Friday, October 15, 2010

Lee Abrams Resigns From Tribune Co.

Tribune Co. Chief Innovation Officer Lee Abrams, who earlier this week sent a companywide e-mail that contained content deemed inappropriate for the workplace, resigned on Friday, according to

The e-mail was the latest in a series of free-form jottings that Abrams sent weekly to company employees in an effort to inspire a rethinking of print and broadcast conventions. They included links to satirical video parodies of newscasts. One, which included profanity and nudity, was labeled “Sluts.”

Tribune Co. Chief Executive Randy Michaels, whose leadership of the company had been characterized as fostering a sexist “frat house” atmosphere by the New York Times just one week earlier, placed Abrams on indefinite unpaid suspension on Wednesday, pending review.

Abrams earlier issued an apology “to everyone who was offended” after some Tribune Co. employees, including Chicago Tribune Editor Gerould Kern, registered objections with the company’s human resources department.

Michaels said in announcing the suspension that the satire was “in extremely bad taste,” said sending it to every single Tribune Co. employee was “the kind of serious mistake that can’t be tolerated” and promised “to address it promptly and forcefully.”

Abrams reported directly to Michaels, a former radio executive with Jacor and Clear Channel who brought Abrams to Tribune Co. in March 2008 after a decade as chief creative officer at what was then XM Satellite Radio. Abrams, for years among the radio industry’s most influential consultants, is considered one of the founding fathers of radio research.

Championing change at Tribune Co. newspapers and broadcast outlets, Abrams repeatedly accused TV news of clinging to a late 20th century look, sound and feel. He wondered aloud whether readers knew that a newspaper dateline meant the reporter was actually writing from where the story occurred.

Abrams also advocated new and different styles of storytelling and conveying information. In Houston, where the Tribune Co. TV station has virtually no viewers to lose, he was developing an anchorless newscast.

Read more here.

Study: Most Admired Journalists

Reflecting today’s fragmented news landscape, about half of the public offers no specific answer when asked to name the journalist or newsperson they most admire.

The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press finds no journalist is named by more than 5% of the public in response to an open-ended question. While individual mentions are few, the most frequently named journalists continue to include both network anchors and cable hosts. However, there are fewer mentions of network news journalists in the latest survey than in 2007, while mentions of cable news hosts and anchors have held about steady.

The decline in mentions of admired journalists is a response to a wider array of news choices. In 1985, nearly two-thirds (65%) could name a favorite journalist; 35% provided no answer. In 2007, 44% did not name anyone. Currently, 52% offer no name, according to the latest News Interest Index survey of 1,005 adults conducted Oct. 7-10 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

As was the case in 2007, no single person is named by more than 5% of the public, when respondents are asked which journalist or newsperson they most admire. But, in a shift over the past three years, cable newspeople are mentioned about as often as network news anchors and reporters; 17% name journalists or newspeople who are primarily seen on the traditional broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC or PBS), while 16% name people who are primarily seen on cable news channels (CNN, Fox News or MSNBC). By contrast, in 2007 the balance tilted toward the network newspeople: 25% of Americans named network anchors or reporters, while 14% named cable newspeople.

Among individual journalists, Diane Sawyer is mentioned by 5%, Katie Couric by 4%, Bill O’Reilly by 3% and Glenn Beck by 3%. The differences in the percentages mentioning these news figures are not statistically significant.

Even a quarter century ago, when there were far fewer news choices, no single journalist was mentioned by more than about one-in-ten Americans. In 1985, Dan Rather, then the anchor of the CBS Evening News, was mentioned most frequently; 11% volunteered Rather as the newsperson they admired most.

Since then, the range of news options has expanded considerably. Pew Research’s most recent media consumption survey found that nearly as many Americans are now getting news on a given day from traditional and digital platforms (36%) as from traditional platforms alone (39%). (See “Americans Spending More Time Following the News,” Sept. 12, 2010).

The News Interest Index also finds that the public continued to focus most closely last week on news about the economy, while the media devoted the largest share of coverage to midterm elections. Separately, an increasing proportion of Americans say that, based on what they have read and heard, they think it is more likely that Republicans will regain a majority in the House of Representatives than that the Democrats will retain control; 50% expect the Republicans to win a majority, up from 41% in early September.

Read more here.

Bob Uecker To Have Second Heart Operation

Broadcast Legend Had First Surgery In April

The Milwaukee Brewers announced Thursday morning that team radio announcer Bob Uecker will undergo a second heart surgery. The surgery is scheduled for Tuesday at Froedtert Hospital, according to

The 75-year-old hall of fame broadcaster underwent his first heart surgery in April.

The surgery is necessitated by a pseudoaneurysm, or tear, at the site of his valve replacement, according to a release from the Milwaukee Brewers. It is believed that this occurred due to a skin-related staph infection which entered the bloodstream and seeded itself into his surgical repair site.

“I’m approaching this with the same optimism that I had the first time, and I appreciate all of the kind thoughts and well wishes from Brewers fans and everyone who has reached out to me,” Uecker said in a release. “I have the highest confidence in the doctors and staff at Froedtert Hospital and I look forward to being ready to go well before Spring Training in Arizona.”

The recovery time is projected to be 8 to 10 weeks according to cardiologist James Kleczka with Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin.

Read more here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chilean Story: Fox Wins, CNN Rises, MSNBC Sinks

Fox News again had the overall largest audience for coverage of the Chilean miners rescue, but CNN had another big night Wednesday as well -- a far cryt from its usual cellar-dwelling prime-time status.
Fox was seen by more than 7 million viewers during the 8 p.m. hour when the last of the 33 miners was rescued.

According to David Zurawik at, CNN not only trounced MSNBC with its miners coverage, it also scored strong ratings with 51 minutes of Delaware Senate debate co-moderated by Wolf Blitzer from &:30 to 8:21 p.m.

There is an enormous amount of spinning and mis-information being published about the ratings the last two nights, but here is a snapshot that offer a respresentative sample of who won what.

For all of prime time Wednesday -- from 8 to 11PM ( ET):

Fox News had an overall average audience of 4,862,000 viewers (1,254,000 in the prime demo 25-54)
CNN had 2,364,000 overall ( with 705,000 in the 25-54 demographic)
MSNBC had 920,000 overall (with 293,000 in 25-54 demographic)

Read more here.

THR: Talk Radio Scrambles For New Talent

Booming biz is at a crossroads as its icons fade

In the world of spoken-word radio, there are just a handful of superstars, the big dog being Rush Limbaugh, who attracts more than 15 million different listeners a week, according to Talkers. He's followed by Sean Hannity (14 million), Glenn Beck (10 million), Mark Levin and Michael Savage (8.5 million apiece) and Dave Ramsey and Schlessinger (8 million each).

According to a story from The Hollywood Reporter,  talk's rising audience has been a bright spot in an industry dealing with an advertising recession and competition from the rise of digital music. Revenue in the radio industry fell for four consecutive years until recovering with a 6% gain during the first half of this year to $8.24 billion, according to the Radio Advertising Bureau.

Arbitron crowned the category of "news/talk/information" America's No. 1 format in its most recent "Radio Today" report, which says that -- in no small part because of a historic presidential election that had newbies tuning into talk -- the genre garnered 12.6% of the radio audience. That's up from 10.7% two years earlier and one-tenth of a percentage point ahead of the runner-up, country music.

At 2,634, news/talk/information also leads all 57 categories in terms of station count. Harrison estimates that about 100 million Americans listen to some form of talk radio, be it political, sports, finance, medical, relationship, comedy or what have you.

But insiders say that if talk is to continue its roll, it needs to identify and groom hosts who can attract Limbaugh-size audiences at reasonable salaries while learning not to skimp on the marketing of as-yet-unproven talkers.

It used to be that talkers would hone their craft during weekends and off-hours and in small markets, then work their way up. But cost-saving measures have led to filling those hours with syndicated shows.

Read more here.

O'Reilly Visits 'The View': Joy, Whoopi Walk

Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar got so angry with Bill O'Reilly while discussing the Ground Zero mosque that they both walked off the set. They later returned after Bill apologized.

Tango Knocks Twitter, Skype, Facebook Off Their Perch

Tango is a new free mobile-to-mobile video calling service

Laura Locke at asks.  'Have you noticed?'

Facebook, the world's favorite social networking tool, has been jockeying for position lately. So have Skype and Twitter. These giants lost their lead after an unprecedented run-up from newcomer Tango, a new free mobile-to-mobile video calling service. Hours after launching on September 30, Tango became the #1 free social networking app-knocking off Twitter, Skype and Facebook in the App Store in nine countries including the United States, Hong Kong, France, Taiwan, Spain and South Korea.

And Tango announced this week its 1 millionth download from the App Store and Android Marketplace. (At the moment, it's slipped to the #2 spot, after Facebook.)

Without any cheerleading by Apple or any existing brand awareness or installed user base to speak of, Tango's explosive rise is a feat of virality that every app developer dreams of. "It's unheard of," says Patrick Mork of GetJar, the world's largest independent app store. Clearly, there is pent-up demand for free, two-way video calls that work reliably across platforms (Android and iOS) over 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi. Yahoo is moving in fast, too, with its newest version of Yahoo Messenger, announced Monday, which does video chats on iOs devices over 3G and Wi-Fi and allows users to place video calls to and from desktops: it's already #4 in the App Store's "Top Free" social networking category, just behind Tango (#2) and Skype (#3).

With Tango, besides being able to talk for free (via a data connection) and see friends in real-time on both Android handsets and iPhones, there's ease of use. One-click functionality for audio and video. Plus, . Invite friends with an email or text. A really cool feature is the option to switch between audio and video during mid-call, so you're not compelled to show your mug the entire conversation.
Read more here.

A Surge in Ratings as First Miners Appeared

More than 10 million people were watching CNN, Fox News and MSNBC as the first of 33 miners was rescued in Chile on Tuesday night, the beginning of the end of a two-month ordeal for the men trapped underground.

According to Media Decorder at, the Nielsen Company estimates10.6 million people were watching those three cable news channels from 11 to 11:15 p.m. Eastern, the time that the first miner, Florencio Avalos, was pulled to the surface.

It is impossible to tell how many people watched the live coverage around the world. Channels like the BBC and Al Jazeera English also carried the rescues live, but they are not rated in the same way as the channels based in the United States.

In the United States, cable news ratings surged. As usual during breaking news, the normally third-place CNN rose to first place during the first rescue, with 5 million viewers from 11 to 11:15. Fox News Channel averaged 4.3 million viewers, and MSNBC averaged 1.3 million.

Normally, just about 2 million people total are watching the three channels at that hour.
Read more here.

Glenn Beck: 'I'm not dying'

Glenn Beck had a message for haters on Wednesday: He isn't going anywhere anytime soon, according to a story.

The conservative commentator was back on the radio after a two-day hiatus due to health problems, and kicked off his show by letting "about half of the country" know that "much to their chagrin, I am not dying."

Beck, who told fans last week that he was having serious medical issues with his hands, feet, and vocal chords, took Monday and Tuesday off to undergo a battery of tests in Utah.

"I started my day yesterday at 7 o'clock in the morning getting needles stuck in me and having electric current run through," he told listeners on Wednesday. "It was nonstop."

The Fox host, who released a detailed video for fans last week explaining his mysterious symptoms, assured everyone on Wednesday he does not have cancer, lupus, or MS.

He says doctors discovered that roughly half of his vocal chords have gone into a form of paralysis, which they believe is caused by a virus.

Though the exact diagnosis of Beck's health problems remains unclear, he was happy to joke about the severity of the tests doctors put him through.

Read more here.

Also read here:  Glenn Beck: Drawing On 1950s Extremism? (NPR)

Colbert, Stewart Rallies Will Be Broadcast Live

Comedy Central will air Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity and Stephen Colbert’s March to Keep Fear Alive, which will be held in Washington, D.C. on October 30. The rallies will be aired live on the Comedy Central network and streamed online on their Web site on Wednesday.

The network is unsure of the specifics, but according to Entertainment Weekly, it should air between noon and 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

The Website adds, "If a busy Halloween weekend means you can't join the level-headed masses on the National Mall between 3rd Street and 7th Street, basic cable and the Internet have you covered."

Also read here:  NPR Tells Staff To Stay Away From Rally

Reporter Asking Tough Questions Threatened

William Kelly, who has a program on the weekends on Chicago’s WIND radio, went out with the rest of the media shadowing Rahm Emanuel as he walked around meeting and greeting Chicago voters Tuesday.

Kelly, a conservative, was pushed away by one self-professed “real” reporter and threatened with violence from another simply for asking Emanuel if he thought the stimulus was a failure.

The first arrogant Old Media “reporter” confronting Kelly is the Charles Thomas of ABC 7 TV. He is the one that keeps insisting that Kelly is not a “real reporter.” Presumably, Thomas imagines himself to be the only “real reporter” in the streets..  Worse was the threat of violence blurted out by “reporter” Jay Levine, a reporter from CBS2-TV. He threatened to “deck” Kelly for asking questions of Emanuel.

States Probe Sirius XM For Consumer Practices

Top legal officials from five states are jointly investigating Sirius XM Radio after complaints by consumers about the satellite radio company's billing practices and account management.

According to a Reuters story, Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray is spearheading the investigation, which began earlier this month and has been joined by Arizona, Connecticut, Tennessee and Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia.

Officials are examining a range of allegations surrounding Sirius XM's policies on billing, customer solicitation and subscription cancellations and renewals. The company disclosed the probe in a regulatory filing on Wednesday.

The investigations come as Sirius XM, home to programs by Howard Stern and Oprah Winfrey, has found its footing and distanced itself from years of huge losses and questions about its business model. It has posted three straight quarters of profit and a steady addition of subscribers.

But its aggressive push to find new customers and retain existing ones has come under fire in some quarters. The Better Business Bureau said 3,462 complaints had been filed against Sirius XM in the past 36 months and that half of them involve billing or collection issues.

In Florida, for instance, customers said they were charged for automatic renewals of accounts they had canceled. Missouri consumers on the state's no-call list have complained about being repeatedly contacted by Sirius XM after they canceled subscriptions. And, last year, Sirius XM was sued in federal court by a customer who accused it of deceptively increasing prices.

Sirius is not the first media company to face complaints from consumers over subscription policies.

In 2007, AOL paid $3 million to 48 states and the District of Columbia, after consumer complaints that AOL was making it difficult for customers to close accounts.

Sirius, in a statement, said it was cooperating with the investigations and that it believed its "consumer-related practices comply with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations."
Read more here.

Arkansas Reporter Fired Over UF Cap Gets Job

University of Florida graduate Renee Gork was fired from an Arkansas radio station after wearing a Gator cap to a news conference with University of Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino.

According to, she doesn't expect wearing the cap will be a problem at her new job at UF-owned WRUF 850 AM.

"Technically, my paycheck will come from the University of Florida, so I don't think that will be an issue," she said.

Gork starts Thursday as morning co-host to Steve Russell on the station, known as Sportsradio 850 after its recent change to an all-sports format.

She also will serve as a student-experiences coordinator for UF students working with the university's broadcast stations.

She was working for KAKS, a northwest Arkansas radio station that calls itself Hog Sports Radio, when she made national news in August.

After asking Petrino a question at a news conference, he commented on her hat choice.

"And that will be the last question I answer with that hat on," Petrino said.

Gork said she simply grabbed the cap because it was drizzling and wasn't thinking about the implications of wearing it to the news conference. She said she was working on repairing relations with Petrino when she received word two days later that she had been fired.

Read more here.

Arbitron Promises More Stability In PPM Radio Ratings

From Mel Phillips Now And Then Blog...
There are just too many bounces in PPM (Portable People Meter) radio numbers.

For years radio has depended on consistency when being measured but it's not always getting it now with far too many spikes from rating period to rating period. Arbitron is determined to eliminate those bounces with new company rules. Under existing rules, almost 20% of a market's PPM panel could turn over during a three-month period, causing wide rating swings from month-to-month but that's about to change, according to Arbitron. Starting with the November survey, Arbitron will use new sample expiration rules intended to smooth out the turnover...

Arbitron's new rules are expected to be applied in all PPM markets by March, 2011. All initially selected samples will expire between 18 and 30 months under the new rules as opposed to expiring between 18 months and 36 months under the current plan with the maximum panel tenure after the initial build period set at 24 months. "Once we've spread out that turnover from the initially selected sample, ongoing sample will expire between 18 and 24 months, so we'll continue to smooth out the turnover" Arbitron's Beth Webb says. "You won't get a three-month period where there's a huge turnover in the panel. this will help the stability of the estimates in that period."

Arbitron's old rules "were creating a spike in turnover right around 24 months after a panel was filled. As we improved compliance, people were staying in the panel longer." Webb adds that many were remaining for the full 24 months after the sample build, resulting in a large number being replaced simultaneously, creating a lot of turnover in the panel all at once, which creates increased variance in the estimates." That should all end now under the new Arbitron rules...
You can visit Mel Phillips' blog here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tribune Suspends Abrams

Tribune's Abrams suspended indefinitely without pay

Randy Michaels, Tribune CEO, made the announcement in a memo to Tribune employees Wednesday afternoon:

From: Tribune Communications
Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 2:29 PM

Subject: Message from Randy Michaels/Lee Abrams Suspended

I want to let you know that today we made the decision to suspend Lee Abrams from his position as Tribune’s Chief Innovation Officer. He will remain on suspension indefinitely and without pay while we review the circumstances surrounding the email and video link he distributed on Monday. We're in the process of determining further disciplinary action.

Lee recognizes that the video was in extremely bad taste and that it offended employees - he has also apologized publicly. He reiterated those feelings again to me privately today. But, this is the kind of serious mistake that can't be tolerated; we intend to address it promptly and forcefully.

As I said last week, a creative culture must be built on a foundation of respect. Our culture is not about being offensive or hurtful. We encourage employees to speak up when they see or hear something that they find offensive, as a number of employees did with regard to this particular email. I can assure you, you will be heard.


Also read here:  Time for Tribune to clear the air on foul management (Robert Feder)

Mark Stevens of 'Stevens & Pruett' Dies

Mark Stevens, who with on-air partner Jim Pruett created what a colleague described as "radio magic" for Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth listeners for more than a quarter-century, died Tuesday from complications of Alzheimer's disease. He was 76, reports

Stevens spent 40 years in radio but enjoyed his greatest success in partnership with Pruett, first as Hudson and Harrigan at KILT (610 AM) beginning in 1974 and later under their own names at KULF-AM, KEGL-FM in Dallas-Fort Worth and KLOL (101.1 FM) in Houston.

At every stop along the way, he displayed the sense of humor and razor-sharp wit that remained with him throughout his struggle with Alzheimer's, said his wife, Melissa Stevens.

Stevens left KLOL in February 2000, but Melissa Stevens said Houston listeners never forgot his voice.

"He would be in a grocery store and would say something, and people would say, 'Wait a minute, I know your voice,'" she said. "We have such good memories."

A member of the Texas Radio Hall of Fame, Stevens' radio career began in 1961 at KFJZ in Fort Worth. He also owned a clothing store and night clubs in Dallas-Fort Worth before he came in 1974 to Houston, where he began his partnership with Pruett.

Read more here.

Media Ready To Cover Chilean Mine Rescue

After more than two excruciating months, the anticipated rescue of the 33 Chilean miners trapped in a collapsed mine appears at hand. reports, as the sun set here in northern Chile, workers tightened bolts and maneuvered into place the specially designed capsule called the Phoenix II. It is to lower a rescuer the half-mile down through a narrow hole to the haven of the trapped men — and then raise one miner to the surface of the earth.

The emerging men will be shielded from the crush of media as they emerge, with only a government photographer and Chile’s state television channel permitted access, The Associated Press reported. A 30-second transmission delay is to control for the unexpected.

News organizations in the United States planned large-scale coverage. CNN said its news shows would feature extensive coverage throughout the night and into Wednesday morning. MSNBC planned live broadcasts throughout the night. Fox News had an anchor on standby during the political shows that dominate its evening programming, with more anchors lined up through the night.

The broadcast networks all have reporters at the site of the mine as well, for their morning shows and evening newscasts. CBS and NBC said they would update their nightly newscasts for each time zone with the latest information about the miners.

“It’s fair to say the whole world will be watching,” the NBC correspondent Kerry Sanders wrote on Monday. “I can’t predict my reaction, but like the families who have held vigil here on the surface, I’m excited.”

He added, “Isn’t it about time we all shared some good news?”

As the vast team of rescue workers, medical personnel, technicians and mining experts prepared to enter the final phase, the colorful scene reflected the huge scale of the operation that has captured the attention of the world: more than 1,400 journalists, together with anxious and elated family members of the miners, gathered to witness the rescue.

Hundreds of journalists swarmed family members for comments. Signs proclaiming “Strength, Miners!” dotted the camp, as red, white and blue Chilean flags waved wildly in the sunshine.

Against this backdrop, Mr. Golborne maintained a tone both calmly optimistic and cautious. Tests on the stability of the capsule were carried out on Monday, he said, and tests on the lifting system still have to be conducted in the next few hours on Tuesday before the rescue can begin. “The capsule has not gone down all the way to the floor of the mine,” he added.
Read more here.

Sirius XM: Hirings, Firings and Negotiations

Sirius XM has banked its success on its ability to build and retain a lineup of big-name talent from the worlds of media and entertainment. Commercial-free listening means far less without the likes of a Howard Stern or Oprah Winfrey behind it, especially as Internet radio outlets like gain more ground and become more viable competition.

Talent, therefore, is the key, and a costly one.

Theresa McCabe at reports in 2009 the company reported that it spent $370.5 million on programming and content, which includes the costs to acquire, create and produce content.

Executives are currently in talks with Howard Stern and several other expiring program personalities to negotiate new contract terms. Stern's 5-year, $500 million deal expires in December 2010, and a 7-year, $220 million agreement with the NFL expires at the end of the 2010-2011 NFL season.

Loss of marquee talent is cited as one of the primary risks to Sirius' business. "There can be no assurance that this on-air talent will remain with us or that we will be able to retain their respective audiences," the company said in its annual report. "If we lose the services of one or more of them, or fail to attract qualified replacement personnel, it could harm our business and future prospects."

Read more here.

Tribune Co. Exec Sends ‘Offensive’ Memo

A top executive at Tribune Co., parent of the Chicago Tribune, e-mailed a company-wide memo Monday that contained links to off-color satirical videos, including one he labeled “Sluts” in which a gyrating woman appears to pour liquor on her bare breasts.

According to Phil Rosenthal at, the note to employees in Chicago and elsewhere came from Lee Abrams, Tribune Co.’s chief innovation officer, less than a week after an unflattering New York Times front-page story characterized the Chicago-based media concern’s top management as fostering a poisonous, sexist “frat house” atmosphere.

Abrams’ memo spurred complaints to Tribune Co.’s human resources department from Chicago Tribune Editor Gerould Kern and others, upset at the sexual content. Abrams was not immediately available for comment.

“I thought it was offensive and I thought it was completely inappropriate to be sent out in a workplace setting to everyone in this company,” Kern said Tuesday. “We’ve had some employees complain as well, and I took it to HR.”

Kern also said he complained to Abrams.

Abrams sends notes to staff each week encouraging them to reinvent the media business and not be chained to convention. The memos are generally an impressionistic pastiche of ideas, observations and links to outside sources.

Read more here.

Miami Heat Fired Up Over Clear Channel Radio Deal

On October 31 at 1 p.m., both the NBA's Miami Heat and the NFL's Miami Dolphins are scheduled to play games. Both teams have deals with Clear Channel Broadcasting for radio broadcast of those games.

Reuters reports, the Dolphins have a contract that ensures that their game is broadcast on the "extremely powerful FM station" of WBGG-FM, owned by Clear Channel. One problem: the Heat have a "most favored nation" clause with Clear Channel that gives the team a "priority broadcast position."

Which would Miami sports fans rather hear -- a Brandon Marshall catch in the end zone or a LeBron James dunk?

The question has spilled into litigation, with the Heat filing legal action against Clear Channel. The team is coming off a high-profile off-season, recruiting James and Chris Bosh, but now the team is claiming that Clear Channel is breaching its contract by favoring the Dolphins.

According to the complaint, the team's 2-year-old broadcast rights agreement with Clear Channel specifies that if another Florida sports team was granted a rights agreement, the Heat would be entitled to an equivalent package.

After Clear Channel locked up the Dolphins to a contract earlier this year, the Heat allegedly asked to see the deal. Clear Channel allegedly refused to hand over a copy, citing confidentiality concerns. During the summer, the parties continued to argue, and in July, Clear Channel is said to have handed over its agreement with the Dolphins.

Heat executives didn't like what they saw.

According to the lawsuit, Clear Channel's agreement with the Dolphins granted the team broadcast rights on WBGG-FM as well as WINZ-AM, plus the right to sell advertising. The broadcaster allegedly also gave the Dolphins two hours of pre- and post-game time, whereas the Heat got only a half-hour. The Heat claim Clear Channel also gave the Dolphins rights to create other shows, such as twice-weekly specials devoted to interviews with coaches and players, as well as an HD channel centered on the Dolphins. Other considerations allegedly were made, including outdoor promotions, public service announcements, charitable events and rights fees that were more favorable to the Dolphins.

The Heat immediately let Clear Channel know it was in breach of contract.
Read more here.

Email Still Tops Facebook for Keeping in Touch

Only 18- to 24-year-olds use the social networking site more than email for passing items on
Content-sharing has become a staple of internet usage for most online adults.

According, research from Chadwick Martin Bailey found that three-quarters of web users are likely to share content with friends and family, and nearly half do so at least once a week. But while much social networking content is built around such shared items, most people still prefer to use email to pass along items of interest.

Overall, 86% of survey respondents said they used email to share content, while just 49% said they used Facebook. Broken down by age, the preference for email is more pronounced as users get older. And only the youngest group polled, those ages 18 to 24, reverses the trend, with 76% sharing via Facebook, compared with 70% via email.

Read more here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Power Move

Clear Channel shifts three radio stations' formats

Clear Channel Radio Norfolk has changed the beat at three of its local radio stations, managers announced Monday.

according to, Clear Channel changed 105.3 Kiss FM - call letters WKUS - from urban adult contemporary to more of a greatest hits for the baby-boomer set. The new station is Magic 105.3.

Urban adult contemporary programming will shift to two other stations, 92.1 FM and 107.7 FM. The first, Cool 92.1, had featured oldies and light rock; the other, smooth jazz.

The mix at Magic 105.3 will lean toward the greatest hits of the baby-boomer generation, including Motown and Top 40 acts popular during the 1970s such as Donna Summer and KC and the Sunshine Band.

Clear Channel Radio Norfolk comprises FM radio stations WKUS, WOWI (103 Jamz ), WJCD (107.7) and WCDG (92.1).

103 Jamz will remain the home for urban pop from the likes of Alicia Keys, Trey Songz and Jay-Z.

Read more here.

Tribune Co. Makes Progress With Several Creditors

Tribune Co. and several of its most important creditor groups announced a broad new settlement Tuesday that brings the company closer to resolving its nearly two-year-old bankruptcy case.

According to, the new pact includes a group of senior lenders who had been holding out on a compromise, the company said, as well as the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors in the case, who represent junior creditors.

Still absent from the settlement, however, are several key junior creditor groups including major bondholder Aurelius Capital Management, a litigious New York hedge fund known for disrupting large bankruptcy cases. Sources close to Aurelius have said the fund plans to file its own plan by the court imposed Oct. 15 deadline.

The company said the new pact was worked out with the help of the court-appointed mediator in the case, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross. It was blessed by a special independent committee of Tribune Co.’s board.

A key breakthrough in the plan is that it calls on senior lenders led by JPMorgan Chase to increase up-front payments to junior bondholders like Aurelius by $120 million, bringing their recovery to $420 million, or 32.73 cents on the dollar, the company said.

In return for those payments, the lenders would get releases from exposure to litigation related to the second step of Tribune Co.’s ill-fated 2007 leveraged buyout.

Read more here.

NFL Is Compelled to React

From Richard Sandomir at

Deadspin’s mission is to be everything the mainstream news media are not: snarky, mean spirited and unbound by more rigorous principles of old-line journalism. In that spirit of online mayhem, the sports blog last Thursday posted photographs of what it purports to be Brett Favre’s genitals, shots that it said he sent while still the Jets’ quarterback to Jenn Sterger, a former game-day host for the team. So far, the story has been viewed 1.9 million times.

True or false, the story is tantalizing and sordid gossip about a future Hall of Famer — and Deadspin had been playing it (and its follow-ups) with a raw, gleeful rush of tabloid energy as the Jets prepared to play Monday night against Favre and his current team, the Minnesota Vikings.

But any mainstream news outlet that hoped to ignore or marginalize the story could not after the N.F.L. said Friday afternoon that it was investigating Favre’s conduct. A. J. Daulerio, Deadspin’s editor, said he knew the story would be picked up by other news media if it was seen as a possible case of sexual harassment.

Read more here.

Also read here:  Legacy of Favre-Jennifer Sterger story could be future of sports media ethics

Covers: Oprah Versus Arianna

Business magazine rivals Fortune and Forbes go head-to-head on the newsstand this week, with both titles publishing “powerful women” lists. Fortune, which has Oprah Winfrey on its cover, scores the advantage with its exclusive interview and photo session with the queen of daytime TV. Winfrey spoke to editor at large Patricia Sellers about her new cable network, OWN. Meanwhile, Forbes has Arianna Huffington on the cover of its “100 most powerful women” issue.

According to Any Wicks at, the competing lists are duplicative in some instances except at the top, where Forbes lists First Lady Michelle Obama as number one while Fortune has no mention of the First Lady (Fortune only ranks business women while Forbes’ list is more wide ranging, with people such as Lady Gaga — presumably because it helps those Web page views).

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Sirius XM: A Travesty of Misinformation

From Steve Garcia at
Once again, Sirius XM Radio has been the brunt of some bad writing and less than accurate information from the likes of several “Financial News” sources on the internet. The death of satellite radio as we know it has been an ongoing source of comic relief to any investor who is worth their salt and does even a small amount of research, including reading some SEC filings. Fomented lies about satellite radio may grab some sensational headlines but they do not give a true and clear picture of what satellite radio is or whether they truly have any direct competition.

Allow me to help clarify the picture for those of you out there who have not been following for the last 10 years. Satellite radio is here to stay, having survived the onslaught of negativity from multiple media sources and a merger which became prohibitively expensive to finalize, as well as the economic meltdown of 2008-2009. That said, Sirius XM, which is the company resulting from the merger of Sirius satellite radio and XM satellite radio (once two very distinct satellite radio companies), has spent the last year and a half shedding a lot of excesses, duplicity of effort and cost as it streamlines and transforms into a much leaner and stronger company.
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BlueCross Launches Pandora iNet Radio Station

First Insurer-Sponsored Online Radio Station

When you’re searching for tunes to tune up your body, the last place you’d think to turn to is your insurance company. But that’s exactly who’s bringing you music to help you improve your health. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee has launched the first ever health insurance-sponsored Pandora music station.

According to, The BlueCross Pandora Radio Station provides listening options for three different energy levels when working out, mellow beats, music for moving and 100 percent exertion. The stations include a broad mix of music that will appeal to all tastes, ranging from hip-hop and rock to indie and dance genres.

“We want, not only our members, but all Tennesseans to get the most out of their workouts, whether it’s at the gym, in the yard or spending time with their families,” said Janet McConnell, director of brand strategy and new media for BlueCross. “Music helps us get in the mood to work out and motivates us to keep going when we feel like quitting.”

Listening to the right music when exercising can increase endurance and speed, according to a study published in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology. When compared to a no-music control group, the motivational synchronized music led to a 15 percent improvement in endurance. It’s a great motivational tool for those who have a more difficult time sticking with their workout routine.
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Monday, October 11, 2010

Will We Be Reading "NewsBeast"?

Personalities Color Talks Between Newsweek, Daily Beast

Newsweek magazine and the Daily Beast news website are deep in talks over a possible combination and the likelihood of a deal is increasing, though some hurdles remain.

According to Russell Adams at, the key question hanging over talks is whether a merged operation would be big enough for the three outsize personalities that such a deal would bring together, according to people familiar with the discussions.

A deal would make Daily Beast co-founder and co-owner Tina Brown the editor of Newsweek on top of her existing editorial duties at the website, answering to two bosses who are heavily invested, both emotionally and financially, in their respective properties.

Stereo tycoon Sidney Harman, who recently acquired Newsweek from Washington Post Co., has said he didn't buy the magazine to make money. He bought it because he was drawn to the challenge of turning it around and has strong convictions about how that can happen.

People familiar with Mr. Harman's thinking said he may be wary of handing the reins to a strong-willed editor who also answers to another boss—Barry Diller, chairman and chief executive of Daily Beast owner IAC/InterActive Corp.

A deal makes sense for both parties because of its potential to reduce costs and fill some gaping holes.

Newsweek and Mr. Harman's attorney declined to comment.
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Hanson: Simulcasts Aren't Working

From Kurt Hanson:
One of the big insights about Internet radio in recent weeks — triggered by an analysis by Bridge Ratings last month and reinforced in sessions at RAIN Summit East last week — is that while Internet radio listening is growing at a fast pace, the audiences for streams that are simulcasts of terrestrial radio stations, according to Webcast Metrics, appear to be flat to declining.

This makes sense. As AccuRadio COO John Gehron points out, it’s exactly consistent with what we saw in the 1970s as FM took off.

Back in that era, as I dimly recall from my grade school days, there were quite a few AM broadcasters that owned FM licenses and did nothing with them except simulcast their AM stations (to the extent the FCC allowed). Generally speaking, these simulcasts did not do well.

As soon as other broadcasters used their FM signals for programming that was specifically designed to take advantage of the benefits of the FM band — e.g., the bandwidth to deliver new music formats, lower spot loads, higher fidelity, and stereo — those stations took off and the simulcasts floundered.

That seems to be what’s happening now with Internet radio. As webcasters offer products specifically designed to take advantage of the benefits of Internet delivery — e.g., the bandwidth to deliver new music formats, lower spot loads, deeper playlists, and most importantly personalization — those stations (e.g., Pandora) are taking off and the simulcasts appear to be floundering.

If you’re a broadcaster, of course you should continue to stream your terrestrial signal online, as it’s a customer service to those fans of yours that may have access to a PC or smartphone but not an AM/FM radio in a certain listening location.

But if you’re looking for growth, a straight simulcast of your AM/FM signal is probably not the answer you’re looking for.

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Chinese Media Silent On Nobel Winner

Imprisoned Liu Xiaobo wins one of the world's highest honors, but most of his countrymen have no idea. Web search engines return error messages for his name. The few who try to celebrate are arrested.

From Megan Stack,
The silence was conspicuous in China on Saturday.

Dissident Liu Xiaobo languished in a prison cell, possibly unaware that he had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize a day earlier. His wife was incommunicado after telling a reporter she was being taken away by police.
And the Chinese news media appeared determined to pretend that nothing had happened.
As for most Chinese, they didn't have to pretend. Many of them don't know Liu exists, let alone that he has been honored with the world's most coveted award.

This is the paradox of China: It's an economic superpower that is very much a part of the world and yet, at times, separate from it.

On Saturday, the world was there, with TV news reports of the toxic sludge in Hungary and other global events. There was one enormous exception, however: The Nobel Peace Prize, meant to appeal to the best in humanity and break down borders, didn't much exist for Chinese speakers.

Only the Global Times, an English-language newspaper put out by the Chinese government, carried a stinging rebuke in its Saturday editions.

Liu, the newspaper's unsigned editorial said, is "an incarcerated Chinese criminal." Awarding him the prize was a "paranoid choice" that was "meant to irritate China." The Nobel Peace Prize has been "degraded into a political tool that serves an anti-China purpose".
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NHL Islanders Make Radio Deal With Hofstra

The NHL's New York Islanders are looking to finalize a deal with Hofstra's radio station to broadcast their games, according to a report on

Radio Hofstra University (WRHU 88.7-FM), the school's radio station, would carry the games, and actually give the team its strongest radio signal in five years.

For the past two seasons, the Long Island Radio Group carried the Islander games on WMJC-FM (94.3) and WHLI (1100-AM). Last season, the Isles simulcast their TV broadcast over the radio.

This arrangement would not only give the Isles a better signal, it would likely save them money, as teams usually pay stations to carry their games.

According to the report, Chris King, the Islanders' radio voice, could still work the games, but there's a chance Hofstra students could work intermission reports and could also serve as color commentators during games. Students may also get the chance to work the technical end of the broadcast.

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Fire Destroys 2 Station's Transmitting Tower

A wind-driven brush fire briefly threatened San Jose's landmark Eggo plant Saturday evening, and consumed a nearby building that includes the tower for KSJX, a radio station targeted to an Asian audience.

About 40 workers were evacuated by San Jose Fire fighters from the 475 Eggo Way factory, operated by Kellogg's, which makes the popular frozen waffles there. The building was enveloped in smoke, but there were no injuries to the workers.

According to, The blaze started shortly before 5 p.m. on a grassy patch of mostly vacant land between the Kellogg's plant and U.S. 101.

Strong winds sent flames into vegetation surrounding the Kellogg's plant, San Jose Fire Department spokesman Robert Culbertson said.

The tower building was consumed in flames and was still burning several hours later.

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