number of stations in the Charlotte market with 5 FM's and 2 AM's, WBT-AM-FM and WLNK were spun off to a divestiture trust, eventually going to a permanent buyer.

On October 18, 2016, Entercom announced that it would purchase WBT AM/FM and WLNK, plus WFNZ.  Upon the completion of the Greater/Beasley merger on November 1, Entercom began operating the stations via a time brokerage agreement, which lasted until the sale was consummated on January 6, 2017.

➦In 1943...The Falcon radio series premiered on the NBC Blue Network, continuing on NBC and Mutual until November 27, 1954. Some 70 episodes were produced.

➦In 1967…The 13-day strike by the American Federation of TV and Radio Artists (AFTRA) ended.

➦In 1970…Effectively estranged from his bandmates, Paul McCArtney issued a press release indicating he was leaving The Beatles.

The press release took the form of a Q&A in which McCartney discussed his new solo album and, with Lennon's exit still being withheld from the public (for business reasons), matters pertaining to the Beatles' immediate future. While McCartney did not state that the group had broken up, he talked of his "break with the Beatles" and having no plans to work with the band in the future; he also ruled out the likelihood of ever writing songs with Lennon again.

On 10 April, The Daily Mirror reported on McCartney's departure from the Beatles under the front page headline "Paul Quits The Beatles". Newspapers around the world then interpreted McCartney's remarks as an announcement that the band had broken up

John Lennon was furious, especially since the breakup was announced a week prior to the UK release of McCartney's first solo album. When a reporter tracked down Lennon for his thoughts, he replied, "Paul hasn't left. I sacked him."

➦In 1978...Long John Nebel died (Born John Zimmerman; June 11, 1911). He was an influential New York City talk radio show host.

Long John Nebel
From the mid-1950s until his death in 1978, Nebel was a hugely popular all-night radio host, with millions of regular listeners and a fanatically loyal following to his syndicated program, which dealt mainly with anomalous phenomena, UFOs, and other offbeat topics.

In 1962, WNBC offered Nebel more than $100,000 per year (if not a record sum paid to a radio personality at the time, then very nearly so) to begin broadcasting from their station, and he accepted the offer. He continued there until 1973, when WNBC, facing sliding ratings, decided to switch to a Top40 music format. After a protracted battle with station management, Nebel refused to change the content of his show and resigned from the station in protest.

Nebel was quickly hired by WMCA, where, from 1973 to 1977, he continued his program.   In 1977, Nebel joined the Mutual Broadcasting System and Nebel's show went nationwide, replacing Mutual's national distribution of Herb Jepko's radio talk show.

Nebel's format paved the way for later radio hosts, including Art Bell, George Noory of Coast to Coast AM, Hilly Rose, Jeff Rense, and Clyde Lewis, all of whom have broadcast shows on paranormal topics. Colin Bennett called Nebel the Art Bell of his era.

➦In 1987...Canadian newsman and commentator Dick Smyth ended an 18-year run at CHUM-FM and walked across the street to CFTR-FM.  Earlier in his career, Smythe was 20/20 news director at The Big 8 CKLW in Windsor-Detroit.

➦In 1998...Pioneering NYC Radio personality Eddie O'Jay, whose "Soul at Sunrise" was a fixture on WWRL and WLIB in the '60s, died.

Eddie O'Jay
O'Jay was from the old fast-talking school, and the signature phrase most cited Tuesday was the famous "Don't lose your head. You need your head. Your brain is in it. You hear?

His career began in 1951 as a Disc Jockey at WOKY in Milwaukee. From there, he went to WABQ in Cleveland, and WUFO in Buffalo, finally working my way to the "Soul at Sunrise" show on WWRL, WBLS and WLIB in New York City. After a distinguished 27 year career in radio in the United States, he expanded to include an internationally syndicated radio program on "Swazi Music Radio," in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1980.

He's been inducted into the Black Radio Hall of Fame.

While at WABQ, O'Jay discovered a group of five young beginners in the business called The Mascots from Canton and Masilon, Ohio.  O'Jay was asked to manage and direct the group which took hi name, The O'Jays.

George Wilson
➦In 2013…Legendary Top 40 programmer George Wilson Crowell died of complications, at age 84, from a heart attack . He had been living in Albuquerque.  He had survived several heart attacks in 2012.

Wilson gained a huge reputation during the 60s and 70s as PD for WOKY Milkwaukee. He also EVP/Programming  with the Bartell broadcasting and the Star Group.  His background also includes a stint at KIQQ LA in the early ‘80s.

Rochelle Staab, Wilson’s secretary at WOKY Milwaukee, called him “a brilliant Top 40 programmer, a guy’s guy, a tough competitor, and a true friend and supporter”.

She shared his philosophy:

On programming radio: “Play the hits, talk dirty, watch the bottom line.”
On Vegas: “Always split aces and eights at the blackjack table.”
On horse racing: “Bet the closers at Santa Anita.”

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Poll: 54% Rate Media’s Response To Pandemic Positively

Many U.S. news organizations are covering the coronavirus pandemic while facing financial pressure from the outbreak themselves. 

Amid the financial challenges facing newsrooms, 54% of U.S. adults say the news media have done an excellent or good job responding to the coronavirus outbreak, according to a new analysis of data from Pew Research Center’s Election News Pathways project. 

A slightly smaller share (46%) say the media’s response has been only fair or poor. Americans rate the news media’s response to the virus more positively than that of President Donald Trump, but more negatively than those of public health officials, state and local elected officials and ordinary people in their communities. 

Public opinion of the news media’s job performance during the outbreak varies depending on where Americans get their news: About two-thirds of those who primarily turn to network TV (68%) and print publications (66%) say the media’s response has been excellent or good, while half or fewer of those who rely on news websites or apps (50%), radio (47%) or social media (41%) say the same. 

Additionally, the analysis reveals a wide partisan gap, with about two-thirds of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (68%) – and just 37% of Republicans and GOP leaners – saying the media have been doing an excellent or good job responding to the outbreak. 

The current analysis stems from a survey of 11,537 U.S. adults who are members of the Center’s American Trends Panel, conducted March 19 - 24, 2020. 

Pittsburgh Radio: KDKA's Wendy Bell Slammed for Pandemic Comments

KDKA 1020 AM host Wendy Bell is facing backlash on social media Wednesday over comments she made addressing the decision to shut down businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

Wendy Bell
According to the Post-Gazette, Bell’s name was trending on Twitter after a clip surfaced of the former WTAE-TV anchor questioning the government’s decision to risk a potential economic shutdown in order to save a small percentage of lives from the virus. The comments were made on-air in the KDKA Radio studio Sunday while Ms. Bell streamed a 10-minute segment on Facebook Live.

Bell said she was “on the fence” about actions taken by government and health officials to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We’re told that we need to shut down the economy,” Ms. Bell said. “There’s a cost. Everything shuts down, but to what end?

“Yes, every life lost is one too many,” she continued. “Yes, that’s the talking point. That’s what we’re going to say. But ultimately dollars and cents boil down to, ‘Are you going to bankrupt America and the future for less than 1% of our population?’ Many of whom are already ill or aged. I’m on a fence.”

The clip began trending locally as users called on KDKA Radio to fire Bell.

Bell began working for KDKA Radio in January. The former news anchor is a multiple regional Emmy Award winner who was fired by WTAE-TV in 2016 for making comments deemed racist on her station-branded Facebook page while discussing the Wilkinsburg mass shooting, in which five adults and an unborn child were gunned downed during a backyard cookout.

Twin Cities Radio: WCCO's Mike Lynch Says He's Retiring

It's the end of an era for many in 'CCO Land, as meterologist Mike Lynch, who  has been with WCCO for 40 years, has announced his retirment.

Lynch told WCCO listners Thursday morning with Dave Lee that the time had come to spend more time at home with his wife, Kathy.  As Mike told us when he was considering retirement, "I won't have morning radio jet lag all summer!"

Mike Lynch is a native Minnesotan who grew up in Richfied, Minnesota. He attended St. Peter’s Grade school and Holy Angels High School. After two years at the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities he transferred to the University of Wisconsin in Madison and earned his B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1979. Shortly after he was hired as a broadcast meteorologist at WCCO Radio where he spent nearly his entire career.

Lynch celebrated his 40th anniversary at the "Good Neighbor" on Tuesday, writing on Facebook: "40 years ago today I started at WCCO. I’ll never forget how the late great Steve Cannon took me under his wing. I’m forever grateful."

Lynch has been a staple not only with daily weather forecasts, but also as a go-to source for information when severe weather happened. Lynch would always man a microphone, no matter the time of day, to inform listeners about what was happening as strong storms rolled through Minnesota.

Chicago Radio: MeTV FM Airs Soundtrack For Weekly Mass Singalong

87.7 MeTV FM, the popular music radio companion to the MeTV Television Network, will play the official soundtrack to Chicago’s weekly mass singalongs scheduled for Saturday nights at 7 pm.

This weekend, Saturday, April 11 residents are invited to join in from their porches, balconies and backyards across the city to sing the Bill Withers’ classic “Lean On Me,” with MeTV FM broadcasting the song in a show of community, solidarity and support.

Organized by 40th Ward Alderman Andre Vasquez, the singalong aims to bring Chicagoans together while residents stay at home and practice social distancing measures. “In moments of crisis, when we all feel isolated, we need to create moments of community to remind us that we have a shared struggle but also a shared hope,” said Alderman Vasquez. “We are one community – that’s what Chicago is all about.”

The 1972 hit “Lean On Me,” was selected as a tribute to the late singer and Grammy Award Winner Bill Withers who passed last week at the age of 81.

“87.7 MeTV FM is proud to partner with Alderman Vasquez on this special weekly event,” said Rick O’Dell, MeTV FM Program Director. “Among the memorable classics we play, ‘Lean On Me’ is a perfect song to lift our spirits and remind us that we are all in this together. We look forward to playing more songs that reflect our neighborhoods in the Saturday singalongs ahead.”

Las Vegas Radio: KLUC Host Recovering From COVID-19

KLUC's Omari
KLUC 98.5 FM Las Vegas afternoon host Omari (Mitchell) was hospitalized on March 29th, but according to The Review Journal, in just a matter of days he had lost control of his own body because of the novel coronavirus.

"He couldn’t speak. He couldn’t breathe. He felt feverish. His chest was tight. He could barely form a full sentence without gasping for air." Omari had told his 15-year-old daughter, Aniya, he’d be back soon and drove himself to Southern Hills Hospital and Medical Center. He did not come home that night. Omari was quickly admitted into the intensive care unit when he arrived at the hospital and soon after was hooked up to a ventilator and placed in a medically induced coma. He remained in the ICU for a week.

The Jockline Daily reports that Doctors at one point put him on dialysis. Thankfully, his condition began to improve. Doctors began to reverse the coma, and the ventilator was replaced with a respirator mask.

The next day, Saturday, Omari was strong enough to call his father, Dee Richie, and his daughter Aniya. By Sunday, Omari was shifting to recovery mode and was removed from the ICU. And as of Tuesday, Omari was working closely with speech and physical therapists at the hospital. His father isn’t sure when or how he was exposed to the virus. Omari had been working from his Las Vegas home “for a while” by the time of his diagnosis.

Omari's father said KLUC “has been absolutely amazing and supportive.” When Omari can return home is unclear. “We still don’t know what’s going to happen,” Dee Mitchell said. “But, oh, am I happy he’s alive.” Ritchie has set up a GoFundMe to raise money for the man’s medical bills and for Aniya’s care.

NYC Sees Highest One-Day Death Toll, Sanders Quits

New York, the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., reported its highest one-day number of deaths yet on Wednesday (April 8th), 779, bringing the state's overall death toll to almost 6,300. However, there continued to be signs of progress, with Governor Andrew Cuomo saying hospitalizations are decreasing. But he warned, "We are flattening the curve because we are rigorous about social distancing. But it’s not a time to be complacent. It’s not a time to do anything different than we’ve been doing."

At the same time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reportedly considering changing self-isolation guidelines to make it easier for some people exposed to someone with the virus to return to work if they don't have any symptoms. Under the proposed revamped guidance, which is meant for workers in critical fields, people would be allowed back to work if they take their temperature twice a day and wear a mask, AP reported. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's top infectious disease experts, said the administration had been working on plans to eventually re-open the country, but said on Fox News, "That doesn’t mean we’re going to do it right now. But it means we need to be prepared to ease into that."

As social distancing continues to have an impact, modeling of the pandemic in the U.S. is showing there will be fewer deaths than had previously been estimated. Modeling from the Institute for Heath Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle, which has been heavily referred to, estimated Wednesday that about 60,415 Americans will die from the virus by August, down from an estimate of 82,000 on Tuesday, and more than 100,000 earlier on in the U.S. outbreak. They also project the U.S. will reach its highest daily number of deaths on or around Sunday, and its peak use of resources like hospital beds and ventilators on or around Saturday.

In other developments:
  • Alarm Over African-American Deaths: Lawmakers and community leaders have been expressing alarm over a trend of African-Americans being disproportionately killed by the coronavirus, which is particularly being seen in cities including New York, Detroit, New Orleans, Chicago and Milwaukee. They are also calling for more information to be made available about the race of victims.
  • PM Boris Johnson Improving: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in intensive care with the coronavirus, but officials said he's improving and was sitting up in bed. He was moved to intensive care on Monday, one day after being admitted to the hospital, but has not been on a ventilator.
  • First Lady Message for Medical Workers, Responders: First Lady Melania Trump released a video message of thanks and appreciation to the medical personnel and other front-line responders in the coronavirus battle in the U.S. yesterday. She said, "We stand united with you and we salute your courageous and compassionate efforts. Our prayers are with all who are fighting this invisible enemy, COVID-19."
Republican and Democratic congressional leaders are squaring off over the next round of emergency funding to help Americans and small businesses amid the economic shock caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The White House has proposed putting another $251 billion into a small business loan program, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), that was part of the new $2.2 trillion economic stimulus package, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced he'd move quickly approve the bill today. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer yesterday put forward their demands for its passage, including $150 billion for state and local governments, $100 billion for hospitals and community health centers, and more money for food stamp programs. They also want half of the additional $251 billion for the PPP to be directed toward local lenders that benefit farmers, women, veterans and minority-owned companies.

➤SANDERS ENDS PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Senator Bernie Sanders announced yesterday (April 8th) that he was ending his presidential campaign, making former Vice President Joe Biden the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

Sanders said in a video message to supporters, "The path toward victory is virtually impossible. If I believed we had a feasible path to the nomination I would certainly continue the campaign, but it’s just not there." He called Biden, who has a more than 300-delegate lead over him, a "very decent man," but didn’t explicitly endorse him. Sanders also said his name would remain on the ballot in states that have not yet held their primaries so he can win more delegates and, quote, "exert significant influence" on the Democratic platform. He made clear that he will continue to fight for the progressive causes he believes in, saying to his supporters, "Please stay in this fight with me. The struggle continues."

➤LINDA TRIPP DEAD AT 70: Linda Tripp, a key figure during then-President Bill Clinton's sex scandal who secretly recorded her conversations with Monica Lewinsky about Lewinsky's affair with Clinton, died from cancer Wednesday (April 8th). She was 70.

Media Advertising Impacted By Blacklist Keywords

From Rupert Murdoch’s News UK to McClatchy’s chain of local newspapers across the United States, news publishers are attracting record numbers of readers as people in lockdown seek information about the coronavirus pandemic.

Yet, Reuters reports,  advertising revenue has plummeted for many publishers as companies slash marketing budgets and prove reluctant to buy ads against coronavirus coverage for fear of tarnishing their brand.

Forecasts for global advertising growth this year have been revised down by $20 billion since March 12, according to market research firm eMarketer. It estimates ad spending growth of just 8.4% in China, where the outbreak began, the slowest since 2011.

Total local advertising in the United States could decline by up to 30% this year, or $38 billion, according to media research firm Borrell Associates.

Publishers, advertising agencies and tech firms that help place ads have been trying to persuade brands to rethink, arguing that by eschewing coronavirus coverage, advertisers are losing access to engaged readers.

So far, they appear to have had limited success.

ViacomCBS-owned CBS News Digital has made some headway with marketers and agencies, said Christy Tanner, its executive vice president and general manager. “But it’s been more slow-going than most of us would like.”

The industry was already suffering from declining advertising revenue. Gannett, BuzzFeed, Britain’s MailOnline and News Corp Australia have all announced furloughs, pay cuts or other cost-cutting measures.

A representative for Reuters news organization said the company has also experienced an impact and cited an Internet Advertising Bureau study that showed 70% of advertisers have scaled back ad spending across the industry during this period.

For years, ad tech firms such as DoubleVerify have offered tools for brands to stop ads from appearing on web pages or URLs that include keywords like “shooting” or “murder.” These advertising “blacklists” exploded in usage after the 2016 U.S. election, when brands sought to avoid polarizing news coverage.

“Trump” was the most popular blacklist keyword until “coronavirus” overtook it earlier this year, with more than 3,100 advertisers blocking it as of March, according to ad tech firm Integral Ad Science.

Canadian News Media In Trouble

The federal government needs to move quickly to support the Canadian news industry amid the economic downturn brought about by the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, an industry spokesman said this week.

The Canadian Press reports Bob Cox, who is publisher of the Winnipeg Free Press as well as chairman of the News Media Canada industry association, says the situation is dire because advertising revenue has plunged and continues to fall rapidly.

“We need help now. We don’t need help at the end of May, in June, July or August,” Cox said Monday in a phone interview.

“We have to have cash in the bank to meet our obligations, and that includes paying employees and other bills.”

Cox said that, from what he has heard, it could be May or June before the COVID wage subsidy arrives at the companies that need it.

“That’s not good enough. Because businesses will die, including news media businesses.”

In addition to the general COVID-19 wage subsidy program, Cox wants money from an industry specific program that was announced in the 2019-20 budget.

The politically charged initiative promises $595 million over five years, including refundable tax credits that pay for 25 per cent of the salaries of journalists working for qualified news outlets.

Cox says “not a penny” of that money has flowed to the eligible news organizations.

“If we had that money in the bank, we wouldn’t be in the situation we’re currently in. We’d be in a better position,” Cox said.

The goal is to have advertising-funded newspapers and online news sites survive until revenues start to return, Cox said.

“But we have to get there first and we can’t get there without any help now. That’s the real problem.”

Disney+ Crosses 50M Paid Subscribers Globally

Disney announced on Wednesday that Disney+, its new video service, now has more than 50 million subscribers. According to CNBC, that’s almost twice as many as Disney reported on February 4, when it said in its Q1 earnings that Disney+ reached 26.5 million subscribers during the quarter.

At the time, former CEO Bob Iger said that about 20% of those subscribers came through a distribution partnership with Verizon. Disney+ is offered for free to some Verizon customers for a year.

Shares of Disney jumped as much as 7% on the news in after-hours trading.

Disney+ rolled out in the U.K, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and Switzerland in the past two weeks, the company said. It also launched in India last week.

But, people who are stuck at home around the globe due to lockdowns related to coronavirus have also spending more time online. Verizon’s web traffic spiked 20% in a single week, for example. On March 31, Nielsen said that streaming viewership jumped 22% during the week of March 16 versus the prior week. According to that report, most people spend their time streaming Netflix.

Netflix added 8.8 million net global subscribers during the fourth quarter of 2019, 8.33 million of whom were international subscribers. At the time, it had over 167 million paying subscribers globally. 60.4 million subscribers are in the U.S.

MN Radio: Duchesne Drew Named President At MPR

Duchesne Drew
Duchesne Drew, a former Minneapolis Star Tribune journalist and editor who more recently worked in a leadership role at the Bush Foundation, will be the next president of Minnesota Public Radio.

Drew will be working under the same roof as his wife, Angela Davis, a former television news reporter and anchor who now helms a daily call-in news show on MPR. Drew is scheduled to start May 4.

“I’m delighted to be joining MPR,” he said in a statement released by the St. Paul-based public radio broadcaster, which has 46 member stations across the state. “Minnesotans are relying on MPR now more than ever. Our music and news services are proving their importance in people’s lives. I’m honored to lead these talented teams and I look forward to helping us serve even more Minnesotans.”

Drew spent the majority of his career at the Star Tribune, where he started as a summer intern. He was the paper’s managing editor of operations when he left in 2015 to join the Bush Foundation as the St. Paul-based organization’s community network vice president.

Once at MPR, he’ll take over from interim president Tim Roesler, who is chief business development officer for American Public Media Group.

MPR comprises three regional services — MPR News, Classical MPR and The Current — as well as an online news site and streaming music services. It reports an audience of 1 million listeners per week for its broadcasts.

Drew was selected by MPR CEO Jon McTaggart after a national search. “Duchesne is absolutely the right leader for our regional services — especially during this extraordinary time. He has terrific leadership and news experience, and his commitment to using public media to inform and inspire people is a perfect fit for MPR,” McTaggart said in a statement. “Duchesne has a wonderful ability to connect with people and welcome new ideas. He brings passion and curiosity about how MPR can serve our audiences even better.”

Bay Area Radio: KCBS Wins Newscast Award

Entercom is the proud recipient of a National Headliner Award, presented by The Press Club of Atlantic City. KCBS All News (KCBS-AM/KFRC-FM), the Bay Area’s news leader, was awarded first place in the “Radio Stations Newscast (all markets)” category for its morning news coverage of the Kincade Fire on October 24, 2019.

The station’s entry included regular updates from reporters from the scene of the fire, including reports on its destructive impacts on the area and its residents, as well as interviews with citizens and officials.

KCBS All News was also awarded third place in the award’s “Radio Stations Breaking News or Continuing Coverage of a Single News Event” category for its “Days of Wind and Fire” coverage, and third place in the “Radio Stations News Series” category for its “Broken Systems” series.

The National Headliner Awards program was founded in 1934 by the Press Club of Atlantic City. Now in its 86th year, the program is one of the oldest and largest annual contests recognizing journalistic merit in the communications industry. Since the first awards in 1935, more than 2,650 Headliner medallions have been presented to outstanding writers, photographers, daily newspapers, magazines, graphic artists, radio and television stations and networks, and news syndicates.

➤Complete audio of the station’s winning entry can be found here.

➤A full list of the National Headliner Award winners can be found here.

Westwood One News Wins Award For Breaking News

Cumulus Media’s Westwood One News has won the prestigious National Headliner Award for “Breaking News or Continuing Coverage of a Single News Event” for coverage of the mass shootings which occurred over a single weekend in El Paso, TX, and Dayton, OH, last year. This is the second consecutive year that Westwood One News has captured first place. Last year’s nod was for coverage of the horrific mass shootings in Parkland, FL. 

This award recognizes the full scope of the network’s coverage and programming from the Westwood One News team, which featured correspondent Clayton Neville in El Paso and reporter Jerry Bodlander in Dayton. 

The network also garnered second place in the “Documentary or Public Affairs” category for 1939 – America on the Eve of War and earned third place in the “Best Newscast” category for America in the Morning. 

Founded in 1934 by the Press Club of Atlantic City, the National Headliner Awards program is one of the oldest and largest annual contests recognizing journalistic merit in the communications industry.

Westwood One News, airing on more than 950 radio stations, launched in January 2015. It was created to offer stations greater flexibility, local branding opportunities, and the ability to integrate comprehensive network news coverage into their local operations.

Bob Dylan Scores First-Ever No. 1 Hit

Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan’s latest single “Murder Most Foul,” his first original song in eight years, is also now the folk-rock icon’s first No. 1 hit on a Billboard chart. according to The Wrap.

“Murder Most Foul” is a sweeping 17-minute ballad about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, and according to Billboard, the song debuted at No. 1 on the Rock Digital Song Sales survey.

Billboard reports that the song hit 10,000 downloads in its first week and was streamed 1.8 million times in the U.S., which landed it at #5 on Billboard’s Hot Rock Songs chart. The track also has 2.7 million views on YouTube since debuting on March 26.

Dylan has placed on a Billboard chart before. His iconic “Like a Rolling Stone” hit No. 2 on the genre-encompassing Billboard Hot 100 back in September 1965, as did “Rainy Day Women #12 and 35” in May 1966. But he’s never reached No. 1 on any individual genre chart until now.

Billboard also noted that Dylan flirted with some chart-topping success when three of his songs with The Traveling Wilburys (“Handle With Care,” “End of the Line” and “She’s My Baby), all reached No. 2 on the Mainstream Rock Songs charts back in the 1980s and ’90s. His songs also reached No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart with Peter Paul & Mary’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” cover and The Byrds’ version of “Mr. Tambourine Man” topping the Hot 100 back in June 1965.

In a surprise on his Instagram page, Dylan released the track late last month and said that “Murder Most Foul” was a previously unreleased track he recorded some time ago.

Dylan’s last album of original music was 2012’s “Tempest.” Since then, the folk-rock icon and Nobel Prize winner has released several albums of American standards, including most recently “Triplicate” in 2017.

More TV Reruns In Your Future

Networks, hamstrung by the inability to shoot new TV shows, may turn to reruns to fill programming slots, The NY Post reports.

With no sense of when quarantine measures will lift amid the global coronavirus crisis, the big four networks, ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox, are mulling how to fill the holes in programming this summer and fall, according to a Wednesday report.

With production frozen through at least the end of April, TV execs are mulling whether to broadcast shows this spring that are completed but are meant for the fall lineup, or to fill the holes with reruns of shows like “Dancing With the Stars” or specials that can be made on the fly.

Those shows include CBS’ special concert with Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood on April 1 and iHeart’s Living Room Concert for America, which aired on Fox on March 29. More of those specials are in the works and are in high demand, but the production timeline still weighs on networks.

The notion of sacrificing fall shows for the summer lineup without knowledge of when quarantines will be lifted was likened to a “chicken and egg” scenario by one broadcast veteran.

“There are so many chicken-and-egg scenarios that it’s frustrating for those who like having order and all the pieces in place for a larger strategy,” the exec said. “We’re all playing a game of chicken: How long can we tap-dance to get a little information about where this is headed?”

One temporary solution that ABC has found is launching a “Flashback Friday” of programming. The network has been broadcasting long-running soap “General Hospital” with new introductions to the show’s most iconic episodes. Expect more of that from the network, sources said.

TV networks are also looking to their streaming services for content. Talks have kicked off among ABC, CBS and NBC and their streaming counterparts to see if any originals from Disney+, Hulu, CBS All Access or soon-to-launch Peacock may be available to air on their networks, the report said.

ABC's GMA Mourns Loss Of Cameraman

Tony Greer
“Good Morning America” is mourning the loss of a beloved cameraman.

Robin Roberts announced on Wednesday that studio camera operator Tony Greer died following complications due to coronavirus.

“He was such a bright light working at our studio for more than six years,” she said. “You could just feel Tony’s beautiful spirit, you could feel it from a mile away.”

She continued, “We love Tony and so many things that he loved. He loved his family, his beloved mother Fanny, his sister Janet, his brother Kevin. He loved taking his nieces, nephews, any relative who came to visit him, he’d take them out and show them the city.”

“We loved every single moment we were blessed to spend and share with Tony,” Roberts finished. “Our condolences to his family in Chicago. To his mother Fanny, we have to say this to you ma’am, your son was a good man. He was kind, he was thoughtful, he was always a gentleman.”

April 9 Radio History

➦In 1860...Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville invented the phonautogram to record sound.

Its  earliest known device for recording sound. Previously, tracings had been obtained of the sound-producing vibratory motions of tuning forks and other objects by physical contact with them, but not of actual sound waves as they propagated through air or other media. It transcribed sound waves as undulations or other deviations in a line traced on smoke-blackened paper or glass. Intended solely as a laboratory instrument for the study of acoustics, it could be used to visually study and measure the amplitude envelopes and waveforms of speech and other sounds, or to determine the frequency of a given musical pitch by comparison with a simultaneously recorded reference frequency.

Apparently, it did not occur to anyone before the 1870s that the recordings, called phonautograms, contained enough information about the sound that they could, in theory, be used to recreate it. Because the phonautogram tracing was an insubstantial two-dimensional line, direct physical playback was impossible in any case.

Bob Hope
➦In 1950…Bob Hope began his long association with NBC-TV. Hope's career in broadcasting began on radio in 1934. His first regular series for NBC Radio was the Woodbury Soap Hour in 1937, on a 26-week contract. A year later, The Pepsodent Show Starring Bob Hope began, and Hope signed a ten-year contract with the show's sponsor, Lever Brothers.

He hired eight writers and paid them out of his salary of $2,500 a week. The original staff included Mel Shavelson, Norman Panama, Jack Rose, Sherwood Schwartz, and Schwartz's brother Al. The writing staff eventually grew to fifteen. The show became the top radio program in the country. Regulars on the series included Jerry Colonna and Barbara Jo Allen as spinster Vera Vague. Hope continued his lucrative career in radio through to the 1950s, when radio's popularity began being overshadowed by the upstart television medium

His first appearance on television came in 1932 during a test transmission from an experimental CBS studio in New York.

➦In 1973...Pat St. John started at WPLJ 95.5 FM, NYC.

St. John was born in Detroit and was raised on the music of Motown. In early 1969, at the age of 18, he landed his first gig as a radio personality on Windsor's CKLW, where he also worked for CKLW's 20/20 news doing newscasts one day a week, and part-time booth announcing on CKLW-TV Channel 9. In late 1970 he moved across the border to WKNR and was then hired in early 1972 at the ABC-owned album-oriented rock (AOR) station WRIF until 1973.

In April 1973, St. John began an almost 15-year stint at New York's WPLJ.

For most of his years at WPLJ he was rated by Arbitron as the most listened to afternoon radio personality in America. He survived the station's transition from AOR to top 40 in 1983, and during that era, continued his Arbitron ratings success with that same ranking.

He left WPLJ in 1987, and returned to his rock roots on WNEW 102.7 FM, which had been WPLJ's rival during its AOR years. He became the station's program director in the early 1990s while continuing his mid-day show until being asked to do morning-drive (which he did from 1994 through 1996) and then moved to afternoons where then followed Scott Muni who moved to mid-days). Pat remained with the station until it switched to a hot talk format in 1998.

Today, St. John works for SiriusXM's 60 On 6 channel, based in San Diego.

➦In 1996...WWRL, WNEW Radio and TV NYC personality Sandy Becker died.

Becker was born and raised in New York City.  He held local radio announcing jobs before first reaching public fame on radio as the title character of "Young Doctor Malone".

Originally a pre-medical student at New York University in the 1930s, Becker played the good doctor on radio for a decade.  Then, he started working for Channel 5 TV and became the host of a program featuring Bugs Bunny cartoons, "The Looney Tunes Show" on weeknights from 1955 to 1958. A second Friday night program called "Bugs Bunny Theater" ran from 1956 to 1957. Becker also did television announcing, such as for Wildroot Cream-Oil ads in the television series "The Adventures of Robin Hood."

In the middle of those activities, Becker found his true calling, spun in large part off his knack for entertaining his own three children with his vocal and comic versatility. This led him to his morning show beginning in 1955, and he added a noontime program "Sandy Becker's Funhouse" briefly in 1955. He hosted the syndicated "Wonderama" from 1955-56.

Becker would also host a weekday evening & afternoon children's wraparound show which had him playing comedic characters, performing puppet skits and engaging his viewers in informational segments,contests and interview guest performers and personalities in between the reruns of movie and TV cartoons."The Sandy Becker Show" was seen weekday evening and afternoons from Monday March 30, 1961 to Friday February 16, 1968.

Becker created such characters as double-talking disc jockey Hambone, addled but brilliant Big Professor (who claimed to know the answer to every question in the world), rumpled Hispanic kid's show host K. Lastima, incompetent mad-scientist Dr. Gesundheit, and — showing a remarkable knack for silent comedy — simple-minded Norton Nork, whose routines of earnest bumbling were joined only by musical accompaniment and a droll Becker narration that ended, invariably, with, "That's my boy, Norton Nork — you've done it again!" He also had a real bird in a cage called "Chipper".

Sandy's show was so popular in the NY area that when he began using a version of the Hambone Theme music from an old 78 RPM record by Red Saunders which was recorded in 1952, the Okeh record company re-released the song on a 45 RPM record. Enough kids bought the record that it reached Survey position #22 on local rock radio station WMCA in March 1963. For his show's own theme music, Sandy came to use Guy Warren's "That Happy Feeling" as recorded in 1962 by Bert Kaempfert.

Becker is warmly remembered for the manner in which he handled one of America's deepest tragedies on the air. On November 22, 1963, after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Becker went on the air and, quite movingly, attempted to explain to his young viewers what had happened.

Sadly, most of Becker's programs were not preserved.

➦In 2013…Tampa Bay radio veteran Scott Farrell, who logged more than a dozen years as the midday music host on WFLA 970 AM following a stint at WTCN in Minneapolis, died at the age of 86.

In 1966, the St. Paul, Minnesota native joined 970 WFLA to fill the midday shift and went on to become the morning host, program director, and general manager of WFLA-FM before leaving to do mornings at FM101 WJYW in 1981.

He was a WWII Army vet and earned his degree in broadcasting from Macalester College, a private undergraduate liberal arts college in St. Paul, where he majored in speech and radio. Before moving to Tampa Bay, his early stops included KICD in Spencer, Iowa and WTCN in Minneapolis.

Elle Fanning
  • Actress Elle Fanning, younger sister of actress Dakota Fanning, turns 22.
  • Actress Michael Learned, who played the mother on The Waltons, turns 81.
  • Gossip Girl actress Leighton Meester is celebrating her 34th birthday.
  • Sex and the City's Cynthia Nixon is 54.
  • Actress Keisha Knight Pulliam, The Cosby Show's Rudy Huxtable, is 41.
  • Actor Dennis Quaid is celebrating his 66th birthday.
  • Twilight actress Kristen Stewart turns 30.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Cumulus CEO: "None of you deserves this"

Cumulus Media has joined a number of other radio groups instituting firings, furloughs and pay cuts because of the financial impact of a fall-off in advertising because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yesterday, CEO Mary Berner broke the People Cumulus plan during a employee video.  The latest employee plan follows other layoffs that occurred in January 2020.

Under the Cumulus plan over 80% of salaried employees will be taking 3 individual weeks of furlough (no pay, no work). Bener stated the three weeks will be taken in one week installments over a 15-week period beginning April 20th.

Cumulus CEO Mary Berner
Also impacted is a number of people in positions which can’t be covered by others during their absence. Those covered depends on for financial controls or those who don’t have someone above them or in their department who can cover for them. The people in this group will be asked to take a 90 day pay cut effective April 16th while they remain in their jobs and work them for those 90 days.

Another group would be employees whose job functions or responsibilities have been greatly reduced or eliminated entirely as a result of the COVID 19 impact. These employees will be put on a straight 90 day furlough effective April 16.

Berner did not say how many Cumulus employees will be put out on a 90-day furlough. She did say the company has “every intention” of bringing them back when normal business operations resume, reports RadioInk.

“Even though these are intended to be temporary actions, I know they are going to land hard, really hard and that is in the emotional and financial toll that a furlough or salary cut will take on each of you, but also in terms of the increased workload the vast majority of you will have to take on during your co-workers furlough weeks. I am truly sorry and sad about this announcement. None of you deserves this.”

Cumulus Media of Atlanta is the third largest radio chain in the United States with more than 400 stations in nearly 90 markets.

Nashville Radio: John Shomby OUT At Cumulus Media, Country WKDF

John Shomby
John Shomby, PD for Nashville’s WKDF and Director of Programming for Cumulus Nashville, has left the company.

Shomby was promoted to Program Director of WKDF NASH FM 103.3in 2017 after joining as the NASH Director of Programming in 2016.

For more than 13 years, Shomby had been Director of Programming for Max Media’s five-station cluster in Norfolk/Virginia Beach, including Country WGH-FM.

Prior to that, he was Operations Manager for Cumulus stations in Augusta, GA, Flint, MI, and Kalamazoo, MI. He has programmed stations in Birmingham, AL, Portland, OR, New Orleans, Dallas, and Boston, in CHR, Rock, Talk, Oldies, AC and Sports formats.

Shomby serves on the Board of Directors for the Country Radio Broadcasters.

Furloughs Hit Tegna TV, Radio

Dave Lougee, president and CEO of Tegna, sent an email to employees Monday announcing companywide weeklong furloughs to be taken in the second quarter of this year.

Lougee said while the TV stations have seen big gains in audiences on all platforms, “many businesses have decreased or in some cases pulled their current advertising and marketing campaigns because of COVID-19.”

The company is implementing a “one week furlough for most employees to be taken between the week of April 20 and the week of June 26. In lieu of one-week furloughs, news directors and station heads of technology will receive a commensurate 8% temporary pay reduction and general managers and corporate senior vice presidents and above will receive a 20% temporary pay reduction.”

Dave Lougee
"In lieu of one-week furloughs, news directors and station heads of technology will receive a commensurate 8% temporary pay reduction and general managers and corporate senior vice presidents and above will receive a 20% temporary pay reduction," Lougee wrote, adding that he and Tegna's board will take a 25% pay cut in April, May and June.

Virginia-based Tegna Inc. owns 62 television stations and four radio stations in 51 markets.

Apollo Global Management Inc. and Gray TApollo Global Management Inc. and Gray Television Inc. have separately dropped pursuits of a Tegna takeover amid the pandemic.

Tegna had been the target of several suitors who said they were interested in buying the company.

Tegna owns 62 television stations and four radio stations in 51 markets.