Saturday, May 28, 2016

May 29 Radio History

Bob Hope - circa the '40s
In 1903...comedian Bob Hope was born Leslie Townes Hope in London England. He debuted on NBC radio in 1935, and was heard on a weekly basis for the next 23 years, though the last 4 years were repeats.  His TV show debuted in 1952, and his final special aired in 1996 when he was 93.  He died July 27, 2003 at the remarkable age of 100.

In 1918...humourist/radio-TV host Herb Shriner was born in Toledo.  He had his own CBS radio show in the late 40’s, and later scored on TV as quizmaster (a la Groucho) on Two for the Money.  Homespun humour (a la Will Rogers) was a feature of all his appearances.  He died in an auto accident April 23 1970 at age 51.

In 1939…The radio serial "When a Girl Marries" began its 18-year run, first on CBS, then on NBC starting in 1941, and switching to ABC in 1951.

In 1941...Robert David “Bob” Simon was born in the Bronx New York.  During his 48-years as reporter and correspondent for CBS News, he covered crises, war, and unrest in 67 countries.During the Persian Gulf War in 1991, he and four of his TV crew were captured and imprisoned by Iraq for 40 days. He became a correspondent for CBS’s 60 Minutes in 1996, and continued providing compelling stories to that program until his untimely death in a New York City traffic accident Feb. 11 2015 at age 73.

Bing Crosby
In 1942…Bing Crosby, backed by the Ken Darby Singers and the John Scott Trotter Orchestra, recorded Irving Berlin's "White Christmas," which became the biggest-selling single of all time until Elton John surpassed it with "Candle In The Wind (Princess Diana Tribute)" in 1997. Crosby re-recorded "White Christmas" in 1947 and the re-recording is the version heard most often on the radio at Christmastime.

In 1961...Jack Spector began working as a disk jockey in New York in 1961 at radio station WMCA 570 AM, where he was a member of a group of broadcasting personalities called the Good Guys. He labeled himself Your Main Man Jake and usually closed his shows saying, "Look out street, here I come!"

He switched to WHN 1050 AM in 1972, then for nine years was the host of the "Saturday Night Sock Hop" on WCBS 101.1 FM. He also worked for a brief period as the host of a sports talk show for WNBC 660 AM.

Mr. Spector broke into broadcasting in Martinsburg, W.Va., in 1955, then worked for stations in Albany, Providence, R.I., and Chicago before returning to New York. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he attended Brooklyn College and had a brief tryout as a minor-league baseball player with the Brooklyn Dodgers organization. He served in the United States Army in Korea.

In 1963…Del Shannon's cover of the Beatles' "From Me to You" became the first song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney to appear on the American record charts.

In 1977...the NBC News & Information Service, which was a 24-hour-a-day news service, came to an end.

NBC launched the NBC News and Information Service (NIS) in 1975.  According to Faded Signals, it allowed local radio stations to launch all-news formats, providing affiliates with up to 55 minutes of news per hour.

NBC aired the service on its Washington station, WRC.  It also added the all-news format on its network-owned FM stations in New York City, Chicago and San Francisco.

Many stations signed on with the service, but by 1976, NBC was not sure if its network would ever become profitable.

In 1978...former disc jockey and actor Bob Crane (Donna Reed Show, Hogan in Hogan’s Heroes), died at age 49, the victim of a brutal murder.

In 1979..."The Source", considered Radio's first rock news network, debuted.

George Fenneman with Groucho Marx
In 1997...announcer George Fenneman, who was best known for his work on radio’s Dragnet and You Bet Your Life on both radio & TV, died of emphysema at age 77.

In 2012…Radio actor Dick Beals, for many years the voice of "Speedy" in Alka-Seltzer TV commercials, died at the age of 85.

In January 1949, as a senior at MSU, Beals got a call to do a radio commercial for WXYZ, Detroit. After the show, the director asked him to be on call for all the children's voices as well as those of small, talking animals on all three network radio shows produced by WXYZ - The Lone Ranger, Green Hornet and Challenge of the Yukon.

In 1952, after performing in an episode of The Green Hornet, WXYZ station manager Jack McCarthy referred Beals to Forrest Owen of Wade Advertising. Owen showed Beals a rendering of a proposed product spokesman for their client, Alka-Seltzer and had him record a voice audition. Four months later, Beals was notified that he had been selected as the voice for Speedy Alka-Seltzer as well as the voice of Sticky, the Vaseline mascot.

Standing just 4'7" tall due to a glandular problem that also gave him his youthful voice, Beals provided the voices of 10-year-old boys well into his 70s.

In 2014…Former WNEW 102.7 FM NYC personality Dave Herman died of an aneurysm at 78 while in federal custody awaiting trial on charges of attempting to transport a 7-year-old girl from New Jersey to the Virgin Islands for a sexual liaison.

In 2014…Longtime KOMO-TV, KOMO-AM Seattle news reporter/commentator Ken Schram died of kidney, liver, and heart failures while fighting an infection at age 66.

Report: Redstone May Merge Viacom, CBS

Sumner Redstone had his reasons when he split his media empire into two separate corporations a decade ago: He had two strong top executives whom he wanted to keep happy, and more than enough successful businesses to go around, reports the LA Times.

Since then, network chief Leslie Moonves has been running the stalwart CBS Corp., which boasts the nation’s most watched TV network.  Viacom, meanwhile, has seen its stock plummet more than 45% in the last two years, and its chairman and chief executive, Philippe Dauman, is on increasingly shaky ground.

The contrasting trajectories of the two companies, and Dauman's precarious position, has prompted speculation about whether the Redstone family might eventually put CBS and Viacom back together again. That would allow them to hand the combined entity to Moonves, 66, who has long wanted to run a major movie studio.

“It’s clear that Les Moonves knows what he is doing while the people running Viacom are stumbling around in the dark,” said Jonathan Taplin, a USC Annenberg School communications professor.

Moonves declined to comment.

Les Moonves
Redstone turned 93 on Friday, and his family celebrated with him at his Beverly Park compound. In contrast to last year, top Viacom executives did not attend the celebration.

Rejoining the two companies would result in a more powerful conglomerate that would allow Viacom to better compete with the likes of the Walt Disney Co., Comcast Corp.'s NBCUniversal and 21st Century Fox.

Brian Wieser, a media analyst at Pivotal Reseach, said there was some merit in merging Viacom and CBS – if CBS’ management, directors and shareholders were interested in such an arrangement. “There would be tons of synergies,"  he said.

CBS boasts the nation's most-watched network, with TV sports and news, one of the nation's largest chains of TV stations, premium cable channel Showtime and the Simon & Schuster book publishing house.

Viacom has a different set of assets, with its profits coming from its stable of cable TV channels, including MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and BET.  It also owns the struggling studio Paramount Pictures, responsible for such big franchises as "Star Trek,"  "Mission: Impossible" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."

Read More Now

Sumner Redstone Suggests Ousting Viacom Board, CEO

(Reuters) -- Sumner Redstone made clear on Friday that he is considering ousting Viacom's chief executive and the company's board of directors in the fierce power struggle between Redstone's family and company executives over control of the media empire.

A judge set an early June hearing on the possible removal of CEO Philippe Dauman from the trust that will control the media company when Redstone dies or is deemed incapacitated.

In a statement issued through a spokesman, Redstone, who turned 93 on Friday, said he would act in "the best interests of shareholders," when weighing whether or not to oust Dauman and the company's board.

Redstone, who holds 80 percent of the voting shares in Viacom and CBS Corp, last week removed Dauman and Viacom board member George Abrams from the seven-person trust that will control the shares after Redstone exits.

In the statement, Redstone said he will apply "the same deliberation and consideration" he used when he removed Dauman and George Abrams as trustees.

Redstone's latest missive comes amid reports that Viacom's board is preparing a lawsuit challenging any attempts to remove its members or the CEO.

Dauman, 62, has filed a legal challenge to stop his removal from the trust, arguing that Redstone was being manipulated by his daughter, Shari. She has called that allegation "absurd" and said her father made his own decisions.

Judge George Phelan scheduled to hear the case on June 7, after Dauman filed a petition to have the trial date expedited.

A spokesman for Dauman and the Viacom board was not immediately available to comment.

Screenshot from CNBC
Viacom's shares are up 13 percent since news broke last Friday that Redstone had removed Dauman and Abrams from the trust and the National Amusements Board, as some investors bet that a change in management could lead to a sale of the media company. Mario Gabelli, the second-largest owner of Viacom voting shares, has said Dauman has six months to turn the company around.

Also on Friday, Standard & Poor's revised downward its assessment of Viacom's management and governance to "fair" from "satisfactory" because it believes the litigation and succession planning issues "reflect poorly" on Viacom's corporate governance.

Viacom shares have fallen more than 50 percent in the past two years as its cable networks, including MTV and Nickelodeon, suffered from falling ratings as younger viewers migrate online and to mobile video. Viacom's U.S. advertising revenue has declined for seven straight quarters.

Dauman has tried to turn Viacom around by wooing advertisers with data to better target commercials. Under his leadership, Viacom renewed a multi-year distribution contract with satellite TV provider Dish Network Corp.

But it was Dauman's plan to sell Viacom's stake in Paramount Pictures, which investors cheered, that caused him troubles. Redstone, who won a long battle with media mogul Barry Diller to acquire the film studio in 1994, opposes the sale of the stake.

Frederic Salerno, Viacom's lead independent director, on Wednesday asked for a meeting with Redstone to discuss the company's strategy, including its planned sale of a stake of Paramount.

Redstone has not yet responded, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters on Friday.

Gawker Privacy Lawsuit Evolves Into Battle Of Tech Billionaires

Pierre Omidyar
By Sarah McBride

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Billionaire media owner Pierre Omidyar is backing news and entertainment web site Gawker Media in its lawsuit against wrestler Hulk Hogan, adding a new twist to a case pitting technology money against press freedom.

Omidyar, owner of The Intercept publisher First Look Media, is asking other media outlets to file legal briefs in support of Gawker, First Look said in a statement on Friday. First Look said its goal was to protect constitutional rights.

"The possibility that Gawker may have to post a bond for $50 million or more just to be able to pursue its right to appeal the jury’s verdict raises serious concerns about press freedom," said Lynn Oberlander, general counsel at First Look, in a statement.

Gawker is battling an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit brought by Hogan, who won a $140 million judgment against it - enough to cripple the company, which this week said it was exploring financial options. In 2012, Gawker had published a sex tape of Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea.

The saga has become a lightning rod for debate about the role of money in the legal system and civic affairs.

Omidyar, who made a fortune co-founding online auction site eBay, would support Gawker in its legal fight  financially as well as via the court briefs, a person familiar with the situation said. But Omidyar has no interest in buying a stake in Gawker itself, the person said.    Gawker said in a statement it welcomed the support from First Look, but did not provide details.

Media outlets including Dow Jones, the New York Times Co and Turner Broadcasting did not immediately respond to requests for comment on whether First Look had approached them. A previous motion to intervene in the case was supported by several news outlets, First Look said, including Turner's Cable News Network and the Associated Press.

Earlier this week, Peter Thiel, an early backer of Facebook and a co-founder of PayPal, acknowledged that he had played a lead role in financing Bollea's litigation.

Gawker posted a 2007 article about Thiel entitled, “Peter Thiel is totally gay, people.”

Omidyar, a long-time liberal, said on Twitter his actions were not personal. Thiel is backing presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump for U.S. president.

Peter Thiel
"Also, I've never met Peter, respect his work as VC, and obv disagree on Trump and press, there is no 'bad blood.'" he wrote in response to a Twitter comment.

A spokesman for Thiel declined to comment on Omidyar's backing of Gawker.

Many in Silicon Valley rushed to Thiel's defense once news broke of his support of Hogan.

“Click bait journalists need to be taught lessons. Far less ethics and more click chasing in press today. I’m for #theil,” tweeted another prominent venture capitalist, Vinod Khosla, on Thursday.

Khosla is fighting his own legal battle over whether the public may access the beach on property he owns in San Mateo County, California.

Thiel has donated to the Committee to Protect Journalists, which advocates for journalists who encounter beatings, threats, and other intimidation.

The New York Post first reported the news of Omidyar's latest push to support Gawker.

San Diego Radio: iHM Goes Jam'n On 95.7 FM

At 3pm PT Friday, iHeartMedia/San Diego ushered in the Memorial Day weekend by flipping KSSX 95.7 FM from Rhythmic AC to Rhythmic Top 40, rebranded as JAM'N 95.7.

Rob Scorpio
JAM'N 95.7 will be under the programming command of Rob Scorpio, who will retain his current duties as SVP/Programming for iHeartMedia Riverside, CA.  Scorpio has a long and successful history with the Hip Hop and Rhythmic formats, with a programming resume that includes KBXX 97.9 FM The Box in Houston, KKBT 100.3 FM The Beat in Los Angeles and WPGC in Washington.

"We are fortunate to have Rob's level of expertise leading JAM'N 95.7," said iHeartMedia San Diego/Riverside Regional Senior VP/Programming John Peake. "He has incredible passion for the format and we're excited about not only the music changes he has implemented, but also the amazing talent lineup he has assembled."

KSSX 95.7 FM (27.8 Kw) Red=Local Coverage Area
The JAM'N 95.7 on-air lineup will feature Mercedes "Cedes" Howard in middays, Frankie V (formerly morning co-host at KHTS-FM San Diego and most recently at WJMN-FM in Boston) in afternoons, and Beto Perez in nights. Mornings will see the return of Pablo and Tati who were previously on-air hosts at XHTZ-FM in San Diego and most recently co-hosted mornings at WPGC-FM/Washington, DC, from 2013 to 2015.

L-A Radio: Bernie Sanders Gets Snippy On KFI

Democrat Bernie Sanders got into a heated back-and-forth with  "John and Ken" show on KFI 640 AM Thursday when they questioned him about his public service.

Sanders called out the hosts for interrupting him several times before abruptly ending the interview.

The interview, first reported by Buzzfeed, began with one of the hosts quizzing Sanders on his experience with creating jobs.

"I'm not really clear on what kind of jobs you've had, besides Senator," the host said.

According to The Hill, Sanders responded that he served in the House and was mayor of Burlington, Vt., for eight years.

"Yeah, but have you ever not been paid by taxpayers?" the host asked.

"All right, look, if you don’t like government, my friend, that’s fine. I’m proud of the record I’ve established as a mayor, making Burlington, Vermont, one of the more beautiful small cities in America, proud of my record in the House, proud of my record in the United States Senate. You don’t like government? That’s your point of view. I am proud of what I have accomplished," Sanders responded in the interview.

NYC Radio: DeBlasio Blames Headlines For Dropping Approval Ratings

Mayor de Blasio
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday blamed his tumbling approval ratings on “relentless negative headlines” — and not the seven corruption and fund-raising scandals swirling around his administration.

“I think it is telling that those numbers were very, very strong for two full years, and then there’s relentless negative headlines,” de Blasio said in an interview with WNYC radio, referring to slumping approval ratings in a recent Quinnipiac University poll.

The NY Post reports the poll also found that only 43 percent of voters believe the mayor is honest and trustworthy — down from 60 percent in January.

“Of course people are going to be influenced by them [negative headlines] in the short term,” de Blasio said.

“I’ve told you, when everything comes to light, we have done everything appropriately, legally,” he continued.

“And then I think the public will look at that and in fact say — OK, there were a lot of allegations thrown at this guy, but in the end there was nothing there.”

Last week, de Blasio earned scorn by announcing that his emails and other communications with five non-government advisers would be shielded from public scrutiny, even though the advisers represent clients with business before the city.

In past months, de Blasio and his administration have been revealed to be the subject of multiple state and federal investigations.

CA Radio: KRRF Ventura Flips To Classic Hip-Hop

Cumulus Media has  announced that Ventura County, California’s KRRF 106.3 FM kicked off Memorial Day Weekend with a fresh sound and Classic Hip-Hop programming from the late ‘80’s and ‘90’s on the all-new radio station 106.3 SPIN-FM.

The former Country-formatted station launched Friday afternoon at Noon.

Until now, iconic hip-hop music has been difficult to find on Ventura County radio, but 106.3 SPIN-FM  adult Ventura County radio listeners can tune in to 106.3 SPIN-FM and SPIN back to the Classic Hip-Hop songs that defined their party years.

KRRF 1063. FM (960 watts) Red=Local Coverage Area
Chris Cox, Operations Manager, Cumulus Media Oxnard/Ventura said: “This is an exciting new day in Ventura County radio as KRRF 106.3 becomes SPIN-FM. This great music defined an entire generation and nobody else in Ventura County is playing these songs. We are so proud to welcome 30- and 40-somethings who partied to R. Kelly and LL Cool J 25 years ago. They are ready for a new SPIN on radio and now SPIN-FM is here. Let the non-stop Classic Hip-Hop party begin! We are also pleased that all the great country music has moved on down the FM dial to 100.7 KHAY.”

May 28 Radio History

In 1955…Elvis Presley made his first appearance on the "Big D Jamboree" radio program, broadcast from the Dallas Sportatorium by local radio station KRLD.

In 1957....The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) is established, leading to the creation of the annual Grammy Awards.

In 1958….Top40 1010 WINS pranked rival  WMGM with a Charles DeGaulle phone call..

Before the era of radio shock jocks and tv prank-yankers, there was the infamous Charles de Gaulle Hoax of 1958, when DeGaulle was President of France.

It was the first truly great prank call in the history of radio--a doozy of a sting. Broadcast live throughout the Northeast, the faux phone call left one station supremely humiliated, leaving the other--the perpetrator of this mad hoax--basking in smug glory.

According to an aerticle Ken Brooks which appeared in Plus! magazine, in the spring of 1958, New York City radio stations were waging a fierce war for listeners. The combination of rock-and-roll and the transistor radio had made Elvis the King, and AM radio stations--at least those with their ears to the asphalt--were hastily switching formats.

One of the first stations to make the switch--in 1956, in fact--was WINS. By 1958, WINS had assembled a legendary line-up of disc jockeys that including Alan Freed, the former Cleveland jock credited with coining the term "rock and roll."

WINS's large news department was impressive as well; indeed, station call letters stood for International News Service, a division of the powerful Hearst Corporation.

Struggling in the shadow of WINS was low-rated WMGM. The station had once been the proud home of Brooklyn Dodger broadcasts, but the team was gone now, transplanted to Los Angeles that very spring. WMGM's tepid music format combined a bit of rock with easy-listening.

The station was not exactly a strong news-gathering force, either. Without a large news staff, WMGM execs outfitted an old panel truck and assigned two reporters to cruise the streets looking for "scoops." The reporters were dubbed the Minute Men; presumably they would be on the scene of a breaking story in a matter of minutes.

Headlines on the morning of Tuesday, May 28, 1958, concerned big news overseas: The imminent collapse of the French government, and the possibility that Gen. Charles De Gaulle--the popular World War II hero--would seize control of the republic.In the WMGM newsroom, executives decided on a bold move that would prove to New Yorkers that WMGM could be taken seriously as a news-gathering operation.

At 10:30 am, newscaster Bill Edmunds interrupted with this announcement: 
"French President Coty is conferring with political leaders after receiving the resignation of Premier Pflimlin. A new government may be created today with General de Gaulle at the helm. WMGM has a call in, long-distance, overseas to General De Gaulle to bring you a direct interview...As soon as that call is completed, we'll put that call right on the air."
 Monitoring rival stations' broadcasts is standard practice in the radio business. WMGM's plan to call de Gaulle caused no panic in the WINS newsroom, where it was seen as a desperate act on the part of WMGM. The idea that General de Gaulle would actually return a call to a local New York City radio station was outlandish.


At noon the phone rang at WMGM studios. On the line was an overseas operator--or so she claimed. "Your trans- atlantic call is ready, sir," she said.

Bill Edmunds hustled to a mic."General? General de Gaulle?"

"Yas?" The response sounded static-y and far-away.

"General de Gaulle, this is WMGM in New York City." One could feel the adrenaline in Edmund's voice; they gave out awards for scoops like this. "I would like to know if you would care to make a statement to the American people at this time."

"Yas, I certainly would," said de Gaulle in a heavily French-accented English. "Are we on zee air now?" he asked.

"No sir, we are making a tape to play later, throughout the day and on our newscasts," Edmunds said.

"Well..." There was a pause as the General mulled this over. "No," he said finally, "I would not like to be recorded, as I have not yet granted the French press any of thees informay-shee-own. But I will agree to be broadcast."

"Will you hold, please, and we'll put you directly on the air? Can you do that?" Edmunds was practically begging.

"Yas, but make it very fast as I must go to ze Na-shee-a-nal Assem-blee."

"Just as soon as they give me the go-ahead, General..." In the thirteen seconds of dead-air that followed--an eternity in radio-time--one could hear the engineers scrambling to punch the right buttons.

Then, live, in stentorian tones, Edmunds announced: "I am on the phone with General Charles De Gaulle in France. General de Gaulle, would you care to make a statement about the crisis in France?"

"Thank you Mr. Edmunds," the General began. "I would like to make clear that when I assume pow-air I weel not do so by any dictatorial means. I am too much of an old soldier...and I weel give to the pee-pull of France the government they should have had ever since the war."

Edmunds wasn't about to let the General go just yet. A few more questions. Then de Gaulle broke in: "...Monseuir, can you tell me again whom I am speaking to?"

"Bill Edmunds, General. I'm one of the WMGM Minute Men." Surprisingly, de Gaulle sounded not the least bit impressed.

"WMGM?" the General repeated. "Why, everybody knows the best radio station in New York is WINS." Then he screamed: "Viva la France!"

In the second-and-a-half before the line went dead, in the background, one could hear the unmistakable sounds of hysterical laughter.

Poor Bill Edmunds: Totally nonplussed, unsure what had transpired, unwilling to let go of that award he'd surely have received.

Here's what he said next: "Uh...ladies and gentlemen...we've, uh, been talking to, uh..."--Edmunds drew a blank..."General Charles de Gaulle!"

Mercifully, someone at the studio had the presence to kill Edmunds' mike.

By the time New York's afternoon newspapers hit the streets, the incident was front page news. The World-Telegram headline read: "WHO HAD DE GALL TO CALL WMGM?"

"Switchboards at WMGM and WINS were as hot as the French crisis today," the paper declared, " and General Charles de Gaulle was at least partially responsible..." Executives at WMGM, the paper reported, are demanding an immediate investigation by the Federal Communications Commission.

When asked by the World-Telegram for comment, WINS general manager Herb Fearnhead responded blankly, "I don't know a thing about it." Not that WINS was adverse to rubbing it in: The rest of Tuesday afternoon their announcers broadcast the time in French.

Then, on Wednesday morning, a final insult. A telegram arrived at WMGM. Sent from Paris, it read: "I was cut off. What happened? --Charles de Gaulle."

Twenty-six years would pass before anyone fessed up. That's when an assistant program director for WINS admitted that the entire episode, complete with pre-recorded "transatlantic static," was the brainchild of WINS news director Tom O'Brien. And it was O'Brien's fiancee--a stewardess for British Overseas Airlines, stationed in Paris--who authored the bogus telegram.

In 1962…"Wide World of Sports with Chris Schenkel" debuted on the CBS Radio Network.

In 1998…actor/comedian, Phil Hartman, was shot to death while asleep by his wife. He was 49. Hartman starred in the TV sitcom, "NewsRadio"

Friday, May 27, 2016

DC Radio: Trump-Sanders Debate Will NOT Happen

UPDATE 5/27/16 5PM:  Donald Trump announced on Friday that he would not debate Bernie Sanders, saying that he did not want to go one-on-one with the “second place finisher” in the Democratic contest and that the networks were not ponying up enough for the event, according to Variety.

Earlier Posting...

CBS is reporting that Fox News is in back-channel negotiations for an event featuring Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders before California's June 7 primary, according to Fox News anchor Bret Baier.

"It is not a joke and those back channel discussions are continuing and there will be some event in California," he said on "Special Report with Bret Baier" Thursday.

In a Friday interview with Brian Wilson on WMAL 630 AM 105.9 FM, Baier said that the talks with the two campaigns "are progressing" and that there's "real interest."

The details, he added, were still being hammered out, but it would either be a "full-blown debate" or perhaps something in a town hall format.

This comes soon after Trump first agreed during a "Jimmy Kimmel Live" interview that he would debate with the Vermont senator.

At the time, Trump had said he would participate in a forum if the proceeds would go to charity. After Sanders sent out a tweet declaring "Game on," however, Trump's campaign seemed to suggest that the presumptive GOP nominee was joking. But on Thursday, Trump reiterated his interest in debating, provided the funds go to a philanthropic cause.

When asked about the price tag Trump has demanded for the debate -- at least $10 million to be donated to charity -- Baier said that they are "working that out."

"It won't be from the network," he added, but "there are multiple conversations going on."

New Suit: iHM Accused Of Using CCO As Piggy Bank

iHeartMedia shouldn’t be allowed to treat its Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings unit like a piggy bank and siphon off revenues to repay debts, according to a shareholder suit.

According to Bloomberg, Gamco Asset Management Inc., which owns almost 10 percent of the outdoor-media subsidiary’s publicly traded shares, accused CCOH’s board of violating a duty to protect its shareholders by always acting in the best interest of the parent company at the expense of the subsidiary.

Gamco particularly complained about an agreement that automatically routes daily CCOH revenues to iHeart. The deal leaves the outdoor unit “‘unable to exploit business opportunities” and with a “virtually uncollectible receivable" from its parent company of $640 million, Norman Monhait, Gamco’s lawyer, said in Thursday’s filing in Delaware Chancery Court..

The outdoor media company’s board considers Gamco’s suit to be without merit and “takes seriously its responsibilities to the company and to all CCOH stockholders,” Wendy Goldberg, iHeart’s spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement. “The board established a special committee of independent directors in 2013 for the specific purpose of monitoring the intercompany note between CCOH” and its iHeart parent.

Gamco backed iHM in the recent Texas trial between the company and some of its senior lenders,who lost a battle to declare defaults on about $6 billion of notes after iHeart shifted 100 million CCOH shares to a unit beyond the lenders’ reach. The judge agreed with iHeart and Gamco that the share transfer was permitted under company loan terms. But, in a separate filing in the San Antonio case, Gamco said iHeart’s valuation of that deal at $500 million was “wrong.”

“It appears that the iHeart defendants are already preparing for bankruptcy, which would freeze iHeart’s ability to repay” the money it owes the outdoor media unit, Monhait said in asking for a speedy trial.

Gamco asked the Delaware court for a September trial of the complaint, which also names the company’s individual board members, Bain Capital and TH Lee as defendants.

The case is Gamco Asset Management Inc. v. IHeartMedia Inc., 12312-VCS, Delaware Chancery Court.

Moonves: Redstone Supports Sale/Spinoff Of CBS Radio

Sumner Redstone may oppose Viacom’s plans to sell a stake in Paramount Pictures, but he’s on board with CBS’s plans to sell or spin off its radio division, according to CBS chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves.

The Eye in March announced it would explore a sale of the 117-station CBS Radio group. During the Q&A portion of CBS’s 2016 shareholders meeting Thursday in New York, Moonves was asked if that deal was contingent on the approval from Redstone (CBS’s controlling shareholder) or his representatives in light of his opposition to the Paramount proposal, reports Variety.

“Our situation with radio has absolutely nothing to do with Viacom,” Moonves responded. “We have received full support from Mr. Redstone with what we are doing” with the planned CBS Radio divestiture.

Sumner Redstone was not present at the CBS shareholders meeting at NYC’s Museum of Modern Art, but was dialed in via phone, according to Moonves.

Viacom CEO Wants Trust Trial By End-Sept

(Reuters) -- Viacom Inc Chief Executive Officer Philippe Dauman has asked a Massachusetts court to expedite a legal challenge to his removal from a trust that will determine the entertainment company's future after controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone dies or is deemed incapacitated.

Dauman and longtime board member George Abrams requested a trial date be set for no later than the end of September, according to a court filing dated May 25. The petition also requests that legal discovery begin immediately and said it would require at least one medical examination of Redstone, who turns 93 on Friday.

Philippe Dauman
National Amusements, Sumner Redstone's privately held movie theater chain, owns 80 percent of the voting stock in both Viacom and CBS Corp.

The outcome of the court case - and who ends up with control over the trust and the National Amusements board - will have wide-ranging implications for Viacom and CBS shareholders and could result in changes at the top of both companies, possibly through mergers and acquisitions.

Redstone removed Dauman and Abrams form the seven-person Sumner M. Redstone National Amusements Inc Trust last week as well as the National Amusements board. A lawyer representing Redstone said at the time that the media mogul had concerns about Viacom's performance.

Dauman fired back on Monday in a lawsuit, stating the move to replace him and Abrams from both the trust and the National Amusements board amounted to an "unlawful corporate takeover" by the mogul's daughter, Shari Redstone.

"We are looking forward to an expedited dismissal of this meritless suit," Shari Redstone said in a statement Thursday.

In the Massachusetts lawsuit, Dauman questioned the mogul's mental competence, a departure from testimony he gave in a California case brought by an ex-girlfriend of Redstone when he removed her as his designated healthcare agent. As part of that legal action, Dauman testified that he had conversations with Redstone and he was engaged and attentive.

Frederic Salerno, Viacom's lead independent director, on Wednesday again asked for a meeting with Redstone.

The meeting would be with Salerno and William Schwartz, chairman of Viacom's governance committee, according to an email from Salerno to Redstone's attorney reviewed by Reuters.

In the email, Salerno outlined a four-point agenda for meeting, which included "greetings and pleasantries about our shared experiences over decades together as colleagues," as well as a question and answer session to get Redstone's thoughts a the board strategy meeting held last week. That meeting included discussion about the possible sale of a stake in movie studio Paramount Pictures.

Michael Tu, Redstone's attorney, said Redstone was considering the meeting request.

Salerno could not be reached for comment.

Viacom CEO Dauman is looking to sell a minority stake in Paramount, and has said he expects to announce a deal in June, while Sumner Redstone has voiced concern about a sale, according to sources.

Redstone has a speech impairment that hinders his ability to communicate. He struggled to speak when questioned by attorneys in the California lawsuit that was dismissed earlier this month, according to a transcript of his testimony.

Separately, Sumner Redstone asked a Los Angeles Court on Monday for an order validating his removal of Dauman and Abrams from his trust and from the board of National Amusements Inc.

Viacom shares ended up 1.3 percent, or 54 cents, at $42.53 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Republicans Move To Gut FCC, Crush Net Neutrality

A new budget proposal would effectively bar the FCC from enforcing its net neutrality provisions.

Buried deep within the House Appropriations Committee budget proposal is a set of new rules that limit the FCC's ability to use its funds for activities including the regulation of "prices, other fees, or data caps and allowances" for broadband internet providers, according to The Register.

Additionally, the budget proposal calls for the regulator to be blocked from enforcing any of the rules it laid out in its February 2015 order on open internet access until a handful of court cases filed by telecom groups challenging the FCC rules can be resolved.

The provisions would effectively paralyze efforts by the Democrat-leaning FCC to enforce any of the open internet rules it passed last year, a goal that many House Republicans have been seeking to accomplish for some time, arguing that the FCC's red-tape is an unneeded incursion by the government into the private sector.

The bill also aims to bar the FCC from setting up any network of its own, with the exception of a network that "blocks the viewing, downloading, and exchanging of pornography."

The bill still, however, faces opposition. Even if the House passes the budget recommendations in a floor vote, President Obama would be able to veto the changes – though striking down an entire budget proposal would likely be more difficult than simply vetoing a single bill.

Cumulus Names John Dimick VP/Programming Operations

John Dimick
Cumulus Media has announced that it has appointed 35-year radio veteran John Dimick as Vice President, Programming Operations.

Dimick joins the Cumulus corporate programming resources team on June 1, 2016, and will report to Mike McVay, Senior Vice President, Content and Programming.

Dimick was previously Senior Vice President, Programming and Operations for Lincoln Financial Media, where he was responsible for the oversight of station brands, digital development, PPM and audience strategies. Over the course of his career, Dimick has programmed stations in markets across the country, including: Salt Lake City; Columbus, OH; Seattle; San Diego and New York City.

Mike McVay, Senior Vice President, Content and Programming, Cumulus Media said: “John Dimick brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to this position. He joins Doug Hamand and Greg Frey as a VPPO. The three of them, along with our format specialists and analysts, will provide even more tools to our managers and PD’s to employ when programming their stations.”

Dimick said: “I’m very happy that Mike McVay wouldn’t buy my ‘retirement from the industry’ thinking! What the new senior management team at Cumulus is building is extraordinary and compelling. I am flattered that Mike and Bob Walker believe I can help advance the growth and success of the stations and the remarkable Cumulus platform. Joining the corporate programming team with people like Greg Frey, Doug Hamand, Dr. Ed Cohen, Val Garris, Ralph Cipolla and the other pros at Cumulus is very exciting.”

Limbaugh: Politico Story "Laundry List of Lies"

Long-time talk show host Rush Limbaugh is facing troubles and the business of talk radio is on “shaky ground,” Weekly Standard associate editor Ethan Epstein recently argued in a 3,800-word dissertation published at Politico magazine. (See original posting: Click Here)

Nothing could be further from the truth says America’s self-proclaimed “anchorman.”

The article, according to Limbaugh, is an attempt to interfere with his business model with “lies” at a time when he is known to be at the end of the eight-year iHeart Media deal that he signed with Clear Channel (now iHeart), in 2008, and is presumably in negotiations for a new one.

Rush Limbaugh
“The Politico story is a long and worn out laundry list of lies about my business timed to the end of my iHeart deal,” Limbaugh told Breitbart News Wednesday evening.

According to Breitbart, the numbers tend to back up Limbaugh, who isn’t showing signs of hemorrhaging audience at all.

According to ratings provided by Nielsen Audio, the Rush Limbaugh Show’s average quarter hour (AQH) audience in every demographic has increased by at least 30 percent, including overall AQH by 37 percent, over the previous year.

Despite affiliation changes in some major markets, evidence used by his naysayers as a sign Limbaugh’s future is in peril, Limbaugh has enjoyed huge gains. In the nation’s top three markets, Nielsen Audio shows the talk radio giant’s AQH is up 151 percent in New York City, 18 percent in Los Angeles and 215 percent in Chicago in the coveted 25-54 demographic.

Limbaugh’s overall national ratings continue to lead talk radio as they have continuously for more than a quarter of a century and no one else has come close. In the last year alone, his numbers in 25-54 audience is up 37 percent across the United States.

Critics, including Epstein, have been dismissive or reluctant to note this in their analyses.

In fact, Epstein’s article is the same song and dance routine that we’ve seen play out before. The mainstream media has offered up multiple iterations of the Limbaugh radio obituary since he stormed The Rush Limbaugh Show airwaves in the late 1980s.

Boston Radio: Brian Schneekloth Named GSM For WMJX

Brian Schneekloth
Greater Media announces Brian Schneekloth has been named as the General Sales Manager of WMJX-FM in Boston.

Schneekloth most recently spent the past 12 years as the Vice President and Manager of the Katz Radio Group, where he was responsible for working with local agencies and advertisers to drive sales for the Katz Radio Group stations throughout the country. In addition to his management role, Schneekloth served as Director of Sales for Katz Digital, where he was a leader in developing digital extensions for traditional advertisers.

Prior to that, Schneekloth worked as a sales manager at Boston CBS Radio’s WBCN-FM and WZLX-FM.

“Brian’s exceptional client relationships and expertise in the radio and digital space make him the perfect addition to the Greater Media Boston family,” said Mary Menna, vice president and market manager of the company’s Boston-based cluster.

NPR Expects To More Than Double Podcast Revenue

Thanks to monster hits like Serial and This American Life, podcasting has had a bit of a renaissance in the past year, and it's also fueling National Public Radio's digital revenue, reports AdWeek.

Over the past year, NPR says it has more than doubled its podcast revenue, and the public media icon expects to see equally robust growth in 2016.

Meanwhile, it's been adding new shows like Code Switch—a program about race and identity that built a following through radio, blogs and social before becoming a podcast.

Similarly, NPR science correspondent Shankar Vedantam parlayed the popularity of his "Hidden Brain" social science news segments into a podcast of the same name, which launched in September. The science and storytelling podcast Invisibilia, launched in early 2015, is about to return for a second season.

In terms of advertisers, big-name brands like Wells Fargo and smaller names like Squarespace are buying into audio-based programming.

"We'll probably more than double this year, and, the year before, it tripled year-over-year, so we've been seeing really great growth over the past three or four years in podcasting. Just looking back, I think we're 10 times where we were three years ago," said Bryan Moffett, general manager of National Public Media, NPR's corporate underwriting division.

Still, Moffett thinks the real growth hasn't happened yet for the category.

"The growth has been great, and the evolution has been steady for the past 10 years, but I'm preparing for the hockey stick right now," he said.

Part of that is because brands are still figuring out what works, and trade organizations such as the Interactive Advertising Bureau are creating standards for publishers and advertisers.

NPR Tops In Podcasts

On Tuesday, podcast measurement and advertising company Podtrac named NPR the top podcast publisher by size.

According to Adweek, the company's data measures 90 percent of the top podcasts, with 28 million unique monthly listeners in the U.S. and 38.5 million global listeners. To be included in the rankings, publishers must have at least 30 days' worth of data that can be analyzed.

According to Podtrac, NPR had 7.2 million monthly users and more than 61 million unique downloads for its 32 shows in April.

Coming in at No. 2 was the combination of This American Life and Serial, which operate independent of NPR and are produced by WBEZ and Chicago Public Media. Together, they tallied 5.6 million monthly U.S. listeners and 22.2 million downloads on Podtrac's chart.

Other top podcasts include WNYC Studios (5.5 million monthly listeners), How Stuff Works (3 million listeners) and CBS (1.5 million monthly listeners).

Pew: Majority Of Adults Get News From Social Media

A majority of U.S. adults – 62% – get news on social media, and 18% do so often, according to a new survey by Pew Research Center, conducted in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. In 2012, based on a slightly different question, 49% of U.S. adults reported seeing news on social media.1

As part of an ongoing examination of social media and news, Pew Research Center analyzed the scope and characteristics of social media news consumers across nine social networking sites. This study is based on a survey conducted Jan. 12-Feb. 8, 2016, with 4,654 members of Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel.

News plays a varying role across the social networking sites studied.2 Two-thirds of Facebook users (66%) get news on the site, nearly six-in-ten Twitter users (59%) get news on Twitter, and seven-in-ten Reddit users get news on that platform. On Tumblr, the figure sits at 31%, while for the other five social networking sites it is true of only about one-fifth or less of their user bases.

It is also useful to see how, when combined with the sites’ total reach, the proportion of users who gets news on each site translates to U.S. adults overall. Facebook is by far the largest social networking site, reaching 67% of U.S. adults. The two-thirds of Facebook users who get news there, then, amount to 44% of the general population. YouTube has the next greatest reach in terms of general usage, at 48% of U.S. adults. But only about a fifth of its users get news there, which amounts to 10% of the adult population. That puts it on par with Twitter, which has a smaller user base (16% of U.S. adults) but a larger portion getting news there.

Social media news consumers still get news from a variety of other sources and to a fairly consistent degree across sites. For example, across the five sites with the biggest news audiences, roughly two-in-ten news users of each also get news from nightly network television news; about three-in-ten turn to local TV. One area that saw greater variation was news websites and apps. Roughly half of Twitter and LinkedIn news consumers also get news from news websites and apps, while that is true of one-third of Facebook and YouTube news users.

Gawker Makes 'Contingency' Plans After Hogan Lawsuit

Gawker's Nick Denton
(Reuters) -- Gawker Media, the New York-based owner of online news and gossip website, is exploring a sale following a court ruling that it pay $140 million to wrestler Hulk Hogan over the publication of a sex tape, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The company has fielded interest from a few parties but the sales process is in the early stages, one of the sources said, asking not to be named because the matter is confidential. It may also explore a potential restructuring, the source added. The New York Post first reported the sale effort.

Gawker has hired investment bank Houlihan Lokey Inc. to advise it, the company said in a statement on Thursday.

Hulk Hogan
Billionaire PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, an early investor in Facebook, is helping Hulk Hogan bankroll a lawsuit against Gawker Media, he told the New York Times in an article published on Thursday.

"We’ve had bankers engaged for quite some time given the need for contingency planning around Facebook board member Peter Thiel's revenge campaign — that’s how the Columbus Nova investment was arranged," Gawker said.

Investment company Columbus Nova Technology Partners took a minority stake in Gawker Media earlier this year.

Gawker also confirmed it had hired Houlihan Lokey media banker Mark Patricof and said "that seems to have stirred up some excitement, when the fact is that nothing is new."

Gawker, founded by Nick Denton, owns popular blogs such as the tech-focused Gizmodo, Jezebel, which covers women's rights, and Kotaku, a video game blog. Denton owns the majority of the company.

A six-person jury in March awarded $60 million to Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, for emotional distress and $55 million for economic damages. The jury then slapped another $25 million in punitive damages on the company and Denton.

Hogan sued the website for posting a video clip in 2012 featuring him having sex with the wife of his then-best friend, radio shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge.

Hogan testified that he did not know their consensual tryst was being recorded when it occurred nearly a decade ago.

"Dear Yahoo, Fire Katie Couric"

Katie Couric has lost her credibility. Any news organization that continues to employ her loses its credibility as well, according to David Franch at the National Review.

Couric served as executive producer and narrator of a documentary called “Under the Gun,” a film written, produced and directed by an anti-gun activist named Stephanie Soechtig. At one point, Couric asks a collection of Virginia gun owners, members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, “If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?”

Katie Couric
This simple question seems to shock the gun owners into silence. They seem to have no answer.

Well, writes Franch. it turns out that Couric and Soechtig got “creative.” The VCDL was wisely recording Couric’s interview and released its own tape.

And rather than greeting Couric’s question as some sort of mic-dropping moment, the gun-rights activists had multiple responses.

One man argues that men and women who’ve served time and paid their debt to society shouldn’t lose their Second Amendment rights. Another argues that laws on the books clearly prohibit gun possession by certain classes of people. Say what you want about their answers, but they were answers.

At this point, a responsible documentarian either immediately apologizes, promises to investigate exactly how the deception occurred and pledges to re-edit the film — or they contest the VCDL’s evidence. Instead, Soechtig issued this statement:
“There are a wide range of views expressed in the film. My intention was to provide a pause for the viewer to have a moment to consider this important question before presenting the facts on Americans’ opinions on background checks. I never intended to make anyone look bad and I apologize if anyone felt that way.”
The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple’s response was exactly right, saying that he’s “scarcely seen a thinner, more weaselly excuse.” But, as he notes, it’s not just an excuse, it reads as an admission. She’s not contesting the VCDL’s claims.

This is exactly the point where a former network anchor — a person who still enjoys respect in the news business — should step in and impose adult supervision. But in her own comment on the controversy, Couric not only said that she was “proud of the film,” she also supported Soechtig’s statement.

Dear Yahoo, let me put this in plain English for you. Your premier news personality is “proud” of lying. She “supports” a statement that purports to justify those lies as a form of creative “pause.” This would be a firing offense at any decent opinion journal, much less an organization that purports to objectively report the news, according to French.

Harrisburg PA Radio: Charges Against Former WWKL Host Dropped

Sami Dee
Charges  of aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of children have been dismissed for the former radio morning-show host who police said was caring for her then 4-month-old daughter when she suffered a skull fracture, according to

After further investigation, the prosecution did not have enough evidence to move forward with the case and withdrew the charges, Dauphin County Chief Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Gettle told Magisterial District Judge Kenneth Lenker at Thursday's preliminary hearing for Samantha Eary, who was known on the WWKL HOT 93.5 FM radio station as Sami Dee. She was cohost of the "Morning Madhouse with Puff & Sami Show."

Eary's attorney, Alan Ross, said after Thursday's hearing that his client's daughter, Morgan, had a linear skull fracture that medical experts say was likely the result of an accidental fall.

"No one knows what caused the injuries," he said. And no one knows when they happened, either, he added.

Since a timeline could not be established, Morgan, now 11-months-old, could have been in the care of her father, as well, when the accidental injury occurred, Eary pointed out.

Eary explained she happened to be the one who noticed a lump on the girl's head. She brought her to the doctor, at first believing it was a side effect from some shots the child had just received.

The fracture was found, and after an investigation, charges were filed against Eary in February.

The charges are now dismissed, but the situation turned Eary's life upside down.

"I lost my job, I lost my kid, my name got dragged through the mud," Eary said. "Now I have to fight to see her."

Justin Bieber Sued Over Riff In Smash Hit 'Sorry'

Justin Bieber
(Reuters) -- Pop star Justin Bieber and the co-writers of his 2015 smash hit "Sorry" are being sued for allegedly stealing a vocal riff from another artist who said she used it on her own song a year earlier.

In a complaint made public on Thursday, Casey Dienel, an indie artist who performs under the name White Hinterland, accused Bieber of infringing her copyright to the song "Ring the Bell" by using a "virtually identical" riff without permission.

Among the other defendants are the producer Skrillex and Vivendi's Universal Music Group. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Nashville.

Spokespeople for Bieber, Skrillex and Universal had no immediate comment or did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Dienel said "Sorry," which appears on Bieber's album "Purpose" and has more than 1.42 billion YouTube views, adopted the "specific and unique characteristics of the female vocal riff" from her song, sampling it for the first eight seconds of "Sorry" and several times thereafter.

Casey Dienel
She said even The New York Times Magazine noted the riff's distinctiveness, when it praised Bieber's song for its "cooing arpeggio that feels like a gentle breeze on your brain" in a March 13 article titled "25 Songs That Tell Us Where Music Is Going." Bieber's song ranked No. 1.

Dienel also said she reached out to Bieber to discuss a resolution, but he "ignored" her claims and refused to talk.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, including from profits generated by "Sorry." Dienel's "Ring the Bell" appeared on White Hinterland's album "Baby."

It is common for well-known singers to be accused of stealing song ideas from other composers.

Kanye West was sued last week for allegedly taking part of his 2013 song "New Slaves" from a 1969 song by a Hungarian rock singer. Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant and Jimmy Page face a June 14 trial over whether they stole opening chords for their 1971 song "Stairway to Heaven" from a 1967 instrumental.

The Bieber case is Dienel v. Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp et al, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Tennessee, No. 16-00978.