Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Jason Kilar Named WarnerMedia CEO

Media, entertainment and technology executive Jason Kilar has been named CEO of WarnerMedia, effective May 1. He will report to John Stankey, AT&T’s President and Chief Operating Officer.

Kilar, 48, previously was the founding CEO of Hulu and SVP at Amazon. 

Jason Kilar
“Jason is a dynamic executive with the right skill set to lead WarnerMedia into the future. His experience in media and entertainment, direct-to-consumer video streaming and advertising is the perfect fit for WarnerMedia, and I am excited to have him lead the next chapter of WarnerMedia’s storied success,” said Stankey.

“Our team led by Bob Greenblatt, Ann Sarnoff, Gerhard Zeiler and Jeff Zucker has done an amazing job establishing our brands as leaders in the hearts and minds of consumers. Adding Jason to the talented WarnerMedia family as we launch HBO Max in May gives us the right management team to strategically position our leading portfolio of brands, world-class talent and rich library of intellectual property for future growth.”

“In partnership with this world-class team, I'm so excited for the opportunity to lean into the future at WarnerMedia,” said Kilar. “Stories well told have always mattered, and they matter even more in this challenging time for the world. It will be a privilege to invent, create, and serve with so many talented people. May 1st can't get here soon enough.”

Kilar was CEO of Hulu from its start in 2007 until 2013. He served in several leadership positions at Amazon from 1997 to 2006, including SVP of Worldwide Application Software. Also, Kilar was co-founder & CEO of video streaming service Vessel from 2013 to 2017. Additionally, he served as a board member at DreamWorks Animation (2013-2016) and Univision Communications (2016-2020).

Spotify Inks Worldwide Deal for Warner Music Catalog

Spotify Technology and Warner Music Group have reached a new global licensing agreement, the companies said, ending a contentious yearslong negotiation between the streaming giant and the third-largest music label.

The Wall Street Journal reports Spotify now holds new long-term licensing agreements with two of the three major recorded-music companies. It has had deals in place for some time with Sony Corp.’s Sony Music Entertainment and a consortium of independent labels. Negotiations with Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group, the largest of the music companies, are continuing to progress, according to people familiar with the matter.

Warner, controlled by billionaire Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries Inc., is the smallest of the major music companies by market share, but its negotiations with Spotify were widely seen as the most contentious and hardest to complete.

The relationship became strained as Spotify prepared to launch in India last year, according to people familiar with the discussions. The companies couldn't come to terms on licensing rates in the country, viewed as a key expansion for Spotify with its massive population, but problematic because its price points are lower than more developed markets. Spotify launched there at the end of February of last year, without the rights to Warner’s music.

The new agreement covers all territories Spotify’s service currently operates in, plus any future markets it expands into. Executives have talked about South Korea and Russia as possibilities.

The deal wraps up a loose end for Warner as it seeks to go public. The company filed documents for an initial public offering in February, amid a streaming-fueled resurgence in the music industry. Warner Music, which encompasses Atlantic Records, Warner Records and Elektra Records, touts Ed Sheeran, Cardi B, Lizzo and Neil Young on its roster.

Spotify, the largest streaming service globally by subscriptions, pays out about 70% of its revenue to labels and music publishers. Executives have said they didn’t expect any change in the rates they were paying the labels, and that negotiations were more focused on Spotify’s ability to expand into new markets and build out its two-sided marketplace—selling tools and services to artists and their teams.

POTUS: 'Hard Days' Ahead

The White House projected the U.S. could face 100,000 to 240,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic, as President Trump warned Americans to brace for an unprecedented crisis in the days ahead, The Wall Street Journal reports.

“This could be a hell of a bad two weeks,” Mr. Trump said during a briefing at the White House on Tuesday afternoon, then quickly expanded upon his own dire assessment: “This is going to be three weeks like we’ve never seen before.”

The president’s comments on Tuesday marked his starkest warning to date about the pandemic that is coursing its way across the country, with a peak of infections in the U.S. still projected to be at least two weeks away.

Trump, appearing at the briefing with two of his top medical advisers, repeatedly urged Americans to follow federal social-distancing guidelines, which have now been extended through the end of April.

“We’ve got to brace ourselves,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force. But Dr. Fauci said that continued protective social-distancing measures could help prevent the worst-case scenario.

“In the next several days to a week or so, we’re going to continue to see things go up,” Dr. Fauci said. “We cannot be discouraged by that. Because the mitigation is actually working, and will work.”

Nearly half of the 50 states have now reported more than 1,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus. And much of America is expected to experience extended closures of schools, offices, restaurants and other venues as concerns about a coming surge in patients have pushed mayors and governors to take steps unprecedented in modern times to fight the contagion.

State leaders have extended, and in some cases expanded, stay-at-home orders late into the spring or indefinitely, while the Trump administration lengthened its social-distancing guidelines through April 30.

The apex of the pandemic is expected to occur sooner in New York, the hardest-hit state with 75,795 confirmed cases and 1,550 deaths.

“We underestimated this virus,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday. “It’s more powerful, it’s more dangerous than we expected.”

CNN's Chris Cuomo Tests Positive

A bleary-eyed Chris Cuomo, saying he wanted to be a cautionary tale for his audience, anchored his CNN show from his basement Tuesday after testing positive for the coronavirus, the Associated Press reports.

Via remote link, he interviewed Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, an emergency room nurse and CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who expressed worry about one of Cuomo’s symptoms.

“Brace yourself,” Cuomo told viewers, “not for a hoax. But for the next few weeks of scary and painful realities. This is a fight. It’s going to get worse. We’re going to suffer.”

Cuomo looked pale, his eyes watery and red-rimmed. He took a few deep breaths to compose himself. He repeated himself. Even Gupta said he didn’t look good, and said he’d call later to talk about a tightness Cuomo was feeling in his chest.

The 49-year-old newsman, whose brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has logged just as much television airtime lately with daily briefings on how the disease is affecting his state, said earlier that he knew it was a matter of time because of how often he was exposed to people. He said he’s staying in the basement of his Long Island home to protect himself from his wife and children.

Some competitors, including Sean Hannity and Geraldo Rivera of Fox News Channel, and Joy Reid and Ali Velshi of MSNBC, sent best wishes to Cuomo through social media Tuesday.

One of the most unsettling things about the disease, he said, is hearing from doctors that there really isn’t much he can do now except “suck it up.”

“The best medicine is not to get it — prevention,” he said in a pre-show discussion with colleague Anderson Cooper.

Most people who get the virus have mild to moderate symptoms and recover. But for older people, and those with underlying medical conditions, the disease can be dangerous. More than 3,000 people have died in the U.S. alone.

White House Projects Devastating COVID-19 Death Toll

by Niall McCarthy, Statista

Secretary general of the United Nations, António Guterres, has described the spread of COVID-19 as an unprecedented test unlike anything we have faced in the past 75 years. His comments come in the wake of a White House briefing where President Trump's top health advisors said they expect between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans to die from COVID-19, even if stringent social distancing guidelines are kept in place.

The death toll would be far higher without such measures, estimated at 1.5 to 2.5 million fatalities. Just over 4,000 Americans have already died according to the latest tracking from Johns Hopkins University.

Infographic: White House Projects Devastating COVID-19 Death Toll | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

This infographic attempts to put the grim forecast into some kind of perspective by comparing the expected death toll to past historical events. It would not be too far off the 291,557 U.S. combat deaths in World War II documented by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and it would be over five times as high as the U.S. military death toll in Vietnam.

At the White House, Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci urged Americans to continue to follow social distancing recommendations over the coming weeks. Both experts said they hoped the final total could be lower due to the fact that their model is based on the hardest-hit states as well as countries dealing with severe outbreaks such as Italy.

With Fewer Commuters, SiriusXM Radio Offers Free Streaming

SiriusXM and Howard Stern Tuesday announced that starting today through May 15, SiriusXM will start offering free access to its full lineup of Premier Streaming content to listeners in North America.  Howard kicked off the unprecedented Stream Free access this morning while hosting The Howard Stern Show, on channel 100, from his home.

SiriusXM Select and All Access subscribers already have access to this great content included with their subscriptions.  Anyone who is not already a SiriusXM subscriber can download the SiriusXM app or go to, and start listening free of charge, with no credit card or commitment required.

With stay-at-home order spanning the country, fewer people are getting in their cars for their usual commutes.  The promotion could introduce more potential subscribers to SiriusXM which can be accessed in the home, acorss smart TVs and other connected devices.  The service has been focused on expanding beyond the car.

"With so many people asked to stay at home, we are making our full streaming lineup of music, entertainment, news and information easily accessible to everyone," said Jim Meyer, SiriusXM CEO.  "In the days ahead, we hope it's a valuable source of information or diversion, a generous mix of fresh live content, and a source of companionship that comes from the hosts on our many shows and channels.  And there was no better way to launch the Stream Free content than with Howard this morning."

Howard Stern at home
Listeners will have free access to more than 300 channels of dynamic programming, featuring the acclaimed TheHoward Stern Show, hundreds of exclusive ad-free music channels, and vital news and information sources.  SiriusXM is also adding entirely new curated content, and bringing back some beloved music channels by top artists.

#StayHome Radio, a feel-good, ad-free music channel, will launch Wednesday on the streaming platform and channel 179 on most SiriusXM radios. The channel will feature happy and uplifting songs from artists like Lizzo and Coldplay to P!nk and Bob Marley.

And as people spend time at home, SiriusXM is bringing back The Billy Joel Channel, Dave Matthews Band Radio, and a new channel full of the Top 1000 songs across multiple genres, all available on the SiriusXM app, connected devices, as well as most SiriusXM radios, starting April 1.

SiriusXM's ad-free music channels offer a wide variety of choices, from favorites The Highway, SiriusXM Hits 1 and our decades channels, to artist-backed channels such as The Beatles Channel, The Garth Channel, Pearl Jam Radio, Grateful Dead Channel, LL COOL J's Rock The Bells Radio, Bruce Springsteen's E Street Radio, and Eminem's Shade 45.

There are also many additional online-only music channels, including more than 100 Xtra music channels, curated for any mood, occasion or activity, as well as music channels geared toward "relaxing-at-home" listening, such as SiriusXM Chill, Watercolors, and SiriusXM Coffee House.  SiriusXM music channels are home to more than 200 channel hosts who serve as trusted companions to millions in North America currently in their homes.

Listeners also get live news from major outlets such as CNN, FOX News, CNBC, MSNBC and BBC World Service, and valuable information from channels such as Doctor Radio powered by NYU Langone Health, and Business Radio.  There are also inspirational and faith-based channels, multiple channels of comedy, dynamic sports talk such as Mad Dog Sports Radio, and more.

Layoffs, Furloughs Hit Beasley Media Group

The Beasley Media Gorup has joined iHeartMedia, Entercom, Adams Radio Group and many others in announcing layoffs. 

The company announced Tuesday that 67 positions across the company have been eliminated, because of the trickle-down impact of reduced advertising revenue caused by the effects of the coronavirus.

Another 18 full-timers and part-timers were furloughed and all remaining full-time employees will have their hours reduced from 40 to 36.

In an email sent to employees, CEO Caroline Beasley explains details of the strategy while informing staff that she will also be taking a pay cut:
"We are all in this together and it starts at the top. As we get through this period, I will be forgoing 20% of my compensation throughout the end of the second quarter as we address the current situation. In addition, we will be implementing a 10% wage cut for salaried full-time employees and a 10% reduction in hours for full-time hourly employees. These cuts will be effective April 1st through the end of June, respecting any outstanding contractual obligations. 
"While it is not something we want to do, it is necessary in the long-term as we continue to move forward to get to the other side of the current economic situation. 
"In addition, we will be extending our work at home policy to April 6th. We will continue to provide you with timely updates as they become available. Please follow the guidelines provided by your respective local and state governments. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to your immediate supervisor or market manager. 
"We appreciate your continued support during these unprecedented times. It is during times of uncertainty that we prevail. Most importantly, we wish that you and your family remain safe and well."
The hope is to bring the furloughed employees back, and bump full-time hours back to 40, at the end of the second quarter (June 30). But without knowing when this crisis will end that can only be a hope at this time.

Philly Radio: Beasley Layoffs Include WPEN's Tra Thomas

William “Tra” Thomas is out at WPEN 97.5 The Fanatic.

The Philly Inquirer reports the former Eagles offensive lineman, who has cohosted the station’s morning show alongside Marc Farzetta since October 2018, said he has been laid off as the coronavirus pandemic continues to pressure media companies dependent on advertising revenue.

Thomas, who played for the Eagles from 1998 to 2008, was a three-time Pro Bowler during his 12-year career. He also spent two years as an assistant coach under Andy Reid, but wasn’t retained for the 2015 season after the team hired Chip Kelly. Before landing at The Fanatic in July 2018, Thomas performed similar duties at SportsRadio 94.1 WIP, regularly acting as a fill-in host.

Beasley Media Group — which owns The Fanatic and six other stations in Philadelphia — eliminated 67 positions across the country Tuesday and temporarily furloughed 18 full-time employees, according to a company spokesperson. Last week, it announced companywide pay cuts and hourly reductions for some employees, which will continue through the end of June.

“Our company, like other broadcasters and our clients, is being directly impacted by the recent unanticipated economic downturn due to the Coronavirus pandemic," the company said in a statement to the Inquirer. "These are very difficult decisions. We are confident that the steps we take today will allow us to continue to serve our clients, communities and ensure our company will emerge stronger once the crisis abates.”

It’s unclear if any other hosts or employees at The Fanatic were let go Tuesday.

Other know Beasley departures:

➤Tampa: Country 99.5 WQYK Tampa evening host Mark Baggio and Rich Fields exits afternoons at Classic Hits “Q105” WRBQ 104.7

Report: Americans Increase Listening To Podcasts

iHeartMedia today announced new statistics that provide insight into how Americans are consuming a vast array of podcasts as they stay home and practice social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to seeing increased podcast listenership, especially in markets with stay-at-home orders, Americans are specifically turning to podcasts covering business, finance, education and entertainment, including shows from several leading iHeartRadio personalities - versus true crime podcast listening, which has seen a slight decline.

In addition, as news consumption grows across podcasting, the iHeartPodcast Network’s recently launched “Daily Coronavirus Update” has become one of iHeartRadio’s most listened to podcasts. The daily show hosted by Oscar Ramirez from the “Daily Dive” podcast provides stories on what to know about COVID-19 and how health and government officials are acting to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Across its more than 350 podcasts, listenership for the iHeartPodcast Network is up six percent month- over-month (month to date) as more Americans began staying at home. That number is even higher in markets where governors announced shelter-in-place orders, with listening up 13 percent in California and eight percent in New York state in just one week.

During a time of economic uncertainty, Americans are listening to more business and finance podcasts – for which downloads and streams are up 78 percent week-over-week among the iHeartRadio Original podcasts. Listeners are also turning to music, entertainment and comedy during this time, where iHeartPodcasts have shown an increase in listening as well. In addition, listeners are staying connected with the personalities and shows they know and trust, finding human connection and conversation in the on-demand podcasts from iHeartMedia’s leading radio personalities like Elvis Duran and The Breakfast Club, all now seeing a growth in listens -- with Top 5 on-demand shows being up 9 percent month to date. Listenership of the iHeartPodcast Network’s leading educational podcasts, like “Stuff You Should Know” and “Stuff You Missed in History Class,” is also showing big growth: These popular “Stuff” podcasts are up 21 percent week-over-week. Interestingly, the true crime genre, one of the longstanding dominant genres in podcasting, is now flattening and even showing a slight decline month to date, as listeners seem to be moving away from these shows during these uncertain and stressful times.

“Broadcast radio has long served as a trusted voice in local communities during times of crisis and uncertainty, and now podcasts are also playing an integral role as a much-needed companion for millions of Americans,” said Conal Byrne, President of the iHeartPodcast Network. “During this pandemic, we’re actually seeing listener interest shift on our iHeartPodcast network to genres like business, entertainment, education and news, and the seemingly unstoppable true crime format is seeing a slight dip at the moment as we move through this new, challenging territory together as a country.”

The iHeartPodcast Network is home to more than 750 original podcasts with 170 million downloads each month. iHeartRadio Original Podcasts span every category from business, sports, spirituality and technology to entertainment, family, comedy and true crime – and everything in between – making iHeartRadio the largest publisher of podcast content in the world. iHeartRadio is home to one of the most successful podcasts of all time, “Stuff You Should Know,” and creator of hits like “The Ron Burgundy Podcast,” “Disgraceland” and the “Atlanta Monster” series as well as fosters over a hundred shows from its on-air talent like the popular “Bobbycast” and “The Breakfast Club” radio show podcasts. These shows are distributed on all major podcast platforms, including the iHeartRadio app, which additionally distributes more than 320,000 shows.

Trump Talks With Telecom

President Trump on Tuesday spoke with the CEOs of Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and other network service providers about their response to the coronavirus pandemic, The Hill reports.

"The President thanked these leaders for not only rising to the increased demand, but extending services to all Americans at no additional cost and for waiving bills and late fees for those experiencing financial hardship," White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement.

"President Trump thanked network service providers for joining other industries like manufacturing, banking, technology, and healthcare to answer his call for an all-of-America response to this pandemic," Deere added.

The call also involved leaders of LionTree, Sprint, Altice USA, Liberty Media, Charter Communications and T-Mobile.

The coronavirus has forced Americans across the country to work from home and avoid public gatherings, resulting in a surge in internet traffic and wireless use. Various service providers have taken steps to prepare for the surge or offer breaks for Americans who are impacted financially by the virus as it spreads across the country.

Trump administration officials have sought to engage businesses from various sectors over the course of the last month in order to address the outbreak. Officials have held virtual or in-person meetings with executives from private laboratories, banks, airlines, grocery stores and major retailers.

National Enquirer Publisher AMI Cites Staff Pay Cuts

American Media Inc., the publisher of National Enquirer and a plethora of other magazines, has cut staff pay by nearly a quarter as the company struggles to overcome new coronavirus-related business losses, according to a recent report.

AMI Chairman David Pecker sent a staff-wide email Saturday notifying employees the media company would be decreasing their salaries by 23 percent, effective April 1 until further notice, according Fox Business.

An AMI spokesperson told FOX Business on Tuesday the publisher “is committed to doing everything we can during the Covid-19 crisis to ensure our staff maintain their employment and health benefits.”

Pecker attributed the pay cuts to a “sudden loss of millions of dollars in the short term,” which he said was caused by a decline in ad and newsstand sales, as well as travel, which, in turn, contributes to the lack of magazine sales, according to the report.

The pay decrease was not believed to be permanent and was, instead, a way to avoid layoffs just weeks after AMI parted ways with digital staff members from their OK! and Radar Online teams, Page Six reported.

“All American Media staff must band together at this time in an effort to save jobs and stabilize the company,” Pecker wrote in the letter, according to the outlet.

Chicago-Area 22nd Century Media Shuts Down

Days after suspending print publication of its suburban Chicago newspaper chain, 22nd Century Media ceased operations Tuesday amid a coronavirus-spawned advertising drought.

The end was sudden and the downfall swift, as businesses closed shop and advertising dried up, cutting off the key revenue stream for the weekly newspapers, Joe Coughlin, 22nd Century’s publisher, said Tuesday.

“We were having a great year, and then...March,” Coughlin told The Chicago Tribune. "Advertising and revenue collection just stopped.”

The decision ends a 15-year run for the hyperlocal publisher, whose 14 Chicago-area weeklies ranged from the north suburban Highland Park Landmark and Northbrook Tower to the Orland Park Prairie and Lockport Legend in the southwest suburbs.

The newspaper chain had about 50 employees. A handful will stay on to help wind down operations over the next few weeks, Coughlin said. The rest were laid off Tuesday.

Companies large and small have struggled during the health crisis, including the already challenged legacy newspaper business.

The Tampa Bay Times announced Monday it was suspending all but two days of print publication, while Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper chain, announced furloughs and pay cuts across the chain in the wake of coronavirus-related advertising declines.

On Friday, Coughlin posted a message to readers saying print publication would be suspended, but the online versions of the newspapers would continue. He also said print subscribers would be converted to digital subscriptions, and made a plea for new subscribers to help support the local journalism 22nd Century Media provided.

By Monday night, it became clear to Coughlin that the advertising-supported business was unsustainable under the current conditions. The company told its staffers of the decision to cease operations Tuesday.

“We are refunding subscribers, both print and digital,” Coughlin, 37, said Tuesday, adding he didn’t know yet whether the company was capable of refunding all subscribers.

Nielsen: Video Streaming Spikes 36%

New Nielsen figures out Tuesday indicated that over the past four weeks, the number of minutes the average person spent streaming TV and movies has jumped 36%, from 115 minutes to 156 minutes weekly, as more people have been ordered to stay home to combat the spread of the virus.

And the figure has more than doubled from the equivalent March week last year, when the average viewer spent just 71 minutes a week streaming.

In the 84% of homes that are capable, streaming represented 23% of total TV usage for the week ending March 22, up sharply from 14% last year.

USAToday reports Hulu on Monday said that over the last two weeks, dramas, movies and kids programming has been viewed more often, including its new original series "Little Fires Everywhere," "This is Us," "Law and Order: SVU" and "Grey’s Anatomy," while comedies and “comfort” shows including "Bob’s Burgers," "How I Met Your Mother" and "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" have also been popular.  Netflix on Tuesday listed "Tiger King," "Ozark" and reruns of CW's "All American" as its top shows among U.S. subscribers.

But while Netflix, YouTube, Amazon and Hulu make up the vast majority of streaming activity on TV sets, Netflix and Hulu claimed a smaller share of that viewing than they did last year, the Nielsen data show.  Netflix claimed 29% of total streaming minutes for the week ended March 22, down from 36% from the equivalent week last year; Hulu accounted for 10%, down from 15%.  YouTube represented 20%, up from 19%.  And Amazon inched up to 9%, from 7%. And reflecting big growth in the number of new services, led by Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus, the "other" category jumped to 31% from 23%.

Kids and teens now represent a higher proportion of streamed minutes – 21% of the total, up from 18% last year – as a proportion of the total. The largest group of streamers remains adults ages 35 to 54, who represent about 29% of all streaming, Nielsen says.

Top streaming content March 16-22, 2020: 
  1. Spenser Confidential* (Netflix) 
  2. The Office (Netflix)
  3. On My Block* (Netflix)
  4. Love is Blind* (Netflix) 
  5. Criminal Minds (Netflix)
  6. Grey's Anatomy (Netflix)
  7. Hunters* (Amazon Prime)
  8. The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez* (Netflix) 
  9. NCIS (Netflix)
  10. Altered Carbon* (*Netflix)
*Original series Source: Nielsen.

Sports Streamer DAZN Stops Paying for Rights Fees

Streaming service DAZN Group has told sports leagues it will not pay rights fees for any suspended or cancelled games amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to Reuters citing a source familiar with the matter.

The streaming service is the first media company operating in the United States that has decided to withhold fees, which are paid to sports leagues for the right to air events, as broadcast networks have traditionally continued to pay the fees when games have not aired. The move was first reported earlier on Tuesday by Sports Business Journal.

DAZN (Da-Zone) will also not pay for future seasons until the company is given an update on when those seasons will begin, the source said.

DAZN did not want to continue paying the fees because it has no clarity on when sports seasons will resume, and is focused on defraying costs, the source added.

The streaming service, launched in 2016, is available in nine countries including the United States and Canada. It streams boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA) in the United States and holds streaming rights for the National Football League and Major League Baseball in Japan.

SiriusXM Radio: Road Dog Trucking Radio Targets Drivers

Today, SiriusXM's Road Dog Trucking Radio announced host Mark Willis of 'Road Dog Trucking News' will broadcast a special virtual town hall with trucking industry leaders and hosts of SiriusXM's Road Dog Trucking Radio on Wednesday.

As the coronavirus crisis impacts our nation, SiriusXM's Road Dog Trucking Radio continues to provide our vital trucking industry workers a place for up-to-date news, regulations, and information as well as a sounding board to discuss important topics.

Wednesday's virtual town hall will include Road Dog Trucking hosts and industry leaders including United States Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, American Trucking Association President, Chris Spear, David Heller, Vice President from Truckload Carriers Association and Lewie Pugh, Vice President of Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association  discussing the effects the virus has had and continues to have on the trucking industry, how truckers play an essential role in the supply chain; what drivers can expect in the days, weeks, months ahead; fears and concerns they may be facing, regulation changes and more.

Dave Nemo
"Professional drivers are amongst the many unsung heroes during this crisis, sacrificing their own safety and time with family to keep America running,'' said Scott Greenstein, President and Chief Content Officer, SiriusXM. "In this age of self-isolation SiriusXM's Road Dog Trucking Radio continues to be a lifeline for our heroes on the road."

Iconic trucking radio host Dave Nemo, who has been broadcasting to professional drivers for more than 50 years, commented, "The "Git 'er Done" spirit is going strong among the truckers of North America. Most tell me traffic is light and that really helps to keep supplies going. Some are still struggling to find food but have expressed much gratitude to folks stepping up with free meals around the U.S. and Canada. They're concerned for family and friends but vow to keep going through the storm."

SiriusXM's Road Dog Trucking Radio has also created an on-air campaign with messages of thanks from SiriusXM hosts, celebrities and trucking industry executives, expressing their gratitude towards truck drivers during these challenging times.

Wednesday's special edition of "Road Dog Trucking News" can be heard on SiriusXM's Road Dog Trucking Radio, channel 146 on Wednesday, April 1 from 2:00- 4:00 PM ET on SiriusXM radios, on the SiriusXM app, and at home on a variety of connected devices and speakers.

Nashville's CMA Fest Canceled

On Tuesday, Country Music Association officials canceled the annual CMA Fest event due to concerns regarding the novel coronavirus. The Metro Nashville Public Health Department reported Tuesday at least 541 cases of COVID-19 in Davidson County, an increase from 443 cases reported Monday.

CMA Fest, one of the largest country music events in the world and a summer staple in downtown Nashville, was scheduled for June 4-7.

The event returns June 10-13, 2021.

"Whether you planned to attend CMA Fest for the first time, or you have attended many times throughout the last 48 years, we know how special this festival is for country music fans around the globe and that many will be disappointed by this decision," a statement from CMA read.

The CMA followed guidance from federal, state and local official in coming to the decision, organizers said.

April 1 Radio History

➦In 1932... Alexander Gordon Jump born (Died at age 71 – September 22, 2003). He was an actor best known as the clueless radio station manager Arthur "Big Guy" Carlson in the TV series WKRP in Cincinnati and the incompetent "Chief of Police Tinkler" in the sitcom Soap.

Gordon Jump
Jump first began his acting career in the 1960s with minor roles in television on such shows as Get Smart, Lancer, Here Come the Brides, and Green Acres. He also guest-starred in a number of series during the 1970s including The Rockford Files, A Touch of Grace, Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers, The Incredible Hulk (in an October 1978 episode called "Ricky"), The Lost Saucer, Starsky & Hutch, Lou Grant, Kojak, The Bionic Woman, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries. He had a brief speaking role as a farmer in the 1976 television movie Sybil.

In 1978, he landed his signature role of Arthur "Big Guy" Carlson on the situation comedy WKRP in Cincinnati, portraying a bumbling radio station manager whose main qualification for the job is being the son of the station's owner.

In 1989, Jump took over the Maytag repairman role from Jesse White. In the 1990s, Jump starred in a short-lived revival of WKRP in Cincinnati entitled The New WKRP in Cincinnati. He also appeared in the ninth and final season of Seinfeld, in which he played George Costanza's boss at a playground equipment company over two episodes. Jump's last movie role was in the 2004 film Changing of the Guard, released after his death.

➦In 1936..Don Steele born as Donald Steele Revert (Died at age 61 from lung cancer  – August 5, 1997).  He was one of the most popular radio personalities in the U-S from the middle of the 1960s until his retirement (for health reasons) in May 1997.

He was better known as "The Real Don Steele," a name suggested by his program director, Steve Brown, at KOIL-AM in Omaha, Nebraska. Brown hoped the moniker would click with listeners and make him stand out from other radio personalities.

Born in Hollywood, California, Steele served in the U-S Air Force and then studied at a local radio school, the Don Martin School of Broadcasting, where he also taught for a short time. Shortly thereafter, Steele began his radio career working outside of L.A. at a small station, KBUC in Corona, CA then moving on to KEPR Kennewick, KIMA Yakima and KXLY Spokane, all in Washington; KOIL Omaha, Nebraska; KISN Portland, Oregon, and KEWB San Francisco before returning to Los Angeles to help kick off what would become one of the most influential radio stations in the country, 93/KHJ, Boss Radio, in April 1965.

Steele became nationally-known as a DJ on radio station KHJ in Los Angeles, where he helped to promote the "ultrahip" top-40 Boss Radio format which began at 3pm on April 27, 1965. He also appeared on TV as host of Boss City and The Real Don Steele TV Show, a show which ran from 1965 to 1975 on KHJ-TV channel 9 in Los Angeles. When the popularity of AM radio gave way to FM stereo in the 1970s, Steele continued to remain a popular personality at the station. Following the years at 93/KHJ, The Real Don Steele continued to be heard on Los Angeles radio stations, including KIQQ (K-100), KTNQ (Ten-Q), KRLA, KCBS-FM and KRTH-FM (K-Earth 101), until his death in August 1997.

Steele also gained additional notoriety due to an ill-fated promotion which KHJ undertook on behalf of his show during the summer of 1970. The promotion was dubbed a “Super Summer Spectacular” and involved Steele driving around the Los Angeles-area in a flashy red car. Throughout the day, KHJ would broadcast clues about Steele’s location, and listeners who successfully tracked him down would receive cash prizes of about $25. On July 16, 1970, two teenagers attempting to track Steele by car at speeds of roughly 80 miles per hour forced another car into a highway center divider, causing the death of Ronald Weirum. Weirum's family sued various parties, including KHJ, asserting that the tragedy was a foreseeable consequence of the recklessness inherent to the nature of the "Super Summer Spectacular" promotion. The family's lawsuit eventually reached the Supreme Court of California, which held for the plaintiffs. The Court's opinion in the case, Weirum v. RKO General, Inc., 15 Cal.3d 40 (1975) has since become a well-known holding on the subject of foreseeability in torts law, and is often studied in American law schools.

"Robert W. Morgan was the first one hired for Boss Radio," RKO program consultant Bill Drake said. "He recommended Steele. He flew down from San Francisco. I was a little leery because I had heard he was kind of a crazy man, but it turned out he was very dedicated to his work." One of Steele's ongoing on-air bits was the refrain, "Tina Delgado is alive, alive!" Legends grew as to the meaning of the phrase, but Steele never did reveal what it really meant, or who the girl was who uttered the words.

The Real Don Steele stayed at KHJ until June 1973, then moved on to L.A. radio stations KIQQ, KTNQ, KRLA, KODJ / KCBS and arrived at KRTH in July 1992. He recorded commercials and at one time had a successful, nationally syndicated radio show.

That show, "Live From the 60's", was created by Steele along with friend and contemporary M.G."Machine Gun" Kelly, who followed Steele at KHJ-AM, then D.J'd with him in the '70s at 10Q. "Live From the 60's" was a three-hour program that featured oldies exclusively from the 1960s.

A poll seeking the top 10 disc jockeys in Los Angeles from 1957 to 1997 rated Steele second (behind Gary Owens) among the 232 personalities nominated.

➦In 1951…the ABC Radio Network debuted Paul Harvey News and Comment "Commentary and analysis of Paul Harvey each weekday at 12 Noon". Harvey was also heard originally on Sundays; the first Sunday program was Harvey's introduction. Later, the Sunday program would move to Saturdays. The program continued until his death on February 28, 2009 at 90-years-of-age.

Chet Huntley
➦In 1956...News anchor Chet Huntley began his career with NBC.

Huntley began his radio newscast career in 1934 at Seattle's KIRO AM, later working on radio stations in Spokane (KHQ) and Portland. His time (1936–37) in Portland was with KGW-AM, owned by The Oregonian, a Portland daily newspaper. At KGW he was writer, newscaster and announcer. In 1937 he went to work for KFI in Los Angeles, moving to CBS Radio from 1939 to 1951, then ABC Radio from 1951 to 1955. In 1955, he joined the NBC Radio network, viewed by network executives as "another Ed Murrow".

After NBC successfully teamed him with David Brinkley for 1956 election coverage the duo became coanchors of the nightly Huntley-Brinkley Report. Huntley (in New York) and Brinkley (in Washington) closed each broadcast with the trademark, “Good night Chet. Good night David. And good night from NBC News.”

➦In 1958...WMCA began playing Top 40 music. Among its disc jockey staff were future legends Scott Muni, Frankie Crocker, Harry Harrison and Murray "the K" Kaufman.

The WMCA "Good Guys" (1964): Joe O'Brien, Harry Harrison, Jack Spector, Dan Daniel, B. Mitchel Reed and Johnny Dark.

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

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

For four consecutive years (1963 through 1966) WMCA had the highest ratings share of all radio stations in New York City, according to Arbitron–in spite of its directional, 5,000-watt signal which geographically reached about one-third of the audience ratings area of non-directional, 50,000-watt WABC. WMCA's ratings strength was concentrated within New York City itself, along with the suburban areas immediately north and east. However, WABC proved more popular in outlying areas where WMCA's signal didn't come in as well on standard 1960s-era AM radio receivers. The areas where WMCA did not have a strong signal were southwest, west, and northwest of its transmitter in Kearny, New Jersey. By 1967 and 1968, WMCA still demonstrated a strong showing in total audience surveys, and as late as February 1969, Pulse ratings surveys showed that WMCA continued to best WABC in New York City.

➦In 1966...Chickenman, a radio comedy serial, debuted during the Jim Runyon Show on Top40 WCFL 1000 AM in Chicago. (Exact start date is unknown, but the first episodes aired during Spring '66.)

Dick Orkin conceived and wrote the Chickenman radio series.  Born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, in 1933, Orkin was 16 when he began his radio career as a fill-in announcer at WKOK 1070 AM  in Sunbury.

After college he attended the Yale School of Drama, then returned to Pennsylvania to become the news director at WLAN 1390 Lancaster in 1959. Later he joined the staff of KYW 1200 AM in Cleveland.

In 1967 Orkin moved to WCFL and created Chickenman, which chronicled the exploits of a crime-fighting “white-winged warrior” and his secret identity as mildmannered shoe salesman Benton Harbor. Chickenman’s 250-plus episodes have been syndicated around the world and can still be heard on Internet radio, making it the longest-running radio serial of all time. At WCFL Orkin also produced more than 300 episodes of another popular serial, The Secret Adventures of the Tooth Fairy.

Inspired by the commercial parodies on Stan Freberg and Bob & Ray’s radio shows, Orkin created the Famous Radio Ranch in 1973 to produce his own comedic radio spots. Stationed in California since ’78, the Radio Ranch, currently helmed by Orkin and his daughter Lisa, has produced hundreds of memorable ads for a variety of clients, ranging from Time magazine to First American Bank to the Gap, and garnered more than 200 awards in the process.  Dick Orkin was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2014.

Orkin died December 24, 2017 at age 84.

Here are two episodes to enjoy.

➦In 1970…U.S. President Richard Nixon signed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act.

The Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act is a 1970 federal law in the United States designed to limit the practice of smoking. As approved by the United States Congress, the act required a stronger health warning on cigarette packages, saying "Warning: The Surgeon General Has Determined that Cigarette Smoking Is Dangerous to Your Health". It also banned cigarette advertisements on American radio and television.

The Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act was one of the major bills resulting from the 1964 report by the Surgeon General, Luther Terry. The report found that lung cancer and chronic bronchitis are causally related to cigarette smoking.  One of the major advocates of the cigarette advertising ban was the FCC. The FCC argued that since the topic of smoking is controversial, numerous TV and radio stations continued to break the Fairness Doctrine when airing these commercials because they did not give equal time to the opposing viewpoint that smoking is dangerous.

The actual cigarette advertising ban did not come into force until January 2, 1971, as per a compromise that allowed broadcasters to air these commercials during their telecasts of college football bowl games on New Year's Day.  The last cigarette ad on U-S television, advertising Virginia Slims, was carried on the last possible legal minute at 11:59 p.m ET/PT, 10:59 p.m. CT/MT that evening on NBC's The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

➦In 1971...For April Fool's Day, WCFL Chicago published a special edition of its music survey.  If you're of a certain age, you'll appreciate the humor.

➦In 1974...WWDJ 970 AM in the NYC market flipped from Top40 to religion.

The station was put up for sale in the fall of 1970. Around that time, future sister station WMCA dropped top 40 for a talk format, leaving WABC as the only Top 40 radio station.

WJRZ was sold to Pacific and Southern Broadcasting (which merged with Combined Communications Corporation in 1974) on January 6, 1971 and the call letters were changed on May 16 of that year to WWDJ (known on the air as "97-DJ"), and the station attempted to take on WABC and replace WMCA as the New York market's second Top 40 outlet.

The station was hampered by a directional signal that covered Manhattan and parts of New Jersey well but suffered in the rest of the Five Boroughs and was virtually nonexistent on Long Island and western New Jersey. Eventually, FM competition from WCBS-FM and adult top 40 station WXLO (now WEPN-FM), and an evolution to adult Top 40 by WNBC (now WFAN), began to eat into WWDJ's ratings. In November 1973 it was ranked 15th in the Arbitron ratings.

By 1974, the station was losing money and unable to sell enough advertising. In the fall of 1973, the station began selling airtime to religious groups on weekends, which brought much-needed revenue for the station as it continued with Top 40 during weekdays into 1974. But as a result of the religious hours making money, WWDJ abruptly dropped the top 40 format on April 1 and switched to a religious format full time. Because the change took place on April Fool's Day, many listeners thought the switch was some sort of joke.

Initially, WWDJ sold two-thirds of its daily airtime to outside ministries and played traditional Christian music the rest of the time, with the exception of a few hours on Saturdays devoted to a then-new genre, contemporary Christian music. WWDJ was sold to Communicom Corporation of America in April 1978,[31] about a year before Combined Communications' merger into the Gannett Company in 1979.

Today 970 is owned by Salem Media and airs talk format, with call letters WNYM.

➦From 1986...Flashback to the first week of April edition of Radio&Records.

➦In 1988
...James Edward Jordan died at age 91 (Born - November 16, 1896). He was an actor who played Fibber McGee in Fibber McGee and Molly and voiced the albatross Orville in Disney's The Rescuers (1977).

Fibber McGee and Molly aired as a weekly series, becoming one of radio's most popular programs, until 1953. The show would transition to a pre-recorded daily sitcom from 1953 to 1956, then to a short-form weekly series (under the name Just Molly and Me) for NBC's weekend show Monitor from 1957 to 1959.

➦In 2007…Charles Herbert "Herb" Carneal died of heart failure at age 83 (Born - May 10, 1923). He was a Major League Baseball sportscaster.

From 1962 through 2006, he was a play-by-play voice of Minnesota Twins radio broadcasts, becoming the lead announcer in 1967 after Ray Scott left to work exclusively with CBS. Prior to 1962, he was the voice of the Baltimore Orioles, partnering with Ernie Harwell from 1957 to 1959, and with Bob Murphy in 1960–1961.

Hillary Scott
  • Ali MacGraw (actress, Love Story, The Getaway; former wife of the late Steve McQueen) (81)
  • Josh Zuckerman (actor, played young "Dr. Evil" in Austin Powers In Goldmember, 90210, Kyle XY) (35)
  • Bijou Phillips (actress/model, Almost Famous, Raising Hope) (40)
  • Annette O'Toole (actress, 48 Hrs., Superman III, It, Smallville) (68)
  • John Barbata (drummer, Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship) (75)
  • Jimmy Cliff (reggae legend) (72)
  • Terry Nichols (Oklahoma City bomber) (65)
  • Rudolph Isley (Rock And Roll Hall Of Famer, of the Isley Brothers) (81)
  • Samuel Alito (Supreme Court Justice) (70)
  • Barry Sonnenfeld (director/producer: Men In Black, Wild Wild West, Men In Black II, cinematographer: Throw Mamma From the Train, Big, When Harry Met Sally..., Misery, Miller's Crossing, The Addams Family, The Addams Family Values) (67)
  • Taran Killam (actor/comedian, Saturday Night Live) (38)
  • Asa Butterfield (actor, Hugo, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas) (23)
  • Matt Lanter (actor, 90210, Timeless) (37)
  • Hillary Scott (singer, Lady Antebellum) (34)

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Townsquare Media Parts With 65 Employees

Townsquare Media late Monday announced a reduction in force that saw 65 employees let go.

The staffers included 26 corporate employees with the others from acorss the company’s 67 local markets. Among those let go are account execs, on-air personnel, digital employees, directors of sales, engineers and other positions.

“The decision to let these employees go was based on a number of factors, the most important being my belief that reducing our overall workforce was necessary to protect our business and the remaining team moving forward,” CEO Bill Wilson stated in a companywide memo.

In addition to the layoffs, nearly 20 senior executives have volunteered to take a 10% temporary pay reduction. Executives taking the pay cut include CEO Bill Wilson, CFO Stu Rosenstein, COO Erik Hellum, Senior VP of Human Resources Alyssa Goldberg, Executive VP of Finance Operations & Technology Scott Schatz, Executive VP of Investor Relations & Corporate Communications Claire Yenicay among others.

In addition, Townsquare has suspended its 401K company match, effective April 1.

Like other companies, Townsquare is feeling the brunt of advertiser cancellations due to parts of the U.S. economy virtually shutting down from government restrictions to slow the spread of the highly contagious virus. April in particular is expected to especially troublesome.

Wilson also hinted that the company may need to make other expense reductions, depending on how the economic situation plays out, but that his goal is not to do another workforce reduction.

SBS Delivers 'Outstanding' 15% Q4 Revenue Increase

Spanish Broadcasting System, Inc. today reported financial results for the quarter- and year- ended December 31, 2019 .

"As our release demonstrates, we delivered outstanding Q4 results which, in turn, contributed to our best annual financial showing in over 15 years," commented Raúl Alarcón, Chairman and CEO. "All business units including radio, television, experiential and interactive exhibited sustained increases with our core radio operation ranked among the leaders in the industry in ratings, revenue, SOI and margin growth."

"In addition, fiscal 2020 started off exceptionally well and, as a result, we're confident of a strong rebound later in the year as our industry, our nation and the world eventually recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. For now, we are adapting operationally, financially and strategically at all levels and in all markets during this interim period so as to protect our personnel while continuing to inform, entertain and serve audiences and advertisers in anticipation of a surging demand for ad inventory and rescheduled live events as the year progresses."

"In the meantime, we're adopting an old motto that has served American businesses extremely well since the beginning of the 19th century:  'We're Open for Business.' "

Quarter Ended Results

For the quarter-ended December 31, 2019 , consolidated net revenue totaled $46.1 million compared to $39.6 million for the same prior year period, resulting in an increase of 16%.  Our radio segment net revenue increased 15% due to increases in local, special events, network, and digital which were partially offset by a decrease in national sales.  Our television segment net revenue increased 31%, due to the increase in local sales which were partially offset by decreases in national sales. Consolidated net revenue excluding political, a non-GAAP measure, totaled $45.8 million compared to $36.9 million for the same prior year period, resulting in an increase of 24%.

For the year-ended December 31, 2019 , consolidated net revenue totaled $156.7 million compared to $142.4 million for the same prior year period, resulting in an increase of 10%.  Our radio segment net revenue increased $14.0 million or 11% due to increases in local, network, and digital sales which were offset by a decrease in national sales. Our special events revenue increased primarily in our Los Angeles , New York and San Francisco markets.  Our television segment net revenue increased $0.3 million or 2%, due to increases in local sales offset by a decrease in special event and subscriber based revenue. Consolidated net revenue excluding political, a non-GAAP measure, totaled $156.0 million compared to $137.5 million for the same prior year period, resulting in an increase of 13%.

Pandemic Forces Pay Cuts, 90-Day Furloughs At iHM

iHeartMedia has joined the growing list of companies implementing sizable pay cuts for senior executives amid the upheaval caused by the coronavirus crisis, Variety reports.

Bob Pittman, chairman and chief executive of broadcast giant iHeartRadio, which counts more than 800 stations as well as a formidable digital radio presence, will forego his salary for the remainder of the year and give up his annual incentive bonus, according to a memo first obtained by radio trade tipsheet RAMP and confirmed by Variety. In 2017, Pittman earned a salary of $14 million with bonuses of $9 million, according to the company’s SEC filings.

CFO and COO Rich Bressler as well as members of the senior management team will take reductions in the range of 30% to 70% of their total compensation for the remainder of 2020. A 90-day furlough without pay has been mandated for an additional unknown number of employees.

Additional cutbacks include “strict limitations on — or complete elimination of — travel and entertainment expenses; temporary suspension of 401(k) match and new raises; and no overtime without pre-approval.

Of the furloughs, the executive emphasize: “This is not a layoff or a reduction in force. With a furlough, while it is an unpaid leave of absence, the affected employees stay in our employ, allowing us to continue offering these employees full health benefits, and we want to make sure we take care of them as best we can during this time.  And with state unemployment benefits, supplemented by the added special benefits that are part of the new federal stimulus legislation, hopefully these employees will not feel any significant financial impact during this limited period of time.”

iHM announced it latest moves in an eMail to employees:

Last week we wrote to you about the economic downturn our country is facing as the result of the pandemic and the need to respond to it to preserve the health of our company.  During this unsettled time, we also know the biggest economic concern among our employees is understandably about preserving jobs – and we want you to know that it’s our main concern as well. 
Although we have had to make hard decisions to address the economic impact of the downturn, our management team has found ways to reduce our company’s expenses without resorting to permanent layoffs.
As the CEO of the company, Bob will voluntarily take no salary for the remainder of the year and has given up his annual incentive bonus, and Rich and our senior management team will take reductions ranging from 30% to over 70% of their total compensation for the remainder of the year.
          In addition, we have implemented:
  • Reduction of all expenses that can be postponed without impacting our service and commitment to our communities;
  • Temporary suspension of the 401(k) match;
  • No overtime without pre-approval;
  • Temporary suspension of new raises; and
  • Strict limitations on – or complete elimination of – Travel and Entertainment (T&E) expenses.
We believe all of these reductions give us more room to protect jobs. 
Given our pullback from live events and our shift to a work-from-home model, there are a few jobs that are not essential until our business operations revert back to usual.  This week we are taking the difficult step of implementing a 90-day furlough, or temporary unpaid leave of absence, for jobs affected by these changes.  To be clear, while this will involve a small total number of employees, they are valued colleagues and we did not take this step lightly.  We look forward to welcoming them back as soon as we can.  
This is not a layoff or a reduction in force (RIF). With a furlough, while it is an unpaid leave of absence, the affected employees stay in our employ, allowing us to continue offering these employees full health benefits, and we want to make sure we take care of them as best we can during this time.  And with state unemployment benefits, supplemented by the added special benefits that are part of the new federal stimulus legislation, hopefully these employees will not feel any significant financial impact during this limited period of time. 
We’ve never lived through anything like this and, as managers, we’ve never had to make more difficult decisions. However, please know we are listening, studying and considering all options before we make the important decisions that affect you and the company.  We may miss on some of these decisions – and we will pivot when we find better ones – but throughout it all, we truly appreciate your support for us, for your colleagues and for the company. 
Please be safe and take care of your health and your families.
 Bob and Rich

Living Room Concert Raises $8M For U.S. Charities

FOX and iHeart Media’s “Living Room Concert for America” raised nearly $8 million and counting for coronavirus relief, and attracted some 8.7 million viewers across FOX, Fox News Channel, Fox Business, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2 and FOX Deportes on Sunday night, according to early Nielsen ratings.

Fox Business reports the donations to Feeding America and First Responders Children’s Foundation included $500,000 from corporate partner Procter & Gamble, which Fox Corporation matched.

The Sunday night show, hosted by Elton John from his kitchen, featured Billie Eilish, the Backstreet Boys, Lizzo, Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey, Lady Gaga and Tim McGraw - all appearing by way of smartphones, home cameras or online platforms.

The Fox broadcast network carried the hour-long show, dubbed the “iHeart Living Room Concert for America,” live without commercial interruption, drawing 8.7 million television viewers, Fox said.

The concert, also broadcast on iHeartMedia radio stations nationwide. YouTube, which also made a donation in support of the cause, will continue streaming the benefit show through Wednesday on iHeart Radio’s YouTube channel.

Disney’s Iger To Give Up Salary, Other Execs Get Pay Cut

Bob Iger
Disney’s executive chairman Bob Iger said Monday he will give up his salary amid the coronavirus outbreak, although the sacrifice will make a relatively small dent in his total compensation, The NY Post reports.

One of media’s highest-paid execs, Iger is taking his pay cut just days after Disney said it would shutter Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif., and Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., until “further notice.”

For fiscal 2019, Iger banked a whopping $47.5 million in total compensation as CEO, of which his salary accounted for just $3 million.

News of the pay cut was delivered by Iger’s successor as CEO, Bob Chapek, who also said his $2.5 million base salary — which doesn’t include other compensation of up to $22.5 million in bonuses — will get chopped in half.

Starting April 5, all vice presidents at the company also will have their salaries trimmed by 20 percent, while senior vice presidents and executive vice presidents will see their pay slashed by 25 percent and 30 percent, respectively.

“In a matter of weeks, we’ve experienced widespread disruption across our company, with our domestic parks and hotels closed indefinitely, our cruise line suspended, our film and TV production halted and theatrical distribution delayed both domestically and internationally, and our retail stores shut down,” Chapek wrote in a Monday email to staffers.

Iger’s massive pay package has attracted critics over the years, partly because of the huge number of Disney shares amassed by the exec during his 15-year tenure at the top. Last year, the bulk of Iger’s $47.5 million payday, which was down from an eye-popping $65.6 million in fiscal 2018, was linked to performance-based rewards.

Facebook Pledges $100M for News Outlets

Facebook Inc. is pledging $100 million in grant money and promised ad spending to help struggling news outlets weather the financial blow of the coronavirus outbreak, the Wall Street Journal reports.

News outlets—particularly smaller, local newspapers—face substantial advertising revenue declines as shuttered or disrupted businesses pull back spending. While readership has spiked and some media companies have enjoyed increases in online subscriptions, the advertising drop is already forcing many outlets to reduce pay or lay off workers.

The tech giant said it wanted to help news outlets avoid such cuts. “This is a time when we need this reporting the most,” Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of news partnerships, said in an interview. “Advertising money is shrinking fast and even though news consumption is up, it is not making up for those losses, so we are trying to help bridge that gap.”

Facebook’s offering falls into two categories: $25 million in emergency grant funding to help smaller news outlets with immediate needs related to coronavirus coverage, and $75 million in ad spending to help news outlets of all sizes—both in the U.S. and abroad—make up for the expected revenue shortfall.

“Every business is suffering right now, but the news industry has really been struggling, and we are in a privileged position to be able to help,” Ms. Brown said. She said Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg “feels that getting accurate news about the virus is vital and that he has a real responsibility here.”

The aid from Facebook likely would still leave the industry with an enormous gap in advertising money. Gordon Borrell, an advertising market analyst, estimates that local advertising will drop by 25% this year, amounting to a decline of roughly $30 billion.

Earlier this month, Facebook announced a separate program to offer $100 million in cash grants and advertising credits to up to 30,000 eligible small businesses.

Gannett To Furlough Journalists

Gannett announced Monday it is cutting pay and furloughing journalists at its newspapers across the country as ad revenue plunges during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Hill reports the publisher of more than 100 newspapers, including USA Today, the Detroit Free Press, The Columbus Dispatch and The Arizona Republic, is reportedly furloughing workers who make more than $38,000. Those employees will be subject to furloughs of one week per month in April, May and June, according to a tweet from investigative reporter Gregory Holman of the Springfield News-Leader in Missouri, a Gannett-owned paper.

In a memo obtained by The Washington Post, Gannett CEO Paul Bascobert wrote that while subscriptions and online traffic are up, the company forecasts that ad revenue will “decline considerably” in the second quarter, which runs from April 1 to June 30.

“Direct sold advertising has already slowed and many businesses have paused their scheduled marketing campaigns,” Bascobert wrote.

The move this week comes as local newspapers are already struggling in the digital age.

Gannett was acquired in August 2019 by GateHouse Media for $1.4 billion.