Saturday, July 25, 2020

July 26 Radio History

Burns & Allen
➦In 1895...Grace Ethel Cecile Rosalie Allen was born (Died of a heart attack at age 69 – August 27, 1964). She was a vaudevillian and comedienne who became internationally famous as the zany partner and comic foil of husband George Burns, her straight man appearing with her on radio, television and film as the duo Burns and Allen.

For her contributions to the television industry, Gracie Allen was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6672 Hollywood Boulevard, while she and Burns were inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1988.

Co-star Bea Benaderet said of Allen in 1966: "She was probably one of the greatest actresses of our time."  Today, the annual Gracie Awards are named in her honor.

The Burns & Allen Show debuted on radio in 1932, and ended on TV with Gracie’s retirement 25 years later.

➦In 1903...Donald Voorhees born (Died at age 85 – January 10, 1989, Cape May Court House, NJ. He was a  composer and conductor who received an Emmy Award nomination for "Individual Achievements in Music" for his work on the television series, The Bell Telephone Hour.

Donald Voorhees
Starting in 1926, Voorhees' orchestra recorded prolifically for Columbia, Edison, Pathe, Perfect, Cameo, and Hit of the Week, playing the piano in early recordings. His recording career mostly ended in 1931, when he approached the bigger opportunities radio offered at the time. His first broadcast work was NBC Radio's The Texaco Fire Chief Show, which starred comedian Ed Wynn. Other of the programs he worked for was the Maxwell House Showboat, appearing in a 1933 "picturization", the short Captain Henry's Show Boat.

From 1935 to 1941, and from 1949 to 1953 (with Ardon Cornwell), Voorhees was the musical director and conductor for the radio and television show, Cavalcade of America.

Voorhees also served as conductor of the Bell Telephone Hour orchestra for 26 years, from its first broadcasts on radio in 1942 until its final television episode in 1968. He was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1966 for "Individual Achievements in Music" for his work on the series.

➦In 1921...Jean Parker Shepherd Jr. born (Died – October 16, 1999). He was a storyteller, radio and TV personality, writer and actor. He was often referred to by the nickname Shep. With a career that spanned decades, Shepherd is known for the film A Christmas Story (1983), which he narrated and co-scripted, based on his own semi-autobiographical stories.

After military service, Shepherd began his broadcast radio career in early 1945 on WJOB in Hammond, Indiana, later working at WTOD in Toledo, Ohio, in 1946. He began working in Cincinnati, Ohio, in January 1947 at WSAI, later also working at Cincinnati stations WCKY and WKRC the following year, before returning to WSAI. From 1951 to 1953, he had a late-night broadcast on KYW in Philadelphia, PA, after which he returned to Cincinnati for several shows on WLW. After a stint on television, he returned to radio. "Shep," as he was known, settled in at WOR 710 AM in New York Cit at the end of February 1955, and on an overnight slot in 1956, where he delighted his fans by telling stories, reading poetry (especially the works of Robert W. Service), and organizing comedic listener stunts.

When he was about to be released by WOR in 1956 for lack of sponsors, he did a commercial for Sweetheart Soap, not a sponsor, and was immediately fired. His listeners besieged WOR with complaints, and when Sweetheart offered to sponsor him he was reinstated. Eventually, he attracted more sponsors than he wanted.

His last WOR broadcast was on April 1, 1977. His subsequent radio work consisted of short segments on several other stations, including crosstown WCBS 880 AM, and occasional commentaries on NPR's All Things Considered. His final radio gig was the Sunday night radio show "Shepherd's Pie" on WBAI in the mid-1990s, which had him reading his stories uncut, uninterrupted and unabridged. The show was one of WBAI's most popular of the period.

Throughout his radio career, he performed entirely without scripts. His friend and WOR colleague Barry Farber marveled at how he could talk so long with so few notes.

He died Oct. 16 1999 at age 78.  In 2005 he was posthumously inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.

➦In 1944...The New York Times took-over ownership of WQXR AM & FM in NYC.

➦In 195?...WCBS 101.1 FM PD Jim Ryan was born.

Jim Ryan
Ryan joined CBS Radio in April 2010 as Program Director of WWFS Fresh 102.7 FM and Vice President, Adult Contemporary Programming. He was named Program Director of WCBS-FM since early 2014.

From September 1996 to April 2008, Ryan worked for iHeartMedia’s WLTW 106.7 Lite-FM. During his time at the station, Ryan programmed and served as Director of Adult Contemporary Programming, went on to become Vice President of AC Programming and was later elevated to Senior Vice President of AC Programming.

Prior to working in New York, Ryan played an instrumental role in establishing WBEB 101.1 FM in Philadelphia. Before joining CBS Radio, he was head of his own consulting company, Jim Ryan Media, where he advised many top radio stations, including market leaders in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston, and syndicated national personalities

Pete Fornatale
➦In 1969...One of the pioneers in FM Rock, Pete Fornatale started at rock WNEW 102.7 FM.

Fornatale hosted a weekly program, "Campus Caravan," on Fordham University's WFUV from 1964 to 1970. He began professionally in 1969 at WNEW-FM and also worked at WXRK. He returned to WFUV in 2001 and was heard weekly on his shows, "Mixed Bag" and "Mixed Bag Radio," which is also on XM satellite radio. He won the Armstrong Excellence in Broadcasting Award in 1983.

Fornatale died in New York City at age 66 on April 26, 2012 after suffering a brain hemorrhage.

➦In 2017...Voice actress June Foray died. She was best known as the voice of such animated characters as Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Lucifer from Disney's Cinderella, Cindy Lou Who, Jokey Smurf, Granny from the Warner Bros. cartoons directed by Friz Freleng, Grammi Gummi from Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears series, and Magica De Spell, among many others.

She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame honoring her voice work in television.

After entering radio as one of the WBZA Players at WBZA Springfield, MA, Foray starred in her own radio series Lady Make Believe in the late 1930s.   She soon became a popular voice actress, with regular appearances on coast-to-coast network shows including Lux Radio Theatre and The Jimmy Durante Show.

 She was still working well into her mid-90’s.

Darlene Love is 79
  • Actor Robert Colbert (“The Time Tunnel,” “Maverick”) is 89. 
  • Singer Darlene Love is 79. 
  • Singer Brenton Wood is 79. 
  • Singer Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones is 77.
  • Actor Helen Mirren is 75. 
  • Drummer Roger Taylor of Queen is 71. 
  • Actor Susan George is 70. 
  • Actor Nana Visitor (“Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”) is 63. 
  • Actor Kevin Spacey is 61. 
  • Singer Gary Cherone (Extreme, Van Halen) is 59. 
  • Actor Sandra Bullock is 56. 
  • Singer Jim Lindberg of Pennywise is 55. 
  • Actor Jeremy Piven is 55. 
  • Singer Wayne Wonder is 48. 
  • Actor Jason Statham (“Transporter” films) is 53. 
  • Actor Cress Williams (“Hart of Dixie,” “Close to Home”) is 50. 
  • Host Chris Harrison (“The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette”) is 49. 
  • Actor Kate Beckinsale (“The Aviator,” ″Pearl Harbor”) is 47. 
  • Actor Gary Owen (“Think Like A Man” films) is 47. 
  • Drummer Dan Konopka of OK Go is 46. 
  • Contemporary Christian singer Rebecca St. James is 43. 
  • Actor Eve Myles (“Victoria,” ″Broadchurch”) is 42. 
  • Actor Juliet Rylance (“American Gothic”) is 41. 
  • Actor Monica Raymund (“Chicago Fire,” ″Chicago P.D.”) is 34. 
  • Actor Francia Raisa (“The Secret Life of the American Teenager”) is 32. 
  • Drummer Jamie Sharpe (Rush of Fools) is 31. 
  • Actor Bianca Santos (“The Fosters”) is 30. 
  • Actor and singer Taylor Momsen of The Pretty Reckless is 27.

Judge: Media Companies Not Protected By WA Shield Law

Five Seattle news organizations have been ordered by a judge to turn over unpublished photos and videos from a May 30 protest to the police department.

King County Superior Court Judge Nelson Lee ruled the news outlets must comply with a subpoena, saying the images of videos were needed for an investigation into the alleged arson of Seattle Police Department vehicles and the theft of police-issued weapons, the Seattle Times reported.

Fox News reports the media companies subpoenaed are the Times and television stations KIRO 7, KING 5, KOMO 4 and KCPQ 13. The subpoena seeks images and videos during a 90-minute span of the protest.

Protesters damaged six police vehicles, stole equipment and set five vehicles on fire, authorities said. A loaded Glock 43 semi-automatic pistol and a loaded Colt M4 carbine rifle with a suppressor remain missing.

The ruling raises concerns from media professionals about the ability of journalists to independently cover events and public agencies.

“The media exist in large part to hold governments, including law enforcement agencies, accountable to the public,” said Seattle Times Executive Editor Matassa Flores, who opposes the order. “We don’t work in concert with government, and it’s important to our credibility and effectiveness to retain our independence from those we cover.”

Lee ruled the media groups were not protected by Washington shield law, which prevents journalists from having to turn over unpublished materials to authorities in most cases, the Times reported.

The subpoena would be limited to professional cameras and video equipment. Images and video taken by reporters themselves would be excluded. A July 30 court hearing was set where Lee will issue a final order. Meanwhile, both sides in the case will discuss how long it will take to handover the materials.

ESPN’s MLB Opening Day Games Attracted 4M Viewers

Major League Baseball started its Covid-19 regular season Thursday night with a record average 4 million viewers, the most-watched regular-season MLB game on any network since 2011, according to CNBC citing data from ESPN, which aired the opener.

The New York Yankees beat the Washington Nationals, 4-1, in MLB’s 2020 Opening Day on ESPN. New Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole, who signed a $324 million deal last December, earned his first victory for the team.

According to ESPN, the telecast was up “232% from last year’s Opening Night telecast between the Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners,” which drew 1.2 million viewers. The game peaked at 4.4 million viewers around 8:30 p.m.

If that data wasn’t enough for the doubleheader’s glory, the first game snagged an 8.4 rating in the D.C. market, which makes it the highest-rated regular season MLB game ever on ESPN in the region. Add to that, the second game snared a 6.8 rating in the City of Angels. That hits it out of the park to be the highest-rated regular-season MLB game on ESPN in the LA market, with the exception of the dramatic tiebreaker game against the Colorado Rockies on October 1, 2018.

“It also generated a 7.8 rating in the New York market, making it the highest-rated regular season MLB game on ESPN in the market since 2015,” ESPN said.

Also, the network’s second game, between the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers, generated an average of 2.7 million viewers, making it “ESPN’s most-watched MLB regular season late night ET game ever.”

A&E Has Lost Half Its Viewers Since Dropping ‘Live PD’

Ratings for A&E Network have plummeted since it canceled the hit police reality show “Live PD” on June 10, a sign of how much the network relies on law-enforcement programming.

FOX Business reports average prime-time viewership for A&E between June 11 and July 19 was 498,000 people, down 49% from the same period last year, according to data from Nielsen. In the key demographics of adults 18-49 and 25-54, the declines are 55% and 53%, respectively.

The show, which follows police on their rounds in multiple cities simultaneously, averaged about 1.9 million viewers for its Friday and Saturday night episodes, repeatedly re-aired on other days. It spawned several successful spinoff shows, also canceled.

A&E, co-owned by the Walt Disney Co. and Hearst Corp., dropped “Live PD” in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. The death has sparked protests about police violence, a movement to defund the police and broader discussions about race and diversity.

Before A&E pulled the show, its prime-time viewership was up 4% from the same period in 2019, according to Nielsen. The network has other popular shows, including “The First 48”—which follows the first two days of a criminal investigation—and “Court Cam,” about outbursts inside courtrooms, but none as successful as “Live PD.”

A&E’s ratings declines go beyond prime time. Total daily average viewership in the weeks since the show was pulled is down 36% from a year earlier, to 319,000 people. In the 18-49 and 25-54 age groups, the declines are even larger: 42% and 46%, respectively.

In a statement to The Wall Street Journal, A&E called the drop a “temporary hit in the ratings” that it expected given the success of “Live PD” and that it has been mostly replaced by reruns. The network said it has always been able to “find new hits and reinvent ourselves.”

The sister shows of “Live PD”—also canceled—include “Live PD: Police Patrol” and “Live PD Presents: PD Cam.” In some weeks, the “Live PD” universe accounted for more than 85% of A&E’s daily programming.

The programs were very profitable to the network, due in part to their low production cost. In 2019, the “Live PD” empire brought in $292.6 million in advertising, according to ad-tracking firm Kantar Media. For the first quarter of 2020, the programs sold $95.8 million in advertising.

MD Radio: Johnette Cochran Named VP/GM for Adams' Cluster

Adams Radio Group CEO Ron Stone announced Friday that Johnette Cochran has been promoted to VP/GM of Adams Radio’s operation in Salisbury – Ocean City, MD. Cochran has been serving as Director of Sales for the market since December 2019.

Ron Stone, CEO of Adams Radio said “Johnette has done an amazing job for us, and in the most amazing circumstances. No one knew at the time she relocated from Indianapolis what the country was about to endure. She walked into a market and found herself operating as the top management person on site in the most unusual of circumstances. She has proven herself during these “worst of times” to be not only a terrific sales leader but also a terrific leader in general. I could not be prouder of what she has accomplished in the past six months and cannot wait to see the results as she is now fully unleashed”.

Cochran started her radio career in 2004 with Access 1 Communications in Shreveport, Louisiana. She quickly learned her passion for the radio industry and has been earning stripes since. Johnette has worked for well-known radio companies throughout her career such as Townsquare Media, Alpha Media and Guaranty Media out of Baton Rouge. Her experience in radio formats is broad including Classic Rock, Urban & Country. She has also worked with College and NFL Sports. Johnette is adamant about keeping up with the newest trends and changes in the industry. She is RAB certified with CRMC and CDMC & other certifications from review boards.

Johnette says “I’m delighted to grow into this position with Adams Radio Group. Becoming a General Manager has always been my goal and I am blessed to have this opportunity on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Delaware. I have been connecting to the community in a limited way during covid, and now I free to truly get out and get to know the people in this great market. I am excited to help local businesses grow and thrive again through our marketing strategies with radio and digital assets. My greatest accomplishments have been working with the local small business owners, and I plan to continue doing just that. Live and local, that’s my plan.”

Philly Radio: Christopher Squires New VP/Sales For iHM

Chris Squires
iHeartMedia/Philadelphia has appointed Christopher Squire as Vice President of Sales.

He joins the cluster from Townsquare Media in Trenton-Princeton, where he most recently served as the General Sales Manager. Previously, Squire was the Local Sales Manager for Urban One in Philadelphia and General Sales Manager for Emmis in New York. Squire's return to Philadelphia is a homecoming as he served as station manager for WDAS from 1989 to 2000. He began his career at WBMX-FM in Chicago.

"I am thrilled to add Chris to our team," said iHeartMedia Philadelphia Senior VP/Sales Jeff Moore. "He is someone that I've gotten to know over the past few years and have been impressed by his leadership qualities, his ability to build meaningful relationships with client partners and his dedication to helping the people he works with succeed. His positive outlook and enthusiasm are contagious and I can't wait to continue to build on our team's success with his help."

"I couldn't be prouder to have the opportunity to help steer the market-leading brands that are comprised of an incredibly talented group of sales professionals and on-air personalities," added Squire.

New McClatchy Owner Vows to Keep All Employees

McClatchy Co.’s new owner will keep all employees and most senior leaders and honor existing union contracts while continuing to operate news organizations in 30 U.S. markets, according to an agreement filed Friday in federal bankruptcy court.

Chatham Asset Management, a New Jersey hedge fund, will pay $312 million for the nation’s second largest local news company, which has been controlled by the founding McClatchy family for 163 years.

CEO Craig Forman and board chairman Kevin McClatchy, the great-great grandson of the company’s founder, will depart once the sale is final, according to citing the agreement approved by the McClatchy board of directors and filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

“While it will be humbling to pass the torch, we want to thank our employees, readers, communities and Chatham for recognizing the value of the public-service role of local journalism and supporting its mission,” Kevin McClatchy said in a statement.

Chatham’s was one of two binding bids submitted for the company earlier this month. A second bid, from the hedge fund Alden Global Capital, proposed to cut around 1,000 jobs and was valued at about $100 million less than Chatham’s, according to a court filing later Friday by McClatchy’s restructuring adviser.

Under the agreement submitted to the court, Chatham would name a board of directors and CEO for the new company, which will be privately held. All other senior executives will remain.

Judge Michael E. Wiles is scheduled to consider the agreement at an Aug. 4 hearing. The agreement calls for all parties to make a reasonable effort to close the sale no later than Sept. 4.

Friday’s filing by McClatchy spelled out for the court the terms of Chatham’s bid, which was submitted earlier this month. Current employees’ salary and benefits will remain unchanged and Chatham will recognize employees’ years of service. The new company also will honor current collective-bargaining agreements, McClatchy said in a statement.

Covington Catholic Kid Settles Defamation Lawsuit with WaPo

The Washington Post on Friday agreed to settle a monster $250 million lawsuit filed by Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann over its botched coverage of his 2019 encounter with a Native American elder.

The NY Post reports Sandmann declared the victory in a tweet on his 18th birthday. It’s unclear how much the newspaper settled for.

It’s the teen’s second win in a whopping $800 million defamation battle against a number of news outlets including the Washington Post, CNN, ABC, CBS, The Guardian, The Hill and NBC.

CNN agreed to settle with Sandmann in January this year as part of a separate $275 million claim.

Sandmann and a group of his Covington classmates were vilified on social media after they were filmed wearing “Make America Great Again” hats after an anti-abortion rally while being yelled at by demonstrators.

Sandmann, then 16, was singled out after footage of his confrontation with Native American activist Nathan Phillips was picked up by CNN and other outlets who claimed the incident was racially motivated.

Footage released later showed it was the Covington students who were being harassed.

St. Louis Radio: NFL Chiefs To Air On KMOX

Entercom has announced the return of News Radio KMOX 1120 AM, the voice of St. Louis, as a Chiefs Radio Network affiliate station. The station will simulcast play-by-play broadcasts from sister station 106.5 The Wolf (WDAF-FM), the flagship station of the team. News Radio 1120 KMOX previously aired Chiefs games as part of the now 100 station Chiefs Radio Network in 2016 and 2017 on KMOX HD3.

“We are thrilled to continue our amazing partnership with the Kansas City Chiefs and serve as part of the vast Chiefs Radio Network,” said Becky Domyan, Senior Vice President and Market Manager, Entercom St. Louis. “As America’s sports voice, KMOX is a reliable home for local Chiefs fans to track the latest news surrounding their Super Bowl champions and hear premier broadcasts of all the action on gamedays.”

As part of the broadcasts, News Radio 1120 KMOX listeners will hear the return of one of the Midwest’s most recognizable radio and television personalities, “Voice of the Chiefs” Mitch Holthus. Holthus is returning for his 27th season as the play-by-play personality for the Chiefs Radio Network, more years of service than any other “Voice of the Chiefs” in team history, calling a franchise record 433 regular and postseason contests for the team.

In addition to gameday broadcasts, the station will also air special Chiefs content via regularly scheduled KMOX Sports programming throughout the season. KMOX will also deliver live Chiefs reports to listeners in St. Louis through programming updates and sports news reports.

Full preseason and regular season broadcast schedule on News Radio 1120 KMOX will be announced in the coming weeks.

Wonya Lucas New President/CEO Of Crown Media Networks

Wonya Lucas has been named president and CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, and will oversee the three Hallmark linear networks—flagship Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries and Hallmark Drama—as well as the company’s streaming service, Hallmark Movies Now. Her first day will be Aug. 10, AdWeek reports.

She replaces Bill Abbott, who had been Crown Media Family Networks president and CEO for 11 years before leaving the company in January. His exit came a month after Hallmark Channel sparked outrage for briefly pulling several ads from wedding planning brand Zola that featured a same-sex couple kissing at their wedding.

Wonya Lucas
“Wonya is a brand builder at her core who shares Hallmark’s beliefs and values. She has a deep understanding of the role our brand plays in fulfilling a bigger purpose in people’s lives,” said Hallmark Cards CEO Mike Perry, to whom Lucas will report, in a statement. “After a thorough search process, we found a remarkable leader with proven general management skills, as well as a track record of success in driving business results and evolving the positioning and programming of a brand.”

Lucas had been president and CEO of Public Broadcasting Atlanta, overseeing the city’s NPR and PBS stations, and was previously TV One president and CEO. Prior to that, she had worked at Discovery Communications, The Weather Channel networks and Turner.

“Hallmark has been central to my life since I can remember, starting with those Hallmark Hall of Fame movies that were as enriching as they were entertaining,” said Lucas in a statement. “In some ways, my entire career has led me to this incredible opportunity to use the breadth of my experience and skills to evolve an iconic and beloved brand, a culture and a business.”

R.I.P.: Johnny Randolph, Beloved Louisville Radio Personality

WAKY 103.5 FM Louisville has shared the news of Johnny Randolph's passing on its website.

"Johnny was the creative force of WAKY 790 AM thru the 60's and 70's.  And, the heart and soul of today's WAKY," the post said.

According to the WAKY Radio website, Randolph was the Program Director and a DJ for 79WAKY-AM during the 60s and 70s. After 1979, he went into ownership of a few smaller radio stations in Kentucky before retiring in the 1990s.

Randolph came out of retirement several times, working for stations in Tennessee, Alabama and Indiana before returning to Louisville. Until his death, Randolph hosted an afternoon show on WAKY.

"When John first came to Louisville, he came to WKLO radio and that's where I first met him, he was doing radio and I was doing news," said WHAS11 Meteorologist Reed Yadon.

That wasn't the last time they'd work together, Reed was News Director at WAKY while Randolph was the Program Director.

"You could always tell a radio station that John had anything to do with because there were a few technical things that John would do that made the radio station sound like no other," Yadon said.

Getting that sound involved the modulation levels and the different ways of achieving it.

"Engineers didn't like it all the time, but that didn't stop John," Yadon said.

Randolph leaves behind his Louisville legacy, his voice and zany personality streaming into homes across the country.

"I think he lived and breathed radio 24 hours a day and it's great that everything came full circle for John," Yadon said. "He loved radio right up to the very, very end. John was radio."

"For us, and you his WAKY fans, Johnny will be sadly missed and lovingly remembered," the station said.

The post on Facebook was filled with hundreds of comments from fans, remembering Randolph and his legacy in Louisville.

July 25 Radio History

Hal Peary
➦In 1908...Harold (Hal) Peary born in San Leanadro, CA (Died  at age 76 – March 30, 1985). He was an actor, comedian and singer in radio, films, television, and animation remembered best as Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve, a supporting character on radio's Fibber McGee and Molly that moved to its own NBC radio hit, The Great Gildersleeve, the first known spinoff hit in American broadcasting history.

Born as José Pereira de Faria in San Leandro, California, to Portuguese parents, Harold Peary (pronounced "Perry") began working in local radio as early as 1923, according to his own memory, and had his own show as a singer, The Spanish Serenader, in San Francisco, but moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1937. While in San Francisco, he also had "several parts" in Wheatenaville, a program broadcast on NBC's Pacific network beginning September 26, 1932

Peary worked as a disc jockey at radio station WMGM 1050 AM in New York City. Beginning in 1953, he had a one-hour program Monday-Saturday.

➦In 1922...AT&T Western Electric began broadcasting WBAY New York City, the predecessor of WEAF, WNBC, WRCA and the current WFAN.  AT&T broadcast assets within a few years were early NBC properties.

➦In 1925...2XAG (now WGY 810 AM) in Schenectady, NY became the first radio station in the U.S. to broadcast with a 50,000-watt transmitter.

Birthday Boy Scott Shannon with mini-Scott (2018)
➦In 1947...Radio personality-programmer Michael Scott Shannon was born.  Presently hosting the morning show for WCBS 101.1 FM in New York City.and host America's Greatest Hits syndicated nationally with United Starions and CBS . He has also worked for WHTZ, WPLJ, The True Oldies Channel, and he is the voice for the syndicated Sean Hannity Show.

He began his radio career during an Army stint at WFBS 1450 AM in Spring Lake, North Carolina (later WFBX). From there he moved to WCLS 1580 AM in Columbus, Georgia. After leaving the army, Shannon worked full-time in radio at WABB in Mobile, Alabama, where he acquired the name Super Shan.  After a brief stint at WMPS in Memphis he moved to Nashville, where he was the evening disc jockey at WMAK 1300 AM, later becoming that station's program director.

Shannon left Nashville to take a job as a record promoter with Casablanca Records.  Scott returned to radio in Washington, D.C. as program director of WPGC 95.5 FM, taking that station to the #1 spot in the Arbitron ratings. From there, he moved to WQXI 790 AM in Atlanta. Then, in Tampa, Florida, Scott, along with partner Cleveland Wheeler, he developed the 'morning zoo' radio format while at WRBQ 104.7 FM Q105.

Shannon is particularly known within the radio broadcasting industry for his work on WHTZ 100.3 FM Z100 in New York City in the mid to late 1980's. Along with former disc jockey Ross Brittain of WABC's "Ross & Wilson Show", he founded the "Z Morning Zoo." He was the driving force in helping Z100 go from worst-to-first in New York City within a mere 74 days of signing on the air.

In 1989, Shannon left Z100 for Los Angeles to start up Pirate Radio, KQLZ. Pirate Radio employed a similar Top 40 concept. As the 1990s began, Top 40 radio experienced a decline, and eventually Pirate Radio struggled as well, leading to Shannon's departure.

In 1991 he returned to New York and resurfaced on Z100's biggest rival, WPLJ 95.5 FM. This station had also been struggling since its glory days of the mid 1980s, and Shannon became program director and morning drive co-host. Shannon created a Top 40 format that was geared more toward the adult contemporary audience, brought in co-host Todd Pettengill to form "The Big Show," and the WPLJ call letters were re-emphasized. On February 7, 2014, he announced he was exiting WPLJ effective immediately.

On February 25, 2014, WCBS FM announced that Scott Shannon would be hosting a brand new Morning Show entitled Scott Shannon in the Morning in New York starting on March 3.

Shannon is one of several disc jockeys honored in an exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.  In 2003, he was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C., and in 2006 he was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in Chicago, Illinois.

In September 2010, Shannon was named Network/Syndicated Personality of the Year at the 2010 National Association of Broadcasters' Marconi Radio Awards.

➦In 1999....Broadcast journalist Martin Agronsky, who joined NBC Radio as a foreign correspondent in 1940, and went on to a distinguished career with all three U-S TV networks, died of congestive heart failure at age 84.

Linsey Godfrey is 32
  • Singer-guitarist Bruce Woodley of The Seekers is 78. 
  • Drummer Jim McCarty of The Yardbirds is 77. 
  • Bassist Verdine White of Earth, Wind and Fire is 69. 
  • Guitarist Jem Finer of The Pogues is 65. 
  • Supermodel Iman is 65. 
  • Cartoonist Ray Billingsley (“Curtis”) is 63. 
  • Guitarist Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth is 62. 
  • Celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian is 61. 
  • Country singer Marty Brown is 55. 
  • Actress Illeana Douglas is 55. 
  • Actor Matt LeBlanc (“Joey,” ″Friends”) is 53. 
  • Actress Wendy Raquel Robinson (TV’s “Grand Hotel,” “The Steve Harvey Show”) is 53. 
  • Cellist Paavo Lotjonen of Apocalyptica is 52. 
  • Actor D.B. Woodside (“24”) is 51. 
  • Actress Miriam Shor (“Swingtown,” ″Hedwig and the Angry Inch”) is 49. 
  • Actor David Denman (“Parenthood,” ″The Office”) is 47. 
  • Actor Jay R. Ferguson (“Mad Men”) is 46. 
  • Actor James Lafferty (“One Tree Hill”) is 35. 
  • Actress Shantel VanSanten (“One Tree Hill”) is 35. 
  • Actor Michael Welch (“Twilight” films, TV’s “Joan of Arcadia”) is 33. 
  • Actress Linsey Godfrey (“The Bold and the Beautiful”) is 32. 
  • Classical singer Faryl Smith is 25. 
  • Actor Mason Cook (TV’s “Speechless”) is 20. 
  • Actor Pierce Gagnon (“One Tree Hill”) is 15.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Holes Emerge in Lawsuit Against Fox News Hosts

Inconsistencies are emerging in claims made by Cathy Areu, a once-periodic Fox News guest, that she was harassed by some of the network’s biggest names — including prime time anchor Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity. New emails obtained by Mediaite shed further light on the case.

In a lawsuit filed on Monday in the Southern District of New York, Areu claims she was harassed by Carlson, Hannity and other employees of the network, and that she was largely barred from appearing after she declined their advances. In an initial response the company said the claims were “completely false.”

Over the last several days, records of Areu’s appearances on the network and other publicly available information has undermined some of her claims. New emails between Areu and the network’s employees seem to add to those concerns.

Even more significantly, eyewitness accounts indicate Carlson’s wife was with him on a key evening when Areu said Carlson promised her he would be alone.

Additional inconsistencies involve Areu’s claim that she was harassed during her “final 2018 appearance” on Carlson’s program. “Following the show, Mr. Carlson changed on set into his leather jacket for the annual Christmas party that he told Ms. Areu he would only be attending for approximately 10 minutes,” the suit stated.

Reporters including The Spectator’s Amber Athey quickly noted Areu’s final 2018 appearance with Carlson took place on November 30 of that year, while the network’s annual Christmas party took place on December 10. Areu did not appear on the December 10 episode of Tucker Carlson Tonight. Additionally, she appeared on a December 28 edition of the program, guest-hosted that night by Mark Steyn.

While that final interview was archived on film website IMDB, an attorney for Areu, Michael Willemin, told Mediaite his client had no recollection of it. He also said the Christmas party Areu was referencing must have been a smaller holiday event held for Carlson’s staff rather than the company-wide event.

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Orlando Radio: CMG's WPYO To Launch New Morning Show

Cox Media Group Orlando today announced that WPYO 95.3 FM’s afternoon and evening personalities and social media influencers Danie B and Kevin Kon are teaming up and moving to mornings on Power 95.3, effective July 27, 2020.

The show, Danie & Kevin Mornings on Power 95.3, will broadcast weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Danie B and Kevin Kon have been championing afternoons and evenings as host of WPYO’s afternoon and evening shows respectively since March 2019. “I have been watching their chemistry for years and they truly are the best of friends and have the kind of relationship with each other–and our listeners–that make those deep memorable, emotional connections. Moving them to mornings felt like such a natural fit as they will definitely take over Central Florida,” said WPYO Brand Manager Will Calder.

“Together we’re ready to wake up with Central Florida and use our newfound platform to be a voice for our community, inspire people and have fun,” said Danie and Kevin. “Thanks so much to Will Calder, Steve Stewart, Jason Meder, Steve Smith, Tim Clarke, Bill Hendrich and everyone who has ever believed in us for presenting us with such an amazing opportunity.”

The new show will succeed “The Wake Up Show with Estee and DJ Nailz”. Estee Martin will focus on her new role as Director of Programming for new Spanish AC “Exitos 96.5” WOEX.

NYC Radio: Mike Francesa Is Calling It Quits Again

Longtime WFAN 660 AM / 101.9 FM talk-show host  Mike Francesa announced on Thursday that he’s departing his “Mike’s On” radio show and that Friday will mark his final broadcast.

Francesa, 66, didn’t say he was retiring but rather seeking more time with his family amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Here is Francesa’s full statement:

“I have been discussing this with the company for a while; we had agreed, and they’ve been great about it, that I would stay until sports came back, and now sports has come back.

“Listen, I have cut back dramatically. This has been a very strange year that has made me think about different things and want to do different things. I don’t want to have a regular schedule as part of my day anymore. I want to spend more time with family, and be able to take my kids to a bunch of colleges – I have three in high school right now, and I want to be able to make those trips. I look forward to it.

“I want to spend more time with my family, and I also want to be able to go to Florida more, where we have a home. And, I have some other interests; business interests, the horses – I still have a great goal of trying to one day see  if I can find my way to the (Kentucky) Derby with a horse, it’s a goal I haven’t been able to fulfill.

“I’m not retiring, but I will tell you there won’t be any more regularly-scheduled programs on the FAN, or anywhere else, in my future; I’m not saying I won’t appear on a show as a guest, I’m not saying you won’t hear me publicly, or I won’t be involved in some projects. All that is possible. I’ve been offered a couple of times to write a book, and maybe one day I’ll give in; we’ll see. I’m not saying you’ll never hear from me again – what I’m saying is that I think it’s a very good time. The company has been great about it, and they’ve been accommodating in every way.

“I’ve said to them during this that when sports comes back, I want to step back from doing anything regularly. I want to be free to go travel, take my kids to schools, go to Florida – this crazy stuff we’ve gone through the last four or five months has opened my eyes, and that’s what I want to do.

“I can tell you that both locally with the FAN and with Entercom nationally, they have been as accommodating as they can possibly be; they’ve been very good about everything, and said whatever you want to do, the door is always open to come back and do whatever you want, but this is what I want to do.

“The FAN will always be a great part of my life. I’ve had a career that I never dreamt I could’ve had, and I’ve been incredibly fortunate in every way. I’ve had a career that’s far exceeded anything I could’ve dreamt about. I’m proud of everything we’ve been able to accomplish, and I’m ready to hand it off to the folks who come next – and the FAN is going to be as big and as successful as it’s always been in the years to come. I really believe that.”

“Mike has been the heart of WFAN for over 30 years, and though his day-in and day-out presence has come to an end, that bond happily will continue,” said WFAN honcho Chris Oliviero. “He has earned the right to make this very personal decision and will always have our respect, support and appreciation. The future of WFAN as the premiere sports platform in New York is bright, and that is in large part to the foundation that Mike has helped build.”

Francesa initially retired in 2017 after a commanding tenure as WFAN’s afternoon drive host.

For 19 years, Christopher Russo and he hosted the “Mike and the Mad Dog” program, a staple of New York City sports. Despite Russo’s 2008 exit, Francesa still drew legions of fans in a solo role until his first retirement.

Since January, he has maintained a limited role at Entercom, WFAN’s parent company, first doing a streamed hour on and a half-hour on WFAN, and since late May working from 6 to 7 p.m. on WFAN.

Francesa, 66, will not do his Sunday morning NFL show, either.

Francesa said he will not appear on any other New York-area radio station and does not expect ever to have a daily show on radio again.

Newsday reports that by leaving now, he also could save Entercom enough money to preserve other people’s jobs. Revenue has plummeted during the COVID-19 pandemic, putting financial pressure on the company. Early in the pandemic, WFAN’s biggest on-air stars, including Francesa, agreed to take pay cuts through July.

But he said the company never asked him to step aside to save money for other payroll needs. Chris Oliviero, Entercom’s senior vice president overseeing WFAN, said finances never were part of the discussion with Francesa about his departure.

Francesa said the pandemic had an impact on him and his thought process, and played a big part in his decision to leave the station.

The Rundown: Jobless Claims Rise

➤U.S. PASSES FOUR MILLION CORONAVIRUS CASES: The U.S. on Thursday passed four million confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, with one-quarter of those cases in just the last 15 days. That comes as the nation has a near-record number of coronavirus hospitalizations, with some 59,600 as of Wednesday, according to the Covid Tracking Project, just 300 short of the mid-April peak. In Florida, one of the biggest hot-spot states, more than 50 hospitals have reached capacity in their intensive care units, and statewide, only 15 percent of ICU beds are available. The number of coronavirus deaths is also continuing to rise.

Florida reported 173 deaths yesterday and California reported 157 deaths, both daily record highs for the states. In Arizona, there were 89 deaths reported, bringing its total to 3,000, with more than one-third of them in the past 15 days. Overall in the U.S., there have been more than 144,200 deaths as of early this morning, according to Johns Hopkins University's count.

President Trump yesterday pulled back some from his demand that all schools fully reopen in the fall, saying during a White House news conference that school districts in coronavirus hot spots may need to delay their reopenings. In addition to insisting that schools had to fully reopen with in-person classes, Trump had charged that any Democratic opposition to doing so was for political reasons. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also issued updated guidelines about schools that spoke strongly about the need to reopen them, saying children suffer from not being in school, don't get as sick from the coronavirus, and are less like to spread it than adults. However, the CDC did say school and local officials should take into account how much the virus is spreading in their area. It also didn't appear to remove its previous guidelines that Trump had said were too tough, which included things like students and teachers wearing masks, spreading out desks and staggering schedules

First-Time Unemployment Claims Rise: The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits rose for the first time last week since late March, according to data from the Labor Department released yesterday, raising concerns that the ongoing surge of the coronavirus is stopping or even reversing the economic recovery. More than 1.4 million people filed initial claims for unemployment benefits, up from 1.3 million the week before. Although it had previously been declining since late March, it also marked the 18th straight week that it topped one million people. It had never been more than 700,000 before the pandemic.

Trump Drops Insistence on Payroll Tax Cut, GOP Pushes Back Release of Relief Package: President Trump yesterday gave up his insistence that a payroll tax cut be included in a new coronavirus relief package, giving in to opposition to it from top Senate Republicans, although Trump blamed it on Democrats in a tweet. But despite that breakthrough, Republicans pushed back the release of the $1 trillion relief package they're working on until next week, after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was supposed to unveil it yesterday. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin addressed how the package deals with the expiration today of the extra $600 weekly unemployment benefit, saying it would be redesigned to give a typical worker 70 percent of their income.

CDC: 40 Percent of U.S. Adults Have at Least One Condition That Puts Them at Coronavirus Risk: A report out yesterday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that some 40 percent of adults in the U.S. have at least one health condition that puts them at risk for severe complications from COVID-19. These chronic conditions include obesity, Type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and cardiovascular disease. The report found that counties with the highest prevalence of people having at least one of the conditions were concentrated in the Southeast, as well as in some parts of Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and northern Michigan.

➤GOV'T. WATCHDOGS TO REVIEW CONDUCT OF FEDERAL AGENTS IN PORTLAND; JUDGE SAYS REPORTERS CAN'T BE ARRESTED: Two government watchdogs said yesterday that they've opened investigations into the conduct of federal agents who were controversially sent to Portland, Oregon, starting earlier this month with a mission is to protect federal property amid at-times violent protests that have been going on in the city since George Floyd's death. The Justice Department and Homeland Security Department watchdogs are acting in response to allegations from local officials, some members of Congress and also some members of the public of abuse of power by the agents. The protests, which local officials said had been dying down, have escalated again after accusations that agents were pulling people off the street in unmarked cars without probable cause, and also were operating beyond their jurisdiction of federal property.

Meanwhile, a federal judge in Portland ruled yesterday that the federal agents can't arrest or use physical force against journalists or legal observers at the protests if they're not suspected of committing crimes. The Justice Department had in court fillings called such an order, quote, "unworkable in light of the split-second judgments that federal law enforcement officers have to make while protecting federal property and themselves during dynamic, chaotic situations." Judge Michael Simon's temporary restraining order also says journalists can ignore dispersal orders issued by authorities.

➤TRUMP SCRAPS REPUBLICAN CONVENTION PLANS FOR JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA: President Trump said yesterday that plans to hold the Republican National Convention's public events in Jacksonville, Florida, had been scrapped because of the coronavirus, which has been surging in the state. Trump said at a White House briefing, "We didn’t want to take any chances. We have to be vigilant. We have to be careful, and we have to set an example." The event had already been moved from its original location of Charlotte, North Carolina, because Democratic Governor Roy Cooper refused to guarantee that they could hold the four-day event without any coronavirus restrictions, such as on the number of people allowed in the arena or requiring that they wear masks. The business part of the convention was still going to take place in North Carolina, and that part will go forward, with a much smaller number of delegates than normal formally renominating Trump on August 24th. Trump said it's still to be determined how he will deliver his acceptance speech.

The Democrats will be holding an almost entirely virtual convention to nominate Joe Biden. Biden plans to accept the nomination and give his speech in person in Milwaukee, but it's not yet known whether there will a significant number of people there in person to hear it.

➤CHINA ORDERS U.S. TO CLOSE CONSULATE IN CHENGDU: China on Friday ordered the U.S. to close its consulate in the city of Chengdu, after the U.S. on Tuesday ordered Beijing to close its consulate in Houston within 72 hours, as tensions between the two nations continue to ratchet up. In issuing the order, the Trump administration had accused Chinese agents of trying to steal medical and other research in Texas. China's foreign ministry said in a statement Friday, "The measure taken by China is a legitimate and necessary response to the unjustified act by the United States." It continued, "The current situation in Chinese-U.S. relations is not what China desires to see. The United States is responsible for all this." The Chengdu consulate is one of five the U.S. has in China, in addition to the embassy in Beijing.

➤SENATE PASSES DEFENSE BILL THAT INCLUDES REMOVING CONFEDERATE NAMES FROM MILITARY BASES: The Senate yesterday (July 23rd) passed annual defense legislation that this year includes a provision to rename military bases named after Confederate officers, despite a veto threat from President Trump. The Republican-led Senate passed the measure on a veto-proof 86-14 vote, after the Democratic-led House also passed it by a veto-proof majority one day earlier. The House and Senate will now have to negotiate a final version to send to Trump. The president has threatened to veto the defense legislation if it includes the provision to rename the military bases.

Newsday 7/24/20

WSJ 7/24/20
➤YANKEES, DODGERS WIN TO KICK OFF MLB SEASON: Four months after it was supposed to begin, MLB's coronavirus-delayed, shortened season finally kicked off yesterday (July 23rd), with the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers getting wins on Opening Day. In the first game, the Yankees beat the reigning World Series champion Washington Nationals 4-1, the victory coming after the game was called following a nearly two-hour rain delay in Washington that began in the top of the sixth inning.

New York's Giancarlo Stanton hit a two-run homer in the first inning, but there were no fans to cheer it on in the empty stadium. In Los Angeles, the Dodgers beat the San Francisco Giants 8-1. Rookie pitcher Dustin May got the start after for the Dodgers after Clayton Kershaw went on the injured list with a back issue, and he allowed one run and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease specialist who's become a trusted figure during the coronavirus pandemic, threw the ceremonial first pitch before the Nationals-Yankee game. The masked Fauci's throw went well wide of home plate and bounced past Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle, who was there to catch it.

➤MLB PLAYERS KNEEL IN SUPPORT OF BLACK LIVES MATTER: The players, managers and coaches of the Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees all kneeled together in support of Black Lives Matter before the start of their game last night, and then stood for the National Anthem. Players and other members of both teams also held a long black ribbon while standing spaced apart from each other along the two foul lines. In Los Angeles, members of the Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants also held a black ribbon before their game. Some of the Giants kneeled during the National Anthem, including manager Gabe Kapler, as did the Dodgers' new star outfielder Mookie Betts, with teammates Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy resting a hand on each of his shoulders.

➤MLB, PLAYERS AGREE TO EXPAND PLAYOFFS TO 16 TEAMS: MLB and the players' union agreed yesterday (July 23rd) to expand the playoffs from 10 teams to 16 for the pandemic-shortened season. Sixteen of the 30 teams will advance to a best-of-three first round: the first- and second-place teams in every division and the next two teams by winning percentage in each league. Those winners move on to the best-of-five Division Series, where the usual format resumes.

➤NASCAR'S HAMLIN GETS FIFTH WIN THIS SEASON: Denny Hamlin won at Kansas Speedway last night (July 23rd) for his NASCAR Cup Series-leading fifth win of the season. The Super Start Batteries 400 was also his second straight victory at Kansas Speedway.

➤FORMER REDSKINS TO BE CALLED WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM FOR SEASON: The former Washington Redskins will use the name Washington Football Team for the upcoming NFL season, giving the organization time to choose a new name. Executive vice president and chief marketing officer Terry Bateman said Thursday (July 23rd) that they wanted to, quote, "go slow with the renaming process and really be very thoughtful, very inclusive, respectful and all those things." Team owner Dan Snyder agreed to drop the Redskins name, which he'd long said he wouldn't do despite criticism from Native American groups, under pressure from sponsors. 

Buffalo Radio: Sandy Beach Said 'No Thanks' To New Entercom Offer

Sandy Beach
WBEN 930 AM Buffalo talk show host Sandy Beach addressed his departure from the station on his morning program and there was one surprise: He told his listeners that he is retiring after he couldn’t come to a new contract agreement with the station’s owner, Entercom, the Buffalo News reports.

“It happens all the time,” said Beach of the failed negotiations. However, he added it was the first time it has happened to him.

He said the discussions were “civil” and “professional” and he said “no thanks” to the offer he was given.

Of course, Entercom is experiencing financial pain that has been exacerbated by lost revenue from the Covid-19 pandemic. That most likely impacted its contract offer.

Tim Holly, the local Entercom market manager, declined to comment on Beach’s statement.

Beach, who is believed to be 80, added that he is not sick and that his last show will be Thursday, July 30. Until then, he said he doesn’t want the show to focus on salutes to his career before he departs the program.

It may have been easier for Entercom to let Beach go because it had a younger replacement with talk show experience in the wings.

Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia makes his debut Aug. 3 on the program that airs daily from 9 a.m. to noon.

D-C Radio: WHUR Unveils Return Of Two Familiar Voices

WHUR 96.3 FM has announced Autumn Joi and radio legend John Monds are joining the WHUR family, rounding out the station’s all-star team.

Joi takes over middays from 10am to 3pm Monday-Friday with her ratings winning “Live Squad Show.” Joi, fresh back from North Carolina, is no stranger to Washington radio having spent time at two other DC stations and also up the road in Baltimore. “I started my career in DC over 10 years ago and to be coming home to the top station in the market is literally a dream come true,” said Joi.

Additionally, WHUR welcomes back Monds as the new host of the “Original Quiet Storm” Monday-Friday 7:30pm to midnight. Monds’ triumphant return to WHUR marks his second stint at the station and will continue WHUR’s legacy of being the only live and local ballad driven R&B night show in the DMV. “I’m so excited to be back at WHUR and a part of the team to lead the ‘Quiet Storm’ back to its rightful #1 place,” said Monds.

WHUR Program Director Al Payne says, “Our core mission is to entertain and inform. The addition of Autumn and John to our already wildly popular stellar team of radio personalities, led by the award-winning “Steve Harvey Morning Show” from 6am to 10am, is guaranteed to keep the DMV engaged and in the know.”

WHUR stands on a long rich legacy of delivering broadcast excellence and we are elated to have John Monds and Autumn Joi with us as we begin to mark our 50th Anniversary,” said WHUR General Manager Sean Plater.

D-C Radio: WAMU Reorganizes Newsroom

The growing collaboration between the WAMU 88.5 FM and DCist newsrooms that began with expanded coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and continued with breaking news in recent months has led WAMU to consider ways to leverage this collaboration in order to produce local and regional content with the greatest impact and reach, according to a website posting.

In recent weeks, WAMU has grappled with structural challenges and tensions in the newsroom that have undermined morale and led to employee turnover.  The station says it has committed to being responsive to feedback from staff and tackle these issues immediately, as well as to ensure the resolutions have a lasting impact on the station well into the future.

WAMU has appointed Rachel Sadon as interim news director, and she is already working with leadership to improve newsroom operations. According to WAMU, her proven track record as a journalist who has covered this region in-depth, along with her considerable management skills that have built a thriving team culture at DCist, made her the strongest choice within the organization for this role. During this time, WAMU will be conducting a search for a candidate to fill the news director role permanently.

Jeffrey Katz has taken on the role of senior editor in the WAMU newsroom where he will draw upon his 42 years of print, audio and digital journalism experience to help grow and strengthen the organization’s regional journalism work. Natalie Delgadillo will step in as interim managing editor at DCist.

WAMU will be conducting a search to hire a permanent news director after a new chief regional news officer is in place this fall. The chief regional news officer, a new position, will direct the content strategy for WAMU and DCist with a focus on creating a cohesive newsroom while also balancing the demands of audio and digital workflows.

AT&T 2Q Profit Shrinks

AT&T Inc.’s second-quarter profit fell as the coronavirus pandemic and an already ailing satellite-TV business overshadowed the launch of its make-or-break streaming video service, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The telecom and media giant reported about 36 million subscribers on HBO or HBO Max, an enlarged streaming video service built around the company’s premium TV brand. The Max additions included three million direct HBO Max sign-ups and about one million activated through AT&T’s wireless and pay-TV services after its May 27 launch. Total activations—the number of subscribers using the HBO Max app—topped 4 million, suggesting many viewers had yet to upgrade their older HBO accounts.

AT&T launched the new Max service amid a worsening coronavirus pandemic that had already forced millions of U.S. viewers to hunker down at home and look for new shows to watch. The new application, designed to compete with online-only rivals like Netflix and Disney+, added hours of new original TV series, Warner Bros. films and reruns like “Friends” and “South Park” to HBO’s existing library for the same price as the original service.

AT&T steered many of those cable customers to HBO Max but remained at an impasse with Inc. and Roku Inc., two services that resell HBO, over advertising revenue-sharing and other issues. HBO Max plans to launch an ad-supported version next year.

AT&T’s core wireless business reported a loss of 151,000 postpaid phone subscribers. At the same time, the company posted a net gain of 135,000 prepaid phone customers, a sign of how many Americans’ economic distress is changing how they shop for wireless plans. Prepaid accounts tend to cost less than postpaid rate plans, which bill for monthly service after it is provided.

AT&T’s shrinking traditional-TV business showed why the company needs its new online service to succeed. The division holding its DirecTV satellite unit lost 886,000 U.S. premium-TV subscribers and another 68,000 online-only channel bundles.

The U.S. TV unit ended June with 18.4 million accounts, down from more than 25 million two years ago. Its home broadband unit, which includes all but the slowest digital subscriber lines, posted a net loss of 102,000 subscribers, which included about 159,000 past-due accounts. The unit ended the quarter with 13.9 million connections, including DSL.

AT&T’s WarnerMedia division took the brunt of the hit from the pandemic, with $1.5 billion in lost revenue directly attributable to the coronavirus.

Q2 WarnerMedia revenue declined 23% YoY to $6.8 billion. The cancellation of sports hit advertising revenues hard. Postponement of the NBA season caused Turner’s revenues to decline 12% YoY to $3 billion.

WarnerMedia advertising revenues took a $620 million hit from COVID-19, and video advertising (a category that includes Xandr) took a $170 million hit due to the pandemic.

Total profit fell to $1.23 billion, or 17 cents a share, compared with $3.71 billion, or 51 cents, a year earlier. Reported net income included a more than $2 billion impact from Vrio’s lower valuation, higher severance payment costs and other accounting adjustments. Overall revenue fell 8.9% to $40.95 billion.