Thursday, February 29, 2024

2/29 WAKE-UP CALL: SCOTUS, Shutdown, Senate: Busy Day In D-C

It was a busy day in our nation's capital: Mitch McConnell is hanging up his hat as Republican Senate leader. Congress voted to avert a shutdown. And the Supreme Court ruled on Donald Trump's immunity claims. Here's the rundown:

McConnell's step down: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the longest-serving Senate leader and a colossal figure in Congress, said he is cutting loose from his leadership post in November, telling his colleagues on Wednesday, “One of life’s most underappreciated talents is to know when it’s time to move on to life's next chapter.” McConnell, 82, will finish his current term in the Senate, which is set to end in January 2027.

Supreme Court will hear Trump immunity claims: The high court said it will decide whether former President Donald Trump can be tried for trying to steal the 2020 election, setting an accelerated schedule to hear the case in April while his criminal trial remains delayed.

Shutdown averted – temporarily: Congress has agreed on a short-term spending deal to avert a partial government shutdown, kicking the can down the road once again as lawmakers struggle to reach a consensus on a longer-term deal.

➤TRUMP OFF ILLINOIS BALLOT: An Illinois judge barred former President Donald Trump from the state's Republican presidential primary ballot on Wednesday over his alleged role in the Capitol riot. The decision reignites the battle in Illinois to remove the former president from 2024 ballots. Cook County Circuit Judge Tracie Porter agreed with a group of Illinois voters who argued that Trump should be disqualified for violating a clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Advocates in Illinois – and across the country – have argued that Trump engaged in the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021. They say that bars him from serving as president again because a section of the 14th Amendment, enacted after the Civil War, blocks people from office who had engaged in insurrection after previously promising to support the Constitution.

➤JUDGE REJECTS TRUMP REQUEST: A New York appellate judge rejected an emergency request Wednesday from Donald Trump to post a $100 million bond while appealing what he called an “exorbitant and punitive” $454 million fraud judgment against him. State Attorney General Letitia James opposed Trump's request and asked for the former president to have to post the entire judgment, to ensure the state would be paid if he loses his appeal. Judge Anil Singh of the state court’s Appellate Division ruled Trump has to post a bond for the entire judgment and that his three-year prohibition against running a corporation in New York would remain in force. However, he did allow Trump's two adult sons to run the Trump Organization while the appeal is considered, despite the trial imposing a similar prohibition on Eric Trump and Donald Trump, Jr. The business prohibition also bars him from getting loans from financial institutions chartered or registered in the state.

➤HUNTER ADMITS HE WAS  'HIGH OR DRUNK': First son Hunter Biden claimed in congressional testimony Wednesday that he was “high or drunk” when he wrote to a Chinese associate in 2017 that he was “sitting here with my father”  — shortly before the transfer of $5.1 million into Biden family-linked accounts. A readout of the 54-year-old first son’s closed-door impeachment inquiry deposition was provided to numerous news outlets Wednesday evening citing Hunter’s claim that President Biden had nothing to do with the shakedown of Chinese state-linked CEFC China Energy. The readout said “Hunter admitted that he was high or drunk when he sent the ‘sitting here with my father’ WhatsApp message, sent it to the wrong recipient, and is now embarrassed by the message.”

Residence Influences Audio Listening Habits

Does where one lives in the U.S. affect what one listens to? Edison Research’s Share of Ear® study finds that indeed, listeners from urban, suburban, and rural areas (as defined by the U.S. Census) exhibit distinctively different behaviors when it comes to AM/FM radio listening, and podcast listening.

As seen in the graphic below, those who live in rural areas spend a much higher portion of their audio listening time with AM/FM radio, as compared with those living in suburban or urban areas. Rural listeners spend 43% of their daily audio listening time with AM/FM radio and radio streams, compared with urban listeners who spend 34% of their time with AM/FM radio and radio streams.

Meanwhile, Urban listeners spend over twice as much of their daily audio time with podcasts as rural listeners. Urban listeners spend 13% of their daily audio time with podcasts compared with rural listeners who spend 6% of their daily time with podcasts. For both data points, those who live in the suburbs fall in between.

Share of Ear measures all audio usage, not only radio and podcasting. But take your eye back to the graphic and add the numbers for each location together. You’ll see that in combination these numbers are essentially the same – between 47% and 49%. It appears that the ‘time budget’ for radio and podcasting combined is consistent across locations; it is just the apportionment of that time that varies.

Paramount Global Falls Short of Revenue Expectations

Paramount Global missed revenue expectations for the fourth quarter Wednesday but posted a surprise quarterly profit and posted strong results from its streaming platform Paramount+.

For the last three months of 2023, Paramount reported a profit of $514 million, or 77 cents per share, up from $21 million, or 1 cent per share, the year prior. Adjusted for one-time items, earnings per share were 4 cents for the period.

CNBC reports Paramount — home to brands such as CBS, Showtime, BET, Nickelodeon and its namesake movie studio — reported a 6% year-over-year revenue decline but posted notable strides in its streaming segment.

Paramount+, its flagship streaming service, reached 67.5 million subscribers during the period, a net increase of 4.1 million, and recorded 69% revenue growth year over year. The company expects to achieve profitability for Paramount+ by 2025, it said Wednesday.

Subscription revenue in the fourth quarter grew by 43%, partially driven by price increases, and revenue across its entire direct-to-consumer segment grew 34%.

Paramount saw a 27% jump in global viewing hours across Paramount+ and Pluto TV during the fourth quarter.

“Looking ahead, we continue to be focused on maximizing the return on our content investments and scaling streaming, while transforming the cost base of our business,” CEO Bob Bakish said in a press release. “And I couldn’t be more thrilled with the early momentum we’ve had across every platform in 2024, demonstrating the power of our strategy and assets.”

Paramount has been exploring sale options for all or parts of its business in recent months as the media landscape rapidly changes. Paramount has struggled without a solid growth narrative, with shares down more than 50% over the past two years.

Paramount announced about 800 layoffs earlier this month, just a day after the company revealed it had reached record viewership numbers for this year’s Super Bowl.

The company on Wednesday reported its TV media revenue declined 12% year over year. Advertising revenue declined 15% due to overall “softness in the global advertising market and 5-percentage point impact from lower political advertising,” according to the earnings release.

Revenue in Paramount’s filmed entertainment sector sank 31% year over year driven by lower licensing revenue.

Within the report, Paramount revealed that it had gained 4.5 million streaming subscribers on Paramount+ between the start of October and the end of December, leading to a current total of 67.5 million. At the end of Q3 2023, Paramount+ had 63 million paid subscribers. This represents a 7.14% increase in subscribers over the previous quarter and a 20.75% jump year-over-year.

TV Ratings: Fox News Channel Wins Total Day, Primetime

The South Carolina primary propelled Fox News to be the most-watched cable network in total day and primetime for the sixth consecutive week. Meanwhile, MSNBC, unfortunately, was the only network to record week-to-week declines in primetime and total day.

TV Newser reports the Nielsen live plus same-day data for the week of Feb. 19 gives Fox News another win. Not only was it boosted by the South Carolina primary, but Tuesday’s Donald Trump town hall moderated by Laura Ingraham also saw positive returns as The Ingraham Angle had its highest-rated show since moving to the 7 p.m. ET slot in July 2023. Tuesday’s show netted 3.3 million total viewers and 358,000 in the Adults 25-54 demo.

In primetime, FNC averaged 2.100 million total viewers and 236,000 A25-54 viewers. The network was flat in total viewers but saw a +2% gain in the A25-54 demo, relative to the week prior (week beginning Feb. 12). In total day viewing, Fox News averaged 1.342 million total viewers and 159,000 A25-54 viewers, which translated to a -3% drop in both categories from what Fox News averaged in those measurements the week prior.

Among all basic cable networks, Fox News maintained its No. 1 position in total primetime viewers and No. 4 in the primetime demo. In total day, the network was the only cable network to cross one million total viewers in total day, holding its No. 1 position, while it jumped up from No. 3 to No. 2 in the total day demo for the week of Feb. 19, 2024.

MSNBC in primetime averaged 1.326 million total viewers and 120,000 viewers from the A25-54 demo for the week of Feb. 19. It had a -9% drop in total viewers and a double-digit drop of -14% in the A25-54 demo from what the network averaged the week prior.   CNN averaged 623,000 total primetime viewers and 129,000 A25-54 viewers in primetime for the week of Feb. 19. The news net had a drop of -8% and a gain of +3% in total viewers and A25-54, respectively, compared to the prior week.

Fox had 10 out of the 15 most-watched cable news shows of the week, led once again by The Five (3.004 million viewers at 5 p.m. ET). MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell at 10 p.m. ET was the most-watched non-Fox cable news show of the week, coming in at No. 7 with an average of 1.678 million viewers. MSNBC had four of its shows in the top 15 of most-watched cable news shows.

NBC's Today Scores Key Demo Win During February

NBC News’ TODAY was the number-one morning show in February, topping ABC’s “Good Morning America” in the key demo A25-54 for six consecutive months. 

TODAY posted its largest February demo win over GMA in three years and its best monthly streak since January 2017. Additionally, TODAY posted its best February total viewer performance in four years.

Last week, TODAY marked its 28th straight weekly demo win, its longest streak since December 2020. TODAY also narrowed the total viewer gap with GMA by 47% versus the prior week and topped GMA in total viewers last Tuesday and Thursday.

Season to date, TODAY is the top-rated morning show in the key demo, with an advantage more than seven times higher than the prior season. TODAY marked its best key demo start to a season versus GMA in five years.

iHM's Taylor Jukes Goes Coastal

iHeartMedia has named Taylor Jukes as Senior Vice President of Programming for San Diego. 

Jukes joins from iHeartMedia/Miami, where she served as the Program Director of WHYI (Y100).  She continues her role on the iHeart CHR Brand Team. 

Taylor Jukes

Previously, Taylor was Program Director of Virgin Radio's CKFM and National Content Director for iHeartRadio Canada. She previously held programming and on-air roles at Alternative CHHR (Shore 104)/Vancouver, BC, Virgin Radio Vancouver, Top 40 CHBN Edmonton, AB and others.

"We are so excited to welcome Taylor into our San Diego cluster. Her knowledge of the audio business and track record speak for themselves. We are eager for Taylor to bring her skill set and big ideas from Miami to an already incredible cluster of stations," said iHeartMedia San Diego Market President Noreen Ippolito. 

"I'm thrilled to be heading back to the West Coast to join the team in beautiful San Diego, where they have strong heritage brands and an amazing roster of talent. Thanks to Noreen Ippolito and Gene Romano for this incredible programming leadership opportunity," added Jukes.

Philly TV: U-S Senators Support WTXF License Renewal

In a letter to the FCC, U.S. Senators Robert P. Casey, Jr. and John Fetterman have weighed in on the license renewal of Fox’s WTXF-TV in Philadelphia, saying “after half of a year of public comment, the FCC should act swiftly to conclude its review of the station’s license renewal. WTXF-TV has provided a platform that uplifts Philadelphia's diverse voices and supports local journalism, and we hope that its delivery of local news and local programming to the community is not disrupted.”

ASCAP’s Historic 2023 Financial Triumphs

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) operates as the sole not-for-profit Public Performance Rights Organization (PRO) in the United States. In the year 2023, ASCAP disclosed its financial outcomes, exhibiting growth across all principal revenue and distribution metrics. The organization’s revenue reached $1.737 billion for the calendar year, with $1.592 billion designated for royalty distributions to its members, including songwriters, composers, lyricists, and music publishers. This achievement marked the highest reported revenue and royalty distributions among U.S. PROs.

The year 2023 saw a 14.1% increase in ASCAP’s revenues, amounting to an additional $215 million over the previous year. This escalation was largely due to the augmented value and monetization of its members’ music. Specifically, domestic revenue from U.S.-licensed performances exceeded $1.327 billion, reflecting a $149 million or 12.6% increase from 2022. Revenue from various sectors saw significant upticks: audio streaming by 21%, general licensing by 23%, radio by 10%, and audio-visual by 3%.

Universal Music Annual Revenue Crosses $12B After Strong Q4

Universal Music Group’s revenue reached $3.45 billion in the final period of 2023, up 9% year-over-year as the company’s non-subscription streaming growth slowed again and its record labels got a boost from strong physical sales and licensing.

Billboard reports Spotify’s price increase helped drive the recorded music division’s subscription revenue up 8.9% (up 15% at constant currency, which removes the effects of foreign exchange rates) to 1.14 billion euros ($1.22 billion). As a percent of recorded music revenue, subscription revenue increased to 47% from 46.7% in the prior-year quarter.

Non-subscription streaming revenue declined 1.3% as reported (increased 5.6% at constant currency) in the quarter, however. That followed a 1.4% decline (a 5% gain at constant currency) in ad-supported streaming revenue in the third quarter. Ad-supported streaming “remains strong” but the ad market recovery “has not been uniform” and UMG is “cautious” about near-term growth, CFO Boyd Muir said during Wednesday’s earnings call. The soft streaming revenue was not affected by UMG’s decision in early February to pull its catalog from TikTok, which accounts for 1% of UMG’s annual revenue. 

Sales were strong elsewhere in the recorded music division, though. Physical revenue of 447 million euros ($481 million) was up 10.6% (up 17.0% at constant currency). Licensing and other revenue of 410 million euros ($441 million) was up 26.5% (up 34.0% at constant currency). Downloads and other digital revenue declined by 49.2% (45.8% at constant currency), but at 32 million euros ($34) accounted for just 1.3% of recorded music revenue in the quarter. 

Top sellers in the quarter were Taylor Swift, The Rolling Stones, Drake, Jung Kook and Stray Kids.

However, Universal Music Group will cut jobs and streamline operations to save $271.03 million by 2026, the company said on Wednesday, a month after a lucrative licensing deal with social media platform TikTok expired. The deal with TikTok, which expired on Jan. 31, generated about 1% of UMG's total group annual revenue, it said. The license failed to be renewed over disagreement about artist and songwriter compensations, among other issues.

Detroit Radio: WJR Radiothon Raises $1.6M+ Benefiting Salvation Army

Cumulus Media announces that its Detroit News/Talk station 760 WJR raised $1,637,238 to help The Salvation Army of Metro Detroit combat hunger and homelessness in Metro Detroit through the 37th Annual Bed & Bread Club Radiothon on Thursday, February 22nd and Friday, February 23rd. 

 The 27-hour radio fundraiser aired on 760 WJR and featured on-air personalities Rene Vitale, Mike Parsons, Guy Gordon, Lloyd Jackson, Jamie Edmonds, Kevin Dietz, Tom Jordan, Marie Osborne, Paul W. Smith, Mitch Albom, Ken Brown, Kevin O'Neill, Dan Aronson, and Bed & Bread Club founder and Detroit Radio Hall of Famer Dick Purtan, broadcasting from The Salvation Army Great Lakes Divisional Headquarters in Southfield. Purtan, who helped launch the first-ever Radiothon in 1988, returned for a surprise second interview to cap the successful fundraiser.

The annual Bed & Bread Club Radiothon has raised more than $44.8 million since Dick Purtan’s first Radiothon in 1988.

Steve Finateri, Vice President/Market Manager, Cumulus Detroit, said: “For the past 14 years, it has been an honor to partner with and support The Salvation Army’s mission of Doing the Most Good. The generous donations from our listeners will serve as a beacon of hope to thousands of metro Detroiters in need, providing a safe place to sleep for the homeless and nutritious meals for the hungry.”

Stockton Radio: Kat Country, The Hawk Team for Radiothon

Cumulus Media has announced Stockton, CA, radio stations KAT Country 103/KATM-FM and 104.1 The Hawk (KHKK-FM) drove total donations of $210,730 in two concurrent on-air and online community fundraisers for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

The successful two-day events, “Kat Country Cares for St. Jude Kids Radiothon” and “The Hawk’s St. Jude Rocks Radiothon,” were held on Wednesday, February 21st and Thursday, February 22nd to support the lifesaving mission of St. Jude that no child should die in the dawn of life.

All funds raised during the event go directly to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and will support St. Jude patients and families who never receive a bill from St. Jude for the cost of treatment, travel, housing, or food. At St. Jude, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion, or a family’s ability to pay. Since St. Jude opened its doors in 1962, the survival rate for childhood cancer has risen from 20% to more than 80% today.

Knoxville Radio: Gunner, Your Cowboy Pal At WIVK, Ready To Retire

WIVK’s Gunner is retiring June 20 after decades behind the mic. The radio DJ has met, or interviewed, some of country music’s biggest names along the way.

“It’s your cowboy pal Gunner,” he said to his listeners from his studio on Tuesday. It’s an unmistakable voice in East Tennessee. WVLT-TV8 reports.

Gunner says his career it all started because of a comment by a high school teacher. “Public speaking, it was the only thing I was good at,” Gunner said. “Her words, not mine.”

Gunner started small, beginning his career at AM 1470 in Maryville, then going to 94.3 in Knoxville and The Hit Kicker 100.3 before landing at WIVK 107.7, where he’s been for the last 25 years.

A career spanning six decades means meeting some big names in country music, like Jason Aldean and Emily Ann Roberts. The WIVK studio is decorated with country musicians Gunner interviewed before they got famous, like Blake Shelton, Kelsea Ballerini, and a 15-year-old Taylor Swift.

“She was a sweetheart,” Gunner said about Swift. “And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know a superstar when you see one. Even at 15 years old.”

Off the air, Gunner has done a lot of charity work, mainly with veterans. Gunner followed troops around Iraq in 2004 and set up a weekly radio show to allow the deployed troops to communicate with their families.

“We landed in Baghdad, and we got immediately shot at,” he said. “And basically shot at through the whole time.”

Gunner said a lot changed in the radio business over the course of his career, but one that stayed the same was how he spoke to his audience, which he says was authentic.

Radio History: February 29

➦In 1936...Fanny Brice brought her little girl character “Baby Snooks” to radio on “The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air” on CBS Radio.

Brice's first radio show was the Philco Hour in February 1930. Brice's first regular radio show was probably The Chase and Sanborn Hour, a thirty-minute program which ran on Wednesday nights at 8 pm in 1933.

From the 1930s until her death in 1951, Fanny made a radio presence as a bratty toddler named Snooks, a role she premiered in a Follies skit co-written by playwright Moss Hart. Baby Snooks premiered in The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air in February 1936 on CBS, with Alan Reed playing Lancelot Higgins, her beleaguered "Daddy". Brice moved to NBC in December 1937, performing the Snooks routines as part of the Good News show, then back to CBS on Maxwell House Coffee Time, with the half-hour divided between the Snooks sketches and actor Frank Morgan.

➦In 1948...KPUG 1170 AM in Bellingham, WA, signed on the air.

➦In 1968...Beatles' "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" wins Grammy Award for Album of the Year, the first rock LP to do so.

➦In 1988...KWK-FM in St Louis Missouri changed call letters to WKBG, branding its Top40 format as Q106.5  (now Hubbard's WARH)

➦In 2008...Rocky Allen aired his last show at WPLJ 95.5 FM NYC.

Allen's well-traveled career is best known for his streaks on New York radio station WPLJ, where he hosted an afternoon-drive show from 1993 until 1998, and again beginning in September 2005 until February 2008.

During his first run on the station, Allen underwent a series of surgeries beginning in October 1996 to remove calcium deposits believed to be the cause of persistent back pain.  Allen was partially paralyzed following the surgeries, and required the use of a wheelchair. In October 1997, after a year of not being able to walk, doctors advised Allen to undergo full-time rehab which they said might be the only way for him to be able to walk again.  This prompted Allen to go on a five-month leave of absence from radio, after which he was able to walk freely.

In January 1999, Allen made an unsuccessful move to WPLJ sister station WABC. The move was designed to complement WABC's non-political morning talk lineup of Art Bell and Laura Schlessinger.  The show never matched its afternoon ratings success, and was replaced 15 months later by Curtis and Kuby, who had vacated the morning show on the station to make room for Allen.

Allen proceeded to host the morning show on WDVD, Detroit in 2001. He was joined by Blain Ensley in 2002. Ensley had served as co-host on the Sports Guys.

Allen and Ensley returned to WPLJ on September 20, 2005, nearly seven years after leaving the station.

In a cost-cutting measure by WPLJ's parent company Citadel, the Rocky Allen Showgram was cancelled on February 29, 2008. Race Taylor, who was bumped to midday by the return of Allen, returned to the afternoon drive with a music-only format.

Allen briefly resurfaced in 2008 doing weekend sports talk on WEPN.

➦In 2012…David Thomas Jones died from a heart attacked at age 66 (Born: 30 December 1945). He was an English singer-songwriter, musician, actor and businessman, best known as a member of the band the Monkees.

Davy Jones
His acting credits include a Tony-nominated performance as the Artful Dodger in the original London and Broadway productions of Oliver! as well as a guest star role in a hallmark episode of The Brady Bunch television show and later reprised parody film; Love, American Style; and My Two Dads.

From 1966 to 1971, Jones was a member of the Monkees, a pop-rock group formed expressly for a television show of the same name. With Screen Gems producing the series, Jones was shortlisted for auditions, as he was the only Monkee who was signed to a deal with the studio, but still had to meet producers Bob Rafelson's and Bert Schneider's standards. Jones sang lead vocals on many of the Monkees' recordings, including "I Wanna Be Free" and "Daydream Believer".

The NBC television series the Monkees was popular, and remained in syndication. After the group disbanded in 1971, Jones reunited with Micky Dolenz as well as Monkees songwriters Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart in 1974 as a short-lived group called Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart.

Monkees activity ceased until 1996 when Jones reunited with Dolenz, Tork and Michael Nesmith to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the band. The group released a new album entitled Justus, the first album since 1967's Headquarters that featured the band members performing all instrumental duties. It was the last time all four Monkees performed together.

In February 2011, Jones confirmed rumours of another Monkees reunion. "There's even talk of putting the Monkees back together again in the next year or so for a U.S. and UK tour," he told Disney's Backstage Pass newsletter. "You're always hearing all those great songs on the radio, in commercials, movies, almost everywhere." The tour (Jones's last) came to fruition entitled, An Evening with The Monkees: The 45th Anniversary Tour.


  • Actor Antonio Sabato Jr. is 13 (born 1972). 
  • Rapper Ja Rule is 12 (born 1976). 
  • Singer Mark Foster (Foster the People) is 10 (born 1984)


  • In 1996..Wes Farrell, American songwriter (The Partridge Family), dies of cancer at 56
  • In 2012..Davy Jones, British singer and actor (The Monkees - "Daydream Believer"), dies from heart attack at 66

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Indy Radio: Brooks O'Brian Named PD At WFMS

Cumulus Media announces that it has appointed Brooks O’Brian as Program Director for Country station 95.5 WFMS-FM in Indianapolis. O’Brian will also be heard on 95.5 WFMS as On-Air Host, Afternoon Drive, airing weekdays from 3:00pm-7:00pm.

Brooks O'Brian
O’Brian has extensive programming and on-air experience and was previously Program Director for Audacy San Diego’s Sunny 98.1/KXSN-FM and KYXY 96.5 FM. She was also Program Director for iHeartMedia Country station 99.5 The Bull/KWNR-FM in Las Vegas, NV. O’Brian won the Academy of Country Music Award for Best Morning Show while at Audacy’s 103.7 KSON-FM in San Diego, where she was Assistant Program Director, Music Director and Midday Host. 

She was twice named Best Morning Show by the Las Vegas Electronics Media Awards while programming and hosting Morning Drive on KWNR-FM. Most recently, O’Brian was Brand Manager for Townsquare Media’s 98.1 Minnesota’s New Country/WWJO-FM in St. Cloud, MN.

Mike Killabrew, Operations Manager, Cumulus Indianapolis, said: “The entire WFMS team and I are thrilled to have Brooks in Indianapolis. Her passion, vision and collaborative mind-set will take WFMS to the next level!”

Brooks O’Brian commented: “I’m excited to join the incredible team at WFMS and Cumulus Indianapolis! It is a privilege to be associated with these heritage call letters in such a vibrant city. I can’t wait to help grow the brand and embrace the community!”