Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Saturday Aircheck

From Dec. of 1970, here is a great high-quality aircheck of the legendary Jack Armstrong at 1520 AM WKBW radio in Buffalo, NY! This shows Jack at his best!!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Study: iPads Hurting Newspapers?

A study conducted by the Reynolds Journalism Institute indicates that Apple's iPad could hurt the newspaper industry as users drop print subscriptions in favor of reading newspaper content on the device.

According to a story  at, the survey, funded by Digital Publishing Alliance, polled 1,600 iPad users, finding them to be predominantly well-educated, affluent men between the ages of 35 and 64.

While using the iPad to follow breaking news and current events was deemed the most popular use of the device, a "statistically significant" portion of the survey — 58 percent of the 931 respondents who subscribe to print newspapers — said they are likely to cancel their subscriptions within the next six months and use the iPad to read newspaper content, the survey said.

Additionally, the study found that 10 percent of respondents had already canceled their subscriptions to printed newspapers and switched to reading digital newspapers on their iPad.

"Correlation analysis shows that the more one uses the iPad for news consumption, the less he or she uses printed newspapers," the study said. "While these negative correlations between iPad news use and printed newspaper use aren't incredibly strong, they are statistically significant."

Read more here.

Also read here:

iPad Newspaper Apps Could Slash Print Subscriptions (

Study: Smartphones Now “Most Essential Thing”

A new and innovative radio industry study vividly demonstrates a sea change in the way smartphones are affecting the everyday behaviors of average American consumers. The findings show that radio has multiple opportunities to take part in the smartphone revolution.

The 60-minute video research project, “Goin’ Mobile,” was commissioned by Arbitron and conducted by Jacobs Media.

According to the study, smartphones are redefining business conduct and changing the social discourse. Survey participants used apps to conduct a variety of activities, such as checking on the status of business computer networks, shopping for specialty groceries and gaming. The phones’ multimedia features were not a major focus for participants. Even so, the online radio service Pandora was the second-most-common app on the participants’ phones, next to Facebook. This finding suggests that radio’s decades of experience as an entertainment content provider makes the industry uniquely qualified to take a spot on consumers’ smartphone “app” menus.

Radio has the ability to integrate real-time functionality, efficiency and immediacy on smartphones—if it makes mobile the priority that many of these respondents have. There is more to mobile than turning a smartphone into a Walkman®. Consumers want more from their apps, and radio will have to creatively and strategically fill those needs by designing and building applications that matter.

Among some of the study’s other conclusions:
•Apple iPhone® and Android™ smartphone owners are far more likely than other smartphone users to be immersed in apps. Companies—whether inside radio or out—need to design apps with customer needs and desires in focus.
•In the workplace, smartphones are game-changers, as users cleverly find uses for these devices that boost productivity. As an industry, radio needs to discover the smartphone applications that can facilitate audience and advertiser engagement, modernizing contact points with its two most important constituencies.
•Radio is impacted by in-car phone activity. While many “Goin’ Mobile” respondents listen to the radio while driving, smartphone use is the focal point and radio listening decreases when they use their devices. Radio needs to become a more significant part of the in-car smartphone menu.
•Nearly every “Goin’ Mobile” respondent used Facebook on their smartphones. Social conversation is gravitating from speech to data, and the need for radio to have presence in this digital universe is critical.

Collectively, radio has hundreds of millions of weekly listeners it can drive to download their mobile applications. Once those apps are on the market, the industry needs to create ongoing promotion and messaging strategies to ensure that it is taking full advantage of the mobile opportunity.

FNC Told To Echo GOP Talking Point

Leaked Fox News Memo

This is going to add some fairly serious grist to the mill for the people that think Fox News is essentially the political arm of the GOP.

According to Glynnis MacNicol,,  during the height of the health care debate a Fox News vice president Bill Sammon sent a memo to staff asking them to refer to the 'public option' as the 'government option.'  Media Matters, in a welcome departure from the usual nitpicking, obtained the email which directed the new division to:
Please use the term ‘government-run health insurance,’ or, when brevity is a concern, ‘government option,’ whenever possible.”
This memo came shortly after Republican pollster Frank Luntz advised Sean Hannity thusly:
“If you call it a public option, the American people are split,” he explained. “If you call it the government option, the public is overwhelmingly against it.”
Read more here.

TV Anchor: "I Lost My Job Last Friday"

Bob Sellers was a news co-anchor for WSMV's 6 and 10 o'clock broadcasts in Nashville. He was previously an anchor for WTTG's Fox 5 Morning News. He also was an anchor for Fox News Channel. Joining the network in 2002, he regularly hosted weekend hours of Fox News Live and frequently anchored Fox News Live programs during the week. He also reported from Iraq during June of 2003.

Prior to Fox News, Sellers worked at CNBC anchoring Market Watch and Today's Business, in addition to filling in as anchor on programs such as Squawk Box and Power Lunch. Additionally, he worked for KING-TV in Seattle, WA, KENS-TV in San Antonio, TX, and KTVL in Medford, OR. He joined WTTG Fox 5 Morning News in 2006 where he served as a morning news anchor until July 2008.

Sellers is currently Senior Investment Consultant for Gary Goldberg Financial Services, a boutique money management company headquartered in Suffern, New York. He has appeared as a markets guest on CNBC and has published numerous columns in various publications, most of them related to business. He has written columns for "Gear" and "Success" magazines and has placed work in newspapers including the Los Angeles Times and the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Sellers writing for hig blog at the Huffington Post:
I lost my job last Friday. I am one of the white collar casualties of a struggling economy and changing industry (television) -- and let's be frank -- managers looking for a scapegoat to save their own jobs.

"Why?" I asked.

"Ah, it's just the business," he said. "That's just the way television is."

I sat across the desk from a boss who told me that management had decided to go another direction. This was the same boss that a few months before had given me a glowing personnel review for the work I had done as the 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. anchor at the NBC affiliate in Nashville. The same boss who told me a piece
I wrote for the Huffington Post on local flood coverage was "extraordinarily well-written" and reflected well on the station. The one who told me three months ago not to leave to take a job in Washington, D.C. because they were very happy with my work and wanted me here. (That job has since been filled.) The same boss that submitted video that resulted in my being nominated for two Emmy's for coverage of breaking news. (The awards haven't been handed out yet.)

This is the American workplace, 2010. No loyalty, and a cavalier consideration for the life changing consequences of treating people and their livelihoods as mere pieces on a chess board.

So what comes next? I don't know.

Here's what I do know. It's hard to sleep not knowing where your next paycheck is going to come from; not knowing whether we'll run out of savings as you try to land a job in an economy worse than at any time since the Great Depression; not knowing whether contacts you've made over the years will throw you a lifeline with a job opportunity, or be part of a whisper campaign to define you as a sad vestige of your former professional self who hasn't faced the reality that the world has changed and you're not part of where it's going.
Read more here.

Opinion: Al Sharpton Needs To Get A Real Job

From Gina Miller, Dakota Voice:
Al Sharpton really should get a job—I mean a real job.  Does America honestly have a need for more race-baiting troublemakers to go around telling lies about people with whom they disagree politically?  Having ideological differences is one thing; telling outright lies about your opponents is another.  Lying is the number one tactic of the left, and Sharpton did not flinch on Monday evening when he appeared on Ed Schultz’ MSNBC show and vomited a whole stream of lies about Rush Limbaugh.

The only radio talker I listen to almost as much as I listen to Michael Savage is Rush Limbaugh, so I can speak with a good deal of knowledge about what Rush says and doesn’t say on the air.  Rush is a truth-teller, and that’s what drives the left more insane than they already are.  For many years, the left has been looking desperately for something—anything—they can use to get Rush taken off the air.  Now Al Sharpton is going to try to strong-arm the FCC into denying licenses to stations that carry Rush.

Let’s take a look at Sharpton’s reasoning as presented on Schultz’ show.  Sharpton jumps out of the gate with these gems:
Here’s a man who calls the president names, plays a record calling him the ‘good negro,’ that has the former majority whip, or soon to be former majority whip, Jim Clyburn, as driving Miss Nancy, trying to play off Driving Miss Daisy.  Rush Limbaugh has the right to say whatever he wants to say; he does not have the right to do it, though, on publicly regulated airwaves.”
“We have a series of meetings going on, and we’re going to see the FCC next week.  We’re not going to stand by and allow publicly regulated radio and television just go for marketing and promoting this kind of racism.
Read more here.
Gina Miller, a native of Texas, is a radio disc jockey. She also works with her husband installing and repairing residential irrigation systems and doing landscaping on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Media Critic Robert Feder Joins Time Out Chicago

Veteran Chicago journalist Robert Feder, who’s been “serving up scoops and dishing dirt since 1980,” has joined Time Out Chicago as media critic. Starting January 3rd, his daily blog of news, opinion and analysis about broadcast, print and online media will appear on, according to Frank Sennett, President and Editor-in-Chief of Time Out Chicago.

“What better way to underline Time Out Chicago’s commitment to serious, vital cultural coverage of the city than to bring aboard the man who defines the media beat in this town?” Sennett said. “Rob brings to the table an incomparable ability to land important scoops. He’s an incisive, insightful, must-read journalist who’s coming off arguably the best year of his career. This is the biggest free-agent columnist signing in Chicago since Royko jumped to the Trib. We’re thrilled to be able to showcase Robert Feder at Time Out Chicago and expand his already-strong readership base.”

Feder, a nationally acclaimed columnist who covered television and radio at the Chicago Sun-Times for 28 years, resigned from the newspaper in 2008. After a one-year hiatus, he returned to the beat in an expanded role with Chicago Public Media, where he launched the Vocalo Blogs. Recognition for Feder’s yearlong reporting on the management of Tribune Co. extended from The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune to Howard Stern and Walter Jacobson.

“I’m delighted to bring my blog to Time Out, and I invite readers to join me on this great new adventure as we continue our daily online conversation about Chicago media,” Feder said. “I’m especially thrilled to be working with Frank Sennett, an extraordinarily gifted editor whom I’ve admired and respected for more than 20 years. I can’t wait to be part of Frank’s exciting vision for the future of Time Out Chicago.”

Read more here.

Verizon 4G Network Zips

But all that data will cost you
You'd think a blazing fast wireless network was all good. The 4G (fourth generation) mobile network that Verizon Wireless (VZ) launched Dec. 5 certainly qualifies as pretty darn zippy. At least, it was a lot of the time Edward C. Baig at spent testing a 4G laptop modem in and around New York City.
But, he writes,  speed can kill — your wallet. found that the 5-gigabyte monthly data allowance on Verizon's least-expensive ($50) monthly plan for 4G could be exhausted in a mere 32 minutes at max speeds in its tests. Overage charges fetch $10 a gigabyte. Bummer!

Verizon told me it won't apologize for providing the kinds of speeds that mobile warriors covet. Just know that the heaviest users will pay for the privilege of gulping data, for example, by watching video during their daily commute to the office. (Depending on where you live, you may not consistently get the fastest speeds during your commute.)

Verizon's new network is built on technology called LTE, for Long Term Evolution. It competes with a rival high-speed WiMax network technology pushed by Sprint and Clearwire. T-Mobile also offers its own faster-speed service, which is based on so-called HSPA+ technology. Verizon's entry into the fast lane, given the company's generally solid reputation, is especially significant.
Read more here.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Coleman: Broadcasters Should Be Concerned

Nearly Half of Audio Streaming Listeners Do Not Use “Over the Air” Broadcasts

Nearly half — 48% — of Americans who listen to streaming audio do not use the “over the air” broadcasts of AM and FM radio stations. This is the latest finding from the “Successful Audio Streaming Strategies” study from Coleman Insights, which was conducted during the second and third quarters of 2010. Coleman Insights released previous findings from the study in September.

“On the surface these numbers should be of some concern to radio broadcasters,” said Coleman Insights Vice President Sam Milkman, who authored the study. “However, our findings suggest that they are not the result of many streaming audio users disengaging from radio brands, but simply changing the distribution platform they use to consume radio content.”

Additional findings from the “Successful Audio Streaming Strategies” study released today include the fact that younger streaming audio users — particularly young males — are even less likely to use “over the air” signals than older streamers, minority streaming audio users are less likely to listen to broadcast signals than non-minority users and that the mostly positive perceptions of AM and FM radio that streaming audio listeners have are shared by those streamers who do not listen to “over the air” signals.

For a copy of the study, click here.

Howard Stern Stays With Sirius


Sirius XM and Howard Stern on Thursday morning didn't detail financial terms of their new five year relationship, but at least one analyst estimates it is worth $400 million over the term of the contract, compared to $500 million for his previous five-year contract.

Lazard Capital Markets analyst Barton Crockett in a first reaction estimated that the deal is likely consistent with his expectations and consistent with the cash payments Stern has received in his first Sirius deal, but the shock jockey likely loses the stock portion of his compensation.

Wall Street analysts wondered though if Stern may work only three instead of four days a week given that he had expressed an interest in scaling back his time commitment.

earlier story....
Howard Stern has signed another five-year contract with SiriusXM Radio, putting to rest speculation that he might leave and sending the stock on a double-digit surge.

"If we're going to stay in radio, we should stay here," Stern told listeners and his staff Thursday morning. "We're in an incredible position and suddenly there's real growth. It's a real business."

Stern rocked the radio world in 2005 when he started at Sirius backed with a $500 million contract. His renewal announcement came with just a handful of regular shows left in his current deal.

According to Richard Huff at, Stern declined to discuss his salary, though he said earlier this week he wouldn't take a pay cut.

The announcement ended months of speculation and hand wringing over his future and the future of Sirius. Five years ago, his move to Sirius led to millions of new subscribers for the company, many of which followed from terrestrial radio. At the time, Sirius had just 600,000 listeners. Now, through his arrival and a merger with competitor XM Radio, along with additional marketing and business deals, the company reaches as many as 20 million people.

"Deep down in my heart I knew I wanted to stay here," Stern told listeners.

Stern said he'd considered other offers along the way, but ultimately decided Sirius was the way to go. He reiterated that he thought terrestrial radio was dead.

He said he hoped all of his staff, who all negotiate separate deals, would stay with him.

He did say there would be some changes to his workload, but said those deals are still being worked out.

Howard Stern responded earlier this week to a report that Sirius XM CFO David Frear said Stern would need to take a pay cut if he re-ups with the company with an on-air rant in which he declared, "I am not taking a f***ing pay cut" and demanded to know, "Who is this guy to say this in public?"

According to,  on Wednesday morning's show, Stern said he'd looked into the matter further and found that Frear didn't say that Stern needed to accept a smaller check, but commented more generally that Sirius XM has been able to renew talent for less because there are no longer two satellite radio companies competing for content.

Stern reportedly apologized to Frear on the show and said, "David Frear is OK with me."

Also read here:

Sirius XM Stock Jumps  (Forbes)

Boston In No Rush For WXKS-AM

Boston’s new conservative talk radio station 1200-WXKS-AM boasts a heavyweight lineup of right-wing yakkers - Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh - but it’s tanking in the ratings battle after nine months on the air.

But, as Jessica Heslam writes at, the latest radio ratings put WXKS - better known as “Rush Radio” - in 45th place in November with a mere 0.2 share of the key 25- to 54-year-old listener demographic.

The Clear Channel-owned station fared better last November when it was still playing Spanish music, coming in at 34th place with a 0.4 share.

WXKS program director Bill George defended the talk station, saying it’s going to take time to build up listenership.

“We fully expected that it would take some time to build an audience in a very competitive talk landscape,” said George. “We have seen spikes and drops, but we are very confident in the lineup and the long-term success of the radio station.”

The station flipped to a news talk format in March, stealing the syndicated Limbaugh from rival WRKO-AM (680) and tapping former ’RKO host Jeff Katz to helm its morning drive-show.

Read more here.

Boston's Talk Playing Field (PPM 6+)

WBZ-AM     7.0   7.3   7.0
WBUR-FM  3.5   3.3   4.0
WTKK          2.7   3.1    3.7
WRKO         2.5   2.6    2.8
WGBH         1.0   1.1    1.5
WXKS-AM  0.7   0.7    0.7
WILD           0.5   0.4    0.3
Tom's Take:  With a rich heritage of local talkers in Boston, it would appear WXKS just isn't connecting. Is it because of content, signal, lack of market visibility/marketing?  Probably all of the above.  However, WXKS provides a Top 10 clearance for Premiere radio's line-up.  I doubt anyone at Clear Channel really cares much about the ratings (except perhaps the local PD).

FCC to Look at TV-Fee Blackouts

Federal regulators said Wednesday that they'll look at what the government can do to help prevent customers from losing television channels during disputes between pay-TV operators and broadcast station owners.

Amy Schatz at reports William Lake, the Federal Communications Commission's media bureau chief, said the agency will next year study whether it could better protect consumers during the fee disputes, also known as "retransmission consent" negotiations. Such disputes have been happening more frequently now that broadcasters are seeking more money from pay-TV operators for the right to carry their TV stations. Mr. Lake was speaking at a luncheon sponsored by the Media Institute, an industry-sponsored group.

In October, a dispute between Cablevision Systems Corp. and News Corp.'s Fox Broadcasting left three million cable customers in the New York City and Philadelphia metropolitan areas without access to Fox television stations for more than two weeks during the postseason Major League Baseball games. News Corp. also owns The Wall Street Journal.

The companies eventually reached a deal after the FCC made it clear it wasn't planning to intervene, but the high-profile dispute caught the attention of lawmakers and regulators.

Read more here.

Meet The Man Who Wants To Control Your News

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps has a long history of advocating for government control of media, dating to the beginning of his tenure.

However, Mike Riggs at reports it wasn’t until last week, after Copps spoke to the BBC and an audience at Columbia University, that Congress decided to look into the commissioner’s philosophy against private media companies.

“We are going to be pretty close to denying our citizens the essential news and information that they need to have in order to make intelligent decisions about the future direction of their country,” Copps told the BBC. Media outlets are not “producing the body of news and information that democracy needs to conduct its civic dialogue.”

Copps went on to criticize his Republican colleagues at the FCC, who he claims, “eviscerated just about every public interest responsibility that generations of reformers had fought for and won in radio and TV.” In other words, the FCC folded the Fairness Doctrine in the 80s when it should have been cooking up legal justification for applying it more widely.

Read more here.

Steve Harvey: Attention Is Rewarding, Scary

Steve Harvey is a busy man these days. He has his popular four-hour morning radio show, which has an audience of 7 million. He has a new TV show. He has a new line of men's clothing. He hosts Family Feud. He's on the lecture circuit. And he has a new profile in Wednesday's USA Today.

And then there are the books.

Craig Wilson at writes Harvey's latest, Straight Talk, No Chaser: How to Find, Keep, and Understand a Man (Amistad, $24.99), is out this week, and he admits that he isn't prepared for this second journey down literary lane. "It makes me nervous. Trying to top the first one just about froze me from writing the second."

Understandable. His 2009 mega best seller, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man (Amistad, $23.99), is still so hot that there's no paperback edition. After 50 printings, there are more than 2 million copies in print.
On his book tour, thousands of women — 2,700 in Augusta, Ga. — stood in line for hours just to say hello and have their books signed. And yes, there were a few propositions along the way.

The idea for Harvey's first book, a primer for women on how to better understand men, came about when a suitor came calling for one of his daughters. He asked the young man a simple question: "What's your plan?" The young man didn't have one. (He also never returned.)

"So I asked my daughter why she didn't ask him that question."

His daughter then admitted she never thought of asking such a question and told him he should write a relationship book. So he did.

That first book is now being followed by a more no-nonsense one, touching on many of the things women told him after they read his best seller.

But at 53, dressed in a crisp blue blazer and white slacks, Harvey cuts the figure of a much younger man. His mustache is tightly trimmed, his bald head shiny. (He shaves it every day with a Norelco electric razor.)

"Steve is incredibly perceptive about people in general and men in particular, which is apparent listening to his comedy and radio shows," says Dawn Davis, editor and head of Amistad, Harvey's publisher. "He always zeros in on what people are thinking, and that's not always compatible with what they say."

Read more here.

Oprah: "Not A Lesbian"

As the LA Times puts it:    It’s the rumor that won’t seem to go away: Does the queen of daytime TV like the ladies?

Oprah Winfrey is once again trying to put it all to rest: “I’m not a lesbian.”

The 56-year-old media mogul opened up to Barbara Walters in a revealing and emotional interview on ABC and discussed the story that’s been tabloid fodder for years.

The interview airs Thursday on ABC.

Read more here.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Still, Hard to Imagine

During the "Monday Night Football" broadcast on Dec. 8, 1980, as the Patriots-Dolphins game went to a commercial, Howard Cosell told Frank Gifford -- off the air -- that John Lennon was dead. In the booth, before coming back live, they had less than a minute to decide what to do. recalls there were three seconds left in the game, score tied at 13, and million of viewers watching "Monday Night Football" as New England Patriots kicker John Smith trotted onto the Orange Bowl field 30 years ago.

For those who remember the next few moments of that night, Dec. 8, 1980, Smith and the game itself have become historical and cultural markers overshadowed by but forever connected to Howard Cosell's announcement that John Lennon had been shot and killed.

"Remember, this is just a football game, no matter who wins or loses," Cosell told TV viewers. "An unspeakable tragedy, confirmed to us by ABC News in New York City: John Lennon, outside of his apartment building on the West Side of New York City, the most famous, perhaps, of all the Beatles, shot twice in the back, rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, dead … on … arrival. Hard to go back to the game after that news flash, which in duty bound, we have to take."

As fans watching the game on TV listened to Cosell deliver the stunning news, all they saw was Smith preparing for a field goal attempt. Meanwhile, players and fans inside the stadium were not aware of what Cosell had just announced on national television.

Read more here.

Arbitron: Radio Listeners Show Increase 3%

Radio Usage Up Across All Major Demographics

Arbitron Inc. announced Tuesday highlights from its RADAR® 107 National Radio Listening Report, which is scheduled for release on December 13th.

The report shows an increase of 3.3 million radio listeners age 12+ per week, versus the December 2009 report. The number of Persons twelve and older listening to radio each week now reaches an estimated 239.8 million, that’s 93.2 percent of all Persons twelve and older.

In addition to Persons twelve and older, radio listening increased year over year across major demographics, with Adults aged 18 to 34 showing the biggest gains. Adult aged 18 to 34 weekly radio listeners increased nearly 960,000 in the past year. Adults aged 18 to 49 grew by more than 800,000 and Adults aged 25 to 54 gained more than 750,000 in the same period.

Meanwhile, Teens aged 12 to 17 continue to embrace radio broadcasts with an average weekly increase of 365,000 versus last year’s report.

Despite the proliferation of competing media platforms, radio continues to reach just about everyone on a regular basis. RADAR 107 indicates that, over the course of a week, radio is listened to by over 92 percent of all Teens aged 12 to 17, by 94 percent of Adults aged 18 to 34 and by 95 percent of Adults aged 18 to 49 and Adults aged 25 to 54.

The data from RADAR 107 showcases overall radio’s penetration among various ethnic groups, particularly Black (non-Hispanic) and Hispanic, a direct result of airing an array of formats.

• Overall, radio continues to reach more than 93 percent of Black (non-Hispanic) Persons aged 12 and older and more than 95 percent of Hispanics aged 12 and older on a weekly basis. Hispanic listeners 12 years and older grew more than 1.4 million year over year.

• More Hispanic Teens aged 12 to 17 are tuning in to radio, versus the same period a year ago. This
demographic group increased 177,000 average weekly listeners a week, year over year.

• Black (non-Hispanic) and Hispanic Adults aged 18 to 49 showed the biggest gains in overall weekly radio listenership versus last year, showing an increase of 165,000 and 834,000 respectively.

Reverend Al Sharpton To Meet With FCC

Goal: Silence Rush Limbaugh

Appearing on MSNBC's "The Ed Show", Reverend Al Sharpton said Monday he was planning to meet with the FCC next week in an effort to get Rush Limbaugh off the air.

His plan?  According to Joe Newby at, he intends to  intimidate radio stations who air the popular talk show host by threatening their FCC licenses if Rush Limbaugh is on their schedule.

Claiming the public has the right to "not be offended", Sharpton said Limbaugh can say what he wants to at home - but apparently no where else.  Or, at least only in a venue where no one can hear him.

Sharpton says the FCC should establish guidelines for "acceptable" speech.

He also seemed to advocate letting the FCC determine how large stations can become.

Sharpton said he was planning to meet with other civil rights groups in hopes they would join his cause, but said they would decide for themselves if they wished to take part in his crusade against Limbaugh's free speech.

Read more here.

At CNN, Talk Show Tensions

Parker denies any plans to leave CNN’s ‘Parker Spitzer’

CNN's “Parker Spitzer” is intended to be a nightly news-based conversation about a mix of topics, with a mix of opinions. It pairs Eliot Spitzer, a liberal with a prosecutor’s bent, and Kathleen Parker, who calls herself a rational conservative.

“We wanted very much to bring a nonpartisan alternative to television viewers,” Ms. Parker said, a wink at the red- and blue-hued shows on Fox News and MSNBC.

Brian Stetler at writes the hosts and their guests have had smart, surprising debates about deficit reduction (in a recurring challenge to legislators called “Name Your Cuts”), overseas wars and airport security.

But the show has been marred by tensions behind the scenes about the balance between the hosts, especially in recent weeks as the scales have tipped more in Mr. Spitzer’s favor, according to several CNN employees who spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared losing their jobs if they spoke publicly.

The tensions spilled into public view last week when the Page Six gossip column in The New York Post said Ms. Parker had stormed off the set in early November. Asked about that claim, Ms. Parker said, “I don’t storm. I saunter.”

She acknowledged that there was some “editorial and political tension,” but cast it as a normal part of television production. “That’s how human beings are made,” she added.

Mr. Spitzer put it this way: “I’ve seen tension in my life — conflict, tension, acrimony — and I haven’t seen anything here that comes close to what I’ve seen.”

There is no doubt that Mr. Spitzer dominates the current iteration of the show, which has been heavy on political and financial news, playing to his strengths. Ms. Parker, in contrast, “can appear decidedly passive, almost meek,” wrote James Rainey, a Los Angeles Times media critic last week, in a column that proposed, “If Parker’s really mad enough to walk off the set, she should turn a little of that animus on her co-host. It would make for livelier discussions, and better TV.”

In the future, Ms. Parker said she expected to have more airtime to talk about the social and cultural issues that she covers in her columns. “We’re definitely going to be mixing it up more,” she said.

Read more here.

Study: Local TV Preferred News Source

US consumers prefer local TV as a source of news compared to other forms of media by a wide margin, according to a new study from Frank M. Magid Associates, Inc. and Hearst Television, Inc.

When asked their preferred media for news, more than half of consumers (55%) cited local TV.

Websites/internet came in a distant second, mentioned by 19% of consumers. No other type of media even received a double-digit answer. Cable TV came in third with an 8% response rate, tied with print newspapers.

Broadcast network news only scored a 5% response rate, and no respondents selected print magazines.

Local TV news is the preferred media for news and political information
  • Local TV news is important to consumers
  • It is an essential information source
  • Many feel attached to local TV news personalities
  • It is the most important source for weather
Local TV news performs near the top on key advertising effectiveness metrics
Keeping viewers in the know regarding products and services
  • Trustworthiness
  • Respectability

About the Data: Frank M. Magid Associates conducted an online survey of 2,500 local news viewers age 25-54 in the Hearst news footprint from October 5-13, 2010. For the full (pdf) report, click here.

Yikes! Climb A 1768 Foot Transmission Tower

Ever wonder what if would be like?  Watch and hold on to your chair. And you thought your job was tough!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

History Channel Rejects Confederate Veterans Ads

The Georgia Sons of Confederate Veterans organization is up in arms over the History channel’s decision not to run its ads promoting the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, or what the group calls “The War of Southern Independence.”

The group accused the cable network to succumbing to political correctness, according to a story by Rodney Ho at

According to a Morris News Service story:
The organization asserts that in seceding, Southern states were exercising a right that New England states had claimed since the country’s founding and that Confederates fought to defend that right when Union forces “invaded” to prevent secession.
The ads also argue that the South seceded partly because “northern congressmen were able to vote themselves virtually anything they wanted, using southern tax money, while the South was powerless to stop it.
Slavery? Not the primary issue and besides, the North trafficked heavily in slavery and profited from it more than the South, the group says in this video.

The History channel (apparently “channel” is no longer part of the name) in a statement says it does not allow such ads as a matter of policy:
History channel does not sell time for advertising that presents a partisan position on a controversial issue (of course we do accept ads from political candidates under the political advertising rules). We have confirmed that the ad was never pitched to A&E Television Networks (AETN), but to a local distributor who accepted the ad without AETN’s awareness or approval. We have informed them that the ad is outside the scope of our guidelines and may not be aired during any of our programming. AETN’s advertising guidelines, which are similar to those of other broadcast and cable networks, do not permit such an ad as explained above. Indeed, AETN is not aware of any other network who has accepted or aired the ad.To our knowledge, it is not currently running on any of our networks, including History.
The state division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans has been running ads in various radio and TV outlets in Georgia including local stations in Atlanta and plans to do so for the next year, said Jack Bridwell, commander for the group, in an interview today.

Read more here.

Howard Stern Slams Sirius CFO

'I'm Not Taking a F---ing Paycut'

Howard Stern went on a long, expletive-laced rant on his Sirius satellite radio show on Tuesday, slamming the company’s chief financial officer for saying the shock jock -- whose five-year, $500 million contract is up at the end of the month -- is not involved in contract negotiations and would have to take a pay cut to stay on the air.

"I am not taking a f---ing paycut," Stern reportedly said according to “Why would I have to take a paycut? … Who is this guy to say this in public?"

"I know what I have done in this company," he said. "I am more important than Oprah, in this company anyway. Oprah's out getting the Kennedy Center honor and I've got the CFO announcing to Wall Street that I have to take a paycut."

"Nevermind getting respect from the industry,” Stern continued, “I want respect from the company."
David Frear, the Sirius/XM CFO, told a UBS investor conference in New York on Monday that while the company is “hopeful” its star will be back, he’d have to agree to return at significantly less money.

"At the time of the merger we were in many long-term contracts," Frear said. "As they come up for renewal, we'll have the opportunity to get more favorable economic terms there. [...] The marketing aspects of these alignments don't have the same kind of value components to them today that they did several years ago. We go after each new negotiation as if it's the first time."

"He could decide that he doesn't want to get up that early in the morning,” Frear added. “That he'd like to do a shorter show. That he'd like to do it somewhere else. The Internet, whether it's through iTunes or something else, is always a possibility."

Read more here.

Also read here:

Howard Stern May Be Headed to a Smartphone Near You (

Report: Roberts To Leave "American Morning"

Shake-ups at CNN under new boss Ken Jautz will begin as early as the start of the new year, insiders tell Page Six at

John Roberts is finalizing a contract to leave "American Morning" and start a new life as a CNN national correspondent in At lanta, where his pregnant fiancée, Kyra Phillips, anchors "CNN Newsroom."

Insiders speculate that handsome newsreader T.J. Holmes, who filled in for Roberts yesterday, is one of the favorites to take over Roberts' role and anchor alongside Kiran Chetry.

"T.J. Holmes has always been groomed for a bigger gig," an insider told us. Sources also said "CNN Newsroom" anchor Tony Harris will announce to his staff today that he's leaving the network after six years.

Harris, who anchors from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., is expected to leave at the end of the month. A rep for the net work said, "CNN does not comment on con tracts."

Sharpton: FCC Should Threaten Rush Stations

The Rev. Al Sharpton made his suggestion during The Ed Show Monday evening on MSNBC.

"Mancow" Tweaked

Reprogrammed “Mancow Experience” Show Announced

Erich “Mancow” Muller signs a multi-year deal to continue national syndication of his talk radio program with Dial Global becomes part of the deal alongside TRN-FM, according to

Also, the program is reformatted to focus more on entertainment and lifestyle topics rather than the conservative-leaning current events program it had been over the past several years.

TRN-FM states, “Guests on the new ‘Mancow Experience’ show will include musicians, actors, comedians and entertainment personalities appealing to a broader audience. During the transitional period to re-focus the show during the last few months, guests have included musicians as diverse as Smokey Robinson and Ozzy Osborne, as well as other guests including pro wrestler and TV reality star Hulk Hogan, Super Bowl MVP Kurt Warner, and actor Robert Duvall.”

TRN-FM also says a new show cast will be announced in the near future and that interviews and try-outs for positions with the show are ongoing.

Read more here.

Tom's Take: Smart move when you consider perceived listenter burnout to current events/politics and the graying of talk radio listeners

HBO Chief Floats Idea Of Standalone Service

HBO could one day be offered as a standalone service, not tied to any specific level of pay-TV subscription, Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes said Monday.

Such an a-la-carte offering by the leading premium pay-TV channel could boost HBO's subscriber level above its stagnant 30 million and add some ka-ching to its bottom line, writes Claire Atkinson at

But such a move would be cold comfort for cable companies who've come to rely on HBO's allure to move customers up to more profitable digital tiers.

The 38-year-old channel has been a part of cable packages since it started, but with over-the-top platforms like Netflix, Google TV and Apple TV gaining in popularity and overall cable subscriptions falling -- HBO is expected to report the loss of 1.5 million subscribers this year -- Bewkes is putting cable on notice that he has other options.

If HBO was "overly hindered by having to be part of $60, $80 or $100 packages, we could [sell the channel] through existing distributors" or via new digital platforms, said Bewkes, speaking at a UBS media conference yesterday.

Before any radical change is offered to viewers, Bewkes will first see how a new product, HBO Go, fares in tandem with pay-TV partners.

HBO Go can be accessed on multiple screens if consumers provide a password that proves they are cable, satellite or telecom subscribers. For example, customers of Verizon FiOS, Comcast and AT&T's Uverse can also watch HBO online.

The premium TV service, which spawned such pop culture icons as Tony Soprano and Carrie Bradshaw, is also working on tablet applications that would make it available on Apple's iPads by the next quarter -- and on smartphones at some point in 2011.

Read more here.

FCC Push To Regulate News Draws Fire

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) pushed back on Monday against a contention by a Democratic FCC commissioner that the government should create new regulations to promote diversity in news programming.

Sara James writing for writes Barton was reacting to a proposal made last week by FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, who in a speech suggested that broadcasters be subject to a new "public values test" every four years.

"I hope … that you do not mean to suggest that it is the job of the federal government, through the [FCC], to determine the content that is available for Americans to consume,” Barton wrote Monday in a letter to Copps.

Copps had suggested that the test would make a broadcaster's license renewal contingent upon proof that they meet a prospective set of federal criteria.

He said outlets should be mandated to do the following: prove they have made a meaningful commitment to public affairs and news programming, prove they are committed to diversity programming (for instance, by showing that they depict women and minorities), report more to the government about which shows they plan to air, require greater disclosure about who funds political ads and devote 25 percent of their prime-time coverage to local news.

The regulations would apply to all news outlets operating on the public airwaves.

Read more here.

WBZ-AM’s Gary LaPierre Returns

Makes one-week return engagement

A familiar Boston radio voice is back to giving New Englanders their news.

The Boston Herald reports longtime 1030 AM WBZ morning anchor Gary LaPierre is anchoring the morning shift this week as the station searches for a permanent successor to the recently retired Ed Walsh.

LaPierre ended a 43-year career in 2006 and was replaced by Walsh. Now he’s returning the favor.

In a blog posting, LaPierre says he promised never to get up again at 3 a.m. But he says he woke up 45 minutes early Monday and "knew I had done the right thing" when he flipped on his microphone at 5 a.m.
He also says he was in his pajamas at 2:15 p.m. to take a nap.

Read more here.

Also read here:

Longtime WOAI reporter retires (

A PPM Nightmare Story

Dan, a former Arbitron PPMer made this posting on the Monday:
Six weeks ago, our family became an Arbitron household. Today, UPS is supposed to come to pick up and send our equipment back to Maryland. We initially thought it would be fun, that we would be among a select group and have a say in how radio ratings are determined in the Hartford-Springfield market. Although my wife and I usually listen to satellite radio, we were told that the PPMs (about the size of an old pager that you clip on your belt) would be able to “detect” Sirius-XM’s “signals.”

Well, soon after we embarked on our PPM journey, the harassment began. Every day, we received several phone calls, and several emails, each time from a different Arbitron representative, asking us why my wife and I weren’t wearing our meters all the time.

When you wear it, a little green light stays on. But after 30 minutes of inactivity, the green light goes off. There’s also a base station that you have to connect to your telephone line, and when you go to sleep, households are told to put their PPMs in their respective “docks,” and Arbitron purportedly collects the “data” at some point in the early morning via the base station. It seems to me that Arbitron was more concerned with whether the devices were actually being worn as opposed to what we were actually listening to or watching (yes, watching – Arbitron told us “certain” TV channels, but not all of them, transmitted ratings’ signals – although this was the first time I had ever heard the company collecting television ratings – we always assumed that was Nielsen’s market).

To make a long story shorter, any time we would ask the Arbitron rep who called us to identify what we had watched or listened to, we were told that was a “different department” and that that kind of information wasn’t available to households in the first place.

Be that is it may, we were also eventually told that satellite radio “signals” were not retrievable by the PPMs. After a month and half of harassment about our “poor participation” in the program, we have given up, and decided to opt out. Yes, any time we watched TV or listened to the radio, we had our PPMs with us. Not good enough, apparently. You have to wear it 24/7!

It may be the cynic in me who says the entire program is fraudulent, but at any rate, it wasn’t even a year ago that the company’s CEO resigned after lying to Congress in testimony about the portable people meter (I’m including an article from the Washington Post from January 2010 below). Households are also supposed to be compensated for their time, and even though we didn’t have a profit motivation in embarking on this endeavor, all we got was a $5 bill each over the course of the month-and-a-half we were participants.

I can’t help but wonder how harassing willing families every day by phone and email could possibly serve as an inducement for us to be “more active” in our PPM participation. It may be that Arbitron, not to mention the entire radio industry, is hanging on for dear life in today’s media atmosphere. After all, kids don’t listen to the radio at all!

One more thing: each week, Arbitron allegedly gives one select family in the country “$500.” Each household is entered into a lottery, or so we were told. Do these little meters actually sense what we are listening to? Do radio stations send out secret signals to enable Arbitron to identify what media we’ve been experiencing? As a former broadcaster, I was initially a willing participant in the PPM program, excited that I might be able to influence how ratings work. After six weeks, I reached the conclusion that it’s not worth the effort. I can only imagine that people who have never worked in radio would be even less willing to tolerate Arbitron’s harassment.

There is a disclaimer at the bottom of Arbitron’s PPM web page that reads as follows: “PPM ratings are based on audience estimates and are the opinion of Arbitron and should not be relied on for precise accuracy or precise representativeness of a demographic radio market.”

Sounds like a solid business model.

Tom's Take:  Arbitron clients should probably bve pleased that Arbitron is constantly contacing PPM participants who aren't doing what they promised to do. What Arbitron is asking PPM users to do doesn't seem all that annoying or difficult. At worse, when they get up in the morning they are asked to click the PPM device to their belt. When they go to sleep they are asked to return it to its charging dock from which it phones home with the data. There is even a newer device that uses the cell phone network and doesn't require docking. For more on the habits of PPM users, click here.

Dan Abrams Plans 3 Web Sites

After a successful run with his Web sites that cover media, sports, gossip and technology, Dan Abrams, perhaps best known not as an Internet entrepreneur but as an MSNBC personality, is expanding.

According Jeremy W. Peters at Media Decoder at, Abrams will start three online properties early next year: Mogulite, which will report on the comings and goings of famous business personalities; the Mary Sue, a technology news blog directed at women; and a job postings board intended to compete with, a widely read aggregator among media professionals.

Much of the reason for the success of Abrams’s operations has been their leanness. His five current properties — Mediaite, which covers news from the media world; Gossip Cop, which polices the veracity of gossip reports; Styleite, a fashion and beauty site; SportsGrid, which ranks athletes and teams in various categories; and Geekosystem, a technology site — operate with a total staff of about 20 people. Some sites have as few as two workers.

Read more here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Study: Little Effort to Cut Cable

Seeking to understand the cutting of cable cords, ESPN has waded into the Nielsen Company’s audience sample and concluded that the cancellations are currently a “very minor” phenomenon.

According to Brian stetler at, the sports network’s study provides a new answer, or at least a new set of data, for a question that looms over the television industry: how many Americans are dropping their costly cable subscriptions and watching TV on the Internet instead?

This action, often called cord-cutting, has happened in 0.28 percent of households in the United States in the last three months, ESPN found in a study that it plans to release on Monday. Offsetting those losses, though, 0.17 percent of households that had been broadcast-only signed up for pay TV and broadband.

“So the net amount of cord-cutting for one quarter was just one-tenth of 1 percent,” said Glenn Enoch, the vice president for integrated media research for ESPN.

The study is significant because the prospect of cord-cutting has deeply worried television executives. Established players like ESPN that depend on subscriber revenue have been eager to figure out how much cord-cutting is going on — and to dispel myths about the behavior.

Read more here.

Bristol Slams KO In Facebook Posting

Bristol Palin has taken to her Facebook page to respond to "a left wing commentator named" Keith Olbermann dubbing her 'worst person in the world' the other day for starring in a video promoting abstinence:
Recently, a left wing commentator named Keith Olbermann attacked me for being a spokesperson for abstinence education and for being an Ambassador for the Candies Foundation, which promotes teen pregnancy awareness and prevention education. He went so far as to call me "the worst person" he knows, apparently, for my efforts to educate teenagers about the real world risks of premarital sex.

Accusing me of hypocrisy is by now, an old canard. What Mr. Olbermann lacks in originality he makes up for with insincere incredulity. Mr. Olbermann fails to understand that in order to have credibility as a spokesperson, it sometimes takes a person who has made mistakes. Parents warn their children about the mistakes they made so they are not repeated. Former gang members travel to schools to educate teenagers about the risks of gang life. Recovered addicts lecture to others about the risks of alcohol and drug abuse. And yes, a teen mother talks about the benefits of preventing teen pregnancy.

I have never claimed to be perfect. If that makes me the "worst person in the world" to Mr. Olbermann, then I must apologize for not being absolutely faultless like he undoubtedly must be.

To Mr. Olbermann let me say this: you can attack me all you want. But you will not stop me from getting my message out about teen pregnancy prevention. And one day, if you ever have a daughter, you may change your mind about me.

Bristol Palin

Billionaire Puts Wager On Really Local Online News

DNAinfo betting boots on the ground will make the difference

Some people look at Manhattan and see the world's most crowded media market. Not J. Joseph Ricketts.

According to Matthew Flamm at, The founder of online brokerage TD Ameritrade and new owner of the Chicago Cubs perceives an opportunity as wide as the Hudson River for his year-old local news operation,

“Starting a media company today feels a little like running into a burning building,” the Wyoming-based billionaire says in an e-mail. He compares the digital revolution in media to changes he witnessed in financial services in the 1970s. “Opportunity exists in these moments of upheaval,” he declares.

DNAinfo, a website launched in November 2009 and now exiting the beta phase, represents Mr. Ricketts' ambitious gamble on the future of local news on the Web.

Operating out of 5,000 square feet on Seventh Avenue, the organization has a paid staff of 45—huge by startup standards—including 14 full-time reporters covering 10 Manhattan neighborhoods, from Inwood to the financial district. DNAinfo currently has three advertising sales staffers but plans to add five next year.
Mr. Ricketts, 69, doesn't expect to turn a profit anytime soon but insists that DNAinfo is not a vanity project. The entrepreneur argues that it's a first step toward a viable model for local news that he hopes to roll out eventually in other markets.

Read more here.

Shampoo Sells On Spot Where Lennon Died

Doctor who tried to save John Lennon remembers
Dr. Stephan Lynn stands in the shampoo aisle of CVS, which used to be the emergency room of Roosevelt Hospital, and the spot where John Lennon was declared dead.

Yoko Ono, David Geffen

Thirty years ago this week, a young New York doctor held the heart of a generation in his hands.
It was about 11 p.m. on Dec. 8, 1980, and Dr. Stephan Lynn had just walked into his West Side apartment after a 13-hour shift at Roosevelt Hospital's ER.

Suddenly, the phone rang.

"Please come back," a nurse blurted out to the 33-year-old director of emergency medicine. "The police are bringing in a gunshot wound with no vital signs."

Neither Lynn nor the nurse had any idea who the victim was - nor did they know that minutes earlier, a deranged stalker fired four bullets into John Lennon as the former Beatle and his wife, Yoko Ono, stepped out of a limo in front of The Dakota on W. 72nd St.

As New Yorkers are poised to mark the 30th anniversary of Lennon's death with vigils and tributes, the doctor who played a central role that night recalled the heroic - but futile - efforts to save a musical genius whose death broke the world's heart.

Sitting in Roosevelt's emergency room, where he is still on the job, the soft-spoken doctor, now 63, recounted every detail as if it were yesterday:
"I raced back to the hospital in a cab and got there just two minutes before two police officers arrived" with a fading Lennon in the back seat, Lynn recounted.

"I had no idea who the patient was. It wasn't until a nurse looked inside his wallet for identification that we realized who it was.

"In death he looked almost nothing like he looked in life. He was gray, he was gaunt, he had no signs of life. He had no pulse, no blood pressure...He was not breathing. We could have at that moment declared him dead."
Read more here.

Opinion: Harry Smith Got A Promotion

From Television news analyst Andrew Tyndall
The morning shows, profit centers for the networks' news divisions, are not centers of journalistic excellence. This is the rant that I wrote for CBS' short-lived Public Eye blog in 2006 when I decided that, for the sake of my own mental health, I could no longer monitor morning content.

These programs turn out to be a toxic mixture of condescension and trivia, hucksterism and self-help propaganda. Anchoring them must seem like some sadistic initiation rite to which aspiring network anchors are subjected--to prove loyalty to the division and to earn it sufficient profits, all with extremely anti-social work hours--before being liberated to cover proper news properly. Preceding Gibson, Sawyer and Couric, Tom Brokaw and Barbara Walters underwent the same torment; George Stephanopoulos is going through that ordeal right now.

Harry Smith must view the prospect of one day taking over Schieffer's or Couric's anchor chair as a deliverance not a demotion.
Read more here.

Also read here:

Ousted CBS Weatherman: "It's a Cruel Business" (The Hollywood Reporter, ABC News)