Saturday, January 11, 2020

January 12 Radio History

➦In 1925...WGBI-AM  (now WBZU) Scranton, PA signed on the frequency of 1250 kHz owned by Edward Megargee.

In 1927, the station moved to 1300 kHz which it time shared with Scranton's other radio station, WQAN (now WEJL). The two stations which were time sharing a single frequency, moved to 880 kHz in 1931,  and then again to 910 kHz by 1941 (the later move, forced by a nationwide frequency reassignment which took place in 1941). WGBI remained at 910 kHz (at 1,000 watts) when WQAN moved on to its own broadcast tower and new frequency of 630 kHz in 1948. This meant that WGBI had full-time use of the 910 kHz frequency where it remains to this day, as WBZU. WGBI was a CBS Radio network affiliated station by the 1940s.

The Megargee family's company, Scranton Broadcasters, spawned an FM station (now WGGY) and northeast Pennsylvania's second television station (now WYOU). The Megargees held on to the radio stations well into the 1990s. By the turn of the century, WGBI had been sold to Entercom and become a repeater of WILK-AM, existing mainly to improve its signal in Scranton. While WILK's daytime signal easily covers most of Scranton, the northern portion of the city only gets a grade B signal. At night, WILK-AM must power down to 1,000 watts, leaving most of Scranton with only a grade B signal.

WBZU in 2007 moved its transmitter to the tower location atop the Times Building at 149 Penn Avenue in downtown Scranton also being used by WEJL's transmitter. The full-time switch over to the new transmitter facility and tower location happened on August 2, 2007.  This tower sharing arrangement repeats an arrangement the stations shared over 60 years ago in their early history. The efficiency of the new transmitter tower location also caused WBZU to slightly reduce its power to 900 watts to keep within FCC rules on signal strength and coverage.

➦In 1926...“Sam ‘n’ Henry” debuted on Chicago’s WGN radio. When they moved crosstown to WMAQ two years later the show was renamed “Amos ‘n’ Andy” and the voices of its creators, Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll played to huge depression-era audiences via NBC radio.

Although the players were white, the characters were portrayed as black. The popular radio show would attract over forty million fans at its peak during the depression. In 1943 the daily show became a weekly half-hour with an audience and supporting black actors; and in 1954 Gosden and Correll turned into Monday-through-Friday disc jockeys on the “Amos ‘n’ Andy Music Hall” with skits between records until their final sign off in 1960.

➦In 1932...columnist & future TV host Ed Sullivan joined CBS radio in a program of gossip and interviews.

➦In 1951...Rush Hudson Limbaugh IIII was born in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Limabugh is the most popular and most listened to conservative radio host in the United States.

Limbaugh began his career in radio as a teenager in 1967 in his hometown of Cape Girardeau, using the name Rusty Sharpe. Limbaugh graduated from Cape Girardeau, Missouri Central High School in 1969. He played football. Because of his parents' desire to see him attend college, he enrolled in Southeast Missouri State University but left the school after two semesters and one summer. According to his mother, "he flunked everything", and "he just didn't seem interested in anything except radio."

After dropping out of college, Limbaugh moved to McKeesport, PA. In 1972, he became a Top 40 music disc jockey on WIXZ, a small AM radio station that reached much of the Pittsburgh area. He started with an afternoon show and later did mornings, broadcasting under the name Jeff Christie. Limbaugh moved to Pittsburgh station KQV in 1973 as the evening disc jockey, succeeding Jim Quinn. He was fired in late-1974, when the station was sold to Taft Broadcasting.

Jeff Christie Aircheck: Click Here (courtesy of Jeff Roteman's radio website)

Limbaugh was reportedly told by management that he would never make it as on air talent, and should consider going into sales.

For the rest of the '70s, Limbaugh took jobs at several radio stations, working in music radio, before settling in Kansas City. In 1979, he left radio and accepted a position as director of promotions with the Kansas City Royals baseball team. There he developed a close friendship with then-Royals star third baseman and future Hall of Famer George Brett; the two remain close friends.

In 1984, Limbaugh returned to radio as a talk show host at KFBK-AM in Sacramento, CA, where he replaced Morton Downey, Jr.  The repeal of the Fairness Doctrine—which had required that stations provide free air time for responses to any controversial opinions that were broadcast—by the FCC in 1987 meant stations could broadcast editorial commentary without having to present opposing views.

On August 1, 1988, after achieving success in Sacramento and drawing the attention of former ABC Radio President Edward McLaughlin, Limbaugh moved to New York City and began his national radio show. He debuted just weeks after the Democratic National Convention, and just weeks before the Republican National Convention. Limbaugh's radio home in New York City was the talk-formatted WABC 770 AM.  Limbaugh now hosts from West Palm Beach.

➦In 1954...Howard Stern born in Roosevelt, New York.

Stern's Class Photo
His first on-air job in radio was WRNW in Briarcliff Manor, NY, where covered shifts in late December 1976. Stern was hired full-time, working a four-hour midday shift for six days a week on a $96 weekly salary. He subsequently became the station's production and program director for an increased salary of $250.

In 1979, Stern spotted an advertisement in Radio&Records for a "wild, fun morning guy" at rock station WCCC in Hartford, Connecticut.  He submitted a more outrageous audition tape featuring Robert Klein and Cheech and Chong records with flatulence routines and one-liners.Stern was hired.

It was at WCCC where Stern met Fred Norris, the overnight disc jockey, who has been Stern's writer and producer since 1981.  According to news reporter and author Paul Colford, Stern was influenced by listening to tapes of Steve Dahl sent from Chicago. In early 1980, Stern left WCCC after he was denied a pay increase.

On April 21, 1980  Stern began a new morning position at WWWW, a rock station in Detroit after management praised Stern's audition tape during their search for a new morning man.

Stern was determined to be more open on the air, "to cut down the barriers ... strip down all the ego ... and be totally honest" to his audience.  However, the station struggled to compete with the city's three more popular rock stations. By January 1981, when Stern's quarterly Arbitron ratings showed no signs of a strong audience, the station changed to a country music format, much to Stern's annoyance. He lasted two weeks on the air as "Hopalong Howie" before his departure.   He declined offers to work at WXRT in Chicago and CHUM in Toronto, Canada.

Following his exit from Detroit, Stern moved to Washington, DC, to host mornings at rock station WWDC on March 2, 1981.  Feeling determined to develop his show further, he looked for a co-worker with a sense of humor to riff with on news and current events. The station then paired Stern with Robin Quivers, a newscaster and consumer affairs reporter from WFBR in Baltimore.

In 1982, NBC approached Stern with an offer to work afternoons at WNBC 660 AM in NYC. After he signed a five-year contract worth $1 million in March 1982.

On April 2, 1982, NBC Magazine aired a news report on "shock radio" by Douglas Kiker that featured Stern in DC. The piece caused NBC executives to discuss the possible withdrawal of Stern's contract; however,  Stern began his afternoon program in September 1982 with management closely monitoring the show and advising Stern to avoid sexual and religious discussions.

In his first month, Stern was suspended for several days for "Virgin Mary Kong", a segment featuring a video game where a group of men pursued the Virgin Mary around a singles bar in Jerusalem. The station also installed a "dump button" that could cut Stern off the microphone should potentially offensive areas be discussed. This became the task of program director Kevin Metheny, who Stern nicknamed "Pig Virus".

In 1985, after hiring his new agent Don Buchwald, Stern signed a five-year contract with WNBC to continue his radio show. Despite management's restrictions, Stern's popularity increased.

In May 1985, Stern claimed the highest ratings at WNBC in four years with a 5.7% market share. In a sudden turn of events, Stern and Quivers were fired for what management termed "conceptual differences" regarding the show on September 30, 1985  Though Stern was not told whose decision it was, Stern believed that Thornton Bradshaw, chairman of RCA who owned WNBC, heard his "Bestiality Dial-a-Date" segment that aired ten days prior and ordered him to be fired.

Stern declined offers to work in Los Angeles, wishing to stay in New York to "kick NBC's ass".  He signed a five-year contract with Infinity Broadcasting worth an estimated $500,000 to host afternoons on its rock station WXRK from November 18, 1985.  Determined to beat Imus and WNBC in the ratings, Stern moved to the morning slot in February 1986.

The show entered national syndication on August 18 that year when WYSP in Philadelphia began to simulcast the program.

October 6, 2004, Stern announced the signing of a five-year deal with Sirius Satellite Radio, a subscription-based satellite radio service exempt from the FCC's broadcast regulations, starting in 2006. It is a move that has been regarded as the start of "a new era of radio." Stern's final live show on terrestrial airwaves aired on December 16, 2005.

➦In 1955...WTRN 1340 AM Tyrone, PA signed-on.  WTRN's beginnings were part of a boom in local radio station construction in the northern and central part of Pennsylvania that began in 1950. In 1947, Allegheny Mountain Network founder the late-Cary H. Simpson helped build WHUN, where he also would serve as program director, in his hometown of Huntingdon, PA; approximately 20 miles southeast of Tyrone in Huntingdon County. Inspired by the station's success, Simpson built the first station in his group, WKBI-AM in St. Marys, PA. As this was the very first station in his group, WKBI served as the flagship station for the other stations that Simpson would build and put on the air over the next four decades.

courtesy of radio-locator
Desiring to put a station on the air in his newly adopted hometown of Tyrone, Simpson petitioned the FCC for an AM license to be assigned to Tyrone. A construction permit was granted, and Simpson signed WTRN on the air on January 12, 1955. Simpson also successfully applied for an FM license to also be assigned to Tyrone. That station, WGMR (which was sold to Forever Broadcasting in Altoona in 2008), was granted license to operate at 101.1 FM and signed on August 15, 1961.

As WTRN was close to his home, Simpson moved AMN's corporate operations to this station. Many of AMN's properties were in communities that were large enough to make the radio business profitable, but perhaps not quite large enough to support a typical radio station's staff at the time. Thus, many duties were centralized (traffic, billing, upper management) in the Tyrone office, requiring only airstaff and sales consultants at the individual stations. This business model would start to become the accepted standard following the first round of FCC ownership limit changes that began in 1992.

In the early summer of 2009, WTRN began broadcasting in Tyrone on translator W264BZ.

➦In 1956... Frank Sinatra recorded Cole Porter’s 20-year old standard, “I’ve Got you Under My Skin.”  With Nelson Riddle’s swinging arrangement it soon became Frank’s signature song.  The recordings were made at the KHJ Studios in Hollywood.

➦In 1959... Detroit’s Berry Gordy Jr. borrowed $800 from his family to start a record label and rent an eight-room house at 2648 W. Grand Boulevard in Detroit which became known as “Hitsville USA,” the home of Motown Records. His first release, "Come To Me" by Marv Johnson on the Tamla label, came nine days later.

➦In 2003...Singer-songwriter Maurice Gibb of The Bee Gees died after having surgery for intestinal blockage at a hospital in Miami. He was 53.

➦In 2007...28-year-old Jennifer Lea Strange of Rancho Cordova, Calif. died after guzzling a large quantity of water as part of Sacramento radio station KDND-FM’s contest.

➦In 2015...Lou Miliano, an award-winning radio reporter who spent most  of his career working for New York’s WCBS 880 and CBS Radio News, died in Pinellas Park FL after  a long battle with lung cancer at age 67.

➦In 2018...Keith Jackson, widely regarded as THE voice of US college football, died at age 89. After a decade at KOMO 4 in Seattle,  Jackson began his national career in 1964 and spent some 50 years calling the action for ABC & ESPN in a folksy, down-to-earth manner that made him one of the most popular play-by-play men in the business.

Report: Trump Allies Explore Buyout One American News Network

Allies of President Trump are pursuing an effort to acquire right-leaning news channel One America News Network, according to The Wall Street Journal citing people familiar with the matter, in a bid to shake up a conservative media market that has been dominated by Fox News.

The investment firm Hicks Equity Partners is looking to acquire the channel and is pitching other wealthy GOP donors to arrange a bid of roughly $250 million for the channel’s parent company, the people said. The firm is owned by the family of Thomas Hicks Jr., co-chairman of the Republican National Committee and a close friend of Donald Trump Jr.

The efforts come as Mr. Trump has periodically rebuked Fox News for being too critical—despite its opinion-show hosts’ general support of his administration—and has praised One America News Network. The channel’s opinion programming is known among its cable-news peers for its praise of Donald Trump and its advocacy for conservative causes.

“Over the last 25 years, we have been active media investors. Any interest in OANN is from a purely business standpoint,” said Rick Newman, a partner at Hicks Equity Partners who is leading the deal with family patriarch and Trump donor Thomas Hicks.

One America News Network President Charles Herring said in an email that the network has become “a reliable news source for a national audience,” adding that the company has seen interest from potential suitors from time to time. “With the 2020 political season in full swing, expressed interest is on the rise,” he wrote. “Yet our family didn’t build our operations to sell it.”

One America News Network draws a fraction of the viewers of the cable news industry’s titans—including ratings leader Fox News, MSNBC and CNN—and isn’t widely distributed to American households. Prospective investors have been told a new owner could increase One America News’s reach by striking carriage deals with additional pay-TV companies.

Hicks Equity Partners is a subsidiary of Hicks Holdings, the Dallas family office controlled by the elder Thomas Hicks that invests the wealth of the Hicks family. It is in talks with roughly a dozen wealthy Republican donors about the deal.

Tom Brokaw: Current Media Is Destructive

Tom Brokaw
Sitting in his office at NBC's headquarters, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, newsman Tom Brokaw sees once profitable and respected media crumbling into a divisive catfight.

“I think the most extraordinarily powerful tool and the most destructive development in modern life is the current media,” said the author and TV Hall of Famer.

In an interview with Artful Living, he criticized the dividing nature of media and questioned if it can change.

“Everybody has a voice — and I think it’s great for people to have a voice — but there’s no way to verify what’s true and what’s not. It has no context; it’s just a 24/7 rage about what’s pissing people off across the board from the left to the right,” he told the Minneapolis-based lifestyle magazine.

Said Brokaw: "I think the most extraordinarily powerful tool and the most destructive development in modern life is the current media."

A noted liberal, he said the current Washington politics are disturbing for both sides, reports The Washington Examiner.

“This is obviously the most unsettling time I’ve ever experienced in national politics, and I’m not saying that just from an ideological point of view. I’m not saying that as a Democrat or a Republican. I’m saying that as a journalist and as a citizen and as a grandfather,” he said.

Interviewed about his life, experiences, and influence, Brokaw pointed out how former President Ronald Reagan was able to unify the nation after the tumultuous Vietnam War and Iran hostage crisis.

He said: “Ronald Reagan was the best example of that in my lifetime. I was not a huge fan when he first started running, not for president but for governor of California. Then I saw how skilled he was as governor at putting together that big, big state. When he ran for president, I said, ‘Watch; he knows how to put people together.’ He had a really core set of beliefs, but he also had an engaging way about him. He had been a movie star. He knew how you had to win people with your personality and how you went about your life. They would be for you or against you, and he had people for him. He also had the courage to have a really good staff. My friend Jim Baker was his chief of staff.

CNN Agrees To Pay $76M Labor Settlement

CNN has agreed to pay $76 million in back pay to settle allegations that it violated federal labor law when it replaced hundreds of unionized broadcast technicians more than 15 years ago, the National Labor Relations Board said Friday.

The NY times reports the board said the settlement was the largest monetary remedy in its 84-year history and more than the amount the agency collects in a typical year.

The agreement ends a long-running dispute that erupted in 2003, when CNN terminated a contract with Team Video Services, which had provided audio and video services to the cable company’s New York and Washington bureaus.

CNN then hired new employees to perform the same work without recognizing or bargaining with the two unions that had represented the Team Video Services employees, the board said Friday.

“CNN sought to operate as a nonunion workplace,” the board said, and made clear to the workers that their prior employment with Team Video Services and union affiliation “disqualified them from employment.”

The agreement will benefit about 300 camera operators, sound technicians, studio technicians and broadcast engineers.

The agreement came just days before the broadcast employees’ union, which is part of the Communications Workers of America, had planned to picket outside the next Democratic presidential debate, which CNN is hosting on Tuesday at Drake University in Des Moines. The union said it had told CNN, the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic candidates who had qualified for the debate of its plan to picket the event.

Houston Radio: Sales Vet Alana Lujan Named Entercom/DOS

Alana Lujan
Entercom has announced the addition of Alana Lujan as Director of Sales for Entercom Houston, effective January 27. In this role, Lujan will oversee sales efforts for 100.3 The Bull (KILT-FM), 95.7 The Spot (KKHH-FM), CBS Sports Radio 650 (KIKK-AM), MEGA 101 FM (KLOL-FM), Mix 96.5 (KHMX-FM) and Sports Radio 610 (KILT-AM). 

She previously held the same role for Cox Media Group since March 2019.

“Alana is well respected in the market due to her extraordinary ability to lead sales efforts and I’m happy to bring her back home to Houston,” said Sarah Frazier, Senior Vice President and Market Manager, Entercom Houston. “Her recent experience in digital sales will be an especially valuable asset as we continue to develop new and innovative ways to serve our clients through RADIO.COM.”

“I am looking forward to joining a team and company that is incredibly passionate and focused on the future of audio,” said Lujan. “I am equally excited to be returning to Houston, a city I have called home for many years.”

Prior to joining Entercom, Lujan served as Director of Sales for Cox Media Group. She joined the company in 2006 as an Account Executive in the company’s Houston market before ascending to Local Sales Manager in 2012 and General Sales Manager in 2013. She was promoted to Integrated Digital Sales Manager in 2018 where she oversaw the company’s digital department for its seven radio stations and two television stations in Jacksonville, FL. In this role, Lujan’s team supported the company’s sales department with multiplatform digital marketing and strategy. Other previous experience includes serving as an Account Executive for CBS Radio in Austin from 2004 to 2006.

Beverlee Brannigan Promoted SummitMedia SVP/Programming

SummitMedia has promoted former Wichita President/GM Beverlee Brannigan to Senior Vice President of Programming for the company as former Wichita General Sales Manager Todd Johnson has been promoted to President/GM for its five Wichita stations.

Beverly Brannigan
Brannigan served as President/GM of Wichita for nearly six years and is a veteran programmer. She’s a member of the Country Radio Hall of Fame, has coached CMA Broadcast Personalities of the Year, and programmed KFDI to a CMA Station of the Year Award.

“I am honored to join Bill Tanner and John Olsen on the SummitMedia programming team. We all share a commitment to radio that strongly connects with our audience,” stated Brannigan.

Johnson served as General Sales Manager for the last three years and has over 34 years of sales, marketing and management experience in the Wichita market, starting with KICT-FM in 1986.

“I am proud to be asked to lead our team who is so passionate about bringing the best ideas and solutions to our clients. SummitMedia will continue our commitment to the community as the premier source of entertainment, news, and severe weather coverage,” said Johnson.

FL Radio: Eric Michaels Named PD At Adults Hits WWRZ

Eric Michaels
Hall Communications has announced the promotion of Eric Michaels to Program Director of Adult Hits WWRZ Max 98.3FM  in Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL.

He's been on the air at WWRZ since 1998. Michaels will continue to host the Big Max Morning Show in addition to being the new Program Director.

"I'm thankful to Hall Communications for their faith and trust in me to help this family owned company continue to grow," said Michaels.

"Eric's creativity and ability to tell a story are second to none," added Hall VP/Programing Bob Walker. "As the MAX PD, Eric will bring that same sense of fun to every aspect of the radio station."

"Eric has been a driving force in WWRZ's incredible growth over the years," said Hall VP/General Manager Nancy Cattarius. "We look forward to Eric taking Max to new heights."

Deadspin Ops Relocating To Chicago

Deadspin, the irreverent sports website that was all but shut down by a mass exodus of New York staffers in October, is moving to Chicago to relaunch under the same roof as the co-owned humor site, The Onion.

The Chicago Tribune reports the decision by G/O Media follows a months-long standoff between the digital media publisher and the union representing the more than 20 writers and editors who resigned in protest over the website’s direction under private equity ownership.

“In order to restart Deadspin as soon as possible, we have decided to move Deadspin within our corporate structure to be part of our properties based out of Chicago, where we believe we will be able to more quickly rebuild our staff, relaunch the site and help ensure its long-term success,” G/O Media said in a statement.

G/O Media, formerly Gizmodo Media Group, is an assemblage of popular websites that also includes The A.V. Club, Jalopnik, Jezebel and The Root.

Boston-based private equity firm Great Hill Partners bought the digital media portfolio from Spanish-language broadcaster Univision for an undisclosed price in April, installing former CEO and magazine executive Jim Spanfeller as CEO.

Amazon's Alexa Helps Nab Thief

A Florida man was busted for burglarizing an elderly man’s room at an assisted living facility – all because an Amazon Alexa notified his loved ones of the intruder, local police said.

Russell Bannister was caught stealing credit cards and cash from inside the victim’s room at an assisted living facility in Ormond Beach, Florida, on Dec. 22, 2019, after his "presence was detected by an Amazon Alexa device which alerted a family member," according to an Ormond Beach Police Department press release.

Bannister, 47, was then linked to two other cases involving elderly residents who lived at similar facilities throughout the area, authorities and FOX 35-Orlando said. All three victims were 90 years old or older.

The elderly man’s daughter, who lives in Alaska, used the device's "check-in" feature and saw the stranger rummaging through the victim’s wallet, FOX 35 reported. She called her sister who lives in the area.

“The family member responded to the facility and confronted Bannister, who was still in the victim’s room,” the police release states. “Bannister initially fled on foot but was quickly contacted by the police and arrested.”

Bannister has been linked to at least five previous theft or fraud crimes, FOX 35 previously reported, including one in which he was arrested for posing as a handyman to steal more than $20,000 from often elderly victims.

Reports: Megan Has Disney Deal

Megan Markle
Disney has been named among possible brands that the Duchess of Sussex plans to work with following her and Prince Harry’s decision to step back as senior royals, reports Yahoo! Lifestyle.

According to The London Times, Meghan has already signed a deal with Disney to record a voiceover in exchange for a donation to wildlife charity Elephants Without Borders.

According to the report, Meghan recorded the voiceover before the couple left for Canada in December.

Meghan has returned to Canada following the couple’s announcement on Wednesday, as the Queen instructed royal aides to find a “workable solution” to the couple’s future role in the monarchy.

It has also been reported that the former Suits star is also negotiating commercial deals with fashion brands including Givenchy, who made her wedding dress.

The arrangement offers a hint of the couple’s future life, using their celebrity status to benefit their chosen causes.

R.I.P.: Neil Peart, Drummer For Rock Band Rush

Neil Peart 1952 - 2020

Neil Peart, the pyrotechnical drummer and high-concept lyricist for the Canadian progressive-rock trio Rush, died on Tuesday in Santa Monica, Calif.

He was 67, reports The NYTimes.

The cause was brain cancer, according to a statement by the band’s spokesman, Elliot Mintz.

Rush was formed in 1968 but found its long-term identity — as the trio of Geddy Lee on vocals, keyboards and bass, Alex Lifeson on guitars and Peart on drums — after Peart replaced the band’s founding drummer, John Rutsey, in 1974.

Peart’s lyrics transformed the band’s songs into multi-section suites exploring science fiction, magic and philosophy, often with the individualist and libertarian sentiments that informed songs like “Tom Sawyer” and “Freewill.” And Mr. Peart’s drumming was at once intricate and explosive, pinpointing odd meters and expanding the band’s power-trio dynamics; countless drummers admired his technical prowess.

In a recording career that continued into the 2010s, Rush headlined arenas and had more than a dozen platinum albums. Peart was also an author, writing books about his travels and his memoirs. After a Rush tour in 2015, he retired from performing, citing its physical toll. According to the band’s statement, he had been suffering from brain cancer for three and a half years.

Jan 11 Radio History

➦In 1927...The Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre opened.  It was formerly called the Royale Theatre and the John Golden Theatre, and is located at 242 West 45th Street (George Abbott Way) in Midtown Manhattan, New York City.

It opened with a musical entitled Piggy. Produced by William B. Friedlander, Piggy had a weak script, but the popular comedian Sam Bernard played the starring role and carried the show for 79 performances. Bernard died soon after the show closed.  Built as part of a three theater complex, alongside the 800-seat Theatre Masque, the 1,600-seat Majestic, and the Lincoln Hotel (now the RowNYC Hotel and previously the Milford Plaza Hotel), the theater features an ornate stone facade, with vaulted large windows above the street frontage. With a seating capacity just over 1,100, the theater has been home to both plays and musical productions in its 93-year history.

Producer John Golden leased the theatre and renamed it for himself from 1932 to 1937. The Shubert Organization then assumed ownership and initially leased the theatre to CBS Radio as the CBS Radio Playhouse. In 1940, the Royale was restored to use as a legitimate theater under its original name. On May 9, 2005, it was renamed for longtime Shubert Organization president Bernard B. Jacobs.

➦In 1947... “The Amazing Mr. Malone” (aka “Murder and Mr. Malone”) debuted on ABC radio. The half-hour weekly program starred Frank Lovejoy.

➦In 1964...‘Louie Louie’ by Seattle’s The Kingsmen was the number one song on the Cash Box music chart. For a while, the record was banned by a handful of US radio stations because of its indecipherable lyrics, which were rumored to contain some naughty words. Even the FBI investigated the song, but finally concluded that they could find nothing wrong.

➦In 1973...actress Isabel Randolph died at age 83.  She was best known as the prickly Mrs. Abigail Uppington on NBC Radio’s “Fibber McGee & Molly” in the 30’s & 40’s.  She played similar recurring characters in the TV sitcoms “Meet Millie,” “Our Miss Brooks,” “December Bride” & “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” plus dozens of guest spots.

➦In 2006...Mancow sidekick Cowboy Ray Hoffstatter died from injuries sustained in a hit-and-run accident in November. The driver, described as a woman who appeared to be drag racing a black Honda Civic, has never been found.

The crew on Mancow's Morning Madhouse on Q101 mostly had fun at Ray's expense because he was mentally handicapped, but he was often the funniest part of the show. After the accident, Mancow offered $5,000 of his own money as a reward for the arrest of the driver.

➦In 2013…Pittsburgh/Los Angeles radio deejay Jimmy O’Neill, the host of ABC-TV’s Shindig in the 1960’s, lost his long battle with a diabetes-related heart condition and died three days after his 73rd birthday.

O'Neill was born in Enid, Oklahoma.  After taking a broadcasting class at Enid High School, he began his career in radio at WKY in Oklahoma City, OK. One year later O'Neill landed a job at KQV in Pittsburgh, PA at age 19.  He also worked at WCAE. He was hired at KRLA in Los Angeles, CA a year after working at KQV.

O'Neill was the first voice heard on KRLA-AM when it switched from a country-western format to top 40.  He worked at KRLA-AM from 1959-1962, then moved to KFWB from 1963 to 1967. He spent two years at KDAY from 1969 to 1971. He also hosted The Jimmy O'Neill Show on KCOP-TV.

After O'Neill moved to Los Angeles, Chuck Barris, then-ABC daytime programming executive, green-lit the pilot for Shindig!. The nationally syndicated show ran from 1964-1966.  He and his show were depicted on The Flintstones television animated sitcom in the season six episode "Shinrock A Go-Go," which originally aired on December 3, 1965. This episode featured O'Neill, as "Jimmy O'Neillstone", hosting the Bedrock analogue of Shindig, called "Shinrock"; that program featured as one of the guest performers The Beau Brummels (as "The Beau Brummelstones") performing their recent hit, Laugh, Laugh.

In the 1970s, he worked at KOB in Albuquerque, then it was on to Omaha, Nebraska, radio stations WOW (now KSXP) and KOIL. He returned to Los Angeles for two more stints at KRLA from 1984-1985 and from 1990-1993.

He retired in the mid 1990s and lived in West Hollywood, California. O'Neill died in his West Hollywood home five days after his 73rd birthday.

Ben Freedman
➦In 2013...Ben Freedman, owner of the oldest continuously operated radio ID jingle company, died  in Plano, TX at age 64.   Freedman was recovering from an October heart attack when he died.  He was also forced to cope with injuries sustained in a car accident a few years previously.

Freedman established WAY Productions and started producing jingles when he was just 14-years-old in his hometown of Buffalo, NY.

Ben had formed an admiration for the truly great jingle companies PAMS, Pepper and CRC, while serving as a "go-for" at WKBW 1520 AM with the famous jocks including Joey Reynolds, Dan Neaverth, Rod Roddy, Jay Nelson, Jeff Kaye, Stan Roberts and others.

In 1966, he landed his first air shift at Gordon McLendon’s WYSL FM in Buffalo under direct supervision of the Old Scotsman himself.

He first visited Texas in the late 70s and formed a new marketing association with several other audio producers including International Programming Services in Los Angeles, Tommy Calandra Productions in Buffalo, House Q Studios in Buffalo and ATB Productions in London. The new association is called Creative Productions Marketing Group or CPMG Incorporated for short.

➦In 2013...Cumulus took control of WFME 94.7 FM with simulcast of WPLJ in NYC

The 94.7 FM frequency signed on in 1947 as WAAT-FM, and was owned by the Bremer Broadcasting Company along with sister station WAAT (970 AM, now WNYM).

On January 6, 2012, Family Radio applied to the FCC  to change the license of WFME from noncommercial to commercial. This move followed the sales by Family Radio of stations in the Philadelphia (WKDN-FM, now WKVP) and Washington-Baltimore (WFSI, now WLZL) markets, and quickly prompted conjecture from radio industry monitors that WFME would be sold next. The application was approved on February 7, 2012.

The sale rumors were confirmed on October 16, 2012, when Family Radio announced that it would sell WFME to Atlanta-based Cumulus Media; the originally undisclosed price was later confirmed to be $49.5 million. In addition, Family Radio acquired Cumulus' WDVY 106.3 FM in Mount Kisco, NY. The FCC approved the sale/station trade January 4, 2013, making 94.7 FM a sister station to Cumulus' two existing New York market stations, WABC and WPLJ. Four days later, on January 8, 2013, Cumulus completed the purchase of WFME.  Family Radio programming on 94.7 FM ended on January 11, 2013; prior to signing off of the frequency, station manager Charlie Menut stated that the network's programming would be transferred to 106.3 FM, which became the new WFME on January 15, and that efforts to acquire an AM frequency that would cover the New York City area were being made.  Family Radio would announce in 2014 its acquisition of WQEW 1560 AM, the former East Coast flagship of Radio Disney, which is set to end terrestrial distribution.)

WNSH 94.7 FM (23.5 Kw) Red=60dBu Coverage Area
On January 11, 2013, under Cumulus's new ownership, 94.7 FM began a simulcast of WPLJ, which broadcasts a HotAC format. The frequency's call sign was changed three days later to WRXP, a call sign previously used on the 101.9 FM facility in New York City under two different owners and two different stints as an alternative rock station. The WPLJ simulcast ended on January 18 in favor of stunting with a self-described "Wheel of Formats."

The stunting continued until January 21, when WRXP adopted a new country music format branded as Nash FM 94.7.  The first song on "Nash FM" was "How Country Feels" by Randy Houser.  Today, the station continues to air a Country format and is owned by Entercom Communications.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Report: The Guard Is Changing At ESPN Radio

Big changes are underway at the ESPN Radio Network, reports Barrett Sports Media.

The longtime SVP of ESPN Radio and the ESPN Talent Office, Traug Keller, has announced he’s retiring. Keller is expected to help the network thru a transition before stepping away from daily activity sometime next month.

Traug Keller
With Keller at the helm, ESPN Radio has become one of the most successful and respected brands in the country. Under his watch, became the most listened to live stream of any terrestrial broadcaster in the world, reaching more than 700,000 unique listeners per month. He’s also led the expansion of the ESPN Audio brand to the ESPN apps, SiriusXM, Apple Music, Slacker Radio, TuneIn.

During his time with the network, Keller has had direct oversight of all aspects of ESPN Audio’s business including talent, staffing, national programming content, scheduling, and event production. In May 2016, he added the responsibility of managing the ESPN Talent Office, which is responsible for recruiting and retaining ESPN’s more than 1,000 on-air personnel.

Marsha Keegan
Prior to joining ESPN, Traug served as the President of ABC Radio Networks, leading all aspects of network programming, affiliate relations, engineering, finance, research, IT, international programming, and marketing. Prior to his time at ABC, Keller worked as a sales manager in New York for the CBS Radio Networks, and held marketing and sales positions with the New York Times.

Also retiring from the company is Marcia Keegan. Keegan worked for the company in the early 1980’s and returned for a second run in 2007. She recently served as vice president of national radio programming and production following stints as the vice president of production, and vice president of content integration & strategic planning. Most recently, she oversaw the network’s weekday shows First and Last, Golic and Wingo, The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz, The Stephen A. Smith Show, The Will Cain Show, Spain and Fitz, Freddie and Fitzsimmons, and SportsCenter AllNight.

To fill Keller and Keegan’s roles at the network, ESPN will turn to the team of Dave Roberts and Amanda Gifford. Both have prior experience working with ESPN Audio and ESPN television. They’re both well respected, talented professionals with a lengthy track record inside the company.

ESPN Radio Grows Audience & TSL in Fall Ratings Book

ESPN Radio in the fall ratings period (September 12-December 4) saw its audience in the men 25-54 demographic in PPM markets on terrestrial radio increase 8 percent from 2018 during the 6 a.m-6 p.m. ET weekday hours, according to Nielsen. Time spent listening also grew 9 percent for the same time period over last year’s fall book. In December, ESPN Radio also saw a significant audience increase of 13 percent from 2018, driven by time spent listening growth of 16 percent, year over year.

The Will Cain Show enjoyed a double-digit, year-over-year audience increase of 18 percent across all platforms with M25-54 for the fall. The increases included continued triple-digit percentage audience growth on terrestrial radio for the quarter and December from the same time periods in 2018, in part due to recent additions to local lineups including ESPN Radio in Los Angeles. The show also saw a 20 percent audience increase across platforms for December compared to 2018.

The 1-3 p.m. ET window featuring The Stephen A. Smith Show, was up 2 percent on all platforms and 16 percent on terrestrial radio in PPM markets for M25-54 during the fall window over 2018. The show’s audience was also up 22 percent, year over year on terrestrial radio in December.

Golic and Wingo experienced audience increases on terrestrial radio in PPM markets with M25-54 for the fall ratings period and the month of December compared to those same windows in 2018. For the quarter, Golic and Wingo was up 5 percent and in December the show enjoyed a double-digit increase of 13 percent.

The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz excelled on SiriusXM for both the quarter and month, year over year. For the fall ratings book, the show was up 13 percent on the platform with M25-54 and 6 percent for December. The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz also grew its audience on terrestrial radio in PPM markets 10 percent in December from 2018.

Providence Radio: Mary Ellen Kachinske Named OM At Cumulus

Mary Ellen Kachinske
CUMULUS MEDIA announces that it has appointed Mary Ellen Kachinske as Operations Manager for Cumulus Providence, overseeing all programming for the five-station cluster. Kachinske will also be Program Director for AC station Lite Rock 105/WWLI-FM.

Kachinske heads to Providence from Chicago, IL, where she was Program Director for Hot AC station 101.9fm THE MIX/WTMX-FM for almost 19 years. Prior to that, she was Program Director of WQAL-FM in Cleveland, OH. Kachinske holds a B.A. degree in Speech Communication and Rhetoric from Kent State University.

Holly Paras, Vice President/Market Manager, Cumulus Providence, said: “After an exhaustive nationwide search, I am pleased to have Mary Ellen Kachinske joining the Cumulus Providence programming team. The breadth of Mary Ellen’s experience will no doubt be felt immediately throughout the cluster. We look forward to her leadership and her ability to think strategically, in order to allow these well-established brands to continue to grow into the next decade.” 

Kachinske said: “I'm delighted to join Cumulus’ unparalleled brands in Providence. I look forward to working with the talented team to make the stations even stronger. I fell in love with Providence and can't wait to enjoy the beauty and ease of this gorgeous city. Thank you to Holly Paras and John Dimick for an amazing opportunity.”

CUMULUS MEDIA owns and operates five radio stations in Providence, including: 99.7FM/630AM WPRO (News/Talk); AM 790/WPRV-AM (News/Talk); 92 PRO-FM/WWKX-FM (CHR); HOT 106/WWKX-FM (Rhythmic CHR); and Lite Rock 105/WWLI-FM (AC).

L-A Radio: KXOL, KLLI Battling A Hispanic Ratings War

For years, KXOL Mega 96.3-FM has enjoyed a perch on the Los Angeles  as the only full-time home for reggaeton, The L-A Times reports in a feature piece published Friday.

Mega plays a youthful mix of reggaeton, bachata and bass-driven Latin pop. More pointedly, its on-air hosts mix English and Spanish in their banter, in a way that may sound unwieldy to the unfamiliar ear but easily sounds like the vernacular spoken in many L.A. homes.

Since 2005, long before the rest of the world wised up to the force of commercial “Latin urban” or “Latin trap” (terms that all ultimately serve as euphemisms for reggaeton in its multiple iterations), Mega has owned this crucially relevant space on L.A.’s airwaves, unchallenged.

But that is changing, according to The Times. Last July, a new player showed up: The former Spanish pop station KXOS-FM changed calls to KLLI 93.9 FM and switched to a bilingual Latin urban format, similar to Mega, and called itself “Cali 93.9.”

Now, there is a ratings war underway. The battle is between a seasoned station from a legacy terrestrial radio family and an upstart rival that in less than a year made a symbolic move onto Mega’s turf by poaching an on-air talent. Mega is already feeling the impact. Its ratings in the second half of 2019 dipped, while newcomer Cali got close to nipping at its heels, according to Nielsen.

Mega belongs to SBS Radio, or the Spanish Broadcasting System, a Spanish-language media company that grew with radio clan the Alarcón family, in New Jersey. SBS Radio also operates KLAX La Raza-FM 97.9, which programs a Mexican regional format.

When Cali 93.9 arrived, it wasn’t lost on industry observers that the new rival station’s name echoed the name of Calibash, the concert event by established rival Mega.

Ever since, the upstart challenger, owned by Meruelo Media, which also owns KPWR-FM Power 106, has been gnawing at Mega’s hold on the city’s young reggaeton fanbase. Last September, Cali 93.9 hired away Mega top on-air host, Eddie One. Since Cali’s arrival, Mega has dropped from 11th place in local market share to 20th place overall, according to Nielsen. Meanwhile, Cali finished December in 24th place — just six months after launching.

Leila Cobo, vice president of Latin music at Billboard, said there is room for more than one Latin urban radio station in a city as big as Los Angeles, although that idea may have sounded counter-intuitive just two decades ago. Formats highlighting “tropical rhythms” have historically been more prevalent in cities such as New York or Miami, whereas in Los Angeles, Spanish-language radio has been led by Mexican regional genres “simply because of the population there,” Cobo said.

Cumulus Media Announces CFO Transition

John Abbott
Cumulus Media Inc. has announced that John Abbot, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, will leave the Company at the beginning of March after it reports its full-year 2019 financial results. Cumulus Media is conducting a search for his successor.

Mary G. Berner, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cumulus Media, said, “On behalf of the Board and the entire Company, I would like to thank John for his many contributions to Cumulus and for the strong finance and accounting organization he has helped build. After nearly four years of commuting to Atlanta from Connecticut, it’s understandable that John has decided to pursue new opportunities at a company based closer to his home. We appreciate his continued support through the transition andwish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Berner continued, “Business will continue as usual at Cumulus with our focus remaining on the execution of our key strategic initiatives – enhancing operational performance, growing our digital businesses, and optimizing our asset portfolio – while making progress on our financial goals for the benefit of all of our stakeholders.”

“It has been a privilege and tremendously rewarding to work with Mary and the rest of the Cumulus team, and I am truly proud of our many accomplishments over these past several years,” said Abbot. “I am confident in the Company’s ongoing ability to achieve its objectives, and I look forward to following Cumulus’s continued success in the years ahead.”

Seattle Radio: Channah Hanberg Promoted to GM At KCMS FM/AM

CRISTA Media has announced that Channah Hanberg has been appointed as General Manager for Seattle-based radio stations KCMS Spirit105.3 FM and KCIS 630 AM Seattle.

Channah Hanberg
Hanberg is a 15-year veteran of the media industry, with experience at Q13 FOX (KCPQ – Seattle), Destination Marketing and NationAd Communications predating her arrival to CRISTA Media in 2008. During her tenure at CRISTA Media she has thrived in a multitude of roles, including having served as Digital Specialist, Digital Media Manager and Local Sales Manager for SPIRIT 105.3, a Christian Adult Contemporary station, and 630 KCIS, a Christian talk and music station. In addition, Hanberg has been instrumental in creating and building the “AllMomDoes” motherhood blog community and podcast platform for CRISTA Media.

In her new role as General Manager, Hanberg will oversee and direct day-to-day operations for SPIRIT 105.3 and 630 KCIS in addition to continuing to serve as General Sales Manager for both stations. She will report to CRISTA Media Vice President, TJ Malievsky.

Stated Malievsky: “Channah is a great leader and embraces the opportunity to serve our talented staff and dedicated listeners each day. Her tremendous leadership qualities and strong business acumen make her the perfect person to lead our Seattle radio stations into the future.”

Stated Hanberg: “KCMS and KCIS have a solid foundation of success in the Seattle market industry, and I am excited as well as honored to step into the role of General Manager during this high growth period. I look forward to uniting our talented teams in operational excellence and advancing our strategic vision.”

A graduate of Seattle Pacific University, Hanberg resides in Shoreline with husband Tyler and children Hadley and Dax.

Lehigh Valley Radio: Defamation Suit Settled By iHeartMedia

In Pennslyvania, Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin has settled defamation claims against the iHeartMedia. WAEB 790 AM and talk show host Bobby Gunther Walsh as the company emerged from bankruptcy last spring, court records show.

Bobby Gunther-Walsh
The Morning Call reports a bankruptcy judge in Houston has now signed off on an agreement between Martin and WAEB owner iHeartMedia Inc. that allows Martin’s remaining defamation claims against blogger Bill Villa to move forward in Lehigh County Court, according to a copy of the agreement filed there in December.

Martin sued iHeartMedia, Walsh and Villa, who has been publicly critical of Martin for his handling of drunken driving cases, including charges against the driver in a 2006 alcohol-related crash that killed Villa’s daughter, Sheena Villa, and led to a 5½- to 12-year sentence.

The 2015 lawsuit claimed Villa damaged Martin’s reputation with statements online and on Walsh’s radio show calling Martin “crooked” and “corrupt" and saying his office “fixes” criminal cases.

The settlement between Martin and iHeartMedia is acknowledged in the December agreement, but was not filed in Lehigh County Court or U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Martin’s office denied The Morning Call’s request for the settlement amount.

In the iHeartMedia’s bankruptcy case, Martin filed claims as a creditor seeking $5 million but the records don’t indicate whether any payment was made to Martin. Alexander Bilus, iHeartMedia’s attorney, said he could not talk about the settlement. Martin said he would not comment and deferred to his attorneys.

The federal bankruptcy code automatically pauses lawsuits against companies seeking bankruptcy protection. Although iHeartMedia, the nation’s largest radio broadcasting company, won approval in March of a reorganization plan that allows it to shed more than $10 billion in debt, the stay on Martin’s lawsuit remained in place. The agreement with iHeartMedia revives the defamation case after nearly two years of dormancy, since the broadcasting giant filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March 2018.

Amazon Looking to Sell Ads For Other Steamers

Amazon. com Inc. has been building a business selling ads on its Fire streaming television platform. Now, reports The Wall Street Journal, it wants to sell some ads for the first time on other streaming TV systems such as Apple TV and Xbox, according to people familiar with the matter.

In a new initiative, Amazon is talking with TV app owners about integrating technology to let it sell some of their ad inventory on other streaming TV systems, which would also include PlayStation and Android TV, according to the people.

The talks are taking place between programmers and Amazon Publisher Services, a company division whose services include providing tech for publishers to sell ads across platforms. Amazon Publisher Services offers publishers a way to connect to different sources of advertising demand, including through Amazon’s own ad-buying tool.

App owners already working with Amazon Publisher Services include CNN, Discovery and A&E, as well as digital video platforms such as Pluto TV and Tubi TV.

Amazon began contacting TV app owners late last year about getting access to their ad inventory across platforms, the people said.

Amazon uses data on shopping and browsing behavior it collects from its own e-commerce websites and apps to target the ads it sells on Fire TV, and would do the same on other platforms, according to a person negotiating with the company. That targeting would only be available to advertisers who buy ads through Amazon’s ad-buying tool.

Amazon has told publishers it can fill ads at higher prices—as much as $40 per thousand impressions—than other third-party ad-selling platforms, the person said.