Saturday, April 20, 2024

NYC Radio: WFAN's John Sterling Honored At Yankee Stadium

The legendary New York Yankees radio voice, John Sterling, has officially retired from broadcasts. The club announced this momentous decision, and in recognition of his remarkable career, a pregame ceremony will take place at Yankee Stadium on April 201. Sterling, who has been the voice of the Yankees for 36 seasons, will be honored during this special event. His contributions to the team and his iconic calls will forever resonate with fans.

The New York Yankees announced Monday afternoon that legendary Yankees play-by-play radio voice John Sterling, who has called 5,420 regular season Yankees games and 211 postseason Yankees games, is retiring effective immediately. He honored in a pregame ceremony on Saturday, April 20, and will visited the WFAN booth during the game. 

Sterling’s voice has been synonymous with the Yankees for multiple generations of Yankees fans since joining the club during the 1989 season. Known for his resonant tone, signature home run calls and Yankees victory call (“Ballgame over! The Yankees win … Theeeeeee Yankees win!”), he called 5,060 consecutive games from September 1989 to July 2019. His final game this season was the Yankees’ 8-3 win vs. Toronto on Sunday, April 7.

Philly Radio: WIP's Glen Macnow Is Retiring

Glen Macnow

94.1 WIP-FM host Glen Macnow is retiring after three decades as a Philly sports talker: ‘It’s time’

Often a calm voice in a sea of hot takes and outlandish behavior, longtime 94.1 WIP host Glen Macnow is retiring from the radio station he’s called home for more than three decades. His final show will be July 13.

Macnow said it was his choice to walk away, a rarity these days with any media job. Like so many popular Philly sports talkers, Macnow was a reporter for The Inquirer before making the jump to radio.

“I’ve been working as a newspaper or radio guy since I was 21 years old,” Macnow told The Inquirer. “I’m now in my late 60s, and it’s just time.”

R.I.P.: Howie Schwab, Longtime ESPN Producer, Trivia Show Personality

Howie Schwab, a longtime ESPN producer and trivia show star, died Saturday at age 63, according to a report on

Schwab, who joined ESPN in 1987, hosted the network’s trivia show “Stump the Schwab,” which ran from 2004 to 2006 and was hosted by the late Stuart Scott, according to a Yahoo Sports report.

Schwab was the final challenge for contestants, who would try to beat him in sports trivia for prizes. Schwab posted a 64-16 record on the program, according to a New York Post report.

“I’m proud of that. Eighty percent is pretty darn good,” Schwab told The Athletic in 2020. “There were a couple of times when people were better. I’ll admit it. I had no problem with it. I remember one time I was disappointed because this guy was a cocky SOB who beat me and it bothered me a little. Bottom line is I’ve lived through so many things in sports and I’ve always been into sports, so (getting stumped) was fine.”

Schwab, from Baldwin, N.Y., was a 1982 graduate of St. John’s University, according to an AwfulAnnouncing post.

The report noted he worked as the coordinating producer for the network’s website in the mid-1990s and later served the same role on ESPN studio productions of SportsCenter and Outside the Lines

Schwab left ESPN in 2013 and later worked for Fox Sports and on “Sports Jeopardy!” according to the Yahoo Sports report.

FCC Looking for Comments Regarding GeoTargeting

The FCC is currently advancing the concept of FM geotargeting, which would allow radio stations to deliver content specifically tailored to localized audiences. Here are the key details:

The FCC has initiated a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) to gather public input from broadcasters regarding their support or concerns about FM geotargeting.

The proposed change would permit FM booster stations to create their own content, subject to certain implementation issues such as programming synchronization and notification procedures.

Discussions within the FNPRM also address the possibility of amending regulations to handle predicted interference during booster construction permit applications.

Additionally, the FCC proposes a new rule that would cap the number of program-originating FM booster stations an FM station can operate at 25.

NAB President Curtis LeGeyt acknowledges the FCC’s cautious approach, recognizing that unregulated micro-targeting technologies could potentially harm local stations’ ability to serve their communities and maintain viable advertising models.

While some groups, such as NABOB and GeoBroadcast Solutions, fully support this measure, it remains a topic of debate within the broadcasting industry.

The FCC’s exploration of FM geotargeting reflects the evolving landscape of radio broadcasting, balancing technological advancements with the need to preserve local focus and competitive edge.

Vinyl Is Still Far From Its Glory Days

by Felix Richter, Statista

Music lovers around the world will come together on Saturday to celebrate Record Store Day. Conceived in 2007 to highlight the cultural significance of independent record stores and celebrate vinyl record culture, the occasion is now widely honored with live performances, special vinyl releases, artist meet-and-greets and other events taking place at record stores across the globe. One of the original objectives of Record Store Day – keeping vinyl records alive – is no longer a priority though, as they are alive and well.

Continuing one of the more surprising comebacks of the digital age, vinyl album sales in the United States have grown for the 17th consecutive year in 2023. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), 43.2 million EPs/LPs were sold in the U.S. last year, up from less than a million in 2006, when the vinyl comeback began.

Infographic: Despite Comeback, Vinyl Is Still Far From Its Glory Days | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

So how big is vinyl's comeback really? Should we all dust off our old record players to prepare for the analog future of music? Vinyl LPs accounted for more than 40 percent of album sales in the United States last year, which is quite substantial. Factoring in streaming and downloads of single tracks, however, that number drops to less than 5 percent of album equivalent music consumption, which puts things in perspective. According to RIAA, vinyl records accounted for 8 percent of record music revenues in the U.S. last year, as streaming continues to be the industry's biggest moneymaker by far. Moreover, as our chart illustrates, vinyl is still far away from its glory days in the 1970s, when more than 300 million LPs and EPs would be sold in a single year.

However big or small the impact of rising LP sales on the music industry’s bottom line may be, it’s fascinating to witness a hundred year-old technology come back from near extinction. Physical goods, it appears, still hold value for many people, even in the digital age. Interestingly, vinyl LPs appear to have become a bit of collectors' item for fans, who listen to music digitally but still want to own a physical object: according to Luminate, only 50 percent of vinyl buyers actually have a record player.

Chicago Media: 3 Pro Teams Looking To Land New TV home

The Chicago White Sox, Chicago Bulls, and Chicago Blackhawks are in the final stages of negotiations to establish Stadium as their new television home. Their current contract with rights holder NBC Sports Chicago is set to expire in October, but there’s a possibility of a six-month extension. If that occurs, Stadium would take over broadcasting when the White Sox begin play next year.

Stadium, whose offices and studio are located in the United Center, aims to transform into a regional sports network (RSN) and seek distribution through pay-TV providers. Additionally, it already has a streaming platform in place and could potentially offer a direct-to-consumer service via its app. The teams, led by Bulls and Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, are also exploring over-the-air partners to carry their games. 

However, starting an RSN in the current landscape presents challenges—cable viewership is declining, while streaming usage is on the rise. Transitioning to a new RSN won’t necessarily solve this issue and could even create complications when seeking carriage on cable and satellite providers like Comcast and DirecTV.

Diamond Sports Group, which operates 19 Bally Sports-branded networks, has been in bankruptcy court for over a year but is now emerging with a reorganization plan. Meanwhile, Major League Baseball is producing games for the Diamondbacks, Padres, and Rockies, who lost their RSNs. The Cubs’ Marquee Sports Network also made cost-cutting decisions during spring training by not sending broadcasters to most of their games.

It’s worth noting that Jerry Reinsdorf acquired majority control of Stadium last spring. Initially launched in 2017 with Sinclair Broadcast Group, Stadium later supplied nongame programming to the Bally networks under Sinclair’s purview. When Sinclair divested the RSNs to Diamond, Stadium became independent. The move may impact staff at NBC Sports Chicago, and the network would be the latest RSN to leave NBC’s stable of networks.

Hold The Phone: Samsung Now Largest Seller of Smartphones

Samsung has reclaimed its position as the world's largest smartphone seller, dethroning Apple in the first quarter of 2024. Preliminary data from research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) revealed that Samsung shipped a market-leading 60 million units, some 20% more than Apple during the same period.

Although Samsung's return to the top spot is not entirely surprising — iPhone sales historically peak in the fourth quarter, and the two smartphone giants constantly tussle for #1 — what is noteworthy is the nearly 10% year-over-year decline in Apple's sales, as demand for its products in China falls. By contrast, Samsung sales were flat, and overall smartphone shipments grew 8%.

Samsung only has a small foothold in the Chinese market, while Apple was a major player in the region last year, boasting over 17% market share. And, like in so many other sectors, Chinese consumers are increasingly opting for a “Made in China” option, with Apple facing intense competition in the nation from rivals Transsion and Xiaomi, both of which reported strong double-digit growth in the most recent quarter. With fewer groundbreaking new features in recent releases, consumers are also holding onto their devices for longer.

Apple has been working hard to diversify away from the iPhone, but the product remains the primary gateway into the Apple ecosystem and its infamous walled garden — and the slump in sales comes at a tough time. The recently launched Vision Pro headset is struggling to gain traction, and the company faces a DOJ lawsuit over the iPhone's alleged monopolistic power. All told, the company’s shares have lagged the wider market (S&P 500) by 13% this year

How Listeners Feel About AI Jocks

NuVoodoo Research has released programming and marketing micro-tactics from NuVoodoo Ratings Prospects Study 23 in a second season of Moneyball for Radio. 

New videos are released every Thursday at The team at NuVoodoo are focusing on the incremental things you can do that can add up to the additional tenth of a rating point that is the goal for stations in rated markets.

With all the news and discussion in the radio trade press last week about using AI talent on the air, they thought it was worthwhile to roll back to last summer’s Ratings Prospects Study 22 in which we looked at how listeners felt about radio using AI voices. 

In that sample of over 2,500 14-54s nationwide interviewed at the end of June 2023, they asked radio listeners how they’d feel if the person hosting a show on a music radio station was:
  • Broadcasting live from a studio in their area.
  • Pretending to be live but was actually pre-recorded.
  • Pretending to be local but is really in a distant city.
  • Simulating being human, but is actually an AI voice bot.
Not surprisingly, a strong 58% majority in the chart below felt good about live and local hosting. A small percentage felt bad, presumably because they feel anything but music is bad. Surprisingly, around half didn’t care about hosting that was pre-recorded or piped in from a distant city – but only a small 23% sliver felt good about either of those options.

An AI simulated host appealed to a slightly higher percentage than the pre-recorded or piped-in modes, likely because of the novelty of AI. However, AI hosting got the strongest negative vote at 35%. A 39% plurality just didn’t care about an AI bot hosting the show; it didn’t matter to them. Clearly their expectations from the talent on music radio are not very high, which we found very sad.

Later in the interview, in a grouping of statements they asked respondents to agree or disagree with, we posed, “Most of the DJs on radio stations are computer-generated AI voices.” And across the full sample 27% agreed. 

The number was higher still among men in the sample (32%) and among the more AI-aware Millennials (33%) and Gen Zs (28%). 

John Malone Exits as Director Emeritus of Charter

John Malone

John Malone, the media mogul and chairman of Liberty Media Corporation, has decided to step down from his position as director emeritus at Charter Communications. His departure is attributed to concerns surrounding the Clayton Act, a 1914 antitrust law that has prompted investigations by the Department of Justice.

In his resignation statement, Malone cited “the uncertainty around Clayton Act inquiries.” This law has also led to the recent resignations of Steven A. Miron and Steven O. Newhouse at Warner Bros. Discovery1. Despite stepping down from Charter, Malone remains heavily invested in the company through Liberty Broadband, which maintains three board seats. He expressed confidence in Charter’s leadership team and business strategy.

Malone had been a director emeritus at Charter since 2018 when he retired as Charter’s full-time director. He continues to hold a seat on the board of Liberty Media, where he serves as chairman, as well as on the Warner Bros. Discovery board.

The Department of Justice’s investigation into potential violations of the Clayton Act underscores the importance of antitrust laws in maintaining fair competition. Malone’s exit follows a settlement in March 2023, where he and certain Charter Communications board members agreed to pay $87.5 million to resolve an investor lawsuit related to Charter’s acquisition of Time Warner Cable in 2015.

Malone’s legacy as a cable industry pioneer and his role in orchestrating mergers continue to shape the media landscape. His decision to step down reflects the ongoing scrutiny faced by major corporations and their leaders in navigating antitrust regulations.

Poll: Millions Want To Leave New York

About 7 million New Yorkers plan to leave the state, as revealed in a recent Marist poll. Approximately 37 percent of New Yorkers—roughly 7 million people—expressed their intention to move away.

 Interestingly, this sentiment is more pronounced among Republicans, with 46 percent planning to leave, compared to 29 percent of Democrats.

This mass migration echoes a trend that gained momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic and continued in the subsequent years. Northerners sought warmer weather, cheaper living, and more favorable tax conditions. In 2022, New York’s population experienced a significant decline, with 101,984 fewer residents—the largest drop in the nation that year.

The reasons behind this exodus vary. Many New Yorkers seek to escape the high costs associated with living in the state, including expenses related to housing, taxes, and everyday living. As home prices surge even in cities that were once more affordable, some view the South or Midwest as attractive alternatives, offering relief from financial burdens and the possibility of homeownership.

While white New Yorkers are more likely to stay, with only 33 percent planning to move, 42 percent of non-white respondents expressed their intention to leave. Additionally, New Yorkers’ satisfaction with their state varies, with 52 percent believing that things have worsened in the last year. The economy has also faced challenges, with roughly the same percentage reporting a decline.

The departure of millions of New Yorkers underscores the impact of external factors on migration patterns and highlights the ongoing importance of antitrust laws in maintaining fair competition, as seen in the recent resignation of media mogul John Malone from his position at Charter Communications.

WBD Lost Money In 2023, But Its CEO Made $50M

David Zaslav

Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav's annual compensation rose nearly 27% to $49.7 million in 2023, a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) showed on Friday.

Reuters reports the rise in pay was partly related to the loss-making media conglomerate's decision to align its executive compensation to focus more on debt reduction and free cash flow.

Warner Bros Discovery reported an 86% jump in free cash flow to $6.16 billion in 2023, partially because of lower spending during the Hollywood strikes that had paralyzed production for months.

The company reported a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss in February, pressured by the decline of cable TV, a weak advertising market and the fallout from the Hollywood strikes.

Zaslav received stock awards of $23.1 million in 2023, compared with $12 million in 2022. Shares of the company rose 20% last year.

Although Zaslav's pay rose from 2022, it dwarfs his 2021 compensation of $246.5 million.

Lawmakers Have Questions For New Sports Streaming Venture

On February 8, news of a joint venture proposal emerged, forged by The Walt Disney Co., owner of ESPN, along with FOX Corporation and Warner Bros. Discovery. Their plan? To create a sports-focused subscription video-on-demand platform with a reported $40 per month fee. 

The proposal triggered a Wall Street sell-off for some broadcast TV companies, including Gray Television and FuboTV. In response to this “Hulu for Sports” plan, FuboTV even filed an antitrust lawsuit in a New York federal district court against the trio of media giants, aiming to halt their plans.

Now, two Members of Congress have chimed in to express their concerns about negative consumer impact and anti-competitive behavior resulting from this sports streaming joint venture. U.S. lawmakers Jerry Nadler and Joaquin Castro are raising questions about the implications of this collaboration between Disney, Fox, and Warner Bros. on the streaming landscape.

Nadler (D., N.Y.) and Castro (D., Texas) have written a letter to Murdoch, Disney CEO Bob Iger, and WBD CEO David Zaslav, demanding answers to 19 questions regarding the details of how the forthcoming service will present itself to both consumers and leagues. Within the extensive series of questions is a broad concern by the two legislators that the streaming product will create a series of negative effects across the industry. The pair have set an April 30 deadline for a response, which they also intend to have sent to the Justice Department.

Former Veep Mike Pence Wants TikTok Banned

Former Vice President Mike Pence has been vocal about his stance on TikTok, the popular social media platform. He firmly believes that the United States should ban TikTok, citing concerns about privacy and national security. Pence asserts that TikTok serves as a platform for the Chinese Communist government, allowing them to collect data on Americans without their knowledge.

In his words, “Young Americans need to know that their privacy is being compromised.” Pence’s position aligns with other Republican candidates who have urged President Joe Biden to take a tougher stance against China on various issues. The battle over TikTok is just one aspect of the broader tensions between the US and China regarding technological ambitions and data security.

Interestingly, Pence also took a jab at one of his rivals in the Republican presidential nomination race, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who initially criticized TikTok but later signed up for the platform after meeting with one of their executives. Pence, however, remains resolute: "Well, they are never going to change my mind".

As the debate continues, the fate of TikTok remains uncertain, and the clash between privacy concerns and global technology platforms persists.

Taylor Swift Using TikTok to Promote New Album

Taylor Swift has teamed up with TikTok to create an experiential campaign that offers fans an exclusive in-app experience related to her new album, “The Tortured Poets Department”. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Exclusive Features: TikTok’s campaign provides first-of-its-kind features for Swifties.
  • Playlists: Fans can dive into the album with playlists to create.
  • Challenges: Unlock exclusive artwork for their profiles by completing challenges.
  • Fan Spotlight: There’s even an opportunity to be featured in a Fan Spotlight carouse.
  • UMG Dispute: Interestingly, TikTok and Universal Music Group (UMG) have been in an ongoing licensing dispute. Official recordings from UMG artists were mostly removed from TikTok due to this disagreement. However, Taylor Swift’s music recently reappeared on the platform, allowing her to circumvent the UMG embargo and collaborate with TikTok for this campaign.
  • Swift’s Power: Swift’s partnership with TikTok showcases her influence in the music industry. Despite the ban, she receives additional promotional support from the platform, emphasizing her ability to make waves as an artist.

Swifties can head over to TikTok and explore the Taylor Swift In-App Experience—a unique way to connect with her latest album!

Austin Radio: KOKE-FM, The Horn Being Sold

A pair of Austin radio stations are set to get new ownership. Norsan Media, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based media company, reports that it has purchased Genuine Austin Radio, which operates KOKE-FM 99.3 and The Horn FM 101.9 FM and 1260 AM.

Norsan Media specializes in content geared toward Hispanic and Spanish-speaking audiences, operating stations in the Carolinas, Florida and Texas. The company already operates La Raza 95.1 in Austin, which specializes in regional Mexican music.

At the moment, it is unclear if the acquisition will impact the programming on either station - KOKE-FM currently airs country music and The Horn specializes in University of Texas-oriented sports content - or if it will impact any on-air talent at either station.

The FCC still has to approve the sale before the acquisition is finalized.

Radio History: April 20

➦In 1935...'Your Hit Parade' debuted on NBC, as a 60-minute program with 15 songs played in a random format.

Initially, the songs were more important than the singers, so a stable of vocalists went uncredited and were paid only $100 per episode. In 1936-37, it was carried on both NBC and CBS. The first number one song on the first episode was "Soon" by Bing Crosby. The dramatic countdown to the #1 song was adopted several years later, after the show had moved to CBS.

Some years passed before the countdown format was introduced, with the number of songs varying from seven to 15. Vocalists in the 1930s included Buddy Clark, Lanny Ross, Kay Thompson and Bea Wain (1939–44), who was married to the show's announcer, French-born André Baruch. Frank Sinatra joined the show in 1943, and was fired for messing up the No. 1 song, "Don't Fence Me In" by interjecting a mumble to the effect that the song had too many words and missing a cue. One source says his contract was not renewed due to demanding a raise and the show being moved to the West Coast. As he zoomed in popularity he was rehired, returning (1947–49) to co-star with Doris Day.

Hugely popular on CBS through the WWII years, Your Hit Parade returned to NBC in 1947. The show's opening theme, from the musical revue George White's Scandals of 1926, was "This Is Your Lucky Day", with music by Ray Henderson and lyrics by Buddy G. DeSylva, Stephen W. Ballantine and Lew Brown.

Dozens of singers appeared on the radio program, including "Wee" Bonnie Baker, Dorothy Collins, Beryl Davis, Gogo DeLys, Joan Edwards (1941–46), Georgia Gibbs, Dick Haymes, Snooky Lanson, Gisèle MacKenzie, Johnny Mercer, Andy Russell, Dinah Shore, Ginny Simms, Lawrence Tibbett, Martha Tilton, Eileen Wilson, Barry Wood, and occasional guest vocalists. The show featured two tobacco auctioneers, Lee Aubrey "Speed" Riggs of Goldsboro, North Carolina and F.E. Boone of Lexington, Kentucky. The radio series continued until January 16, 1953.

The success of the show spawned a spin-off series, Your All-Time Hit Parade, sponsored by Lucky Strike and devoted to all-time favorites and standards mixed with some current hits.

➦In 1952...the "Big Show" finished a two year run on the NBC Radio Network.

The Big Show was radio 90-minute variety program featuring top-name comics, stage, screen and music talent, and was aimed at keeping American radio in its classic era alive and well against the rapidly growing television tide. For a good portion of its two-year run (November 5, 1950-April 20, 1952), it was hosted by legendary stage actress and personality Tallulah Bankhead,

The Big Show began November 5, 1950 on NBC with a stellar line-up of guests: Fred Allen, Mindy Carson, Jimmy Durante, José Ferrer, Portland Hoffa, Frankie Laine, Russell Knight, Paul Lukas, Ethel Merman, Danny Thomas and Meredith Willson.

The show's success was credited to Bankhead's notorious wit and ad-libbing ability in addition to the show's superior scripting. She had one of the funniest writers in the business on her staff: Goodman Ace, the mastermind of radio's legendary Easy Aces. She included renowned ad-libbers in the show—particularly Fred Allen (he and his longtime sidekick and wife, Portland Hoffa, appeared so often they could have been the show's regular co-hosts) and Groucho Marx, both of whom appeared on the first season's finale and appeared jointly on three other installments.

As Bankhead recorded in her memoirs, she took the show because she needed the money but nearly changed her mind when she feared she'd be little more than a glorified mistress of ceremonies with nothing to do but introduce the feature performers. "Guess what happened?" she continued. "Your heroine emerged from the fracas as the Queen of the Kilocycles. Authorities cried out that Tallulah had redeemed radio. In shepherding my charges through The Big Show, said the critics, I had snatched radio out of the grave. The autopsy was delayed."

➦In 1961…The U.S. Federal Communications Commission approved FM stereo broadcasting.

Invented in 1933 by American Edwin Armstrong, wide-band FM is used worldwide to provide high-fidelity sound over broadcast radio. FM broadcasting is capable of better sound quality than AM broadcasting

In the late 1950s, several systems to add stereo to FM radio were considered by the FCC. Included were systems from 14 proponents including Crosby, Halstead, Electrical and Musical Industries, Ltd (EMI), Zenith, and General Electric. The individual systems were evaluated for their strengths and weaknesses during field tests in Uniontown, Pennsylvania using KDKA-FM in Pittsburgh as the originating station.

The Crosby system was rejected by the FCC because it was incompatible with existing subsidiary communications authorization (SCA) services which used various subcarrier frequencies including 41 and 67 kHz. Many revenue-starved FM stations used SCAs for "storecasting" and other non-broadcast purposes. The Halstead system was rejected due to lack of high frequency stereo separation and reduction in the main channel signal-to-noise ratio.

The GE and Zenith systems, so similar that they were considered theoretically identical, were formally approved by the FCC in April 1961 as the standard stereo FM broadcasting method in the United States and later adopted by most other countries.

➦In 1972...Bertram Lebhar Jr., a retired radio and television station operator, who formerly broadcast sports in NYC under the name of Bert Lee and who was long a leading tournament bridge player, died at age 65.