Saturday, March 28, 2020

March 29 Radio History

➦In 1888...Radio, film actor Earle Ross born (Died of cancer at age 73 – May 21, 1961).

While in school he became interested in dramatics and was usually cast as a villain or an old man because of his unusual voice characteristics. In 1908 he worked with Colonel Bill Selig in his first 5-reel movie film The Holy Cross. In 1912, he ventured to the East Coast and worked on Broadway in such shows as Where the Trail Divides and Cost of Living. From there, he started his own chain of theaters but went broke in the Wall Street Crash of 1929.

Ross became a radio broadcast pioneer and had his own show, The Earle Ross Theater of the Air and also starred in Inspector Post, a continuing radio drama.  Ross's most memorable roles were on radio: that of Judge Horace Hooker on The Great Gildersleeve and Howie MacBrayer on Point Sublime.

Jack Benny
➦In 1932...Jack Benny first appeared on radio as a guest of Ed Sullivan. He was then given his own show later that year, with Canada Dry Ginger Ale as a sponsor —The Canada Dry Ginger Ale Program, beginning May 2, 1932, on the NBC Blue Network and continuing there for six months until October 26, moving the show to CBS on October 30. With Ted Weems leading the band, Benny stayed on CBS until January 26, 1933.

Arriving at NBC on March 17, Benny did The Chevrolet Program until April 1, 1934 with Frank Black leading the band. He continued with The General Tire Revue for the rest of that season, and in the fall of 1934, for General Foods as The Jell-O Program Starring Jack Benny (1934–42) and, when sales of Jell-O were affected by sugar rationing during World War II, The Grape Nuts Flakes Program Starring Jack Benny (later the Grape Nuts and Grape Nuts Flakes Program) (1942–44).

On October 1, 1944, the show became The Lucky Strike Program Starring Jack Benny, when American Tobacco's Lucky Strike cigarettes took over as his radio sponsor, through the mid-1950s. By that time, the practice of using the sponsor's name as the title began to fade.

The show returned to CBS on January 2, 1949, as part of CBS president William S. Paley's "raid" of NBC talent in 1948-49. There it stayed for the remainder of its radio run, which ended on May 22, 1955. CBS aired repeats of previous 1953-55 radio episodes from 1956 to 1958 as The Best of Benny for State Farm Insurance, who later sponsored his television program from 1960 through 1965.

➦In 1937...The radio soap opera Our Gal Sunday made its first national broadcast on CBS.  It continued until January 2, 1959.  The origin of this radio series was a 1904 Broadway production, Sunday, which starred Ethel Barrymore. This play was the source of the catchphrase, "That's all there is, there isn't any more."

➦In 1941...WPAT AM NYC Market signed-on.

For many years, the station (along with its FM counterpart) would broadcast a beautiful music format under the slogan "Easy 93".

The WPAT stations were purchased by Capital Cities Communications in 1961.  In the 1970s, WPAT began integrating some baby boomer soft vocals such as the Carpenters, Neil Diamond, Dionne Warwick, and others, still playing one vocal per 15 minutes. In 1982, the stations began playing soft rock songs mixed into the format a couple times an hour and cut back on pop standards artists and songs.

In 1985, Capital Cities announced that it would buy ABC.  As a result of Federal Communications Commission regulations at the time, the company decided to sell WPAT and WPAT-FM because ABC already owned WABC and WPLJ in New York City. The WPAT stations would be sold to Park Communications.

In January 1996, WPAT-FM was sold to Spanish Broadcasting System and switched to a Spanish-language adult contemporary format. Around the same time, WPAT was sold to Heftel Broadcasting and switched to an automated Classic Salsa/Tropical music format on March 26. Heftel tried buying the FM station but was narrowly outbid by SBS. Heftel bought WPAT with plans to sell it to Multicultural Broadcasting and buying an FM station.

Weeks later, the station would start adding ethnic and paid programming.  By the next year, the station's ownership would change finally when its current owners, Multicultural Broadcasting, would buy the station in exchange for WNWK plus Multicultural was paid some cash for WNWK as well. (WNWK subsequently would become WCAA, then in 2009 would switch frequencies with WQXR-FM, New York. It is now known as WXNY-FM and broadcasts at 96.3 FM.) The new owners of WPAT would soon modify the station to its current paid ethnic programming format, moving Radio Korea to WZRC.

➦In 1941...Under the provisions of the North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement, stations assigned to 760 kHz were shifted to 770 kHz, which has been WJZ / WABC's dial position ever since.   WABC started off as WJZ when it signed on October 1, 1921.

➦In 1967...AFTRA members called the union’s first national strike, after negotiations broke down over staff announcer contracts at owned-and-operated stations in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles and over first-time contracts for “Newsmen” at networks and owned-and-operated stations.

The 13-day strike involved all 18,000 members in more than 100 locations across the country. Many familiar faces were absent from the TV screen, including that of Walter Cronkite of CBS News whose temporary replacement was Arnold Zenker, formerly a radio announcer in Wilmington, Delaware.

AFTRA strike begins at WABC NYC.

From March 29 to April 10, 1967 there was a strike called by AFTRA (the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists). This meant that all the union talent, including the WABC airstaff, was taken off the air and replaced by management personnel. It was all very strange. But, according to the tribute site,,  PD Rick Sklar could turn anything into a promotion, and the strike was no exception.

Listen to an  aircheck which features a brief montage compiled from hours of tape. It includes:
  • The "strikebound sound" jingle that Rick Sklar ordered from PAMS (Series 31).
  • Hal Neal, president of ABC Radio, filling in as a newsman giving background on the strike.
  • The "super pickets" promo. This was, of course, a take-off on the station's weekly "superhit sounds" promo which featured excerpts from the week's top 5 songs. It's a promotion masterpiece and it worked. Whenever one of the All Americans tried to take part in the picket line outside the ABC building, they'd be mobbed by autograph seekers!
  • Rick Sklar worked as the booth announcer in the evening.
Finally the strike ended. And within 30 minutes of the announcement, Cousin Bruce was back on the air.
Gene Klavan, Dee Finch
➦In 1983...Dee Finch, who for 16 years was the straight-man partner of Gene Klavan on WNEW Radio's ''Klavan and Finch'' early morning show, died at age 65 of a heart attack after attending his mother's funeral in Binghamton NY.

From 1947 to 1952, he teamed up with Gene Rayburn in a zany disk-jockey show known for an irreverence toward commercials and a penchant for inserting incongruous material in the music being broadcast.  He retired in 1968.

Klavan commented on Dee Finch in 1984: “He was spectacular. He was more than a straight man. People say a straight man, but he had a marvelous sense of humor.  A great voice and a fetching laugh.  I mean if he laughed even I couldn’t help it, I would break up, basically he was a really good actor.  He adlibbed, we never prepared anything, even though I used to hope we would sometimes.  He had a great understanding of what we were doing.  We were two minds without any.”

➦In 2003…Longtime radio personality Bob Anderson died after a heart attack  in Portland, ME at age 59.

➦In 2005...Don Rose died in his sleep at age 70 (Born -Donald Duane Rosenberg; July 5, 1934). He was one of American's best radio personalities.  He worked at legendary stations like KFRC, San Francisco; WFIL, Philadelphia and other markets.

Rose was born Donald Duane Rosenberg in North Platte, Nebraska, and got his first experience in broadcasting at age 15 while reporting on his trip to the Boy Scout National Jamboree in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, for KODY in his hometown.

He began his career in 1955 at KWBE in Beatrice, Nebraska, while majoring in accounting at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. He moved to KLMN/Lincoln shortly thereafter, and then was hired by KOIL/Omaha, a job that appeared to be so promising that he dropped out of college in his senior year. He was fired by the station four weeks later.

His next job, at KTSA/San Antonio, also lasted only four weeks. Returning to Nebraska, he held an announcing position at KRNY/Kearney for about 15 months before being terminated again. His next employer, the Union Pacific Railroad, offered only manual labor — pounding spikes into the railbed — but he continued to pursue work in radio, and acquired a job at KTUL/Tulsa.

His next broadcasting position was in KWMT/Fort Dodge, Iowa, where he first complemented his jokes with cowbells and other barnyard sounds. His stay in Fort Dodge wasn't lengthy, but it was there that he met his future wife, Kae, to whom he remained married for the next 45 years of his life.

From Iowa it was on to WEBC/Duluth, Minn., followed by his first taste of big-market success, as morning host at WQXI/Atlanta ("Quixie In Dixie"), his fame made ever-lasting by his inclusion as the 1967 entry in the popular series of "Cruisin’" LP records. Originally hired for the nine-to-noon slot, he was shifted to morning drive shortly after his arrival, and soon became the number one deejay in town.

With Dr. Don as morning anchor, KFRC was voted "Station of the Year" four times by Billboard Magazine.

He was considered by many to be the king of radio in the Bay Area during the final decade of AM's musical dominance.

He was named by Billboard Magazine as Disc Jockey of the Year on both the East Coast (while with WFIL Philadelphia) and on the West Coast (while with KFRC San Francisco). One of Rose's characteristic "sound bite" mannerisms when he was at KFRC was to state the words "that's right" in a continuous fashion that was intended to sound "crazy" or funny, which also served to represent the overall morning zoo radio format, style and "feel" of his show.

"I'm married to radio," he told The Chronicle (San Francisco) in 1975, "and I'm thinking about suing it for nonsupport. I would describe my show as therapy, for myself."

Dr. Don Rose raised a total of over $10 million by hosting March of Dimes Superwalks for 20 years. As well, he emceed many golf tourneys, including his own, with proceeds going toward Special Olympics and special education.

Despite his cheerful persona, Rose suffered over three decades of debilitating pain from assorted medical problems. In 1972, he underwent a botched heart surgery, which caused chronic knee infections that required 11 more operations and led to his losing his kneecap. He broadcast his daily radio show flat on his back from his home hospital bed for months. In 1984, after a fall made the knee problems worse, one leg was amputated.

Dr. Don Rose last Top40 Show On KFRC-AM:

Rose had to alter his on-air act in 1986 when KFRC changed its format to Big Band Music and its imaging to Magic 61. He left KFRC permanently by the end of the year.

His departure from KFRC was followed by a short stint at KKIS/Concord-Walnut Creek beginning in 1987, where his son, Jay, was chief engineer. After a failed attempt at buying the station, Dr. Don moved to mornings at San Francisco's K101 (KIOI); four months later, he suffered a heart attack while on the air. He never returned to broadcasting on a full-time basis.

Elle MacPherson
  • Jennifer Capriati (tennis player) (44)
  • Vangelis (musician, "Chariots of Fire") (77)
  • Walt "Clyde" Frazier (Naismith Memorial Hall Of Fame basketball player) (75)
  • Eric Idle (British comedian, Monty Python's Flying Circus, mastermind of the Broadway musical Spamalot) (77)
  • Lucy Lawless (actress, Xena: Warrior Princess) (52)
  • Elle MacPherson (supermodel) (56, disputed)
  • Brendan Gleeson (actor, Braveheart, Gangs of New York, Cold Mountain, Troy, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, In Bruges) (65)
  • John Popper (singer of Blues Traveler) (53)
  • Amy Sedaris (actress, Strangers With Candy) (59)
  • Perry Farrell (singer of Jane's Addiction) (61)
  • Marina Sirtis (actress, Star Trek: The Next Generation's Deanna Troi) (65)
  • Christopher Lambert (actor, Greystoke: The Legend Of Tarzan, Lord Of The Apes, the Highlander movies) (63)
  • Bobby Kimball (singer, Toto) (73)
  • Terry Jacks (singer, "Seasons In The Sun") (76)
  • Chris D'Elia (actor/comedian, Undateable, Whitney) (40)
  • Singer Astrud Gilberto (The Girl from Ipanema) is 80.

Pentagon Eyes More States As Coronavirus Spreads

The U.S. military is watching coronavirus infection trends in Chicago, Michigan, Florida and Louisiana with concern as it weighs where else it may need to deploy, after boosting aid to New York, California and Washington, a top general said on Friday.

Reuters reports Air Force General John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the military was doing its own analysis as well as looking at data on infections compiled elsewhere in the government.

Gen John Hyten
"There's a certain number of places where we have concerns and they're: Chicago, Michigan, Florida, Louisiana," Hyten told a group of reporters, when asked where field hospitals could head next.

"Those are the areas that we're looking at and trying to figure out where to go next."

Confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States reached 100,040 on Friday, the highest number in the world, a Reuters tally showed.

The Army Corps of Engineers said on Friday it was aiming to provide facilities for 3,000 people with the coronavirus at Chicago's McCormick Place convention center by April 24 for about $75 million.

Lt.Gen Todd Semonite
Lieutenant General Todd Semonite, the Corps' commander, said the Corps was looking at potentially converting 114 facilities in the United States into hospitals.

Asked about Hyten's remarks, Semonite said he continued to be concerned about Michigan, Florida and Louisiana and had spoken with the governor of Louisiana. He said there could be a high demand for medical resources in Florida because of the aging population and added the Corps was developing options for the states.

The military is already deploying field hospitals to Seattle and New York. A Navy hospital ship arrived on Friday in Los Angeles and another one is expected to reach New York City on Monday, where Hyten said the city was still dredging the harbor to allow the massive ship to dock.

Each ship has a capacity of about 1,000 beds and would not treat coronavirus patients, instead taking pressure off overwhelmed civilian hospitals.

But Hyten cautioned that the U.S. military only had limited medical capacity in the United States and, at some point, it would have to tap the reserve forces -- while guarding against drawing medical staff away from civilian facilities.

COVID 19 Is Making 2020 Worse For ViacomCBS

ViacomCBS is proving that it’s a tough time to be the smallest major media company.

The company alerted Wall Street analysts Friday that it was abandoning its financial guidance for the year, reports The L-A Times.

“The impact of COVID-19 on ViacomCBS’ businesses — including the postponement of theatrical releases domestically and internationally, cancellation or rescheduling of sports events for which the company had broadcast rights, and production delays in television and filmed entertainment programming — could be material to the company’s operating results, cash flows and financial position,” ViacomCBS said in a regulatory filing. It noted that the media company would cut costs to help shore up its position.

It has been a bruising year for controlling shareholder Shari Redstone, who triumphed in her long-held plan to reunite her family’s two media companies — Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp. — in early December. She wanted to bring more heft and luster to the company her father built: Viacom, owner of cable channels Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, VH-1, BET and the struggling Paramount Pictures movie studio. Adding CBS, which boasts America’s most watched TV network, was intended to propel Viacom to greater heights.

But Wall Street didn’t share Redstone’s enthusiasm, and the coronavirus outbreak only added to the company’s woes. The stock has plummeted 68% since the two companies came together in early December, creating ViacomCBS.

After markets closed Friday, ViacomCBS announced that it had raised $2.5 billion in a debt offering that it hopes to close by Wednesday. The New York-based company said it would use the net proceeds for “general corporate purposes, which may include repayment of outstanding indebtedness.”

Wall Street greeted the news positively, sending ViacomCBS shares slightly higher in after-markets trading.

Nonetheless, Friday’s dual actions underscore the challenges facing the company, which relies heavily on advertising. In the last few months, ViacomCBS has announced plans to sell CBS’ historic headquarters in midtown Manhattan, a fortress known as Black Rock. It also intends to shed CBS’ iconic Simon & Schuster book publishing house. ViacomCBS plans to wait to sell Black Rock after the financial markets stabilize.

ViacomCBS’ disclosures came one day after the Redstone family investment vehicle, National Amusements Inc., announced that it restructured its agreements with lenders and refinanced its $125-million revolving credit facility. National Amusements had to cancel another $75 million line of credit for its NAI Entertainment Holdings Inc.

Entertainment Giants Pledge Millions In Help

Entertainment giant WarnerMedia has committed $100 million to help production crew members whose livelihoods have been threatened by the spreading coronavirus outbreak, said the company’s Chief Executive John Stankey in a Friday memo to staff.

The L-A Times reports the disclosure comes after the global COVID-19 pandemic effectively brought Hollywood to a standstill in recent weeks, as studios scrambled to comply with government “stay at home” orders meant to slow the virus’ spread.

AT&T Inc-owned WarnerMedia — the parent company of the Warner Bros. movie and TV studio, HBO and Turner networks — has been forced to pause multiple productions because of public health concerns.

Burbank-based Warner Bros., for example, has hit the brakes on filming “The Batman” in Britain and an Elvis Presley biopic in Australia. Actor Tom Hanks, who is featured in the latter film, was among the first celebrities to contract the virus, as was his wife, Rita Wilson. HBO has stopped production of “Succession” and “Barry.”

New York-based WarnerMedia is the latest entertainment giant to announce funds for production crews and other personnel now out of work because of the halt of shooting. Well more than 100,000 people across the entertainment industry are estimated to have lost work, including carpenters, electricians and drivers.

NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell on Thursday said the Comcast Corp. subsidiary has committed $150 million to help TV, film and theme park workers who have been idled by the coronavirus response. Shell also said he had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Streamer Netflix made a similar commitment last week, pledging $100 million to help crew get through the work stoppage. About $15 million of the Netflix fund will go toward helping the broader television and film industry via third parties and nonprofit agencies, the company said.

The disclosure by Stankey, who is also chief operating officer of AT&T, was part of a broader letter thanking staff for their perseverance at a time when companies have had to briskly move to working remotely.

Entertainment concerns including WarnerMedia have been pilloried by challenges stemming from the epidemic, such as the closure of movie theaters. The film studio has adapted by putting its theatrical releases on video on-demand services much sooner than it would normally have done, including “Birds of Prey.”

The cancellation of sporting events such as the NBA and March Madness, which are a key driver of ratings and advertising revenue for TNT and TBS, have disrupted business as well.

Living Room Concert for America Airs Sunday

“This is something completely different than we’ve ever tried before,” explained iHeart Media president of entertainment John Sykes, who is hard at work putting together “FOX Presents the iHeart Living Room Concert for America” that will air on Sunday night.

When Sykes and iHeart Media chief programming officer Tom Poleman began reaching out to artists, asking them to partake in the “Living Room Concert for America,” they emailed Elton John and asked him to perform.

“We were surprised to get an email back, the next day, saying, ‘Hey, how about I host?’ We would like to take credit for going to him as a host, but it was Elton’s idea,” Poleman told Fox News.

Sykes and “Jingle Ball” pioneer Poleman have produced some elaborate events during their careers but the logistical issues surrounding the ‘Living Room Concert’ are unprecedented.

Mariah, Tim, Elton
It all started when the “iHeart Radio Music Awards,” originally scheduled to air Sunday night on FOX, were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Execs quickly huddled to figure out an alternative.

Sykes said they wanted to create a fundraiser to raise not only cash, but also awareness for the “incredible work being done by first responders” who represent the “strength and compassion” of America.

“Part of the reason why we couldn’t do an [awards] show is because everybody’s stuck in their living rooms. So how do you make the most out of being stuck in your living rooms? Let’s do a concert where we’re all connected via living rooms,” Poleman said.

“We did a quick pivot… started calling artists at their homes,” Sykes said.

Poleman, who has even more big-name musicians reaching out to him trying to get involved, is grateful that FOX offered for the concert to be commercial-free so that he can fit as many performances as possible. And it seems like they’ll need every available minute, as additional performers will be announced leading up to Sunday’s show.

“Artists are coming in like crazy. From all around the world, we’re getting phone calls from people who want to support it,” he said. “It’s amazing when Americans, and really the world, get our back up against the wall, we really shine brightest.”

Nashville Radio: Vince Gill returns To The Opry

Vince Gill is returning to the Grand Ole Opry for the second week in a row, and this time, he's bringing the family with him.

The Tennessean reports Gill will perform on Saturday's Opry with wife Amy Grant and daughters Jenny Gill and Corrina Grant Gill.

The show starts at 7 p.m. CT, and will air live on Nashville radio station WSM 650 AM and the Opry's new Circle TV network. It will also be streamed live on Circle's Facebook and YouTube pages.

To help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Opry has continued its Saturday broadcasts from Nashville's Grand Ole Opry House without a live audience.

A new press release confirms the show is continuing with the blessing of Nashville Mayor John Cooper, who issued a Safer-At-Home order for the city earlier this week.

Cooper said Saturday's show is "an important reminder to Nashvillians and millions of people around the world that the music will always continue playing in Music City. With families safely watching and listening from their homes across our city, we are grateful to have some of our city’s greatest ambassadors – Vince Gill, Amy Grant and members of their family stepping on to the stage Saturday night to lift our spirits.”

Meanwhile, Country singer Joe Diffie said Friday that he's tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

"I am under the care of medical professionals and currently receiving treatment," Diffie said in a release. "My family and I are asking for privacy at this time. We want to remind the public and all my fans to be vigilant, cautious and careful during this pandemic.”

Diffie, 61, is best known for the '90s country hits "Pickup Man," "John Deere Green," "Third Rock From the Sun" and more. He has been planning to release "I Got This," his first new album in seven years.

Earlier this month, Diffie postponed a concert in Georgia due to coronavirus concerns.

So Far So Good: Internet Meeting At-Home Demands

Home internet and wireless connectivity in the U.S. have largely withstood unprecedented demands as more Americans work and learn remotely.

The Wall Street Journal reports broadband and wireless service providers say traffic has jumped in residential areas at times of the day when families would typically head to offices and schools. Still, that surge in usage hasn’t yet resulted in widespread outages or unusually long service disruptions, industry executives and analysts say. That is because the biggest increases in usage are happening during normally fallow periods.

Some service providers have joked that internet usage during the pandemic doesn’t compare to the Super Bowl or season finale of the popular HBO show “Game of Thrones” in terms of strain on their networks, Evan Swarztrauber, senior policy adviser to the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said this week on a call hosted by consulting company Recon Analytics Inc.

Broadband consumption during the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. has risen by more than 50% since January, according to broadband data company OpenVault, which measured connections in more than one million homes. Usage during the peak early-evening hours increased 20% as of March 25.

OpenVault estimates that average data consumption per household in March will reach nearly 400 gigabytes, a nearly 11% increase over the previous monthly record in January.

Trish Regan Out at Fox Business Network

The Fox Business anchor Trish Regan has departed the cable news network, two weeks after she was benched following an on-air monologue in which she dismissed concerns about the coronavirus as a “scam” fueled by enemies of President Trump.

The NY Times reports the network said on Friday that it “has parted ways” with Ms. Regan, whose prime-time program was abruptly pulled from the channel’s schedule earlier this month.

In a statement of her own that was distributed by the network, Ms. Regan, 47, wrote that she was looking forward to “this next chapter” of her career. “I have enjoyed my time at Fox and now intend to focus on my family during these troubles times,” she wrote.

Conservative media stars have faced intense scrutiny after many played down fears about the coronavirus, assuring millions of Americans that concerns about the illness had been overhyped by Democrats and journalists intent on undermining Mr. Trump.

Ms. Regan’s remarks, on her March 9 program, were singled out as misleading and reckless, including by many of her colleagues at Fox Business and its corporate sibling, Fox News. On air, she accused liberals of rooting for a market collapse and trying to “demonize and destroy the president” in front of a graphic reading, “Coronavirus Impeachment Scam.”

Regan had been a notable part of the Fox Business team since joining in March 2015, after stints at Bloomberg, CNBC and CBS News.

Rush Limbaugh Updates Health and Treatment

Rush Limbaugh shared an update on his health with his radio listeners on Friday as he is battling stage 4 lung cancer: "The chemo drugs are working."

The Blaze reports Limbaugh, who took several days off from his show, assured his audience, "I'm fine. I'm sitting here at my official home library desk, and I am fine."

"El Rushbo," as he is popularly called, explained to his listeners that the lung cancer he has involved a rate mutation of a gene that occurs only in 1% to 5% of cancer patients.

"Now," he said, "ordinarily that would be very bad news because it would be something that maybe there's no medicine for or that there's no targeted treatment for."

However, Limbaugh said the rate mutation is a blessing in disguise.

"It turns out it was good news because there is a clinical trial of a combination of chemo drugs that has been very successful in attacking this particular gene mutation in melanoma cancers," he said.

The chemotherapy drugs Limbaugh is taking is part of a promising stage 2 clinical trial to treat the specific kind of lung cancer mutation he has.

"America's Anchorman" noted that although the four weeks of the therapy went "great," he had to stop the treatment because of the medication's painful side effects:

I guess it got bad enough last Monday or whatever that we had to pull the treatment. We had to pull the treatment, and it was going to be just temporary for a week or two to see what would happen. I'm now taking drugs, steroids, to reverse the effects of the chemo drug.

Although Limbaugh said he now feels better, he said he spent several days with fevers ranging 102 to 103 degrees and unbearable pain in his legs.

"I've currently suspended the treatment and we're looking at alternatives, and there are plenty of those," he said. "But I've gotta get the swelling down and get this pain taking care of."

ESPN’s Doris Burke Recovering After Coronavirus

Doris Burke
One of America’s most popular sportscasters is doing better after testing positive for coronavirus, The NY Post reports.

ESPN’s Doris Burke said on Adrian Wojnarowski’s podcast, “The Woj Pod,” that she contracted the pandemic virus and experienced symptoms more than two weeks ago.

“I did test positive for COVID-19 and basically my first symptoms looking back on it was March 11 which was the day I was broadcasting Denver at Dallas, which was obviously the moment when Rudy Gobert tested positive, which set off the ensuing series of events,” Burke said of the Utah Jazz center, who since has been cleared of the virus, the team announced earlier Friday. “I’m doing quite well now, to be perfectly honest with you. But I’ve had an interesting couple of weeks.”

The 54-year-old Burke added that she was having lunch with broadcast partner Ryan Ruocco and their crew on March 11 when she remarked how tired she was and that her head was “pounding.”

“Looking back, those were my symptoms. We’ve heard so much about shortness of breath, fever, tightness in your chest, chills, body aches, etc. For me, looking my symptom was extraordinary fatigue,” said Burke, who called the Nuggets-Mavericks game that night. “By the time Saturday the 14th hit, I was so tired, that I tried to get out of bed from Saturday the 14th through Tuesday the 17th, St Patrick’s Day.

“I kid you not, I could not be out of bed for five minutes without needing to go back to bed and lay down. It was that Tuesday, St. Patrick’s Day, I was thinking, boy, I don’t have any of the normal symptoms, but it seems to me I probably should get tested.”

Burke said she took the test later that week, and it took several days before she received her test results from the Department of Health.

ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit Predicts Fall Football Will Be Cancelled

ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit said he would be "shocked" if the NFL or college football began their regular seasons this fall due to the lack of a coronavirus vaccine, The Hill reports.

Speaking on ESPN Radio, the "College Gameday" star questioned how it would be permissible to open locker rooms or "let stadiums be filled up" amid public health concerns.

“I’ll be shocked if we have NFL football this fall, if we have college football,” Herbstreit said in comments highlighted by TMZ. “I’ll be so surprised if that happens.”

“Just because from what I understand, people that I listen to, [say] you're 12 to 18 months from a [coronavirus] vaccine. I don’t know how you let these guys go into locker rooms and let stadiums be filled up and how you can play ball. I just don’t know how you can do it with the optics of it,” Herbstreit added. “Next thing you know you got a locker room full of guys that are sick. And that’s on your watch? I wouldn’t want to have that."

“As much as I hate to say it, I think we’re scratching the surface of where this thing’s gonna go," he said.

Almost all major American sports outside of horse racing — including Major League Baseball, the NBA, NCAA college basketball, the PGA, NHL, MLS, NASCAR and XFL — have all seen their seasons postponed or canceled in recent weeks as the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread across the country.

The U.S. death toll from coronavirus currently stands at 1,380 with the overall number of cases reaching nearly 93,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Ft. Wayne Radio: COVID-19 Blamed For WGL Shut Down

Screenshot from WGL website
M-C has learned that this past Monday, Adams Radio discontinued the FOX Sports format on their WGL 1250 AM, Fort Wayne and took the station off the air temporarily, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There has been no word on when or whether the station will resume broadcasting.

WGL history dates back to 1925, when its license was issued, using call letter WHBJ starting on March 3, 1925 .  The station has been airing a sports format wince 1998.

Meanwhile, Radio Insight reports Bustos Media. filed earlier this week to take KXET 1130 AM Mount Angel in Portland and KMIA 1210 AM in Auburn-Federal Way, WA off the air “due to health considerations and economic conditions in light of the coronavirus emergency”.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts Donates $5M For Laptops

Comcast Corp. CEO Brian Roberts, his wife Aileen and their family are donating $5 million for the Philadelphia public school system to buy laptops so students can start being taught remotely during the coronavirus pandemic, the Philadelphia Business Journal reports.

The Roberts
The donation, made to the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia, will support the purchase of 50,000 Chromebooks which will be distributed alongside 40,000 laptops already in school buildings. The computers will be distributed between April 13 and April 17. In the intervening time, the school will prepare the laptops and train teachers to support remote learning.

“We’re living in an unprecedented time and COVID-19 is presenting our society with new challenges every day,” the Roberts said in a statement.

“When we heard that many Philadelphia students weren’t going to be able to learn from home without laptops, we quickly decided we wanted to help and provide these teachers, parents and students with the technology they need to begin learning online within just a few weeks. In good times or bad, now all of our Philadelphia students will have access to technology to help them succeed.”

March 28 Radio History

➦In 1924...WGN-AM, Chicago, Illinois, signed-on.

The predecessor to the current WGN was WDAP, which signed on the air on May 19, 1922, and was founded by Thorne Donnelley and Elliott Jenkins. Originally based in the Wrigley Building, the station moved its operations to the Drake Hotel in July.

WGN's main studio in Tribune Tower, circa '30s-'40s
On May 12, 1923, the Zenith Radio Company signed on radio station WJAZ from the Edgewater Beach Hotel. However, after this brief period, the Tribune switched its operations to WDAP, and the Zenith station became WEBH,  the license eventually being deleted on November 30, 1928.

Scopes Trial 1925
Early programming was noted for its creativity and innovation. It included live music, political debates, comedy routines, and some of radio's first sporting event broadcasts, including the Indianapolis 500 automobile race, and a live broadcast of the 1925 Scopes Trial from Dayton, Tennessee. In 1926, WGN broadcast Sam & Henry, a daily serial with comic elements created and performed by Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll. After a dispute with the station in 1927, Gosden and Correll took the program's concept and announcer Bill Hay across town to WMAQ 670 AM and created the first syndicated radio show, Amos 'n' Andy.  WGN 720 AM served as a founding member of the Mutual Broadcasting System.

Over many decades, WGN was a "full service" radio station.

The station played small amounts of music during the mornings and afternoon hours, moderate amounts of music on weekends during the day, aired midday and evening talk shows, and sports among other features. The station's music was easy listening/MOR-based until the 1970s, when its switched to more of an adult contemporary-type sound.

Music programming was phased out during the 1980s, and by 1990, the station's lineup mainly consisted of talk shows. In 1961, the WGN radio and television stations moved to a studio facility on West Bradley Place in the North Center neighborhood, a move undertaken for civil defense concerns in order to provide the station a safe base to broadcast in case of a hostile attack targeting downtown Chicago.

WGN radio moved back to North Michigan Avenue in 1986, relocating its operations to a studio in the Pioneer Court extension (WGN-TV remained at the Bradley Place facility, where that station operates to this day).

Some former well-known personalities on WGN include longtime morning hosts Wally Phillips, Bob Collins, Spike O'Dell, Paul Harvey and Roy Leonard. Orion Samuelson has been the station's farm reporter since 1960. Late-night hosts over the years have included Franklyn MacCormack, Chicago Ed Schwartz, Don Vogel and the husband-and-wife team of Steve King and Johnnie Putman.

Louella Parsons
➦In 1941...Newspaper columnist Louella Parsons hosted the CBS Radio Network show 'Hollywood Premiere' for the first time. Parsons introduced famous guests who appeared in dramatized stories.

In 1914, Parsons began writing the first gossip column in the United States for the Chicago Record Herald. William Randolph Hearst bought that newspaper in 1918 and Parsons was out of a job, as Hearst had not yet discovered that movies and movie personalities were news. Parsons then moved to New York City and started working for the New York Morning Telegraph writing a similar movie column, which attracted the attention of Hearst.

In 1923, after shrewd bargaining on both sides, she signed a contract and joined the Hearst newspaper the New York American.

There was persistent speculation that Parsons was elevated to the Hearst chain's lead gossip columnist because of a scandal she didn't write about. Director Thomas Ince died aboard Hearst's yacht in 1924 under murky circumstances.

Initially, Hearst newspapers falsely claimed that Ince had not been aboard the boat at all and had fallen ill at Hearst's home. Charlie Chaplin's secretary reported seeing a bullet hole in Ince's head when his body was carried off the yacht. It has been widely written that Chaplin was conducting an affair with Hearst's mistress, and that an attempt to shoot Chaplin may have caused Ince's death. Also aboard the yacht that night was Parsons, who ignored the story in her columns.

As she and the publishing mogul developed an ironclad relationship, her Los Angeles Examiner column came to appear in over six hundred newspapers the world over, with a readership of more than twenty-million, and Parsons gradually became one of the most powerful voices in the movie business with her daily allotment of gossip.

Parsons column - 1944
 Beginning in 1928, she hosted a weekly radio program featuring movie star interviews that was sponsored by SunKist. A similar program in 1931 was sponsored by Charis Foundation Garment. In 1934, she signed a contract with the Campbell's Soup Company and began hosting a program titled Hollywood Hotel, which showcased stars in scenes from their upcoming movies.

Parsons saw herself as the social and moral arbiter of Hollywood. Her judgments were considered the final word in many cases, and many feared her disfavor even more than that of movie critics.

➦In 1944...The radio station owned by The New york Times, WQXR radio in New York City banned singing commercials from its airwaves as of this day.

The following statement was published in the WQXR Program Guide:
"Only a few advertisers are affected by the new ruling and their spots will be permitted to continue until the expiration of their contracts. All of these are short-term contracts which will expire within the next few weeks. 
"Because WQXR specializes in the presentation of good music, the station has found that "singing commercials" are too much of a transition from good music and that they are apt to create ill will among WQXR listeners for the advertiser as well as the station. On the other hand, WQXR listeners have always supported enthusiastically those advertisers who presented their sales messages in keeping with the programs  of the station. 
"This is not a ban of all transcribed announcements. Spots containing other types of music conforming to the station's musical policy will continue to be accepted. For example, an excerpt from a musical production--such as an opera, operetta or motion picture--may be included in an announcement advertising such a production, if the musical selection fits in with the musical standards of the station. 
"As to non-musical transcriptions, WQXR will continue to accept those which are in keeping with station programming."

➦In 1986...6,000+ radio stations in the U-S played "We Are The World" at exactly 10:15 a.m. Eastern.

"We Are the World" was a charity single originally recorded by the supergroup United Support of Artists (USA) for Africa in 1985. It was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and produced by Quincy Jones for the album We Are the World. With sales in excess of 20 million copies, it is one of fewer than 30 retail singles to have sold at least 10 million copies worldwide.

The song was released on March 7, 1985, as the first single from the album. A worldwide commercial success, it topped music charts throughout the world and became the fastest-selling American pop single in history. The first ever single to be certified multi-platinum, "We Are the World" received a Quadruple Platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America.

➦In of the prominent announcers of radio’s “Golden Era,” Wendell Niles succumbed to cancer at age 89.  He was heard on such popular fare as The Bob Hope Show, The Burns & Allen Show, The Milton Berle Show and The Chase and Sanborn Hour.

➦In 2016...Wally Crouter, a radio personality who served as morning host of Toronto’s CFRB 1010 AM for an incredible 50 years, died peacefully in his sleep at age

  • Lady Gaga (singer/actress) (34)
  • Reba McEntire (country singer, actress) (65)
  • Vince Vaughn (actor, Swingers, Old School, Starsky & Hutch, Wedding Crashers) (50)
  • Dianne Wiest (actress, Radio Days, Hannah & Her Sisters) (72)
  • Julia Stiles (actress, The Prince And Me, The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum, Mona Lisa Smile, 10 Things I Hate About You, Dexter) (39)
  • John Evan (former keyboardist, Jethro Tull) (72)
  • Brett Ratner (director, Rush Hour movies, X-Men: The Last Stand, Red Dragon, The Family Man) (51)
  • Shanna Moakler (beauty queen, ex-wife of Blink 182's Travis Barker) (45)
  • J-Kwon (rapper, "Tipsy") (34)

Friday, March 27, 2020

Nielsen: Radio Is America's 'Comfort Food'

As more Americans opt to stay home amid growing concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), media consumption is, unsurprisingly, peaking, according to Nielsen. Yet amid the various media options consumers have to choose from, including streaming platforms and connected TVs, a recent Nielsen survey found that 83% of consumers say they’re listening to as much or more radio as they were before the pandemic.

As is the case with local TV viewership in times of crisis, radio and on-air personalities present a connection to the real world that listeners gravitate toward and trust. Nielsen reports 60% of Americans of adults 18 and older hold radio in high regard and trust it to deliver timely information about the current COVID-19 outbreak. "In a time of heightened uncertainty and disrupted routines, consumers are turning to radio as a trusted source of information and community connection, mirroring patterns observed during past regional and national disasters and weather events," said Brad Kelly, Managing Director, Nielsen Audio.

Assessing the time consumers spend with media is critical for both radio stations and advertisers, regardless of whether the country is in a crisis.

Americans are already spending almost 12 hours each day with media, and that time could grow by 60% among those who stay indoors. The current situation amplifies our reliance on media, and radio stations and advertisers have an opportunity to create lasting relationships with an extremely captive audience—an audience that almost universally (92%) says it’s moderately or extremely concerned about COVID-19. Importantly, 42% of consumers say that radio has helped them deal with the outbreak.

Edison: 8% Of Radio Listening Occurs On Digital Devices

Share of Ear® data from Edison Research shows slow and small growth for listening to radio streams

As the entire U.S. population is turned upside down by the COVID-19 crisis, disrupting nearly every pattern of ‘normal’ life, it is crucial that the broadcast radio industry has access to correct information regarding where it stands today.

Periodically, Edison Research has released its estimate of what portion of all listening to AM/FM content happens on a traditional radio receiver and how much is done on a digital device.

As of the most recent update, Q4 2019, the portion of AM/FM listening represented by the streams is 8%. “Traditional” radio listening through a receiver like a car radio or clock radio is 92% of all listening.

“We’ve been tracking the changes in radio listening since the beginning of Share of Ear in 2014. The portion of listening that is digital goes up a tiny bit with each update, but the total amount remains small,” says Larry Rosin, President of Edison Research. “Streaming is a bigger factor for spoken-word stations such as public radio news, sports and news talk.”

“Determining shares like these can’t be done in a simple manner,” continued Rosin, “you have to put in the work. You need a methodology that takes time spent listening into account, and you need to fully represent the American population, including not only those online but also those who are either not online or lightly online.”

Edison’s Share of Ear® study is the only research that measures the entire world of audio, looking at platform of listening, time of day, device on which the audio was consumed, the kind of programming, and the location of listening. The study will continue to measure the audio space and perhaps will show that the current crisis is indeed bringing changes.

“President Obama’s then chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is credited with coining the aphorism: ‘Never let a serious crisis go to waste.’ If the radio industry is ever going to really ‘turn the corner’ on digital listening, this may need to be the crisis that makes it happen. Radio needs to do all it can to remind listeners that they still can listen, on smart speakers, through phone apps, and their computers,” says Rosin.

LI NY Radio: Hosts Bonding With Listeners

Radio Hosts and executives at the big three Long Island radio groups (JVC, Connoisseur and Cox) say more, and perhaps many more, people are tuning in than usual. Newsday reports media consumption is up everywhere because audiences are captive and the appetite for information is insatiable.

Yet for Long Island radio the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented and, at least in theory, potentially catastrophic. The streets are empty, most stores and offices closed. Cars and offices are radio's natural element and key venues, while morning drive-time is radio's prime-time but "there's no doubt that after 7 a.m. we're feeling increased interaction from a larger quantity of  listeners," says Luce. "They're Long Islanders with more time to listen, less hectic schedules, and they're spending more hours listening because this is a serious situation."

Ana-Maria Carabello
Ana-Maria Caraballo, co-host of a Spanish-language morning show on WBON 98.5 La Fiesta, says "We usually get a surge of listener [calls] at 8 a.m. and now the same thing is happening from 6 a.m. all the way through to 9 p.m. at night."

Jim Condron, who runs Connoisseur's five LI-based stations (WALK, WBZO, WKJY, WWSK and WHLI) declines to offer specifics about listenership, but confirms that "there will be a dramatic change in where people listen and how people listen."

Like the rest of the media world, radio has pivoted to meet the times, reports Newsday.  Listenership may be up, but business is lousy so in lieu of ads, stations are airing PSAs reminding everyone that this horror show will be over some day and their doors back open. Without ads, there's more music on their air and lots more talk too.

They're also reaching out to listeners in new and novel ways. Connoisseur, for example, has forged an alliance with LI Cares to help "80,000 food-insecure school-age kids," says Condron. Along with her radio show, Caraballo has launched a Facebook Live series for her listeners, many of whom are particularly hard pressed, telling them "how to get financial help, where to go for supplies, where to go to report price gouging," she says.

John Caracciolo
John Caracciolo, chief executive of JVC Media which owns four Long Island stations along with a handful in Florida, says "we're tough on Long Island, and we stick together, and we get mad together and — I think — we stand together. In Florida, everyone's spread out and it's every man for himself."

He admits something else has now crept into the conversation. That would be fear bound to isolation.

Andrew Sykora, the "Syke" of WBLI 106.1 FM's long-running morning team "Syke and MJ,"  puts it this way: "We're always supposed to smile-and-get-through-this, and as Long Islanders, we always get through whatever we're faced with. When there's a crisis we come together but with this pandemic we're told to stay apart." Radio at least offer some chance to re-group, he says.

Carol Silva, recently retired News12 morning anchor who spent the first part of her career at various Long Island radio stations, says that radio can "hyperlocalize" in ways TV couldn't even dream of but adds that "people literally want to be heard and radio offers that opportunity. It's much easier to have a two-way conversation with listeners who are used to calling their radio station. It's what they do."

U-K Radio: Listening Booms While Music Streaming Stalls

U-K Radio listening figures have experienced a boom as a direct result of coronavirus, new figures suggest.

Global, which owns Capital FM and LBC, has said online listening rose by 15 per cent in the last week, with many favouring the radio over streaming apps.

In contrast, data from US analytics companies suggests that use of streaming apps such as Spotify has dropped by about 8 per cent.

“These figures indicate that the public are turning to radio in times of crisis,” a Global spokeswoman told the BBC.

The BBC has also said that streaming of its radio stations has risen 18 per cent since last week.

As people across the UK begin working from home as a result of coronavirus, it has been suggested that they have listened to the radio for “companionship”, which has resulted in the boom.

Radio Joint Audience Research (Rajar), the official organisation that measures radio listening figures in the UK, has not released its latest numbers yet.

According to trusted music industry monitor BuzzAngle, US music streaming between 13-19 March fell by 8.8% compared with the previous week.

"There are likely to be multiple causes," said BBC News music reporter Mark Savage.

"Fewer people are commuting to work or going to the gym and shops that use Spotify for their in-store music are closing their doors.

"People who stream music in the office also seem to be turning off and watching Netflix instead and there's a big rise in radio listening - suggesting we're seeking companionship alongside our music."

U-S analytics provider Alpha Data said streams in the US has dropped some 7.6 per cent during the week of March 13 to March 19 when many Americans first self-quarantined and other non-essential outlets and businesses closed across the country.

A similar slump was also seen in album sales and digital song sales. Physical album sales dropped by a staggering 27.6 per cent, digital album sales fell by 12.4 per cent, and digital song sales plummeted by 10.7 per cent.

This comes as the UK became the latest country to announce strict coronavirus lockdown measures for the country.

Radio Groups Withdrawing 2020 Financial Guidance

iHeartMedia, Inc. announced Thursday that it is withdrawing its full-year 2020 financial guidance provided on its fourth quarter earnings call on February 27, 2020 due to heightened uncertainty related to the novel coronavirus pandemic, its impact on the operating and economic environment and related, near-term advertiser spending decisions.

"Given the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the duration and magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the U.S. economy, we believe it is appropriate to withdraw our full-year 2020 guidance. While we cannot determine the full extent of COVID-19’s impact on our business at this time, we are monitoring this rapidly evolving situation closely and look forward to discussing our business in greater detail as part of our first quarter 2020 earnings results investor call," said Bob Pittman, iHeart’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

Bob Pittman
"At iHeartMedia, our listeners rely on us as a trusted voice for companionship and calm and as a source for critically important information, especially during times of crisis and need, and we remain fully committed to fulfilling this mission."

"iHeartMedia had a strong January and February before the effects of COVID-19 began to unfold into a global pandemic in early March. The challenges that COVID-19 has created for advertisers and consumers has impacted iHeart’s revenue in recent weeks, creating a less clear business outlook in the near term," said Rich Bressler, iHeart’s President, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer.

"To maintain maximum financial flexibility during this period, we have drawn $350 million on our $450 million senior secured asset-based revolving credit facility ("ABL Facility"). We believe that the additional funds from drawing on our ABL Facility, in combination with our cash balance, provides us with a prudent level of liquidity at this time. We fully appreciate the unprecedented challenges posed by this crisis, however, we remain confident in our business, our employees and our strategy. With our experienced management team and our leadership position in the audio sector, we are committed to navigating this period while serving our audiences and other constituents."

Also, Salem Media Group is withdrawing its revenue and operating expense guidance for the first quarter of 2020 due to the growing social and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on current indications, Salem expects total first quarter 2020 revenue will be less than previously projected as a result of decreased revenues from advertising, programming, events and book sales.

And there are reports of paycuts.Adams Radio Group is cutting the salary for every employee by 10%.   CEO Ron Stone announced that “all employees agreed to take a ten percent temporary pay cut to prevent any downsizing of our staff. "I could not be prouder of our 7employees. Every employee of Adams Radio stepped up to do their part to ensure that no Adams employee would lose their position. We are a family. Our goal is singular. To ensure everyone in our company gets through this crisis with the least amount of harm. This test of our country’s ability to weather a storm is unlike anything any of us have seen, but we will get through this together, and be stronger for it. What seems like a huge sacrifice today, is miniscule compared to what our fathers, mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers sacrificed --Things could be much worse.”

Starting April 1, Beasley is reducing pay through June 30. In a memo, CEO Caroline Beasley stated she would be taking a 20% pay reduction.

Meanwhile, ViacomCBS has also pulled its FY20 outlook, citing the coronavirus pandemic. The company reaffirms its expectation to achieve $750M of full run-rate merger-related cost synergies over the next three years. It also reiterates the forecast of having 16M domestic paid streaming subscribers and 30M MAUs on Pluto TV at the end of 2020.

ViacomCBS says the coronavirus has created production delays, but the company has also seen increased viewership numbers across its properties.