Friday, October 22, 2010

Michaels Resigns, Trib Names Four To Lead

Having lost the support of many employees, his board and the creditors who will soon take over the media company, Tribune Co. Chief Executive Randy Michaels resigned Friday, as the company's board sought to end one of the most tumultuous episodes in the history of the 163-year-old Chicago institution, which is now in bankruptcy.

The Chicago Tribune reports Michaels will be replaced by a four-member office called an Executive Council, which will be charged with stabilizing the company while it struggles to exit Bankruptcy Court after almost two years of fractious, stop-and-start negotiations with creditors.

The new caretakers are: Eddy Hartenstein, chief executive and publisher of the Los Angeles Times Media Group; Tony Hunter, president and publisher of the Chicago Tribune Media Group; Nils Larsen, Tribune Co. chief investment officer; and Don Liebentritt, who is in charge of the company's Chapter 11 restructuring.

Tribune owns the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, KTLA-TV Channel 5 and other media properties.

Michaels' departure followed weeks of escalating allegations that he and his "friends and family" — a cadre of former colleagues and associates from the radio industry — had tarnished the company with boorish, sexist behavior and a general atmosphere of juvenile unprofessionalism in the corporate suite.

Since he was installed in 2007 by Tribune Chairman Sam Zell, Michaels has maintained that his raucous, unconventional style was intended to foster creativity at a company desperate for new ideas.

But in the end, sources say, the former on-air radio personality was undone by a growing perception among once-supportive Tribune board members that his tactics were more irresponsible than effective. His behavior, they concluded, not only publicly embarrassed the company but exposed the board to potentially damaging charges that directors were standing by while management ran amok.

One question not immediately answered on Friday is what will happen to Michaels' recruits still at the company, many of whom are scattered throughout the broadcasting, Interactive and corporate divisions in important positions. When asked Friday whether he would stay at the company, Marc Chase, president of Tribune Interactive and a close ally of Michaels, said that he now reports to Hunter and that "I have no plans to leave." When asked whether Hunter had confirmed his status, he referred a reporter to Hunter, who was unavailable for comment.

Instead of being a tool of motivation, Michaels' "shock and awe" campaign was often perceived as being offensive and stifling by those who didn't get the joke. And when allegations of improper sexualized comments came to light, it appeared the loose employee handbook condoned bad behavior more than good judgment.

As Denise Brown, a former member of the company's corporate communications team told the Chicago Tribune this week, "if you spoke up you were portrayed as a sissy."

Michaels and his team, many of whom worked together at Jacor Communications and Clear Channel Communications, also stood as a group apart from the company they were attempting to transform.
Read more here.

Williams Joins 'Defund NPR' Chorus

Everyone on “The O’Reilly Factor” last night was calling for Congress to defund NPR, but Juan Williams, at that point, didn’t join that particular call.

Until Friday morning.

Via, here’s the transcript from “Fox and Friends:”
Gretchen Carlson: Some members of Congress are calling for NPR to be defunded.

Juan Williams: You know what? I love NPR. I think that NPR is an important institution. I think oftentimes the quality of journalism is fantastic. I’m not about attacking NPR. But I do think this, Gretchen. If they want to compete in the marketplace, they should compete in the marketplace. They don’t need public funds. I think they should go out there, if they think the product is so great, go out and sell the product. And what happens is, too often, then, they want to make it out like, “You know what? We are a public jewel and we need the protection of the federal government. We need federal funds that come through the member stations and they pay for this product.” Nonsense. They are on a federal dole, is what it is And they better admit it and step up if they want to compete.

(Tom sez:  I would bet just about everyone in commercial radio would agree.)

Poll: Many Americans Say NPR Wrong

Only 19% Say NPR was Right to Fire Analyst

The vast majority of Americans with an opinion on the issue say National Public Radio was wrong to fire news analyst Juan Williams for his controversial comments about Muslims during an appearance this week on Fox News.

Ted Ilifff at writes a national Poll Position public opinion survey found significant criticism of the national radio network for ousting the veteran reporter and analyst.

Forty-six percent of those polled said NPR was wrong to fire Williams, 19 percent said NPR was right to fire him, and 35 percent said they had no opinion on the issue.

The criticism was even stronger when broken down by ethnic groups, drawing opposition from 62 percent of Hispanics, 58 percent of Williams’ fellow blacks and 55 percent from “other.” Whites registered less than a majority in opposing NPR’s decision, but the network’s critics in that group still outnumbered supporters 42 percent to 21 percent.

Read more here.

NPR CEO: Profoundly Sorry..

Williams' Firing Happened During Fundraising Week

WSJ Photo
In an internal memo to NPRers, CEO Vivian Schiller offered further clarification on the Juan Williams situation (for other stories, click here). It ended with Schiller stating 'we appreciate your support'.  (Tom sez:  In other words, toe the line or you could be out too.)


Thank you for all of your varying feedback on the Juan Williams situation. Let me offer some further clarification about why we terminated his contract early. First, a critical distinction has been lost in this debate. NPR News analysts have a distinctive role and set of responsibilities. This is a very different role than that of a commentator or columnist. News analysts may not take personal public positions on controversial issues; doing so undermines their credibility as analysts, and that’s what’s happened in this situation. As you all well know, we offer views of all kinds on your air every day, but those views are expressed by those we interview – not our reporters and analysts.

Second, this isn’t the first time we have had serious concerns about some of Juan’s public comments.

Despite many conversations and warnings over the years, Juan has continued to violate this principal.

Third, these specific comments (and others made in the past), are inconsistent with NPR’s ethics code, which applies to all journalists (including contracted analysts):

“In appearing on TV or other media . . . NPR journalists should not express views they would not air in their role as an NPR journalist. They should not participate in shows . . . that encourage punditry and speculation rather than fact-based analysis.”

More fundamentally, “In appearing on TV or other media including electronic Web-based forums, NPR journalists should not express views they would not air in their role as an NPR journalist.”

Unfortunately, Juan’s comments on Fox violated our standards as well as our values and offended many in doing so.  We’re profoundly sorry that this happened during fundraising week.   Juan’s comments were made Monday night and we did not feel it would be responsible to delay this action.

This was a tough decision and we appreciate your support.



Bridge Ratings Takes Radio Through The "Digital Gauntlet"

Bridge Ratings has released an extensive look at the effect of new media on terrestrial radio over the past 12 years, going back to the rise of Napster in the late '90s. Bridge surveyed 3822 persons ages 12-21, who currently listen to the radio, use an MP3 player, listen to Internet radio, use social networking sites, all for at least 30 minutes a week, along with regular cell phone use. notes Bridge measured "favoriteness" of listeners ages 12+, looking at how many had a favorite radio station. In the late '90s, approximately 85 percent of the demo had a favorite station, but by 2010, this measurement has fallen to just over 72 percent of listeners.

The study shows a "tipping point" in radio listening that first happened between 2002-2003, but the "collective momentum" of digital alternatives to terrestrial radio hit a new point by 2007. In 2007, 12-21 year olds' usage of MP3 players overtook what Bridge calls the Bridge Ratings Index (the relationship between weekly radio listening (cume) and favoriteness).

Internet radio began to really impact between 2003-2005 and usage surpassed preference for terrestrial radio in 2006 among 12-21 year olds. Bridge also found that social networking sites passed 12-21 year olds' preference for radio by 2007 and labels it as the "killer activity" that has hurt TSL among younger demographics.

Pulling together the data, Bridge found that "each digital technology contributes to carving off affinity to radio and consumers find it more and more difficult to concentrate on one medium for their entertainment. Short attention span syndrome has been shown to be a function of the increase in multi-tasking by all age groups in recent years."

Bridge notes that there has been less attrition among 18-34 year-olds, though the multiple digital options out there also have taken a toll on this demographic's preference for terrestrial radio as well.

Read more here.

40+% Of Teens Don't Have Favorite Radio Station

From country consultant Jaye Albright's Breakfast Blog:

Dave Van Dyke at Bridge Ratings has been tracking these things for many years and he's worried about our 12-to-21-year-olds, especially, as he reports today the percentage of all radio consumers that has a favorite radio station fell from 85% in 1998 to 72%.

Why might that be? Van Dyke has some recommendations on that too.
Read more here.

Christian Talker Ready for Secular Radio

The topics are vintage Jerry Springer:
  • "I Need to Forgive My Lesbian Bipolar Mom."
  • "My Son Just Found Out He Has a Baby; Should I Meet This Child?"
  • "How Can I Get Past the Hurt of My Husband Looking at Dirty Magazines?"
But instead of squabbling over such things on the famously lurid TV talk show, they were discussed on a Christian radio program.

"We could do an entire show called 'Porn Talk,''' host Steve Arterburn tells Greg Hardesty of the Orange County Register about the type of calls he gets on "New Life Live," a syndicated radio program produced in Laguna Beach that airs on nearly 200 radio stations.

The hour-long call-in show, on the air since 1990, provides a Christian take on inner demons of all kinds, notably sex, drug and addiction. Two-million listeners tune in five days a week.

Now, with the recent debut of "New Life Live" on TV and iconic radio personality Dr. Laura set to go off the air in January, Arterburn sees a huge opportunity for his program.

"If you like her, you'll love us," says Arterburn, author and founder of New Life Ministries.

Like the callers to his show, the 57-year-old Arterburn shatters the stereotype that Christians somehow are more immune from others when it comes to fetishes, addictions and downright deplorable behavior.
Is this radio host the Christian Jerry Springer?

Although his program is anchored in faith, Arterburn takes a more secular, everyman approach -- which may explain the appeal of "New Life Live," whose audience, he says, has doubled over the last five years.

In June, the Christian call-in show started airing on the daily TV lineup of Dallas-based FamilyNet Television, which reaches more than 15 million homes. In October, "New Life Live" began airing weekdays at noon (eastern time) on the Christian-based National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) Network.

Arterburn says he's in talks -- but not serious negotiations -- with radio producers to try to step into the shoes of Dr. Laura, whose audience is 9 million per week.

He has hired a Hollywood agent to pitch his program, which features a rotating panel of experts joining him in a tag-team approach to offering advice.

Read more here.

Goal: A Pandora In Every Car

Tim Westergren hasn't always been the digital music prophet. When he founded Pandora Media in 2000, it was more of a curious academic experiment called the Music Genome Project to analyze the attributes of all types of music, from early Renaissance classical to trip hop and funk.

That was followed in 2005 by Pandora's Internet radio, which serves up music deemed by the Music Genome to be similar to favorite songs or bands of individual listeners.

The LA Times reports though wildly popular, the company limped along financially until 2008, when Westergren announced that it was on the brink of collapse, thanks to a dramatic, retroactive increase in what Internet radio stations such as Pandora were ordered by federal courts to pay in performance royalties.

The announcement came as a shock to its 6 million listeners, who bombarded their elected officials with demands for reducing the fees. The campaign, called SaveNetRadio, worked. The fees were ratcheted down last year, sparing Pandora from what seemed like certain extinction.

The Oakland company still forks over 60% of its revenue in royalties, but now it can focus on growing, rather than just staying alive. Pandora today has more than 40 million listeners on mobile devices.

What's next? Westergren, the company's boyish and lanky chief executive who favors striped T-shirts that make him look much more youthful than his 44 years, answers that in a recent interview with The LA Times.

Read more here.

Also Read:  Pandora Calls Car Listening "The Holy Grail"... (Mel Phillips)

Fox Hands Williams $2 Million Contract

As National Public Radio weathered a storm of criticism Thursday for its decision to fire news analyst Juan Williams for his comments about Muslims, Fox News moved aggressively to turn the controversy to its advantage by signing Williams to an expanded role at the cable news network.

According Matea Gold of the Tribune's Washington bureau, Fox News Chief Executive Roger Ailes handed Williams a new three-year contract Thursday morning, in a deal that amounts to nearly $2 million, a
considerable bump up from his previous salary, the Tribune Washington Bureau has learned. The Fox News contributor will now appear exclusively and more frequently on the cable news network and have a regular column on

"Juan has been a staunch defender of liberal viewpoints since his tenure began at Fox News in 1997," Ailes said in a statement, adding a jab at NPR: “He’s an honest man whose freedom of speech is protected by Fox News on a daily basis.

Read more here.

Also read
  •  JUAN WILLIAMS: I Was Fired for Telling the Truth (Fox News Channel)
  • Juan Williams, President Obama and the Nanny State’s Radio (Yorktown Patriot)
  • NPR CEO Apologizes For 'Psychiatrist' Remark (NPR)
  • NPR Ombudsman: Williams' Firing Poorly Handled (NPR)
  • Public Radio vs. the Public The comment that got Juan Williams fired--and the one that didn't. (
  • Williams Firing Sparks Calls to Defund National Public Radio (Fox News Channel)
  • Chris Wallace: NPR "Had Been After Juan For Some Time" (Broadcasting&Cable)
There was no question the first thing Bill O’Reilly addressed on his program would be the firing of Juan Williams from NPR over comments he made about Muslims on Monday’s edition of the Factor. Sure enough, O’Reilly almost immediately called the firing a “disgraceful decision,” and later brought Williams himself on to talk about it.

During a contentious interview on Fox News’ America Live, anchor Megyn Kelly interviewed Ibrahim Hooper, the communications director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), about NPR’s recent firing of political analyst Juan Williams for comments he made regarding Muslims.

Radio Bill Can't Get Play in Senate

A bill that would allow the Federal Communications Commission to give licenses to more noncommercial, localized radio stations is caught in static.

Jennifer Martinerz at reports, despite support from both sides of the aisle, including strong backing from Arizona Sen. John McCain, a group of Republican senators have successfully blocked the bill.

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso currently has a hold on the measure, which would create a new crop of radio stations — known as low-power FM stations — dedicated to hyperlocal community news, such as information about school boards, city councils and church groups, or spreading music by local artists.

Congress has considered for nearly a decade allowing more low-power FM stations to enter the market. In 2000, Congress revoked the FCC’s authority to give licenses to low-power radio stations that are three clicks away from other stations on the radio dial — so-called third adjacent channels — and therefore limited low-power stations mostly to rural areas, where the airwaves aren’t as crowded.

There are already about 800 low-power FM stations in the U.S., according to the Media Access Project, a Washington-based advocacy group. Low-power FM stations operate at 100 watts or less and reach only a few miles. By comparison, the FM station WMMR in Philadelphia runs at 16,500 watts. Still, larger broadcasters worry the small stations could interfere with their signals.

Read more here.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

NPR Fires Williams Over Comments on Muslims

NPR has terminated its contract with Juan Williams, one of its senior news analysts, after he made comments about Muslims on the Fox News Channel.

NPR said in a statement that it gave Williams notice of his termination on Wednesday night.

According to Brian Stelter at, the move came after Mr. Williams, who is also a Fox News political analyst, appeared on the “The O’Reilly Factor” on Monday. On the show, the host, Bill O’Reilly, asked him to respond to the notion that the United States was facing a “Muslim dilemma.” Mr. O’Reilly said, “The cold truth is that in the world today jihad, aided and abetted by some Muslim nations, is the biggest threat on the planet.”

Mr. Williams said he concurred with Mr. O’Reilly.

He continued: “I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”

Williams also made reference to the Pakistani immigrant who pleaded guilty this month to trying to plant a car bomb in Times Square. “He said the war with Muslims, America’s war is just beginning, first drop of blood. I don’t think there’s any way to get away from these facts,” Williams said.

Read more here.

Schiller: NPR No ‘Particular Political Persuasion’

Don’t bother telling Vivian Schiller, the president and chief executive of NPR, that the media entity has a liberal bias — or any kind political beliefs. She has heard the argument before.

“No, we don’t have a particular political persuasion,” Schiller said during a recent episode of “Media Matters with Jon Friedman” on The Wall Street Journal Digital Network.

Jon Friedman at's Speakeasy Media blog suggested that a lot of people would disagree with her assertion.

“That’s absolutely true, and I get many, many letters and I get many emails a week from the left and the right accusing us of bias in the opposite direction,” Schiller said. “It speaks to the popularity of media that takes a particular point of view…and we don’t do that, and that upsets some people and that’s fine. They don’t have to listen if they don’t want to.”

Schiller has more pressing issues at hand. She is pleased with NPR’s growth rate and intends to keep the pressure on. “Just under 34-million people tune into their local NPR member station every week,” she said. “In the last 10 years, public-radio listening has grown 60% while, unfortunately, many other news media have declined (by) double digits. We have incredible engagement.”

Schiller noted that its devotees tend to listen to NPR an average of six hours a week.

NPR has ambitious growth objectives. Schiller expects to have at least 50 million listeners a week by 2020.

Read more here.

Public Radio Is Enjoying Boom Times

Larry Mantle, right, host of KPCC's
popular "AirTalk" program/LA Times
While its TV counterpart struggles, National Public Radio listenership is up and there are plans to greatly expand its reporting.
James Rainey at writes more listeners continue to find public radio and, as evidenced by a couple of developments in recent days, the network and some of its executives want to make the footprint even larger.

The expansive news came from NPR Chief Executive Vivian Schiller and public radio's most aggressive entrepreneur, Bill Kling of American Public Media and Minnesota Public Radio. Both discussed plans to improve public radio's local coverage by putting more reporting boots on the ground.

With NPR already well established as a national and international news source, its biggest gaps are on the local front. And that happens to be where newspapers and other media have cut back.

Public radio executives join the growing push by new media to fill the local news void. AOL's has websites in nearly 300 communities and is growing steadily. EveryBlock, owned by, aggregates property, crime, education and other public records to help people better understand their neighborhoods.

Don't count on any clarity in the local news space any time soon as newspapers tenaciously cling to their incumbent advantages — including staffs still larger than most of the upstarts — and upstarts continue to crowd the space.

Read more here.

Cape Cod Stations Drop Political Ad

Candidates Perry and Keating/AP Photo
Under pressure from listeners, three Cape radio stations have pulled a political advertisement that graphically describes what a Wareham (Massachusetts) police officer did to a 14-year-old girl. reports WXTK, WCOD and WCIB, three stations owned by Qantum Communications, have removed the ad, purchased by the American Family First Action Fund, after receiving complaints about its content, said Allison Makkay, the radio group's general manager.

"Because there were some questions about the content and the  accuracy, we have the discretion," said Makkay, who consulted the company's attorney before pulling the ads. "We received a slew of complaint calls."

Makkay said because the ad was not sponsored by a candidate, the station faced increased liability if the content was wrong. "So we decided it was better for us to take a step back," she said.

The advertisement targets 10th Congressional District candidate Jeffrey Perry's role in a strip search scandal that rocked the Wareham Police Department in the early 1990s. Scott Flanagan, an officer under Perry's command, pleaded guilty to the illegal strip searches of two teen girls, including a 14-year-old girl who was also sexually assaulted by the officer. In that 1991 incident, Perry was at the scene but has said he did not hear the girl's screams for help.

Read more here.

Sexualization of Children Breaches Canadian Code

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council  today released its decision concerning comments made about Justin Bieber fans on the CFNY-FM (102.1, The Edge, Toronto) morning show.

According to, on October 20, 2009, the hosts of the Dean Blundell Show were discussing Twitter exchanges that Blundell had had with fans of the teen pop singer when the host made sexual references in relation to some of those young fans.  The CBSC concluded that the remarks violated Clause 8 (Exploitation) of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’  Equitable Portrayal Code which prohibits the sexualization of children in broadcasting.

Justin Bieber is a 16-year-old pop singer whose style appeals primarily to pre-teen and adolescent females, a style quite different from the alternative and hard rock music that are played on The Edge.  Apparently, Dean Blundell had posted comments on his Twitter page expressing his dislike for Bieber and implying, in vulgar terms, that Bieber was likely gay.

In response, over the following days, Blundell received numerous tweets from Bieber fans who defended the singer and insulted Blundell.  Blundell posted additional comments in response, some of which referred to incest.  In their on-air discussion of this matter on October 20, the co-hosts noted that the fans with whom Blundell had communicated were likely about 12 years old and they repeated a couple of the comments that Blundell had tweeted.

To a female fan, Blundell said he had tweeted, “Save your energy for puberty or to fend off your dad tonight while you’re sleepin’” and about the one male fan who had contacted him, Blundell said, “He’ll be chuggin’ before he’s 18  if he likes that music.”

A listener complained that the suggestions that the female fan would be a victim of incestual rape and that the male fan would become a male prostitute were totally inappropriate because they were directed at minors.

Read more here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Report: Randy Michaels Poised To Resign

Randy Michaels, Tribune Co.'s embattled chief executive, has decided to resign his post at the Chicago-based media company and intends to leave the company before the end of the week, sources close to the situation said.

The Chciago Tribune reports he will be replaced by a four-member office of the president that the sources said would comprise Eddy Hartenstein, president and publisher of the Los Angeles Times; Tony Hunter, president and publisher of the Chicago Tribune Media Group; Nils Larsen, Tribune Co.'s chief investment officer; and Don Liebentritt, chief restructuring officer.

The development comes after weeks of turmoil at the bankrupt company, brought on by assertions that Michaels and his management team displayed boorish behavior and fostered a sexist, hostile work environment. Even as the Tribune Co. board met Tuesday to discuss Michaels' fate in light of the crisis, new complaints by current and former employees were emerging.

A spokesman for Tribune Co., which owns the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and other media properties, would not comment on Michaels' planned departure or the proposed succession plan. Michaels and the other executives involved did not return calls and e-mails seeking comment.

Read more here.

Social Network Importance to Radio Industry

There's a growing buzz about social networks that should be addressed before it gets too far out of proportion with reality.

Ken Dardis at blogs:
No matter which medium we turn to today we see the word Facebook, the "Kleenex" of social networks. Facebook is important in the lives of many bloggers, journalists, and marketing VPs who want to appear on the cutting edge. Whether that edge is bleeding isn't as important as the appearance that "you are there."

I've spent the better part of the past decade deeply involved in analytics and metrics, at times trying to pull together a system allowing the radio industry to use the internet in delivering a definitive ROI number to advertisers.

Measuring is the only way to manage, to know if actions produce positive or negative results. Staying updated on the variety of techniques for collecting data, and how to digest it for meaning, can be called the cutting edge of accountability in technology today. It's less bleeding than in previous years, with profits already being made, but there's still lots of room to grow.

One area with huge growth potential is the new world of social media. Whether its growth materializes depends on if we figure out how to efficiently use it for interacting with consumers.

From a business perspective, one can't help but see the enormity of social networks and wonder how a company can benefit. Many major organizations are exploring how to turn social networks into a revenue generator. Few have made headway.

Viewing social networks with the same business perspective are smaller industries, like radio, which do not take time to explore and learn about social networks. They end up with a basic understanding, and then just dive in. Decisions on social network strategy are formed without fully comprehending the "effort=results" formula required for success.

Most radio industry executives make decisions about creating a Facebook page without knowing if the effort will draw results, or to what degree manpower must be committed for success.
Audio Graphics recently completey its 50th survey of internet radio listeners, done with support from esteemed, local revenue, research firm Borrell Associates. See the total survey results here.

Read more here.

WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan get show on NESN

Boston’s top-rated morning-drive sports radio show is heading to the small screen as WEEI talk duo John Dennis and Gerry Callahan have landed their own show on New England Sports Network.
The Boston Herald is reporting the TV cameras begin rolling Nov. 16 when the “Dennis & Callahan” show debuts live on NESN from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. weekdays.

“This programming partnership brings together the two most popular sports media companies in New England in a way that we think complements the strengths of each organization,” said NESN president and CEO Sean McGrail in a statement today.

“We have worked closely with WEEI for several years to produce the annual Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon,” McGrail added.

While the show will be on NESN, it will also be available to viewers nationwide who purchase regional sports packages from their cable provider.

NESN said it plans to install four remotely controlled cameras in WEEI’s Brighton studio. The sports network also plans to replay the show on NESN National and a one-hour “Best of Dennis and Callahan” will air late night.

“When they see them on TV, people may be shocked to learn how handsome John and Gerry are,” quipped Julie Kahn, vice president Entercom New England, owner of WEEI-AM (850)

Read more here.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

GOP Ad Slams Reid For Living At Ritz-Carlton

It was a political ad waiting to happen. Just a few days after Sharron Angle questioned Harry Reid's wealth during last week's Nevada Senate debate, Republicans are out with a new ad attacking the Senate majority leader for living at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, writes Holly Bailey at The Upshot blog.

The ad, paid for by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, hits Reid where he is truly vulnerable: the idea that he's out of touch with the struggles of ordinary Nevadans. Nevada now has the highest unemployment rate in the country, 14.4 percent, and the state leads the nation in the number of home foreclosures.

Those stats get prominent play in the ad, which includes footage of Reid saying he has nothing to do with the "unemployment figures." "To him it's a figure," a narrator says. "Maybe it's because Harry lives at the Ritz-Carlton while thousands are losing their homes."

DNC Has President Making Vote Pitches

Tuesday, the Democratic National Committee began airing its latest radio ad, this one featuring President Barack Obama speaking to voters about the stakes in this Fall's elections.

The ad, entitled "Vote," is part of the Democratic Party's unprecedented midterm election investment of $3 million in radio, print and online advertising focused on the African American community, according to

In "Vote," President Obama calls on African Americans, and all voters, to vote this November to continue moving our country forward and not "sit this one out." Of the stakes in this election President Obama says "we can't let this country fall backwards because the rest of us didn't care to fight."

"President Obama speaking directly to voters and making the case that this election is critical to his continued success and our efforts to move America forward is powerful," said DNC Chairman Tim Kaine.

The President's ad will air on the nationally syndicated talks shows of Tom Joyner, Steve Harvey , Michael Baisden, Yolanda Adams, Russ Parr, Bev Smith, Doug Banks, Coco Brother, Al Sharpton and Warren Ballentine. In addition, the ad will air regionally in key markets in Ohio, Florida, Missouri, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.


Where "Vote" is Running: Radio Stations By Market:

Ohio Canton: WDJQ-FM, WHBC-FM
Youngstown: WAKZ-FM, WHOT-FM

Florida Miami-Ft. Lauderdale: WEDR-FM, WHQT-FM
Jacksonville: WJBT-FM, WSOL-FM
West Palm: WMBX-FM, NEW-FM
Tallahassee: WHBT-AM, WHBX-FM, WWLD-FM

Missouri St. Louis: KATZ-AM, KMJM-FM, WFUN-FM, WHHL-FM
Kansas City: KMJK-FM, KPRS-FM

Pennsylvania Philadelphia: WDAS-FM, WPPZ-FM, WRNB-FM, WUSL-FM


Wisconsin Milwaukee WJMR-FM, WKKV-FM

Read more here.

Lee Abrams Tells His Side

Usually when a high-ranking executive resigns under a cloud, he goes to ground for a good long while. But Lee Abrams, as he’s told us often enough, doesn’t play by the rules of corporate America. Not only did the former Tribune Co. chief innovation officer send around a lengthy email (see below) defending his record; he also called Jeff Bercovici at  to explain why he sent such an email, and to comment on the circumstances surrounding his departure.

Abrams says it particularly bothers him that many of his peers in the media industry who only know part of the story think he was slapped for distributing something more obviously inappropriate than a comedy clip produced by The Onion. “People will tell me it’s presented as sending around pornography,” he says. “That’s damaging, particularly since that wasn’t the intention. It’s a parody clip from a popular website.” (Still, don’t watch it at work unless your office is pretty relaxed.) Abrams notes that he has often included Onion News Network clips in his “Think Piece” memos because they send up the kind of hackneyed, lazy TV journalism he tried to eradicate at Tribune.

The full email follows:

I believe it is important to state the facts as they apply to my recent and abrupt departure from Tribune Company.  My apology for sending the Onion News Network parody clip stands.  Though, as Tribune is a multi-media company competing at the most dramatic cross-roads in media history, I would have hoped that the use of a brilliant parody to demonstrate the ills of popular TV would have been an effective communication vehicle and that people would have taken it as it was intended; a parody that illustrates what not to do.  I suspect that a major component of this debacle is being motivated by a power play to seize creative, cultural and business control of the company as it emerges from Chapter 11.  Or maybe the idea of a “rock and roll” type from broadcasting invading tradition is so offensive to the fourth estate that my mere presence posed a threat to their grip on the past.  I do not know that any of these hypotheses are fact and probably never will.

I do find it ironic that the Onion is a business partner of the Chicago Tribune and that very clip was shown at a recent Chicago Tribune sales meeting to a rousing and positive reaction.  This leads me to suspect that the clip itself was not the motivation behind the aggressive coverage this event received.  Personally, I think the Chicago Tribune has worked hard to reinvent itself as a modern newspaper serving Chicagoland and I hope I played a small role in helping them achieve what they have done in a short period of time.  I hold up copies of this newspaper with pride, and in fairness I want them to know that.

It saddens me that in light of the remarkable challenges that old media faces, there would be such an uproar over this clip.  I am sorry for the timing and the results of my action, but continue to believe that people working in traditional media needs to open their eyes to the realities of our culture in 2010 without denial, self-righteousness or arrogance.  It was my intention to use any reasonable vehicle to help that happen.  I would hope more people would look at the actual memo in context and note that it included several Onion parodies, TED Conference speeches, social media videos and creative presentations.  TV understands this, online reinvents itself by the minute and I was hopeful that print would have the same attitude.  While some do, many are more resistant than I ever suspected.  My biggest mistake may have been a failure to temper my style to the culture of print newsrooms, as clearly, there has been a contentious attitude between us from the day I walked in.  After decades of work in radio, music and popular culture, I should have known better.  But I hope those who find my approach unusual will know that my intentions have never been anything more than to push new thinking in all of our media.  We are in the Apple era and need to open our eyes to change even when it’s not pretty.  The Tribune TV stations are engaging with that idea and will be stronger for their efforts.

There are a few ongoing issues I read about that I need to address:

That I did not know a print reporter was reporting from, say, Iraq. My point was that on a CNN or FOX you will see the reporter in the war environment whereas, in print, if the story is often only recognized by a simple byline, and average readers may not assume that there is actually someone on the ground.  As a result it resonates as a generic story, rather than one reported from a war zone.

I involved myself in editorial decisions. I have no expertise in print journalism and focused solely on the creative and marketing side with hopes that newspapers could re-energize themselves to meet the conditions of 2010.  As an FYI, I distributed the ratings of Fox News to illustrate an opinion trend, and received several dozen angry phone calls, though the ratings were geared as a piece of information and not a directive.

That I was involved in downsizing.  I understand the economic realities of today, but those decisions are made by publishers, managers and the many people at Tribune with financial backgrounds.

That I created a hostile and sexist environment. This is depressing if not insulting.  I could only hope people who felt this way would ask anyone who I directly worked with at Tribune, Sirius-XM or anywhere else.  I live my life to be respectful, honest, positive, optimistic and fair.  There are those who don’t believe that, and again, the only recourse I have is for anyone who doubts that to speak to anyone I have directly worked with or for at any point in my career.

That I was part of some ex-Clear Channel boys club. I have never worked for Clear Channel.  I have known and competed against Randy Michaels for decades, but most of the other Clear Channel people at Tribune I had never met prior to arriving here.  In my opinion, once you walk through the doors of Tribune Tower, you are a Tribune employee and your past is not an issue as long as you do good work.  I have seen only good work from these folks.   I do look at myself as an outspoken, driven and perhaps rebellious type and if that’s a problem in the world of helping re-invent media, then so be it.

I want to go on record that I hope for nothing but success for everyone at Tribune and that includes some of the newspaper people that I can’t help thinking were focused on undermining my work and accelerating my decline at the company instead of moving us to the future.  I just hope that no one will get mired in the drama and instead focus on the spirit of positive change that has never been more important in the battle for eyes, ears and minds in this 21st Century.  I will not stop pushing forward at wherever my next venture may be.

Thank you.

Read more here.

Report: Randy Michaels Could Be Out Today

Randy Michaels
The board of directors of the Tribune Company is expected to ask Tuesday for the resignation of Randy Michaels, the controversial chief executive of the company, according to a person directly involved in the matter.  The individual, who spoke to David Carr at on the condition of not being identified, said the board had lost confidence in the ability of Mr. Michaels to lead the troubled company.

Mr. Michael’s resignation would follow by days the exit of another top executive at the media company, Lee Abrams, Tribune’s chief innovation officer, who resigned on Friday after sending a sexually explicit memo to the entire company.

The Chicago Tribune quotes one source who said Michaels was exploring resigning from the company and may present his decision to the board as soon as the Tuesday meeting in Chicago. The source said the board has discussed succession issues and a separation agreement for Michaels.

Mr. Michaels became chief executive of Tribune in December, about two years after joining the company as an executive vice president in charge of the company’s broadcasting and interactive businesses. Prior to Tribune, Mr. Michaels had a long and lucrative career in the radio industry, having worked for Jacor Communications and Clear Channel Communications. Jacor was owned and eventually sold by Sam Zell, the Chicago real estate magnate who bought Tribune in 2007.

Trib Tower Poker
Clear Channel Communications acquired Jacor in 1999, and Mr. Michaels became Clear Channel’s division president and later, chief executive; he was pushed out in 2002, in part because of concerns over lawsuits and workplace issues.

Under Michaels, Tribune, a formerly conservative media company, became known for rugged, profane talk from executives, long, incomprehensible memos from management, and an atmosphere that was depicted in widely published photos of a poker party in the executive offices of Tribune Towers.

Robert Feder at at writes, the end of Michaels’ reign, if true, could come just as Tribune Co. exits bankruptcy after nearly two years. A tentative deal with a group of lenders reportedly was reached last week. “When and if Tribune emerges from bankruptcy, it will apparently proceed with new management,” the New York Times reported. “Mr. Michaels, who came to the company with a broad mandate for change, alienated many of the company’s employees and some of its advertisers with a nontraditional approach with many tactics borrowed from radio.”

The timing and extent of the New York Times’ expose sent shockwaves through the company, which includes the Chicago Tribune, WGN America, WGN-Channel 9, WGN-AM (720), and other major newspapers and television stations across the country.

Lee Abrams
Just last Friday, Michaels announced the resignation of Lee Abrams as chief innovation officer after Abrams had written a companywide memo with links to an offensive video.  Some saw the move an effort by Michaels to make Abrams a scapegoat and buy himself more time with the board.

According to Feder, nowhere was Michaels’ heavy hand more apparent than at Tribune’s one and only radio station, WGN-AM, where he installed longtime crony Kevin Metheny as program director and continued to meddle in everything from personnel matters to words that newscasters were forbidden to utter on the air.

Read more here. 

'NewsBeast' Talks End

The Daily Beast news and commentary website and Newsweek magazine have ended talks about a possible merger between the two news organizations
According to Russell Adams at, the two parties have been discussing a deal that 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. In recent weeks, talks have centered around the specific roles of Ms. Brown, new Newsweek owner Sidney Harman and Barry Diller, chairman and chief executive of Daily Beast owner IAC/InterActive Corp.

Talks were hung up on the issue of how control would be divided among the three people, all of whom are heavily invested financially and emotionally in their respective news operations and not inclined to cede control, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Harman, a stereo-equipment magnate, recently acquired Newsweek from Washington Post Co.

"The engagement was fun but the pre-nup got too complex," Ms. Brown said in a memo to her staff. "We wish Newsweek all the best."

The people familiar with the matter said talks broke down over the weekend because the two parties couldn't come to an agreement on governance and editorial control.

Harman acquired the struggling Newsweek this summer for $1 plus liabilities.

Read more here.

John Tesh Show Adds Talk Stations

Adds its 371st station and moves into the talk radio format

When John Tesh came up with the idea for a radio show with a one-of-a-kind format, he never expected it to grow to become one of the largest syndicated shows in the country. This week, the John Tesh Radio Show reached two new landmarks: adding its 371st station to air the show since its inception, and moving into yet another radio format: Talk Radio.

Each week, more than 14.5 million listeners tune in to hear the John Tesh Radio Show, featuring its unique mix of music interspersed with John’s tips on a variety of topics including health, finance, career success, parenting, nutrition, and much more.

Because of the show's unique design, which allows individual stations to play their normal music, The John Tesh Radio Show is heard on a variety of radio genres including Adult Contemporary, Hot AC, Adult Standards, Country, Oldies, Smooth Jazz and Contemporary Christian. With the addition of its three newest stations, CKNI/FM and CHNI/FM in Canada and WOCA/AM in Ocala, Florida, Tesh has now moved into the coveted Talk Radio format.

John Tesh, said, "It's thrilling to see our message resonate so strongly with millions of listeners from all backgrounds, age groups and musical tastes. Our move into talk radio will provide differentiation and an alternative to political talk. Our listeners call it life coaching on the radio."

The popular entertainer was inspired to create the John Tesh Radio Show by his wife, Connie Sellecca, and the stack of unread magazines piling up on her side of the bed. Tesh believed there was an audience for the kind of advice offered in the magazines, but easily delivered in a radio format in between songs. He launched the show in 2000 and hired a team of researchers to deliver small but achievable ideas that can add up to a big difference in the quality of anyone’s life. Tesh branded this concept, Intelligence for Your Life.

Based on the success of the John Tesh Radio Show and Intelligence for Your Life, John and his producers created a second show earlier this year. Hosted by John's wife and focusing on healthy living, Intelligence for Your Health with Connie Sellecca has also grown rapidly, adding its 30th radio station, WVVE/FM in Panama City, Florida, this week.

Tesh has also expanded the Intelligence For Your Life brand beyond radio via a healthy snack food product line with the global retailer Amway. The products, which include healthful fruit and nut bars, launched in the summer and are meeting all sales targets.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Talk: Will Radio Be Watching, Listening?

CBS series brings together a diverse group

As Oprah Winfrey prepares to exit the broadcast-TV-talk game, six more women are entering.

Jeanne Jakle at reports, The Talk, described as CBS' version of The View, debuts at 1 p.m. Monday in the time slot vacated by canceled soap As the World Turns.

The live show will feature five — and sometimes six - female celebrities weighing in on the news and pop culture and what's happening in their own households.

Is there room for two sets of women chatting on daytime television?

The stars of The Talk - Sharon Osbourne, Sara Gilbert, Leah Remini, Holly Robinson Peete, Julie Chen and Marissa Jaret Winokur (who'll be out in the field and not on the panel much of the time) - clearly think so.

"There are several women sitting around a table," said Gilbert, who's also the show's executive producer.

"But in the same way that David Letterman sits at a desk or Jay Leno sits at a desk, there are formats that people use in talk shows. So we're using one of those formats."

In distinguishing their show from The View, Gilbert and her co-hosts emphasized the mom angle in a meeting with television critics. All are mothers, with children ranging in ages from infancy to adult, and their conversations will reflect that. In fact, Gilbert said the show grew out of a mom group she began attending after giving birth to her daughter.

Read more here.

What Brett Favre Didn’t Learn From Tiger

The media won’t give superstar athletes a break
Brett Favre didn’t learn, according to Jon Friedman at

For a superstar quarterback who can keep dozens of complex football formations and plays jammed in his head, Favre really isn’t a very savvy guy. Take what he understands about the media: zip.

Favre is accused of harassing a woman who worked for the New York Jets. Favre, who played for the Jets in 2008 before joining the Minnesota Vikings, allegedly sent her suggestive text messages — also known as “sexts.” Welcome to Favregate.

Favre would be foolish to get himself in such a bad situation in the first place. Possibly none of his high-powered handlers reminded him that a text message lasts forever, and the proof of its existence will forever dog someone who misuses the technology.

Media reports suggest that Favre sent the texts in 2008, but the news exploded days ago, just ahead of the Vikings’ loss to — of all teams — the Jets.

With reporters, Favre has flatly refused to address any non-football inquiries. When he was asked for his observations about the scandal exploding around him, Favre simply shut down. It was shades of Tiger Woods at his dud of a press briefing, when Woods showed up, read from a sheet of paper and split.

Woods went from bad to worse. Favre is now racing down the same unfriendly, unforgiving path.

Read more here.

JustSpotted: Website Stalks In Real-Time

Knowing what your favorite celebrity is up to at any given moment will get easier Tuesday when JustSpotted, a near real-time celebrity stalking site launches. Created by Scoopler--makers of a now defunct real-time search engine--JustSpotted aggregates celebrity sightings from social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare and places them all on a Google Map complete with photos and location information. Scoopler describes JustSpotted as a "social and technology driven version of TMZ" with "updates, tweets and news for every celebrity on the planet."

According to here's how it works:  JustSpotted will launch with a database of 7,000 celebrities, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Fans of any of those several thousand celebs can then sign up to receive regular updates via e-mail or sent to their mobile devices. Users will also be able to upload celebrity sightings directly to the site, but it's not clear how that will work. Scoopler also says celebrities will have the option to "claim their news feeds" giving them direct access to a targeted base of fans.

It's not clear if JustSpotted will fare much better than Gawker as the new site is sure to outrage celebrities, not to mention their lawyers, if it becomes popular.

Read more here.

Steve Jobs Hated The NYTimes iPad App

So They Made A New One

Steve Jobs hated the original New York Times "Editors' Choice" iPad app.

So Thursday, according Nicholas Carlson at the, the Times replaced it with a new one. Unlike "Editor's Choice," its free and features all of the Times's content.
Now we know why Editor's Choice went missing for a couple days earlier this week.

Back in May, Gawker's Ryan Tate reported:
Jobs clearly wanted to make access to the electronic Times a big selling point for Apple's tablet computer; the Apple CEO put the paper's website at the center of full-page magazine ads for the iPad, and even shared the stage at iPad's unveiling with a Times executive, who demoed a preliminary version of the paper's iPad software.

But Jobs doesn't like the limited app the Times came out with, called "NYT Editors' Choice," and his displeasure has been made known to senior Times Company executives, according to a source close to the paper. It has not been lost on said executives that Jobs and his underlings left the app in the shadows. Apple has not profiled NYT Editors' Choice within its app store, where it regularly showers special attention on "noteworthy" and "favorite" applications, assembles bundles of blessed apps with themes like "Music Creation" or "For Kids," and even names an "App of the Week."
In fact, NYT Editors' Choice was not even listed in the "News" section of the iPad app store for weeks after the device launched, we're told, although it has since been filed there. Talk about life as an orphan.

Journalists Trapped After Rollover Crash

Two Miami T.V. journalists were trapped in a van after it flipped over during a crash in downtown Fort Lauderdale Friday morning.

The Miami Herald reports WPLG Local 10 identified the journalists as reporter Neki Mohan and photojournalist David Silver, who was driving the white Ford news van.

"I was on my way to cover a firefighters' demonstration, and I got my own personal demonstration from the Fort Lauderdale Fire Department," said Neki, WPLG-10 reported.

Silver was traveling westbound on Sixth Street and crashed while he was making a U-turn at Third Avenue.

The driver of a light brown Jeep Cherokee was traveling eastbound on Sixth Street when the two cars collided.

The two journalists and the driver of the Jeep suffered minor injuries, and were taken to Broward General Medical Center.

Read more here.

Turning The Paper Of Record Into A Website Of Record

From Scott rosenberg at
Last week Arthur Brisbane, the new public editor of the New York Times, posted an illuminating exchange between a reader of the paper and one of its top editors.

The reader asked: What’s with the way stories change all the time on the website? “How does the newspaper of record handle this? I read something, and now poof, it’s gone without a trace.”

Jim Roberts, the paper’s associate managing editor, responded: “We are constantly refining what we publish online.” He added that the paper often”uses the final printed version as the final archived version that stays on the Web.” But not always! There are “many exceptions.”

The headline over the column reads “Revising the Newspaper of Record.” But what the exchange reveals is that, right now, there is no record of the newspaper of record. The Times is revising its copy online all the time. No doubt the vast majority of these “refinements” are trivial or uncontroversial. But some of them are likely substantial.   If I understand Times policy correctly, when a change fixes an outright error, it is supposed to be marked with a correction notice. But there’s no record of these changes, so the Times could be cutting corners here and we’d never know.

When I raise this issue I sometimes hear back some variation on “What’s the big deal? Wire services change their copy all the time. Newspapers have always revised stories from edition to edition. How’s the Web different?"

I’ll tell you how: When newspapers change a story from the early to the late edition, the early edition is still out there for people to read and compare. When you change a Web page, the older version disappears, unless you take active steps to save it.

Read more here.

Sunday, October 17, 2010