Saturday, March 20, 2021

March 21 Radio History

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Actor Kathleen Widdoes (“As the World Turns”) is 82. 
  • Singer-guitarist Keith Potger of The Seekers is 80. 
  • Actor Marie-Christine Barrault is 77. 
  • Singer-keyboardist Rose Stone of Sly and the Family Stone is 76. 
  • Cynthia Geary is 56
    Actor Timothy Dalton is 75. 
  • Singer-guitarist Ray Dorset of Mungo Jerry is 75. 
  • Singer-guitarist Rodger Hodgson (Supertramp) is 71. 
  • Bassist Conrad Lozano of Los Lobos is 70. 
  • Singer Russell Thompkins Jr. of The Stylistics is 70. 
  • Comedian Brad Hall (“Saturday Night Live”) is 63. 
  • Actor Sabrina LeBeauf (“The Cosby Show”) is 63. 
  • Actor Gary Oldman is 63. 
  • Actor Kassie Depaiva (“Days of Our Lives”) is 60. 
  • Actor Matthew Broderick is 59. 
  • Actor-comedian Rosie O’Donnell is 59. 
  • Actor Cynthia Geary (“Northern Exposure”) is 56. 
  • Musician DJ Premier of Gang Starr is 55. 
  • Musician MC Maxim of Prodigy is 54. 
  • Keyboardist Jonas “Joker” Berggren of Ace of Base is 54. 
  • Guitarist Andrew Copeland of Sister Hazel is 53. 
  • Actor Laura Allen is 47. 
  • Actor Sonequa Martin-Green (“Star Trek: Discovery,” “The Walking Dead”) is 36. 
  • Actor Scott Eastwood (“The Longest Ride”) is 35. 
  • Actor Jasmin Savoy Brown (“For the People”) is 27. 
  • Actor Forrest Wheeler (“Fresh Off the Boat”) is 17.

Federal Judge Slams Media, Accusing It Of Left-Wing Bias

A federal appeals judge accused the media of being a “trumpet” for the Democratic Party in a scathing dissenting opinion handed down Friday.

The NY Post reports Washington, DC, Senior Circuit Judge Laurence Silberman, 85, called on his fellow judges to overturn a Supreme Court landmark decision protecting the press, complaining that conservatives are oppressed by liberal outlets, academia and tech companies that combine to create “a frighteningly orthodox media culture.”

The judge was countering his colleagues’ decision to toss a libel suit filed by two former Liberian officials against human rights group Global Witness.

The ex-officials had sued over a report by a human rights group called Global Witness that they said implied they had accepted bribes from an oil company. 

Silberman complained in his lone, dissenting opinion about the 1964 New York Times v. Sullivan decision requiring libel plaintiffs prove “actual malice,” and called on the Supreme Court to revisit the landmark ruling.

The Reagan appointee said increasing the power of the media is “so dangerous,” “because we are very close to one-party control of these institutions.”

“Two of the three most influential papers (at least historically), The New York Times and The Washington Post, are virtually Democratic Party broadsheets,” Silberman claimed.

He also griped that the news section of The Wall Street Journal and most television outlets also skew to the left.

Silberman said a “one-party control of the press” poses a threat to a “viable democracy.”

He cited Fox News, The New York Post and The Wall Street Journal opinion and editorial pages as one of the “few notable exceptions to Democratic Party ideological control.”

Nothing To See Here: Most Media Ignored Biden's Tumble

NY Post 3/20/21

Major left-leaning U.S. press outlets are largely avoiding mention of President Joe Biden's repeated stumbles as he boarded Air Force One, while many foreign publications are devoting prominent coverage to the incident, reports The Daily Mail.

As of Friday afternoon, the homepages of MSNBC, CBS News, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and New York Times had no mention of Biden's stumbling incident earlier in the day at Joint Base Andrews.

The news blackout was not strictly partisan, with the homepage of right-leaning One America News Network also omitting any mention of Biden's repeated tripping.

Several U.S. publications did devote prominent homepage space to Biden's stumble, including TMZ, Fox News, the New York Post, New York Daily News, and Politico. The Drudge Report led with an image of the stumble and banner headline reading 'BIDEN FALLS AGAIN MONTHS AFTER INJURING FOOT'.

CNN and ABC News carried brief items on the White House statement that Biden was 'just fine' after tripping, and NBC News featured a link to a video of the incident well below the fold.

And New York Times photojournalist Doug Mills did tweet a photo of the incident with a succinct caption explaining '@POTUS stumbles as he walks up the steps of Air Force One,' but was blasted with furious criticism from Biden supporters on Twitter.

'What the hell?' fumed media critic Jeff Jarvis in response to Mills' tweet. 'The stumble is yours.'

Internationally, a number major foreign outlets featured prominent homepage coverage of the stumbling incident, including the UK's Mirror, Sun, Telegraph and Times.

Prominent news outlets in Spain and Australia also devoted homepage space to Biden's repeated tripping on the Air Force One stairs.

In contrast to the lack of interest in Biden's stumbles, mainstream U.S. outlets heavily covered an incident last year, in which Trump took mincing baby-steps down a ramp at West Point, which he later explained was 'very slippery.'

Although Trump did not stumble during the incident, it sparked rampant speculation about his health and criticism over his capacities, including from Biden himself.

'Look at how he steps and look at how I step,' Biden said in September 2020, in a clip featured on CNN. 'Watch how I run up ramps and he stumbles down ramps. OK? Come on.'

'Trump's West Point walk sparks questions about his health,' read one CNN headline.

Report: Pandemic Supercharged Advertising 'Triopoly'

When the pandemic upended the economy last year, companies took a hard look at their advertising plans.

The Wall Street Journal reports Oreos maker Mondelez International Inc. shifted money meant for TV commercials during March Madness basketball and the Summer Olympics into digital platforms. A hefty chunk went to Alphabet Inc.’s Google, which offered data on what locked-down snack lovers were searching for.

Athleisure company Vuori Inc. more than tripled its spending on Facebook Inc., spotting a chance to juice sales of its sweatpants to people stuck at home. Office-furniture maker Steelcase Inc. built an operation to sell directly to workers and advertised aggressively on Inc.

WSJ 3/20/21
The Big Three of digital advertising—Google, Facebook and Amazon—already dominated that sector going into 2020. The pandemic pushed them into command of the entire advertising economy. According to a provisional analysis by ad agency GroupM, the three tech titans for the first time collected the majority of all ad spending in the U.S. last year.

Beneath the shift are changes driven by the pandemic: more time spent on computer screens; more e-commerce; a jump in new-business formation, and a steady improvement in tech giants’ ability to demonstrate a return on ad investment.

Success breeds success for what some call the “triopoly.” The increase in shopping and spending on Google, Facebook and Amazon’s platforms is adding to their already voluminous data on users, giving them even more appeal for advertisers that look to target their messages.

“These companies that are data-science-driven get stronger and faster with a tailwind of usage—and Covid was a hurricane,” said ad-industry veteran Tim Armstrong, a former Google executive and AOL chief executive who now leads Flowcode, a direct-to-consumer platform company.

Many of the pandemic-driven changes likely are here to stay, say advertisers and ad forecasters. Still, when the pandemic winds down, it’s far from certain the tech giants will continue to increase their market share gains at this rate. 

The growth in online advertising last year came as every other kind of ad spending shrank, with double-digit declines in television, newspapers and billboards, according to GroupM. And those online gains flowed heavily to the tech giants rather than to digital media sites and publishers that sell online ads.

NC Radio: Tom Hamilton Returns To Curtis Media As MM

Curtis Media Group has named Tom Hamilton as the new Market Manager for Curtis Media Group stations WSJS, WMFR and WPCM in the Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point market. 

Hamilton previously served as GM of WSJS and WMFR with Curtis Media Group from 2007 until 2011, and prior to that managed those and other properties in the market for CBS and Clear Channel Radio.

"We are very pleased to welcome Tom back to Curtis Media Group," said Curtis Media Group President/COO, Trip Savery. "He has enjoyed much success in the Triad for many years, and we look forward to Tom leading our efforts with WSJS Sports."

"The return to Curtis Media Group was the primary reason why this decision was such as easy one," said Hamilton. "The opportunity to once again work with so many familiar faces and established professionals simply adds to my excitement. I look forward discovering the numerous opportunities and challenges that lie before us."

Wokism Impacts The Weather Channel Coverage

The Weather Channel on Friday announced it will no longer use the term "Dixie Alley" on its television network, reports USAToday. The term describes the region of the southern U.S. that's prone to deadly tornado outbreaks.

"Effective immediately, we will discontinue use of the racially-insensitive term ‘Dixie Alley’ – and I call on others in the industry to do the same,” Byron Allen – CEO of Allen Media Group, parent company of The Weather Channel television network – said in a statement.

“We must all work harder to become ONE America,” he added. 

"Dixie” is a nickname given to the 11 southern states that formed the Confederacy in 1861, seceding from the Union and leading to the Civil War. 

"Dixie Alley" includes tornado-prone states such as Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee. It was created to differentiate the region from the more well-known "Tornado Alley," which includes the Plains states of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. 

A fierce tornado outbreak this week hit several states in the South, destroying property and injuring two people in Alabama. No fatalities were reported.

Tornadoes in the South tend to be deadlier than those in the Plains because of several factors such as longer, larger tornado paths, expanding population, more mobile homes and more nighttime tornadoes. 

2 KTTV Journalists Injured In Vehicle Accident

A KTTV FOX 11 reporter and photographer were two of the six people injured after an SUV slammed into a building in Hollywood Friday afternoon, according to the station's website.

The FOX 11 crew members -- reporter Hal Eisner and photojournalist Joab Perez -- were working on a story about the reopening of El Capitan Theatre on West Hollywood Boulevard as Los Angeles County entered the less-restrictive red tier earlier in the week.

Eisner and Perez were both taken to the hospital with serious injuries. Firefighters on scene said four others -- two of which were tourists from Washington -- were hurt but one of them refused to be taken to the hospital.

Police conducted DUI tests on the driver at the scene. He was then placed under arrest under the suspicion of Driving Under the Influence. The suspect told police he fell asleep at the wheel before he was taken to the hospital in LAPD custody.

Hal Eisner has worked in television in Los Angeles for more than 38 years, with most of those years being with FOX 11 and My 13. He is the host of In Depth and has a podcast titled, What the Hal?

Joab Perez has been with FOX 11 for nearly three years. Anchor Elex Michaelson says Perez brings "passion and positivity to every story he works on."

Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen’s Pay Skyrockets

Charlie Ergen
Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen saw his compensation go up dramatically in 2020 to $94.7 million, according to The Wrap citing an SEC filing.

In 2019, Ergen took home $2.36 million. The massive rise in his 2020 pay was due to an option award worth a whopping $91.9 million. If you take that out, his pay is more in-line with his average at $2.8 million.

Ergen’s base salary was $888,462 for the fiscal 2020 year, which was down slightly from the $1 million he pulled in during the last two years. All the top executives’ base salary declined from 2019 thanks to a pay cut due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But as you can see, they didn’t really lose that much in compensation last year.

W. Erik Carlson, Dish Network’s president and CEO, took home a more meager $3.3 million in 2020, while CFO Paul Orban’s compensation was $1.2 million.

Dish is a satellite-TV provider based in Englewood, Colorado. The company had a spike in popularity — and stock price — in late 2014/early 2015 but the era of cord-cutting took a big bite out of that.

R.I.P.: Bhaskar Menon, Former Capitol Records Exec

Bhaskar Menon with Tina Turner and Bob Seger

In 1970, Capitol Records’ business was struggling. The Beatles, the company’s top act, were defunct. Hits were scarce among its remaining roster. That year, the company lost $8 million.

The NY Times reports it needed a savior, and it found one in Bhaskar Menon, an Indian-born, Oxford-educated executive at EMI, the British conglomerate that was Capitol’s majority owner. He became the label’s new chief in 1971 and quickly turned its finances around, driving a gargantuan hit in 1973 with Pink Floyd’s album “The Dark Side of the Moon.” He later ran EMI’s vast worldwide music operations.

Menon, who was also the first Asian man to run a major Western record label, died on March 4 at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 86.

In 1957, Menon joined the Gramophone Company of India, an EMI subsidiary; he became managing director in 1965 and chairman in 1969. Later in 1969, he was named managing director of EMI International.

Capitol, the Los Angeles label that had been home to Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee, was reeling from business missteps and declining sales, and EMI installed Mr. Menon as its president and chief executive. He slashed Capitol’s artist roster, tightened budgets and pushed for more aggressive promotion of the label’s artists.

In 1972, Menon learned that Capitol was at risk of losing the next album by Pink Floyd, which blamed the company for the poor sales of its previous albums in the United States. Mr. Menon flew to the South of France, where Pink Floyd was performing and, after an all-night negotiating session, they agreed on a deal. Mr. Menon commemorated the terms on a cocktail napkin and brought it back to Capitol’s legal department in Los Angeles, said Rupert Perry, a longtime executive at EMI and Capitol.

“The Dark Side of the Moon,” released by Capitol with a huge promotional campaign, was one of the biggest blockbusters in music history; it stayed on Billboard’s album chart for 741 consecutive weeks and has sold more than 15 million copies in the United States alone.

Led by Mr. Menon, Capitol continued to have success in the 1970s with Bob Seger, Helen Reddy, Steve Miller, Linda Ronstadt, Grand Funk Railroad and others.

R.I.P.: Jack O'Shea, Former Tri-State Radio Personality

Popular TriState-WVA radio personality Jack O’Shea has died.

He was 85 and hosted radio shows for over five decades.  O’Shea was inducted into the West Virginia Radio & TV Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2007.

Kindred Communications was the last broadcast company that Jack would become involved with. On Tuesday, March 23, startions, WDGG 93.7 the Dawg, WCMI 92.7 & 98.5 the Planet, WMGA 97.9 the River, WXBW Big Buck Country 101.5, WRVC 94.1 FM & AM 930 and Cat Sports 93.3 FM & AM 1340, will observe a minute of silence at 10am as a tribute.

At the end of that one minute of silence, a voice recording one of his iconic catch phrases will be heard one last time — “O’Shea loves you most.”

R.I.P.: Bill Campbell, Retired Chicago Broadcaster

Bill Campbell
Bill Campbell, a veteran Chicago TV newsman who spent more than three decades with WLS ABC 7 Chicago, including as editorial and community relations director and talk show host, has died at age 70.

Campbell was for many years the public face of the station, reports The Sun-Times. He died Wednesday at Symphony Evanston Healthcare, where he had been recovering from a series of medical setbacks stemming from a 2017 stroke.

“He was passionate about Chicago. It was his heart. It was his life’s work. And he believed that people could transform their lives and the lives of others by being positive on purpose,” said his brother, Kevin Campbell.

“He inspired so many people, and inspired us as his family through his work.”

The multiple Emmy Award-winning broadcaster, who retired from ABC 7 in 2010, after 32 years, was best known as host of the public affairs show, “Chicagoing,” which aired every Sunday morning for 21 years.

He began his ABC 7 career as director of editorials, writing and delivering the station’s on-air editorials covering wide-ranging social issues and current affairs, a position he would hold the next 10 years before leaving for a William Benton Fellowship in Broadcast Journalism at the University of Chicago.

“All of us at ABC 7 were saddened to learn of Bill’s passing,” ABC 7 President and General Manager John H. Idler said.

“His kindness and caring spirit are the biggest part of his enduring legacy. His contributions to our station are still felt today, and Bill’s indomitable spirit lives on in all who knew him.”

March 20 Radio History

➦In 1902... Nathan Stubblefield demonstrated ship-to-shore broadcast to multiple receivers in Washington, D.C., where voice and music transmissions were made over a third of a mile (535 meters) from the steamer Bartholdi, anchored in the Potomac River, to shore.

Stubblefield with wireless phone
He later demonstrated wireless telephony in Philadelphia on May 30, 1902 to a distance of a half mile.

He joined wireless inventor Archie Frederick Collins and stock promoters in the Collins Wireless Telephone Company. In December, 1909 the company became came a part of the Continental Wireless Tel. & Tel. Company, with A. Frederick Collins as Technical Director. Stubblefield resigned as a director in December 1911, because of what he described in a letter as their sometimes-fraudulent stock promotion practices. The other principals of the company were later convicted of fraud.

However, he continued to experiment with wireless telephony, using large circular conduction coils to transmit voice frequencies to receiving stations. In 1903, he could transmit 375 feet without earth connections, using induction. In 1904, he could transmit 423 yards.

The total wire required for the transmitting and receiving coils was of a greater length than what would be required to simply interconnect the transmitter and receiver, but the invention would allow mobility.

On May 12, 1908, he received U.S. patent 887,357 for his Wireless Telephone, using the voice frequency induction system. He said in the patent that it would be useful for "securing telephonic communications between moving vehicles and way stations". The diagram shows wireless telephony from trains, boats, and wagons. In foreign patents he showed wireless telephony with cars. However, there is no indication that he was using voice-modulated continuous high frequency waves, as used for radio today.

➦In 1906...Oswald George Nelson was born (Died of cancer at age 69 – June 3, 1975).  He was a band leader, actor, director, and producer. He originated and starred in The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, a radio and television series with his wife Harriet and two sons David and Ricky Nelson.

Earlier, he & wife Harriet Nelson were regulars on the Red Skelton radio show, before he developed The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet for ABC radio from 1944 to ’54. It developed quite a following & moved to TV from 1952 to ’66.  As son Rick Nelson became a recording star in real life, the program focussed more on him, ending each show with a performance.

➦In 1908...Frank Nicholas Stanton born in Muskegon, Mich. (Died at age 98 – December 24, 2006).  He was a broadcasting executive who served as the president of CBS between 1946 and 1971 and then as vice chairman until 1973. He also served as the chairman of the Rand Corporation from 1961 until 1967.

Stanton helped lead the fight for color television. By 1950 CBS had been working on its field-sequential system of color TV for a decade. On October 11, 1950 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved CBS's system as the first official color standard for commercial broadcasting in the U.S., although subsequent court challenges delayed actual commercial broadcasting until June 25, 1951.

On that day, Stanton appeared on an hour-long special, Premiere, with Robert Alda, Faye Emerson, Ed Sullivan, Arthur Godfrey, William S. Paley and others to introduce the CBS color system.

CBS color broadcasting only lasted for four months. CBS suspended it when the manufacture of color television receivers was halted by the US government as part of the Korean War effort.  When the ban on color sets was rescinded in 1953, CBS announced that it had no plans to resume broadcasting using its field-sequential color system.  A major problem with the CBS system was that the video was not "compatible" with existing black-and-white TV sets. A competing dot-sequential color system being developed by RCA was compatible, and in late 1953, the FCC switched its approval to an RCA-based system of broadcasting color TV.

➦In 1922...WIP-AM, Philadelphia, signed-on.

Founded by Gimbels department store, the station first went on the air on as Philadelphia's first commercial radio station with the call sign WIP, which people mistakenly think stands for "Wireless In Philadelphia," "We're In Philadelphia" or "Watch Its Progress." In fact, WIP was a call sign randomly issued by the federal government.

In 1938, the station began a full 24 hour a day broadcast schedule and used the slogan "Philadelphia's Pioneer Station." In 1940, the station was granted a power increase to 5,000 watts and the transmitter site was moved to Bellmawr, NJ. The previous tower at 21st and Hamilton was dismantled and the property sold.

Wayne Cody
From the beginning, one of the most popular personalities on the station was children's show host "Uncle Wip." While Uncle Wip was portrayed by several people, one of the longest running was Wayne Cody. By 1933, Uncle Wip's "Kiddie Club" had over 500,000 names on its list, and over 750,000 by 1941. In addition to making numerous appearances, some of Uncle Wip's other activities included an Aviation Club, a "Toyland Parade" and a "Drum and Bugle Corps."

In 1958, WIP AM and FM were sold for $2,500,000 to WIP Broadcasting, Inc., a new syndicate headed by Benedict Gimbel, Jr., the station's former General Manager.

In 1960, the Metropolitan Broadcasting Division of Metromedia, Inc., owned by John W. Kluge, purchased WIP AM and FM for $2,700,000. This essentially ended any connection the station had with the Gimbel family or retail concern. On May 11, 1961, WIP's licensee name was changed to the parent company name, Metromedia, Inc.

Today the station call letters are WTEL, owned by Beasley Media Group and airs sports talk.

Bob and Ray
➦In 1922...."Ray" Goulding was born in Lowell MA (Died – March 24, 1990). He was a comedian, who, together with Bob Elliott formed the comedy duo of Bob and Ray.

Upon graduation from high school at age 17, Ray Goulding was hired as a $15-a-week announcer on local station WLLH, using the name 'Dennis Howard' to avoid confusion with his older brother Phil, an announcer in Boston radio at the time. A year later Ray was hired by Boston radio station WEEI under his own name

Bob & Ray's career spanned 5 decades, all the time satirizing radio & TV.  He said the billing “Bob and Ray” came from their first radio show “Matinee with Bob and Ray” which they thought sounded better than “Matinob with Ray and Bob”.  They had an NBC television show from 1971-1973.  Goulding died of kidney failure March 24, 1990, mere days after his 68th birthday.

➦In 1935...the Lucky Strike Hit Parade premiered on NBC, featuring the top 15 tunes of the week.  The show would be a Saturday night radio staple for the next 24 years…second in longevity only to Grand Ole Opry.

B. Mitchel Reed
➦In 1965...B. Mitchel Reed aired his last show at at Top40 WMCA 570 AM in NYC.

He was known as "The Fastest Tongue in the West," for the voice speed. He had left KFWB Los Angeles for WMCA in his home state of New York on February 7, 1963. He soon became part of a team of disc jockeys known as "The Good Guys," among them Jack Spector, a fellow alum from Boys High School in Brooklyn who had graduated two years ahead of him.

By 1965, Reed decided to return to Los Angeles. His last show at WMCA was on March 20. Thousands of his fans cheered him at the airport upon his departure. Many fans who were thrilled of his return greeted him when he arrived in LA. This ushered in his second stint at KFWB and The Wide Wide Weird World of BMR.

➦In 1972...Marilyn Maxwell died from a heart attacked at age 50.  She started her professional entertaining career as a radio singer while still a teenager, before signing with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1942 as a contract player. Among the programs in which she appeared were Beat the Band and The Abbott and Costello Show.

Some of her film roles included Lost in a Harem (1944), Champion (1949), The Lemon Drop Kid (1951), and Rock-A-Bye Baby (1958). The song "Silver Bells" made its debut in The Lemon Drop Kid, sung by Maxwell and Hope.

She was also 'whistle bait' on Bob Hope’s many USO tours around the world.

➦In 1974...Chester Robert "Chet" Huntley died of lung cancer at age 62 (Born December 10, 1911). He was a TV newscaster, best known for co-anchoring NBC's evening news program, The Huntley-Brinkley Report, for 14 years beginning in 1956.

Chet Huntley and David Brinkley
Huntley began his radio newscast career in 1934 at Seattle's KIRO AM, later working on radio stations in Spokane (KHQ) and Portland. His time (1936–37) in Portland was with KGW-AM, owned by The Oregonian, a Portland daily newspaper. At KGW he was writer, newscaster and announcer. In 1937 he went to work for KFI in Los Angeles, moving to CBS Radio from 1939 to 1951, then ABC Radio from 1951 to 1955.  In 1955, he joined the NBC Radio network, viewed by network executives as "another Ed Murrow".

In 1956, coverage of the national political party conventions was a major point of pride for the fledgling broadcast news organizations. NBC News executives were seeking to counter the growing popularity of CBS' Walter Cronkite, who had been a ratings success at the 1952 conventions. They decided to replace their current news anchor, John Cameron Swayze, but there was a disagreement on who the new anchorman should be. The two leading contenders were Huntley and David Brinkley. The eventual decision was to have both men share the assignment. Their on-air chemistry was apparent from the start, with Huntley's straightforward presentation countered by Brinkley's acerbic wit.

➦In 1989…After 37 years, Dick Clark announced the end of his hosting of  "American Bandstand" on ABC-TV.
Dick Clark
American Bandstand premiered locally in late March 1950 as Bandstand on Philadelphia television station WFIL-TV Channel 6 (now WPVI-TV). Originakly it was hosted by Bob Horn as a television adjunct to his radio show of the same name on WFIL radio, Bandstand mainly featured short musical films produced by Snader Telescriptions and Official Films, with occasional studio guests. This incarnation was an early predecessor of sorts of the music video shows that became popular in the 1980s, featuring films that are themselves the ancestors of music videos.

Horn, however, was disenchanted with the program, so he wanted to have the show changed to a dance program, with teenagers dancing along on camera as the records played, based on an idea that came from a radio show on WPEN, The 950 Club, hosted by Joe Grady and Ed Hurst. This more-familiar version of Bandstand debuted on October 7, 1952 in "Studio 'B'," which was located in their just-completed addition to the original 1947 building in West Philadelphia (4548 Market Street), and was hosted by Horn, with Lee Stewart as co-host until 1955.

Stewart was the owner of a TV/Radio business in Philadelphia and even though he was older, his advertising account was a large one for WFIL-TV at the time and was put on the program to appease the account. As WFIL grew financially and the account became less important, Stewart wasn't needed and was eventually dropped from the program.

On July 9, 1956, Horn was fired after a drunk-driving arrest, as WFIL and dual owner Walter Annenberg's The Philadelphia Inquirer at the time were doing a series on drunken driving. He was also reportedly involved in a prostitution ring and brought up on morals charges.  Horn was temporarily replaced by producer Tony Mammarella before the job went to Dick Clark permanently.

In late spring of 1956, the ABC television network asked their O&O's and affiliates for programming suggestions to fill their 3:30 p.m. (ET) time slot (WFIL had been pre-empting the ABC programming with Bandstand). Clark decided to pitch the show to ABC president Thomas W. Moore, and after some badgering the show was picked up nationally, becoming American Bandstand on August 5, 1957.

"Studio 'B'" measured 80' x 42' x 24', but appeared smaller due to the number of props, television cameras, and risers that were used for the show.

➦In 2005...NYC Radio, TV Personality  Theodore David Brown died (Born - May 5, 1924)  In 1953, Brown began working at WNEW 1130 AM as an air-personality.

He worked there off and on and at one point he worked at WMGM playing rock and roll. He returned to WNEW-AM and then worked at WNBC from the late 60s to the early 70s. At that point he went back to WNEW as afternoon drive air personality. He moved to mornings in 1978 and remained after WNEW began evolving in 1979 to Adult Standards/Big Bands by 1981. He continued working at WNEW until 1989 when he semi-retired.

From 1993-95, Brown worked mid-days at WRIV, a standards station in Riverhead, New York, and on WVNJ 1160 in Oakland, New Jersey, playing standards and big bands from early in 1996 to about 1998 when he suffered a stroke. He signed-off his show with the phrase "Put on the coffee Mama. I'm coming home."

➦In 2020..Singer Kenny Rogers died at age 81 from natural causes while under hospice care at his home in Sandy Springs, GA.

  • Actor Hal Linden is 90. 
  • Country singer Don Edwards is 82. 
  • Country singer-guitarist Ranger Doug of Riders in the Sky is 75. 
  • Blues musician Marcia Ball is 72. 
  • Actor William Hurt is 71. 
  • Christy Carlson Romano is 37
    Drummer Carl Palmer (Asia; Emerson, Lake and Palmer) is 71. 
  • Guitarist Jimmie Vaughan (Fabulous Thunderbirds) is 70. 
  • Guitarist Jim Seales (Shenandoah) is 67. 
  • Actor Amy Aquino (“Bosch,” “Brooklyn Bridge”) is 64. 
  • Actor Vanessa Bell Calloway is 64. 
  • Director Spike Lee is 64. 
  • Actor Theresa Russell is 64. 
  • Actor Holly Hunter is 63. 
  • Drummer Slim Jim Phantom (Stray Cats) is 60. 
  • Model Kathy Ireland is 58. 
  • Actor David Thewlis (“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”) is 58. 
  • Guitarist Adrian Oxaal of James is 56. 
  • Actor Jessica Lundy (“Party of Five,” “Hope and Gloria”) is 55. 
  • Actor Liza Snyder (“Yes, Dear”) is 53. 
  • Actor Michael Rapaport (“Boston Public”) is 51. 
  • Actor Alexander Chaplin (“Spin City”) is 50. 
  • Actor Cedric Yarbrough (“Speechless,” “Reno 911!”) is 48. 
  • Actor Paula Garces (“Harold and Kumar” films) is 47. 
  • Michael Genadry (“Ed”) is 43. 
  • Actor Bianca Lawson (“Pretty Little Liars”) is 42. 
  • Comedian Mikey Day (“Saturday Night Live”) is 41. 
  • Actor Nick Blood (“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) is 39. 
  • Guitarist Nick Wheeler of All-American Rejects is 39. 
  • Actor Michael Cassidy (“People of Earth,” “The O.C.”) is 38. 
  • Actor Christy Carlson Romano (“Even Stevens,” “Kim Possible”) is 37. 
  • Actor Ruby Rose (“Orange is the New Black”) is 35. 
  • Actor Barrett Doss (“Station 19″) is 32.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Wake-Up Call: Biden To Meet With Asian-American Leaders photo

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will be meeting with Asian American state legislators and other community leaders in Atlanta today after the massage parlors attack in the area earlier this week in which a 21-year-old man is accused of killing eight people, six of them Asian women. The deadly attacks came amid a national increase in anti-Asian violence. Biden and Harris had been planning to go to Atlanta today before the attacks took place as part of the administration's national effort to tout the benefits of the $1.9 trillion Covid relief legislation that Biden signed. Their original political event has been canceled. Meanwhile, Biden directed yesterday that flags be flown at half-staff through sunset Monday in honor of those killed in the attacks.

➤BIDEN: U.S. TO MEET 100 MILLION COVID VACCINATIONS GOAL TODAY: President Biden said Thursday that the U.S. will meet his goal of 100 million Covid vaccinations today, in his 58th day in office, ahead of his original target date of doing it within his first 100 days. Biden said he'd announce a new vaccination target next week. The White House also said yesterday that the U.S. will be sending some Covid vaccines to Canada and Mexico. The U.S. will be sending a combined four million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the two countries, 2.5 million to Mexico and 1.5 million to Canada, describing it as a "loan." The AstraZeneca vaccine hasn't yet been approved for use in the U.S., but has been okayed by the World Health Organization. Tens of millions of doses have been stockpiled in the U.S. waiting for emergency use authorization.

➤PUTIN FIRES BACK AFTER BIDEN SAYS HE'S A 'KILLER': Russian President Vladimir Putin fired back Thursday after President Biden described him as a "killer." When asked during an ABC News interview aired Wednesday if he thought Putin was a, quote, "killer," Biden answered, "I do." Putin recalled his ambassador to the U.S. later that day in response, and on Thursday when asked about Biden's comment during a video call marking Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea, Putin said a remark along the lines of, "it takes one to know one." 

He cited America's history of slavery, the killing of Native Americans, and the atomic bombing of Japan during World War Two. The White House responded that while Biden would continue to be ready to work with Putin on areas of mutual concern, he was, quote, "not going to hold back" when he has concerns about Putin’s actions.

➤FBI RELEASES VIDEO OF 'MOST EGREGIOUS' ATTACKS ON OFFICERS DURING U.S. CAPITOL ATTACK: The FBI yesterday released 10 videos of what it called "most egregious" attacks on law enforcement officers during the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, and asked for the public's help in identifying them. Even though more than 300 people have been arrested since the attack, the FBI is still struggling to identify some of the most violent people seen on video assaulting law enforcement agents. Nearly 140 officers from the Capitol Police force and D.C. Metropolitan Police were injured during the Capitol assault, the chairman of the Capitol Police Labor Committee said afterward.

Twelve jurors have now been seated in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer facing murder and manslaughter charges in the death of George Floyd, after another day of jury selection yesterday. Just two alternates remain to be chosen. Judge Peter Cahill will rule today on the defense's request to delay or move the trial after the city's $27 million settlement with Floyd's family was announced last week. The defense has argued the news could taint the jurors. Opening statements are set for March 29th if the jury is complete by then.

➤AMC TO RE-OPEN 98% OF ITS THEATERS TODAY: The worst days of the pandemic look like they're finally over for the movie theater industry, with AMC Theatres, the nation's largest chain, announcing that 98 percent of its U.S. movie theaters will be open today, as more than 40 locations in California are reopening. AMC is expected to have even more of its remaining theaters open by next weekend, up to 99 percent. Movie theaters have slowly been reopening over the past few months as allowed under state and local guidelines, with required limited capacity and safely protocols, like mandatory mask wearing. As AMC Entertainment President and CEO Adam Aron looked ahead last week from what he called the "most challenging" situation in the company's 100-year history, he called Covid vaccinations "the real salvation."

➤BOX OFFICE PLUMMETED 80% IN 2020:  The Motion Picture Association released its analysis of box office receipts for 2020, and the news was even worse than many feared. For the first time, online subscribers crossed 1 billion to hit 1.1 billion, a 26% spike year over year. In the U.S., there were 306.8 million subscriptions, an increase of 32%. All together, mobile and home entertainment brought in $68.8 billion last year, an increase of 23% over 2019.

The box office, meanwhile, dropped to $2.2 billion in the U.S., a drop of 80%. Globally, the B.O. brought in $12 billion, a decrease of 72%. For the first time, China surpassed North America, with $3 billion worth of receipts.

"The past year was challenging for the global economy, and for virtually every aspect of our daily lives: the staggering loss of life, the toll on our frontline workers, the devastating and widespread loss of jobs and businesses, and the almost complete shutdown of many industries," MPA chairman-CEO Charles Rivkin said in his letter introducing the 60 page-plus report.

"Our workforce was not immune: Jobs were lost, productions were either curtailed or shut down, and movie theaters shuttered around the globe," Rivkin continued. "But, during an otherwise punishing year for theatrical exhibition and our industry at large, home and curated entertainment boomed. The good news wasn’t just confined to homes, laptops, and other personal devices. As recent stories have shown, audiences never lost their appetite to enjoy the theatrical experience, and drive-in theaters enjoyed their highest returns in decades."

➤WOMEN IN CITIES LESS LIKELY TO HAVE CHILDREN:  It turns out women in some cities are less-likely to have children compared to those that don’t live in cities. Researchers from several universities found that women are less likely to procreate in urban areas that have a higher percentage of females than males in the population. The researchers found when women lived in rural environments where there were more women than men, they were more likely to reproduce for the first time, compared to women who faced the same female to male ratios in urban areas. Researchers theorize that women in these urban areas experienced a more competitive market for finding a spouse and thus were less likely to have children than women who lived outside of urban areas. Overall, women were 15 percent less likely to reproduce in urban areas compared to rural areas.

🏀DRAKE GETS FIRST NCAA WIN IN 50 YEARS AS 'FIRST FOUR' KICKS OFF TOURNAMENT: The "First Four" games kicked off the NCAA men's basketball tournament yesterday, with Drake getting its first tournament win in 50 years as it defeated Wichita State 53-52. Drake’s last tournament victory had been 50 years to the day earlier, on March 18th, 1971, against Notre Dame. In the day's other three games: UCLA beat Michigan State 86-80 in overtime; Norfolk State defeated Appalachian State 54-53; and Texas Southern downed Mount St. Mary 60-52. The first round begins today.

🏈NFL INVESTIGATING SEX ASSAULT CLAIMS AGAINST TEXANS QB WATSON: The NFL said yesterday (March 18th) that it's investigating sexual assault allegations against Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. The league's action comes after three female massage therapists filed lawsuits against Watson this week, alleging he assaulted them while they were giving him massages. In the most serious of the claims, one of the women charges he forced her to perform oral sex. Watson has denied acting inappropriately, saying in a Twitter statement Tuesday, "I have never treated any woman with anything other than the utmost respect."

🏈NFL'S NEW MEDIA DEALS GIVE AMAZON THURSDAY NIGHT GAME STREAMING RIGHTS: The NFL announced new media rights agreements yesterday, including a deal with Amazon Prime Video that gives the streaming service exclusive rights to Thursday night football beginning in 2022. Commissioner Roger Goodell said yesterday, "This provides our fans with greater access. We want to provide our games on more platforms than ever before." Amazon has streamed 11 Thursday night games since 2017, but it will take over the entire package from Fox, which has had it since 2018. The new contracts also mean the NFL will nearly double its media revenue to more than $10 billion a season.

🏌JONES TIES COURSE RECORD IN HONDA CLASSIC'S OPENING ROUND: Australian Matt Jones tied the course record in the opening round of the Honda Classic yesterday with a 9-under 61 at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. That gave him a three-shot lead over Americans Aaron Wise and Russell Henley. His 61 tied the previous record held by Brian Harman, who shot it in the second round in 2012.

🏈DALTON SAYS BEARS TOLD HIM HE'LL BE STARTING QB: Andy Dalton, who agreed to a one-year, $10 million deal with the Chicago Bears earlier this week, said Thursday (March 18th) that he'd been told by the Bears that he will be the starting quarterback. That means the former Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys QB won't be competing with veteran Nick Foles for the starter job. Dalton said yesterday, "They told me I was the starter. That was one of the reasons why I wanted to come here. So every conversation I've had has been that, so that's the assurance that I've gotten."

Report: Tension Builds Between iHM And Global Media

Tensions have reportedly broken out between Global and iHeartMedia as the owner of the British radio and outdoor media group seeks regulatory permission to buy up to 49.99% of its bigger US audio counterpart, reports CampaignLive.

Michael Tabor’s Global Media & Entertainment Investments (GMEI) has already bought an 8.7% stake, which it did at the end of January without telling iHeartMedia in advance.

Now iHeartMedia and GMEI have each written to the FCC, which must approve any foreign ownership above 5% for a radio broadcast license holder.

iHeartMedia said in a petition that the FCC should give approval for GMEI to own a stake above 5% and potentially to increase the size of its stake because it would be in the “public interest” and encourage investment – but only up to 9.99%.

GMEI told the FCC in a follow-up letter that it was “frustrated” and “surprised”, because its lawyers had discussed its plan to seek to buy up to 49.99% with iHeartMedia’s lawyers in February and made clear to the US-listed company that its intentions were “not hostile” and it wanted to “co-operate and work together”, GMEI said.

As a result, “GMEI was frustrated to learn that iHeart’s advance approval request in the petition only requested approval for non-controlling voting and equity ownership interests of no greater than 9.99%,” GMEI said.

“GMEI also was surprised that the petition did not reference GMEI’s request to seek advance approval for a non-controlling interest not to exceed 49.99%, nor did the petition attempt to explain the basis for iHM’s unilateral decision to limit the advance approval to 9.99% despite GMEI’s request.”

An 'inconsistency with the FCC’s foreign ownership rules', iHM says

In iHeartMedia's legal filing to the FCC, reveals how it was caught by surprise when the owner of Global, the biggest UK commercial radio broadcaster, bought its 8.7% stake for $117.5m “wholly without iHeart’s knowledge or control”.

iHM said it only learned about the share purchase at the start of February, after Tabor’s investment vehicle, Honeycomb Investments, made a stock market filing.

iHeartMedia passed a resolution last year at the start of the pandemic that means any shareholder that wants to own 10% or more needs approval from iHeartMedia’s board.

NFL TV Rights: ABC Gets Super Bowls, ‘TNF’ Moves to Amazon

The National Football League unveiled long-term media deals that people familiar with the matter said are valued at over $100 billion, providing a windfall for the league and significantly expanding the availability of games on streaming platforms, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The league secured a combined average increase of 75% to 80% in fees from its media partners in the 11-year deals that were announced Thursday, one of the people said. Inc. will become the new home of Thursday Night Football. The major broadcast and cable TV packages are staying with the same networks, with CBS and Fox retaining Sunday afternoon games and NBC keeping “Sunday Night Football.” ESPN will hold onto “Monday Night Football” and its sister network ABC will join the rotation of broadcasters who televise the Super Bowl.

The new contracts show the balance the league is trying to strike by embracing digital platforms, as younger audiences migrate to them, without alienating fans used to watching games on TV. Viewership of NFL games fell 7% in the 2020-2021 regular season, amid the pandemic. Beyond the Amazon deal, all the TV networks will get new rights to air certain games on their nascent subscription-streaming platforms.

The deals give the league a financial boost after a season in which revenue plummeted amid the coronavirus pandemic. They also have implications for players and teams. The NFL’s labor deal with its players ties the salary cap for teams to leaguewide revenue, so higher media revenue means teams will be able to spend more on their rosters. The labor deal gave the league the right to add an additional regular season game—making the season 17 games—in exchange for more revenue to the players.

Amazon’s move to take over Thursday Night Football is scheduled to start with the 2023 season, but could start as early as the 2022 season. Fox Corp.-owned Fox currently has the rights to the franchise through 2022, but there is a possibility that the network could exit the deal early, people close to the situation said.

Amazon will stream 15 games per season on its Prime Video service, the company said. The games will not be available on television beyond the local markets of the two teams playing. Amazon had been simulcasting Thursday games along with the league-owned NFL Network and Fox for the past few seasons.

Amazon is paying an average annual fee of around $1 billion, people with knowledge of that agreement said. The company is betting that the addition of exclusive NFL games will drive people to sample its original content, said Mike Hopkins, senior vice president of Prime Video and Amazon Studios.

CBS, Fox and NBC will see their fees as much as double to the range of $2 billion per season, on average, people familiar with the situation said. The new Sunday deals kick in with the 2023 season.

ESPN will pay an average annual fee of $2.7 billion to continue airing “Monday Night Football,” up from its current deal of $2 billion, a person with knowledge of the agreement said. The network is getting two playoff games per season, up from one. ABC is also carrying three exclusive Monday Night Football games and two late-season Saturday games.

ESPN is also getting something it has long desired—the ability to “flex” better matchups into the “Monday Night Football” slot during the last month of the season. Most of the new terms with Walt Disney Co.-owned networks kick in with the 2023 season.

Here are the details:

  • CBS retains the AFC package of Sunday afternoon games. CBS picked up rights to stream its games, on a regional basis, on Paramount+.
  • Fox will carry the NFC package of Sunday afternoon games and will stream its games regionally via Tubi.
  • NBC renewed “Sunday Night Football,” which it will stream via Peacock. The Peacock streaming service will produce several exclusive games.
  • ESPN renewed “Monday Night Football.” ABC picked up the rights to carry three Monday night games per year, which will be part of Monday doubleheaders when ESPN has a different game.
  • ESPN is allowed to simulcast games on ESPN+
  • NFL Network no longer will simulcast Thursday night games.
  • The Super Bowl rotation will see CBS (2023, 2027, 2031), Fox (2024, 2028, 2032) and NBC (2025, 2029, 2033) carry three games each. ESPN/ABC will have two (2026, 2030).
  • The NFL’s Super Bowl rotation is as follows:
  • CBS: 2023, 2027, 2031
    FOX: 2024, 2028, 2032
    NBC: 2025, 2029, 2033
    ESPN/ABC: 2026, 2030