Saturday, May 15, 2021

May 16 In Radio History

➦In 1925...the first live broadcast of the Kentucky Derby was originated by WHAS Louisville  and was also carried by WGN in Chicago. The call of the Derby featured an announcer who watched from the windows of one of the famous twin spires of Churchill Downs.

➦In 1929...the anthology crime series True Detective Mysteries began its almost 30 year run, debuting on CBS radio, though its most popular years (1944-58) were on Mutual.

True Detective Mysteries were truly audience participation shows - each show provided descriptions of the true-story criminal and encouraged audiences to provide information leading to their capture. Rewards of $500 and later $1000 were offered in return for helpful clues from listeners.

➦In 1932...the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Act was passed in Ottawa, subjecting private stations to the control of the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CRBC). Five years later the Commission became the CBC.

➦In 1942...The Whistler, a radio mystery drama, made its debut on the west coast regional CBS Network. It aired on until September 22, 1955.

The show was also broadcast in Chicago and over Armed Forces Radio. On the west coast, it was sponsored by the Signal Oil Company: "That whistle is your signal for the Signal Oil program, The Whistler." There were also two short-lived attempts to form east-coast broadcast spurs: July 3 to September 25, 1946, sponsored by the Campbell Soup Company; and March 26, 1947, to September 29, 1948, sponsored by Household Finance.

➦In 1947...Jack Mullin demonstrated the Magnetophon at Institute of Radio Engineers convention. The Magnetophon tape recorder was one of the first recording machines to use magnetic tape in recording voice and music.

Jack Mullin
Mullin gave two public demonstrations, in which he first presented live music performed behind a curtain, followed by a concealed playback of the performance. Mullin's recorder caused a sensation among American audio professionals and many listeners could not tell the difference between the recorded and live performances. By luck, Mullin's second demonstration was at MGM Studios in Hollywood and in the audience that day was Bing Crosby's technical director, Murdo Mackenzie. Mackenzie arranged for Mullin to meet Crosby, and in June 1947 Crosby was given a demonstration of Mullin's magnetic tape recorders.

Crosby was impressed by the amazing sound quality and instantly saw the huge commercial potential of the new machines. Up to this time, most pre-recorded programming such as serials and drama were produced on disc, but live music was the standard for American radio at the time and radio networks tightly restricted the use of music on disc because of the comparatively poor sound quality.

Crosby, who was arguably the biggest star on radio at the time, was very receptive to the idea of pre-recording his radio programs. He disliked the regimentation of live broadcasts, and much preferred the relaxed atmosphere of the recording studio. He had already asked the NBC network to let him pre-record his 1944-1945 series on transcription discs, but the network refused, so Crosby had withdrawn from live radio for a year and returned for the 1946-47 season only reluctantly.

Crosby realized that Mullin's tape recording technology would enable him to pre-record his radio show with a sound quality that equaled live broadcasts, that these tapes could be edited precisely, and replayed many times with no appreciable loss of quality. Mullin was asked to tape one show as a test; it was a complete success and Mullin was immediately hired as Crosby's chief engineer to pre-record the rest of the series.

Crosby became the first major music star to master commercial recordings on tape, and the first to use tape to pre-record radio broadcasts. The shows were painstakingly edited to give them a pace and flow that was wholly unprecedented in radio. Mullin has claimed that he even pioneered the use of the laugh track; at the insistence of Crosby's writer Bill Morrow, he inserted a segment of raucous laughter from an earlier show to follow a joke in a later show that had not worked well.

➦In 2013…Radio programmer Paul Drew died at age 78.

Paul Drew
Drew, a graduate of Wayne State University in his native Detroit, began his professional radio career in 1961 as a DJ with Atlanta station WAKE. He later moved crosstown to WGST and then WQXI, where he was promoted to program director. Leaving WQXI in 1967, Drew moved on to programming gigs at CKLW in Windsor, Ontario-Detroit, WIBG in Philadelphia, KFRC in San Francisco and former Los Angeles powerhouse top 40 KHJ.

In the early ‘70s, he was appointed VP of programming for RKO Radio, a nationwide chain whose roster at one time included KHJ and sister KRTH, KFRC, WOR & WXLO (99X) New York and WHBQ Memphis, among other stations in Chicago, Boston and Washington, D.C. Their formats ranged from top 40 and adult contemporary to classical, oldies and talk.

During the course of his career, Drew worked with and/or mentored a diverse array of radio personalities, programmers, consultants and industry writers. That list includes consultants Jerry Clifton and Guy Zapoleon, writers Gerry Cagle, Walt “Baby” Love and Jerry Del Colliano, as well as air personalities Rick Dees, Dr. Don Rose, Jay Thomas and Charlie Van Dyke.

When personality Don Rose died in 2005, Paul Drew paid tribute to one of the brightest stars of the local radio business throughout the 60's - 80's. Full of energy and endless wit, he was the number one rated air personality everywhere he went: ie. Atlanta, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

Megan Fox is 35
  • Jazz drummer Billy Cobham is 77. 
  • Actor Danny Trejo is 77. 
  • Actor Bill Smitrovich (“Crime Story,” “Life Goes On”) is 74. 
  • Actor Pierce Brosnan is 68. 
  • Actor Debra Winger is 66. 
  • Actor Mare Winningham is 62. 
  • Violinist Boyd Tinsley of The Dave Matthews Band is 57. 
  • Bassist Krist Novoselic (Nirvana) is 56. 
  • Singer Janet Jackson is 55. 
  • Actor-singer Scott Reeves (“Nashville,” ″General Hospital”) is 55. 
  • Actor Brian F. O’Byrne (“Million Dollar Baby”) is 54. 
  • Singer Ralph Tresvant is 53. 
  • Actor David Boreanaz (“Bones,” ″Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) is 52. 
  • Tucker Carlson is 52
    Political commentator Tucker Carlson is 52. 
  • Actor Tracey Gold (“Growing Pains”) is 52. 
  • TV personality Bill Rancic (“America Now,” ″The Apprentice”) is 50. 
  • Country singer Rick Trevino is 50. 
  • Actor Khary Payton (“The Walking Dead”) is 49. 
  • Rapper Special Ed is 49. 
  • Actor Tori Spelling is 48. 
  • Actor Sean Carrigan (“The Young and the Restless”) is 47. 
  • Rapper B. Slade (A.K.A. Tonex) is 46. 
  • Actor Melanie Lynskey (“Two and a Half Men”) is 44. 
  • Actor Joseph Morgan (“The Originals,” ″Vampire Diaries”) is 40. 
  • DJ Alex Pall of The Chainsmokers is 36. 
  • Actor Megan Fox (“Transformers”) is 35. 
  • Actor Drew Roy (“Falling Skies,” ″Hannah Montana”) is 35. 
  • Actor Jermaine Fowler (“Superior Donuts”) is 33. 
  • Actor Thomas Brodie-Sangster (“Game of Thrones”) is 31. 
  • Actor Marc John Jefferies (“The Tracy Morgan Show”) is 31. 
  • Actor Miles Heizer (“13 Reasons Why,” ″Parenthood”) is 27.

Airstrike Levels Gaza Building Housing News Media

An Israeli airstrike targeted and destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed offices of The Associated Press and other media outlets hours after another Israeli air raid on a densely populated refugee camp killed at least 10 Palestinians from an extended family, mostly children, on Saturday.

The strike on the high-rise came nearly an hour after the military ordered people to evacuate the 12-story building, which also housed Al-Jazeera, other offices and residential apartments. The strike brought down the entire structure, which collapsed in a gigantic cloud of dust. There was no immediate explanation for why it was attacked.

The strike on the building housing media offices came in the afternoon, after the owner received a call from the Israeli military warning that the building would be hit. AP’s staff and others in the building evacuated immediately, and were reported safe.

Al-Jazeera, the news network funded by Qatar’s government, broadcast the airstrikes live as the building collapsed.

“This channel will not be silenced. Al-Jazeera will not be silenced,” an on-air anchorwoman from Al-Jazeera English said, her voice thick with emotion. “We can guarantee you that right now."

Orlando Radio: Mutiny At WPOZ Results In Departures

Shortly after news of a mutiny at Christian WPOZ Z88.3 FM became known,  there have been firings and resignations involving at least seven at Z Ministries.

The departures include three firings and at least four resignations: 

Fired are:

  • Carter Kenyon.  He served as an employee board member and was Director of Ministry Advancement dating back to 2011.
  • Jim Davis. Davis was an on-air talent and Underwriting Coordinator/Traffic Coordinator for the station.  He had been an employee of the station for 23 years.
  • Clara Winborn, a graphic designer who was a part-time employee.

Resignations include:

  • Stephanie Landsman:  (known on the air as Mia Taylor)
  • Sarah Cowles: Promotions Director of the station.
  • Tom Beaton, Director of Interactive Technologies
  • Dwight Bain, a respected member of the board at Z Ministries

Jim Hoge
The departures are a result of news of turmoil and a toxic work environment.  A dozen current and former employees went public with their complaints and calls for the resignation of Z Ministries President and Founder Jim Hoge.  Hoge founded WPOZ more than 25 years ago.  Under his leadership it grew it into a family of stations that have a combined revenue of more than $5-million a year.

The disgruntled employees charged Hoge's hard-charging style had been hard on staff.  For example, Stephanie 'Mia Taylor' Landsman, says she resigned May 7 due to job stresses resulted in her spending ten days in a mental hospital and resulted in harassment from Hoge.   Others described a “toxic” work environment in which people were afraid of Hoge, who was known to belittle staff members.

Hoge reportedly has hired Sara Brady, whose public relations firm specializes in crisis management.

Les Moonves Loses Out On $120M Severance Package

ViacomCBS Inc. said Friday it will reclaim Les Moonves’s $120 million severance package, resolving a more than two-year dispute with the former chief executive over his termination, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Moonves resigned as chairman and CEO of CBS Corp. amid accusations of sexual harassment in September 2018. He has denied the claims.

He was denied his severance after a CBS board investigation concluded that he had violated company policies, breached his employment contract and intentionally failed to fully cooperate with the investigation.

In January 2019, Mr. Moonves challenged the company’s decision to withhold his $120 million severance package as part of the terms of his exit agreement. Under the agreement, Mr. Moonves forfeited nearly $34.5 million of his compensation package.

CBS merged with Viacom Inc. in December 2019. The $120 million was held in a trust while the dispute was subject to arbitration.

ViacomCBS said in a regulatory filing Friday, “The disputes between Mr. Moonves and CBS have now been resolved, and on May 14, 2021, the parties dismissed the arbitration proceeding.”

ViacomCBS and Mr. Moonves also put out a joint statement saying that Mr. Moonves was paid a settlement by an unidentified contractor, and that Moonves is donating the money to charity.

A person familiar with the matter said the contractor is law firm Covington & Burling. A spokesman for declined to comment.

Chicago Radio: WKQX, WLS-FM Makes Line-Up Changes

CUMULUS MEDIA announces that it will debut a new weekday on-air line-up at 94.7 WLS-FM, Chicago’s Classic Hits, and Alternative Rock station 101.1 WKQX-FM, effective May 21st. 

On-air host Erin Carman will move from PM Drive to Middays on WLS-FM, replacing Greg Brown, who is retiring. Tim Virgin moves from PM Drive on sister station WKQX-FM to PM Drive on WLS-FM, while Lauren O’Neil moves from Middays on WKQX-FM to PM Drive on WKQX-FM. 

Concurrently, Jon Manley moves from Nights on WKQX-FM to Middays on WKQX-FM, and The Greg Beharrell Show will debut in Nights on WKQX, airing Monday through Friday at 7:00pm. This marks a return to WKQX-FM for The Greg Beharrell Show, which was previously heard on the station on Saturday Nights.

 Wade Linder, VP/Program Director, WLS-FM, commented: “Congratulations to the legendary Greg Brown on a fantastic career. While I'm sad to see him leave us, I'm excited about what will happen next on 94.7 WLS when the famous Tim Virgin hits the air in the afternoon. Erin Carman slides into Middays with a great lead-in from Dave Fogel and Kim Berk in Mornings.”

Troy Hanson, VP/Program Director, WKQX-FM, noted: “The line-up adjustments made today reflect the strong bench we have not just at WKQX, but at Cumulus Chicago as a whole. We thank Greg for his years of outstanding service and commitment to excellence. We replace one legend with another in the great Tim Virgin. In doing so, we are delighted to move internally with both Lauren and Jon, while welcoming Greg Beharrell back to WKQX. With these great talents, everybody wins – especially the audience.”

CNN's Don Lemon EXITS As Host Of 'CNNTonight'

Don Lemon surprised viewers Friday night when he announced that he is stepping down as the host of “CNN Tonight,” effective immediately, in order to focus on a new, as-yet unspecified project — but no, he’s not leaving CNN, The Wrap reports.

“It’s been really really great. This is the last night that will be ‘CNN Tonight With Don Lemon,'” Lemon said at the end of Friday’s episode. “So, I appreciate all the years of ‘CNN Tonight With Don Lemon,’ but changes are coming, and I will fill you in.”

Lemon’s terse, sudden announcement left many viewers under the impression he was leaving the cable news giant altogether, but shortly after Friday’s episode went off the air, Lemon clarified that is not the case. “Hey everyone. Not what you think. I’m not leaving CNN. Tune in for the handoff on Monday at 10pE and I’ll explain,” he tweeted.

“So I got back to my office after the show, everybody calm down,” Lemon said, chuckling, in a video attached to the tweet. “I didn’t say I was leaving. I just said it was the end of an era for ‘CNN Tonight With Don Lemon.’ I’m not leaving CNN, so you will have to tune in Monday at 10:00 to see. That’s it. So relax. I’m not leaving. I’m not leaving.”

D-C Radio: Mary Walter EXITS N/T WMAL

WMAL 105.9 FM “Mornings on the Mall” co-host Mary Walter has announced she’s leaving the show and station.

A native of New Jersey, Walter got her start in radio after winning a contest. She was listening to WKXW 101.5 FM out of Trenton, New Jersey when she heard they were holding a contest to determine who would "take over" the relationship show, "The Passion Phones". She called in "on a whim" and a week later had the job. She was there five years before being "summarily fired", three weeks after being congratulated on her ratings and being presented a performance bonus.

Walter, Coglianese
Walter was later hired to host the morning show on WCTC 1450 AM in New Brunswick, New Jersey, which she did for four years as “Mary in the Morning” — the first female anchor of a morning show in the state.  She then joined a "short-lived" syndicated show. When WKXW sold, the new owners asked her to return as host of the relationship show. Walter did both shows for "a couple of months" until she "finally got tired of working for the syndicated show for free."

Walter was back at WKXW for five more years until they fired her again. From 2008 to 2014 she was a commentator on the Fox News Channel, and from 2006 she has guest hosted on Fox News Talk (radio) for Brian Kilmeade and John Gibson.

In 2015, Walter was hired by iHeartMedia’s N/T WHAS 840 AM Louisville, Kentucky. Walter joined WMAL’s morning show in early 2017, first co-hosting with Brian Wilson and then Vince Coglianese.

FCC Radio Call Letter Activity for April 2021

During April 2021, The FCC accepted applications to assigned or change the following call letters.

Israeli Military Allegedly Uses Media To Deceive Hamas

The Israeli military abruptly announced after midnight on Friday that its ground forces had begun “attacking in the Gaza Strip,” saying it on Twitter, in text messages to journalists, and in on-the-record confirmations by an English-speaking army spokesman.

The NY Times reports it and several international news organizations alerted readers worldwide that a Gaza incursion or invasion was underway, a major escalation of Israeli-Palestinian hostilities.

Within hours, those reports were all corrected: No invasion had taken place. Rather, ground troops had opened fire at targets in Gaza from inside Israeli territory, while fighters and drones were continuing to attack from the air. A top military spokesman took responsibility, blaming the fog of war.

But by Friday evening, several leading Israeli news outlets were reporting that the incorrect announcement was no accident, but had actually been part of an elaborate deception. The intent, the media reports said, was to dupe Hamas fighters into thinking that an invasion had begun and to respond in ways that would expose far greater numbers of them to what was being called a devastatingly lethal Israeli attack.

The military’s English-language spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, insisted that the false announcement had been his own mistake, but an honest one, telling foreign correspondents in a tense conference call early Friday evening that he had misunderstood information coming in “from the field” and had released it without adequately verifying it.

But in the Hebrew-language press, the military was simultaneously being praised for luring Hamas fighters into a network of tunnels in northern Gaza that was pounded by some 160 Israeli jets in a fury of airstrikes beginning around midnight.

“This is how the tunnels became death traps for terrorists in Gaza,” Israel’s Channel 12 news station headlined a report by its military reporter, which called the spread of misinformation to foreign journalists a “planned ploy.”

The Israeli press cited the military as saying the plan had worked. That claim could not be independently verified.

Hawaii Radio: Longtime Personality Charly Espina Takahama Retires

Charly Espina Takahama
Longtime radio personality, Charly Espina Takahama has announced her retirement after 46 years in the industry, effective May 28.

“To say she will be missed seems like such an understatement,” said Sherri Grimes, Vice President and General Manager of Maui Radio Operations at Pacific Media Group.  “Charly is one of those rare people who instantly became a friend instead of just a coworker. There are no words to truly reflect how much we will miss working with her.” reports the current morning show co-host of 99.9 KISS FM on Maui began her career in 1975 at a Christian radio show with Kalihi Union Church in Honolulu called “Friends.”  It was there where Charly had her first taste of being on the radio, and was “hooked.”  She went on to purse a degree in communications with an emphasis in radio at Washington State University.  While in college, Charly started out in news and eventually did a morning show on the campus radio station, KUGR. 

“Radio became my passion. I also knew that I wanted to return to Hawaiʻi. At the time, there weren’t many female broadcasters who could say names such as Kalanianaʻole or Kalākaua,” she recalled.

After graduating from Wazzu in 1979, Charly landed a position with “Space Station KULA,” FM 92.3 and AM 940.  It was there where Rick O’Shea, known then on the air as “The Wiz,” gave Charly her first paid position in radio.  “We pretended to broadcast from Space.  I was Charly with a News Beam from Space Station Kula!” she said.

In early 1980, the FM band was sold to what is now KSSK; and the AM band became KDEO and was bought by Ron “Whodaguy” Jacobs who kept Charly on staff. “I was able to work with and learn from radio legends including RJ, Kamasami Kong, Keala Kai, Stephen B. Williams, and a very young Ed Kanoi,” she said. 

R.I.P.: Jay Barbree, Longtime NBC Space Correspondent

Jay Barbree, a longtime space reporter for NBC who began covering U.S. rocket launches before there even was a NASA, has died at age 87, the TV network announced Friday night.

The Orlando Sentinel reports Barbree covered his first launch from what’s now known as the Kennedy Space Center in 1957; NASA wasn’t created until 1958. NBC said that Barbree covered more than 166 human spaceflight missions, from the Mercury program to the space shuttle’s days.

He’s the only journalist who covered every U.S. manned space mission. His space career began in 1957, when he was working for an Albany, Ga., radio station and paid his way to Cape Canaveral to cover the launch of the Vanguard rocket.

It exploded on the pad, but Barbree was hooked on space.

“I wanted to go to Cape Canaveral,” he said.

Barbree moved down a year later and never left. He retired in 2017 at age 83, but he’s been busy as ever lately working for Discovery Channel, National Geographic and the American Spaceflights website.

With Apollo 11′s 50th anniversary on the horizon, it seems everybody wants to tap the memories of the preeminent eyewitness to U.S. space history.

Barbree even predates NASA, which didn’t officially arrive until Oct. 1, 1958. America’s entry into the Space Race against the Soviet Union coincided with the arrival of television sets in millions of homes across America.

Those events combined to produce the greatest reality TV show ever. Astronauts were the stars, though the coverage also propelled the careers of journalists like Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley and Jules Bergman.

Barbree was a shoe-leather reporter, not a glamour boy anchor. He was the guy NBC’s stars turned to when they needed to know what was really going on.

May 15 Radio History

➦In 1923...WJZ moved to 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.  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 1933...the radio serial “Today’s Children” was heard for the first time.  The woman who would soon become a soap opera icon, Irna Phillips, who was an NBC Blue network program-features writer, starred in the role of Mother Moran.  Today’s Children became the #1 radio soap by 1938.

➦In 1961...Peter Tripp of WMGM 1050 AM in NYC found guilty of 35 counts of "commercial bribery".  Tripp was a Top-40 countdown radio personality from the mid-1950s, whose career peaked with his 1959 record breaking 201 hour wakeathon (working on the radio non-stop without sleep to benefit the March of Dimes). For much of the stunt, he sat in a glass booth in Times Square. After a few days he began to hallucinate, and for the last 66 hours the observing scientists and doctors gave him drugs to help him stay awake. Tripp suffered psychologically, after the stunt, he began to think he was an imposter of himself, and kept that thought for some time.

His career soon suffered a massive downturn when he was involved in the payola scandal of 1960. Like several other disc jockeys (including Alan Freed) he had been playing particular records in return for gifts from record companies. Indicted only weeks after his stunt, it emerged that he had accepted $36,050 in bribes. Despite his claim that he "never took a dime from anyone", he was found guilty on a charge of commercial bribery, receiving a $500 fine and a six-month suspended sentence.

Even his wakeathon record did not endure for long. Other DJs had quickly attempted to beat it (such publicity stunts being common in radio broadcasting at the time) and Dave Hunter, in Jacksonville, Florida, soon claimed success (225 hours). Six years after Tripp's record, it was smashed by high school student Randy Gardner, who lasted 11 days.

Peter Tripp- WMGM
After leaving WMGM, Tripp was unable to re-establish himself in the world of radio, drifting from KYA in San Francisco to KGFJ in Los Angeles and finally WOHO in Toledo, Ohio, before quitting the medium in 1967. Returning to L.A., he had more success working in physical fitness sales and marketing. He diversified into freelance motivational speaking, writing and stockbroking before settling into a Palm Springs, California retirement.

Overall he had spent twenty years in broadcasting: he began with WEXL in Royal Oak, Michigan, in 1947 then on to Kansas City, Missouri in 1953 where he worked for KUDL (where he adopted the nickname "The Bald Kid In The Third Row", apparently a description made by a parent upon spotting him among many rows of new-borns in a hospital shortly after his birth) and then WHB (restyling himself as "The Curly-headed Kid In The Third Row"; he was not, in reality, bald) where he was pioneer in the Top-40 format. It was in 1955 that he landed his ill-fated job with WMGM in New York, presenting "Your Hits of the Week".

Tripp died in 2000 at the age of 73 following a stroke, leaving two sons and two daughters. His four marriages all ended in divorce.

➦In 1984...Canadian broadcaster Gordon Sinclair suffered a heart attack following his regular midday broadcast on CFRB Toronto; he died two days later, two weeks short of his 84th birthday.  He is best remembered for his many years on CBC-TV’s Front Page Challenge.

➦In 2001...XM Satellite Radio completes satellite system

XM Satellite Radio (XM) is one of two satellite radio (SDARS) services in the United States and Canada, operated by Sirius XM Radio. It also provided pay-for-service radio, analogous to cable television. Its service included 73 different music channels, 39 news, sports, talk and entertainment channels, 21 regional traffic and weather channels and 23 play-by-play sports channels. XM channels were identified by Arbitron with the label "XM" (e.g. "XM32").

From 2008...

The company has its origins in the 1988 formation of the American Mobile Satellite Corporation (AMSC), a consortium of several organizations originally dedicated to satellite broadcasting of telephone, fax, and data signals. In 1992, AMSC established a unit called the American Mobile Radio Corporation dedicated to developing a satellite-based digital radio service; this was spun off as XM Satellite Radio Holdings, Inc. in 1999. The satellite service was officially launched on September 25, 2001.

From 2005...

On July 29, 2008, XM and former competitor Sirius Satellite Radio formally completed their merger, following Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval, forming SiriusXM Radio, Inc. with XM Satellite Radio, Inc. as its subsidiary. On November 12, 2008, Sirius and XM began broadcasting with their new, combined channel lineups. On January 13, 2011, XM Satellite Radio, Inc. was dissolved as a separate entity and merged into Sirius XM Radio, Inc.

Fred White
➦In 2013…Longtime Kansas City Royals broadcaster Fred White died of complications from cancer at 76.

White was best known for the 25 years, 1974-98, that he teamed with Denny Matthews in the Royals' radio booth.

White, originally from Homer, Ill., did his first baseball broadcasts calling American League games in Hastings, Neb.

He became the voice of Kansas State University athletics in the 1960s-70s and was sports director of WIBW in Topeka. He was nationally known for his TV basketball coverage, notably in the Big Eight and later the Big 12.

Jamie-Lynn Sigler is 40
  • Actor-singer Anna Maria Alberghetti is 85. 
  • Counterculture icon Wavy Gravy is 85. 
  • Singer Lenny Welch is 82. 
  • Actor-singer Lainie Kazan is 79. 
  • Actor Gunilla Hutton (“Petticoat Junction,” ″Hee Haw”) is 79. 
  • Actor Chazz Palminteri (“Analyze This,” ″Mulholland Falls”) is 54. 
  • Lenny Welch is 82
    Musician Brian Eno is 73. 
  • Actor Nicholas Hammond (“The Sound of Music”) is 71. 
  • Musician Mike Oldfield is 68. 
  • Actor Lee Horsley (“Matt Houston”) is 66. 
  • Rapper Melle Mel of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five is 60. 
  • Actor David Charvet (“Melrose Place”) is 49. 
  • Actor Russell Hornsby (“Grimm”) is 47. 
  • Actor David Krumholtz (“Numb3rs”) is 43. 
  • Bassist David Hartley of The War on Drugs is 41. 
  • Actor Jamie-Lynn Sigler (“The Sopranos”) is 40. 
  • Actor Alexandra Breckenridge (“The Walking Dead,” ″American Horror Story”) is 39. 
  • Guitarist Brad Shultz of Cage the Elephant is 39. 
  • Guitarist Nick Perri (Shinedown) is 37.

Friday, May 14, 2021

BIA: Radio's Shining Star Continues To Be Digital Revenue

As anticipated, the radio industry took a very big hit in 2020 due to the pandemic and subsequent cutbacks in overall spending activity. According to the first quarter edition of BIA Advisory Services’ 2021 Investing In Radio® Market Report over-the-air advertising revenues dropped to $9.7 billion, a -23.6 percent decline from $12.8 billion in 2019. 

Digital ad revenues at stations demonstrated their continued strength, though, posting only a slight decline to $939 million in revenues in 2020 versus $1 billion in 2019.

“Local radio stations have been feeling the impact of new competition for the past few years; unfortunately, the pandemic just exacerbated the problem and it will take some time to recover,” said Mark Fratrik, SVP and Chief Economist, BIA Advisory Services. “The shining star continues to be radio’s online digital advertising revenues, which will outpace over-the-air growth this year and moving forward. Those broadcasting groups that have invested in and oriented their companies toward digital will benefit faster from that foresight.”

Fratrik forecasts 2021 total local radio revenues to reach $11.7 billion, with $1 billion coming directly from online revenues; a 9.7 percent increase over 2020.

The report also covers radio station sales transactions and comparisons year-over-year. Mirroring the economic climate in 2020, radio station sales fell to levels that hadn’t been seen in years. Only 534 stations were sold in 2020 for an estimated value of $139 million – a stark contrast from the 1,080 sold in 2011 for $1.1 billion.

The 2021 first-quarter edition of Investing in Radio Market Report provides a complete profile of every Nielsen Audio market, with historic and projected demographic and financial statistics. It is available for purchase online. The report can be purchased here. Information in the Investing In Radio books is also available in Media Access Pro™, a data and analytical service that delivers comprehensive information on the radio, television, and newspaper industries.

Boston Herald’s Print Circulation Falling Faster than Globe’s

As the Boston Globe’s print newspaper circulation continues to decline at the industry average of 12% year-over-year, the Boston Herald’s print circulation is falling more than twice as fast, raising questions about how much longer the city’s second-largest daily can hang on.

The Boston Business-Journal reports the most recent numbers filed with the Alliance for Audited Media (AAM) show The Herald’s average weekday circulation for the six-month period that ended March 31 was 22,032. That’s down 28.6% from the same period a year earlier — much faster than the 12% average for newspapers nationwide that the Pew Research Center reported in 2019.

In fact, it’s the same year-over-year rate of decline the paper reported last fall, showing that the newspaper still hasn’t recovered from the worst effects of the pandemic.

At fault then, as now, is a steep drop-off in single-copy sales of the paper, which was once the mainstay of the tabloid. The most recent filing shows a 41% decline in single copy sales, to 10,701. For the first time in decades, the Herald now boasts fewer newsstand sales than it does home delivery subscribers (weekday home delivery subscribers now total 11,028).

The Herald has managed to ramp up the number of online subscribers by 80% over the past year, such that the average number of digital subscribers over the six-month period was 12,006. But given the newspaper’s late start to charging for online news — it put up a paywall on its website for the first time in April 2019 — it could be a while before that increase makes up for the decrease in print circulation.

The Herald’s numbers, along with the size of its newsroom, have declined quickly since it was sold in March 2018 by former owner Pat Purcell to MediaNews Group, a national chain owned by the New York hedge fund, Alden Global Capital. 

Report: Huge Drop In Audience for Virtual Awards Shows

With other awards shows having suffered record-low viewership amid a pandemic-prompted pivot to virtual, the iHeartRadio Music Awards will feature an in-person crowd – a move that iHeartMedia’s John Sykes believes could improve ratings, reports Digital Music News.

Most every awards show sustained a double-digit viewership hit in 2020, including a 55 percent year-over-year audience falloff for the Billboard Music Awards (which garnered 3.6 million watchers on NBC; the 2021 edition is set for Sunday, May 23rd) and a 43 percent dip to total watchers for November’s American Music Awards (which attracted 3.8 million fans on ABC).

Furthermore, the Grammys touched a 12-year ratings low on CBS in pre-COVID January of 2020, before slipping another 53 percent, audience-wise, and 61 percent in the 18-49 demographic in 2021. The latter happening boasted performances from high-profile acts including BTS, Cardi B, Taylor Swift, and Billie Eilish, among several others, but lacked an in-person crowd.

The 2020 Country Music Association Awards also reached an all-time ratings low, with 7.08 million viewers and a 1.1 rating, and the interest falloff hasn’t been limited to the music industry. To be sure, the Oscars secured 23.64 million viewers in 2020 and 10.4 million viewers in 2021, against a record low of 6.1 million watchers for September of 2020’s Emmys and 6.9 million watchers for the 2021 Golden Globes – a 64 percent YoY decline.

Bearing these facts in mind, iHeartMedia president of entertainment enterprises John Sykes, in an interview with Variety, acknowledged the “huge drop in audience” that awards shows experienced after they went virtual. Moreover, the 65-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation chairman expressed the belief that the presence of a physical crowd at the May 27th event will bolster ratings.

“We were well aware of the under-performance of these virtual awards shows,” said the MTV co-founder. “They were experiencing a huge drop in audience, which made it clear to us that people come to these shows to connect with the event nature, to see the larger-than-life moments that just couldn’t be duplicated by virtual performances in a small room.

Sykes also mentioned that the iHeartRadio Awards will only admit individuals who’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 – with an emphasis on healthcare professionals and first responders, he specified – and that iHeartMedia will test all guests for the bug prior to entry.

The iHeartRadio Music Awards are scheduled for Thursday, May 27th, once again, and it’ll be interesting to see whether a physical crowd aids the happening’s atmosphere – potentially drawing more viewers (and saving the awards-show format) in the process.

Charlotte Radio: WBT, Bo Thompson Sign Multi-Year Deal


Radio One and WBT 1110 AM /  FM host Bo Thompson have reached a multi-year agreement for Thompson to continue in Morning Drive on the heritage News Talk station.

Bo Thompson
Thompson is a Charlotte native and began his career at WBT in 1990 at age 16. He worked at the station while still attending Myers Park High School and continued through his years at Davidson College.  Bo’s entire three-decade broadcast career has been in Charlotte, mostly dedicated to WBT.

“Bo has done an amazing job of keeping Charlotte listeners engaged and informed during mornings on WBT” said Marsha Landess, Regional Vice President. “He has proven to be a compelling broadcaster keeping Charlotte informed on local, Regional and National issues and we are thrilled he will be taking WBT into the future.”

“I’m very proud to continue working for the station that has been my broadcast life,” said Thompson. “It’s an honor for me that I’ll be here both for WBT’s 100th Anniversary and to celebrate a decade hosting mornings next year.”

Wake-Up Call: Masks Off!

We've reached a turning point in the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday said that Americans who have been fully vaccinated can stop wearing masks indoors or out, and don’t have to worry about social distancing in most settings. About half of Americans have gotten at least one of the two vaccination shots needed for full protection. Even vaccinated people are still advised to use a mask in places like hospitals and nursing homes and while traveling by public transportation.

The CDC gives advice, but states and local governments set the rules. The agency said people must continue to follow local restrictions.

Meanwhile, India is facing a dire shortage of COVID-19 vaccine as cases of illness soar and hospitals remain overwhelmed. The variant found in India has now been identified in Great Britain, raising concerns about the nation's ability to reopen on June 21 as planned.

➤GASOLINE IS FLOWING AGAIN: The flow of fuel moving through the Colonial Pipeline was approaching full capacity yesterday, President Joe Biden said yesterday, adding it might take a little time to get to the pumps. The shutdown of the pipeline caused panic buying and shortages through the eastern states that the pipeline serves. It also caused some price-gouging, with some stations posting prices of up to $9.99 a gallon.

Colonial Pipeline paid hackers a ransom of nearly $5 million to recover its stolen data, The New York Times reported.

➤MASS SHOOTING IN PROVIDENCE PARK: Nine people were injured in a shootout between two groups of young men in Providence, Rhode Island. The incident began with a drive-by shooting and gunfire was returned from the targeted house. All those involved were said to be well known to the police.

➤GAZA UNDER HEAVY FIRE: Gaza was hit with heavy artillery fire and airstrikes from Israel early today. As the Israeli military and Palestinian militants continued to exchange deadly fire, Israel's defense minister warned that Israel has "many, many more targets" for its strikes unless the Palestinians desist. More than 100 people have been killed in Gaza, and at least seven Israelis have been killed in the worsening conflict.

➤ALL SURVIVE MID-AIR COLLISION: Two small planes collided in midair near Denver and, amazingly, everybody involved is fine. One of the planes was nearly ripped in half, and the pilot of the other plane had to deploy a parachute to get out. Both pilots and one passenger walked away from the crash.

Close to a million unemployed workers in at least 15 states are about to lose the $300 weekly federal supplement to their unemployment checks. As of yesterday, 15 Republican governors have decided to opt out of the program, arguing that their states have labor shortages and need people to get back to work. The states include Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming. The cutoff dates vary by state.

➤McDONALDS RAISES PAY: Fast-food restaurants are finally raising their pay rates to attract new workers in a tight job market. McDonald's is increasing its entry-level wage to between $11 and $17 depending on location. That is good only at company-owned restaurants. Most McDonalds are franchises. Chipotle Mexican Grill says its average hourly wage will be $15 by the end of June.

➤FAMOUS ASIAN AMERICANS: Asian Americans seem to be the invisible minority in the United States. At least you'd think so from the results of a new survey that shows that 42 percent of Americans can't name a single famous Asian American. Many of those who could came up with Bruce Lee, who died in 1973. So, here are a few names just in case you get that question: architect Maya Lin, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, comedian Margaret Cho, actor George Takei, actress Sandra Oh, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, director Ang Lee, singer Bruno Mars, and fashion designer Vera Wang. Oh, and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris.

⚾YANKEES SHORTSTOP SIDELINED: New York Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres has tested positive for COVID-19, the team's management announced yesterday. That makes eight members of the Yankees organization to test positive this week. Only one has shown any symptoms so far. The New York State Department of Health is investigating, since all of those infected reportedly have had the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

🏀SEIMONE AUGUSTUS MOVES TO COACHING: Seimone Augustus, an eight-time women's basketball All-Star and four-time champion, is retiring from the court but will stay on with the Los Angeles Sparks as an assistant coach. She played for the Minnesota Lynx for 14 seasons before moving to L.A. Augustus, now 37, is also a three-time Olympic gold medalist.

🏀WNBA SEASON STARTS TODAY: Speaking of women's pro basketball, the 2021 season begins today with a full season of 32 games scheduled. And, this year, they're all happening "out of the bubble." Tonight's opener features the Indiana Fever at New York Liberty.

🎾RAFAEL NADAL IS BACK: Rafael Nadal whacked his way through a sluggish start against Denis Shapovalov to win a spot in the quarter finals of the Italian Open. It was a 3-6 6-4 7-6 (3) victory for the 34-year-old player against a 22-year-old opponent.

🏀RODRIGUEZ GETS A STAKE IN THE TIMBERWOLVES: Retired baseball star Alex Rodriguez and tech billionaire Marc Lore have reached an agreement to buy the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves and the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx from owner Glen Taylor, according to a report from USA Today.

🏈SCALPERS CASH IN ON BRADY'S RETURN: Ticket scalpers are demanding up to $8,862 to see quarterback Tom Brady's return appearance at Gillette Stadium on October 3rd, according to Bleacher Report. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers match against the New England Patriots is the most in-demand game of the just-announced NFL season, based on ticket prices. Brady spent two decades with the Patriots and led the team to six Super Bowl titles before leaving for Tampa last year.

🏈PEYTON MANNING'S NEW JOB: It seems Peyton Manning has a new job with the Broncos. Hey, a man's gotta stay busy.

Disney Streaming Subscriptions Come Up Short

Disney+ added fewer subscribers than expected in the most recent fiscal quarter, the latest sign that the pandemic-driven boom in streaming may be starting to wane, The L-A Times reports.

All eyes are on Disney’s streaming numbers, which have emerged as the company’s top priority. Disney+ hit 103.6 million subscribers worldwide in its second quarter, up from the 100 million it announced in March. But that was lower than the 109 million predicted by analysts on FactSet.

Disney executives were upbeat about the numbers when speaking to analysts after second-quarter earnings. Disney+ added 8.7 million subscribers to the 94.9 million it had at the end of the first quarter. Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy said the growth came despite Disney+ not launching in any major new markets. The app also raised prices, including a $1-a-month boost in the U.S.

Chief Executive Bob Chapek reiterated that Disney+ is expected to hit 230 million to 260 million subscribers in 2024. The price increase did not drive any noticeable increase in churn, or people leaving the service, Chapek said. “We seem to be fairly resilient to those price increases,” he said.

Wall Street Journal Graphic
Stay-at-home orders drove an influx of subscribers to streaming services at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, with movie theaters and other out-of-home entertainment options largely closed. The streaming landscape has become increasingly crowded with competitors, including HBO Max, Peacock and Paramount+.

Disney-owned Hulu, which has non-Disney-branded content including shows from FX and movies from Searchlight Pictures (both owned by Disney), had 41.6 million subscribers during the quarter, which ended April 3.

Including 13.8 million subscriptions for ESPN+, the company’s total streaming subscriber count hit 159 million, slightly below the 162 million analysts expected.

Disney reported second-quarter net income of $912 million, nearly double the profit from the same time last year. Its adjusted earnings of 79 cents a share significantly beat analyst expectations of 26 cents a share. Revenue fell 13% to $15.61 billion, missing Wall Street estimates of $15.86 billion.

The earnings strength was attributed to better-than-expected results in cable and broadcasting and direct-to-consumer businesses.

Cable and broadcasting profits benefited from a decrease in programming and production costs along with higher revenue from broadcasting affiliates. Operating income at the segment grew 15%, to $2.85 billion.

The company’s revival will depend heavily on the return of its theme parks. Disneyland opened at the end of last month, with restrictions, in a major milestone for the company as Disney tries to put the devastating public health crisis behind it.

Revenues from parks, experiences and products declined 44% year over year to $3.17 billion, while the segment swung to a loss of $406 million, compared with a profit of $756 million a year earlier, because of closures.

Disney Having Second Thoughts On Anti-Racism Training

Disney has reportedly deleted its “diversity and inclusion” anti-racism training program following a backlash about it becoming the “wokest place on Earth.”

The NY Post reports the webpage that previously carried the much-maligned internal training documents was down this week, replaced with a “pardon our Pixie dust” message, according to Christopher Rufo, who first reported on the training forcing staff to recognize their “white privilege.”

“WINNING,” wrote Rufo, director of the initiative on critical race theory at the Manhattan Institute, as he shared a screenshot of the seemingly off-line page.

Disney “has removed its entire antiracism program from the company’s internal portal,” he wrote, “effectively scrubbing it out of existence.”

“This is a major victory in the war against ‘woke capital,'” he said, noting a “significant backlash from the public” after his initial report.

“Disney was peddling the most toxic elements of critical race theory — and my reporting led to immediate changes within the company,” he said.

His screenshot, however, showed that the page was “currently under technical maintenance for approximately 72 hours” — with some of Rufo’s followers suggesting it was being tweaked or rebranded, not scrubbed.

“Possibly, but small victories start to add up,” Rufo tweeted. “We’ve set the precedent—and forced a $329 billion company to back down.”

Staffers had been “bombarded” with training on “systemic racism,” “white privilege,” “white fragility” and “white saviors,” according to Rufo’s original reporting based on “a trove of whistleblower documents.”

Employees were told to “take ownership of educating [themselves] about structural anti-Black racism” and “not question or debate Black colleagues’ lived experience,” his report said.

Disney, MLB Agree On New ESPN Rights Deal

Walt Disney Co. announced a new seven-year agreement with Major League Baseball that will see the company pay less overall for fewer games.

Bloomberg reports the parent of ESPN will broadcast 30 regular-season games each season, 25 of them on Sunday nights, Disney said Thursday. Under a previous contract, the company had been airing 90 games, but most weren’t exclusive and could also be seen on competing local channels.

Disney will also get rights to some extras, including the annual Home Run Derby batting competition, and a new series of wild-card playoff games, should they continue. The Burbank, California-based company also negotiated rights to air the games on additional channels, such as its ABC broadcast network and its ESPN+ streaming service.

The deal is part of an overall strategy to couple long-term sports rights with the flexibility to create different shows for different audiences, such as a statistics-heavy presentation for subscribers of ESPN+.

“ESPN’s longstanding relationship with Major League Baseball has been a driver of innovation for three decades,” ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement. “This agreement solidifies baseball’s ubiquitous presence across ESPN platforms, including ESPN+.”

The company declined to comment on the cost of the contract. The sports news site the Athletic reported earlier this year that Disney could be paying as much as $150 million a year less for the package. It previously had an eight-year deal worth $5.8 billion.

ESPN has been on a sports-rights renewal run recently, signing long-term deals with the National Football League, the National Hockey League and college’s Southeastern Conference. While the company paid more for the NFL rights, it got extra content, including some Super Bowls, while seeing less of an increase in fees than rival broadcasters.

Philly Radio: Cherri Gregg To EXIT KYW For WHYY

Non-Com WHYY announced Thursday that award-winning KYW 1060 AM /  103.9 FM radio reporter Cherri Gregg will join the public media station as an on-air afternoon host beginning June 14.

Gregg, Community Affairs reporter at KYW Newsradio and host of Flashpoint with Cherri Gregg, a weekly public affairs radio program and podcast, comes to WHYY with deep ties and connections to the Philadelphia region and its communities. She is a past president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists and was listed as one of the City’s Most Influential Black Women by the Philadelphia NAACP. She recently won two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for Flashpoint specials for Excellence in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and News Documentary.

Cherri Gregg
“WHYY has long sought to build a collaborative relationship with the people of this region in which their interests, viewpoints and stories are captured and reflected in our news coverage and programming. Adding such a respected journalist as Cherri Gregg reinforces WHYY’s commitment to trustworthy journalism and community connection that is at the hallmark of what we do,” said Bill Marrazzo, WHYY President & CEO.

Gregg joined KYW in December 2010 as a general assignment reporter and was named Community Affairs reporter in 2013. In addition to her community outreach, Cherri has organized the Black History month campaign, Philadelphia Game Changers. This annual program honors individuals and community organizations that have significantly impacted communities of color in the greater Philadelphia region. The Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters awarded Philadelphia Game Changers as the best public service campaign in 2016.

Gregg is frequently asked to moderate and speak on panels, emcee events and give speeches in Philadelphia and the suburbs. Most recently Gregg was a panelist in the only televised debate between Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and his Democratic primary challenger, Carlos Vega.

Gregg joins Jennifer Lynn, who recently celebrated her 7th anniversary as host of Morning Edition, and Priyanka Tewari and Avi Wolfman-Arent, who joined the radio host team in April.

Canada Radio: 27% 12+ Own Smart Speakers

Smart speaker ownership and podcast listening remain robust among Canadians despite COVID-19 quarantine restrictions, according to The Infinite Dial 2021® Canada from Edison Research and Triton Digital®. 

Twenty-seven percent of Canadians 12+ own a smart speaker, up one percentage point from 2020, and smart speaker households in Canada now own an average of 1.8 of the devices, up from 1.7 in 2020.

Podcast listening saw slight movement as monthly podcast listeners increased one percentage point to 38% of all Canadians 12+ compared to 37% in the 2020 survey. 

Although podcasting’s reach saw only a slight increase since last year, engagement remains strong, with 76% of podcast listeners typically listening to all or most of the podcast episode, and weekly podcast listeners consuming an average of five podcasts per week.

Online audio reach has remained consistent as well, as 71% of Canadians age 12+ are monthly online audio listeners, compared to 70% in 2020. 

Spotify is in a dominant position among online brands as 30% of those in Canada age 12+ have used Spotify in the last month, with the next-highest brand being YouTube Music at 15%. Spotify is also the biggest mover in this year’s survey, as forty-one percent of Canadians 12+ say Spotify is the online audio brand they use most often, up from 37% in 2020 and 32% in 2019. 

“The pandemic disrupted people’s lives in some very significant ways,” noted Edison Research SVP Tom Webster. “The fact that so many of the key audio metrics we track remained stable in the face of these disruptions really speaks to the continued importance of online audio and podcasting in the lives of Canadians.” 

“With more than 7 in 10 Canadians 18+ listening to online audio each month, the results of this year’s survey underscore the role that that this highly-engaging medium continues to play in the daily lives of consumers,” said Stephanie Donovan, SVP, Publisher Development at Triton Digital.  “Canadians of all ages continued to turn to both streaming audio and podcasts for education, information, and entertainment, even during a year of unprecedented change.” 

Other findings of The Infinite Dial 2021 Canada include: 

  • 77% of Canadians age 12+ have driven or ridden in a car in the last month, down dramatically from 92% in 2020, reflecting the change in habits of Canadians due to quarantine restrictions. 
  •  Almost one-fourth (24%) of Canadians who have ridden or driven in a car in the last month own an in-dash information and entertainment system.
  •  When asked what time spent with online audio is replacing, 31% said it replaced time with over-the-air AM/FM radio, 30% said owned music, 4% said SiriusXM and 35% said it is “new time” not taken from another medium. 
  •  48% of podcast listeners listen to podcasts produced by Canadians.