Saturday, February 20, 2021

February 21 Radio History

➦In 1922…WHK-AM, Cleveland, Ohio, signed-on-the-air.

WHK began on July 26, 1921 when experimental station 8ACS signed on under a license obtained by Warren C. Cox in the name of Cox Mfg. Co.  He broadcast on a wavelength of 200 meters (which translates to a frequency of 1500 kHz) from his home at 3138 Payne Avenue.  Only about 1000 listeners were able to hear the first broadcast, and most of them were members of the Cleveland Radio Association.   By 1922, licensees were barred from broadcasting on 200 meters, so Cox applied for a commercial broadcasting license.

Organist Helen Wyant circa 1931
Warren Cox received a commercial license for his station on February 21, 1922 with the call sign WHK (the Commerce Department was still issuing mostly three-letter call signs to commercial radio stations before April 4, 1922),  and HK standing for the station's first vice-president and general manager, H. K. Carpenter.  It was only the 52nd commercial radio license issued by the Commerce Department.

The station broadcast at a wavelength of 360 meters (a frequency of 830 kHz) which was the standard broadcast frequency for entertainment radio stations at the time. The station started broadcasting on March 5, 1922 from facilities located in the rear of a Radiovox store at 5005 Euclid Avenue.  By 1924, WHK broadcasts had moved to 1060 kHz.

Warren Cox sold the station to Radio Air Service Corporation in 1925.  In the following years, the station facilities underwent a series of moves, including 5105 Euclid Avenue, the Hotel Winton at 1025 Bolivar Road (later the Hotel Carter), the Standard Building at St. Clair and Ontario, the top floor of the Higbee Company on Public Square, and Carnegie Hall at 1220 Huron Road. By 1927, the station broadcasts were heard at 1130 kHz, and the station was broadcasting with 500 watts at night. By 1928, the station was located in the Engineer's Building at 1370 Ontario Avenue.

WHK transmitter room circa 1930
WHK became a CBS affiliate in 1930 and increased its power to 5000 watts for both day and night transmission.

Amelia Earhart
Radio Air Service Corporation sold WHK in 1934 to Forest City Publishing Company, the parent company of The Plain Dealer. Forest City then organized United Broadcasting Company as the station owner.

On March 29, 1941, WHK like most radio stations changed its frequency as a result of the North American Radio Broadcasting Agreement. WHK moved from 1390 to 1420 kHz, the frequency it occupies today.

In August 1946,  WHK received one of the earliest experimental FM licenses, under the call W8XUB, broadcasting at 107.1 MHz. Upon receipt of a commercial license, the station became WHK-FM at 100.7 MHz, and later in 1968, WMMS.

United Broadcasting sold WHK in 1958 to Metropolitan Broadcasting Corporation, which became Metromedia two years later. The new owners soon adopted a rock and roll Top 40 format.

By the early 1960s WHK was Top 40 powerhouse, adopting the slogan "Color Radio" and "Color Channel 14." The station soared with fast-talking deejays like Johnny Holliday, who broadcast from "the glass cage" at 5000 Euclid, and dubbed the station's echo-chamber reverberation its "stratophonic sound." The "Action Central" newsroom included young reporters Tim Taylor and Dave Buckel.

When The Beatles made one of their North American tours in 1964, WHK outmaneuvered rival KYW-AM to sponsor the Beatles appearance at Cleveland Public Auditorium on September 15, 1964.  In the mid-1960s, the WHK DJs adopted the name the "Good Guys" and included Joe Mayer. On the cover of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album, a doll wears a sweater emblazoned with "Welcome The Rolling Stones" and "Good Guys", a possible reference to the WHK DJs or maybe a reference to WMCA in NYC.

Late in 1967, WHK stopped rocking to become "The Good Life Station," with easy-listening music and phone-in shows aimed at older listeners. Possibly the biggest reason for the format change at WHK, was the pressure put on the station by newcomer WIXY, an AM station at 1260 which started playing top 40 music in 1966.

Metromedia sold WHK and WMMS in 1972 to Malrite Broadcasting of Ohio (later Malrite Communications), and Malrite moved its headquarters to Cleveland. WHK dropped the beautiful music and tried a modified Top 40 format briefly again in 1973, called Cover Hits and developed by consultant Mike Joseph. The station ended up settling on a country music format in 1974 featuring controversial morning show talk host Gary Dee and famed Cleveland disk jockey Joe Finan as the "housewife's friend" from 10 am to 2 pm, until the eventual format change in '84.

Another notorious personality, Don Imus, also returned to Cleveland in 1978 to do afternoon drive on WHK- one of the few times that he would ever host a non-morning drive position in his entire career. Imus had previously had a morning show on WGAR (AM) for 1½ years, ending in 1971, and lasted at WHK until September 1979 when he returned to WNBC in New York.

Seeking to recapture its past glory again, WHK returned to a nostalgic 1950's and 60s Top 40s music on April 24, 1984 using the designation from their dial position 1420 AM...making it "14K WHK Solid Gold", becoming the first "oldies" totally formatted station in Cleveland, Ohio.

Unable to service its growing debt, Malrite exited the radio business by selling off all their stations to Shamrock Broadcasting (Roy Disney's family-owned broadcasting company) in 1993.  Shamrock in turn spun off WHK and WMMS to OmniAmerica, headed by former Malrite executive Carl Hirsch, on April 1994. Shortly thereafter, on May 16, 1994, WHK adopted a sports talk format featuring Tom Bush, Les Levine, Tony Rizzo and Pat McCabe, and dubbed itself "The Sports Voice of the Fan."

In 1996, WHK was sold to Salem Communications, while longtime sister station WMMS was sold to Nationwide Communications – the first time ever the two stations operated under separate ownership

Today, WHK is owned by Salem Media Group as the Cleveland affiliate for the Salem Radio Network.

➦In 1943…“Free World Theatre” debuted on the Blue network (now ABC radio). The program was produced and directed by the legendary Arch Oboler.

➦In 1976...Billboard published a story about WCFL Chicago dropping its Top 40 Format:

Billboard 2/21/76

Chester Launch (Lum) and Norris Goff (Abner)
➦In 1980...Comedic radio actor Chester "Chet" Lauck (February 9, 1902 – February 21, 1980), who played the character of Lum Edwards on the classic comedy Lum and Abner for 23-years died. He was 78.

Lum & Abner aired from 1931 to 1954. Modeled on life in the small town of Waters, Arkansas, near where Lauck and Goff grew up, the show proved immensely popular. In 1936, Waters changed its name to Pine Ridge after the show's fictional town.

Lauck and Goff had known each other since childhood and attended the University of Arkansas together where they both joined the Sigma Chi Fraternity. They performed locally and established a blackface act which led to an audition at radio station KTHS in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Prior to the audition, the two men decided to change their act and portray two hillbillies, due to the large number of blackface acts already in existence. After only a few shows in Hot Springs, they were picked up nationally by NBC, and Lum and Abner, sponsored by Quaker Oats, ran until 1932. Lauck and Goff performed several different characters, modeling many of them on the real-life residents of Waters, Arkansas.

When the Quaker contract expired, Lauck and Goff continued to broadcast on two Texas stations, WBAP (Fort Worth) and WFAA (Dallas). In 1933, The Ford Dealers of America became their sponsor for approximately a year. Horlick's Malted Milk, the 1934–37 sponsor, offered a number of promotional items, including almanacs and fictional Pine Ridge newspapers. During this period, the show was broadcast on Chicago's WGN (AM), one of the founding members of the Mutual Broadcasting System. Effective July 1, 1935, the program was also carried on WLW (Cincinnati, Ohio), KNX (Los Angeles, California), and KFRC (San Francisco, California). Along with The Lone Ranger, Lum and Abner was one of Mutual's most popular programs

Murray Kaufman
➦In 1982… rock ‘n’ roll disc jockey Murray (the K) Kaufman, the self-proclaimed “fifth Beatle,” succumbed to cancer in Los Angeles at age 60. He had been one of the most popular and influential deejays in New York City from 1958 to ’65 on 1010 WINS.

Kaufman's big break came in 1958 after he moved to 1010 WINS-AM to do the all-night show, which he titled "The Swingin' Soiree." Shortly after his arrival, WINS's high energy star disk jockey, Alan Freed, was indicted for tax evasion and forced off the air. Though Freed's spot was briefly occupied by Bruce Morrow, who later became known as Cousin Brucie on WABC, Murray soon was moved into the 7-11 PM time period and remained there for the next seven years, always opening his show with Sinatra and making radio history with his innovative segues, jingles, sound effects, antics, and frenetic, creative programming.

Murray the K reached his peak of popularity in the mid-1960s when, as a top-rated radio personality in New York City, he became an early and ardent supporter and friend of The Beatles. When the Beatles came to New York on February 7, 1964, Murray was the first DJ they welcomed into their circle, having heard about him and his Brooklyn Fox shows from American groups such as the Ronettes (sisters Ronnie and Estelle Bennett, and their first cousin, Nedra Talley), also known as Murray's "dancing girls".

The Ronettes met the Beatles in mid January 1964, just a few weeks before, when the Harlem-born trio first toured England (the Rolling Stones were the group's opening act). Murray got into the New York’s Plaza Hotel after telephoning Ronnie of the Ronettes and asking her to pave the way and get him into the hotel to meet the Ronettes' new friends, The Beatles. Thanks to Ronnie, Murray got into the hotel and did his radio show from their Plaza Hotel room their first night in New York.
Cynthia Lennon, John and Murray 
Murray also accompanied them to Washington, D.C. for their first U.S. concert, was backstage at their The Ed Sullivan Show premiere, and roomed with Beatles guitarist George Harrison in Miami, broadcasting his shows from there. He came to be referred to as the "Fifth Beatle," a moniker he said he was given either by Harrison during the train ride to the Beatles' first concert in Washington D.C. or by Ringo Starr at a press conference before that concert.  His radio station WINS picked up on the name and billed him as the Fifth Beatle.

This historical recording features interviews with the Fab Four in early 1964. The interview was mailed out through the Murray the "K" Fan Club.  By the end of 1964, Murray found out that WINS was going to change to an all news format the following year. He resigned on the air in December 1964 (breaking news about the sale of the station and the change in format before the station and Group W released it) and did his last show on February 27 prior to the format change that occurred in April 1965.

➦In 2018...internationally known evangelist Billy Graham died, nine months short of his 100th birthday. As a preacher, his large indoor and outdoor rallies or “crusades” were widely broadcast on radio and television; some of his sermons were still being re-broadcast into the 21st century.

➦In 2019...Monkees bassist Peter Tork who played with the group from their earliest days as a made-for-TV band in the Sixties through their later reunion tours, succumbed to cancer at age 77.

  • Actor Gary Lockwood (“2001: A Space Odyssey”) is 84. 
  • Actor-director Richard Beymer (“West Side Story,” “Twin Peaks”) is 80. 
  • Actor Peter McEnery is 81. 
  • Record company executive David Geffen is 78. 
  • Actor Tyne Daly is 75. 
  • Actor Anthony Daniels (C3P0 in “Star Wars” films) is 75. 
  • Jennifer Love Hewitt is 42
    Keyboardist Jerry Harrison (Talking Heads) is 72. 
  • Actor Christine Ebersole is 68. 
  • Actor William Petersen (“C.S.I.”) is 68. 
  • Actor Kelsey Grammer is 66. 
  • Singer Mary Chapin Carpenter is 63. 
  • Actor Kim Coates (“Bad Blood,” “Sons of Anarchy”) is 63. 
  • Actor Jack Coleman (“Heroes”) is 63. 
  • Actor Christopher Atkins is 60. 
  • Actor William Baldwin is 58. 
  • Actor Aunjanue Ellis (“Quantico”) is 52. 
  • Country singer Eric Heatherly is 51. 
  • Bassist Eric Wilson (Sublime) is 51. 
  • Bassist Tad Kinchla of Blues Traveler is 48. 
  • Singer Rhiannon Giddens of Carolina Chocolate Drops is 44. 
  • Actor Tituss Burgess (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”) is 42. 
  • Actor Jennifer Love Hewitt is 42. 
  • Comedian-director Jordan Peele is 42. 
  • Actor Brendan Sexton III (“Boys Don’t Cry”) is 41. 
  • Opera/pop singer Charlotte Church is 35. 
  • Actor Ashley Greene (“Twilight”) is 34. 
  • Actor Elliot Page (formerly Ellen Page) (“Inception,” ″Juno”) is 34. 
  • Actor Corbin Bleu (“High School Musical,” ″Jump In!”) is 32. 
  • Actor Hayley Orrantia (“The Goldbergs”/former contestant “The X Factor”) is 27. 
  • Actor Sophie Turner (“Game of Thrones”) is 25.

CRS 2021: DSPs Encroaching on Country FMs

A research study released during this week’s virtual Country Radio Seminar zeroed in on how DSPs have encroached on — and in some ways pulled ahead of — traditional radio during the pandemic, while stopping short of pushing the panic button for terrestrial FM radio.

“Pandemic times have been good for DSPs,” read the header to one graph included in the study presented by NuVoodoo on Thursday at CRS.

Variety reports perhaps the worst news for terrestrial radio is that, across the board, almost all the survey respondents think they are more likely to get the music they love on DSPs (digital service providers like Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music), versus their local stations. But the fact that this is true even of fans who are still heavy FM listeners indicates a bit of good news for radio: that even though they have to resort to DSPs to find the music they want, many country fans are loyal to radio for other reasons, like air personalities and local news.

When country music fans participating in the study were asked how much time they spent listening to music every day and via which medium, DSPs were well out in front among those respondents who are heavy listeners. A good 33% of those surveyed said they listen to DSPs for more than an hour each day. Virtually tied for second place among these hour-plus listeners were over-the-air FM, at 28% of survey subjects, and the music offerings of YouTube, at 27 %. The number of people who say they listen to streaming FM for more than hour added up to 22%.

Those numbers look good for radio, as long as you combine over-the-air FM and streaming FM, with movement clearly growing for the latter in these largely work-and-play-at-home past 11 months. But if you combine something else the study separated — DSPs and music on YouTube — then the threat to radio becomes clearer, with non-radio digital sources outweighing all forms of radio in meeting fans’ music needs.

Although it might seem like DSPs are the enemy to traditional radio — and some attending the virtual conference this year would certainly have reasons to see it that way — Country Radio Seminar has been working to bring digital services into the annual confab and make it a big tent, instead of Hatfields vs. McCoys. Indeed, the entire first day of this year’s CRS was devoted to panels and discussions with reps of the DSPs.

NuVoodoo actually two studies among consumers for CRS this year. One was a “quantitative” study of 3,093 adults ages 18-54 who consider themselves fans of current country or of the music from the last 10 years, conducted online. The more concentrated “qualitative” study involved detailed Zoom interviews with 48 adults ages 25-39 who regularly listen to a P1/P2 major-market country station and also regularly access DSMs.

Some other takeaways from the NuVoodoo/CRS study:

  • “The threat from DSPs is real up to age 44.” And: “OTA (over the air) listening is lower among 18-34s (especially women).”  The lowest level of country fans who listen to traditional FM radio more than an hour a day was among women 18-34, at only 17%. That was less than half the amount of hour-plus listeners in the men 35-44 category, at 36%.
  • “The boost from FM streaming doesn’t connect well with women.” For men, all age groups spent at least some amount of time tuning in an FM station on their smartphones or computers at a level of more than 80%. No female age demographic rose to the 80% level in consuming FM on their digital devices.
  • Contrary to the wisdom of recent years, men would prefer a male-leaning format in greater numbers than women do. A good 32% of men want the format to skew male, nine points ahead of the women who want it that way. But curiously, the number of men who would prefer country radio to lean toward female artists is 20% — almost double the 11% of women who’d like to hear a female-dominated format. Go figure?
  • “A narrow, male-leaning majority prefers country on FM compared to DSPs.” Therein lies a rub: Even though most country fans think they’ll get more of the music they love on DSPs, most would still rather to listen to FM, if they had to make a choice. But the margin is slim. In total, 53% would choose FM (over the air or over a streaming device) over 47% for DSPs if they were forced to pick one or the other. For men, a fairly even 56-58% would take radio, regardless of age group. Older women feel that way, too. But among women 18-34, the results are dramatically different: only 42% would take radio in a pinch and 58% would go with DSPs.

According to Variety, the lesson many took away from the CRS study is that it may be impossible for radio to beat the DSPs’ freedom of choice in the long run, so the extra-musical elements that make FM a value-added medium may be more critical than ever. Yet emphasizing what local radio can offer may be a tough lesson to put into action at a time when an increasing number of chain outlets are offering national or syndicated programming instead of local in non-drive-time time slots.

Said longtime consultant Jaye Albright in the comments feed running alongside the research presentation: “Thanks for sharing the voodoo along with the insight that, as our bucket has more leaks in it than ever, getting it ‘right’ is more crucial now than ever too.”

L-A Radio: Nick Cannon Returns to KPWR Power 106

Nick Cannon returns to Los Angeles’ iconic hip-hop station KPWR Power 106 with a new, locally focused show heard mornings 6am-10am PST. 

“Los Angeles, I am back and ready to lift you up in the mornings and bring joy at the crack of dawn with original comedy and candid conversation!” said Nick Cannon. “Tough times don’t last, but tough people do – and I am grateful for my supporters, friends and loved ones who have guided me through this journey these past few months. We grow through challenges and lessons together, but emerge better on the other side.”

His newly revamped and creatively turbo-charged local morning show will bring much needed comedic entertainment to LA mornings like only Nick can. Reunited with Teddy, Melissa and DJ Carisma, Nick will deliver a uniquely Los Angeles centric morning show fitting of our iconic Power 106 flagship!” said Otto Padron, President & CEO of Meruelo Media.

The nationally syndicated daily Nick Cannon Radio show features original comedy, pop culture and unique conversations Nick has with performers, many of whom are his friends. On weekends, Cannon’s Countdown features music curated by Nick Cannon to reflect Nick’s top songs from radio and streaming with his insights on these performers.

“Nick Cannon is a unique influencer who has driven radio ratings success through his hard work and complete audience focus,” said Steve Jones, President & COO of Skyview Networks. “Nick is familiar to every 18–49-year-old listener and advertiser in America through his platforms on social media, TV, movies and music. Urban and rhythmic-CHR radio stations can have the amazing power of Nick Cannon in their programming and sales portfolio, giving them a strong, competitive advantage in ratings and revenue.”

Nick Cannon Radio allows programmers maximum flexibility to showcase their music inside Nick’s show with customized content that connects Nick with each local community. Nick Cannon Radio can be programmed in morning, midday or afternoon drivetime.

Friday’s announcement includes multi-year renewals between Nick Cannon and Skyview Networks and Nick Cannon and Meruelo Media.

Publisher Denies L-A Times Is On the Block

Billionaire biotech investor Patrick Soon-Shiong is exploring a sale of the Los Angeles Times less than three years after buying it for $500 million, reports The Wall Street Journal citing people familiar with the matter.

The move marks an abrupt about-face for Soon-Shiong, who had vowed to restore stability to the West Coast news institution and has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into the paper in an effort to turn it around.

A spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Times said Mr. Soon-Shiong and his family “continue to invest in and plan for the future of the Los Angeles Times, and do not plan to sell.” A tweet on Mr. Soon-Shiong’s account said: “WSJ article inaccurate. We are committed to the @LATimes.”

When Soon-Shiong acquired the Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune and a handful of weeklies from Tribune Publishing Co., then called Tronc Inc., in 2018, it was met with great fanfare from staff and media watchers after years of turmoil and downsizing at the publications. At the time, he said that the sale represented the beginning of a new era and that he intended to do what it took to make the business viable for the next 100 years.

He has since grown dissatisfied with the news organization’s slow expansion of its digital audience and its substantial losses, the people said. He also has increasingly come to believe that the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune—together known as the California Times company—would be better served if they were part of a larger media group, they said.

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong
Soon-Shiong has been heavily focused on efforts by his immunotherapy company to develop a Covid-19 vaccine and has had little time to devote to the Times, people familiar with the matter said. “Covid really brought him back to the lab,” said one of the people.

The options being considered include an outright sale of the entire company, bringing in an additional investor or transferring management of the properties to another media group, people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Soon-Shiong has also considered selling or transferring management of the San Diego publication to another company, possibly Alden Global Capital Inc.’s MediaNews Group, which owns several papers in the areas between the two cities.

The L-A Times reports the WSJ article unnerved journalists who work at Soon-Shiong’s properties. The mention of Alden Global Capital, which has a reputation for deep cuts at the papers it has acquired, alarmed reporters in San Diego who immediately questioned whether Soon-Shiong was committed to continuing his stewardship of the Union-Tribune because he did not mention the San Diego paper in an initial tweet. (A follow-up tweet did mention the Union-Tribune.)

While profitable, the Union-Tribune has a challenging finance picture due to significant pension liabilities left over from past ownership regimes. Newsroom leaders said they were told Soon-Shiong wasn’t looking to unload the San Diego outlet.

Baltimore Radio: Mike Klein Lands PM Drive On WZFT

WZFT Z104.3
, Baltimore’s #1 Hit Music Station, announced Friday that Mike Klein will join the station as an Afternoon Drive On-Air Personality, effective immediately. Klein will broadcast weekdays from 3 – 7 p.m.

Each weekday afternoon, Klein will broadcast the most popular hits from the biggest chart-topping artists as well as feature the latest entertainment news and lifestyle experiences that appeal to Baltimore communities.

Mike Klein
Klein returns to iHeartMedia from his position as operations manager at Summit Media in Greenville, South Carolina. He also brings a wealth of experience to Z104.3, having served as an on-air host at Hot 99.5 and 98.7 WMZQ in Washington, D.C. from 2015 – 2016 and at Z100 in New York from 2007-2011. In addition, he also worked as program director at WNOW-FM in Indianapolis, Indiana; WNVZ-FM in Norfolk, Virginia; and Kiss 95.1 in Melbourne, Florida. He began his career as an afternoon and night host at WNVZ-FM in Norfolk, Virginia.

“Mike is Maryland through and through having grown up in the Baltimore area,” said Rob Kruz, Program Director for Z104.3. “His deep passion for music as well as extensive CHR experience makes Mike the perfect choice to drive Baltimore home! I’m excited to welcome him to the Z104.3 family.”

“Joining the incredible on-air team at Z104.3, led by ‘Your Morning Show,’ is a dream come true,” said Klein. “I’m so excited to return to Baltimore, the city where I grew up, and host an afternoon show that combines a passion for pop music with a focus on the Baltimore lifestyle.”

NFL Wants 100% Increase In TV Rights

The National Football League wants to charge its current network partners double what they’ve been paying to broadcast games — but Disney is pushing back, citing the high price tag for Monday Night Football.

According to CNBC, the NFL is in active discussions on renewal rates with all four of its existing network partners — NBC, CBS, Fox, and Disney-owned ESPN, according to people familiar with the matter. The NFL is hoping to get its primary package renewals completed by March 17, before the start of the new NFL league year, CNBC reported earlier this month.

NBC, CBS and Fox are likely to accept increases closer to 100% than Disney, which is currently paying much more than the three broadcast networks for its Monday Night Football package, said the people, who asked not to be named because the negotiations are private.

Disney agreed to pay $1.9 billion annually for Monday Night Football in 2011 — a deal that runs through 2021. That dwarfed the average $1.1 billion annual cost for Fox, $1 billion annual price tag for CBS and $960 million for NBC’s Sunday Night Football.

Disney has already rejected paying anywhere close to $3.8 billion per year for its new deal, said two of the people. Disney CEO Bob Chapek alluded to pushing back on the NFL’s asking price during his company’s earnings conference call last week.

NFL games have been the most watched programming on television for many years. The top five broadcasts of 2020 were all NFL games. But there’s been a concerning decline among younger audiences, as evidenced by a decade-long decline in Super Bowl ratings among 18-to-49-year-olds.

Disney’s Monday Night Football deal is for more than just the games. Disney also gets highlight rights for ESPN, branding rights for shows, and — importantly — streaming rights.

Podcast Distributor Acast Buys RadioPublic

Acast, which hosts and monetizes thousands of podcasts, said it has acquired RadioPublic, a Boston-based audio startup founded by public radio organization PRX with backers such as the New York Times NYT and American Public Media.

Forbes reports the deal brings PRX’s franchises, U.S. presence, team and tech tools to Acast, while CEO and co-founder Jake Shapiro has left to become head of creator partnerships for Apple Podcasts.

RadioPublic CTO Chris Quamme Rhoden and Chief Product Officer Matt MacDonald will join Acast. MacDonald and Rhoden previously helped build the first podcast listening apps for This American Life and WNYC, before joining RadioPublic.

RadioPublic’s audience-building tools will bolster Acast’s stack of technology offerings for its podcasters, advertisers and others. The RadioPublic organization is expected to continue operating separately within Acast.

“We’re impressed by what RadioPublic has achieved and we believe that now — as podcasting is gaining more momentum than ever before — is the ideal time to bring RadioPublic’s talented team and company missions into the Acast fold,” said Leandro Saucedo, Acast’s Chief Business and Strategy Officer.

Saucedo called the merger “fundamentally a partnership of values. We both firmly believe in the open ecosystem of podcasting and have a shared commitment to aid listener discovery and support all creators.”

Acast was founded in Sweden in 2014, and hosts 20,000 podcasts that reach an average 300 million listeners, and also dynamically inserts targeted advertising. Acast represents podcasts from a wide variety of creators and organizations, including the PBS NewsHour, CBC, A+E Networks, Vice, and the BBC.

Rochester NY Radio: WCMF's Dave Kane Celebrates 40-Years

Dave Kane

WCMF 96.5 FM Rochester's midday host Dave Kane, a.k.a. “Kane-O,” joins a distinguished group of broadcast professionals across the country as he reaches 40 years with one radio station. Kane-O and WCMF will celebrate his 40th year with the station on Monday, February 22 from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET.

“I've always said that I am blessed to have found, a job that I love to do in a place where I love to do it,” said Kane. “My longevity in Rochester is a testament to the quality of life here, and certainly most of all, to the dedicated rockers who have not only supported WCMF for over a half century, but who have fostered and sustained a vibrant rock and roll scene in Rochester for decades.” 

“I still marvel at the amount of incredible experiences I've had, the places I've been, the musicians and shows I've had access to, and the people I've met,” added Kane. “I'm extremely fortunate to have worked with so many amazing, talented people over the many years, and most of all, the connection...this incredible bond that has been forged with the audience and the local community that is the most satisfying and humbling to me.”

“Forty years on the air at one radio station is unprecedented in Rochester radio and hard to come by anywhere else in the country,” said Susan Munn, Senior Vice President and Market Manager, Entercom Rochester. “So many Rochesterians have grown up with WCMF and Dave Kane and to have him still rockin’ on WCMF 40 years later makes people feel very connected to the station and to him.” Kane launched his career with WCMF on middays in 1981.

Florida to Lower Flags to Honor Rush Limbaugh

Florida will lower flags to half-staff after funeral plans are set for conservative media icon Rush Limbaugh, a Palm Beach resident who died Wednesday after a battle with cancer, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday.

“When there's things of this magnitude, once the date of interment for Rush is announced, we're going to be lowering the flags to half-staff,” DeSantis said during a campaign-style press event at the Hilton Palm Beach Airport in West Palm Beach.

In a statement Wednesday, DeSantis praised Limbaugh for having an ability to “connect with his listeners across the fruited plain — the hard-working, God-fearing and patriotic Americans who were and are the subject of derision and ridicule by the legacy media.”

DeSantis said during a press conference on Friday that flags in Florida would be lowered for Limbaugh, who lived in Palm Beach, when funeral arrangements have been made, WKMG-TV reported.

'We had one of our own pass away, Rush Limbaugh, this week and there's not much else that needs to be said. The guy was an absolute legend. He was a friend of mine, and just a great person,' DeSantis said.

The governor then called up James Golden, Limbaugh's long-time call screener, producer and engineer to make comments.

'This has been probably the most difficult thing I've had to experience, with the exception of my parents,' said Golden, known by his stage name Bo Snerdley.

February 20 Radio History

Gale Gordon
➦In 1906..Radio/TV Actor Gale Gordon was born.

(Real Name  Charles Thomas Aldrich, Jr., died from lung cancer June 30, 1995) is best remembered as Lucille Ball's longtime television foil—and particularly as cantankerously combustible, tightfisted bank executive Theodore J. Mooney, on Ball's second television situation comedy.

Gordon's first big radio break came via the recurring roles of "Mayor La Trivia" and "Foggy Williams" on Fibber McGee and Molly, before playing Rumson Bullard on the show's successful spinoff, The Great Gildersleeve.

Gordon and his character of Mayor La Trivia briefly left the show in December 1942 when Gordon enlisted in World War II and the storyline followed. He was the first actor to play the role of Flash Gordon, in the 1935 radio serial The Amazing Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon. He also played Dr. Stevens in Glorious One.

In 1950, Gordon played John Granby in the radio series Granby's Green Acres, which became the basis for the 1960s television series Green Acres. Gordon went on to create the role of pompous principal Osgood Conklin on Our Miss Brooks, carrying the role to television when the show moved there in 1952. In the interim, Gordon turned up as Rudolph Atterbury on My Favorite Husband, which starred Lucille Ball in a precursor to I Love Lucy.

Jim Jewell
➦In 1906...James Jewell was born. He was a radio actor, producer and director at radio station WXYZ, Detroit, Michigan. (Died from a heart attack August 5, 1975 at age 69)

Jewell first got into radio in 1927. with a background of summer stock, vaudeville, burlesque, and even touring with a troupe of marionettes. In June 1932, George Trendle, the owner of radio station WXYZ Detroit, decided to drop network affiliation and produce his own radio programs. Jewell was hired as the dramatic director for the radio station. He supplied the actors from his own repertory company, the "Jewell Players".

Jewell was part of the station staff that worked out the original concepts for The Lone Ranger. Jewell is also credited for selecting The William Tell Overture as the theme music for the series. "Ke-mo sah-bee", Tonto's greeting to the masked Ranger, was derived from the name of a boys' camp owned by Jewell's father-in-law Charles W. Yeager. Camp Kee-Mo-Sah-Bee operated from 1911 until 1941 on Mullet Lake south of Mackinac, Michigan. After the radio show became popular, Yeager held "Lone Ranger Camps" at his camp.

Jewell produced, directed and occasionally wrote many of the early episodes for The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet. He was the director for both series from their beginning up until 1938.

Jewell left WXYZ in 1938, and moved to Chicago and worked as a director-producer at WBBM (AM), the CBS radio affiliate in Chicago.

He directed Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy beginning in 1938 until the series ended in 1951. From 1951-1955, Jewell was the producer/director of The Silver Eagle, a mountie adventure which ran on ABC and starred Jim Ameche, the brother of movie star Don Ameche.

As the era of radio dramatic series came to an end, attempted to bring The Silver Eagle to television.

➦In 1914...John Charles Patrick Croghan Daly was born (Died February 24, 1991). Known as John Daly, he was a radio and television personality, CBS News broadcast journalist, ABC News executive and TV anchor and a game show host, best known as the host and moderator of the CBS television panel show What's My Line?

Daly began his broadcasting career as a reporter for NBC Radio, and then for WJSV (now WTOP), the local CBS Radio Network affiliate in Washington, D.C., serving as CBS' White House correspondent. He appears on the famous "One Day in Radio" tapes of September 21, 1939, in which WJSV preserved its entire broadcast day for posterity.

Through covering the Roosevelt White House, Daly became known to the national CBS audience as the network announcer for many of the President's speeches. In late 1941, Daly transferred to New York City, where he became anchor of The World Today. During World War II, he covered the news from London as well as the North African and Italian fronts.  Daly was a war correspondent in 1943 in Italy during Gen. George S. Patton's infamous "slapping incidents". After the war, he was a lead reporter on CBS Radio's news/entertainment program CBS Is There (later known on TV as You Are There), which recreated the great events of history as if CBS correspondents were on the scene.

As a reporter for the CBS radio network, Daly was the voice of two historic announcements. He was the first national correspondent to deliver the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor on Sunday, December 7, 1941, and he was also the first to relay the wire service report of the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt on April 12, 1945, interrupting the program Wilderness Road to deliver the news. Transcriptions of those bulletins have been preserved on historical record album retrospectives and radio and television documentaries. Among the first were the Columbia Records spoken word series I Can Hear It Now and the later CBS Television series, The Twentieth Century.

In July, 1959, along with the Associated Press writer John Scali, he reported from Moscow on the famous Kitchen Debate between USSR General Secretary Nikita Khrushchev and then U.S. Vice President Richard M. Nixon in 1959.

➦In 1922...WGY-AM, Schenectady, NY signed-on. As early as 1912, General Electric company in Schenectady began experimenting with radio transmissions, being granted a class 2-Experimental license for 2XI on August 13, 1912 by the Commerce Department.

WGY signed on on February 20, 1922 at 7:47pm at 360 meters wavelength (about 833 kHz), with Kolin Hager at the mike, or as he was known on the air, as KH. Hager signed on with the stations call letters, explaining the W is for wireless, G for General Electric, and Y, the last letter in Schenectady.

The first broadcast lasted for about one hour and consisted of live music and announcements of song titles and other information. The early broadcasts originated from building 36 at the General Electric Plant in Schenectady. The original transmitter produced an antenna power of 1,500 watts into a T top wire antenna, located about 1/2 mile away, also at the GE plant.

WGY led the way in radio drama. In 1922 Edward H. Smith, director of a community-theater group called the Masque in nearby Troy, suggested weekly forty-minute adaptations of plays to WGY station manager Kolin Hager. Hager took him up on it and the troupe performed on the weekly WGY Players, radio’s first dramatic series.

Kolin Hagar
During their initial broadcast—of Eugene Walter’s The Wolf on August 3, 1922—Smith became the electronic media’s first Foley artist when he slapped a couple of two-by-fours together to simulate the slamming of a door, and radio sound effects were born. While the invisible audience could not see that the actors wore costumes and makeup—which were expected to enhance performance but didn’t and were soon discarded—they could hear the WGY Orchestra providing music between acts.

By May 15, 1923 the station was operating on 790 kHz with a frequency/time share agreement with RPI's WHAZ. Later, WHAZ moved to 1300 kHz allowing WGY to operate full-time on 790 kHz.

In 1924, the transmitter site was moved to its current location in the Town of Rotterdam known as South Schenectady. From this site, the station's power levels were increased first to 5,000 watts, then 10,000 watts and finally to 50,000 watts on July 18, 1925. Temporary broadcasts were carried out at the 100 KW (August 4, 1926) and 200 KW (March 9, 1930) power levels. From those broadcasts, the station received reception letters and telegrams from as far away as New Zealand. Plans were to make those power increases permanent, but were never carried out.

WGY also used the first condenser microphone, developed by General Electric for radio studio applications, on February 7, 1923.

Amelia Earhart
In 1923, WGY formed the first radio network with WJZ and WRC, however the station also broadcast programs from rival station WEAF. Later in 1925, the New York State radio network was formed with WMAK, WHAM, WFBL, and WGY. In 1926, WGY affiliated with the WEAF-based NBC Red Network, and after the split of the sister NBC Blue network into today's ABC Radio, WGY remained with NBC Radio until it folded in 1989.

To add to their laurels, six years later the Players performed an old spy melodrama titled The Queen’s Messenger in the world’s first dramatic program to be broadcast simultaneously over both radio and the new medium called television.

“Radio station WGY had cornered the market on talk and music by 1928,” the Daily Gazette recalled. “Scientists from the General Electric Co. could have winked to their audience and said, ‘You ain't seen nothing yet.’ The smart guys who developed amplifiers, transmitters and bright lights were working on that next step—sound and pictures. On Tuesday, Sept. 11, 1928, they succeeded. WGY became the first radio station in the world to televise a drama on separate radio channels.”

In 1941, WGY changed frequency from 790 kHz to 810 kHz to comply with the North American Radio Broadcasting Agreement also known as NARBA. In 1942, during World War II, a concrete wall was built around the base of the tower to prevent saboteurs from shooting out the base insulator on the tower and taking the station off-air.

WGY was the flagship station of General Electric's broadcasting group until 1983 when it was sold to Empire Radio Partners, Inc. General Electric also owned pioneering sister stations in television (WRGB-TV, signed on as WGY-TV in 1928) and FM radio (W2XOY, later WGFM, then WGY-FM, and today WRVE, signed on 1940).

As the golden age of radio ended, WGY evolved into a full service middle of the road format, slowly evolving as programming tastes changed. The station changed from full service to news/talk on Memorial Day Weekend, 1994.

Dame Media, Inc acquired WGY and WGY-FM the during proceedings in the Philadelphia bankruptcy court, late 1993. Dame moved the studios to One Washington Square at the end of Washington Avenue Extension, in the west end of Albany, New York late 1994, where they remained until 2005.

In 1999, Dame Media sold its entire radio group to Clear Channel (now iHeartMedia), whose ownership remains to this day. Clear Channel combined all of its radio station studio operations into the former CHP (Community Health Plan) building on Route 7 (Troy-Schenectady Road) in Latham August, 2005.

On September 20, 2010, WGY began simulcasting its programming on 103.1 FM (the former WHRL, which took the calls WGY-FM, previously on 99.5 FM). WGY 103.1 FM broadcasts at 5,600 watts power.

➦In 1949...future teen singing idol, 8-year old Ricky Nelson, and his older brother David began playing themselves on their parents’ radio show, “The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet.” Until now Ricky had been played by child actor Henry Blair, while David was played by Tommy Bernard.

In 1952, the Nelsons tested the waters for a television series with the theatrically released film Here Come the Nelsons. The film was a hit, and Ozzie was convinced the family could make the transition from radio's airwaves to television's small screen. On October 3, 1952, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet made its television debut and was broadcast in first run until September 3, 1966, to become one of the longest-running sitcoms in television history.

➦In 1971...NORAD at Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado was ready to broadcast a required weekly test of the Emergency Broadcast System.

However, AT&T reported that the United States Air Force accidentally used the wrong tape for the test, and initiated an Emergency Action Notification, normally issued by the Office of Civil Defense or the President. This prompted all stations in the Fort Wayne, Indiana, area by order of the FCC to operate under emergency procedures and feed the broadcast from WOWO through their radios.

Bob Sievers was at the microphone at WOWO at the time. Sievers and everyone at the studio had no idea what was going on.

Mistake wasn't resolved for 30 minutes.

Walter Winchell
➦In 1972..Early radio broadcaster and syndicated newspaper columnist Walter Winchell died of prostate cancer at the age of 74 in Los Angeles.  His weekly broadcasts in the 30’s, 40’s & 50’s began: “Hello Mr. & Mrs. North America & all the ships at sea, let’s go to press.”  A later generation would only know him as narrator on the TV series The Untouchables.  He is buried at Greenwood/Memory Lawn Mortuary & Cemetery in Phoenix.

Rosemary DeCamp
➦In 2001...Radio, TV, Film Actress actress Rosemary De Camp succumbed to pneumonia at age 90.  She shined in many roles on bigtime radio, including the long running part of nurse Judy Price on CBS’ Dr. Christian. On TV she was Peg Riley on Life of Riley, and also had feature roles on The Bob Cummings Show & That Girl.

➦In 2003...99 people were killed when fire destroyed the nightclub The Station in West Warwick RI. The fire started with sparks from a pyrotechnic display being used by the band Great White. Among those who died in the fire were Great White's lead guitarist, Ty Longley, and the show's emcee, WHJY 94.1 FM Providence personality Mike "The Doctor" Gonsalves.

➦In 2006...Sportscaster Curtis Edward Gowdy (Born July 31, 1919) died of leukemia at age 86 in Palm Beach, Fla., at age 86, after a long battle with leukemia. He’d been part of the national broadcast of 13 World Series, 16 baseball All-Star Games, 9 Super Bowls, 14 Rose Bowls, 8 Olympic Games and 24 NCAA Final Fours. He also hosted ABC-TV’s long-running outdoors show The American Sportsman. He was well known as the longtime "voice" of the Boston Red Sox and for his coverage of many nationally televised sporting events, primarily for NBC Sports and ABC Sports in the 1960s and 1970s.

He had a knack for broadcasting, and, in 1942, worked at the small KFBC radio station and at the Cheyenne, Wyoming Eagle newspaper as a sportswriter (and later sports editor). After several years in Cheyenne, he accepted an offer from CBS's KOMA radio in Oklahoma City in 1946. He was hired primarily to broadcast Oklahoma college football (then coached by new-hire Bud Wilkinson) and Oklahoma State college basketball games (then coached by Hank Iba).

Curt Gowdy
Gowdy's distinctive play-by-play style earned him a national audition. Gowdy began his Major League Baseball broadcasting career working as the No. 2 announcer to Mel Allen for New York Yankees games on radio and television in 1949–50. There, he succeeded Russ Hodges, who departed to become the New York Giants.

In April 1951 at the age of 31, Gowdy began his tenure as the lead announcer for the Red Sox. For the next 15 years, he called the exploits of generally mediocre Red Sox teams on WHDH radio and on three Boston TV stations: WBZ-TV, WHDH-TV, and WNAC-TV (WBZ and WNAC split the Red Sox TV schedule from 1948 through 1955; WBZ alone carried the Red Sox from 1955 through 1957; and WHDH took over in 1958). During that time, Gowdy partnered with two future baseball broadcasting legends: Bob Murphy and Ned Martin. Chronic back pain caused Gowdy to miss the entire 1957 season. He also did nightly sports reports on WHDH radio when his schedule permitted.

He left WHDH after the 1965 season for NBC Sports, where for the next ten years he called the national baseball telecasts of the Saturday afternoon Game of the Week and Monday Night Baseball during the regular season (and the All-Star Game in July), and the postseason playoffs and World Series in October.

➦In 2012...Longtime Seattle radio personality known as Danny Holiday, a so-called “walking encyclopedia of rock & roll,” died following a long illness at age 68.

He spent decades spinning top-40 hits and oldies on Seattle stations KOL, KZOK and KBSG. In retirement, he brought his Rock ‘N’ Roll Time Machine to community radio, hosting the weekly show on Everett’s KSER (90.7 FM).

Holiday was inducted into NorthWest Music Hall of Fame in 1990.

➦In 2014…Former NBC News correspondent Garrick Utley died at age 74.   His parents, Frayn and Clifton Utley, were correspondents for NBC radio in the mid-20th century, based in Chicago. When he passed he professor of broadcasting and journalism at the State University of New York at Oswego, NY. 

  • Actor Sidney Poitier is 94. 
  • Singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie is 80. 
  • Actor Brenda Blethyn (“Atonement,” ″Pride and Prejudice”) is 75. 
  • Rihanna is 33
    Actor Sandy Duncan is 75. 
  • Actor Peter Strauss is 74. 
  • Guitarist Billy Zoom of X is 73. 
  • Country singer Kathie Baillie of Baillie and the Boys is 70. 
  • Actor John Voldstad (“Newhart”) is 70. 
  • Actor Anthony Head (“Buffy The Vampire Slayer”) is 67. 
  • Actor James Wilby (“Gosford Park”) is 63. 
  • Bassist Sebastian Steinberg (Soul Coughing) is 62. 
  • Actor Joel Hodgson (“Mystery Science Theater 3000″) is 61. 
  • Singer Ian Brown of Stone Roses is 58. 
  • Actor Willie Garson (“White Collar,” ″Sex and the City”) is 57. 
  • Actor French Stewart (“Mom,” “Third Rock from the Sun”) is 57. 
  • Model Cindy Crawford is 55. 
  • Actor Andrew Shue (“Melrose Place”) is 54. 
  • Actor Lili Taylor is 54. 
  • Singer Brian Littrell of the Backstreet Boys is 46. 
  • Actor Lauren Ambrose (“Six Feet Under”) is 43. 
  • Actor Jay Hernandez (“Friday Night Lights,” ″Crazy/Beautiful”) is 43. 
  • Actor Chelsea Peretti (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”) is 43. 
  • Guitarist Coy Bowles of Zac Brown Band is 42. 
  • Actor Michael Zegen (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” ″Boardwalk Empire”) is 42. 
  • Actor Majandra Delfino (“Roswell”) is 40. 
  • Actor Jocko Sims (“New Amsterdam”) is 40. 
  • Musician and “A Prairie Home Companion” host Chris Thile (Punch Brothers, Nickel Creek) is 40. 
  • Actor-singer Jessie Mueller is 38. 
  • Comedian Trevor Noah (“The Daily Show”) is 37. 
  • Actor Miles Teller (“Fantastic Four”) is 34. 
  • Singer Rihanna is 33. 
  • Actor Jack Falahee (“How to Get Away With Murder”) is 32.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Here's How Triton Digital Helps iHeartMedia

iHeartMedia announced this week that it is acquiring Triton Digital, a digital audio publishing, advertising, and audience measurement business, from E.W. Scripps for $230 million. This is far from the first acquisition that iHeart has made in the digital audio infrastructure space, but it’s unique in that it will help iHeart tie together its various lines of business and consolidate its leadership position in many of them, according to Forbes.

Triton will help iHM in most of its lines of audio business, but most importantly, it will enable it to tie together its broadcast radio, streaming radio, and podcast businesses on the advertising side. Apart from its content, iHeartMedia’s most potent resource is its ad sales capability, including a nationwide sales force numbering in the thousands—larger than anyone else in the digital audio space and an order of magnitude larger than anyone else in podcasting. It sells ad inventory on broadcast radio, streaming radio, and podcasts to major advertisers. But it hasn’t been able to package these media together into single ad buys with integrated audience measurement and analytics.

Each of these three media has its own advertising ecosystems. Broadcast radio’s dates back decades, but iHeartMedia has technology (through the startup Jelli, which it acquired in 2018) that enables advertisers to make programmatic buys of targeted ads on its AM/FM stations in real time. When users listen to Internet streams of iHeart’s broadcast stations on iHeartRadio, iHeart sends them individually targeted ads that play instead of the ads that air on the AM/FM signals. And on podcasts, iHeart places targeted ads in each podcast episode at download time. (Although most users listen to podcasts on demand via “streaming” nowadays, it’s not really streaming as in Pandora or Spotify; it’s actually progressive download, meaning that the download starts when the user clicks Play and finishes while the podcast runs.)

Each of these ad-placement scenarios requires different technology for targeting, delivery, and measurement of audience impact. But Triton Digital’s technology stack ties them all together. It enables iHeart to sell an ad package to, say, Walmart WMT or Toyota that optimizes targeted ad delivery and aggregates audience measurement across all three media.

Triton Digital’s customers include many of iHeart’s direct competitors, such as NPR, Cumulus Media, Entercom, ESPN, and Univision. iHM intends to let Triton Digital continue offering services to them (and, of, course, make revenue for itself in the process). But none of these companies have iHM’s impact in all three areas of “companionship audio”—a term that the company uses to differentiate what it does from music services like Spotify, meaning audio with talk and other non-music content.

Norfolk Radio: Derrick Martin Named MP for iHeartMedia

Derrick Martin
iHeartMedia Norfolk announced today that Derrick Martin has been named Market President, effective immediately.

As Market President, Martin will work closely with the programming, business and sales teams and oversee all of the station’s on-air and digital programming as well as create new revenue opportunities. Martin will report to Chuck Peterson, Area President for iHeartMedia Virginia.

Martin joins iHeartMedia Norfolk from the iHeartMedia St. Louis market, where he most recently served as the Region President, overseeing the St. Louis, Missouri; Des Moines, Iowa; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Davenport, Iowa; and Springfield, Missouri markets. Prior to serving as the Region President for St. Louis, from 2013 to 2017, he served as the Market President for the Norfolk market and is now making his return. Martin began his career at iHeartMedia Memphis and is a graduate of Tennessee State University.

“I am excited to bring such a strong performer back to iHeartMedia Norfolk,” said Chuck Peterson, Area President for iHeartMedia Virginia. “The market performed exceptionally during Derrick’s previous tenure from 2013-2017, and I see a very bright future again with his return. He earned the trust and respect of our team and the Norfolk community, and I know they will give him a warm welcome back.”

“Derrick is a proven leader, especially during his time in Norfolk with deeps ties with our clients, the Norfolk community and our staff,” said Nick Gnau, Division President for iHeartMedia. “I am extremely excited for Derrick to reconnect with the market and expand our community efforts, our revenue and ratings footprint.”

“I am extremely excited to return to Norfolk to lead a great staff of employees and work with advertisers to grow their business while utilizing our company assets,” said Martin. “iHeartMedia Norfolk has a cluster of stations that are a fabric in the community, and I can’t wait to reconnect again.”

Wake-Up Call: In Texas..Power to The People

WATER STILL A PROBLEM FOR MANY: Many of the millions of people in Texas who were without electricity and heat for days after a winter storm brought record low temperatures finally got power back yesterday. The number without power was down to 325,000 homes and businesses, after having been three million a day earlier. However, rolling blackouts could return, utility officials said. There were still concerns with safe drinking water, with seven million people having been told Wednesday to boil tap water before drinking it after lines froze and water pressure dropped as many people left their faucets dripping to prevent pipes from freezing. Water problems were continuing yesterday, with Houston's mayor, for one, saying residents will likely have to keep boiling water for a few more days. 

Federal emergency officials sent generators to Texas for water treatment plants, hospitals and nursing homes, along with food, water and blankets, and President Biden called Governor Greg Abbott yesterday offering more federal support.

➤SIX CAPITOL POLICE OFFICERS SUSPENDED, 29 UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR ACTIONS DURING CAPITOL ATTACK: Six U.S. Capitol Police officers have been suspended and 29 others are under investigation for their actions during the attack on the Capitol last month, department spokesman John Stolnis told CNN Thursday. Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio said one of the suspended officers took a selfie with someone who was part of the attacking mob, and another wore a "Make America Great Again" hat and started directing people around the building. Capitol Police issued a vote of no confidence in the force's top leaders earlier this month in the wake of the January 6th attack. Officer Brian Sicknick was killed as a result of the attack, and two other officers committed suicide shortly after it happened.

➤ADMINISTRATION SAYS READY FOR TALKS TO RETURN TO IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL: President Biden's administration said yesterday that it's ready to take part in talks with Iran and other world powers about returning to the 2015 nuclear deal that former President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from in 2018. In related steps, the U.S. also reversed Trump’s determination that all U.N. sanctions against Iran had been restored, and eased restrictions on the domestic travel of Iranian diplomats at the United Nations. Rep. Michael McCaul, the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, criticized the news, saying, "It is concerning the Biden Administration is already making concessions in an apparent attempt to re-enter the flawed Iran deal."

➤DEMOCRATS UNVEIL BIDEN'S IMMIGRATION LEGISLATION: Administration officials and congressional Democrats unveiled President Biden's proposed immigration legislation Thursday. The wide-ranging legislation includes things like an eight-year path to citizenship for those living in the country illegally, an increase in visas, greater funding for processing asylum requests, and more. However, Democrats signaled willingness to act on parts of the legislation separately, instead of insisting on trying to get the entire proposal passed.

U-S SENATOR CRUZ FACING BIG BACKLASH:  Senator Ted Cruz is facing major political backlash after he flew down to Cancun for a family vacation Wednesday as the Texas Republican's state is going through a crisis with millions without power, heat and drinkable water for days due to a winter storm that brought snow and record low temperatures that buckled its electrical grid. The uproar started when Cruz was spotted at the airport and on the plane and quickly built, and he ended up coming back the next day, telling reporters Thursday it was, quote, "obviously a mistake" to have gone. Cruz first said yesterday he'd gone with his family after his daughters asked to go on a trip with friends because school was canceled for the week, saying, "Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon."

But a New York Times report later in the day challenged that explanation. The Times was leaked a group text among Cruz's wife, Heidi Cruz, and some of their neighbors in Houston. In it, Heidi Cruz said their house was "FREEZING," as they lost power and heat too, and asked, "Anyone can or want to leave for the week?", and wrote about the prices and good security at the Ritz-Carlton in Cancun. The texts also showed the family planned to stay through the weekend. Cruz later acknowledged he'd intended to say longer, saying, "leaving when so many Texans were hurting didn't feel right, and so I changed my return flight and flew back on the first available flight." Cruz's actions drew bipartisan criticism and there was speculation it might hurt his potential plans to run for president again in 2024.

➤WHAT WILL IT TAKE FOR AMERICANS TO RETURN TO THE MALL?:  Malls in the U.S. were struggling long before the pandemic came along, and the pandemic was the nail in the coffin for some. But what would it take to revive malls? Malls are currently gearing up for the return to normal life. Leading into the pandemic, many mall owners had already started updating their properties with outdoor restaurants, fitness centers, grocery stores, and Uber and Lyft areas for pickup and drop-off. Analysts expect these types of changes to intensify this year. Vince Tribone is the senior retail analyst with the real estate research firm Green Street, and says, “The legacy mall model of having three or four department stores at a mall being the key traffic driver—those days are over. Malls are trying to adapt to the trends.” Some malls are also adapting to the current environment and are rolling out private work spaces where remote workers can reserve a quiet zone, and other malls are filling empty retail spaces with digitally native companies such as Casper, Warby Parker, and Peloton. As far as what Americans will do once they feel safe again—the jury is out—some predict we’ll partake in “revenge shopping and revenge spending” while others wonder if our shopping habits have been changed permanently since we’ve been home so long.

🏀LEBRON, DURANT TO BE ALL-STAR GAME CAPTAINS: The L.A. Lakers' LeBron James and the Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant will be the Western and Eastern Conference captains, respectively, in the NBA All-Star Game next month, revealed yesterday as having gotten the most votes in balloting for the game. The other starters for the West in the March 7th game in Atlanta are: Denver's Nikola Jokic; the L.A. Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard; Golden State’s Stephen Curry; and Dallas’ Luka Doncic. The other East starters are: Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo; Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid; Washington’s Bradley Beal; and Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving. Fan votes counted for 50 percent, player votes for 25 percent, and votes from a media panel for 25 percent.

🏀LEBRON BECOMES THIRD PLAYER WITH 35,000 POINTS: LeBron James became the third player in NBA history with 35,000 points last night, reaching the mark during the first half of his L.A. Lakers' game against the Brooklyn Nets. He is behind only career leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in first place and Karl Malone in second. However, at age 36, James is the youngest of them to have reached 35,000 points, with Abdul-Jabbar having done it at 38 and Malone at 39.

🏈REPORTS: EAGLES SENDING WENTZ TO COLTS: The Philadelphia Eagles have agreed to trade quarterback Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts in return for draft picks this year and in 2022, according to media reports yesterday. Wentz just completed the worst season of his five-year career, leading him to be benched after 12 games in favor of rookie Jalen Hurts. The Eagles chose Wentz with the Number 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft. In 2017, he led Philadelphia to a 11-2 record before his season was ended due to a knee injury. Nick Foles took over, and the Eagles went on to the win the Super Bowl.


🎾DJOKOVIC TO PLAY FOR AUSTRALIAN OPEN TITLE AFTER WINNING SEMIFINAL: Top-seeded Serbian Novak Djokovic will play for the Australian Open title after winning his semifinal match against 114th-ranked Aslan Karatsev of Russia yesterday (February 18th). Djokovic dispatched Karatsev without too much trouble, defeating him 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. He will play the winner of today's semifinal between fourth-seeded Daniil Medvedev and Number 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas. Number 3 Naomi Osaka of Japan and 22nd-seeded American Jennifer Brady will play for the women's title on Saturday.

⚾BLUE JAYS' HOME GAMES WILL BE IN BUFFALO, FLORIDA AND TORONTO: MLB's Toronto Blue Jays are expected to split playing their home games during the upcoming season among their spring training complex in Dunedin, Florida, their Triple-A ballpark in Buffalo, New York, and their home stadium, the Rogers Center in Toronto. The division is due to Canadian government coronavirus restrictions. The Blue Jays played their home games during last year's abbreviated season in Buffalo.