Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Saturday Aircheck

Scoped aircheck of John Records Landecker on WLS/Chicago from 1979, courtesy of Jam Productions.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Morning Joe Gets Iced

MSNBC television suspended conservative morning host Joe Scarborough for two days for giving money to political candidates, meting out the same punishment given to liberal host Keith Olbermann two weeks ago for a similar offense.

According to a Reuters story, Scarborough said the donations went to his brother and three longtime family friends and he wrongly believed the personal nature of the gifts exempted him from the NBC News policy on campaign contributions.

"This morning Joe Scarborough informed me that he made eight contributions of $500 each to local candidates in Florida between 2004-08," MSNBC President Phil Griffin said in a statement.

"Since he did not seek or receive prior approval for these contributions, Joe understands that I will be suspending him for violating our policy."

Scarborough will return to his "Morning Joe" program on Wednesday.

Read more here.

John Hogan To Remain At Clear Channel

Clear Channel has confirmed in a SEC filing that Clear Channel Radio President/CEO John Hogan will remain with the company through at least January 2014. According to an "Amended and Restated Employee Agreement," Hogan will continue to hold the title of President and CEO of Clear Channel Radio. Hogan's new deal "amends and restates" his last contract, signed in 2008.

The filing also takes note of Monday's announcement of Bob Pittman joining Clear Channel as Chairman of Media and Entertainment Platforms, and that Hogan will now report to the Operating Committee of the CC Board of Directors through Pittman, or the CEO of Clear Channel.

Also in the filing, it is revealed that Hogan will be paid a base salary of $1 million, and is eligible for annual salary increases and performance bonuses which could total 120% of salary.

Tom's Take: Surprise! And Merry Christmas!

Poll: Most Don’t Own An HD Radio

And these are radio people!

The HD Digital Radio Alliance aired 20,413 commercials last week encouraging listeners to upgrade to an HD Radio.  But among the radio industry itself that message doesn’t seem to be resonating. More than six-in-ten (62%) of respondents (Inside Radio readers) to our unscientific survey say they don’t own an HD receiver.

While clearly a higher rate of ownership (38%) than the overall population, it shows the industry hasn’t yet fully embraced the technology and many of its reasons are similar to what the general public may be thinking too.

Among those who do own an HD Radio, nearly one-quarter (23%) said it was an at-home radio.  Nearly one-in-five (18%) use one in their office, while 15% have an HD Radio in their car and 13% own a portable device such as a Zune HD. 

One person writes, “The audio on HD is so much better than regular FM and the highly compressed audio on satellite radio.”   Another reader tells us, “Content is king. If your market has interesting stations, it's a great device.”   One owner says, “I have a couple at home and a few sprinkled around my radio group. Usually the analog tuners in these things are great.”

But HD Radio has plenty of critics and that shows up in receiver ownership too.  A reader says, “I bought one, but have not been able receive HD content.” The biggest reason even those working in radio say they haven’t bought an HD receiver is too little content choice to justify the expense.  The other is technical-related. “I try to listen, but the signals are unreliable unless I get really close to the metro,” one person writes.   Another was trying to add it to a new Ford vehicle– but the car salesperson didn’t know what he was talking about.

Read more here.

Tom's Take:  Yikes!  The HD Alliance spots don't seem to be working even with radio geeks!

Experts: Tiger Woods 'Failing' In Media Blitz

Tiger Talks to Mike & Mike
Now we can follow Tiger Woods on Twitter, find him on Facebook and check out his new "official" website.
But, writes Michael McCarthy in USAToday, we still don't have the answers from Woods that could begin to repair the damage to his reputation that started with an SUV crash at the end of his driveway nearly a year ago, image experts said Thursday.

"We're interested," said Mike Paul of MGP & Associates PR, "but we're not getting the facts that we want."

Woods is making a "preemptive strike" to get ahead of negative news media coverage surrounding the one-year anniversary of the day-after-Thanksgiving crash that ignited a scandal over his extramarital affairs.
Paul's verdict: It's "failing miserably."

Anne Rivers of BrandAsset Consulting agreed, saying Woods is seen as the most "arrogant" sports brand among consumers, ahead of the New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys and Miami Heat.

Read more here.

Comcast Assembles NBCU Management Team

NBC Universal's soon-to-be chief, Steve Burke, is putting his stamp on the company, announcing a new team of executives to rev up the TV and movie giant's performance and overhaul its culture.

According to a story at by Jessica E. Vascellaro and Sam Schechner, the new lineup, conveyed in a memo Thursday, includes a few new faces, some plucked from Comcast Corp., which is poised to take control of NBC Universal. Many of the other managers were already there, and some will take on expanded roles.

The changes flatten the management structure of the media conglomerate, which includes the NBC broadcast network, numerous cable channels and a movie studio, while keeping intact the basic framework of many divisions.

With the moves, Mr. Burke, who is also chief operating officer of Comcast, wants to remove some vestiges of the culture of NBC Universal's current owner, General Electric Co., according to people familiar with the matter, including its centralized reporting structure. Mr. Burke believes he can improve the performance by creating a more collegial and cohesive culture, one of these people said.

Comcast last December announced plans to take control of NBC Universal from GE and regulators are expected to approve the deal, with conditions, later this year or in early 2011.

Read more here.

Philly’s WPHT Drops Beck and Hannity

Here’s a concept: adds local talkers!

CBS Radio’s 1210 AM WPHT in Philadelphia has notified Premiere Radio that it's dropping Glenn Beck (9-noon) and Sean Hannity (3p-6p).

Beck’s 9 to noon slot will be taken over by local talker Dom Giordano, while Hannity’s 3-6 slot is being taken over by Michael Smerconish. Smerconish is moving his show from AM to PM Drive on 50 kw The Big Talker.

Taking over mornings at CBS Radio's WPHT is Chris Stigall, currently hosting 5-9am for Cumulus-owned 710 AM KCMO-AM in Kansas City. He starts when the new work-year begins, on Monday, January 3. CBS Radio market manager Marc Rayfield says "We searched high and low before offering Chris Stigall mornings."

Smerconish startas PM Drive January 17.

Tom's Take: Premiere is going to have to wait for some other station to flip to talk. In Philly, 1210 AM WPHT and Salem's 990 AM WNTP are the talkers. Salem is committed to the Salem conservative line-up, although they have used Beck in some markets. A likely candidate to flip is Greater Media's 950 AM WPEN. It currently simulcasts sports with 97.5 WPEN-FM
Also read here:

Hearing Voices? Yes, It's Phil Hendrie, Saturdays on KFI  (Gary Lycan, The Orange County Register)

Opinion: Bob Pittman Is Just What Radio Needs

From Charles Warner at
The trade press was pleasantly surprised by the announcement by Clear Channel Communications that Bob Pittman had made a personal investment in the company and would be head of its Media and Entertainment Group, which includes its digital and radio operations.

Media stories of the announcement have cited Bob's successes at MTV, Six Flags, AOL, and Time Warner, but have under-reported his successes in radio, which is typical of media coverage of radio, the Rodney Dangerfield of media.

Bob will change that perception and get radio some respect -- and radio already has gained some traction in the respect category just by the fact that a media icon, who Advertising Age honored as one of "Ten Marketers Who Transformed American Culture," has come back to radio.

Interestingly, the initial media coverage had Pittman coming to Clear Channel to oversee digital - radio didn't get any respect - because that was Pittman's perceived expertise due to his AOL success. Media memories are short; they forget that Pittman was one of the greatest programmers in the history of radio. And I can make a reasonable case for claiming he was best radio programmer ever. He won big and quickly in a variety of formats.

Most of the great radio programmers, such as Todd Storz, Bill Drake, Paul Drew, Rick Sklar, Tom Donahue, and Buzz Bennett were one-trick ponies who won in a single format. But Pittman won in many formats: Hot Hits (WPEZ-FM), Country (WMAQ-AM, the biggest and fastest turnaround in major market radio history), Album Rock (WKQX-FM), and Top 40 (WNBC-AM in some demos). He programmed WKQX-FM while he was also Program Director of sister station WMAQ-AM and he also recorded his mid-day shift (the station was automated, which was unheard of for a winning station at that time), and, furthermore, he starred in the TV commercials for WKQX. He did it all -- he knows how to win in radio, just like he knew how to win in TV and on the Internet.
Read more here.

Charles Warner is an active blogger at Media and teaches in the Media Management Program at The New School and at NYU. He is also the Goldenson Chair Emeritus at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

He was a Vice President of AOL Interactive Marketing from 1998 through 2002 and taught at the Missouri School of Journalism from 1988 to 1998. Before that he was VP and general manager of WNBC-AM, New York; WMAQ-AM and WKQX-FM, Chicago; WWSW-AM and WPEZ-FM, Pittsburgh; and CBS Radio Spot Sales.

Time Warner Testing Cheaper Channel Package

In an apparent attempt to retain cable customers who are thinking of canceling, or to woo back people who have already canceled, Time Warner Cable will start a trial of a lower-cost cable subscription package next week in New York City.
A story at reports for roughly half the cost of Time Warner Cable’s current cable TV package, customers will receive ESPNews but not ESPN; TBS but not TNT; CNN but not Fox News or MSNBC. A market trial of the package will begin in New York on Monday, a Time Warner Cable spokeswoman said, and in the company’s northeastern Ohio market on Dec. 15.

The slimmed-down package, called TV Essentials, is an experiment for Time Warner Cable and for the television distribution business, which generally bundles as many channels as possible at the highest price possible.

That strategy may be hitting a rough patch. Earlier this week, the research firm SNL Kagan said that the number of households subscribing to a cable or satellite service had dropped for the second consecutive quarter, prompting fresh speculation about cord-cutting by consumers.

Read more here.
Tom's Take:  Why not give potential new customers a choice?  Let them choose from categories, instead of CNN some would prefer FNC.

CBC Radio Updates Journalistic Standards & Practices

CBC News has adopted an updated and modernized Journalistic Standards and Practices (JS&P) document, which has been reviewed and approved by CBC/Radio-Canada's Board of Directors. The new standards and practices become effective immediately.

"As a national public broadcaster, we have always held ourselves to the highest standards of accuracy and fairness when it comes to our news and current affairs," says Hubert T. Lacroix, president and CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada. "The previous document has served us well as an objective guide by which we are both accountable to our audiences and transparent as to how we act. This latest version also takes into account many of the new situations we encounter in the world of social media and the internet."

"In a quickly-evolving and multi-platform world of news, quasi-news and opinion, we are among few news organizations in the world to have plainly-stated principles that we make public and are then measured against and held to through the mechanism of an independent public ombudsman," says Jennifer McGuire, general manager and editor in chief of CBC News. "We believe this latest iteration will add to the value and excellence of CBC journalism."

"While the basic principles which guide our work have not changed, the universe in which we practice our craft has changed significantly," says Alain Saulnier, executive director, news and current affairs, Radio-Canada. "Therefore, there are no fundamental changes to our traditional core values, but we now have a more modern, more relevant document as a guide. This document is meant to inspire employees of the news service and the general public who may refer to it."

In May 2009, CBC/Radio-Canada's news divisions began the process to update and revise the JS&P document in light of the current broadcasting environment, new technologies and to ensure the organization's services continue to satisfy audience expectations and its public broadcasting mandate.

The document is available to the public online at:

Careless Talk Costs Lives

Army warns on revealing location in social networking status updates

The US military has issued a warning that social networking sites could endanger the lives of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan because of new features that reveal the user's location.

According to a story at, the Air Force was the first service to notice the threat, warning on its internal website last month that geolocation applications on sites such as Facebook that identified the user's location could give away troop positions to the enemy.

In the warning, also sent to senior commanders and troops in the field, the Air Force said that "careless use of these services by airmen can have devastating security and privacy implications". The army said yesterday that it was preparing a similar warning for its troops.

Facebook ran into controversy over privacy issues earlier this year when the site changed the default settings to leave users' profiles open to anyone who looked unless the user specifically requested otherwise.

Read more here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tiger Talks to Mike & Mike

Tiger Woods joins Greeny, Golic Thursday to reflect on the previous year

Should Objectivity Still Be The Standard In News?

After MSNBC host Keith Olbermann was suspended for making political contributions, journalist Ted Koppel criticized the lack of objectivity in the news, and looked backward toward the halcyon days of Murrow. But media critic Jeff Jarvis believes the old model is outdated.

Former ABC newsman Ted Koppel has responded to criticism from MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann by saying Olbermann has his “perspective” and his “facts” “screwed up.” In an op-ed on Sunday, Koppel charged that polarizing figures such as Olbermann and O’Reilly detract from the journalism profession. Olbermann responded by attacking Koppel and his false promise of “objectivity,” adding that Koppel doesn’t understand the complexities of “modern news.”

“I think Keith Olbermann is a very bright and clearly passionate man, but I think he has his perspective a little screwed up, and he has his facts screwed up too,” Koppel told NPR on Wednesday.

Tom's Take:  Why does Keith Olbermann always sound so angry? I
suspect because he can dish it out, but can't take it (criticism)!

Infographic: Online Newspaper Reader Habits

From Wall Street Journal

NYT Video: Is Cable News Actually News?

From The New York Times

'Checkbook journalism' Growing

At first it was only supermarket tabloids like the National Enquirer that did it. While the "respectable" media shunned the practice, the Enquirer developed a long and proud tradition of "checkbook journalism," paying sources for such sensational exclusives as a photo of Elvis Presley in his coffin or "revelations" about Donald Trump by his ex-housekeeper.

But thanks to heightened competition for the next big "get", writes Paul Farhi at the,  journalism's Thou-Shalt-Not-Pay commandment has lately been taking a beating. News and gossip sites that paid for information have broken some of the biggest and most sensational recent stories. TV news divisions have joined in, spurring an arms race to buy big stories.

Did unsuccessful Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell of Delaware get tipsy and spend Halloween night three years ago in intimate contact with a 25-year-old man she'd just met? The Web site claimed as much last month in a widely read but much criticized first-person account written by the anonymous young man, complete with pictures of O'Donnell in a ladybug Halloween costume. The site's owner acknowledges that it paid the author about $4,000 for his story.

Did Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre send racy voicemail messages and photos of his private parts to an attractive young female employee of the New York Jets two years ago? The Web site said so, basing its account on voicemails and photos it bought from another anonymous source for about $12,000.

How did the tech site get a prototype of the new iPhone model in April, months before Apple released it? The answer: By paying $5,000 to yet another anonymous individual, who handed over a copy of the phone that he said was inadvertently left by an Apple engineer in a bar near the company's headquarters in Silicon Valley.

Mainstream news organizations have long been reluctant to pay for information for a few simple reasons.

One is practical: Paying for stories can get expensive. The other, more important consideration is the perception that paying sources poisons the credibility of both the source and the news organization.

Read more here.

Move to Cut NPR Funding Is Defeated in House

House Democrats on Thursday shot down a G.O.P. attempt to roll back federal funding  to NPR, a move that many Republicans have called for since the  public radio network  fired the analyst Juan Williams last month.

According to a story, Republicans in the House tried to advance the defunding measure as part of their “YouCut” initiative, which allows the public to vote on which spending cuts the G.O.P. should pursue. But their push was blocked, 239 to 171, with only three Democrats voting with a united bloc of Republicans.

Read more here.

Proposal to Defund NPR Wins GOP Anti-Government Spending Contest

National Public Radio, under fire ever since it sacked Juan Williams last month, is now the latest target of YouCut, the anti-government spending program started by House Republicans earlier this year.

A story at reports, the winning proposal in this week's online contest, in which Americans vote for the items they want slashed from the federal budget, was to terminate federal funding to NPR. That proposal received 63 percent of the vote, the highest percentage for a proposal since the program began in May.

House Republicans will bring that proposal to the floor Thursday for an up-or-down vote.
"When NPR executives made the decision to unfairly terminate Juan Williams and to then disparage him afterwards, the bias of their organization was exposed," House Minority Whip Eric Cantor and Doug Lamborn, who authored a bill this year to defund NPR's parent company, said in a joint statement.
"Make no mistake, it is not the role of government to tell news organizations how to operate. What is avoidable, however, is providing taxpayer funds to news organizations that promote a partisan point of view," they said.
"Eliminating taxpayer funding for NPR is precisely the kind of commonsense cut that we have to begin making it we want to fundamentally alter the way business is conducted in Washington," they said.
With Democrats still in charge of the House until the end of the year, the proposal is certain to fail. Lamborn's legislation to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) , introduced in June, hasn't made it out of committee.

But when Republicans assume power in January, they are expected to go after NPR's federal funding with a vengeance.

Read more here.

ClimateGate 1 Year Later

Networks Barely Cover Scandal, But Defend Accused Scientists

It’s been a year since thousands of emails and files were leaked from a prominent climate science group at the University of East Anglia, with startling comments including this one: “We can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment.”

In a story at, Julia A. Seymour writes other leaked emails showed potential manipulation of temperature data, a willingness to destroy information rather than release it under the British Freedom of Information (FOI) law and the intimidation of publications willing to publish skeptical articles. The files also indicated that the temperature data was in a “hopeless” state.

Even though many considered it a huge scandal, the three broadcast networks didn’t think so. They ignored the story for roughly two weeks, and have only mentioned it in a dozen stories in the past year.

In those few stories network reporters often downplayed the allegations against climate scientists by calling them “mistakes” or a “series of gaffes,” others sympathized with the accused scientists or insisted that the science supporting global warming alarmism was solid. Journalists even accepted “whitewash” investigations into the matter that supposedly “exonerated” the climate scientists.

The scandal over those leaked files was dubbed ClimateGate and dominated headlines – particularly in Britain. But here in the U.S., the three broadcast networks went on as if nothing had happened for nearly 14 days.

It wasn’t until the evening of the 14th day that one network program, NBC “Nightly News,” finally reported on the climate science controversy. But that first story was not the beginning of a flood of network coverage of ClimateGate. Since Nov. 19, 2009, the broadcast networks have only mentioned the scandal or the University of East Anglia in a paltry 12 stories.

Twelve stories. Why so little coverage? Myron Ebell, director of energy and global warming policy for the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), told the Business & Media Institute, “I think it’s pretty obvious why the networks and major papers have ignored ClimateGate. It’s because they don’t want to consider the possibility that the sort of monolithic [global warming] consensus that they support and are a part of is based on junk science.”

Read more here.

Also read here:

Poll: Most Republicans don’t believe in climate change  (Yahoo News)

Customers Cutting Cable TV Cord

Subscribers Drop for Second Straight Quarter

According to SNL Kagan’s analysis of cable, DBS and telco video offerings, the U.S. multichannel segment fell by 119,000 customers in the third quarter of 2010, compared to a 346,000 gain reported in third-quarter 2009.

SNL Kagan estimates U.S. cable operators lost 741,000 basic video customers in third-quarter 2010, marking the single largest quarterly dip for cable since SNL Kagan began compiling data for the segment in 1980. Cable MSO's share of combined video subscribers continues to slide, dropping to 60.3%, versus 62.9% in third-quarter 2009.

Despite the overall weakening in multichannel subscription trends, the telco TV industry remains on a growth trajectory, adding 476,000 customers in the third quarter. Although still a modest 6.4%, telco market share is steadily rising, up from 4.7% in third-quarter 2009. The DBS industry, which added 145,000 subscribers in the third quarter, is expanding its market share slightly, up less than 1% over the past year to 33.2%.

The third-quarter multichannel market drop-off marks the second consecutive quarter of video subscriber declines. The multichannel market declined for the first time in history when it lost 216,000 customers in the second quarter of 2010. In the past two quarters combined, the segment has fallen 2.3% to just more than 100 million subscriptions, not eliminating overlap of duplicate subscriptions.

“Operators are pointing to a continuation of the forces that pushed subscriber gains into negative territory in the second quarter, including the weak economy, high unemployment and elevated churn of former over-the-air households,” said Ian Olgeirson, senior analyst at SNL Kagan.

“However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to dismiss the impact of over-the-top substitution on video subscriber performance, particularly after seeing declines during the period of the year that tends to produce the largest subscriber gains due to seasonal shifts back to television viewing and subscription packages.”

Read more here.

Also read here:

Lawmakers weigh TV fees bill, some call television market broken (The Washington Post)

Lawmakers Scold Broadcasters, Cable Operators Over Fee Battles (The Wall Street Journal)

Hulu Plus Troubles? Lowers Price 20%  (New York Post)

Young Broadcasters Gain Global Audience

WKID is a radio station run and operated by kids. It's not kids play here either. Thanks to the internet, WKID's audience is global and stronger than ever.

"Europe and Australia. We've had people call in from Australia," radio host Adam Baker told

Adam "A-Dog" Baker and his staff of 25 broadcast seven days a week. They run the show from Baker's parents' Clearwater home. The location hasn't stopped them from getting some pretty cool guests either.

"We did a show with the Arena Football League in its revamp inaugural year, and we were recognized as one of the top podcasts in the country," says mentor and radio host Adam Wojcieszak.

"We've had players come in studio Brett Dietz, TY Timmons, Coach Tony Jones have been in here," adds Wojcieszak.

Wojcieszak helps the kids hone their craft. Most of them do want a career in broadcasting in the future.

"These kids are going to be somewhere professionally," he says.

Remember 96.7 on the dial (licensee is WCIE-FM, Radio Training Network). If you don't live in Clearwater you can check them out on the web at .

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Roger Ailes Lets Rip

In an exclusive interview with Howard Kurtz at The Daily Beast, the Fox News chief says Obama thinks differently from most Americans, defends Murdoch’s GOP donations, and admits Beck sometimes goes too far.
In the media world, as in politics, having a high-profile target can be a very good thing.

The age of Obama has provided a ratings boost for Fox News as its loudest personalities have relished the opportunity to play offense. Critics, of course, view Fox as an unabashed cheerleader for the Republican Party, an evil media empire spewing propaganda and misinformation at a gullible audience.

But Roger Ailes says his network is just reflecting reality when it comes to the White House.

Ailes brushes aside suggestions that journalists have been much harder on the president as his sliding popularity has led to a Republican takeover of the House. He is far more sympathetic to Obama’s predecessor:
“This poor guy, sitting down on his ranch clearing brush, gained a lot of respect for keeping his mouth shut. I literally never heard an Obama speech that didn’t blame Bush.”
None of this is personal, you understand. Ailes says he likes Obama, who was gracious to him during last year’s Christmas party, and David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett. He recently had breakfast with Axelrod to discuss Fox’s coverage. But Ailes took an unprovoked swipe at Robert Gibbs, saying the press secretary “is a little big for his britches” and “will end up like that little shithead who worked for Bush”—meaning Scott McClellan, the onetime loyalist who wrote a book criticizing his former boss. Gibbs and the White House declined to respond.

Read more here.

A Day in the Life of a Deal

How EMI's New CEO Helped Beatles Clear iTunes Hurdles

After years of litigation and ill will, it took two men just a couple of hours to hammer out the basic terms that would finally bring the Beatles' music to the iTunes Store.

According to Ethan Smith at, The deal was outlined by Jeff Jones, chief executive of the Beatles' corporate entity, Apple Corps Ltd., and Roger Faxon, CEO of EMI Group Ltd., which owns and distributes the band's recordings. The meeting took place at EMI's London headquarters this past July 14, less than a month after Mr. Faxon took the reins at EMI.

Under the terms, Apple Inc.'s digital media store is the Beatles' exclusive online retailer at least until January, Mr. Faxon said in an interview Tuesday, after the much-awaited deal was announced. It marks the first time that Beatles songs have been available for digital-download sales.

"Jeff and I sat down shortly after I arrived" as CEO of EMI, Mr. Faxon recalled. "We agreed this really was the moment to do this. After that it was very easy to cut a deal." They code-named the initiative "Bastille," as it coincided with Bastille Day.

The next four months were spent on the details of a final agreement between band and record label, then nailing down terms with Apple Inc. and iTunes.

Mr. Faxon had previously served for many years as a senior executive at EMI's music-publishing division, where he won a reputation as a low-key but effective executive, in an industry filled with outsized egos.

Though EMI owns the Beatles' master recordings, the band retains veto power over new uses of the "masters," as they are known in the industry. It exerts that power through Apple Corps, whose board comprises band members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, as well as Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison, the widows of the late Beatles John Lennon and George Harrison.

Conventional wisdom has long held that the Apple Corps board members were too obstinate or too anti-technology to allow the Beatles' music to be sold online, but that wasn't the case, particularly in the past three years, according to people familiar with the situation.

Read more here.

Also Read Here:

Jobs beat rivals:  Google, Amazon vied for Beatles back catalog

Apple CEO Steve Jobs wasn't the only one looking to broker a deal for the digital rights to the Beatles back catalog, The NYPost has learned.

Talk With New WGST AM Host Rob Johnson

For Rob Johnson, this is either an opportunity of a lifetime or a fall into the rabbit hole that is Clear Channel Atlanta.

Johnson, a talk show host for more than eight years in Modesto, Fla. (market No. 113), is now manning a morning show in the No. 7 market in the nation on 640/WGST-AM, the troubled news/talk station.

“It’s a big  jump,” he admitted in an interview with Rodney Ho at after his first show Monday. He airs from 6 to 9 a.m. “I still have a nosebleed! I was a good match for what they were looking for.”

Johnson has the mellifluous voice of a soft rock DJ because he was indeed once a jock for that type of music station. His opinions are relatively conservative, he says, with a mantra of small, less intrusive government. But he does not come across as angry or confrontational. He uses a gentle, quietly persuasive cadence.

“That’s my natural style and delivery,” he said. “They hired me to make an Atlanta show. It will take some time to understand Atlanta and Georgia, its issues, events and locations. As I become more ingrained and knowledgeable, it will get more local.”

Melissa Forrest, who oversees Clear Channel Atlanta (which includes 94.9/The Bull, Project 9-6-1, Groove 105.7 and 105.3/El Patron, as well as WGST), in an email said, “Rob’s show is designed to be an alternative to typical morning news.  It includes today’s headlines plus commentary and humor from a conservative perspective.”

He replaces Michael Smerconish, the syndicated host who covered mornings from Philadelphia starting in the summer of 2009 after Randy Cook stepped down to re-join Spiff Carner at True Oldies 106.7. Smerconish was clearly a stopgap measure as Clear Channel sought a local host. And now that Clear Channel’s FM properties have stabilized (relatively speaking), “it was time to turn our focus on WGST,” she noted.

Read more here.

Atlanta's Talk Match-Up

WSB Cox                        5.5    4.2    8.2   1,259,000
WGST Clear Channel   1.1    1.2    1.3      295,000
 WGKA Salem                  0.4    0.4    0.3      106,900 

Suit Claims Huffington Ripped-Off Website Plan

Two Democratic consultants are accusing Arianna Huffington and her business partner of stealing their idea for the powerhouse liberal website Huffington Post. reports Peter Daou and James Boyce charge that Huffington and partner Ken Lerer designed the website from a plan they had presented them, and in doing so, violated a handshake agreement to work together, according to a lawsuit to be filed in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

The complaint is a direct challenge to the left’s most important media property from two stalwarts of the progressive movement. And it challenges Huffington’s own oft-told story of coming up with the idea in conversation with Lerer and other friends.

“Huffington has styled herself as a ‘new media’ maven and an expert on the effective deployment of news and celebrity on the Internet in the service of political ends,” says the complaint. “As will be shown at trial, Huffington’s and Lerer’s image with respect to the Huffington Post is founded on false impressions and inaccuracies: They presented the ‘new media’ ideas and plans of Peter Daou and James Boyce as their own in order to raise money for the website and enhance their image, and breached their promises to work with Peter and James to develop the site together.”

The suit against Huffington, Lerer, and Huffington Post also sheds light on the very political aims of the left’s most powerful – and valuable – online voice.

Read more here.

Today's Talk Too Narrow

News/Talk is Too Narrow - Talking with David Hall from Mark Ramsey.


Mark Ramsey and VIP Research have released a study in which people ages 10-54 were asked how they’d feel if their local radio stations went off the air. Click here to view report on the study.

Bob Dylan: No Concert Reviews Wanted

Bob Dylan isn't known for having a love affair with the press, write Sarah Godfrey at,  and sometimes when artists don’t love the media (or even if they do), they don’t give members of the press review tickets for their shows. Withholding review tickets for shows is a pretty common occurrence, actually (see TBD’s whiny coverage of being shut out of Lady Gaga’s September Verizon show.)  Usually, in this situation, media outlets either have writers buy tickets, or scrap plans to review the show altogether.

A day before the show, I.M.P, promoter of the D.C. Dylan date, said they’d received word that no press would be permitted at the GWU show. Oh, so no comp tickets? No, no press at all.

The official word was that Dylan’s camp doesn’t allow press at shows “even if they are buying their tickets.”

Even if they’re buying tickets? How would they know if a member of the media bought a ticket, and went to a Dylan show, intending to review it? Are they looking out for people with press hats, ready to bounce them? Or maybe anyone with a notebook? Ink-stained fingers? Carpal tunnel?

Again, it should be noted that the folks at I.M.P. were just passing along a message. And the message from Dylan's management was actually just a slightly bungled, unintentionally funny way of saying that there were no comp tickets or even tickets for purchase specifically set aside for working members of the press.

Read more here.

Why You Can't Escape Christmas Radio

To consumers, all-holiday radio sounds like Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas is You" played 28 times an hour every day for more than a month. To radio stations, it's the jingle bells of a machine that hits the jackpot the same time every year.

The Street has a story that reads with each holiday season, with increasing eagerness and frequency, radio gets into the spirit by booting its regular offerings from the airwaves and replacing them with just about every hymn, carol and children's song ever played -- in all their various and oft-overwrought pop iterations. In Providence, R.I., Clear Channel-owned WSNE 93.3 was all-holiday and playing Andy Williams' "It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" by Nov. 7.

Even on Web-based Pandora, spokeswoman Deborah Roth says the site's "Christmas" genre station is the most frequently added station as of Nov. 12, while Sirius-XM Satellite Radio launched six holiday-themed channels Monday.

This year, 33 stations across the U.S. changed to the all-holiday format before Nov. 12, according to broadcast and cable tracking firm Media Monitors. Eventually, there will be more than 100 stations nationwide embracing the same 24-hour holiday format that Media Monitors says was responsible for playing last season's most popular all-holiday song -- Burl Ives' "Have A Holly Jolly Christmas" -- 17,233 times in December alone. Considering those stations usually bring the format screeching to a halt Christmas night, that's more than 689 plays per day -- or 29 times an hour.

Considering it's a two-minute song, that actually leaves listeners with 48 "Holly Jolly"-free minutes a day.

Last year's No. 2, Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree," is a similarly merciful length, but the No. 3 -- Mariah's aforementioned "All I Want For Christmas Is You" -- defies mathematical logic. Played 16,634 times last December, the four-minute holiday powerhouse is played roughly 28 times an hour in the first 25 days of the month -- cramming 112 minutes of pitchy holiday standard in a 60-minute time slot.
It's too early to tell which songs will be monopolizing the airwaves this year, but Mariah, Burl and Brenda seem like safe bets to retake the crown.

Read more here.

MJ’s Video Footage Surfaces Online

TMZ has gotten their hands on footage from Michael’s unfinished music video for the song “One More Chance” from his 2003 compilation album, Number Ones. The video is still unfinished because at the time, Michael was facing legal issues over the child molestation accusation and was in court. The video will be featured in a Michael Jackson special box set called Visions, separate from the Michael album due in stores December 15th.

NPR Correspondent Reflects on Challenges to Journalism

When students ask veteran reporters who is more of a journalist: Glenn Beck, Rachel Maddow or Jon Stewart, you know the media landscape has changed radically.

This was just one of the anecdotes that Lynn Neary, TMC ’71, shared on Oct. 25 with about 60 alumnae of Thomas More College.

Patrick Verel at writes the reunion brought together alumnae of Fordham’s “most selective college”—so nicknamed because its students had the highest average SAT scores and GPAs of any school in the University’s history. It was an all-women’s college from 1964 to 1974 before being folded into Fordham College at Rose Hill.

Neary parlayed a job at a small radio station in Rocky Mount, N.C., into a career at National Public Radio. Since arriving at NPR in 1982, she has risen through the ranks and is currently the arts correspondent.

She spent the afternoon at Rose Hill, meeting 15 students at WFUV-FM (90.7), and teaching a telecommunications/media ethics class.

“If you want to be a reporter, go out and report,” Neary told the students. “That’s how I realized how much I loved radio. I loved the idea of walking around with a recorder and asking people to tell me stories.”

Throughout the 75-minute class, Neary mixed personal anecdotes with professional and technical advice. She played audio clips from some of her recent work, including a piece about what it means to own a book in the digital age and a pre-concert, backstage interview with members of the band Black Eyed Peas.
Read more here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

SiriusXM Books Paul McCartney

Not to be outdone by Apple's announcement that The Beatles are coming to iTunes, Sirius XM said today that one of two surviving Beatles will perform at a concert held by the satellite radio service.

Paul McCartney will perform live at the Apollo Theater in New York on December 13. Sirius, the long struggling company, is putting on the show to celebrate reaching 20 million subscribers.

Sirius will broadcast the concert live and offer subscribers a chance to attend the event. Earlier today, Apple announced that The Beatles catalog is now available on iTunes.

Apple: iTunes Meets The Beatles

In a joint announcement, Apple, EMI, the band’s record label, and Apple Corps, the band’s company, said the Beatles’ 13 remastered studio albums, the two-volume “Past Masters” compilation and the classic “Red” and “Blue” collections were on sale on iTunes as complete albums or individual songs.

According to the, Apple is also offering a “box set” that includes a concert film of the Beatles’ first American concert at the Washington Coliseum in 1964.

“We’re really excited to bring the Beatles’ music to iTunes,” Paul McCartney said in a press release. “It’s fantastic to see the songs we originally released on vinyl receive as much love in the digital world as they did the first time around.”

Complete albums cost $12.99 and double albums $19.99. Individual songs are $1.29, and the complete box set costs $149. By way of comparison, the CD box set is selling for $154.99 on

Ringo Starr, the Beatles’ drummer, alluded to fans’ frustration over the longstanding refusal by band members to make their music available for download.

“I am particularly glad to no longer be asked when the Beatles are coming to iTunes,” Mr. Starr said in a press release. “At last, if you want it — you can get it now — The Beatles from Liverpool to now!”

Steven P. Jobs, the chief executive of Apple and a longtime Beatles fan, said in the press release that he was finally realizing a dream that Apple had when it first introduced iTunes 10 years ago. “We love the Beatles and are honored and thrilled to welcome them to iTunes,” Mr. Jobs said.

One of the last major holdouts against selling their music via digital downloads, the Beatles are the ultimate prize for any music company. The group has held on to blockbuster sales four decades after breaking up — it has sold more than 177 million albums in the United States alone, according to the Recording Industry Association of America — and held on to untouchable cultural prestige.

Read more here.

Also read here:

Apple iTunes and The Beatles Come Together, So What? (PC Magazine)

Zell: Tribune 'In Dramatically Better Shape'

Sam Zell, chairman of Chicago Tribune parent Tribune Co., in an interview Monday declined to criticize Randy Michaels, who resigned last month as the company's chief executive amid criticism of his conduct and the corporate culture he fostered.

Phil rosenthal at writes, Zell also said in his CNBC appearance that the media concern, which has operated under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since December 2008, is "in dramatically better shape today" than when he gained control by taking it private in a heavily leveraged December 2007 transaction.

Michaels, a former radio personality and long-time radio executive, resigned from Tribune Co. on Oct. 22. His support from many employees, his board and the creditors that eventually will own the company had eroded through weeks of escalating allegations of actions and attitudes the New York Times characterized as engendering a "frat house" atmosphere in the corporate suite.

"Despite all of the publicity and the New York Times articles, etc., the company is in dramatically better shape today than it was when we bought it in '07," Zell told Bartiromo.

"I think it produces a much better product," he said. "It does so in a much more efficient fashion. So I think there’s a really great hope for the company going forward. And I think that it will outperform the media industry, as it has outperformed the media industry this year."

Read more here.

Bob Pittman on Clear Channel: Radio Isn’t Dying

Deal Journal at The Wall Street Journal tracked down Clear Channel Radio's new investor and chairman of media and entertainment platforms, Bob Pittman:

Deal Journal: How do you see your role at the company? You’re not the CEO –- that post is currently vacant –- but you say this isn’t a part-time gig, either. (UPDATE: Mark Mays remains Clear Channel CEO, but he has announced plans to step down; the search for his successor is ongoing.)

Pittman: I think John [Hogan, the CEO of Clear Channel Radio] and I are going to be joined at the hip on the strategy level….John and I going to focus very heavily on the growth areas for the company. One is digital. They’ve already done pretty well, and I think they have tremendous opportunity ahead of them.

What this company has that no one else has, is these very, very, very powerful local brands. I have a 9- and an eleven-year-old. It’s just about ruined my daughter’s relationship with her mother already, fighting over the radio for Z-100 [a Clear Channel rock station in New York]. First hand, from family rides in the car, I understand the power of these brands.

Read more here.

Facebook Revamps Messaging System

Facebook has ramped up competition with AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft and Google with a product to rival their email services.

BBC News Technology writer Maggie Shiels reports Facebook Messages aims to tie users more closely to the social networking site at a time when everyone is battling for their attention.

The product will merge texts, online chats, and emails into one central hub.

Facebook said traditional email is too slow and cumbersome and needs to step into the modern world of messaging.

"This is not an email killer," Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg told reporters and analysts at an event in San Francisco.

"Maybe we can help push the way people do messaging more towards this simple, real time, immediate personal experience. Email is still really important to a lot of people. We think this simple messaging is how people will shift their communication," added Mr Zuckerberg.

At the heart of Facebook Messages is an effort to ensure users "see the messages that matter".

The new feature will simplify how people communicate whether it be via text, instant messages, online chat or email. All these messages will come into one feed known as a social inbox allowing users to reply in any way they want.

Other features include being able to store conversations so users can have a complete archive of communications with friends and family. Mr Bosworth likened this to a modern day treasure trove of letters stored in a box.

Incoming message will be placed in one of three folders - one for friends, another for things like bank statements and a junk folder for messages people do not want to see.

The product will also represent a challenge to Yahoo with over 273 million users and Microsoft which has nearly 362 million.

Read more here.

7 Reasons Newspapers Are Not Rebounding Financially

This was to be a year of convalescence for newspapers, not a total recovery but a dramatic improvement on the dismal results of 2008 and 2009. However, Rick Edmonds at Poynter online writes with third-quarter earnings in and just seven weeks left in 2010, the industry's vital signs are distinctly mixed.

The good news first. Newspapers are solvent and profitable, often quite profitable on an operating basis. Only a handful went out of business during the great recession. Newspaper companies now are generating enough cash to pay down debt and finance robust exploration of potential new digital revenue streams.

But Edmonds  sees at least seven signs of continuing trouble in the near term and a bumpy path to the mythical "new business model."
1. Advertising revenues are still falling.
2. Online and other digital growth doesn't take up the slack.
3. Newsprint prices are rising again.
4. Other cost reductions are cycling through.
5. Circulation revenues have gone flat.
6. The "death spiral" cycle continues.
7. Debt continues to be problematic.
Read more here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Robert Pittman Joins Clear Channel Radio

Chain-of-Command Has Hogan Reporting To Pittman

CC Media Holdings, Inc. and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Clear Channel Communications, Inc., today announced that Robert W. Pittman, former Chief Executive Officer of MTV Networks and AOL Networks and former Chief Operating Officer of America Online and AOL Time Warner, has made a personal equity investment in the Company and will serve as its Chairman of Media and Entertainment Platforms.

In this role, Pittman will work closely with the newly formed Operating Committee of the Board of Directors and the management team to leverage the Company's unique collection of media assets and spearhead the further development of a comprehensive, integrated digital strategy for Clear Channel in the radio business. Pittman will maintain his current position as Founding Member of Pilot Group, a private equity firm, and continue his activities as a venture investor.

Clear Channel Radio, led by its President and Chief Executive Officer, John Hogan, will report to the Operating Committee of the Board through Pittman, reflecting the long term strategic importance of the core radio business to the Company, and the Company's focus on further development and execution of opportunities in the digital arena.

"With his background in music, radio and entertainment and track record of success in both traditional and digital media, Bob Pittman will be a terrific ally and contributor to Clear Channel in this new role," said Mark Mays, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

"His experience and understanding of the broad spectrum of media, Internet and mobile will be a real asset to our executive team in continuing to build Clear Channel's core business. Bob will partner with John Hogan both to help set strategic direction for radio and drive the effort to expand our opportunities in the digital arena as well as amplify our outreach to major advertising and marketing partners. This development underscores and is expected to accelerate the transformation of our radio business into an integrated media and entertainment enterprise that leverages all of Clear Channel's powerful properties."

"Both as a former operating executive and an investor, this is a dream addition to my portfolio," said Pittman, whose first job was as a radio announcer at age 15.

"The Clear Channel radio stations, with 97 million weekly listeners and high quality programming, provide an ideal foundation for growing the core radio business, and expanding those brands and that audience into new services and onto new devices. With a platform this broad and this deep, we have the ability to experiment in ways other companies can't.

"Clear Channel's unique combination of national audience and powerful local execution enables us to promote new products and features to our audience quickly and on a mass level," added Pittman.

"This offers a real opportunity to enhance the experience for consumers, provide powerful marketing opportunities for advertising partners, and develop new, high growth digital businesses for the Company that build on the 12 million unique monthly visitors we already reach online today. I'm looking forward to working closely with the Board and John Hogan and the entire leadership team to help maximize the potential of the outstanding businesses they have built and grown."

Pittman began his career programming successful radio stations in Pittsburgh, Chicago and finally at WNBC, the NBC Radio flagship station, in New York City. He was the programmer who led the team that created MTV, and in addition to having served as Chief Executive Officer of MTV Networks and AOL Networks and Chief Operating Officer of America Online and AOL Time Warner, he has also served as Chief Executive Officer of Six Flags Theme Parks, Time Warner Enterprises and Century 21 Real Estate. His honors include being inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame and receiving the International Radio and Television Society's Gold Medal award.

John Hogan's eMail to the CC troops
Good morning,

As Mark shared in his email to all of Clear Channel, Bob Pittman, a veteran media industry operator, investor and innovator, will be serving in the newly created senior role of Chairman of Media and Entertainment Platforms. This development is great news for all of us at Clear Channel Radio, and I wanted you to hear from me exactly why I am so excited about it.

Bob brings to us unprecedented experience, credibility, and vision in the media and entertainment world. His collaboration with Clear Channel Radio in this role is a powerful validation that we have a tremendously bright future and that CCR is going to emerge as a media and entertainment force. For me personally, Bob will help me grow and develop as your CEO and will be an unparalleled resource for me to call on.

I’ve sat down with Bob over the course of several meetings, and I can tell you he is very excited about Clear Channel and what we have done with our business. He is the ideal person to assume this role and to work with us as we continue to build and execute a comprehensive strategy to realize the full power and potential of the CCR on-air, on-line, on-site platforms. I am confident that together we will effectively leverage Bob's exceptional background in the music and entertainment arena, and the incredible platform we’ve built at CCR, and that our go-forward strategy will build upon the remarkable transformation in radio programming quality and sales effectiveness we have achieved.
I also want you to know this move will not change our organizational structure, or how we function as a team. I will continue to lead the radio group with our leadership team. However, we will now report directly to the newly formed Operating Committee of the Board of Directors, through Bob, who will be the Board’s designated point person to work with CCR.

I hope you are as excited as I am about what Bob Pittman brings to us and the affirmation of the central role the radio business plays in our Company. Today marks a new chapter for Clear Channel Radio and again, I could not be more positive about it and trust you will be as well. I have shared with Bob what a terrific team we have, and he knows about the hard work and dedication each and every one of you has contributed to build Clear Channel into the leader it is today.

I look forward to working with Bob and hope you’ll join me in welcoming him to Clear Channel Radio.

Onward and upward!
Best regards,

Tom's Take:  Hogan is being a good trooper here, but Pittman seems to be the future.

The Future For The Daily Beast, Newsweek

Tina Brown, editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast, and Sidney Harman, owner of Newsweek, appeared on CNN's "Reliable Sources" on Sunday to discuss the merger of the two companies, and they hinted at some of the changes that may be in store.

Talent: The Subway Announcement Lady

The next time you are standing in New York City waiting for the subway, think of this: The voice that tells you a train is two stations away, and then one station away, is up in Maine, about as far from the Penobscot River as you are from the front of the train. When it finally comes.

The ran a story Sunday about Carolyn Hopkins.  Hopkins has been recording subway public-address announcements for 15 years. In all that time, she has never ridden the subway.

Mrs. Hopkins works from a windowless room in her house with sound-absorbing material on the wall — a tapestry, hung like a painting but covering foam. The microphone and recording equipment came from Innovative Electronic Designs of Louisville, which developed the system that plays her voice in the subway.

What you hear, standing on the platform, are a series of short takes, each no more than a few words, strung together by the computer. “Ladies and gentlemen” — one take. “There is Brooklyn-bound” — one take. “Local train” — one take. “Two” — one take. “Stations away” — one take. The longest take is 16 words: “Please stand away from the platform edge, especially when trains are entering and leaving the station.”

You can hear her saying much the same thing in Chicago, Washington, even Paris (where she is the voice that speaks what little English is spoken in the Metro). But subway riders are not the only passengers she talks to.

She has recorded announcements for the Staten Island ferry and most of the major airports in this country, including La Guardia, Kennedy and Newark Liberty.

“Once we walked into the John Wayne-Orange County Airport in California. I had completely forgotten that I’d done the announcements there, and it hit me like, ‘Oh, O.K.’ I was telling myself to watch unattended bags. That’s always a good one.”

She is 62 — “I’m not a young chick anymore,” she told The NYTimes, “but I try to keep my voice from sounding like it’s aged.”

Read more and listen to an example of her work here.

Billy Ray Cyrus Storms Out Of WCOL Interview

Don't ask Billy Ray Cyrus about his impending divorce

The country star and father to Miley flipped out during a Friday radio interview on 92.3 WCOL's "Woody and the Wake-Up Call" — when host Woody Johnson asked about his headline-making split from Tish, his wife of 17 years.

Sources recently told Us Weekly that Billy Ray decided to end his marriage after learning of Tish's affiar with singer Bret Michaels. (Both Tish's and Michaels' reps deny the report).

Click here for WCOL Columbua, OH website.