Monday, March 30, 2020

Report: Podcast Downloads Drop 10%

(NY Times photo)
"Since early March, when concerns around the coronavirus started to get more severe, people have been listening to podcasts a lot less," the fashion trade publication Women's Wear Daily writes:

"Downloads ... have dropped about 10 percent since the start of March, according to data from Podtrac ... Total unique listeners also dropped roughly 20 percent in the same time frame."

According to Axios:

Why it's happening: Many fewer people are commuting, and "everyone just wants the news, on TV and online, not a true crime podcast."

🤯 BUT so many people are at home, with all that commute time, so MORE people are making podcasts, the N.Y. Times' Reggie Ugwu writes ("Broadcasting From Closets at Home, Daily Podcasts Come of Age"):

Mike Pesca, host of the long-running daily podcast “The Gist,” said the pandemic could soon be regarded as the format’s breakout moment.

He compared it to World War II, when Edward R. Murrow’s man-on-the street radio broadcasts after the bombings in London captured the attention of anxious Americans at home.

Poll: Fox News Viewers Think COVID-19 Threat Is Exaggerated

Republicans who watched Fox News were more likely to go outside and more likely to believe the coronavirus threat was exaggerated than their non-Fox-watching party allies, a new poll found.

The survey, conducted from March 13-16, found that only about 10% of Republicans who had watched Fox News in the previous 24 hours decided to stay home as the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to explode in the U.S., Vox reported.

Meanwhile, 30% of Republicans who hadn’t watched any Fox News were staying home, the poll found.

Additionally, more than 60% of Fox watchers surveyed thought the coronavirus had been “greatly exaggerated,” according to Vox. That number was just above 40% for non-Fox viewers.

Fox is particularly popular with older viewers and downplaying the pandemic could have endangered many Americans who are at greater risk of dying from COVID-19, The NY Daily News reports.

March 13, the first day of data collection for the survey, was the same day that Sean Hannity flipped the message on his popular show and began treating the coronavirus as a real crisis and not a Democratic conspiracy overreaction designed to make President Trump look bad.

As of Saturday night, more than 2,100 people in the U.S. have died in the coronavirus pandemic, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins. More than 120,000 people in the country have been infected with the virus.

Public Broadcasting Gets Stimulus Funding

Public broadcasting is to receive emergency funding in the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill approved by the by Congress last week.

The bill includes $75 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting “to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, including for fiscal stabilization grants to public telecommunications entities,” the bill says.

The bill directs CPB to use the funds to help “to maintain programming and services and preserve small and rural stations threatened by declines in non-Federal revenues.”

Patrick Butler, CEO of America’s Public Television Stations, said that corporate, foundation and individual giving to public television stations has “rapidly decreased in the wake of the economic downturn accompanying the contagion.”

Butler noted that many public television stations are “devoting their entire daytime schedules to age-appropriate educational programming and stations are also providing online services, learning games, teacher and parent guides, and other resources.”

Despite Bailout, JFK Center To Stop Paychecks

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts informed members of the National Symphony Orchestra that they would no longer be paid just hours after President Trump signed a $25 million taxpayer bailout for the cultural center, according to an email obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Nearly 100 musicians will no longer receive paychecks after April 3, according to an email from the orchestra's Covid-19 Advisory Committee.

"The Covid-19 Advisory Committee was broadsided today during our conversation with [Kennedy Center President] Deborah Rutter," the email says. "Ms. Rutter abruptly informed us today that the last paycheck for all musicians and librarians will be April 3 and that we will not be paid again until the Center reopens."

The email went out to members on Friday evening, shortly after President Trump signed the $2 trillion CARES Act, a stimulus package intended to provide relief to people left unemployed by the coronavirus pandemic. Congress included $25 million in taxpayer funding for the Kennedy Center, a provision that raised eyebrows from both Democrats and Republicans, but ultimately won support from President Trump.

The bailout was designed to "cover operating expenses required to ensure the continuity of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and its affiliates, including for employee compensation and benefits, grants, contracts, payments for rent or utilities, fees for artists or performers," according to the law's text. The arts organization decided that the relief did not extend to members of the National Symphony Orchestra, its house orchestra.

"Everyone should proceed as if their last paycheck will be April 3," the email says. "We understand this will come [as a] shock to all of you, as it did to us."

The Kennedy Center did not return request for comment.

Antenna Usage Rising For Free OTA Channels

About a quarter of all US broadband households use an antenna to access over-the-air (OTA) content like local TV broadcasts, a jump from 15 percent in 2018. Beyond that, research group Parks Associates says around half of those households don’t subscribe to pay-TV services. And while these findings are the result of data collected in late 2019, the group expects the trend to continue with many staying home and looking to cut costs during the current pandemic.

According to Cord Cutters News, Parks Associates conducted the study during the third quarter of 2019, aiming to gauge the demand for broadcast TV and how households consumed that media, including pay TV, OTA, and online. Among its findings, the group also reported that homes that watch OTA content tend to watch more video than the average household.

Overall, using an antenna to watch local TV still lags behind other activities reported in the study, such as using TVs for gaming or streaming content online, but the need for local news during the coronavirus outbreak could push those numbers higher.

CCN notes streaming services like Hulu, Sling TV, and Amazon offer up more access to more news content during the past few weeks and Parks Associates expects interest in local news to rise as well.

“Local news matters to most households—local broadcast channels are the most preferred channel types, and news is the most preferred broadcast content,” Director of Research Steve Nason said in a press release.

“These content preferences shape the access habits of consumers, so antenna usage is increasing as households look to meet these needs, and we will see these trends increase as more shelter-in-place orders take effect and households look for inexpensive content options to offset lost wages.”

There's No Place Like Garth's Home

Trisha and Garth
Back by popular demand, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood are announcing a new hour-long prime-time music special.

"Garth & Trisha Live!" will debut Wednesday at 9 p.m. (live ET, delayed PT) on CBS. The country music couple are scheduled to perform from their home recording studio for viewers looking for an escape from coronavirus quarantine stress. Fans can learn how to make song requests during Brooks' Facebook Live show Monday .

"They will bring their unique blend of casual style, remarkable chemistry and shared love of music to a television audience, emphasizing the message that 'we’re all in this together,' " according to a news release.

The special will be filmed with a "minimal crew practicing social distancing and will be filmed with extensive safety precautions in place," the release added.

The couple was inspired to create the special after the success of their show last Monday, which crashed Facebook Live with 3.4 million viewers.

“We’re seeing how big things can be when we all do them as one. In addition to the special, we and CBS will donate $1 million to charities to be determined, combating the COVID-19 virus,” Brooks and Yearwood said in a joint statement.

Waffle House Index Climbs

Waffle House, the restaurant chain known for having its own unofficial index used during natural disasters, said it has closied 429 of its restaurants.

In various social media posts, the chain featured a map showing the 429 closed restaurants, while another 1,563 across the southeastern U.S. remained open. The posts also featured the hashtag "#WaffleHouseIndexRed.

In 2019, the Pensacola News Journal detailed how Waffle House restaurants are often used to gauge the magnitude of disasters in the Southeast: If a store is open, your community has been spared. If the store is open but has a limited menu, you've probably gotten some damage. If the store is completely closed, you’re in a disaster zone.

The chain did not say whether the closures were linked to the coronavirus pandemic. Waffle House could not be immediately reached for comment.

R.I.P.: Maria Mercader, CBS News Veteran

CBS News is mourning the loss of Maria Mercader, a network veteran who covered breaking news for nearly three decades and, most recently, helped shape strategy for the network's correspondents and reporters.

Maria Mercader
According to CBS News,  Mercader was 54 and died from the Covid-19 coronavirus in a New York hospital. She had been on medical leave for an unrelated matter since the last week in February.

Maria fought cancer and related illnesses for more than 20 years, and was an inspiration each time she returned to work after a setback threatened to end her life.

"Even more than her talents as a journalist, we will miss her indomitable spirit," said Susan Zirinsky, CBS News president and senior executive producer. "Maria was part of all of our lives. Even when she was hospitalized — and she knew something was going on at CBS, she would call with counsel, encouragement, and would say 'you can do this.' I called Maria a 'warrior,' she was. Maria was a gift we cherished."

"The Maria we are privileged to call family and friend knew better than most the power of relationships, loyalty, faith, kindness, perseverance and a smile, even when a smile defied the darkness of the moment," said Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews, EVP of Strategic Professional Development, CBS News. "Her notable professional contributions are part of the CBS Archives, but it is her magnificent human spirit that touched so many of us, that will stay with us forever."

"Maria was a friend to all," said Laurie Orlando, CBS News SVP of Talent. "It's nearly impossible to be someone EVERYONE loves, but Maria was. She always had a warm hug, a word of advice or support and a big smile for everyone in her life. She was a bright light and will be sorely missed."

 Maria got her start at CBS News in 1987, in the CBS Page Program. In her years working on the CBS News foreign and national desks, Maria helped produce many of the biggest stories, including the death of Princess Diana and the 9/11 attacks. She won a Business Emmy in 2004 for her work on a "CBS Sunday Morning" report on computer spam.

R.I.P.: Jan Howard, Country Singer, Opry Member

Jan Howard
Country singer and songwriter Jan Howard died Saturday at age 91.

A press release issued by the Opry says Howard "passed away peacefully" in Gallatin, Tennessee.

Howard officially joined the Opry in 1971, and was the oldest living member of the country music institution.  In a statement, Opry Vice President and Executive Producer Dan Rogers called Howard "A force of nature in country music, at the Opry, and in life."

"We were all so lucky so many nights to hear her voice on stage and to catch up with her backstage. We’re all better for having had her in our lives.”

The Tennessean reports the news broke while the latest Opry show — featuring Vince Gill, Amy Grant and their daughters — was being broadcast live.

On stage at the Grand Ole Opry House, Gill said that he and Howard "spent an awful lot of time over on that side of the stage, telling jokes and having a great friendship for over 30 years."

Howard's music career began in the late '50s, singing demo recordings for songs written by her then-husband, songwriting great Harlan Howard. That included the original demo for Patsy Cline's "I Fall To Pieces."

 In 1960, she had a hit of her own: "The One You Slip Around With." Her biggest solo success came with 1966's "Evil On Your Mind," and the follow-up "Bad Seed."  She'd reach the top of the charts through her collaborations with Bill Anderson in the late '60s and early '70s, including "For Loving You," a No. 1 hit in 1967.

Howard was also an accomplished songwriter, penning hits for Kitty Wells and Connie Smith. But her most powerful composition was also a highly personal one: 1968's “My Son," which was written for her own son, killed in action in Vietnam that same year.

Howard's work with the armed forces and veteran organizations earned her several honors, including the Tennessee Adjutant General’s Distinguished Patriot Medal, and the Medal of Merit from the Commander in Chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

#March 30 Radio HIstory

➦In 1922...KGY-AM, Olympia, Washington, signed-on.

KGY has a long history in Olympia, going back to Saint Martin’s College (now Saint Martin’s University). It was there that Benedictine monk Father Sebastian Ruth began experimenting with radio, and when the FCC first started licensing radio stations, KGY was one of the first stations in Washington State to be licensed. “In fact, the three letter call stations are a heritage, the oldest around,” Kerry said.

In 1939 Nick Kerry’s great-grandfather Tom Olsen, an Olympia native, purchased the business. In 1960 KGY moved to its current location on Marine Drive overlooking Budd Inlet and neighbor to Swantown Marina and Hearthfire Grill.

It was built on pilings and has dramatic views of Budd Inlet and the Olympic Mountains. “This was the perfect location for an AM tower. The radials went into the saltwater which they believed created a stronger signal,” said Kerry.

Barbara Olsen Kerry ran the stations until the mid-2000s and today the family continues to remain owners, the majority of whom live in Olympia.

➦In 1922...WWL-AM, New Orleans signed-on.

Circa the '50s

After receiving permission from the Vatican, the Jesuits at Loyola University started WWL on March 31, 1922, with a piano recital and a three-minute request to listeners to support construction of a new classroom building on campus.  The advertisement above says the 10-watt transmitter was “made from $400 worth of spare parts from a Goverment War Surplus Ship.  The studio audience — 20 Loyola students —- gave a spontaneous cheer at [the] conclusion of [the] historic broadcast.”

The advertisement also claims other firsts.  For instance, the 1922 broadcast of a recording of John McCormack singing “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” is claimed as the first music broadcast in the South.

Over the years, WWL moved to different positions on the dial and steadily increased its power.  In 1938, WWL boosted its signal to 50,000 watts, sending the sounds of New Orleans across much of North America.

WWL became a CBS affiliate in 1935.  During World War II, Loyola University offered WWL’s facilities to train soldiers in radio operations. The station also produced wartime radio programs.  WWL again allowed the government to use its facilities in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

WWL-AM avoided the turn toward rock in the 1950s and became well known in the region for its broadcasts of local Dixieland jazz bands and big band music.  The Leon Kelner Orchestra was popular for its broadcasts from the Roosevelt Hotel’s Blue Room.  The broadcasts were heard far and wide over WWL’s 50,000-watt signal. The LPB radio history site says comment cards were received from as far away as Finland.

In 1971, the station started a long-running overnight country music show targeted at long-haul truck drivers called “The Road Gang.”

Loyola sold the WWL stations to separate companies in 1989.  WWL-AM and WLMG-FM are now owned by Entercom.-Faded Signals

➦In 1936...Backstage Wife, a soap opera radio program that details the travails of Mary Noble, a girl from a small town in Iowa who came to New York seeking her future, moved fro the Mututal Broadcasting System to NBC Radio.

Vivian Fridell had the title role from 1935 until the early 1940s. It was then taken over by Claire Niesen, who played Mary Noble for 14 years, until the end of the series. Mary's husband, Larry Noble, was portrayed by Ken Griffin, then James Meighan and finally, Guy Sorel. The music was supplied by organist Chet Kingsbury.

The program continued on for the next 23 years. Claire Niesen played the title role for the last 17 years.

➦In 1937...Charles Wesley Leonard born (Died – August 12, 2004).  Known as Chuck Leonard. he was a radio personality at 77WABC during the 1960s and 1970s. His deep voice and smoothness resonated across 38 states for 14 years at ABC.

Chuck Leonard
During his over 40-year career in broadcasting, Leonard worked virtually every shift and played all styles of music at stations including WWRL, WABC, WXLO, WRKS, WBLS, WQEW, WNSW-AM and WJUX. He has been inducted in the Museum of Television & Radio and is known as the first African-American disc jockey to work on a mainstream radio station.[1

Leonard began at ABC's flagship New York radio station, Musicradio 77WABC, under program director Rick Sklar in 1965. He broke the color barrier for all who followed — the first African-American to cross over from black R&B radio to (then-mostly white) mass-appeal radio.

Leonard began in the 11 p.m. to midnight slot, and continued working late nights and Sundays at the station until November 27, 1979. He did the 10:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. shift following “Cousin” Bruce Morrow and later George Michael.

Leonard was the host of "Sneak Preview," a five-minute Monday-through-Saturday evening program on ABC's American Contemporary Radio Network, which featured newly released songs.

➦In 1938...Bandleader Kay Kyser’s Kollege of Musical Knowledge began a decade-long weekly run on NBC radio, which was followed by a daily series for a year on ABC.

During the late 40’s there was also a TV version on NBC.

➦In 1941...The Great AM Frequency Re-alignment.

The North American Radio Broadcasting Agreement, usually referred to as NARBA, is a treaty that took effect in March 1941 and set out an international bandplan and interference rules for mediumwave AM broadcasting in North America. NARBA accommodated much of the U.S. bandplan of 1928, with accommodation to Canada and Mexico.

Listen: A commercial explaining the changes in dial position of radio stations which took place on March 29, 1941. Click Here.

Although mostly replaced by other agreements in the 1980s, the basic bandplan of NARBA has remained to the present day. Among its major features were the extension of the broadcast band from its former limits of 550 kHz to 1500 kHz to its 1941 limits of 540 kHz to 1600 kHz to its present limits of 540 kHz to 1700 kHz and the shift of most existing AM stations' frequencies to make room for additional clear-channel station allocations for Canada and Mexico.

The agreement eventually governed AM band use in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti. In accordance with the treaty, clear channel frequencies were set aside across, roughly, the lower half of the radio dial (with a few regional channels thrown in), and regional channels across, roughly, the upper half of the radio dial (with a few clear channels thrown in).

The replacement 1230, 1240, 1340, 1400, 1450, and 1490 kHz local channels (formerly 1200, 1210, 1310, 1370. 1420 and 1500 kHz) were reserved for local channel stations (these are regional channels if located outside the North American continent, in which case regional channel stations could be allocated to those channels).

The agreement also officially reduced the "same market" minimum channel spacing from 50 kHz to 40 kHz, although Mexico elected to enforce a 30 kHz "same market" channel spacing, unless such reduced spacing was in conflict with an abutting nation's "border zone" allocations, in which case 40 kHz was enforced.

It required that most existing AM stations change frequencies according to a well-defined "table", which attempted to conserve the electrical height of the extant vertical radiator(s) and thereby controlling possible interference, while resulting in a wholesale yet predictable shuffling of radio station dial positions.

There were about 100 stations which were not changed according to the "table" and in these cases every attempt was made to move an existing clear channel station to a possibly distant clear channel (and not to a regional channel) and to move an existing regional channel station to a possibly distant regional channel (and not to a clear channel); local channel stations were not moved outside of the "table" as the "table" accommodated every eventuality, including even the cases of stations on the two highest local channels, 1420 and 1500 kHz, an 80 kHz spacing, as the new "same market" spacing of 40 kHz accommodated this case (these moved stations would be allocated to 1450 and 1490 kHz, a 40 kHz spacing).

➦In 1945...the Dreft Star Playhouse aired its last episode on NBC radio. It was a  daytime radio program presenting adaptations of romantic movies in serial form. It was broadcast on NBC June 28, 1943 – March 30, 1945.  In contrast to the evening programs, which limited an adaptation of a movie to a single broadcast, The Dreft Star Playhouse presented its adaptations in the form of serials whose duration varied. Perhaps the longest was "Dark Victory," starring Gail Patrick, which "ran two months in daily quarter-hour doses."

For the prior two years the show had been paying up to $3,000 per week to attract “name” talent to the daytime quarter hour serializing movies & other stories. Dreft, the show’s sponsor, was a popular laundry detergent of the 40’s.

➦In 1946...Radio Personality Fred Winston born. Winston went to WLS in Chicago in 1971 after 3 years at KQV in Pittsburgh. Fred replaced Scotty Brink in the 3 - 6 pm shift when he first arrived at WLS. In 1972, Fred moved to the 12 - 3 pm slot when J.J. Jeffrey moved into afternoons on WLS. In 1973, Fred Winston replaced Charlie Van Dyke in morning drive. In 1976, when Larry Lujack returned to WLS, Fred moved to WFYR. Fred returned to WLS in 1983 for middays. From 1986 until the switch to talk in 1990, Fred was again the morning man at WLS.

Fred worked in Denver as well as in Omaha at KOIL,in Cleveland at WKYC, WING in Dayton,  and KQV in Pittsburgh. Fred has spent much of his career entertaining millions in Chicago. Besides WLS, Fred's Chicago credits also included at WFYR, WMAQ, WJMK, WPNT and WXXY. Fred spent a number of years doing afternoons at WJMK in Chicago before being forced out due to a format change in 2006. Fred returned to 94.7 WLS-FM for a time in 2013. He left again in April 2013. (H/T: Jeff Roteman)

➦In 1946...Academy Award, a CBS radio anthology series which presented 30-minute adaptations of plays, novels or films, first aired.

Rather than adaptations of Oscar-winning films, as the title implied, the series offered "Hollywood's finest, the great picture plays, the great actors and actresses, techniques and skills, chosen from the honor roll of those who have won or been nominated for the famous golden Oscar of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences."

With that as a guideline, any drama could be presented as long as the cast included at least one Oscar-nominated performer.

The first show featured Bette Davis, Anne Revere and Fay Bainter in Jezebel. On that first show, Jean Hersholt spoke as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, welcoming the E.R. Squibb & Sons pharmaceutical company {"The House Of Squibb"} as the program's sponsor. It was an expensive show to produce since the stars cost $4000 a week, and another $1,600 went each week to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the use of their name in the show's title.  This eventually became a factor in Squibb's decision to cancel the series after only 39 weeks.

The series ended December 18, 1946, with Margaret O'Brien and one of the series' frequent supporting players, Jeff Chandler (appearing under his real name, Ira Grossel) in Lost Angel.

Gabriel Heater
➦In 1972...Gabriel Heatter died at age 81 (Born September 17, 1890) .  He was a radio commentator whose World War II-era sign-on, "There's good news tonight", became both his catchphrase and his caricature.

The son of Jewish immigrants from Austria, Heatter was born and raised in Brooklyn. Young Heatter, who found school difficult but had a passion for reading, became a sidewalk-campaigner for William Randolph Hearst during Hearst's 1906 mayoral campaign. After his high school graduation, Heatter became a society reporter for the tiny weekly, The East New York Record before joining the Brooklyn Daily Times, which led to his being offered a job with Hearst's New York Journal.

In December 1932, he was invited by Donald Flamm, owner of New York's WMCA, to debate a Socialist on radio, and when the Socialist was unable to make the date, Heatter had the program almost to himself. His performance impressed both Flamm and listeners. A few months later, he went to work for WOR, as a reporter and commentator. His audience expanded when in 1934, WOR became the flagship station of the newest network, Mutual Broadcasting.

Heatter covered the trial of Bruno Hauptmann, the man accused of kidnapping the infant son of aviator Charles A. Lindbergh. In 1936, he had to report on Hauptmann's execution. It was delayed, forcing Heatter to continue ad-libbing while awaiting word of when it would occur. His professionalism under pressure and his ability to keep the audience informed without resorting to sensationalism earned him critical praise.

Heatter was well known for trying to find uplifting but absolutely true stories to feed his commentaries.

➦In 1985...Harold (Hal) Peary died from a heart attack at age 76 (Born - July 25, 1908).  He was an actor, comedian and singer in radio, films, television, and animation remembered best as Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve, a supporting character on radio's Fibber McGee and Molly that moved to its own radio hit, The Great Gildersleeve, the first known spinoff hit in American broadcasting history.

Hal Peary as 'The Great Gildersleeve'
Born as José Pereira de Faria in San Leandro, California, to Portuguese parents, Peary began working in local radio as early as 1923, according to his own memory, and had his own show as a singer, The Spanish Serenader, in San Francisco, but moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1937.

In Chicago he became a regular on Fibber McGee and Molly, where he originated the Gildersleeve character as a McGee neighbor and nemesis in 1938. ("You're a haaa-aa-aard man, McGee" was a famous catch-phrase.) The character actually went through several first names and occupations before settling on Throckmorton Philharmonic Gildersleeve and his ownership of the Gildersleeve Girdleworks. He also worked on the horror series Lights Out and other radio programs, but his success and popularity as Gildersleeve set the stage for the character's own program, which became the peak of his career.

Peary's Gildersleeve proved popular enough that it was thought to try the character in his own show. It premiered August 31, 1941 and became a steady hit for the rest of the decade,

➦In 1992...WNSR 105.1 FM NYC changed it scall sign to WMXV.  Today 105.1 FM is iHeartMedia's WWPR.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

R.I.P.: Country Singer Joe Diffie, Dead From COVID-19 Complications

Joe Diffie
Joe Diffie, a Grammy Award-winning country music hitmaker, died Sunday from coronavirus complications. He was 61.,, according to The Tennessean.

A representative for Diffie confirmed his death in a news release. The "Pickup Man" and "John Deere Green" singer announced Friday (March 27) that he tested positive for the virus.

“I am under the care of medical professionals and currently receiving treatment,” he said in a statement at that time. “My family and I are asking for privacy at this time. We want to remind the public and all my fans to be vigilant, cautious and careful during this pandemic.”

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Diffie enjoyed a consistent run of country hits in the early 1990s. "Pickup Man" was among five chart-toppers he scored in the first half of the decade.

Chart success didn't follow Diffie far into the 21st century — his final top 10 hit was 2001's "In Another World." But as nostalgia grew for the country music of the 1990s, Diffie was continuously celebrated by modern stars — never more loudly than on Jason Aldean's "1994," which mentioned Diffie's name more than a dozen times.

"(I) got my honky tonk attitude from Joe Diffie," Chris Young sang on 2019's "Raised On Country."

After releasing his last studio album, "All In The Same Boat," in 2013, Diffie had reactivated his career in recent years. He released two new singles in 2018, and had been working on a new album entitled "I Got This."

In 2019, Diffie offered his on-air talent to Tulsa radio station Big Country KXBL 99.5, hosting the mid-day show remotely via Nashville and on the road.

 After working as a demo singer in the 1980s, he signed with Epic Records' Nashville division in 1990. Between then and 2004, Diffie charted 35 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, five of which peaked at number one: his debut release "Home", "If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets)", "Third Rock from the Sun", "Pickup Man" (his longest-lasting number-one song, at four weeks) and "Bigger Than the Beatles". In addition to these singles, he has had 12 others reach the top 10 and ten more others reach the top 40 on the same chart. He has also co-written singles for Holly Dunn, Tim McGraw, and Jo Dee Messina, and has recorded with Mary Chapin Carpenter, George Jones, and Marty Stuart.

Diffie released seven studio albums, a Christmas album, and a greatest-hits package under the Epic label. He also released one studio album each through Monument Records, Broken Bow Records, and Rounder Records. Among his albums, 1993's Honky Tonk Attitude and 1994's Third Rock from the Sun are certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, while 1992's Regular Joe and 1995's Life's So Funny are both certified gold. His album, Homecoming: The Bluegrass Album, was released in late 2010 through Rounder.

His style is defined by a neotraditionalist country influence with a mix of novelty songs and ballads.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

March 29 Radio History

➦In 1888...Radio, film actor Earle Ross born (Died of cancer at age 73 – May 21, 1961).

While in school he became interested in dramatics and was usually cast as a villain or an old man because of his unusual voice characteristics. In 1908 he worked with Colonel Bill Selig in his first 5-reel movie film The Holy Cross. In 1912, he ventured to the East Coast and worked on Broadway in such shows as Where the Trail Divides and Cost of Living. From there, he started his own chain of theaters but went broke in the Wall Street Crash of 1929.

Ross became a radio broadcast pioneer and had his own show, The Earle Ross Theater of the Air and also starred in Inspector Post, a continuing radio drama.  Ross's most memorable roles were on radio: that of Judge Horace Hooker on The Great Gildersleeve and Howie MacBrayer on Point Sublime.

Jack Benny
➦In 1932...Jack Benny first appeared on radio as a guest of Ed Sullivan. He was then given his own show later that year, with Canada Dry Ginger Ale as a sponsor —The Canada Dry Ginger Ale Program, beginning May 2, 1932, on the NBC Blue Network and continuing there for six months until October 26, moving the show to CBS on October 30. With Ted Weems leading the band, Benny stayed on CBS until January 26, 1933.

Arriving at NBC on March 17, Benny did The Chevrolet Program until April 1, 1934 with Frank Black leading the band. He continued with The General Tire Revue for the rest of that season, and in the fall of 1934, for General Foods as The Jell-O Program Starring Jack Benny (1934–42) and, when sales of Jell-O were affected by sugar rationing during World War II, The Grape Nuts Flakes Program Starring Jack Benny (later the Grape Nuts and Grape Nuts Flakes Program) (1942–44).

On October 1, 1944, the show became The Lucky Strike Program Starring Jack Benny, when American Tobacco's Lucky Strike cigarettes took over as his radio sponsor, through the mid-1950s. By that time, the practice of using the sponsor's name as the title began to fade.

The show returned to CBS on January 2, 1949, as part of CBS president William S. Paley's "raid" of NBC talent in 1948-49. There it stayed for the remainder of its radio run, which ended on May 22, 1955. CBS aired repeats of previous 1953-55 radio episodes from 1956 to 1958 as The Best of Benny for State Farm Insurance, who later sponsored his television program from 1960 through 1965.

➦In 1937...The radio soap opera Our Gal Sunday made its first national broadcast on CBS.  It continued until January 2, 1959.  The origin of this radio series was a 1904 Broadway production, Sunday, which starred Ethel Barrymore. This play was the source of the catchphrase, "That's all there is, there isn't any more."

➦In 1941...WPAT AM NYC Market signed-on.

For many years, the station (along with its FM counterpart) would broadcast a beautiful music format under the slogan "Easy 93".

The WPAT stations were purchased by Capital Cities Communications in 1961.  In the 1970s, WPAT began integrating some baby boomer soft vocals such as the Carpenters, Neil Diamond, Dionne Warwick, and others, still playing one vocal per 15 minutes. In 1982, the stations began playing soft rock songs mixed into the format a couple times an hour and cut back on pop standards artists and songs.

In 1985, Capital Cities announced that it would buy ABC.  As a result of Federal Communications Commission regulations at the time, the company decided to sell WPAT and WPAT-FM because ABC already owned WABC and WPLJ in New York City. The WPAT stations would be sold to Park Communications.

In January 1996, WPAT-FM was sold to Spanish Broadcasting System and switched to a Spanish-language adult contemporary format. Around the same time, WPAT was sold to Heftel Broadcasting and switched to an automated Classic Salsa/Tropical music format on March 26. Heftel tried buying the FM station but was narrowly outbid by SBS. Heftel bought WPAT with plans to sell it to Multicultural Broadcasting and buying an FM station.

Weeks later, the station would start adding ethnic and paid programming.  By the next year, the station's ownership would change finally when its current owners, Multicultural Broadcasting, would buy the station in exchange for WNWK plus Multicultural was paid some cash for WNWK as well. (WNWK subsequently would become WCAA, then in 2009 would switch frequencies with WQXR-FM, New York. It is now known as WXNY-FM and broadcasts at 96.3 FM.) The new owners of WPAT would soon modify the station to its current paid ethnic programming format, moving Radio Korea to WZRC.

➦In 1941...Under the provisions of the North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement, stations assigned to 760 kHz were shifted to 770 kHz, which has been WJZ / WABC's dial position ever since.   WABC started off as WJZ when it signed on October 1, 1921.

➦In 1967...AFTRA members called the union’s first national strike, after negotiations broke down over staff announcer contracts at owned-and-operated stations in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles and over first-time contracts for “Newsmen” at networks and owned-and-operated stations.

The 13-day strike involved all 18,000 members in more than 100 locations across the country. Many familiar faces were absent from the TV screen, including that of Walter Cronkite of CBS News whose temporary replacement was Arnold Zenker, formerly a radio announcer in Wilmington, Delaware.

AFTRA strike begins at WABC NYC.

From March 29 to April 10, 1967 there was a strike called by AFTRA (the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists). This meant that all the union talent, including the WABC airstaff, was taken off the air and replaced by management personnel. It was all very strange. But, according to the tribute site,,  PD Rick Sklar could turn anything into a promotion, and the strike was no exception.

Listen to an  aircheck which features a brief montage compiled from hours of tape. It includes:
  • The "strikebound sound" jingle that Rick Sklar ordered from PAMS (Series 31).
  • Hal Neal, president of ABC Radio, filling in as a newsman giving background on the strike.
  • The "super pickets" promo. This was, of course, a take-off on the station's weekly "superhit sounds" promo which featured excerpts from the week's top 5 songs. It's a promotion masterpiece and it worked. Whenever one of the All Americans tried to take part in the picket line outside the ABC building, they'd be mobbed by autograph seekers!
  • Rick Sklar worked as the booth announcer in the evening.
Finally the strike ended. And within 30 minutes of the announcement, Cousin Bruce was back on the air.
Gene Klavan, Dee Finch
➦In 1983...Dee Finch, who for 16 years was the straight-man partner of Gene Klavan on WNEW Radio's ''Klavan and Finch'' early morning show, died at age 65 of a heart attack after attending his mother's funeral in Binghamton NY.

From 1947 to 1952, he teamed up with Gene Rayburn in a zany disk-jockey show known for an irreverence toward commercials and a penchant for inserting incongruous material in the music being broadcast.  He retired in 1968.

Klavan commented on Dee Finch in 1984: “He was spectacular. He was more than a straight man. People say a straight man, but he had a marvelous sense of humor.  A great voice and a fetching laugh.  I mean if he laughed even I couldn’t help it, I would break up, basically he was a really good actor.  He adlibbed, we never prepared anything, even though I used to hope we would sometimes.  He had a great understanding of what we were doing.  We were two minds without any.”

➦In 2003…Longtime radio personality Bob Anderson died after a heart attack  in Portland, ME at age 59.

➦In 2005...Don Rose died in his sleep at age 70 (Born -Donald Duane Rosenberg; July 5, 1934). He was one of American's best radio personalities.  He worked at legendary stations like KFRC, San Francisco; WFIL, Philadelphia and other markets.

Rose was born Donald Duane Rosenberg in North Platte, Nebraska, and got his first experience in broadcasting at age 15 while reporting on his trip to the Boy Scout National Jamboree in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, for KODY in his hometown.

He began his career in 1955 at KWBE in Beatrice, Nebraska, while majoring in accounting at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. He moved to KLMN/Lincoln shortly thereafter, and then was hired by KOIL/Omaha, a job that appeared to be so promising that he dropped out of college in his senior year. He was fired by the station four weeks later.

His next job, at KTSA/San Antonio, also lasted only four weeks. Returning to Nebraska, he held an announcing position at KRNY/Kearney for about 15 months before being terminated again. His next employer, the Union Pacific Railroad, offered only manual labor — pounding spikes into the railbed — but he continued to pursue work in radio, and acquired a job at KTUL/Tulsa.

His next broadcasting position was in KWMT/Fort Dodge, Iowa, where he first complemented his jokes with cowbells and other barnyard sounds. His stay in Fort Dodge wasn't lengthy, but it was there that he met his future wife, Kae, to whom he remained married for the next 45 years of his life.

From Iowa it was on to WEBC/Duluth, Minn., followed by his first taste of big-market success, as morning host at WQXI/Atlanta ("Quixie In Dixie"), his fame made ever-lasting by his inclusion as the 1967 entry in the popular series of "Cruisin’" LP records. Originally hired for the nine-to-noon slot, he was shifted to morning drive shortly after his arrival, and soon became the number one deejay in town.

With Dr. Don as morning anchor, KFRC was voted "Station of the Year" four times by Billboard Magazine.

He was considered by many to be the king of radio in the Bay Area during the final decade of AM's musical dominance.

He was named by Billboard Magazine as Disc Jockey of the Year on both the East Coast (while with WFIL Philadelphia) and on the West Coast (while with KFRC San Francisco). One of Rose's characteristic "sound bite" mannerisms when he was at KFRC was to state the words "that's right" in a continuous fashion that was intended to sound "crazy" or funny, which also served to represent the overall morning zoo radio format, style and "feel" of his show.

"I'm married to radio," he told The Chronicle (San Francisco) in 1975, "and I'm thinking about suing it for nonsupport. I would describe my show as therapy, for myself."

Dr. Don Rose raised a total of over $10 million by hosting March of Dimes Superwalks for 20 years. As well, he emceed many golf tourneys, including his own, with proceeds going toward Special Olympics and special education.

Despite his cheerful persona, Rose suffered over three decades of debilitating pain from assorted medical problems. In 1972, he underwent a botched heart surgery, which caused chronic knee infections that required 11 more operations and led to his losing his kneecap. He broadcast his daily radio show flat on his back from his home hospital bed for months. In 1984, after a fall made the knee problems worse, one leg was amputated.

Dr. Don Rose last Top40 Show On KFRC-AM:

Rose had to alter his on-air act in 1986 when KFRC changed its format to Big Band Music and its imaging to Magic 61. He left KFRC permanently by the end of the year.

His departure from KFRC was followed by a short stint at KKIS/Concord-Walnut Creek beginning in 1987, where his son, Jay, was chief engineer. After a failed attempt at buying the station, Dr. Don moved to mornings at San Francisco's K101 (KIOI); four months later, he suffered a heart attack while on the air. He never returned to broadcasting on a full-time basis.

Elle MacPherson
  • Jennifer Capriati (tennis player) (44)
  • Vangelis (musician, "Chariots of Fire") (77)
  • Walt "Clyde" Frazier (Naismith Memorial Hall Of Fame basketball player) (75)
  • Eric Idle (British comedian, Monty Python's Flying Circus, mastermind of the Broadway musical Spamalot) (77)
  • Lucy Lawless (actress, Xena: Warrior Princess) (52)
  • Elle MacPherson (supermodel) (56, disputed)
  • Brendan Gleeson (actor, Braveheart, Gangs of New York, Cold Mountain, Troy, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, In Bruges) (65)
  • John Popper (singer of Blues Traveler) (53)
  • Amy Sedaris (actress, Strangers With Candy) (59)
  • Perry Farrell (singer of Jane's Addiction) (61)
  • Marina Sirtis (actress, Star Trek: The Next Generation's Deanna Troi) (65)
  • Christopher Lambert (actor, Greystoke: The Legend Of Tarzan, Lord Of The Apes, the Highlander movies) (63)
  • Bobby Kimball (singer, Toto) (73)
  • Terry Jacks (singer, "Seasons In The Sun") (76)
  • Chris D'Elia (actor/comedian, Undateable, Whitney) (40)
  • Singer Astrud Gilberto (The Girl from Ipanema) is 80.

Pentagon Eyes More States As Coronavirus Spreads

The U.S. military is watching coronavirus infection trends in Chicago, Michigan, Florida and Louisiana with concern as it weighs where else it may need to deploy, after boosting aid to New York, California and Washington, a top general said on Friday.

Reuters reports Air Force General John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the military was doing its own analysis as well as looking at data on infections compiled elsewhere in the government.

Gen John Hyten
"There's a certain number of places where we have concerns and they're: Chicago, Michigan, Florida, Louisiana," Hyten told a group of reporters, when asked where field hospitals could head next.

"Those are the areas that we're looking at and trying to figure out where to go next."

Confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States reached 100,040 on Friday, the highest number in the world, a Reuters tally showed.

The Army Corps of Engineers said on Friday it was aiming to provide facilities for 3,000 people with the coronavirus at Chicago's McCormick Place convention center by April 24 for about $75 million.

Lt.Gen Todd Semonite
Lieutenant General Todd Semonite, the Corps' commander, said the Corps was looking at potentially converting 114 facilities in the United States into hospitals.

Asked about Hyten's remarks, Semonite said he continued to be concerned about Michigan, Florida and Louisiana and had spoken with the governor of Louisiana. He said there could be a high demand for medical resources in Florida because of the aging population and added the Corps was developing options for the states.

The military is already deploying field hospitals to Seattle and New York. A Navy hospital ship arrived on Friday in Los Angeles and another one is expected to reach New York City on Monday, where Hyten said the city was still dredging the harbor to allow the massive ship to dock.

Each ship has a capacity of about 1,000 beds and would not treat coronavirus patients, instead taking pressure off overwhelmed civilian hospitals.

But Hyten cautioned that the U.S. military only had limited medical capacity in the United States and, at some point, it would have to tap the reserve forces -- while guarding against drawing medical staff away from civilian facilities.

COVID 19 Is Making 2020 Worse For ViacomCBS

ViacomCBS is proving that it’s a tough time to be the smallest major media company.

The company alerted Wall Street analysts Friday that it was abandoning its financial guidance for the year, reports The L-A Times.

“The impact of COVID-19 on ViacomCBS’ businesses — including the postponement of theatrical releases domestically and internationally, cancellation or rescheduling of sports events for which the company had broadcast rights, and production delays in television and filmed entertainment programming — could be material to the company’s operating results, cash flows and financial position,” ViacomCBS said in a regulatory filing. It noted that the media company would cut costs to help shore up its position.

It has been a bruising year for controlling shareholder Shari Redstone, who triumphed in her long-held plan to reunite her family’s two media companies — Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp. — in early December. She wanted to bring more heft and luster to the company her father built: Viacom, owner of cable channels Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, VH-1, BET and the struggling Paramount Pictures movie studio. Adding CBS, which boasts America’s most watched TV network, was intended to propel Viacom to greater heights.

But Wall Street didn’t share Redstone’s enthusiasm, and the coronavirus outbreak only added to the company’s woes. The stock has plummeted 68% since the two companies came together in early December, creating ViacomCBS.

After markets closed Friday, ViacomCBS announced that it had raised $2.5 billion in a debt offering that it hopes to close by Wednesday. The New York-based company said it would use the net proceeds for “general corporate purposes, which may include repayment of outstanding indebtedness.”

Wall Street greeted the news positively, sending ViacomCBS shares slightly higher in after-markets trading.

Nonetheless, Friday’s dual actions underscore the challenges facing the company, which relies heavily on advertising. In the last few months, ViacomCBS has announced plans to sell CBS’ historic headquarters in midtown Manhattan, a fortress known as Black Rock. It also intends to shed CBS’ iconic Simon & Schuster book publishing house. ViacomCBS plans to wait to sell Black Rock after the financial markets stabilize.

ViacomCBS’ disclosures came one day after the Redstone family investment vehicle, National Amusements Inc., announced that it restructured its agreements with lenders and refinanced its $125-million revolving credit facility. National Amusements had to cancel another $75 million line of credit for its NAI Entertainment Holdings Inc.

Entertainment Giants Pledge Millions In Help

Entertainment giant WarnerMedia has committed $100 million to help production crew members whose livelihoods have been threatened by the spreading coronavirus outbreak, said the company’s Chief Executive John Stankey in a Friday memo to staff.

The L-A Times reports the disclosure comes after the global COVID-19 pandemic effectively brought Hollywood to a standstill in recent weeks, as studios scrambled to comply with government “stay at home” orders meant to slow the virus’ spread.

AT&T Inc-owned WarnerMedia — the parent company of the Warner Bros. movie and TV studio, HBO and Turner networks — has been forced to pause multiple productions because of public health concerns.

Burbank-based Warner Bros., for example, has hit the brakes on filming “The Batman” in Britain and an Elvis Presley biopic in Australia. Actor Tom Hanks, who is featured in the latter film, was among the first celebrities to contract the virus, as was his wife, Rita Wilson. HBO has stopped production of “Succession” and “Barry.”

New York-based WarnerMedia is the latest entertainment giant to announce funds for production crews and other personnel now out of work because of the halt of shooting. Well more than 100,000 people across the entertainment industry are estimated to have lost work, including carpenters, electricians and drivers.

NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell on Thursday said the Comcast Corp. subsidiary has committed $150 million to help TV, film and theme park workers who have been idled by the coronavirus response. Shell also said he had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Streamer Netflix made a similar commitment last week, pledging $100 million to help crew get through the work stoppage. About $15 million of the Netflix fund will go toward helping the broader television and film industry via third parties and nonprofit agencies, the company said.

The disclosure by Stankey, who is also chief operating officer of AT&T, was part of a broader letter thanking staff for their perseverance at a time when companies have had to briskly move to working remotely.

Entertainment concerns including WarnerMedia have been pilloried by challenges stemming from the epidemic, such as the closure of movie theaters. The film studio has adapted by putting its theatrical releases on video on-demand services much sooner than it would normally have done, including “Birds of Prey.”

The cancellation of sporting events such as the NBA and March Madness, which are a key driver of ratings and advertising revenue for TNT and TBS, have disrupted business as well.

Living Room Concert for America Airs Sunday

“This is something completely different than we’ve ever tried before,” explained iHeart Media president of entertainment John Sykes, who is hard at work putting together “FOX Presents the iHeart Living Room Concert for America” that will air on Sunday night.

When Sykes and iHeart Media chief programming officer Tom Poleman began reaching out to artists, asking them to partake in the “Living Room Concert for America,” they emailed Elton John and asked him to perform.

“We were surprised to get an email back, the next day, saying, ‘Hey, how about I host?’ We would like to take credit for going to him as a host, but it was Elton’s idea,” Poleman told Fox News.

Sykes and “Jingle Ball” pioneer Poleman have produced some elaborate events during their careers but the logistical issues surrounding the ‘Living Room Concert’ are unprecedented.

Mariah, Tim, Elton
It all started when the “iHeart Radio Music Awards,” originally scheduled to air Sunday night on FOX, were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Execs quickly huddled to figure out an alternative.

Sykes said they wanted to create a fundraiser to raise not only cash, but also awareness for the “incredible work being done by first responders” who represent the “strength and compassion” of America.

“Part of the reason why we couldn’t do an [awards] show is because everybody’s stuck in their living rooms. So how do you make the most out of being stuck in your living rooms? Let’s do a concert where we’re all connected via living rooms,” Poleman said.

“We did a quick pivot… started calling artists at their homes,” Sykes said.

Poleman, who has even more big-name musicians reaching out to him trying to get involved, is grateful that FOX offered for the concert to be commercial-free so that he can fit as many performances as possible. And it seems like they’ll need every available minute, as additional performers will be announced leading up to Sunday’s show.

“Artists are coming in like crazy. From all around the world, we’re getting phone calls from people who want to support it,” he said. “It’s amazing when Americans, and really the world, get our back up against the wall, we really shine brightest.”

Nashville Radio: Vince Gill returns To The Opry

Vince Gill is returning to the Grand Ole Opry for the second week in a row, and this time, he's bringing the family with him.

The Tennessean reports Gill will perform on Saturday's Opry with wife Amy Grant and daughters Jenny Gill and Corrina Grant Gill.

The show starts at 7 p.m. CT, and will air live on Nashville radio station WSM 650 AM and the Opry's new Circle TV network. It will also be streamed live on Circle's Facebook and YouTube pages.

To help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Opry has continued its Saturday broadcasts from Nashville's Grand Ole Opry House without a live audience.

A new press release confirms the show is continuing with the blessing of Nashville Mayor John Cooper, who issued a Safer-At-Home order for the city earlier this week.

Cooper said Saturday's show is "an important reminder to Nashvillians and millions of people around the world that the music will always continue playing in Music City. With families safely watching and listening from their homes across our city, we are grateful to have some of our city’s greatest ambassadors – Vince Gill, Amy Grant and members of their family stepping on to the stage Saturday night to lift our spirits.”

Meanwhile, Country singer Joe Diffie said Friday that he's tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

"I am under the care of medical professionals and currently receiving treatment," Diffie said in a release. "My family and I are asking for privacy at this time. We want to remind the public and all my fans to be vigilant, cautious and careful during this pandemic.”

Diffie, 61, is best known for the '90s country hits "Pickup Man," "John Deere Green," "Third Rock From the Sun" and more. He has been planning to release "I Got This," his first new album in seven years.

Earlier this month, Diffie postponed a concert in Georgia due to coronavirus concerns.

So Far So Good: Internet Meeting At-Home Demands

Home internet and wireless connectivity in the U.S. have largely withstood unprecedented demands as more Americans work and learn remotely.

The Wall Street Journal reports broadband and wireless service providers say traffic has jumped in residential areas at times of the day when families would typically head to offices and schools. Still, that surge in usage hasn’t yet resulted in widespread outages or unusually long service disruptions, industry executives and analysts say. That is because the biggest increases in usage are happening during normally fallow periods.

Some service providers have joked that internet usage during the pandemic doesn’t compare to the Super Bowl or season finale of the popular HBO show “Game of Thrones” in terms of strain on their networks, Evan Swarztrauber, senior policy adviser to the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said this week on a call hosted by consulting company Recon Analytics Inc.

Broadband consumption during the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. has risen by more than 50% since January, according to broadband data company OpenVault, which measured connections in more than one million homes. Usage during the peak early-evening hours increased 20% as of March 25.

OpenVault estimates that average data consumption per household in March will reach nearly 400 gigabytes, a nearly 11% increase over the previous monthly record in January.

Trish Regan Out at Fox Business Network

The Fox Business anchor Trish Regan has departed the cable news network, two weeks after she was benched following an on-air monologue in which she dismissed concerns about the coronavirus as a “scam” fueled by enemies of President Trump.

The NY Times reports the network said on Friday that it “has parted ways” with Ms. Regan, whose prime-time program was abruptly pulled from the channel’s schedule earlier this month.

In a statement of her own that was distributed by the network, Ms. Regan, 47, wrote that she was looking forward to “this next chapter” of her career. “I have enjoyed my time at Fox and now intend to focus on my family during these troubles times,” she wrote.

Conservative media stars have faced intense scrutiny after many played down fears about the coronavirus, assuring millions of Americans that concerns about the illness had been overhyped by Democrats and journalists intent on undermining Mr. Trump.

Ms. Regan’s remarks, on her March 9 program, were singled out as misleading and reckless, including by many of her colleagues at Fox Business and its corporate sibling, Fox News. On air, she accused liberals of rooting for a market collapse and trying to “demonize and destroy the president” in front of a graphic reading, “Coronavirus Impeachment Scam.”

Regan had been a notable part of the Fox Business team since joining in March 2015, after stints at Bloomberg, CNBC and CBS News.

Rush Limbaugh Updates Health and Treatment

Rush Limbaugh shared an update on his health with his radio listeners on Friday as he is battling stage 4 lung cancer: "The chemo drugs are working."

The Blaze reports Limbaugh, who took several days off from his show, assured his audience, "I'm fine. I'm sitting here at my official home library desk, and I am fine."

"El Rushbo," as he is popularly called, explained to his listeners that the lung cancer he has involved a rate mutation of a gene that occurs only in 1% to 5% of cancer patients.

"Now," he said, "ordinarily that would be very bad news because it would be something that maybe there's no medicine for or that there's no targeted treatment for."

However, Limbaugh said the rate mutation is a blessing in disguise.

"It turns out it was good news because there is a clinical trial of a combination of chemo drugs that has been very successful in attacking this particular gene mutation in melanoma cancers," he said.

The chemotherapy drugs Limbaugh is taking is part of a promising stage 2 clinical trial to treat the specific kind of lung cancer mutation he has.

"America's Anchorman" noted that although the four weeks of the therapy went "great," he had to stop the treatment because of the medication's painful side effects:

I guess it got bad enough last Monday or whatever that we had to pull the treatment. We had to pull the treatment, and it was going to be just temporary for a week or two to see what would happen. I'm now taking drugs, steroids, to reverse the effects of the chemo drug.

Although Limbaugh said he now feels better, he said he spent several days with fevers ranging 102 to 103 degrees and unbearable pain in his legs.

"I've currently suspended the treatment and we're looking at alternatives, and there are plenty of those," he said. "But I've gotta get the swelling down and get this pain taking care of."