Saturday, March 21, 2020

March 22 Radio History

➦In 1922...WLW in Cincinnati signed-on.

In July 1921, radio manufacturer Powel Crosley Jr. began 20-watt tests from his College Hill home, broadcasting "Song of India" continuously under the callsign 8CR. Powell already owned a number of enterprises, including the Crosmobile and a refrigerator-freezer company, and for many years, he held ownership of the Cincinnati Reds baseball club. Powell was innovative, personally inventing or funding the development of many then–cutting edge technological advances in his ventures which he placed in the able hands of his younger by two years brother, Lewis Crosley who was a graduate engineer from the University of Cincinnati.

On March 22, 1922, Crosley and his Crosley Broadcasting Corporation began broadcasting with the new callsign WLW and 50 watts of power. Crosley was a fanatic about the new broadcasting technology, and continually increased his station's capability. The power went up to 500 watts in September 1922, 1000 watts in May 1924, and in January 1925 WLW was the first broadcasting station at the 5000 watt level. On October 4, 1928, the station increased its power to 50 kilowatts.

Again it was the first station at this power level, which still is the maximum power currently allowed for any AM station in the United States.

At 50 kilowatts, WLW was heard easily over a wide area, from New York to Florida. But Crosley still wasn't satisfied. In 1933 he obtained a construction permit from the Federal Radio Commission for a 500 kilowatt superstation, and he spent some $500,000 ($9.11 million in 2014) building the transmitter and antenna.

It was the first large amplifier used in the United States for public domestic radio broadcasting and was in operation between 1934 and 1939. It was an experimental amplifier and was driven by the radio station's regular 50 kW transmitter. It operated in class C with high-level plate modulation. The amplifier required a dedicated 33 kV electrical substation and a large pond complete with fountains for cooling. It operated with a power input of about 750 kW (plus another 400 kW of audio for the modulator) and its output was 500 kW.

In January 1934 WLW began broadcasting at the 500 kilowatt level late at night under the experimental callsign W8XO. In April 1934 the station was authorized to operate at 500 kilowatts during regular hours under the WLW call letters.

On May 2, 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt pressed a ceremonial button that officially launched WLW's 500-kilowatt signal. As the first station in the world to broadcast at this strength, WLW received repeated complaints from around the United States and Canada that it was overpowering other stations as far away as Toronto. In December 1934 WLW cut back to 50 kilowatts at night to mitigate the interference, and began construction of three 50 ft. tower antennas to be used to reduce signal strength towards Canada.

With these three antennas in place, full-time broadcasting at 500 kilowatts resumed in early 1935. However, WLW was continuing to operate under special temporary authority that had to be renewed every six months, and each renewal brought complaints about interference and undue domination of the market by such a high-power station. The FCC was having second thoughts about permitting extremely wide-area broadcasting versus more locally oriented stations, and in 1938, the US Senate adopted the "Wheeler" resolution, expressing it to be the sense of that body that more stations with power in excess of 50 kilowatts are against the public interest.

As a result, in 1939 the 500-kilowatt broadcast authorization was not renewed, bringing an end to the era of the AM radio superstation. Because of the impending war and the possible need for national broadcasting in an emergency, the W8XO experimental license for 500 kilowatts remained in effect until December 29, 1942. In 1962 the Crosley Broadcasting Corporation again applied for a permit to operate at 750 kilowatts, but the FCC denied the application.

➦In 1929...KIT-AM in Yakima WA signed-on.

KIT-AM was originally licensed to Portland, Oregon, but the station's original owner, Carl E. Haymond, decided, since Yakima had no radio station, that moving the station there would be more advantageous in regards to serving the community and in generating station operating revenue. KIT began broadcasting on 1310 kHz with 500 watts, but later switched to its present frequency of 1280 kHz so it could increase power to 5 Kw-D, 1 Kw-N.

Today the station is owned by Townsquare Media and airs a news/talk format.

➦In 1943...the quiz show, “The Better Half”, was first heard on Mutual radio. The wartime radio program brought four married couples pitted against each other in various feats to find out which of them was the "better" one.

➦In 1948...The Voice of Firestone was the first commercial radio program to be carried simultaneously on both AM and FM radio stations.

Voice of Firestone Broadcast - 1949
The Voice of Firestone is a long-running radio and television program of classical music. The show featured leading singers in selections from opera and operetta. Originally titled The Firestone Hour, it was first broadcast on the NBC Radio network on December 3, 1928 and was later also shown on television starting in 1949. The program was last broadcast in 1963

Firestone's 25th anniversary program was broadcast November 30, 1953, and it was heard on radio until 1956.

➦In 1999...After WQEW in New York City became Radio Disney in late 1998, WNJR 1430 AM (Newark, NJ) began playing adult standards as Sunny 1430. Julius LaRosa was the morning host, while Johnny Michaels hosted during the afternoon.  In March 1999, Multicultural decided to fill the hole and put a Standards format on 1430. WNJR changed its callsign to WNSW June 8, 1999. The station became known as "Sunny 1430". They originally planned to switch to this format full-time except for Sunday mornings, but initially would run this format from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to Midnight Saturdays and not at all on Sundays. The rest of the time they ran ethnic programming that was brokered. On Sundays they played Gospel Music and preaching.

During the week though they played a Standards format with artists like Frank Sinatra, Neil Diamond, Petula Clark, Tony Bennett, Tommy Dorsey, Peggy Lee, Elvis Presley, Nat King Cole, Pat Boone, The Carpenters, Jack Jones, Tom Jones, the Andrews Sisters, Bobby Darin, James Taylor, the Four Aces, Johnny Mathis, Artie Shaw, The Righteous Brothers, etc. The format was similar to 1560 WQEW's old format. Some of the air people included Johnny Knox (who was program director and operations manager the first year of operation), John Von Soosten, Chuck Leonard, Danny Stiles, Julius LaRosa, among others.

The Adult Standards were not a big hit and on February 28, 2001 WNSW dropped the format altogether with the playing of Frank Sinatra's Softly, as I Leave You. The format, however, continued with a few evening hours with Danny Stiles. The rest of the day reverted to brokered programming,

In April 2014, the station was sold to Starboard Broadcasting for $10 million and switched to religious Catholic programming with the branding of WNSW Relevant Radio.

➦In 2011…Radio personality "Big" Steve Rizen died at the age of 75 from complications from diabetes .  KQV Program Director John Rook brought Big Steve Rizen to KQV Pittsburgh from KTLK in Denver. Steve joined KQV for middays on May 29, 1964. In July of 1965, Big Steve switched with Hal Murray and moved to the morning slot at KQV.

R.I.P.: Kenny Rogers, Iconic Country- Pop Singer, Actor

Kenny Rogers (August 21, 1938 – March 20, 2020)
Kenny Rogers, who played a major role in expanding the audience for country music in the 1970s and ’80s, died on Friday at his home in Sandy Springs, Ga.

He was 81, according to The NYTimes.

Rogers had been in hospice care and died of natural causes, said his publicist, Keith Hagan.

Singing in a husky voice that exuded sincerity and warmth, Rogers sold well over 100 million records in a career that spanned seven decades. He had 21 No. 1 country hits, including two — “Lady,” written and produced by Lionel Richie, and “Islands in the Stream,” composed by the Bee Gees and performed with Dolly Parton — that reached No. 1 on the pop chart as well.

By the time he retired from performing for health reasons in 2018, Mr. Rogers had placed more than 50 singles in the country Top 40, of which 20 also appeared in the pop Top 40.

Rogers’s popularity stemmed partly from his genial persona and rugged good looks, but also from his ability to inhabit his material, which, he often said, was of two main types: love songs like “You Decorated My Life” and narrative ballads like “The Gambler” and “Lucille.”

“All the songs I record fall into one of two categories, as a rule,” he said in a 2012 interview with NPR. “One is ballads that say what every man would like to say and every woman would like to hear. The other is story songs that have social significance.

“‘Reuben James’ was about a black man who raised a white child,” he continued, referring to a 1969 song that was a Top 40 hit for his group Kenny Rogers and the First Edition. “‘Coward of the County’ was about a rape. ‘Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town’ was about a guy who came home from war.”

“Ruby” in particular revealed Rogers’s command as an interpreter of narrative ballads. Written by Mel Tillis, the song is about a veteran, left impotent and bound to a wheelchair by the Vietnam War, who must endure the agony of watching his wife leave the house every night to meet other men.

Duo recordings were a prominent part of Rogers’s repertoire, accounting for more than a dozen country hits, including eight No. 1 records. Several of them, including “Don’t Fall in Love With a Dreamer,” a 1980 duet with the pop singer Kim Carnes, and “We’ve Got Tonight,” a remake of a Bob Seger hit performed with the Scottish singer Sheena Easton, were pop successes as well.

Rogers came by his wide-ranging musical sensibilities naturally. After graduating from high school, he played upright bass in the Bobby Doyle Three, a well-regarded jazz trio. He became a member of the folk ensemble the New Christy Minstrels in the mid-’60s.

He later experimented with pop psychedelia on the First Edition’s 1967 single “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In),” a Top 10 pop hit written by Mickey Newbury, with whom Mr. Rogers attended high school.

Rogers also had an acting career, starring in a series of TV movies based on his signature song, “The Gambler,” and in the 1982 feature film “Six Pack.”

He was also an avid photographer. He published two volumes of his work: “Kenny Rogers’ America” (1986), an assortment of photos of national landmarks and other places of interest, and “Your Friends and Mine” (1987), a collection of portraits of fellow celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson.

Kenneth Donald Rogers was born on Aug. 21, 1938, in Houston.  He received many accolades during his career, among them three Grammy Awards and recognition for lifetime achievement from the Country Music Association. In 2013 he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Major Disaster Declaration For New York

The Trump administration has issued a Major Disaster Declaration for New York, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.

The NY Post reports the emergency declaration Friday from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) unlocks access to a nationwide pot of $42 billion in vital aid from the Disaster Relief Fund, as the number of confirmed New York cases soar and critical medical supplies remain scarce, according to Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer.

“With no time to waste, the administration heeded the call and approved the nation’s first Major Disaster Declaration in response to the coronavirus, right here in New York,” Schumer said in a statement.

“With more and more cases confirmed here each day, it’s imperative that the federal government does everything within its power to stem the spread of the deadly coronavirus.”

The declaration is typically ordered in the wake of natural disasters, like Hurricane Sandy or other major storms and flooding events.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a statewide lockdown earlier Friday to take effect this Sunday, with more than 8,000 COVID-19 cases confirmed in New York.

More than 5,000 of those cases are in New York City, where 29 people have died. One of Cuomo’s own staff members in his press shop has reportedly tested positive for the virus, as well.

The aid would come at a 75-25 cost share, but the state’s share could be lowered if President Trump issues a waiver, according to Schumer’s office.

State health officials fear the pandemic will quickly overwhelm the roughly 3,000 ICU beds empty at any given time and the estimated 5,000-6,000 ventilators on hand.

Illinois Joins The 'Stay At Home' Movement

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has issued a “stay-at-home” order for the entire state starting at 5 p.m. Saturday through at least April 7, marking Illinois’ most aggressive step yet to try to slow the coronavirus’s spread.

The Chicago Tribune reports the dramatic-sounding move largely codifies the previous recommendations and rules issued by state officials. Pritzker said his latest decision was based on conversations with “some of the best medical experts, epidemiologists, mathematicians and modelers.”

He announced the change on Friday afternoon, as Illinois reached 585 confirmed cases across 25 counties, including 163 new cases. The death toll has risen to five, as officials announced a Cook County woman in her 70s had died from COVID-19.

“I’ve asked every one of these experts, 'What action can I take to save the most lives?’” the governor said. “Well, they’ve come back to me with one inescapable conclusion: To avoid the loss of potentially tens of thousands of lives, we must enact an immediate stay-at-home order for the state of Illinois.”

Florida Shutting Down

Gov. Ron DeSantis has banned Florida restaurants from serving food on the premises, limiting them to takeout and delivery orders only. But he’s also allowing them to sell alcohol to pickup and delivery customers for the first time.

In the same order, the governor also closed all gyms and fitness centers in Florida until the coronavirus state of emergency is lifted.

The Orlando Sentinel reports the executive order comes as DeSantis has been receiving criticism for confusion over his previous orders, including closing bars but not restaurants on St. Patrick’s Day.

The Florida Department of Health announced more than 120 new COVID-19 cases on Friday. The state is tracking 563 cases.

Meanwhile, to combat the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, the federal government confirmed it’s delaying the tax filing deadline by three months, to July 15.

POTUS Berates NBC Reporter During COVID-19 Briefing

President Donald Trump called NBC News correspondent Peter Alexander a “terrible reporter” during Friday’s White House news briefing for asking what he would say to Americans who are scared about the coronavirus, reports The Associated Press.

Other reporters pushed back against Trump. Alexander later asked Vice President Mike Pence the same question — and got an answer.

The same administration that stopped a once-daily briefing session with the White House press secretary now has the president and his aides talk each day about the pandemic on live television, and early indications are that it’s a hit. Friday’s news conference, shown by the big broadcast and cable news networks for more than 90 minutes.

In the last two briefings, Trump’s grievances with the media bubbled to the surface.

Following a discussion about the use of a drug as a potential treatment for the coronavirus, Alexander wondered whether that offered a false sense of hope. He asked the president what was his message to people who are frightened, which Trump sarcastically called a “lovely question.”

“I’d say that you’re a terrible reporter, that’s what I’d say,” the president said. “I think it’s a very nasty question and I think it’s a very bad signal that you’re putting out to the American people. The American people are looking for answers and they’re looking for hope, and you’re doing sensationalism.”

Four reporters — CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, ABC’s Cecilia Vega, the AP’s Jill Colvin and PBS’ Yamiche Alcindor— later challenged Trump or Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the message it sent to be attacking the media during the coronavirus outbreak. CNN’s John King called it a “reprehensible” response to a fair question.

Alexander said he considered his question to be a “softball,” giving the president an opportunity to offer reassurance to the American people.

“I think it does sort of reveal a frustration, perhaps an anxiety of his political prospects, about a situation that is hard to keep in control as we witnessed it continue to spiral at this time,” Alexander said on MSNBC.

ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CNN, MSNBC and Fox News Channel all aired Friday’s briefing. Trump’s campaign rallies have been put on hold due to the virus, but his briefings reach more people, many of them isolated in their homes.

For example, an audience of 8 million people watched Trump’s briefing Sunday afternoon on the three cable news networks, led by Fox News Channel. At the same time during the same Sunday a year earlier, there were 1.75 million watching those networks, the Nielsen company said.

Hannity Offers To Help New York

New York Gov. Cuomo gained a very unlikely ally Friday in the battle against the coronavirus crisis.

Talk host Sean Hannity offered his assistance to the Democratic governor in an extended afternoon radio interview, the NY Daily News reports.

“If there is anything I can do for you in New York, with my TV or radio show, you have it. It’s at your disposal," Hannity told the governor.

The Hill reports the interview between Hannity, a staunch supporter of President Trump, and Cuomo, a major figure in the Democratic Party, lasted nearly half an hour, and focused solely on the U.S. response to the virus. There were 15,000 confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. and 7,500 cases in New York as of Friday.   "Normally we'd be arguing about taxes and fracking," Hannity told Cuomo at the beginning of his radio program, adding that it's about "saving American lives" now.

"Nothing else matters," Cuomo agreed.

The right-wing host went on to praise both Cuomo and California Gov. Gavin Newsom, another Dem, for closing non-essential businesses and ordering people to avoid social gatherings.

“I thought this was the bold move on your part,” Hannity said. “I think it’s the right move. I will give Gavin Newsom credit. I’m not a big fan of his politically, but I think he’s done a good job.”

The kudos is a sea change for Hannity, who rarely has positive things to say about members of the Democratic party and referred to media coverage and the response to the virus as a “hoax” earlier this month.

Fox Business Suspends Two Shows

Fox Business Network (FBN) announced on Friday its plans to remove two additional hours from its daily programming schedule as the coronavirus pandemic continues to prompt unprecedented changes to daily news shows and the way that news is reported.

The Hill reports the change will temporarily cease production of FBN's 5:00 a.m. program, "FBN am" and its 5:00 p.m. offering, "Bulls & Bears."

“While FBN will remain committed to delivering up-to-the-minute breaking business news and analysis, our first priority is the health and safety of our employees,” Fox Business Network president Lauren Petterson said in Friday statement.

"This scaled back schedule will ensure we continue to deliver critical information to our audience amidst this global pandemic and time of market volatility while helping to fight the further escalation of the coronavirus," Petterson added.

"Lou Dobbs Tonight," which has been the most-watched program in business news for the past 46 months, will air live at 5:00 p.m. in the place of "Bulls & Bears," with the program repeating at its
usual time of 7:00 p.m.

Meanwhile, FBN host Lou Dobbs is in self-quarantine after a staffer on his Fox Business show tested positive for the coronavirus.

"[Dobbs] is in self-quarantine tonight. We just learned that one of his team members has tested positive for COVID-19," said Fox Business host David Asman. "We fully support that employee 100 percent, who we all wish a speedy recovery.

“Lou feels well, he has no symptoms, but out of an abundance of caution, he and his team are taking the necessary precautions," Asman added.

Tampa Radio: Cox Radio Settles Hulk Hogan Lawsuit

Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, has settled a lawsuit against Cox Radio Inc., talk host Mike Calta and others he’d accused of taking part in leaking video of him having sex and using racist language.

The Tampa Bay Times reports full details of the settlement are not known. The lawsuit filed in Pinellas County demanded damages in excess of $15,000, but did not specify an amount. The lawsuit did note that Bollea was awarded $140 million in a previous lawsuit against Gawker over the tape, but settled for $31 million when that company went bankrupt.

“Bollea filed this lawsuit to hold the remaining offenders liable ... and to recover the balance of the damages ...,” the lawsuit said.

Calta, who hosts a morning drive talk show heard across Tampa Bay on Cox’s WHPT 102.5-FM The Bone, could only be reached via his verified Twitter account.

Mike Calta
“My understanding is the lawsuit was amicably resolved by Cox and Hogan on terms that are confidential,” he wrote in a direct message. “I’ll address the rest Monday on my show.”

Court documents show the judge has closed the case, but not the exact disposition.

Court orders signed by defendants Matt Loyd, a former radio personality known as “Spice Boy,” his ex wife Tasha Nicole Carrega and Los Angeles lawyer Keith Davidson were filed on Thursday.

All three were accused in the suit of conspiring to leak and sell the footage to TMZ and Davidson was the man who met Bollea at the Sand Pearl in Clearwater to receive a check for $300,000 to stop the leak of the tape while FBI agents secretly watched. Federal prosecutors declined to file criminal charges in that case.

The lawsuit said that Bollea was recorded illegally in 2007, and used the n-word “during a momentary lapse in judgment at a very difficult time in his life, while he was having a private conversation in his then-best friend’s bedroom.”

The best friend was another radio host, Bubba the Love Sponge Clem, and the woman Bollea was filmed in bed with was Clem’s then wife.

News Outlets Win Audiences Yet Lose Revenue

Web traffic is up about 30% among the top news sites and has doubled for some publishers, according to data from comScore Inc. Many news sites have recorded solid gains in digital subscriptions, even as many have made coronavirus coverage available to nonsubscribers.

But the Wall Street journal reports, the immediate boost in readership won’t offset the virus’ brutal impact on the pillars holding up the business, publishing executives say. Local advertising spending could tumble this year by at least a quarter, amounting to a decline of more than $30 billion, according to one estimate.

The new coronavirus crisis could become a cruel test of whether newsrooms can survive on digital revenue.

“It may turn out that the impact of the virus on local newspapers is analogous to its effects on people,” said Jim Friedlich, the executive director of the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, which owns the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News. “The most vulnerable may not survive.”

The Tampa Bay Times, which is owned by the nonprofit Poynter Institute, this week laid off 11 staffers just weeks after instituting an across-the-board pay cut. Paul Tash, the Times’ chairman and chief executive, said the paper had already seen its event-related advertising disappear and has had inquiries from big retailers about canceling future advertising.

Gordon Borrell, an advertising market analyst, estimates that local advertising will drop by 25% this year, as restaurants, bars and other local businesses shutter temporarily and pull back spending.

Cartoon by Daryl Cagle (
The Boston Globe has moved aggressively to offer potentially lifesaving information specific to its community, like an infographic showing how a cluster of coronavirus infections that began at an area biotech conference in late February was spreading, leading to a significant portion of Massachusetts’ more than 300 cases.

The Globe’s web traffic shot up 140% in the seven-day stretch through March 16. The paper hasn’t made all its coronavirus coverage free, and its digital-subscription orders have more than tripled during that week compared with a year earlier, according to the company. That brings the Globe’s total number of digital subscribers to more than 170,000, up from 111,000 about a year ago.

However, the Globe has been heavily discounting subscriptions with introductory offers as low as six months for $1.

The Globe has been hammered on newsstand, or “single copy,” sales, which represent 13% of the company’s circulation revenue, or about $20 million a year, according to Globe President Vinay Mehra.

Digital subscriptions across Gannett’s more than 100 local news outlets where data was available are up 72% over the past week, compared with a year earlier, according to Amalie Nash, Gannett’s vice president for local news. Still, the company’s stock has tumbled nearly 80% since the market’s peak in mid-February.

SiriusXM Radio To Air Special Edition Of Inside Studio G

SiriusXM announced Friday that it will broadcast Garth Brooks' weekly Facebook Live show,  Inside Studio G on Brooks' exclusive SiriusXM channel, The Garth Channel (ch. 55) on Monday, March 23 at 7:00 p.m. ET/4:00 p.m. PT.

Monday's special edition, Inside Studio G: By Request, will continue to provide its weekly dose of social media engagement, but will include a live acoustic performance aimed towards providing a sense of community during this time of uncertain change in people's everyday life and social distancing.

Beginning Sunday, March 22, fans can submit questions and song requests across Brooks' social media platforms (listed below) and can tune in live on March 23 to hear his answers and music performed by Brooks from his home. He will also be joined by Trisha Yearwood.

"Music is just one of those things that is more fun when you have people to dance with you," said Brooks.  "Since we are all being asked to be apart, this seems to be a cool way to come together, and when you think about it, coming together no matter who you are or where you are from is what The Garth Channel on SiriusXM is all about."

The Garth Channel, curated and presented by Brooks, debuted on SiriusXM in 2016 and features music from Brooks spanning four decades, along with songs from the artists that influenced his iconic career. The channel also includes regularly hosted shows and behind-the-scenes commentary from Brooks, guest DJ specials hosted by Brooks' fans and friends, live concert recordings and other rarities from Brooks' treasured archives.

SiriusXM subscribers are able to listen to The Garth Channel, channel 55, on SiriusXM radios, and those with streaming access can listen online, on-the-go with the SiriusXM mobile app and at home on a wide variety of connected devices.

Grand Ole Opry Circle Remains Unbroken This Weekend

And, for the second time in as many weeks, the Grand Ole Opry broadcasts live music for those needing an hour or two of escape, The Tennessean reports.

Opry members Brad Paisley, Marty Stuart and Vince Gill perform from the Opry circle Saturday night without a live audience — the 4,916th consecutive Saturday broadcast for the Nashville institution.

To combat the novel coronavirus, Opry leadership decided last week to continue the program without a live crowd until at least April 4.

Last week, an estimated 500,000 tuned in as Connie Smith, Jeannie Seely and Bill Anderson played to an empty Opry House.

Stepping into a room of vacant pews gives nod to the show's formative days, said Stuart. Ninety-four years ago, broadcasters first aired the barn dance program from the National Life and Accident Insurance Co. building in downtown Nashville.

"The radio was the theater of the mind then," Stuart said. "It was designed to be theater of the mind. (To) Inspire and entertain people."

It goes "back to the blueprint" of country music and what the Opry was designed to be, he added.

Fans can watch the show live at 7 p.m. on Circle, a new country music lifestyle network launched by Opry parent company, Ryman Hospitality, or for free via Circle All Access Facebook and YouTube pages. Catch the Opry radio broadcast via WSM 650 AM in Nashville or digitally at

Disney Raises $6B In Debt Offering

Buffeted by the coronavirus outbreak, the Walt Disney Co. on Friday said it had raised nearly $6 billion in a debt offering.

The LA Times reports the debt offering comes one week after Disney closed its domestic theme parks, suspended cruise ship sailings and pulled a high-profile movie release. The company is shoring up its debt structure amid the cascading effect of the global pandemic, including heightened fears of a recession that could slow the Burbank entertainment giant’s recovery.

Disney, in its regulatory filings, said it planned to use proceeds from the sale for “general corporate purposes,” including restructuring existing debt, making acquisitions, buying back shares or investing in its various business units. But the company cautioned investors about the economic damage from the coronavirus.

“The outbreak of the novel coronavirus ... and measures to prevent its spread are affecting our business in a number of ways, which should be considered in connection with an investment in the notes,” Disney said Friday in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. “We have closed our theme parks; suspended our cruises and theatrical shows; delayed theatrical distribution of films both domestically and internationally; and experienced supply chain disruption and ad sales impacts.”

Disney raised the money — $5.98 billion — Thursday through the sale of five sets of notes that will expire between 2025 and 2050, according to the filing. Interest rates on the notes range from 3.35% to 4.7%. The issuance is expected to be finalized Monday.

The debt offering comes just one year after Disney completed the $71-billion purchase of much of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox. Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger viewed the Fox takeover as a way to fortify his company for the streaming age, and the purchase greatly expanded Disney’s profile and its pipeline of movies and TV shows. Disney now owns the majority stake in streaming service Hulu, and the company has plans to sell that service directly to consumers along with its recently launched Disney+ streaming service and ESPN+.

But the blockbuster Fox deal more than doubled Disney’s debt, to nearly $48 billion.

R.I.P.: Oliver Stokes Jr., NOLA Bounce DJ, Radio Personality

Oliver Stokes Jr.
Popular New Orleans bounce deejay and radio personality Oliver Stokes Jr., better known as Go DJ Black N Mild, was one of two coronavirus-related deaths in Louisiana on Thursday, the Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office confirmed.

He was 44, reports.

The Coroner’s Office on Friday said Stokes had tested positive for COVID-19 and died the previous day.

In addition to his music career, Stokes had also worked as the "in school suspension coordinator" at Arthur Ashe Charter School in Gentilly since July.

“Our school community is devastated,” said Sabrina Pence, the CEO of FirstLine Schools, the charter organization that operates Arthur Ashe.

Stokes left work on March 9 with a fever, Pence said, and did not return.

Stokes chronicled the first parts of his fight against the infection on social media. His Facebook feed shows his temperature was 102.4 degrees.

By March 11, he’d been admitted to University Medical Center. His final Facebook post consisted of four words — “pneumonia not the flu” — and an emoji wearing a medical mask.

Stokes was widely known for his life in music. Over the years, he worked at various radio stations. His “Bounce 104.5” show was reportedly one of the first radio mix shows dedicated to New Orleans bounce music.

During a multi-year exile in Houston following Hurricane Katrina, he hosted a mix show for KHOU. From 2013 to 2017, his “Rhythm and Bounce” show was featured on Saturday nights on New Orleans AM station WBOK.

For the past 25 years, he also deejayed at countless clubs, parties and other private events across the Southeast.

March 21 Radio History

The Ritz Theater - 1937
➦In 1921...Broadway's The Walter Kerr Theatre opened at 219 West 48th Street in NYC.  One of the smaller auditoriums in the Theater District, it seats 975. Designed by Herbert J. Krapp for the Shubert family, it operated as the Ritz Theatre from 1921 to 1990, when it was renamed for playwright and critic Walter Kerr.  ABC operated it as a radio and then television studio between 1943 and 1965.

➦In 1922...KGW-AM, Portland, Oregon signed-on.

The Oregonian newspaper created KGW-AM (now Sports KPOJ 620 AM RipCity, owned by iHeartMedia) by purchasing an existing transmitter from the Shipowners Radio Service. The U.S. Department of Commerce licensed the station, and it began broadcasting on March 21, 1922

The studio was housed on the 11th floor of The Oregonian Building Tower at Sixth & Alder Streets. The transmitter was located on the 13th floor. The antenna consisted of a 70-foot, four-wire inverted "L"-type flattop, suspended between a 60-foot mast on top of the building and a 95-foot tower on the nearby Northwestern Bank Building.

R.G. Calvert supervised the operation and Richard “Dick” Haller was the program director. Their aim was to give their listeners news fresh from the press with the best music and outstanding speakers. KGW’s early announcers and writers were usually former newspaper employees, and the first engineers and technicians came from the ranks of former maritime wireless radio operators.

When the station first went on the air, 5,000 radio sets were said to have tuned in. Speakers included The Oregonian’s Editor, Edgar Piper and Mayor George Baker. There was also an opera singer, a novelist and a live musical presentation. Dick Haller became known as KGW’s “Million-Dollar Voice” and his broadcasts were very popular. He would go on to a successful career with NBC in San Francisco.

As an early radio station experiencing tremendous popularity, KGW implemented many innovative new broadcasting ideas. KGW set itself apart from the other stations by having the first radio variety show in the nation, the first audience participation show, the first quiz program, the first library program, the first radio debate, the first in-school listening program and the first singing commercial. In 1925, on-air advertising became a source of KGW’s operating revenue. KGW produced the first-ever singing commercial for Sears, Roebuck and Company in the late 1920s.

KGW was the first station in Oregon to affiliate with a national broadcasting service when they carried the inaugural program of the National Broadcasting Company’s Orange Network on April 5, 1927. The Orange Network was known as the NBC Pacific Coast Network.

The nationally famous Hoot Owls, officially known as "The Order of Hoot Owls Roosting in the Oregonian Tower" aired from 1923 to 1933 as a 2-1/2 hour variety show that was broadcast to over one million listeners. Their slogan soon became "Keep Growing Wiser," whose initial letters represented the KGW call letters.

One of the performers on the Hoot Owls program, Mel Blanc, achieved fame as the author of cartoon characterization in later years in Hollywood where he became the nation’s voice for cartoon characters such as Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny. Blanc, who received his high school education in Portland, joined the program in 1927. Nicknamed "The Grand Snicker" on the Hoot Owls, Blanc became well known for his comedy, as well as his skills as a storyteller, ad-libber, musician, vocalist, and, later, orchestra pit conductor.

Blanc left KGW in 1933 and moved down the hall to perform on sister station KEX in the popular "Cobwebs and Nuts" program, before moving to Hollywood in 1935.

➦In 1924...The first foreign language broadcast aired on WJZ 770 AM, New York City.

The WJZ call sign was first used on what is now WABC in New York City. The original Westinghouse Electric Corporation, whose broadcasting division is a predecessor to the current broadcasting unit of CBS Corporation, launched WJZ in 1921, located originally in Newark, New Jersey. WJZ was sold in 1923 to the Radio Corporation of America, who moved its operations to New York, and in 1926 WJZ became the flagship station for the NBC Blue Network.

In the 1929 movie The Cocoanuts the station was name-checked by Chico Marx in a sequence of running gags between Chico and Groucho: Chico uses the station's call-sign as the punchline of a punning joke based on his confusion over the meaning of the word "radius", which he confuses with 'radios', leading to the mention of the station's call-sign. NBC Blue would become the American Broadcasting Company in 1942. ABC later established WJZ-FM and WJZ-TV at the same time in 1948.

In 1953 ABC merged with United Paramount Theatres, and changed the call letters of their New York area stations to WABC, WABC-FM (now WPLJ) and WABC-TV. Four years later, Westinghouse Broadcasting acquired Baltimore television station WAAM (channel 13) and changed its call letters to WJZ-TV, which remained an ABC affiliate until 1995 when the station switched to CBS.

➦In 1925...Lowell Thomas was first heard on radio as a guest on KDKA, Pittsburgh PA talking about “man’s first flight around the world".

In 1930, he became a broadcaster with the CBS Radio network, delivering a nightly news and commentary program. After two years, he switched to the NBC Radio network but returned to CBS in 1947. In contrast to today's practices, Thomas was not an employee of either NBC News or CBS News. Prior to 1947, he was employed by the broadcast's sponsor Sunoco.

He returned to CBS to take advantage of lower capital-gains tax rates, establishing an independent company to produce the broadcast which he sold to CBS. He hosted the first-ever television news broadcast in 1939 and the first regularly scheduled television news broadcast (even though it was just a camera simulcast of his radio broadcast) beginning on February 21, 1940 over local station W2XBS (now WNBC) New York.

The television news simulcast was a short-lived venture for him, and he favored radio. Indeed, it was over radio that he presented and commented upon the news for four decades until his retirement in 1976, the longest radio career of anyone in his day (a record later surpassed by Paul Harvey).

➦In 1939…Radio Star Kate Smith recorded 'God Bless America', originally written by Irving Berlin in 1918.  After updating and revision, Smith had introduced the song on her radio show in November 1938.

Smith was a major star of radio. She began with her twice-a-week NBC series, Kate Smith Sings (quickly expanded to six shows a week), followed by a series of shows for CBS: Kate Smith and Her Swanee Music (1931–33), sponsored by La Palina Cigars; The Kate Smith Matinee (1934–35); The Kate Smith New Star Revue (1934–35); Kate Smith's Coffee Time (1935–36), sponsored by A&P; and The Kate Smith A&P Bandwagon (1936–37).

The Kate Smith Hour was a leading radio variety show, offering comedy, music, and drama with appearances by top personalities of films and theater for eight years (1937–45).

Smith continued on the Mutual Broadcasting System, CBS, ABC, and NBC, doing both music and talk shows on radio until 1960.

➦In 1952...The Moondog Coronation Ball was first host by radio personality Alan Freed. It is generally accepted as the first major rock and roll concert.

At the time, its most remarkable feature was its mix of black and white musical performers, in a revue intended for a racially mixed audience, at a time when almost all performances, radio stations and record labels were de facto segregated by race. One popular belief is that this fact predisposed the authorities to seek reasons to limit or bar the show.

The concert was organized by Alan Freed (a disc jockey considered to have coined the term "Rock and Roll" at WJW-Radio), along with Lew Platt, a local concert promoter, and Freed's sponsors, including Leo Mintz, owner of the Record Rendezvous store. More tickets were printed than the arena's actual capacity, in part due to counterfeiting, and a printing error (tickets for a follow-up ball were sold with the same date printed after the first had sold out). With an estimated 20,000 individuals trying to crowd into an arena that held slightly more than half that — and worries that a riot might break out as people tried to crowd in — the fire authorities shut down the concert after the first song by opening act Paul "Hucklebuck" Williams ended. Freed made a public apology on WJW the next day.

Cleveland rock radio station WMMS 100.7 FM attempted to stage a revival of the concert in 1986 under the name "Moondog Coronation Ball II"; then-program director John Gorman had intended for the event to serve as an oldies rock and roll tribute concert – part of the campaign to bring the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to Cleveland. For legal reasons, the event never materialized.

A few years later in 1992, Gorman, then at local oldies radio station WMJI 105.7 FM, successfully organized a 40th anniversary concert called "Moondog Coronation Ball '92". The concert has been held every year since, featuring oldies rock and roll acts, and sponsored by WMJI. In recent years, the event has been held at Quicken Loans Arena.

➦In 1995...New York City sold the two radio stations it owned: WNYC AM and FM.

WNYC is one of the oldest radio stations in the United States. Funds for the establishment of the station were approved on June 2, 1922 by the New York City Board of Estimate and Apportionment. WNYC made its first official broadcast two years later on July 8, 1924, at 570 AM with a second-hand transmitter shipped from Brazil. With the commencement of WNYC's operations, the City of New York became one of the first American municipalities to be directly involved in broadcasting.

In 1928 WNYC was forced into a time-sharing arrangement on 570 AM with WMCA, another pioneering New York radio outlet. This situation lasted until 1931, when the Federal Radio Commission (a forerunner to today's FCC) moved WNYC to 810 AM. The frequency move did not help WNYC from an operational standpoint as it now shared its frequency with the more-powerful WCCO in Minneapolis, over 1,200 miles to the west. WNYC was now limited to daytime-only operations, broadcasting from sunrise to sunset.

Shortly after becoming mayor in 1994, Rudy Giuliani announced he was considering selling the WNYC stations. Giuliani believed that broadcasting was no longer essential as a municipal entity, and that any financial compensation would be used to help the City cover budget shortfalls. The final decision was made in March 1995: While the City opted to divest WNYC-TV (now WPXN-TV) through a blind auction, WNYC-AM-FM was sold to the WNYC Foundation for $20 million, far less than what the stations could have been sold for if they were placed on the open market.

While this potential sale put an end to the occasional political intrusions of the past, it required the WNYC Foundation to embark on a major appeal towards listeners, other foundations, and private benefactors.

Friday, March 20, 2020

UPDATE: NY Joins California With Lockdown Order

UPDATE 11:45AM FRIDAY:  BREAKING NEWS...New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered the state’s entire workforce to stay home, saying only essential businesses can remain open.

“This is the most drastic action we can take’ amid the coronavirus pandemic, the governor said on Friday.

Mr. Cuomo took action after his counterpart in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom, issued a similar order for his state Thursday evening.

Earlier Posting...

California ordered its 40 million residents to stay at home except for essential activities becoming the largest such lockdown in the U.S., as the nation’s total coronavirus cases rose to more than 14,000 and an intensifying outbreak in Europe pushed State Department officials to advise citizens not to travel abroad, reports The Wall Street Journal.

(L-A Times Photos)
In a letter to President Trump, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he estimated 56% of the state’s population, or 25.5 million people, would be infected over an eight-week period.

Newsom sent the letter—asking that a naval hospital ship be deployed to Los Angeles to increase health-care capacity—before the lockdown order. In calling for people to stay home, Mr. Newsom asked the state’s residents to “bend the curve together.” Nearly half of residents in America’s most populous state had already been given stay-at-home orders from local cities and counties, including Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.

In the U.S., confirmed cases jumped to 14,250. Officials warned the number would continue to rise as testing capabilities increase and advised Americans to prepare for a prolonged period of uncertainty. At least 200 Americans have died as a result of the illness.

More than half of the U.S. cases come from three states: New York, Washington and California, according to Johns Hopkins data. The number of infections in New York nearly doubled to 4,152 Thursday as the state conducted 8,000 tests overnight, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

In Washington, Senate Republicans unveiled a stimulus package that includes direct cash payments to Americans and help for businesses and health-care professionals. The proposal, days after a Trump administration plan valued at $1 trillion, would need support from congressional Democrats.

NAB's Postponed Show To Go Digital, NYC Event To Expand

NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith today issued a letter to the NAB Show community providing an update about plans for NAB Show activities in 2020. In the letter, Smith announced that rather than rescheduling NAB Show for later this year, NAB would be unveiling a new digital offering called NAB Show Express, and enhancing NAB Show New York later this year.

In response to today's announcement, Tim Shoulder, the President of Grass Valley said, "We're thrilled to join NAB at this year's show in New York, and look forward to having a large presence there. Like so many in our industry, we understood the difficult decision NAB had to make regarding the Las Vegas show, but we're optimistic that the New York show will be a fantastic experience for vendors and attendees alike."

The full text of Gordon Smith's letter is below:

Dear NAB Show Community,

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a truly unprecedented situation around the world. Our thoughts are with those who have been directly affected by the virus, and all of those who are struggling with the ramifications of this global health crisis.

At the National Association of Broadcasters, we believe it is our responsibility to help stop the spread of COVID-19, and put the health and safety of our show community first. In the week since announcing that we will not move forward with the NAB Show in April, the landscape has continued to shift dramatically with major sports leagues, school districts, and other businesses around the country suspending operations. The governor of Nevada has also made the decision to close all nonessential business operations in the state. National authorities are imploring Americans to telework wherever possible.

While we recognize that much of our show community is focused on other issues at the moment, we have heard from many of you over the last week who are eager for an update on our plans. For that reason, we wanted to convey now that, in light of the current circumstances, it is impossible to hold a rescheduled 2020 NAB Show this year. We will instead proceed with a two-pronged approach to deliver as much value as possible under these circumstances to our exhibitors, partners, and the broadcast industry as a whole.

First, we are exploring a number of ways to bring the industry together online, both in the short and long term. We know from many years of serving the community with face-to-face events, that connectivity is vital to the health and success of the industry. That’s why we are excited to announce NAB Show Express, targeted to launch in April 2020. This digital experience will provide a conduit for our exhibitors to share product information, announcements and demos, as well as deliver educational content from the original selection of programming slated for the live show in Las Vegas, and create opportunities for the community to interact virtually—all of which adds up to something that brings the NAB Show community together in a new way.

Second, we will be enhancing NAB Show New York with new programs, partners, and experiences. We have already had numerous conversations with show partners about expanding their participation, and have heard from numerous exhibitors interested in enhancing their presence at this fall’s show. NAB Show New York represents the best opportunity for companies to announce and showcase their latest innovations and comes at a perfect time for the industry to gather face-to-face to restart, refocus, and reengage as we move forward together.

We will have more to say about these efforts in the coming weeks. This is a unique and challenging situation, but we are committed to working hard to deliver as much value as possible.

We’re also committed to being an active part of the solution to the current crisis in the months ahead. Last week we launched a new public service announcement campaign on radio and television that will provide crucial information to keep communities safe. The PSAs are part of a comprehensive Coronavirus Response Toolkit that we have made available online to help broadcasters accurately cover the pandemic and prepare for the threat it poses to their staff, communities, and businesses. We’ll be doing more in the weeks to come to harness the power of our industry as a force for good in these difficult times.

As we move forward, we will keep an open line of communication with our show community, and look forward to engaging with you throughout the year. We’ve already begun planning for our 2021 NAB Show in Las Vegas, which will take place April 11-14th, and we hope you’ll join us then, as well as this fall.

We look forward to connecting with you, and hope that you and your loved ones remain safe in the months to come.


Gordon H. Smith
President and CEO

R.I.P.: Larry Edgewoth, NBC News From COVID19 Complications

A longtime NBC News employee has died after testing positive for the coronavirus, one of the first casualties of the disease among the media industry. Variety reports.

Larry Edgeworth
Larry Edgeworth was a technician who worked in an equipment room at NBCUniversal’s 30 Rock headquarters, and died Thursday after testing positive for coronavirus. NBC News did not disclose his age. In a memo to staffers sent Friday, NBC News Chairman Andy Lack, citing Edgeworth’s wife, said he suffered from “other health issues that led him to succumb to the illness.”

Edgeworth spent 25 years at the news division working as an audio technician. He had often traveled with correspondents around the world. “Many of you were fortunate enough to work with Larry over the years, so you know that he was the guy you wanted by your side no matter where you were,” Lack wrote.

Edgeworth is survived by a wife and two sons.

Several news organizations are grappling with coronavirus. At CBS News, a handful of staffers have also tested positive, resulting in logistical challenges. “CBS This Morning,’ the network’s morning program, has held forth from Washington, D.C. as well as New York’s Ed Sullivan Theater, which is normally home to “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.” The anchors for NBC’s “Today” program have scattered to different places as well.

Also, hourly CBS News Radio morning newscasts have originated from Orlando for several days.

Indy Radio: WNOW Adds Kidd Kraddick Morning Show

Beginning Monday, March 23, 2020, YEA Networks’ syndicated radio program, The Kidd Kraddick Morning Show will be heard in Indianapolis, IN, on Radio One’s WNOW RadioNOW 100.9.

One of the most listened-to morning shows in the country, The Kidd Kraddick Morning Show features co-hosts Kellie Rasberry, J-Si Chavez, and Big Al Mack, along with recently announced correspondent Jenna Owens. WNOW RadioNOW 100.9 becomes the show’s 69th affiliate in the U.S. 

Dustin Kross, Top 40 Format Director, Radio One, said: “I am very excited to bring The Kidd Kraddick Morning Show to Indy! They’re a top-notch morning show, with great content and developed personalities, that will fit in perfectly in Indianapolis” 

Deon Levingston, Regional Vice President, Radio One, added: “We are very excited to have Indy join the KiddNation. The Kidd Kraddick Morning Show is a perfect addition to RadioNOW 100.9 and we are looking forward to welcoming the team to Indy.” 

The announcement comes just a few weeks after Radio One added the YEA Networks show on its other Top 40 station, KROI-FM in Houston, TX.

Monthly Podcast Listening Now at 37%

Podcasting awareness and consumption in the U.S. continue to rise, according to the most recent information from the Infinite Dial 2020® from Edison Research and Triton Digital. Seventy-five percent of Americans age 12+ (approximately 212 million people) are now familiar with podcasting, up from 70% in 2019, and 37% (104 million) listen monthly, up from 32% in 2019. This continues the growth trend that The Infinite Dial® has measured since 2009. 

“Podcasts now reach over 100 million Americans every month,” said Tom Webster, SVP of Edison Research, “and are attracting an increasingly diverse audience. Also, with 62% of Americans now saying they have used some kind of voice assistance technology, audio is becoming a bigger part of our everyday lives.”

In addition, the Infinite Dial® also found that 62% of those in the U.S. age 12+ use voice-operated assistants, and 45% of those in the U.S. age 12+ have listened to audio in a car through a cell phone. This year’s study also continues the legacy of measuring developing technologies, with the finding that 18% of Americans age 18+ own a car with an in-dash information and entertainment system.

"We are proud to once again unveil the latest insights and trends around media usage and consumption in the U.S.," said John Rosso, President of Market Development at Triton Digital. "The study findings provide Advertisers and the industry at large with valuable insight into the ongoing evolution of devices, content, and formats that Americans use to consume news and entertainment." 

Other findings include:
  • Growth in smart speaker ownership as a result of multiple d evices in households. In 2020, smart speaker households owned an average of 2.2 of the devices, up from an average of 1.7 just two years ago.
  • Fully thirty-nine percent of men and 36% of women age 12+ in the U.S. are monthly podcast listeners, which is more balanced than the 36% of men and 29% of women who were monthly listeners in the 2019 study.
  • Thirty-two percent of those in the U.S. age 12-34 use Facebook most often, down from 58% five years ago. Twenty-seven percent of those in the U.S. age 12-34 use Instagram most often, up from 15% five years ago.
The Infinite Dial® 2020 marks the latest report in a series dating back 2 2 years, covering consumer usage of media and technology while also tracking new mediums as they develop. This current report provides the most up-to-date research in the U.S. digital audio and podcast consumption, in addition to mobile, smart speaker, and social media usage.

The Infinite Dial® study uses the gold standard of nationally representative survey research—a random probability telephone sample comprised of both mobile phones and landlines-- of all Americans ages 12 and older. Findings from the Infinite Dial have become the barometer on digital audio and other digital media consumption, and is widely used and quoted by broadcasters, podcasters, online radio publishers, ad agencies, and the financial community.

Day 4 Feb PPMs: Austin, Indy, Nashville, 9 Final Markets

Nielsen on Thurssday, March 18, 2020 released the final batch of February 2020 PPM data for the following markets:

 33  Austin

 38  Raleigh-Durham

 39  Indianapolis

 41  Milwaukee-Racine

 43  Nashville

 44  Providence-Warwick-Pawtucket RI

 45  Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News

 46  Jacksonville FL

 47  West Palm Beach-Boca Raton

 48  Greensbroro-Winston-Sale-High Point NC

 51  Memphis

 52  Hartford-New Britain-Middletown CT

Click Here to view topline numbers of subscribing Nielsen stations.

Jobless Claims Surge

In an early sign of the coronavirus pandemic’s devastating effect on American workers, the Labor Department on Thursday reported a 30% increase in unemployment claims last week, one of the largest spikes on record.

The NY Times reports the surge — 281,000 new claims — reflects a crushing new reality: Any hopes that businesses could keep their staffs largely intact have quickly evaporated.

“I started laying people off this Monday, not knowing how bad it was,” said Barry Rosenberg, founder of Vending One, a Los Angeles company that stocks and maintains vending machines and self-serve kiosks in malls, office complexes, jails, schools and casinos. “On Tuesday, we started restricting hours. By next Monday, I don’t know that they’ll be any work.”

Jon Blomer, who services accounts and refills those machines, was one of the first to lose his job. “There’s not enough hours to go around, and everyone’s been there longer,” said Blomer, 33, who has worked for at Vending One for a year.

As employers and workers at global conglomerates and kitchen-table offices anxiously grapple with the economy’s partial shutdown, officials in Washington are racing to design a $1 trillion rescue plan. Senate Republicans put forward a blueprint on Thursday that includes loans to big corporations and small businesses, large corporate tax cuts, and $1,200 checks for taxpayers.

In the meantime, tens of thousands of laid-off workers like Blomer are jamming government websites and phone lines to apply for unemployment benefits.

The report from the Labor Department offered just a pinhole glance of mounting job losses.

In Connecticut, 30,000 claims were filed between Friday evening and Tuesday, compared with a total of 2,500 all last week. This week, Illinois received over 41,000 claims on Monday and Tuesday compared with 4,445 in those two days last year. And in Michigan, 5,419 claims were filed in February’s final week; so far this week, the state is fielding 5 1/2 times as many. In some states, overwhelmed systems collapsed.