Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Saturday Aircheck

WLS 890 AM Chicago - The Lost Sixties:  Rare collection of announcers, radio jingles and music.

Hat Tip To

Friday, April 8, 2011

Beck Departs, Media Matters Plots New Targets

The left-leaning watchdog group, which has pressured advertisers to yank support of conservative media personalities, ranks Andrew Breitbart, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and others in separate "tiers" of influence, beliefs and reach.

According to a story by Paul Bond at The Hollywood Reporter, now that Media Matters has declared victory over Glenn Beck, what's next on its agenda? Getting Donald Trump to stop questioning where President Obama was born, perhaps, or maybe convincing advertisers to yank their support of another show on Fox News Channel. Maybe the left-leaning watchdog group will step up its campaign against online entrepreneur Andrew Breitbart.

It's all on the table, but the only thing that's for sure is whoever takes Beck's time slot when he ends his Fox News Channel show this year will be an instant target of the group.

"We monitor Beck's 5 p.m. show on Fox. Whoever is in at 5 p.m., we're still going to monitor," said executive vp Ari Rabin-Havt, the No. 2 executive at Media Matters. "The likelihood is whoever is on at 5 p.m. is going to be a source of conservative misinformation."

Beyond that, though, Media Matters isn't spilling its exact agenda, acknowledging only that there are "discussions" concerning Trump, Breitbart and others on an ongoing basis. But the advertising gambit -- which worked so well against Beck by discouraging most big brands to avoid his TV show -- is a tactic the group likes to use sparingly.

Besides the campaign against Beck, Media Matters has only targeted advertisers on two other occasions in the past two years, and was successful both times: when Dr. Laura Schlessinger used the N-word in a rant against political correctness on her former radio show and against Lou Dobbs while on CNN because of his stance on illegal immigration and his status as a "birther."

Media Matters -- which operates on a $14 million budget, up from $9 million two years ago (financial backers have included billionaire George Soros, film producer Steve Bing and TV producer Marcy Carsey) -- employs 86 people, many of whom make up teams of a half-dozen people who monitor 24 TV shows daily and dozens of radio shows.

Read More.

Bo And Jim Re-Up Three More Years at KZPS DFW

Clear Channel-Dallas Fridat announced the re-signing of long-time morning team, Bo Roberts and Long Jim White on their Classic Rocker, Lone Star 92.5 - KZPS, according to a story at

The Bo and Jim Morning Show, including producer and traffic dude, Randy James signs on for another three-years of their antics, continuing their reign as the longest-running rock morning show in Dallas/Fort Worth radio history.

Bo and Jim have been waking up rock fans since 1982 on the defunct, Q102...and have since been the mainstay in the morning, on the 24 year heritage KZPS, now Lone Star 92.5. The Bo and Jim Morning Show; an entertainment-comedy driven local show, that continues to rank at the top of the heap and delivers for both the advertisers and their legions of fans known as "Rascuals."

"Bo and Jim have been a constant factor in the success of Lone Star 92.5, spanning everything from direct competitors and format adjustments to new measurement methodology. Their combination of contemporary content with popular classic rock is a powerfully unique product for our audiences and advertisers. I would not have wanted to start my tenure as Dallas' Market Manager without them on my team," stated Kelly Kibler, President/Market Manager.

KLIF Talker Jeff Bolton Experiences Strong Aftershock

Jeff Bolton with KLIF radio in Dallas was heading home when another strong aftershock hit the already hard hit country.

Opinion: Webcast Metrics Methodology Is Hard To Beat

From Mel Phillips, Now And Then..

The newly accredited Triton Digital's Webcast Metrics, formerly Ando Media, is a growing force that will be hard to match by Arbitron or any other measurement company.

Webcast Metrics actually allow any broadcaster to measure its internet audience from a streaming server. It's an audience measurement service as Triton advertises, that "Does not rely on memory, opinion or input from consumers."

They further add that their analytics platform is "Server-based and accessible on-demand for custom audience analysis. The customizable dashboard feature allows Triton Digital customers to analyze and compare audience metrics on many levels."

Triton claims that their service is licensed by hundreds of broadcasters and pure play online services. And yesterday, their service became accredited by the Media Rating Council (MRC)...

Read More.

Report: Another Bad Year For Radio Station Sales

BIA/Kelsey Wonders If Hope Is Around The Corner

From Mark Fratnik, BIA/KelseyRead More.
After examining the totals for 2010 radio station sales, one could become depressed. Like 2009, the total amount spent on acquisitions hovered around $400 million, even with 2010 considered to be a year of some economic recovery. However, the final tally shows there was no real increase in the value of radio station sales even though a slightly higher number of stations sold. So, what’s the outlook for the rest of 2011? Any positive signs? Let’s take a look.

From BIA/Kelsey’s MEDIA Access Pro™ database, we can calculate the past ten years of radio station sales. The figure below shows both the dollar value of those sales (black columns) and the actual number of stations that were sold (red line).

 Outside of 2006, the year Clear Channel announced its privatization, the yearly values of radio station sales hovered around the $2-5 billion range. In 2008, we saw a noticeable drop in the value of these sales followed by the past two years of really disastrous levels. Clearly, the economic conditions in late 2008, when the financial community was melting down, followed by the deep economic recession through 2009 slowed up the activity of radio station sales.

The most recent year’s disappointing level of radio station sales, even in the face of a recovering national economy, can largely be explained by the lack of available financing. Banks and equity investors were still concerned about the future of the economy and radio stations’ ability to withstand their competition and prosper.

In the first quarter of 2011, the tide seemed to have turned. Economic activity in general has improved, especially with the monthly employment results. Also, recent announcements of radio station acquisitions by Hubbard Broadcasting (of seventeen Bonneville stations) and Cumulus Broadcasting (of the entire radio operations of Citadel) has boosted the yearly total of announced radio station sales to 483 stations for $3.7 billion.

Glenn Beck Radio Show: "It's A New Era"

Bob Pittman Sees Digital Upside for Radio

Says the industry must embrace the opportunity

Bob Pittman, chairman of media & entertainment at radio giant Clear Channel, said here Thursday that radio companies must fully embrace digital as an opportunity.

According to a story by Georg Szalai at The Hollywood Reporter, he signaled that he sees digital upside in terms of audience reach, engagement and financials, including advertising revenue.

Late last year, the former AOL COO, AOL Time Warner co-COO and MTV head bought a stake in Clear Channel and then took on an executive role at the company.

Since digital radio accounts for only 3% of radio listening right now, digital is the sector's biggest upside opportunity, he argued.

"We have work to do," he told the Ad Age Digital Conference. Sector players must "make the digital revolution come to radio" to get in front of it rather than being driven. "There are real benefits to the radio business and to our listeners," Pittman added.

Among the digital opportunities for radio firms, he mentioned online replays  of shows, coupons, access to artists and social interaction. He also said that Facebook and other forms of social media are allowing radio to replace old-school telephone request lines.

In his conference appearance, Pittman said that digital also enhances radio for marketers as Web sites help people research products, which is traditionally a key step between hearing or seeing an ad and buying a product. For example, he said that 90% of buyers of cars and other products say they researched them before making a buying decision.

Read More.

Casey Counts Down AT40 Again--On WLS-FM

Zeroing in on the oldies boom in Chicago radio, vintage episodes of Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 from the ’70s are on their way back, according to Robert Feder's blog at

Starting this weekend, the godfather of pop-music countdown shows will air from 7 to 10am Sundays on Citadel Broadcasting oldies WLS-FM (94.7). Distributed by Premiere Radio Networks and spanning the years from 1970 to 1978, each three-hour program will air in its original broadcast form.

“People will hear what it was like to first experience songs that are classics today when Casey (pictured left) originally introduced them,” said Michael Damsky, president and general manager of WLS. “It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a long time.”

Thirty-nine years after he launched American Top 40 — on its way to becoming one of the most successful syndicated radio shows of all time — the 77-year-old Radio of Hall of Famer called it quits in 2009.

“Hosting various versions of my countdown program has kept me extremely busy, and I loved every minute of it,” Kasem said on his retirement. “However, this decision will free up time I need to focus on myriad other projects.”

The show’s return is part of an overall realignment of weekend programming on WLS, under Damsky and program director Michael La Crosse, including the addition of live, local personalities during middays and afternoons.

Read More.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

ABC News: What Went Wrong With Beck, Fox?

Seattle Personality Buzz Barr Passes

Buzz Barr & singer Vicki Carr
We've learned longtime Seattle radio personality Paul "Buzz" Barr passed away March 24th in Hoquiana, WA.  He was 72-years-old.

Buzz spent close to 50 years in the broadcasting industry. He bragged that his first broadcasting job was the public address system at Weatherwax in 1955. He worked at the old KBKW in Aberdeen, then went to stations in Centralia, Bremerton, Tacoma, and finally KVI in Seattle.

He spent many years as a disc jockey and manager at radio stations, KJR, KOL, and KING in Seattle and KISN in Portland.

In the mid 70s he returned to the Harbor to manage KGHO in Hoquiam for several years, moved to a management position in Anchorage and eventually became part owner of KCSY in Soldotna, Alaska.

He returned to the Harbor in 1995, and in the last 10 years has operated his own small advertising agency.

Buzz loved to fish and hunt and was particularly proud of the 84-lb. king salmon he caught on the Kenai River.

Report: NBC's Shortlist To Replace Vieira On 'Today'

With media attention focused on turmoil at other network newscasts, NBC’s top-rated morning show is quietly weighing its own shake-up as co-host Meredith Vieira considers a future without Today, according to a story by Lacey Rose, Marisa Guthrie at The Hollywood Reporter.

Vieira, who seamlessly took the reins opposite Matt Lauer nearly five years ago, is said to be considering leaving the program when her reported $11 million annual contract expires in September. According to sources, Vieira, 57, has tired of the grueling lifestyle and would like to spend more time with her ill husband...

Vieira, who still hosts the syndicated game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, could decide to extend her contract for another 12 months as she did last year. But sources say the Today team has already started weighing replacement options. Potential heirs apparent to Vieira are said to include Today’s Ann Curry and Natalie Morales, Washington correspondent Savannah Guthrie and CNBC’s Erin Burnett. (Lauer, who has co-hosted Today since 1997, is locked in longer than Vieira, but his potential departure has NBC News eyeing its male anchor crop, including MSNBC’s Willie Geist and CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla.)

An NBC News spokesperson declined comment on possible anchor changes, except to say, “The Today show anchors are currently under contract and firmly in place.” Reps for Vieira declined comment.

Curry and Morales have the advantage of being familiar to NBC’s morning viewers. Curry, in particular, has paid her dues at Today, where she has been the show’s news anchor since 1997.

Read More.

Also Must Read:

MSNBC.COM NBC denies rumors of Lauer, Vieira departure

2 Arrested For DJ Megatron Murder

DJ Megatron, the rising hip-hop star murdered a block from his Staten Island, NY home last month, was killed for his cash and a wristwatch given to him by his 11-year-old daughter, cops and his family said Wednesday.

According to a story by Joe Kemp at, the sad revelation came after police announced the arrest of William Williams, 21, and Richard Cromwell, 20, for the murder of the 32-year-old, whose real name was Corey McGriff.

The two men approached McGriff about 2 a.m. March 27 and one of the men fired a single shot in the DJ's body, killing him, police said.

The pair swiped a wad of cash from McGriff's pocket and the watch off his wrist, police and family said.

McGriff's father said the arrest comes as little consolation in the death of their son, a former radio personality on Hot 97 and regular on BET's "106 & Park."

"That's good that they caught them," he said. "They're locked up for now. Life in prison would be good for them."

Williams - who has prior arrests that include robbery and rape - and Cromwell - who's rap sheet includes arrests for reckless endangerment and grand larceny - were both charged with murder, robbery and criminal possession of a weapon.

Read More.

Skip Murphy Returns To Radio — Internet Radio

It’s been four years since Skip Murphy and Co. went off the air. The highly successful morning show ended its 10 year run on KKDA-K104 FM in 2007, leaving behind a sizable gap in the DWF radio landscape.

The show was ranked No. 1 for its time slot and demographic throughout most of its time span and had become a staple in the K104 weekday lineup. After a short stint with a sister station, Murphy decided to call it quits and retire from radio in early 2008.

During a quick phone interview with Skip Murphy, Josh Hogan at at asked him what he’s been up to since we last heard his voice on the airwaves. “Golf!” he replied, sounding as relaxed and carefree as a guy who just shot the game of his life.

“I never thought I’d get into the game. But since leaving radio four years ago, it’s what I’ve picked up, and you know, I really enjoy getting out there on to the course,” he said.

This month, however, Murphy and his entire crew are returning to the radio. Their “airtime” will be on, an Internet radio company catered to the black community, according to the company's “about us” section online.

Murphy's show will begin April 25 from 9-11 a.m.

Read More.

RIP: Nashville Radio Star Coyote McCloud

Coyote McCloud, a Music City radio icon and Nashville's first "shock jock," died Wednesday afternoon on his houseboat on Percy Priest Lake.

According to a story by Chris Echegaray at The Tennessean, McCloud, 68, died of cirrhosis of the liver. His ex-wife, former Tennessean reporter Susan Thomas, was at his side.

He worked for 30 years in Nashville radio stations including WMAK, WYHY, WZPZ and WRQQ and was the first on-air voice of CMTV, now CMT, which launched in 1983.

McCloud was one of the most controversial air personalities of the late 1980s when he led "The Zoo Crew" on Nashville's Y107. He was featured in a 1992 episode of CBS' 48 Hours in a program about shock jocks.

He wrote a Where's the Beef hit song based on the Wendy's theme.

"It was a life lived absolutely absent of fear of failure, a life of legendary reverie for living and full of deep friendships and a thousand acquaintances," said Jeff Ray, a friend of McCloud's and a former WKRN News 2 weatherman.

"Coyote was a radio star," Ray said.

He hosted Coyote & Cathy In The Morning on WMAK-FM and WRQQ until 2006, when the show was replaced.

Former wife Thomas, who remained on good terms with McCloud, posted his last moments to his friends and fans in a Facebook note.

McCloud was wrapped up in a comforter with his dog, Sawyer Black, cuddled on the floor next to the couch.

Read More.

Filmmaker Ken Burns: Possible PBS Cuts 'Devastating'

Report: Remaking AOL in Huffington's Image

Web Portal's New Editor Sweeps In With Cookies, Big Ideas to Turn Passions Into News—and Money

WSJ Photo
The Huffington Post made a name for itself through a formula of buzzy political commentary splashed with celebrity gossip and traffic-grabbing tricks.

Now its co-founder, Arianna Huffington, is plunging into a campaign to rescue AOL Inc., according to a story by Jessica E. Vascellaro at   As the new editor in chief of AOL's 56 content sites, a job she began after AOL's $315 million acquisition of the Huffington Post closed last month, Ms. Huffington is installing her employees, pushing coverage of her pet topics and gutting aspects of AOL's existing system to do so.

"There was no clear editorial direction," she said of AOL's collection of sites, settling into her new office in New York recently. "That's what we're bringing to the table now."

Whether the moves will be enough to transform the struggling Internet icon—and turn significant profits—remain to be seen. AOL has struggled in its years'-long quest to generate a big business off inexpensive digital content. The company says it aiming to make its content business, minus its Patch blog network, profitable this year.

Ms. Huffington, who has relentlessly built-up her profile in fields ranging from politics to self-help, must prove she's a good fit, as some employees fear she is more interested in building her Huffington Post website than AOL overall.

She has introduced herself to employees in more than a half-dozen cities with Greek cookies and personal tales, such as one tying her passion for local journalism to her upbringing in a small Greek village. She's tried to win over those anxious about change with a promise to take "the best of the old with the best of the new."

Read More.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Opinion: Glenn Beck, Fox Agree to Divorce

The highly rated host became such a lightning rod that many at Fox wanted him out—and for Beck, the feeling was mutual.

Howard Kurtz, The Daily Beast,  on the demise of cable's most radioactive show:

Despite his monster ratings, Fox News is bidding farewell to Glenn Beck as tensions between the incendiary host and the top-rated cable news channel have led to a near-total divorce.

I say near-total because the two sides announced a deal Wednesday in which Beck's production company will produce occasional content for Fox. But this is believed to amount to a only handful of specials, and many senior Fox executives are relieved to be rid of Beck, whose ratings have dropped 40 percent, and even more sharply among younger viewers. He was not offered a new contract.

Beck, too, has tired of the friction with Fox and is said by people close to him to be happy to end the partnership.

Whatever the genesis, for Beck to give up his daily 5 p.m. program, which at its peak drew more than 2.5 million viewers, is a case study in how even the most successful broadcast personalities can become too hot to handle.

Read More.

Beck: My Future and Fox News

Official: Glenn Beck Ending Fox News Channel Show

The Ratings Hint At Possible Reason

The Fox News Channel show host is leaving the cable news channel in 2011, a specific date has not be revealed.

According to a story by  Lisa de Moraes at The Washington Post, the word came in the form of a news release announcing that Fox News and Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts would work together “to develop and produce a variety of television projects for air on the Fox News Channel as well as content for other platforms including Fox News’ digital properties.”

In the release (see below), Beck said he intends to “transition” off his daily program “later this year.”

The Numbers

When Beck debuted on FNC at 5 p.m. 27 months ago, he averaged primetime-esque 2.2 million viewers.

His was definitely an older audience -- about 1.75 million of his followers were aged 50 or older.

Meanwhile, 550,000 of his crowd were in the 25-54 year old age bracket, which is the demographic news programming sells to advertisers.

His audience climbed as high as a quarterly average of about 2.6 million people in 2009;  2.1 million of them were aged 50 or older.

In late 2010 Beck’s quarterly performance dipped to just under 2 million viewers. But in the most recently concluded quarter, he was back up to attracting about 2 million viewers, half a million of whom were in the network’s targeted age group.

Beck’s biggest drop over his short run on FNC appears to have come among 18-49 year olds. He opened with a quarterly average of around 440,000 in that demo and, in the quarter that ended last month, he averaged around 312,000.

Read More.

Also Must Read the official press release follows:

(New York, NY)  Fox News and Mercury Radio Arts, Glenn Beck’s production company, are proud to announce that they will work together to develop and produce a variety of television projects for air on the Fox News Channel as well as content for other platforms including Fox News’ digital properties. Glenn intends to transition off of his daily program, the third highest rated in all of cable news, later this year. 
Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO of Fox News said, “Glenn Beck is a powerful communicator, a creative entrepreneur and a true success by anybody’s standards.  I look forward to continuing to work with him.”

Glenn Beck said: “I truly believe that America owes a lot to Roger Ailes and Fox News. I cannot repay Roger for the lessons I’ve learned and will continue to learn from him and I look forward to starting this new phase of our partnership."

Joel Cheatwood, SVP/Development at Fox News, will be joining Mercury Radio Arts effective April 24, 2011. Part of his role as EVP will be to manage the partnership and serve as a liaison with the Fox News Channel.

Roger Ailes said:  “Joel is a good friend and one of the most talented and creative executives in the business. Over the past four years I have consistently valued his input and advice and that will not stop as we work with him in his new role.”

“Glenn Beck” is consistently the third highest rated program on cable news.

For the 27 months that “Glenn Beck” has aired on Fox News, the program has averaged more than 2.2 million total viewers and 563,000 viewers 25-54 years old, numbers normally associated with shows airing in primetime, not at 5pm. “Glenn Beck” has dominated all of its cable news competitors since launch.
About Fox News

FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour general news service covering breaking news as well as political, business and entertainment news.  For more than 100 consecutive months, FNC has been the most-watched cable news channel in the country.  Owned by News Corp., FNC is available in more than 90 million homes.

About Mercury Radio Arts
Mercury Radio Arts is Glenn Beck’s fully integrated multi-media production company. Mercury produces or co-produces all Glenn Beck related properties including The Glenn Beck Program, America’s third highest-rated radio show, Beck’s New York Times bestselling books, his live stage-show business, destination website, and news and information service  Founded in 2002, Mercury has a full time staff of 50 employees and is based in New York, NY.

WISN Milwaukee Drops Glenn Beck Radio Show

From Tim Cuprisin,
No, the decision by WISN-AM (1130) to dump Glenn Beck's syndicated show from its weekday lineup has nothing to do with Beck's increasingly outlandish take on the world.

It definitely doesn't mean other conservative talkers are in danger here, although Beck's TV and radio empire does seem to have seen better days.

Both conservatives and liberals see the move as a good thing -- for very different reasons. Lefties see it as a defeat for conservative talk radio, while righties see Beck as increasingly out of the conservative mainstream as he paints an apocalyptic future for America.

But this decision has absolutely nothing to do with any shift away from a conservative talk format by WISN.

This is nothing more than a business decision by a station that's focusing during the morning hours on its local talent, rather than syndicated programming that fits its conservative talk focus. And Beck's ratings made it a relatively easy decision on WISN's end.

Among listeners 25 to 54, attractive to advertisers, WISN was in 11th place from 8:30 to noon in February, while WTMJ was in first with Charlie Sykes' conservative talk show, according to ratings numbers from Arbitron. That WISN didn't benefit during February's increased focus on state politics is a sign of Beck's weakness among Milwaukee radio listeners.

WISN program director Jerry Bott didn't focus much on ratings when I talked to him about the end of Beck's show here.

"It didn't perform as well as we had hoped," Bott told me.

Removing Beck from WISN's lineup had to be a interesting corporate discussion, since both the Milwaukee radio station and Premiere Radio Networks, which syndicates Beck's show, are owned by Clear Channel Communications.

The winner in this WISN's morning talker, Jay Weber, whose show will air from 6 to 10 a.m. starting April 18 with the disappearance of Beck's show. The station has been happy with his performance, and is banking on building his audience further.

"The reason we're making this particular move is the overwhelming demand from WISN listeners for more Jay Weber on the radio," Bott said, citing "hundreds" of e-mails.

Weber currently has a three-hour show, from 5 to 8 a.m. Beck runs from 8 to 10 and Madison-based Vicki McKenna airs from 10 to noon.

Under the new schedule, Weber gets an extra hour of air-time (and an extra hour of sleep).
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Jay Severin Fired By WTKK-FM Boston

Jay Severin, the highly paid talk show host whose provocative on-air comments twice resulted in suspensions, was fired by WTKK-FM today, according to a story by Mark Shanahan at The Boston Globe.

Severin was let go because he did not maintain an "appropriate level of civility and adhere to a standard that respects our listeners and the public at large," according to a statement released by Greater Media Inc., which owns WTKK. "Unfortunately, it had become clear at several points in the past two years that Jay was either unwilling or unable to maintain our standards on the air. It's for that reason we have made the decision to end our relationship.

Severin, who signed a seven-year contract in 2006 that pays him close to $1 million a year, was suspended last week for saying he had slept with female employees years ago. "That's not the purpose for which they were hired," he said while discussing the case of a CEO who was sued for sexual harassment. "I don't think of myself as a monster or strange in any way because of that. All I was was a young man who was the boss and I did it because I could."

Severin was also pulled off the air in 2009 after he called Mexican immigrants "primitives," "leeches," and exporters of "women with mustaches and VD." He returned to the air a month later, apologizing for his "hurtful, unkind, and wrong" commentary. Neither Severin nor his attorney, George Tobia, returned a phone call immediately.

For now, Michael Bower, who was Severin's occasional cohost on the 2-6 p.m. show, will take over while the station reviews its programming options for the time slot.

The firing did not come as a complete surprise to some observers, who suspect Severin's high salary and also-ran ratings had become a problem for his bosses.

Read More.

THR: Seacrest The Most Powerful Man In Reality TV

Ryan Seacrest's media empire is expanding again, this time with scripted TV series, film development and greater responsibilities in the wake of the Comcast-NBC Universal merger, according to a profile by Lacy Rose in The Hollwood Reporter.

The American Idol host and powerhouse reality TV producers revealed his plans in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in conjunction with his selection as No. 1 on THR's fourth annual Reality Power List.

Read the full profile and list here, but among Seacrest's revelations:
  • Through his three-year deal with Clear Channel, which he signed in November, he's in the process of setting up a music publishing business where he will be able to own the music that appears in his shows. As he sees it, finding original music (vocal or otherwise) and signing talent will free up his budget to put more money on screen.

CBS News Bureau Chief Denies Being FBI Informant

The Washington bureau chief for CBS News denied on Tuesday that he served as an FBI informant during the agency's investigation into the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

According to The Hollywood Reporter and a story by Kimberly Nordyke at Reuters, Chris Isham, who previously worked at ABC News, was said to be the anonymous journalist cited in a once-classified FBI memo.

According to a report Tuesday by the Center for Public Integrity (CPI), the ABC News reporter cooperated with the FBI and even revealed the identity of a confidential source, which would have been a possible violation of professional ethics if the source had not agreed to be named.

The memo -- which was recently discovered by Utah lawyer Jesse Trentadue, who has spent years researching the Oklahoma City case -- claims the journalist contacted the FBI hours after Timothy McVeigh's terrorist attack. The reporter passed on information -- which ultimately proved untrue -- "that a source within the Saudi Arabian Intelligence Service advised that the Oklahoma City bombing was sponsored by the Iraqi Special Services."

According to CPI, that source was Vincent Cannistraro, a former CIA officer working as a consultant for ABC News.

On Tuesday, an ABC News spokesperson told CPI that the network is not certain about the identity of the journalist, but does not believe he or she still works there.

However, Gawker later claimed that Isham was the unnamed journalist.

In a statement, Isham called the "suggestion" that he was an FBI informant "outrageous and untrue."

Read more.

Weather Freeze Headed To NYC

From Robert Feder, Chicago TimeOut blog:
Read more.
Vindication doesn’t get much sweeter than getting hired by the No. 1 station in the No. 1 market. That’s just where Amy Freeze is headed after being inexplicably dumped six weeks ago by Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32.

WABC-TV in New York is expected to announce that Freeze will join the top-rated ABC-owned station as weekend meteorologist. If all goes as planned, sources said, she could be working there by Monday.

Freeze, 36, signed off Feb. 20 after four years as chief meteorologist at Fox Chicago. For reasons that remain a mystery, her contract was not renewed despite her professionalism on the air, extensive involvement with charity events and community activities, and apparent popularity among viewers. To make matters worse, she was replaced by Bill Bellis, an import from KNXV-TV in Phoenix, who’s about as bland and unremarkable as they come.

At WABC, Freeze will be reunited with another Fox Chicago alum, David Novarro, who rejoined the New York station last December after 10 years as a news anchor here.

Freeze’s new position opened up after WABC weekend weather anchor Heidi Jones was arrested in December for lying to police about an alleged sexual attack in Central Park. Jones, who often filled in on ABC’s Good Morning America, reportedly told authorities she made up the story because she was stressed out and wanted attention. Charges against her are pending.

Ashley Judd: Growing Up Tragic Country Song

Ashley Judd seems like she has it all: gorgeous looks, a successful Hollywood career and a happy marriage.

According to a story by Aliyah Sahid at, in a shocking new memoir, the actress reveals her troubled childhood, which was riddled with neglect, sexual abuse and thoughts of suicide.

In "All That is Bitter & Sweet," the actress recounts how her mother, country legend Naomi Judd and singer sister Wynonna traveled around the nation to try to make a name for themselves, leaving the young girl to feel "like an outsider."

After her father moved out, Judd, now 42, said her mother started a relationship with a man she described as an "abusive full-blown heroin addict with a criminal record," according to Radar Online, which obtained a copy of the book.

Read more.

Broadcasters: Keep An Eye On The Pandora Subpoena

From Ed Ryan,
Popular Internet radio company Pandora says it's not the specific target of a grand jury investigation after being hit with a federal subpoena. Apparently, the government wants to know how private information is being used by third-party companies that have relationships with app creators like Pandora. Especially if those relationships involve a user's private information being used in a way never approved by the user.

Sharing information about a user without proper notice or authorization could violate a federal computer-fraud law.

Pandora reported the subpoena in an update to its earlier IPO filing with the SEC -- and acknowledged that drastic changes to the way it's allowed to pass along user information could damage its revenue model, something that has to be spooking just a few people planning to invest in the company as it gears up to go public. One of the changes that has Pandora worried is a potential "Do Not Track" list. Such a list "could significantly hinder our ability to collect and use data relating to listeners," the company said.

"Do Not Track" is the online version of the Do Not Call list, which basically put an end to telemarketers calling you at home while you're eating dinner. The Federal Trade Commission has proposed the creation of "Do Not Track" to let consumers limit or block advertisers that study online behavior to target ads. The tool would most likely take the form of a Web browser setting that travels with a user from site to site and informs websites when tracking is off limits....

There is some speculation that the subpoena is part of a government attempt to establish some sort of guidelines for information-sharing. As far as radio goes, several companies already have apps out there, collecting data. When you download Clear Channel's iheartradio from the iTunes app store, the first thing it says is "iheartradio would like to use your current location. Location services are used to locate your local stations." There has been a lot of chatter in our business about getting on the "radio personalization" bandwagon, and the revenue idea discussed most is the ability to target ads to the user. Should radio groups with plans to target advertising to consumers online now be worried about the government coming after them?
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PBS Needs New Primary Station In Central Florida

The future of programming for public television in Central Florida remains unclear after an Orlando station announced it will be sold.

According to a story by Deborah Circelli at the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Daytona State College officials said they are too busy trying to keep their own station going to consider taking on more programming from WMFE in Orlando.

WMFE announced it is exiting the public broadcasting business and selling its station to a not-for-profit affiliated with a faith-based broadcasting company.

Programming will continue for 60 to 90 days until paperwork has been filed with the Federal Communications Commission.

WMFE is the primary public broadcasting station for shows such as "Sesame Street."

Daytona State College's station, for example, has to wait eight days to air a show that appears on the primary station.

National PBS officials in Virginia said discussions are ongoing with PBS stations in Florida as to which one will take over the programming for the primary station. The decision, PBS spokeswoman Anne Bentley said, will be made by the stations in Florida, not PBS.

Frank Lombardo, interim Daytona State College president, said Daytona State has not been contacted by anyone about becoming a primary station. He said the college won't take on any additional responsibility until it knows about PBS funding from the state and federal government.

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Analysis Paints Grim Trajectory for The Daily

From John C. Abell,
Interest in The Daily seems to be waning, according to a Nieman Journalism Lab analysis based on Twitter sharing activity. After an initial spike of interest, then an app upgrade which eliminated some technical problems, News Corp.’s iPad-only publication has settled onto a undesirable trajectory best described as “decline, plateau, decline,” according to Nieman author Joshua Benton.

There are a number of caveats, not the least of which is that the Nieman study doesn’t count readers: It can’t, and News Corp. is under no obligation to publicly disclose this metric.

News Corp. said a month ago that downloads were in the “hundreds of thousands.” But even this doesn’t reveal much, because the app is inoperable unless you pay for a subscription after a trial period.

In the absence of primary data, Nieman had the intriguing idea to extrapolate from the indirect evidence of the number of times a Daily story was tweeted from within the app. The idea is that sharing trends might indicate relative subscriber levels, assuming that the sharing impulse is pretty much always the same.

Nieman acknowledges that tweeting volume needn’t necessarily correlate with subscribership in an intuitive way. Still, the theory seems sound: If tweeting from The Daily goes up, it might only mean that people are tweeting more, or it could mean that more people are tweeting. If tweeting goes down, it might mean that the impediments to tweeting have increased (e.g., the button was resized in an app upgrade, which didn’t happen), or it might mean that there are fewer subscribers.

Whatever the cause, tweeting from within the app has consistently trended down, Nieman found, using the help of social media firm PostRank, in what it called “a discouraging trend.”
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Can AM Radio Survive Serving Niche Markets?

From Aaron Barnhart, The Kansas City Star:
Scanning the amplitude modulation band, it is easy to conclude that radio’s senior circuit has devolved into a staticky mess of weak signals aimed at micro-sized constituencies. Spanish-language stations. Religious broadcasters. Timeshares. And way to the right of the dial, KXTR (1660), the classical station that won’t die.

But there is another way to look at AM’s future, and it is seen through the other three “heritage signals” that chose not to follow KMBZ to FM-land.

For a generation or longer, the AM frequencies of 610, 710 and 810 ruled the Kansas City scene. But as it became clear that radio was changing, management refashioned these broadcasters into narrowcasters, filled with specialty content and dependent not so much on quarterly ratings as on their ability to deliver devoted listeners to longtime advertisers.

“You have to be a destination for people,” said Chad Boeger, general manager of Union Broadcasting, which owns WHB (810) and KCTE (1510).

Two years ago, Arbitron, the ratings company, hiked its prices. Union, owned locally by Boeger and other partners, said no thanks, and the station has gone ratings-free since. It has other metrics, like the success of its 810 the Zone sports bars and its new mobile app, which it says is regularly used by an estimated 22,000 listeners.

“People want to know what’s going on in Kansas City (sports), and we feel we do a phenomenal job of that,” Boeger said.

Likewise, Donna Baker, who oversees the Kansas City market for Cumulus, considers her news-talker, KCMO-AM (710), a destination and has no plans to gut one of her popular FM stations to simulcast it.

“You can hear Tom Petty on a variety of stations in the marketplace, but there’s only one place you can get Dave Ramsey,” Baker said. Ramsey, the personal-finance guru whose show airs middays on KCMO-AM, recently packed 10,000 paying customers into Kemper Arena for a seminar.

But how much longer can this go on?

As Jerry Del Colliano, a longtime radio industry observer and new-media adviser to broadcasters, put it recently: “If you’re Generation Y, you have an iPhone and an iPod and you want an iPad. If you’re older, really older, you listen to radio.”

Those of us with fond memories of radio will still tune in, for a while anyhow. But how much longer until even WHB, with its mighty signal, throws in the towel and starts looking for an FM tower to buy?
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Study: Smartphone Ownership Doubles

Study Also Reveals That Facebook, Multi-Computer Homes Cross 50% Threshold

The percentage of Americans age 12 and older who have a smartphone has more than doubled in the past year, from 14 percent to 31 percent of the population according to the new national survey from Arbitron Inc. and Edison Research, The Infinite Dial 2011: Navigating Digital Platforms.

The study, released Tuesday, is the 19th in a series of studies dating back to 1998.  Among the many other findings:
  • Facebook is now being used by a majority of all Americans age 12 and over (51%); this number was only 8% when Arbitron/Edison Research first measured the social media phenomenon in 2008.
  • A majority of American households now have two or more computers (51%); as compared to 24% of households in 2002.
  • Usage of online radio is up significantly, with weekly usage of all forms of online radio having doubled in the last five years; self-reported weekly time spent with online radio is now nearly 10 hours (9 hours 47 minutes).
  • Daily time spent with TV, Radio and the Internet combined has increased by 20 percent in the last ten years, with self-reported daily usage now at 8 hours 11 minutes compared to 6 hours 50 minutes in 2001.
  • Just under one-third of all Americans (31%) have plugged an MP3 player such as an Apple iPod into their car stereo systems.
  • One in ten Americans report listening to Pandora Internet Radio in the week before they were surveyed.
  • Among the 81% of American households with Internet access, two-thirds now have a Wi-Fi network installed.
  • More than one-tenth of all cell phone owners have listened to online radio streamed in their cars by connecting their phones to their car stereo system.
"When you consider the rapid growth in ownership of smartphones in context with the continued rise in the use of social media it becomes increasingly clear that these platforms are fueling fundamental changes in consumer expectations and how they use media," said Bill Rose, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Arbitron Inc.

"What's fascinating about the Internet over the past ten years is the additive effect it has had upon the American media diet, which continues to expand," said Tom Webster, Vice President of Strategy and Marketing, Edison Research. "Rather than crowding other forms of media off the plate, so to speak, digital media is being consumed simultaneously with offline media, and in venues and opportunities where media might not have been consumed previously."

Since 1998, this notable research series has reported on and analyzed consumer use of the Internet, digital platforms and their impact on radio.

"This study provides further evidence of radio's continued resilience and relevance in today's digital landscape," said Arbitron's Rose.

"The ubiquity of social media usage -- and Facebook, in particular  -- has had an enormous impact upon the ways in which people communicate with each other - which has profoundly affected not only how companies market themselves, but also how they hire and train internally," said Webster from Edison Research.

This study, as well as previous studies, may be downloaded free of charge via the Arbitron and Edison Research Web sites at and

Why Evening News Anchors No Longer Matter

From  Jack Shafer,
[Katie] Couric's great misfortune was to become a broadcast network news anchor just as we were entering the post-anchor period. By post-anchor I don't mean that you could plop just any Arnold Zenker (article purchase required) into the studio and squeeze a good performance out of him. But the job and the audience aren't what they were when John Chancellor, Walter Cronkite, Tom Brokaw, and even Peter Jennings walked the earth. The explosion of news choices on cable and the Web have made the evening news an anachronism enjoyed mostly by an audience of older and less highly educated viewers, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism. If there is little prestige, honor, and future being the anchor of the No. 1 show chasing an audience that is growing smaller, older, and is less-educated, imagine how the No. 3 anchor must have felt.

Couric drew stellar ratings in her opening weeks as anchor, largely because the hype machine stoked so much interest in the first female to fly solo on an evening newscast. But then the aging creatures of habit who still tune in the nightly news returned to their previous routines, and Couric and CBS slumped to third once more.
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Show Topic Alert!

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Arrest Sparks On-Air Battle In NYC

Mister Cree
Every so often Hot-97 and Power-105 like to have a throwdown, and now it seems to be on between night host Funkmaster Flex of WQHT (97.1 FM) and morning cohost Charlamagne of WWPR (105.1 FM).

According to a story by David Hinckly at, the trigger: the arrest of Hot-97's Mister Cee on charges related to a male prostitute.

Flex is a friend of Mister Cee, and apparently he got annoyed when he heard Charlamagne and company talking about Mister Cee's arrest Monday morning.

So Monday night Flex spent about five minutes roasting Charlamagne, though not by name. He also didn't refer directly to Power-105, though his references to "that building" were as clear as the references to Charlamagne.

Flex started by calling the charges against Mister Cee "untrue" and saying, "We don't discriminate against anybody."

But if the unnamed target of his declaration is going to bring the subject up, Flex warned, payback could be coming.

"I know everything that goes on in that building," he said, and dropped a veiled hint that if he made some of that knowledge public, it could be embarrassing.

"You know who I'm talking about," said Flex. "You know the shot I'm sending today. You know the gun I'm loading up today. The choice is yours."

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Report: Meredith Vieira To Leave NBC's 'Today' Show

Vieira might just get her mornings back come September

The co-host of NBC's popular "Today" show is in talks to step down from the position when her reported $11 million annual contract expires this fall, two sources close to the TV personality told TV Guide, reports Joyce Chen in a story at

Vieira, who holds down the morning show with co-host Matt Lauer, is reportedly looking to leave because of the demands of the early-morning shift, not because of conflicts with the network.

Her husband, TV news producer Richard Cohen, has battled both multiple sclerosis and cancer, and the couple have three children - large considerations in Vieira's possible move away from the successful broadcast.

"I'll know when it's time to go, and I'm not afraid to go," Vieira, 57, told Ladies' Home Journal late last year.

"If I were to leave at the end of next year because it's time for me, I wouldn't jump into another show.

"I would look forward to not working, to traveling with Richard and carving out time for us."

Vieira's comments come in contrast to fellow anchor Katie Couric's departure from "CBS Evening News" - Couric is expected to launch a talk show in 2012.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Memo Suggests FBI Had Mole Inside ABC News

A once-classified FBI memo reveals that the bureau treated a senior ABC News journalist as a potential confidential informant in the 1990s, pumping the reporter to ascertain the source of a sensational but uncorroborated tip that the network had obtained during its early coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing.

According to a story by John Solomon and Aaron Mehta at The Center For Public Integrity, the journalist, whose name is not disclosed in the document labeled “secret,” not only cooperated but provided the identity of a confidential source, according to the FBI memo — a possible breach of journalistic ethics if he or she did not have the source’s permission.

The ABC employee was even assigned a number in the FBI’s informant database, indicating he or she was still being vetted for suitability as a snitch after providing “highly accurate and reliable information in the past” and then revealing information the network had obtained in the hours just after the 1995 terrorist attack by Timothy McVeigh.

The journalist “advised that a source within the Saudi Arabian Intelligence Service advised that the Oklahoma City bombing was sponsored by the Iraqi Special Services who contracted seven (7) former Afghani Freedom Fighters out of Pakistan,” an April 17, 1996 FBI memo states, recounting the then-ABC journalist’s interview with FBI agents a year earlier on the evening of the April 19, 1995 bombing. (The Iraqi connection, of course, never materialized.)

The memo recounts multiple contacts between the FBI and the journalist over a one-year period in 1995-96 but does not name the network insider, instead using the informant number NY290000-SI-DT and a simple description as “a senior official employed by ABC News for over 15 years.”

NOTE:  The Center didn't name the informant, but has learned he was Christopher Isham, who is now a vice president at CBS News and the network's Washington bureau chief.

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What Brand Marketers Expect From Social Media Followers

Brands place value on insights and loyalty, not spending

How much is a brand fan worth? It’s a question some social media marketers have been asking for a while, but research suggests many are moving on from the search for a hard number, according to

According to a July 2010 survey of social media marketers by Millward Brown and Dynamic Logic, the most valuable aspects of social media brand fans go beyond anything with an immediate monetary value. Increased short-term and long-term spend on the brand were the bottom two results.

At the top of the list were the fan’s value as a source of insight and increased loyalty overall. Advocacy and engagement were also important to at least three-quarters of respondents.

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Simon Conway New PM Drive Host on 1040 WHO

Simon Conway, a native of London, England has been chosen as the new afternoon talk show host on 1040 AM WHO Radio in Des Moines.

Conway moved to the United States 10 years ago and became a US Citizen in 2008. From his home in Orlando, Florida, he has worked as a fill-in talk show host for radio stations around the United States after getting his start hosting a real estate talk show on WFLA in Orlando.

Conway has been a highly sought after guest host for stations in Florida, Kentucky, Virginia, Minnesota, Texas and California and auditioned for the WHO position on March 15."

The response to Simon was tremendous, said WHO Program Director, Van Harden. Our e-mails, phones and in-person feedback well exceeded our expectations. Simon is a guy who will get deeply involved with the community and will be all over central Iowa on behalf of WHO Radio."

"I am both honored and excited that my new bosses have placed their trust in me to deliver the goods on this outstanding heritage radio station, said Conway. I can’t wait to get going and to meet all my new colleagues and of course to become a part of my new community."

Simon’s first program will air 4p.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, April 11th.

At Least One Advertiser Drops KDWB Over Parody

At least one of 101.3 FM KDWB Radio's sponsors has pulled all advertising in response to controversial comments made on "The Dave Ryan in the Morning Show" last month.

According to a story at, HealthPartners pulled its advertising Friday after an uproar over on-air content that made fun of Hmong-Americans.

"It (withdrawing of advertising) was because of the Hmong parody. We found it to be offensive and not in line with what we as an organization represent," HealthPartners spokesman Jeff Shelman said Monday.

During the show late last month, a Hmong listener texted a suggested song title "30 Hmongs in a House," for which Steve "Steve-O" LaTart, the show's producer, then penned mock lyrics.

The lyrics, set to Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven," talked about how Hmong live like "sardines" and made reference to Hmong women getting pregnant by 16 with "seven kids by 23" and "over the hill by 30."

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BIA/Kelsey: Radio Industry Revenues Rose 5.4%

Online and digital revenues projected to grow 14.1% over next five years
Over-the-air local radio station revenues hit $14.1 billion in 2010, a 5.4 percent increase over 2009, according to this year's first edition of BIA/Kelsey's quarterly "Investing In Radio® Market Report."

BIA/Kelsey, adviser to companies in the local media industry, expects 2011 radio industry revenues to rise a moderate 3.7 percent, and 2012's election year to bump up revenues 4.5 percent. The firm also projects online/digital revenues for radio will experience a 14.1 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in the five-year period beginning 2011. Revenues from online/digital provided $405 million to the industry in 2010 and are expected to rise from $494 million this year to $783 million by 2015.

"The higher than expected radio revenues in 2010 reflected the return of national advertisers to the airwaves and some political battles that made an impact in certain markets," said Mark Fratrik, vice president, BIA/Kelsey. "Radio, however, still continues to face a lot of competition in the local and online advertising marketplace. Stations are responding by becoming more aggressive with their digital and online strategies, which are driving measurable revenue."

To closely report on the growth of online and digital activities across the industry, the "Investing In Radio" reports for 2011 include individual market level online advertising revenue estimates based on BIA/Kelsey's work with broadcasters and industry resources.

In further analysis of market activities, Fratrik points out that 26.9 percent of 2010's radio industry revenue went to stations in the top 10 markets, and those markets saw over-the-air revenue increases of 6.9 percent. Radio stations in markets 11 through 25 saw a 5.7 percent increase, while the other markets experienced positive but lesser changes in income.