Thursday, September 21, 2023

Rupert Murdoch Stepping Down As Chair of Fox

Rupert Murdoch is stepping down as chair of Fox and News Corp after building a media empire over seven decades that revolutionized news and entertainment and made him one of the world’s most influential and controversial tycoons.

The Wall Street Journal reports Murdoch, 92 years old, will exit his roles atop each company as of November, when they hold annual meetings, the companies said. He will be appointed Chairman Emeritus of each company. His eldest son, Lachlan Murdoch, who has served as co-chair of News Corp, will become sole chair of that company and will continue as Fox Corp. FOX -2.31%decrease; red down pointing triangle Executive Chair and CEO.

“For my entire professional life, I have been engaged daily with news and ideas, and that will not change. But the time is right for me to take on different roles,” Rupert Murdoch wrote in a memo to staff.

His decision to step back solidifies Lachlan Murdoch as his successor. He called Lachlan a “passionate, principled leader” who can take the companies into the future.

Murdoch is one of a handful of media barons, along with the likes of John Malone, Ted Turner and Sumner Redstone, who shaped the modern era of media. He has wielded influence in political and financial capitals, earning credit from his boosters and blame from his critics. Murdoch has remained active in his later years, pursuing big deals to reshape his companies.

Murdoch is stepping back at an important moment for both wings of his media empire, as they confront fundamental challenges in the media landscape. Fox, a relatively small player in an entertainment industry now dominated by titans, is wrestling with the profound implications of cable cord-cutting and the growth of streaming. News Corp, owner of The Wall Street Journal, Times of London and other publications, is trying to find the right formula for digital growth amid a fierce battle for subscribers and online-ad dollars.

TV Ratings: Yellowstone Is Smart Move For CBS

The prolonged WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes have begun to force the broadcast networks into some serious decision-making. 

On Monday, for example, Disney-ABC announced that 10 additional Monday Night Football games, originally set for exclusive cablecasting on ESPN, will now be shared with ABC. 

For its part, Paramount Global only has Sunday afternoon NFL access for CBS. But the conglomerate does have the untapped, seemingly limitless potential to tap into, reports NextTV. 

On Sunday, the premiere episode of Sheridan's seminal series, Yellowstone -- which originally debuted on the Paramount Network back on June 20, 2018 -- generated 6.6 million viewers for CBS. 

The 8 p.m. installment benefited from a particularly strong lead-in, with a 60 Minutes episode featuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy generating 11.4 million viewers.  

The network will soon up the Yellowstone burn rate, with plans to air two episodes of the show each Sunday starting this week. But with 46 more episodes of Yellowstone in the can, CBS should be able to keep this up through the 2023-24 TV season, should labor unrest persist. 

There are clearly plenty of viewers who still haven't seen the remarkable show, evidenced by CBS' solid Sunday-night performance. 

Meanwhile, Yellowstone spinoffs --1883 and 1923 -- are also available for broadcast runs, as are the prolific creator's non-Yellowstone efforts for Paramount (Mayor of Kingstown, Tulsa King and the Lioness among them). 


With Nielsen live plus same day data for the week of Sept. 11, 2023 officially in, Fox News remained in its usual position as the top-rated cable news network in total viewers and among Adults 25-54.

For the week, FNC averaged 1.75 million viewers and 191,000 Adults 25-54 in primetime,  +13% and +10% respectively, from what the network averaged the previous week (the week of Sept. 4). The 1.75 million total primetime viewer average is No. 2 on all of basic cable, and the 191,000 A25-54 primetime viewer average is No. 6 on all of basic cable.

So, who actually finished ahead of Fox News this past week? Well, with college football and Monday Night Football back on the air, ESPN earned the No. 1 ranking both in total viewers and among adults 25-54 this past week, in primetime and in total day as well. The network averaged 2.745 million total viewers in primetime, 1.27 million A25-54 viewers in primetime, 1.12 million total viewers in total day and 537,000 A25-54 viewers in total day.

There's More SiriusXM Listening in Newer Cars

When it comes to audio content and audio listening device, Edison Research believes there coud be a chicken-and-egg discussion – do you seek out a device to play the type of audio that you want to hear, or do you go to the most convenient device and choose from available audio? 

Whichever way those arguments shake out, we can show you that Share of Ear® confirms a link between newer car models and time spent with satellite radio.The graphic below shows the percent of daily in-car audio consumption to SiriusXM by those who primarily drive or ride in older model year cars, versus newer model year cars.

For those who primarily drive or ride in model year cars 2010 and older, 5% of their daily in-car listening time is with SiriusXM. For those who drive or ride in model year cars 2019 and newer, the listening to SiriusXM is over four times that much – 22%. The data in between, for model years 2011-2018, follows the pattern of newer models = more listening.

Newer autos have newer in-dash systems equipped with satellite receivers, and many new car acquisitions in the U.S. come with a complimentary trial of SiriusXM, so it stands to reason that SiriusXM sees bigger shares in newer vehicles. Last week we talked about the dominance of linear audio in-car, and it looks like SiriusXM is taking advantage of the linear-positive in-car audio environment.

Amazon Unveils Updated Alexa Devices Inc on Wednesday unveiled a slate of new and refreshed devices and updated its Alexa voice assistant with generative artificial intelligence to attract users to the unprofitable product as competition grows from chatbots like Google's Bard.

Alexa will converse more naturally, losing its robotic tone of nearly a decade, and answer questions like the start time for football games and recipe ideas. It will also be able to compose and recite poems, Amazon showed at the company's annual product launch in Arlington, Virginia.

Amazon introduced Alexa in 2014, but has not found a consistent means to make it profitable, instead driving shoppers toward the company's website for more purchases. Typically accessed through speakers or enabled televisions, the service provides spoken answers to user queries, like the local weather, and can serve as a hub to control home appliances.

R.I.P.: James 'Moby' Carney, Former Altanta Country Radio Personality

James 'Moby' Carney (1964-2023)

James “Moby” Carney, a popular Atlanta country music radio morning host in the 1990s and 2000s, died Wednesday at age 69 after a battle with cancer, his family announced.

The long-time Roswell resident and inductee into the Country Radio Hall of Fame and the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame was a dominant force on Kicks 101.5 (WKHX-FM) from 1991 to 2012, according to

“He was the hardest working DJ you’d ever meet,” said Deborah Richards, his long-time newswoman at Kicks. “He lived, drank, ate and slept that show. He was laser-focused.”

She said Moby never talked down to his audience. “We used to call our listeners the neighbors,” she said. “Moby was your neighbor. He spoke with them from humble beginnings.”

Moby was in radio for more than 40 years, going back to his small hometown of Crossville, Tennessee, with blue-collar parents. He picked up the nickname Moby when he was 12 when he almost drowned in a lake and someone said he looked like Moby Dick splashing around in the water.

9/21 WAKE-UP CALL: Interest Rates Remain At 22-Year High

The Fed voted to hold interest rates at a 22-year high but signaled it could raise them once more this year to combat inflation. This is the second pause in 2023 after central bankers also kept rates steady in June. In July, the Fed increased its benchmark federal-funds rate to a range between 5.25% and 5.5%. It began lifting rates from near zero in March 2022. Because it can take a year or longer for rate increases to slow economic activity, Fed Chair Jerome Powell has said gradual hikes would give officials more time to assess the impact. They meet again on Oct. 31-Nov. 1 and in December.

➤U-S COMPANIES GETTING NEW CARBON-DISCLOSURE RULES: Carbon-disclosure rules for U.S. companies are coming sooner than expected. California and the EU are poised to approve regulations requiring companies that do business within their borders to release information about their greenhouse-gas emissions, including from their suppliers and customers. Those are stricter directives than rules that the SEC has proposed. The size of the California and EU economies—the world’s sixth and third largest, respectively, if they were countries—means few large companies can duck their rules. Businesses and Republicans have fought the SEC’s efforts to make one of the biggest changes in corporate disclosures in decades.

➤WRITER'S STRIKE COULD END TODAY: Writers and producers are near an agreement to end the Writers Guild of America strike after meeting face to face on Wednesday, people close to the negotiations told CNBC. The two sides met and hope to finalize a deal Thursday, the sources said. While optimistic, the people noted, however, that if a deal is not reached the strike could last through the end of the year. On Wednesday evening, the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers released a joint statement that the two groups met for bargaining and would meet again on Thursday.

➤UNMANNED JET TRAVELED SOME 60-MILES:  The F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter jet that went missing in South Carolina flew without its pilot for about 60 miles before crashing into a wooded area. The debris from the jet was found Monday after the pilot ejected and parachuted to safety into a residential backyard on Sunday. But many questions remain amid an ongoing investigation into the incident. The U.S. Marine Corps hasn't yet released much information about how the "most expensive" aircraft went missing and crashed. "How in the hell do you lose an F-35?" Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., wrote on X, formerly Twitter. "How is there not a tracking device and we’re asking the public to what, find a jet and turn it in?"

Greg Abbott has deployed the National Guard to re-install razor wire to deter migrants - as one mayor declared an emergency amid an influx of 14,000 people. The Texas Governor launched a blistering attack on Joe Biden on Wednesday, slamming him for 'cutting the wire' and assuring Texans he was having it repaired. He shared footage of members of the Texas National Guard unravelling the new barrier before putting it up along the besieged banks of the Rio Grande. It comes as Eagle Pass is overwhelmed by migrants flooding the border, with 4,000 crossing on Wednesday, 14,000 since last week and 270,000 this year. Mayor Rolando Salinas declared a state of emergency after thousands overran Mission Border Hope, the only migrant shelter in the city. Despite the desperation, Biden on Wednesday granted temporary work permits to 472,000 Venezuelans who arrived in the country between January 1 and July 31.

CPB Invests $2.25 Million in State Government Coverage

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is investing $2.25 million to increase and strengthen state government coverage provided by public media station newsrooms. The grants were announced today at the Public Media Content Conference in Philadelphia.

Amid an industry drop in the overall number of full-time statehouse reporters across the country, CPB funds will support seven stations as they add statehouse reporting capacity. The coverage must be shared with public media stations across the state, as well as other media organizations. CPB funds will also support NPR’s ability to provide editorial and training support for station-based reporters covering state government.

“The American people look to public media to provide high quality journalism in the form of factual, trusted news and information,” said Patricia Harrison, CPB President and CEO. “A strong civil society and democracy requires its citizens be informed with the facts. This is especially important when it comes to state government reporting. Unfortunately, today there are far fewer full-time journalists covering our nation’s statehouses than just a decade ago. These CPB grants will address an urgent need as we increase the number of journalists at public media stations reporting statehouse news and policy decisions. Their coverage will be made available to all citizens in those seven states.”

Monumental Sports Network Relaunches

The rebrand of the old NBC Sports Washington network has gone live with the launch of Monumental Sports Network and the announcement that the rebranded regional sports network will be offering a host of new features and digital experiences for its coverage of the 2023-24 NBA and NHL seasons.

Monumental Sports & Entertainment (MSE), the parent company which acquired the network in 2022, announced the rebranding in June of 2023, which took place on Sept. 20. The linear channel is available at the same channel number where NBC Sports Washington was formerly found via pay TV providers.

"Since acquiring NBC Sports Washington one year ago to the day, we have spent every day since building what we believe will be the best local media experience for the greatest fans in all of sports," said Zach Leonsis, president of media & new enterprises at Monumental Sports & Entertainment. "Our fans deserve the best experience possible, so we challenged ourselves to push every standard and deliver an extraordinary media platform. We're excited to begin the network's transformation this month with additional plans to unveil several significant upgrades throughout the course of the Capitals and Wizards regular seasons."

Madison Radio: Triple M Request-a-Thon Benefits Food Bank

September is Hunger Action Month and 105.5 Triple M (WMMM-FM) in Madison will host a Request-A-Thon on Thursday, September 21, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT to help raise meals for Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin.

As part of the Audacy Madison season of giving, listeners can request any song with a $50 donation.

Listener donations will help thousands of people in southwestern Wisconsin who face food insecurity every day. Plus, Alliant Energy is matching the first $15,000 raised during the Request-a-Thon so all gifts make an even bigger impact!

While any amount will make a difference, the minimum donation amount to have requests played is $50 (higher donation amounts may get your song played faster).

To submit your request for a song to be played during the Request-A-Thon (6 am - 6 pm on Thursday, September 21 on 105.5 Triple M), make sure to include your song request in the comment section below when you make your donation. To make a donation and make a request, please click here

Audacy and Amy Poehler Launch Scripted Podcast Series

Audacy announced that the all-new podcast, “Say More with Dr? Sheila,” starring Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning writer, actress, producer, and director Amy Poehler, will launch on Thursday, September 21 on the Audacy app and everywhere podcasts are available. New episodes will be released weekly through November 16. 

Listen to the trailer now here and follow the show here.

The series will be the first in a three-season original scripted comedy podcast franchise from Audacy and Amy Poehler’s Paper Kite Productions, under the Paper Kite Podcasts banner, with executive producer Liz Cackowski.

The franchise will feature stories that parody and pay homage to popular themes in the podcast space. The second and third installments of the Paper Kite Podcasts franchise are slated to launch in 2024, including a female-led true crime series and a male-hosted and interview-driven show. Each character and story will live in the same, interwoven universe.

“Dr? Sheila has changed my life,” said Amy Poehler. “She also owes me a considerable amount of money. But if I have learned anything from listening to ‘Say More’ it’s the fact that people are complicated.”

RIFs Hit Sony Group Podcasts

Sony Group laid off staff in its podcast business and canceled a program it produced featuring model and author Emily Ratajkowski, according to Bloomberg citing people with knowledge of the decision.

High Low with EmRata premiered last year and consisted of three episodes released weekly. The program attracted a large segment of listeners internationally, but struggled to sell advertising because brands primarily wanted to reach US consumers, said the people, who asked to not be identified because the decision hasn’t been made publicly.

Ratajkowski will seek a new home for her show, one of the people said. Sony declined to comment about the program.

Ballen Studios Taps Cadence13's Zak Levitt + Launches New Show

Ballen Studios, the global content company founded by renowned internet storyteller John "MrBallen" Allen and CEO Nick Witters, announced Wednesday Zak Levitt as Head of Production. Levitt, who has long established himself in the entertainment industry as a distinguished and award-winning storyteller, has been at the helm of some of the most popular and acclaimed documentaries and series.

“When we were looking for an executive to oversee our audio network, Zak was the clear winner,” said Witters. “In addition to being a seasoned veteran in the business, he has an uncanny ability to not only find unique stories, but tell them in a way that pulls in an audience. Zak is truly one of a kind.”

With Levitt as the Head of Production, he will now oversee all of Ballen Studios’ existing slate of audio programming across various stages of production and development. In addition to developing and producing new stories for audio, Levitt will be focusing on cultivating new talent from within the creator space for podcasting and managing the studio’s production team of writers, researchers and editors, with an eye towards bringing listeners the most original and hard-hitting stories yet to be told in audio.

Radio History: September 21

➦In 1943...WNYC-FM call letters debut.

WNYC began regularly scheduled broadcasts on the FM band on March 13, 1943 at 43.9 megacycles. Known originally as W39NY, the FM outlet adopted its present WNYC-FM call letters and its present frequency of 93.9 MHz within a few years.

➦In 1948..."Life With Luigi" debuted on the CBS Radio Network. It continued to March 3, 1953.

➦In 1965..KYW 1060 AM in Philadelphia flipped to an all-news format.

KYW began in 1921 in Chicago, Illinois. It was jointly owned by Westinghouse Electric Corporation and Commonwealth Edison. Westinghouse later bought out ComEd's share and became sole owner of the station.

In 1927, Westinghouse aligned its four radio stations (KYW, KDKA in Pittsburgh, WBZ in Boston and WBZA in Springfield, Massachusetts) with the NBC Blue Network, which originated from former sister station WJZ (the present-day WABC) in New York City. Westinghouse had been a founding partner of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), NBC's original parent company.

On September 21, 1965, shortly after Westinghouse regained control of 1060 AM, the newly rechristened KYW once again dropped its NBC radio affiliation and was converted into one of the first all-news stations in the country.  Newsman Steve Porter read the first newscast. It had been edited by Fred B. Walters, the former Harrisburg bureau chief and eventual Executive Editor.

Five months earlier Westinghouse Broadcasting converted 1010WINS, KYW's New York sister station since 1962, from a Top-40 format to all-news.  A similar move was made three years later at another Westinghouse-owned station, KFWB in Los Angeles.  KYW has been one of the highest-rated radio stations in the country since that point and has been the market leader in Philadelphia for much of that time. The Westinghouse all-news trio, meanwhile, revolutionized and defined the all-news format. KYW's early format elements were shared with WINS, such as the distinctive teletype sound effect playing in the background, and the slogans "All News, All the Time", "The Newswatch Never Stops", "Listen 2, 3, 4 Times a Day" and "You Give Us 22 Minutes, We'll Give You the World".

KYW's present format runs on a 30-minute cycle. Regular segments include contains traffic and mass transit reports from Metro Traffic every ten minutes on the "twos" (six times an hour), sports updates every quarter-hour (twice an hour, at :15 and :45), weather reports as much as six times an hour (four regularly scheduled reports at :07, :14, :37 and :44 past every hour with breaking weather news plus special forecasts for the New Jersey Shore and the Poconos), and business news from Bloomberg twice an hour (at :25 and :55). When breaking news warrants, KYW will break format to provide continuous coverage of any event.