Monday, November 18, 2019

Investors Join Talks With Tencent To Acquire Universal Music Group

Tencent Holdings Ltd. is in talks with potential co-investors for its proposed bid for a minority stake in Universal Music Group from Vivendi SA, according to Bloomberg citing people with knowledge of the matter.

Hillhouse Capital and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte. are among potential investors that the Chinese tech giant has approached, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. Tencent plans to lead the consortium for the 10% stake in UMG with a goal to carry out the purchase within the next few months, the people said.

The Chinese tech giant is weighing to raise about $1.1 billion in debt to help fund the deal, while the rest will likely be funded in equity, the people said.

Vivendi said in August that it’s in talks to sell 10% of UMG to Tencent in a deal that values the world’s biggest music company at 30 billion euros. The Chinese tech firm has a one-year call option to acquire an additional 10% at the same price and terms. Vivendi also plans to sell an additional minority stake in UMG to other potential partners.

Enlisting minority investors would help Tencent share the costs and risks of buying as much as 20% of UMG, the people said. No final decision has been made as talks are still ongoing and could fall apart, the people said.

Tencent could bring Universal Music closer to consumers in Asian markets that are relatively underserved by the world’s major music labels. The Chinese company could help promote Universal’s stable of artists, which include Drake, Taylor Swift and U2, and identify talent in new markets.

Emerging Artists Advised To Stay Independent

Senegalese-American singer Akon says young music artists should avoid looking for lucrative record deals and instead focus on building their careers independently.

“In the next 3 to 5 years, the major labels won’t exist anymore,” the multi-platinum selling R&B artist told CNBC in an interview. “So just stop looking for a record deal.”

“You’re wasting your time, you’re losing money doing it obviously, and you’re gonna lose control,” he added.

Akon, whose real name is Aliaune Thiam, enjoyed much popularity in the mid-2000s with hits like “Smack That” and “I Wanna Love You.” He started two successful record labels, and more recently launched a third in partnership with Motown veteran Kedar Massenburg.

Artists have increasingly gone down the route of launching their careers through unorthodox methods like releasing a mixtape online to gain traction for their music. Chance the Rapper is one artist in America that managed to do exactly that, while Stormzy in the U.K. went viral with a track posted onto YouTube.

According to Akon, that might be the way to go for other emerging musicians, though he says he himself was “super lucky” because he “actually went through the system” to learn the music business.

“Now it’s a totally different game,” he said. “You’re almost negotiating against yourself when you decide to go to a major.”

“All you know is they offered you a million bucks,” Akon added. “You’re not even realizing your streaming revenue alone before you’ve monetized it is worth five million bucks.”

“You gotta understand the business, learn how it actually works and just stay independent because that’s the best way to go.”

NYC Radio: Report: WEPN Could Influence WFAN Line-up

Bart Scott
The post-Mike Francesa era is coming into focus, and it will amp up WFAN’s rivalry with ESPN New York, Andrew Marchand at The NYPost reports.

He believes Bart Scott is expected to leave WFAN 660 AM / 1019 FM to join crosstown rival, where he will be part of a new 1-3 p.m. local team on WEPN 98.7 FM.   ESPN has had interest in Chris Carlin, but Alan Hahn is emerging as a potential internal candidate to be Scott’s partner, according to The Post report..

Meanwhile, the duo of Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts has become the favorite to move to afternoons on WFAN and replace Francesa, according to sources. Nothing yet is finalized.

Francesa is moving the majority of it to beginning next year as part of a three-year deal.

Maggie Gray is expected to be half of the midday show, if the “Joe & Evan” show goes to afternoons when the new schedule begins in January.

For ESPN, it could offer the Scott show regionally, as well with a still-to-be announced national 1-3 p.m. program for ESPN Radio.

According to The Post, the national show opening came about with Stephen A. Smith moving off radio with his new five-year deal worth a little less than $8 million annually. Will Cain remains the favorite to host the 1-3 p.m. ESPN national show.

Scott’s new role will also give him prominence on TV, as he will be a football analyst on “Get Up!” and other ESPN shows.

Denver Radio: KNUS Talker Fired During Show

Talk show Host Craig Silverman KNUS 710 AM, said he was fired mid-show Saturday after criticizing President Donald Trump.

Silverman was in the middle of a segment about Roy Cohn, Trump’s former personal attorney, when he suddenly was interrupted by network news, he told The Denver Post.

Silverman’s producer threw his hands up in the air, indicating it wasn’t him.

Instead, program director Kelly Michaels came through the door.

“You’re done,” Silverman recounted Michaels as saying.

The former prosecutor, who has hosted “The Craig Silverman Show” from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays for more than five years, responded to the sudden firing on Twitter.

Representatives from KNUS did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The page for Silverman’s show appears to have been removed from the station’s website. A link to his show gives a “404 Error — Not Found” message.

Silverman’s last segment of the hour, before he was taken off the air, was to “observe how toxic Trump is in Colorado,” he said in a text. “And to continue my show theme today that Democrats are making a strong case at the House impeachment hearing.”

Big Machine Closed Early Friday After Perceived Threats

Big Machine Records reportedly opted to close its Tennessee headquarters early for the weekend due to death threats aimed at label employees amid its ongoing battle with Taylor Swift, according to The NY Daily News.

The Nashville-based office closed its doors just after noon on Friday following “hostile death threats” that made staff feel unsafe, a source told Entertainment Tonight.

It’s only the latest drama between Big Machine and 29-year-old Swift, who recently alleged her former label is preventing her from playing her older songs at the American Music Awards later this month, where she is being honored as artist of the decade.

In a social media post on Thursday, Swift took direct aim at Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta, who own the music rights to her first six albums.

“Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun have now said that I’m not allowed to perform my old songs on television because they claim that would be re-recording my music before I’m allowed to next year,” she wrote, adding that the pair are also preventing her from using songs and performance footage in an upcoming Netflix documentary.

The pop superstar earlier this year blasted Braun as a bully after he acquired Borcehtta’s Big Machine Records, a hefty purchase that includes the masters to all of Swift’s music outside of her most recent “Lover” album. The songstress subsequently announced that she would re-record her first albums as soon as she is allowed to in November 2020.

According to Swift, Borchetta said he would only allow the use of her old tunes during the AMA medley if she stopped speaking about them in public and vowed to never record copy-cat versions of her music.

“This is WRONG. Neither of these men had a hand in the writing of those songs. They did nothing to create the relationship I have with my fans. So this is where I’m asking for your help,” Swift tweeted on Thursday.

The  label lashed out Friday in response to her claim that Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun are blocking her from singing her earlier hits at the American Music Awards.

"As Taylor Swift’s partner for over a decade, we were shocked to see her Tumblr statements yesterday based on false information," the label posted on its website. "At no point did we say Taylor could not perform on the AMAs or block her Netflix special. In fact, we do not have the right to keep her from performing live anywhere."

Billboard reports within hours after Taylor Swift took to social media to put Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta on blast for supposedly not allowing her access to her older music for an upcoming American Music Awards performance and a Netflix special, tens of thousands of fans have rallied in her support.

A petition started by fan Jade Rossi has gathered 35,000+ signatures in just three hours, calling on Braun, Borchetta and investment firm The Carlyle Group to stop holding Swift’s art hostage. 

In the petition, Rossi calls out sexism, the misuse of power and hints at “blackmail”.

Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren came to the defense of Swift:

Warren tweeted that Swift’s work was being “threatened by a private equity firm,” adding that she has a plan to address this very issue.

Lawmaker Wants ABC News To come Clean On Epstein Story

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and two other top Republicans sent a letter to ABC News on Sunday demanding the network explain why it “quashed” ABC News anchor Amy Robach’s story that would have exposed allegations against the now-deceased sex offender Jeffrey Epstein three years ago. reports Fox News.

The letter, to ABC News President James Goldston, was first reported by Megyn Kelly, formerly of Fox News. House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Mike McCaul of Texas and House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Doug Collins of Georgia also signed it.

Brian Epstein
Video captured Robach on a hot mic claiming higher-ups at her network killed the story. The footage was published earlier this month by Project Veritas, whose controversial founder, James O'Keefe, has described himself as a “guerrilla journalist.” The video included Robach saying ABC refused to air an interview she

“I’ve had the story for three years. ... We would not put it on the air,” Robach said on the hot mic. “Um, first of all, I was told, who’s Jeffrey Epstein? No one knows who that is. This is a stupid story.”

She also said she tried to get the interview on the air for three years “to no avail.”

Less than two weeks after the footage was published, the House Republicans wrote the letter, asserting, “What appears to have been presented to Ms. Robach is first-hand evidence of human trafficking.”

They noted they were “deeply concerned that this victim, in search of justice, went to ABC News, provided information and an interview and then ABC News chose to bury the truth. This was a decision that Ms. Robach alluded was due to protecting powerful people or financial interests.”

Robach admitted the authenticity of the video, which has not been independently verified by Fox News, but dismissed the notion of unethical journalism.

“As a journalist, as the Epstein story continued to unfold last summer, I was caught in a private moment of frustration. I was upset that an important interview I had conducted with [Epstein accuser] Virginia Roberts didn’t air because we could not obtain sufficient corroborating evidence to meet ABC’s editorial standards about her allegations,” Robach said in a statement provided to Fox News earlier this month.

McCarthy, R-Calif., and the other Republicans wrote in the Sunday letter, “Although it is unclear whether anyone thought to alert authorities to further examine these deeply disturbing allegations, it is clear that ABC News’ enabling of Mr. Epstein has consequences: fewer victims willing to come forward to bring perpetrators of this modern-day slavery to justice and, more grievously, the possibility that any number of minors could have been spared from human trafficking over the past three years.”

The three Republicans wrote that they were requesting more information from ABC News. They asked if the network will provide Congress with the interview Robach conducted with the victim, what ABC News learned about Epstein after Robach first presented her story to executives and who was involved in deciding the story was not of public interest as well as any rationale for that decision.

Podcasters Debate Prospect of Automated Ads

As podcasts attract more advertisers, podcast publishers and ad sellers are beginning to embrace tactics that are common on the internet, including the automated buying and selling of targeted ads, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Midroll Media, a podcast ad sales group that offers 200 to 250 shows daily, plans to expand programmatic sales in 2020 after a small number of tests this year.

“With the range of shows we work with and the advertisers we talk to, it makes sense to start bringing in a whole range of ad products that meet brand needs across the board—and take more of their ad dollars, frankly,” said Erik Diehn, the chief executive of Midroll parent Stitcher Inc., a podcast platform owned by broadcasting company E.W. Scripps Co.

Podcasts are shifting from a “nice to have” element of marketers’ brand campaigns to becoming integral elements, said Rachel Lowenstein, associate director of Invention+ at WPP PLC -owned agency Mindshare. That adds to the pressure to implement ad technology.

“If there is any way we can make things more efficient and targeted, it’s going to happen,” Ms. Lowenstein said.

But not everyone wants to follow the web-advertising playbook.

The vast majority of podcast ads today are sold directly, not auctioned through programmatic technology vendors. Most also are read by hosts or producers and baked into episodes during the recording, though they are sometimes edited in afterward.

Barstool Sports Inc., whose podcasts include “Pardon My Take” and “Spittin’ Chiclets,” refuses any podcast ad formats except live reads. It is on track to generate more than $22 million in podcast ad revenue this year, all from ads read by the hosts, according to a person familiar with the matter. The company has 31 different podcast series with clients that include PepsiCo Inc.’s Mountain Dew brand, Nascar Holdings Inc. and New Amsterdam Spirits Co.

“Podcasting is a great medium because there’s essentially a relationship between a host and a listener—they are in your ears, they are telling you stories and it creates an ongoing relationship,” said Barstool Sports Chief Executive Erika Nardini. “That’s also what makes advertising so effective.”

The programmatic advertising now seeping into podcasting could erode that intimacy, Ms. Nardini said. And pooling ad inventory for auction could sap prices, she added.

Others worry ad tech will encourage publishers to pack podcasts with more commercials, because it’s easier with automation than doing more live reads.

U-K Radio: Station Airing Podcasts In the Works

The UK’s first 24-hour radio station devoted exclusively to podcasts is launching in London.

A news release states Podcast Radio will showcase podcasts from all over the globe enabling content providers to market and promote their audio across broadcast radio.

CEO Gerry Edwards says: “Podcast Radio will allow listeners to discover, engage with and consume an ever-changing and diverse range of podcasts across all genres.”

The new station, which will broadcast on DAB+ to a potential audience of 12 million people across the capital, was announced to an international audience of podcast, digital and radio delegates at today’s 8th annual RAIN (Radio and Internet News) Summit at the Congress Centre in London.

Consultant Paul Chantler, who previously helped set up successful builder and tradespeople station Fix Radio in 2017, has been working with Gerry to develop and devise Podcast Radio since the spring.

Paul says: “The popularity of podcasts and live radio is intoxicating. Radio is a natural way for people to sample different podcast content and find out what they like so they can download more episodes.”

Edwards, from Liverpool, started his radio career as a presenter and producer on radio in New Zealand. In the UK, he has worked for Global Radio and for the last few years designed and managed Panda Radio for the European-based media company GB Times.

“I’m excited to combine my love of podcasts with radio. We already have a wide variety of podcast partners to provide content and this will be growing over the next few months as we bring on some big names. The aim is more effective discovery.” he says.

Gerry will be Podcast Radio’s first “podjock” – a cross between a DJ and a continuity announcer – who will link the podcasts throughout the day and also present podcast related features such as a top 40 of the most popular, reviews and recommendations as well as interviews with content creators.

The exact launch date for Podcast Radio and some of the stars appearing on podcasts to be featured on the station will be revealed shortly.

Cord-Cutting Could Doom An Industry

Cable cord-cutting is unlikely to abate any time soon, because consumers today can drop cable and replace it with an array of streaming services for less money. It's possible to get nearly every channel via streaming, so consumers can theoretically save money and still get what they want.

How bad is it?

USAToday reports the major pay-television providers lost a total of 2.87 million net customers in 2018, up from 1.49 million the previous year, according to data from Leichtman Research Group (LRG). Those numbers got even worse in the first half of 2019, when the industry dropped another 2.88 million subscribers. And matters got still bleaker in the third quarter: According to the report LRG released Wednesday, the pay-TV companies lost another 1.74 million customers in Q3, the biggest single-quarter loss the industry has ever posted.

Arguably, those declines are even worse than the headline numbers would suggest because LRG counts 3.83 million streaming cable customers as part of the total. But those are subscribers who opted for cheaper plans, so they are probably significantly less profitable to the cable companies serving them.

This accelerating pace of people dropping cable coincides with a  slowdown in the growth of broadband subscriptions – signing up new internet customers no longer compensates for the earnings lost from cord-cutting pay-TV customers. After adding 2.4 million broadband users in 2018, the industry has added about 1.9 million so far in 2019. That's still strong, but it's well below the approximately 4.5 million net decline in cable customers.

Study: 'Desk Jockeys' Work Faster

Britain is a nation of "desk jockeys" - with half of employees listening to music while they work, reports The Sun.

A study of 2,000 employed Brits found many slip on headphones as soon as they sit down in a bid to concentrate more - or block out colleague’s chit-chat.  A third even think they work harder when listening to music, while two in five get more done.

Almost half (47 per cent) also claim to feeling less stressed with background melodies and more than a third said their productivity improves.

But the study, commissioned by Scala Radio, found that while more than a quarter use music to block out their colleagues' noise, a tenth do so to avoid silence.

The results come after an experiment saw four office workers given a 600-word task to complete to see how music affects their productivity compared to being in a silent room.

It found that when music was played, workers completed the task three minutes faster than they did with no background tunes.

Psychologist Dr Becky Spelman said: “Music has a really powerful impact on the brain, it affects mood and mental and physical performance.

The study also found that of those who listen to music at work, six in ten are based in an office, with 49 per cent either always or sometimes working from home.

More than two thirds of those who work from home would "struggle" to concentrate without having music on.

A quarter of home-based workers listen to classical music and 37 per cent admitted they find it easier to hear instrumental-only songs.

One in four workers opt for R&B to soundtrack their day, while almost three in 10 choose rock.

Half play music to help pass the time, four in 10 like to fill the silence of being the only one in their home office, and a further 28 per cent feel less alone.

In comparison, almost a third of employees have communal music played in their offices but 36 per cent prefer to keep themselves to themselves with their personal music selection.

Shari Redstone Talks About Media Pay For Execs

Shari Redstone
Shari Redstone, the ViacomCBS heiress, thinks the media industry has a poor “track record” when it comes to paying its executives, reports The NYPost.

“I believe that it should be performance-based,” Redstone told a crowd at a media conference in Manhattan Friday.

“The media industry does not have a good track record of doing that in the past, and I hope to lead that charge going forward,” she said.

Redstone gave the remarks just days after it emerged that acting CBS Chief Executive Joe Ianniello will be getting $100 million for not being named head of to-be-merged ViacomCBS — despite remaining head of the network.

Ianniello, who will grab the reins as chairman and CEO of CBS after it merges with Viacom, was promised $70 million in severance if he was not named head of ViacomCBS. That payment deal was made well before the companies agreed to join forces in August in a long-anticipated deal.

The sum has since been juiced by a $10 million payment to extend his CBS contract in June, plus $20 million in stock in the newly combined firm.

Redstone on Friday appeared to be saying Ianniello’s pay package will not be replicated.

“In terms of executive compensation, I can only say that ViacomCBS is going to be fully aligned with the interest of all of our stakeholders,” Redstone told the crowd at the event hosted by the Paley Center for Media.

Redstone, who will serve as vice chair of ViacomCBS when the two companies merge, vowed to “be very involved in what happens going forward.”

Detroit Free Press Unveils Layoff Plan

The Detroit Free Press has announced it will lay off four employees this year, ahead of a sale that will leave the daily in the hands of a hedge fund-backed media conglomerate, reports Deadline Detroit.

Three reporters and one photographer will be let go, according to an email sent by the union to its members Wednesday and obtained by Deadline Detroit. Free Press Editor and Vice President Peter Bhatia, the notice says, is looking for staff to voluntarily leave. Those who do would receive a week of severance for every six months they've been with the paper, up to 40 weeks.

This is the latest in a series of layoffs at the Free Press over the past decade, as the print media industry grapples with shrinking ad revenue and print circulation. The news comes after Free Press parent Gannett reported last week that 3rd quarter revenues were down 8 percent. Free Press employees last year managed to escape layoffs when some senior staff took buyouts.

It's unclear whether layoffs are planned at Gannett's other properties. The company, which owns USA Today, is also in a partnership with the business side of the Detroit News. That paper's editor and publisher, Gary Miles, said in a memo to staff Tuesday that it would "entertain a voluntary layoff for those who are interested," but that preliminary budget projections were "better than in many years."

Gannett earlier this year announced its pending sale to hedge fund-backed media group GateHouse, in a deal expected to bring even more layoffs — though mostly in back-offfice administrative operations, rather than newsrooms. Shareholders are due to vote on the sale Thursday.

Canadian Radio: 35 Employees Get Notice From CBC News

CBC has given 35 employees a “notice of redundancy” amidst budget pressures.

The majority of the affected positions are in Toronto with layoffs set to take effect Dec. 31.

“As is the case with every Canadian media company, CBC faces challenges in the context of an ever-shifting media landscape with so much disruption,” said Chuck Thompson, Head of Public Affairs for CBC English Services, in an email to Broadcast Dialogue. “To meet these challenges, as an organization, we have to make changes. Yesterday’s layoffs are part of a difficult but necessary exercise to manage a decrease to the News operating budget.”

Bell Media also made a round of layoffs this week, that included  TSN 690 morning show co-host and Alouettes/Impact play by play announcer Rick Moffat and CJAD weekday morning weather forecaster Eramelinda Boquer and other several long-serving employees. While the company declined to say how many positions or stations were affected, job losses were reported in Winnipeg, Montreal and Ottawa.

Among the casualties were longtime CTV Winnipeg anchor Gord Leclerc, who had been with the station since 1995; 99.9 Bob FM (CFWM-FM) Winnipeg morning co-host Mark Morris, CFRA Ottawa midday talk host Rob Snow, who had been with the station for two decades; CJAD Montreal host and weather specialist Eramelinda Boquer, who had been with the station since 1999; and TSN 690 (CKGM-AM) morning show co-host Rick Moffat, who also served as the play-by-play voice of the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Impact.

“Our industry is changing fast, with growing international competition and new viewing and listening options impacting audiences and advertising across the Canadian media sector,” said Bell Media Communications Manager Patricia Garcia, in an emailed statement. “We’re feeling the effects of rapid industry change in many parts of our business, including local TV and radio. To ensure we remain competitive, we’re managing the impact on our bottom line while also investing in content and platforms.”

Cape Coral FL Radio: 'Win a Baby' Promotion..It's A Boy!

Garrett Rivera
A once-in-a-lifetime radio promotion has helped a Cape Coral couple start their own family, reports FOX-TV4.

WXKB B1039 held a 'Win a Baby' contest in which the winner received a round of in vitro fertilization treatments and required medication.

Now, Krista and Anthony Rivera can call themselves parents.

“When we thought we couldn’t have a baby, it was crushing,” said Krista.

“Out of nowhere, we got the news that I was diagnosed with testicular cancer,” said Anthony.

Their only option was IVF treatment but it’s expensive. Then last year, they won the 'Win a Baby' contest.

“Without the contest, we definitely would not have been able to have our dream of having a baby,” said Krista.

Their baby boy, Garrett is now 3 months old and they are forever grateful for this little guy.

“I never ever would have thought that three years later, I would be holding my baby boy,” said Anthony.

“This is really a dream come true. we never thought we’d have our miracle and we’re so happy to have our little family,” said Krista.

They said Garrett is truly a miracle because the IVF process isn’t easy. It turns out one in eight couples have trouble getting pregnant.

They want to inspire other couples who are struggling to get pregnant to never give up hope.

Krista: “It’s so worth it so keep fighting. I know it’s hard it’s never easy but it’s worth it,” said Krista.

R.I.P.: Bob Bailey, Former Atlanta Radio Personality

Bob Bailey, a former 96rock and Z93 rock jock from the 1980s and 1990s, died of lung cancer this week. He was 66.

Bob Bailey
According to media writer Rodney Ho at, his family posted a social media note announcing his passing. A memorial is planned in December.

Bailey was well liked and well respected by many of his radio peers at both rock stations, neither of which exist anymore. Mara Davis, former Z93/Dave FM host who now works at Adult Swim, Atlanta Eats and WABE-FM, said she arrived in Atlanta in 1994 unsure how the existing staff at Z93 would treat a young female rock jock.Bailey, she said, embraced her and they became fast friends, often hanging out at Highland Tap in Virginia Highland.

She loved his on-air delivery and how he told stories with “personality, humor and vigor,”“He had an impact on my gut, on my style,” Davis said.

Craig Ashwood, a former mid-day host at 94Q in the 1980s, said he became drinking buddies with Bailey. “He was a great normal guy,” Ashwood said. “No ego, no bull****, none of that radio crap. He showed up and did his job.”

Bailey spent his entire radio career in Atlanta, starting at Georgia State University’s WRAS-FM. He spent nine years (1977-1986) spinning Van Halen and Aerosmith on 96rock. Steve Mitchell, a DJ at 96rock in the 1980s, said Bailey became music director for a time and “was the best guy for the job. He loved music. He made sure we were playing the right stuff.”

After two years at 94Q (now Star 94.1) as Gary McKee’s morning producer, he joined Z93 when it changed to classic rock in 1989. As afternoon jock on Z93, he created a signature daily feature called “Traffic Jam and Jokes.” After he lost his Z93 gig in 1998, Bailey was unable to find another regular radio job. For many years, Bailey hosted trivia nights around town.

R.I.P.: Jack Morse, Longtime Central NY Broadcaster

Jack Morse, a longtime television and radio broadcaster in Central New York, died on Thursday at his home in Manlius. He was 84 years old, according to

Morse spent more than four decades broadcasting in Central New York and was named to the Syracuse Press Club’s Wall of Distinction in 2002.

According to his biography with the Syracuse Press Club, Morse began his broadcasting career when he was in high school, serving as a summer replacement at WINR 680 AM in Binghamton, NY.

He arrived in the Syracuse area during the late 50s and never left. He began working locally when he was a college student at Syracuse, working part-time at WOLF Radio. He became a sports broadcaster in 1966 with WHEN 620 AM, doing the station’s last broadcast from Syracuse’s Loew Building and its first broadcast from its James Street location (now Channel 5).

He began doing sports part-time with Channel 5 in 1966, and also spent time with Syracuse Newchannels (now Time-Warner), Channel 9 and on the Phil Markert morning show.

November 18 Radio History

➦In 1951…
Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly  launched one of the most highly-praised TV productions in history. The newsmagazine, documentary "See It Now' debuted on CBS. The aired for more than six years. On that first program, which evolved out of Murrow’s radio (and Columbia Records) series Hear It Now, we saw a live camera shot of the Atlantic Ocean, followed by a live shot of the Pacific, then Murrow said, “We are impressed by a medium through which a man sitting in his living room has been able to look at two oceans at once.”  In April of 1952, See It Now moved into an evening time slot.

➦In 1954...ABC radio and TV banned “Mambo Italiano,” a hit by Rosemary Clooney for so-called “offensive lyrics,” most likely due to the exaggerated Italian vernacular, including the words “goombah” and “gidrool.”

➦In 1963…The Beatles got their first exposure on U-S TV in a feature story on NBC-TV's "The Huntley-Brinkley Report" it included a film clip of the band performing in England.

➦In 1987...CBS Inc. announced that it had agreed to sell its record division to Sony Corp. for approximately $2 billion.

➦In 1994...the inimitable Cab Calloway died in a Delaware nursing home following a stroke suffered in June. He was 86.  The big band leader, who became nationally known through radio broadcasts dating back to 1931. He was best known for his trademark “hi-de-ho” song “Minnie the Moocher.” He was also featured in the movie “The Blues Brothers.” In October of ’94, he’d been honored at a White House ceremony by President Clinton for his contribution to the arts.

➦In 1994...The Rolling Stones broadcast a 20-minute segment of their show in Dallas, TX, live over the Internet. They were the first major band to stream a live show on the web.

➦In 2004...Howard Stern held a rally in downtown New York City. Thousands showed up and Stern gave away 500 free SIRIUS radios and 20,000 coupons for free radios for those who signed up for the service.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

November 17 Radio History

➦In 1914...Broadcaster, comedian  Archie Campbell, best known for his work on TV’s Hee Haw, was born in Bullsgap Tennessee.

He was in country music radio prior to WWII; after the war he originated Knoxville’s first Country TV Show (1952-58.)  He moved on to Nashville & the Grand Ole Opry, where he started a recording career with RCA.

In 1969 he joined Hee Haw as the barber, famous for his spoonerism stories & “That’s bad, that’s good” routines. 

Archie died Aug. 29 1987 after a heart attack.  He was 72.

➦In 1917...Announcer, TV host Jack Lescoulie  was born in Sacramento. He was best known for his stint on NBC’s Today Show during its earliest years, and the Jackie Gleason Show on CBS.  He died July 22, 1987 at age 69.

➦In 1970…Elton John, backed by Dee Murray and Nigel Olsson, performed at A&R Recording Studios in New York City for a live radio broadcast on WABC 95.5FM (now Contemporary Christian WPLJ) which was later released as his "11-17-70" album.

➦In 1979...Personality George Michael did his last show on 77WABC, New York.

His first radio appointment outside of his hometown was in 1962 at WRIT in Milwaukee, where he worked the 6-to-10 pm shift until he was reassigned to 5-to-9 morning drive time in early 1964.  His next stop was at KBTR in Denver later in 1964, working under the name "King" George Michael for the first time. He earned the nickname due to his success in "ruling" evening radio.

He became one of the original Boss Jocks at WFIL 560 AM in Philadelphia when its new Top 40 rock and roll format debuted on September 18, 1966. He served as music director and evening deejay for the next eight years. WFIL, which was popularly known as "Famous 56" after the transition, ended WIBG 990 AM's listener ratings dominance and became the city's most popular station by the summer of 1967.  Michael was the first Philadelphia rock and roll radio personality to read the scores of local high school football and basketball games on the air.

On George's last WFIL show (on September 6, 1974) he played "When Will I See You Again" by the Three Degrees for the first time ever on any radio station. The playing of this on his show broke the song into the mainstream, and within two months was a huge international hit, reaching number one in the U.K., and number two in the U-S.

George Michael at 77WABC
Michael, noted for his energetic style, was hired by WABC in New York City; his first on-air stint there was on the evening of September 9, 1974.  Michael now not only was entering the nation's largest media market; he also succeeded radio legend "Cousin Brucie" Morrow, who had jumped to competitor WNBC.660 AM (now WFAN).  One of the highlights during his time at the station occurred when he anchored its coverage of the New York City blackout of 1977 after the music format was temporarily suspended for the night.

His first experience in sports broadcasting also came in 1974 when he was a television announcer for the Baltimore Orioles on WJZ-TV.  He declined an offer to work for the ballclub full-time in order to accept the WABC position.  As part of the deal to bring him to New York, Michael also worked for WABC-TV as the weekend sports anchor and a color commentator on New York Islanders telecasts for several seasons, paired mainly with Tim Ryan.  He served as an occasional substitute on ABC American Contemporary Network's Speaking of Sports show whenever Howard Cosell, the primary commentator, was on vacation or assignment.

As the primary sports anchor at WRC-TV in Washington from 1980 to 2007, Michael was easily one of the most popular media personalities in the Washington area.

Michael died at age 70 on December 24, 2009, after being diagnosed with B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia two years prior.

➦In 1982...  Bill Baldwin, an actor, announcer, World War II radio correspondent and leader in the broadcasters union, died of cancer at age 69.

Bill Baldwin
Baldwin was a war correspondent for what is now the ABC network during World War II. After the war he was an announcer on the radio program of the late comedian-ventriliquist Edgar Bergen.

Baldwin, a native of Pueblo, Colo., became the radio and television voice of hundreds of products, most recently appearing for Western Airlines. He also appeared in several TV series, including ‘Hawaii Five-O,’ ‘Ironside,’ ‘The Beverly Hillbillies,’ and ‘Marcus Welby, M.D.’

Baldwin also acted in several movies, including all three ‘Rocky’ pictures, ‘The Apartment’ and ‘The Odd Couple.’

At the time of his death, Baldwin was a member of the board of directors of the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists and from 1970 to 1972 served as national president of the union.

➦In 1985...Howard Stern begins broadcasting on WXRK 92.3 FM New York, N.Y.

➦In 2003... Rush Limbaugh returned to his syndicated talk show after spending a month in rehab for addiction to prescription painkillers.

➦In 2007…Veteran Philadelphia radio personality Hy Lit, who hosted the nationally syndicated "Hy Lit Show" seen on television in 30 markets, died of kidney failure at the age of 73.

Lit dominated AM radio from the late 1950s through the 1960s as one of WIBG's "Good Guys," as his Hall of Fame show drew a 71 market share (unheard of before or since.) He released several successful LP "Hall of Fame" collections of music he played on the show, the last of these when he joined WPGR in 1981. Around 1978, Lit moved to California after a brief but successful stint with the Harlem Globetrotters before once more returning to the Philadelphia area. In 1977, when WIBG went off the air forever, he was the last DJ on the air.

Hy Lit
Lit moved to WOGL-FM in 1989, hosting the highly rated "Top 20 Countdown" on Saturday and Sunday afternoons in addition to his weekday afternoon shift.

In the mid-1990s, it was revealed that Lit was suffering from the beginnings of Parkinson's disease. Just after the death of Hy's wife Maggie (Russo) Lit in 2000, WOGL and Infinity/CBS Broadcasting management significantly reduced Lit's radio hours, along with a significant decrease in salary. In 2002, a lawsuit was filed against the media conglomerate, CBS Broadcasting, which for a second and concurrent time decided to reduce Lit's radio time and salary and this time cancel his health insurance.

In December 2005, Lit, station WOGL, and CBS Broadcasting settled the three-year health and age-discrimination lawsuit, under the condition that Hy Lit would (reluctantly) retire from the station. Lit did his last Hy Lit Hall of Fame Show radio show on December 11, 2005. However, WOGL management would not permit Lit to reveal he would be leaving the airwaves and abandoning thousands of listeners left to wonder what happened to the legendary Hy Lit.

Chicago Radio: Jimmy de Castro To EXIT Entercom

Jimmy de Castro
Longtime Chicago  media executive Jimmy de Castro, who downsized and revitalized the seven Chicago radio stations owned by Entercom Communications, is ready to take a gamble on his next adventure.

“I’m officially retiring after my contract is up — but I’ve flunked retirement three times,” de Castro, 66, told me. “I definitely have plans on doing something else in the gaming business, and I’m excited about that opportunity.”

His last day as senior vice president and market manager of Entercom Chicago is expected to be be December 13.

As first reported by Robert Feder Friday, deCastro is retiring after a little over two years being appointed to the position.

A replacement will be named next week, reports TDog Media.

The longtime Chicago radio executive was installed as market manager for the former CBS Radio stations right after Entercom closed on its purchase of the radio group. Among the first moves he made was to flip 104.3 FM from WJMK’s classic hits format to a Classic Hip-Hop 104.3 Jams and adapting the legendary call letters identified with African-American Chicago radio, WBMX.

In addition to running WBMX, all-news WBBM-AM (and WCFS-FM), Top 40 outlet WBBM-FM (B96), country WUSN-FM (US 99), adult album alternative WXRT-FM and all-sports WSCR-AM (The Score,) DeCastro was also responsible for Entercom’s stations in Milwaukee and Madison, Wis.

His tenure was marked by cost cutting as well, including layoffs and reducing the number of floors Entercom had at Prudential Plaza from three floors to two.

DeCastro came into prominence in the early 1980s being hired at Heifel Broadcasting’s WLUP-FM (The Loop) as GM, at a time when Steve Dahl and Garry Meier were fired by the station for “assaulting community standards” (both returned to The Loop in 1986.) He became one of the investors in Evergreen Media, who purchased The Loop and WLUP-AM (now ESPN 1000) and became President of AMFM, the company formed by the merger of Evergreen Media and Chancellor, and was swallowed up by Clear Channel (now iHeartMedia) in 2000.

After serving as president of AOL Interactive and forming The Content Factory, DeCastro resurfaced as President and GM of WGN-AM and short-lived sports station WGWG-LP (The Game.)

Even though deCastro is retiring from radio, he isn’t entirely going away: he’s still President and CEO of his sports marketing company After The Whistle and plans to form a new sports gambling venture.

Taylor Swift Brings New Attention to Master-Recording Rights

Taylor Swift and her former label traded barbs in an escalating dispute over the pop star’s right to perform her old hits, reports The Wall Street Journal.

In a lengthy post on her social-media accounts late Thursday, Swift asked her fans to rally for her ability to use music from her catalog in a coming televised awards show and a Netflix documentary. On Friday, Big Machine Label Group, which controls rights to her first six albums, denied her statements, calling them shocking and false.

The tussle has brought new attention to master-recording rights, which have become an increasingly contentious issue in the era of streaming. In most traditional record deals, an artist signs away ownership of master recordings in exchange for an upfront payment and royalties from future sales. Superstars have sometimes been able to use contract re-negotiations to gain ownership of their masters.

The battle for Ms. Swift’s music kicked off earlier this year when Big Machine founder Scott Borchetta, who signed the singer to a record deal when she was 15 years old, sold the independent label to celebrity talent manager Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings LLC in a $300 million deal backed by private-equity giant Carlyle Group. Borchetta stayed on as chief executive of the label and joined the Ithaca board.

Swift, who had previously feuded with Braun and some of his clients, has since said she would rerecord hits from her catalog starting next year, as allowed under the terms of her old contract. Such a move could reduce the value of the older recordings owned by Big Machine if enough fans prefer the new versions.

Borchetta, Swift during a happier time
On Thursday, Swift said Braun and Borchetta told her she could perform her older hits on the shows only if she agreed not to record new versions of her songs.

Swift signed a new record deal with Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group last year after her contract with Big Machine expired. Under the agreement with Universal, Swift owns the masters for all her work going forward.

Big Machine on Friday denied saying Swift couldn’t perform music it owned on the American Music Awards—where she is planning to play a medley of her hits later this month—or interfering with her Netflix documentary. The label said that since the new owners took over it has honored her requests for licensing her catalog.

Before the advent of streaming, record companies held effective monopolies over the distribution of records, tapes and CDs, limiting the value to artists of owning their masters, which would still require the involvement of a record label. The explosion of online options has made it more attractive to artists to own their material, given the wide array of avenues to release their music and make money from it.

Bakersfield CA Radio: Steve Gradowitz To Retire At KUZZ

Steve Gradowitz
Long-time morning host at KUZZ 550 AM / 107.9 FM, Steve Gradowitz, is set to retire after more than 30 years at the Bakersfield radio station.

In a press release sent out on Friday, the country music station said Steve's last day on air would be December 20. Plans for the morning show will be announced soon.

Back in 1986, Steve joined the KUZZ family as its main morning personality. Throughout his career, he was able to snag two Academy of Country Music On-Air Personality of the Year Awards. He was also nominated as Billboard Personality of the Year in 1991.

In a statement, Steve said:
“I don’t think I’ve ever had one show that I didn’t look forward to being with my friends, laughing with each other, sharing each other’s sadness, and just having a great time. You have always been Bakersfield’s number one audience, and always will be."
In 1986 Steve joined KUZZ as its morning man and has remained the city’s top morning personality ever since.

Albuquerque Radio: CHR KKOB-FM Rebrands As 93-3 The Q

CUMULUS MEDIA announces the launch Friday of newly-branded KKOB-FM as 93-3 The Q, Albuquerque’s #1 Hit Music Station.

93-3 The Q  continues its decades-long tradition as Albuquerque’s station for today’s hit music, playing the most hit music and featuring the same beloved personalities, but with a renewed focus on entertaining and serving the Albuquerque community, or Q-munity! The station continues its highly popular weekday programming lineup featuring: Carlos & Kiki in the Morning, Rachael, Chico Suave and Tino Cochino.

Jeff Berry, Vice President/Market Manager, Cumulus Albuquerque, said: “93-3 The Q is the natural evolution of 93.3, a highly rated radio outlet with compassionate personalities, an enormous fan base and market-leading multi-platform content. 93-3 The Q brings renewed passion for and connection with the city of Albuquerque and its people. It is a reflection of our commitment to Albuquerque listeners, and we couldn’t be more excited to grow and expand the brand when it is healthy and take it to the next level.”

Carlos Duran, Program Director, KKOB-FM, and FM Assistant Operations Manager, Cumulus Albuquerque, added: “I couldn't be prouder of the talented team we've built in Albuquerque. This evolution echoes what this city really means to us....We are 93.3 The Q!"

St. Louis Radio: KMOX Remains Home For The MLB Redbirds

Entercom and the St. Louis Cardinals have announced a multiyear broadcast extension. As part of the agreement, News Radio KMOX 1120 AM will continue to serve as the flagship station for Cardinals baseball through the 2024 season.

“We are honored to continue to work with the world class St. Louis Cardinals,” said Becky Domyan, Senior Vice President and Market Manager, Entercom St. Louis. “News Radio 1120 KMOX and the Cardinals are synonymous institutions here in this great city and we couldn’t be more excited to continue this fantastic partnership.”

“We are thrilled to extend our agreement with our partners at KMOX and proud to continue the great tradition of broadcasting Cardinals baseball on the voice of St. Louis,” said Bill DeWitt III, President, St. Louis Cardinals.

As part of the agreement, the station will continue providing play-by-play coverage of all regular and postseason games, as well as select Spring Training games. The broadcast team of veteran announcers Mike Shannon, John Rooney, Ricky Horton and Mike Claiborne will also return to handle the play-by-play coverage. In addition to game broadcasts, News Radio 1120 KMOX will also carry a variety of other Cardinals-related programming throughout the year, including the popular “Countdown to Opening Day” during the offseason.

Since the partnership began back in 1955, game broadcasts on News Radio 1120 KMOX have consistently been among the top-rated radio programs in the St. Louis market.

Listeners can also hear the games on FM dials via an HD radio-capable device in the St. Louis area on sister stations 102.5 KEZK (KEZK-HD2) and 929 FM ESPN/680 AM (WMFS-FM/AM) in Memphis as part of the Cardinals Radio Network.

Listeners can tune in to News Radio 1120 KMOX (KMOX-AM) in St. Louis, as well as nationwide on the RADIO.COM app and website. Fans can also connect with the station on social media via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.