Saturday, March 18, 2023

March 19 Radio History

➦In & film actor/announcer/host/narrator Gayne Whitman was born in Chicago.  He appeared in 213 films, while in OTR radio, he played the title role in Chandu the Magician, was a key anouncer for Dupont on NBC’s prestige series Cavalcade of America, and hosted or narrated several lesser known series. He died Aug. 31 1958 at age 68.

➦In 1912...Russ Case born in Hamburg, Iowa (Died – October 10, 1964).  He was a trumpeter and bandleader who led jazz and light music orchestras.

His professional career began when he was hired at WOC-AM in Davenport, Iowa to arrange and play trumpet with local bands on broadcasts. He worked with Frankie Trumbauer in Chicago and Paul Whiteman in New York City, then was hired by NBC to arrange for radio and television. He led orchestras which accompanied broadcasts of singers such as Eddy Arnold and Julius LaRosa, but became best known for directing ensembles behind Perry Como, including on his hit single "Till the End of Time".

Case lent his name to dozens of light orchestral albums which were released in the 1950s, and arranged for The Jackie Gleason Show in the 1960s. He also served as conductor for cast recordings of musicals such as Finian's Rainbow, The King and I, The Music Man, My Fair Lady, and Oklahoma!

➦In 1928...Radio performer Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll departed WGN radio in Chicago to head across town to WMAQ radio.

SiriusXM Expected To Reboot Streaming Later This Year

While SiriusXM isn’t looking to remove itself from the satellite radio game, the company has set its sights on growing its customer base this year by reaching vehicles that are now internet-enabled, reports Digital Music News

SiriusXM is keeping fairly tight-lipped about the details, but it plans to relaunch its streaming product by the end of the year, using much of what it has learned from Pandora.

“I believe we need to improve the features, the functionalities, the recommendations and reduce the friction,” said CFO Sean Sullivan at the Deutsche Bank Annual Media Conference this week. 

While Sullivan said it would be “premature” to share many details, the company aims for a relaunch in the fourth quarter of 2023, part of a series of investments SiriusXM is making, including behind-the-scenes actions that enable more “agility and flexibility” in its subscriber management system — notably, in rolling out rate increases later this month.

Sullivan told investors that streaming-only subscribers remain a “small portion” of the company’s 32.4 million subscribers. However, he stresses that it has become a significant part of the self-paying users versus those who acquired satellite radio as part of a vehicle purchase package.

“We’re very comfortable with the unit economics of a streaming sub versus an in-car sub. We’re committed to it, but we’re going to take a more measure approach to relaunch later this year,” Sullivan continues.

In the short term, SiriusXM plans to roll out increases to its rates later this month, as Sullivan says that most customers will pay an additional dollar for a full-price plan. The company expects few cancellations based on earlier rate hikes, but it will continue offering discounted promotional rates to coax new subscribers.

Fox News Digital Claims Fifth Consecutive Win As Top News Brand

FOX News Digital finished February 2023 as the top-performing news organization in the competitive set in both multiplatform minutes and multiplatform views, according to Comscore. 

This marks five consecutive months as the top news brand with multiplatform views and two straight years as number one with multiplatform minutes. FOX News Digital closed out February reaching 2.9 billion total multiplatform minutes, 1.7 billion total multiplatform views, and 97 million multiplatform unique visitors.* Additionally, FOX News Digital saw a 23% increase year over year with unique visitors. The FOX News Mobile App reached 6.4 million unique visitors in February, surpassing the CNN Mobile App which saw 5.2 million unique visitors for the second consecutive month.**

FOX News remained the most engaged brand on social media in the competitive set in February, with 29.2 million total social interactions, notching the 102nd consecutive month FOX News has placed on top, according to Emplifi. FOX News drove 8.2 million interactions on Facebook, 18.3 million Instagram interactions and 2.8 million Twitter interactions. On YouTube, FOX News secured the top spot among news brands in video views for the 25th month in a row with over 189.5 million according to Shareablee.
drove 129 million multiplatform views, surpassing CNN Business for the 11th consecutive month and for the 22nd consecutive month. Additionally, the business network delivered 231 million multiplatform minutes (+3% versus the prior year) and 21.6 million multiplatform unique visitors .*** FOX Business’ videos on YouTube remained the most viewed among the business news competitive set for the 15th straight month, driving 38.2 million views in February according to Shareablee.


CNN’s New Prime-Time Is Off to a Slow Start

Chris Licht

CNN’s new chairman, Chris Licht, debuted a novel experiment last month to revive his network’s flagging prime-time ratings, betting that viewers would tune in for a mix of exclusive interviews and specials dedicated to hot-button topics like fentanyl abuse and the war in Ukraine.

However, The NY Times reports viewers have had other ideas.

Since Mr. Licht’s 9 p.m. experiment, “CNN Primetime,” began airing several times a week on Feb. 22, viewership has fallen below what the network was drawing in the time slot just a few months ago.

David Zaslav
At 9 p.m. on March 8, more Americans watched “Homicide Hunter: The Man With No Face” on the Investigation Discovery cable network than CNN’s exclusive interview with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. Two days earlier, an afternoon broadcast of “Ancient Aliens” on the History Channel drew a bigger audience than a 9 p.m. interview with the first lady, Jill Biden.

Last week, when the network aired the Biden and Zelensky interviews, as well as a town hall with Gov. Glenn Youngkin of Virginia, CNN delivered its fourth-lowest 9 p.m. weekly ratings in 24 years.

Licht has retained the firm support of his boss, David Zaslav, the chief executive of Warner Bros. Discovery, which acquired CNN last year. On a visit to CNN’s Manhattan offices this week, Zaslav delivered a endorsement of Licht’s vision for the network, urging the staff to try out new ideas — “ratings be damned.”

“We’re trying to figure out what is the best CNN,” Mr. Zaslav said, according to a transcript of his remarks obtained by The New York Times. “What are the stories we should be telling? What’s the right balance?”

Also, CNN generated plenty of buzz when it announced it would be airing Bill Maher's "Overtime" segments on Fridays, but did they generate viewers? Not really. 

In late January, CNN boss Chris Licht revealed to the Los Angeles Times that his network scooped the long-running YouTube extension to HBO's "Real Time" and would air on Fridays nights after Maher's program. Maher's fans otherwise have to wait until Saturday morning before seeing the segment online. 

CNN has shed a whopping 47% of its viewers in the 11:30-11:44 p.m. time slot when "Overtime" has aired since January, according to Nielsen Research Data. The network lost an additional 58% in the key advertiser-targeted 25-54 demo during that same time period. 

Maher's segments during Friday's "CNN Tonight" have averaged just 368,000 total viewers and only 74,000 in the key demo from February to early March. That's less than half Maher's actual audience, which averaged 782,000 total viewers during that same period with an audience that pays the HBO premium while CNN is broadly available on basic cable.

Bally Sports Insists They're Open For Business

The entire sports-viewing world has been anxiously awaiting the outcome of bankruptcy court proceedings for Diamond Sports Group (DSG). Diamond owns 19 regional sports networks (RSNs) operating under the Bally Sports brand, which cover a total of 14 MLB, 16 NBA and 12 NHL teams. The company also owns Bally Sports+, a streaming service that allows users to bypass pay TV to watch their favorite team.

DSG officially filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday, March 14, and is now in the midst of ongoing discussions in court about how it plans to restructure and become a viable money-making enterprise once again. Some of those discussions were held on Thursday and they revealed part of DSG’s strategy, as well as responses by some of the major sports leagues it does business with, reports The Streamable.

To start, Diamond representatives reaffirmed their commitment to broadcasting the rest of this season’s NBA and NHL games as planned. Brian Hermann, a lawyer representing DSG in its bankruptcy proceedings, noted that negotiations had been ongoing with those two leagues, and the discussions have been positive thus far.

“We had very constructive discussions with the NBA and the NHL,” Hermann said. “And I’m pleased to say I’ve made good progress in negotiations with each and we are going to continue to work with each of those leagues and their representatives to try to get to an agreement that will allow us to position the company for long-term success …There’s no doubt that we intend to pay NBA and NHL teams, they’re what we owe them for broadcast rights, at least through the end of the season.”

Wichita Radio: Johnny Maze Returns to KICT As PD/PM Drive Host

SummitMedia LLC welcomes new Program Director and afternoon talent Johnny Maze to T-95 (KICT) in Wichita.

This is the second stint at KICT for Maze. He returns to Wichita from SummitMedia in Louisville where he was the Assistant Program Director and afternoon personality on Classic Rock 107.7 (WSFR). He programmed KICT and KFXJ from 2011 to 2016.

Johnny Maze
“There’s only a handful of rock stations left that have the longevity and history in the format that T-95 does,” Maze said. “I really enjoyed my previous tenure here and when the opportunity was presented to return, I jumped at the chance.”

Maze brings over 20 years of programming experience for successful results-driven radio stations. He likes meeting listeners, either doing live broadcasts for clients or personal appearances at various charitable causes in the community.

“Johnny has deep relationships in the rock world. He understands the market and how important T-95 is to our company, consumers, and the community. His work ethic is undeniable,” said Justin Case, Director of Programming and Operations for SummitMedia Wichita.

Maze can be heard weekday afternoons from 3 to 7 p.m. on KICT.

đź“»SummitMedia Wichita stations include Classic Rock 104.5 (KFXJ), Radio Lobo 106.5 (KYQQ), Everything Country 101.3 KFDI, T-95 (KICT), and Classic Country 1070 (KFTI).

While Reporting on S-F Crime, CNN Is Victimized

CNN Vehicle in S.F.

A CNN correspondent in San Francisco to report on the city’s “rampant street crime” had her rental car broken into Friday — even with hired security tasked with watching the vehicle.

“Got robbed. Again,” Kyung Lah tweeted after the break-in with a picture of the car’s shattered rear-view window.

“We had security to watch our rental car + crew car. Thieves did this in under 4 seconds. This is ridiculous,” she wrote.

Lah said she and producer Jason Kravarik were at San Francisco’s City Hall when the thieves struck, stealing two bags from the car, reports The NY Post.

The CNN crew made the nearly 400-mile trip from Los Angeles to cover “voter discontent because of rampant street crime.”

“San Francisco is a beautiful city. This is our 3rd day here and I’ve loved my time here. But if you do visit this city, know that even with hired security watching your car, it is not enough,” the reporter said.

The progressive city has been experiencing surging crime, open-air drug dealing and robberies over the last few years, which led to the recall of soft-on-crime District Attorney Chesa Boudin last June.

Though overall crime has slightly decreased in the first three months of 2023 compared to the same timeframe last year, robberies continue to climb — there have been 525 reported robberies in San Francisco since Jan. 1, data shows.

In December, more than half of the city’s residents surveyed told the San Francisco Chronicle that they had been victims of theft or larceny, with illegal entry into automobiles accounting for a majority of the reports.

Meta Launches Subscriptions For Facebook, Instagram

Meta Platforms Inc on Friday launched its subscription service in the U.S., which would allow Facebook and Instagram users pay for verification in the same vein as Elon Musk-owned Twitter.

Reuters reports the Meta Verified service will give users a blue badge after they verify their accounts using a government ID and will cost $11.99 per month on the web or $14.99 a month on Apple's iOS system and Google-owned Android, Meta said in a statement.

The service, which Meta said it was testing in February, follows in the footsteps of Snap Inc-owned Snapchat as well as messaging app Telegram and marks the latest effort by a social media company to diversify its revenue away from advertising.

After a $44 billion buyout by Musk last year, Twitter had rolled out its Blue subscription service which lets people pay for the blue check mark previously limited to verified accounts of politicians, journalists and other public figures.

The initial launch of Twitter Blue in November had led to a surge in users impersonating celebrities and brands on the platform, which prompted the company to halt the service and reintroduce it with different colored checks for individuals, companies and governments.

Florida Considering To Make It Easier To Sue For Libel

Florida Republicans advanced a bill this week making it easier to sue the media for libel.

WFLA-TV8 In Tampa reports HB 991 “provides that journalist’s privilege does not apply to defamation claims when defendant is professional journalist or media entity.”

State Rep. Alex Andrade is sponsoring the legislation in the House and says his policy would lower the threshold to bring defamation cases and limit who is considered a public figure. 

“The bill doesn’t change whether or not a public figure has to prove actual malice. It just provides certain specific examples where actual malice really should be presumed.” Andrade said. “Right now it’s the wild west of subjectiveness in defamation claims. This bill, all it does is provide clarity and tighten up situations that subjectiveness might occur.”

If passed, many expect a federal court fight that could go all the way to the nation’s highest court.

“This bill is going to be enacted. I think this bill is going to be litigated. Maybe this bill will be the occasion for NYT v. Sullivan to be revisited and possibly either overruled or narrowed.” State Rep. Mike Beltran said.

Some legal experts raised first amendment concerns and predict legal challenges that could potentially reach the Supreme Court if the bill is signed into law as is. 

The bill has one more committee stop before heading to the House floor.

March 18 Radio History

➦In 1911...Lester Alvin Burnett was born (Died at age 55 from leukemia – February 16, 1967).  

Smiley Burnette
He better known as Smiley Burnette, was a country music performer and a comedic actor in Western films and on radio and TV, playing sidekick to Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and other B-movie cowboys. He was also a prolific singer-songwriter who could play as many as 100 musical instruments, some simultaneously. His career, beginning in 1934, spanned four decades, including a regular role on CBS-TV's Petticoat Junction in the 1960s.

He began singing as a child and learned to play a wide variety of instruments by ear, yet never learned to read or write music. In his teens, he worked in vaudeville, and starting in 1929, at the state's first commercial radio station, WDZ-AM in Tuscola, Illinois.

Burnette came by his nickname while creating a character for a WDZ children's program. He was reading Mark Twain's "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" at the time, which included a character named Jim Smiley. He named the radio character Mr. Smiley and soon adopted the moniker as his own, dropping the title.

He made 80 western movies with Autry, then in TV became a regular on Ozark Jubilee, and played Charlie the railroad engineer on Petticoat Junction.

➦In 1912... Art Gilmore born in Tacoma, WA (Died at age 98 – September 25, 2010) .  He was an actor and announcer heard in on radio and television programs, children's records, movies, trailers, radio commercials, and documentary films. He also appeared in several television series and a few feature films.

Art Gilmore
Raised in Tacoma, Washington, Gilmore attended Washington State University in 1931, where he was a member of the Chi chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia music fraternity and a member of the Alpha Omicron Chapter of Theta Chi fraternity. In 1935, he got hired to work as an announcer for Seattle's KOL Radio.  In 1936, he became a staff announcer for the Warner Brothers' radio station KFWB in Hollywood and then moved to the CBS-owned station KNX as a news reader.  During World War II, he served as a fighter-director U.S. Navy officer aboard an aircraft carrier in the Pacific Ocean.

Leaving the Navy, he decided to become a professional singer and returned to Hollywood. With a group of notable Hollywood radio stars, including Edgar Bergen, Ralph Edwards and Jim Jordan, Gilmore founded Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters in 1966.

Gilmore's announcing voice became a part of many classic radio programs. Drawing his inspiration from the radio sports commentators of the 1930s, he became the announcer for Amos 'n' Andy, The Adventures of Frank Race, Dr. Christian, Sears Radio Theater, Stars over Hollywood, The Golden Days of Radio and other radio shows. It was Gilmore who introduced Herbert W. Armstrong and Garner Ted Armstrong, reminding listeners to request free religious literature at the conclusion of "The World Tomorrow" on radio and television.

He narrated 156 episodes of syndicated TV’s Highway Patrol with Broderick Crawford, 39 segments of Mackenzie’s Raiders with Richard Carlson, and 41 episodes of Men of Annapolis

➦In 1922...WHN-AM, NYC signed-on at 833Kc

According to Faded Signals, WHN, New York City, signed on in 1922 as the radio station of The Ridgewood Times newspaper.  It was one of the city’s first radio stations, featuring a format of jazz and dance music of the era, as well as children’s shows, variety programs and newscasts.  The Loew’s Theater Organization bought the station in 1928.

The station played jazz and contemporary dance music, including Sophie Tucker, Fletcher Henderson, and Duke Ellington, as well as broadcasting Columbia University football games. In 1928 the station was bought by the Loew's Theatre Organization.

During the 1920s the station's frequency changed to 830, 760, and then 1010.

In the 1930s it broadcast the Major Bowes Amateur Hour, which was picked up by the CBS Radio Network.

WHN made its final frequency change to 1050 in 1941.

During the 1940s the programs Radio Newsreel and Newsreel Theater were prototypes for what would later become the all-news radio format. The station broadcast Brooklyn Dodgers games with Red Barber as well as the New York Giants and New York Rangers with Marty Glickman.

In 1948, WHN became WMGM, reflecting the Loew’s then-ownership of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movie studio.  The station continued its diversified format until flipping to Top 40 and rock music in the mid 1950s. While it included some R&B, country and instrumentals in the Top 40 mix, WMGM carried a narrower, more up-tempo playlist.

By the early 1960s, WMGM 1050 AM had several competitors in the Top 40 radio market.  WINS, WABC and WMCA all were playing rock, and WMGM was falling behind in the ratings.

Storer Broadcasting bought the station in 1962, renaming it WHN and dropping the Top 40 in favor of slow-paced “beautiful music” and standards.

WHN also became New York City’s Mutual Radio Network affiliate.  Bob & Ray, WABC legend Herb Oscar Anderson and Jim Ameche were some of WHN’s on-air personalities.

The station picked up New York Mets baseball and launched Marv Albert’s sportscasting career.

WHN’s ratings were low and skewed toward older demographics.  After researching the market, Storer converted WHN to a country format in 1973.  Here’s an aircheck from WHN’s Bruce Bradley in 1973:

Mutual bought WHN in the late 1980s.  An FM competitor flipped to country from 1980 to 1984, hurting WHN’s ratings.

Doubleday Broadcasting bought WHN in 1985, and Emmis Communications bought it the following year. Emmis added sports talk in the evenings, keeping the country format during the day.

In 1987, Emmis announced WHN would become all-sports WFAN.  When Emmis purchased NBC’s New York radio stations in 1988, the company moved WFAN from 1050 AM to 660 AM, formerly occupied WNBC.

Spanish Broadcasting System purchased the 1050 AM license and became WUKQ, a Spanish Adult Contemporary station.  Spanish Broadcasting System wanted to swap 1050 AM with cash for the Jewish Daily Forward’s FM station, WEVD 97.9.  The deal was approved in 1989.

WEVD’s call letters and programming moved to the 1050 AM frequency.  The station mainly carried a brokered format of ethnic programs, talk shows and foreign-language programming.  By the mid-1990s, WEVD moved to a left-leaning news-talk format.

An agreement with ABC/Disney brought ESPN’s “The Dan Patrick Show” to WEVD in 2001.  A public campaign to save the old format failed.  On the final day of the news/talk format, soon-to-be-terminated staffers occasionally interrupted portions of the brokered programming with sometimes-profane audio clips. On September 2, 2001, WEVD became “1050 ESPN Radio.”

The call letters were changed to WEPN in 2003 after Disney bought the station, competing directly with WFAN’s all-sports format.  In 2012, WEPN’s programming moved to 98.7 FM.  ESPN Deportes later moved the 1050 AM frequency.

On June 11, 2019, ESPN announced that it would be discontinuing the ESPN Deportes Radio network on September 8, 2019. It was stated that WEPN would switch back to an English-language sports format at this time.  In September 2019, ESPN agreed to a two-year deal to carry at least 60 New York Islanders broadcasts; due to WEPN-FM's existing contracts with the Knicks and Rangers, most Islanders games are aired on 1050 AM, with select games on WEPN-FM, and previous flagship WRHU continuing to be the primary station for games not carried on either WEPN or WEPN-FM.

➦In 1939...saxophone player Frank Mane, who knew Frank Sinatra from Jersey City radio station WAAT where both performed on live broadcasts, arranged for him to audition and record "Our Love", his first solo studio recording.

➦In 1940...the daytime drama “Light of the World” began airing on the NBC Blue Network.  It aired for 10years and was unique in that it featured the Bible as the center of the story line.

➦In 1974...Jim Kerr started mornings on WPLJ 95.5 FM NYC

He began his career at age 14 in Ypsilanti, Michigan.  After working at stations in Howell and Ann Arbor Michigan, Kerr joined WORJ, a progressive rock station in Orlando, Florida. At 18, he returned to his hometown and joined the airstaff of WKNR, Detroit.  At 19, he served as morning host at WDAI, Chicago, at 20 he moved to the legendary WLS, and when he was 21, he became New York’s youngest morning show host at WPLJ.

Kerr has been the morning show host on six NYC stations, most notably 15 years at WPLJ and as of 2018, 15 years at WAXQ Q 104.3 FM.

➦In 1985... Capital Cities announced that it would purchase ABC Radio for $3.5 billion, which shocked the media industry, as ABC was some four times bigger than Capital Cities was at the time.

Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett helped to finance the deal in exchange for a 25 percent share in the combined company.  The deal was, at the time, the largest non-oil merger in world business history.  However, this record would be surpassed by year's end by the merger of General Electric and RCA (the latter company then being the parent company of rival network NBC).

Friday, March 17, 2023

iHM Stops Matching 401Ks, Starts Hiring Freeze

iHeartMedia, Inc. today announced certain proactive initiatives in response to the currently weak advertising environment resulting from concerns about the economy.

iHeartMedia Chairman/CEO Bob Pittman and President/CFO/COO Rich Bressler issued a staff memo today which outlines a round of cost savings tactics. Among the cost-saving initiatives a temporary  suspension of 401(k) match starting next pay period and a hiring freeze for non-critical mission roles. The plan will be in effect for the foreseeable future until the advertising marketplace improves.

Here is the memo to staff:


Although we’ve made great strides in our business and have built a leadership position across all audio platforms thanks to your extraordinary efforts, we are not immune from the headwinds caused by the economic pressures we read about in the headlines every day — and that is forcing us to make tough choices on costs and priorities.

Our goal is to do everything we can to get through this difficult economic time while protecting our employee base as much as possible. Therefore, we’ll be implementing the following necessary cost savings:

• Temporarily suspending the 401(k) match starting in your next pay period and for future months until the advertising marketplace improves. Please note that any contributions made so far this year will not be affected.
• We will only be backfilling mission critical roles.
• Stopping or reducing all discretionary spending, including non-essential T&E, overtime, outside vendor spend, temporary contractors, etc.

These measures are part of our proactive plan to keep our company healthy in the slowdown and to be fully ready for an economic recovery.

We appreciate your commitment to iHeart, to our communities and to our partners, and we are confident we will successfully navigate through this period and be well-positioned for growth when the economic pressures subside.

Bob and Rich

Analyst: Audacy Must Cut Expenses To Bare Bone

In light of another quarter of sagging revenue and tepid ad sales, at least one analyst who tracks Audacy believes the audio content provider might not survive the next year unless it significantly cut costs.

The Philly Business Journal reports Craig Huber of Huber Research Partners made that declaration one day after the Philadelphia-based company reported fourth quarter earnings on Wednesday. Audacy's stock closed down more than 5% at 14 cents per share after the earnings became public, putting the price at about half of the 29 cents per share it was worth when the company reported third quarter earnings in November.

Audacy executives attributed the financial woes to decreased advertising demand and macroeconomic issues created by inflation and Russia’s ongoing conflict with Ukraine.

The nation’s second largest radio station owner has more than $2 billion in debt on its books.

Huber said Audacy has too much debt and is not being aggressive enough with its cost-cutting initiatives. On Wednesday’s call with analysts, Audacy executives predicted 2023 costs would be down slightly from 2022, which Huber called a “disaster.” Given the pressure on revenue from the macroeconomic environment and long-term negative trends with radio advertising, he believes the company must implement deeper expense cuts.

Newsmax Surge Hit Fox News Before Fading

Smaller rival’s gains after election worried executives and hosts, but threat ebbed

Tucker Carlson was worried, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Fox News had declared late on Nov. 7, 2020, that Joe Biden had won the presidential election, and Mr. Carlson, one of the network’s star opinion hosts, was concerned about alienating Fox News viewers.

They might turn to News-max, he said, a small channel that had taken a hard-line stance, questioning whether Donald Trump had lost the election. “We’re playing with fire, for real,” Mr. Carlson wrote in a text message to his producer, according to court documents. “With Trump behind it, an alternative like Newsmax could be devastating to us.”

That threat did materialize— but it didn’t last, as Newsmax’s viewership plateaued and then eventually fell.

Carlson’s message is part of a trove of internal Fox News communications made public in a defamation lawsuit the network is facing. Voting-machine company Dominion Voting Systems alleges in the suit that Fox News aired false claims that its technology rigged the 2020 election. The network was acting out of fear of losing viewers to other right-wing channels, Dominion said.

Feds Looking Into ByteDance Surveillance of Journalists

The FBI and the Department of Justice are investigating the events that led TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, to use the app to surveil American journalists, including this reporter, according to Forbes citing sources familiar with the departments’ actions.

According to a source in position to know, the DOJ Criminal Division, Fraud Section, working alongside the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, has subpoenaed information from ByteDance regarding efforts by its employees to access U.S. journalists’ location information or other private user data using the TikTok app. According to two sources, the FBI has been conducting interviews related to the surveillance. ByteDance’s use of the app to surveil U.S. citizens was first reported by Forbes in October, and confirmed by an internal company investigation in December.

"We have strongly condemned the actions of the individuals found to have been involved, and they are no longer employed at ByteDance. Our internal investigation is still ongoing, and we will cooperate with any official investigations when brought to us,” said ByteDance spokesperson Jennifer Banks. TikTok did not respond to a request for comment.

MLB Attorney Says RSNs Are A Broken Model

Diamond Sports Group, which owns the broadcasting rights of 14 Major League Baseball teams, said on Thursday the league's desire to broadcast games directly to fans helped push the company's regional sports networks into bankruptcy, reports Reuters.

The Sinclair Broadcast Group subsidiary filed for Chapter 11 protection on Tuesday, citing its high debt, outdated broadcast rights agreements and sports viewers' cord-cutting trend.

Diamond attorney Andrew Goldman said during the company's first bankruptcy hearing in Houston that it needs the right to stream MLB games online to make up for lost revenue from declining customer cable subscriptions.

"The (MLB) Commissioner's office has made it clear that they want to take back the rights and go it alone, which will effectively drive us out of the market if they are successful," Goldman told U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Lopez.

Report: Greg Gumbel Out At CBS Sports

Greg Gumbel

For the first time in over three decades, Greg Gumbel won’t be covering the NFL next season.

Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand reported Wednesday that the 76-year-old Gumbel signed a new deal with the network to remain the host of the NCAA Tournament, but bow out of the network’s professional football coverage.

The NY Post reports Gumbel served as host of CBS’ “NFL Today” studio show from 1990-93, and then became the anchor of NBC’s NFL coverage after CBS lost the league’s rights. The broadcaster returned to CBS in 1998, and began calling NFL games.

From the 1998 through 2003 seasons, Gumbel was CBS’ top NFL play-by-play announcer, alongside Phil Simms. The pair called Super Bowl XXXV between the Ravens and Giants in 2001 and Super Bowl XXXVIII between the Panthers and Patriots in 2004.

Gumbel transitioned back to the studio for three years, and then returned to calling games from 2006 through this past season.

Last offseason, when Joe Buck and Troy Aikman got ESPN to back up the Brinks truck and Amazon paid a mint for Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit to call games, Gumbel opined that announcers don’t drive TV ratings.

“I will tell you, it has gotten crazy. I don’t have any need to be jealous of it. I’ve been treated really nicely and have always been appreciative of what I’ve been able to do for a long, long time,” Gumbel said.

NYC Radio: Michael Kay To Continue On WEPN ESPN Radio

Michael Kay, the Yankees television voice and WEPN ESPN Radio 987.FM New York host said Thursday that he has signed a million dollar contract extension and will continue leading the station’s afternoon drive program.

“After much deliberation, sleepless nights, talking with my family, back and forth, I don’t want to give this up,” Kay said. “I love working with (co-hosts) Don (La Greca) and Peter (Rosenberg), I love the people I work with here at the station. And I’m going to continue here. … I’m going to be here for a good, long while.”

Elite Sports NY reports Kay’s announcement ends months of speculation about his future amid what has been a rough run for his show. The Post reported in January that Kay would likely to retire this fall when his deal was up, and he did nothing to dispute the report. Kay, La Greca and Rosenberg have also been steamrolled by WFAN’s Craig Carton and Evan Roberts in the ratings battle for over a year now. And Kay generated a slew of negative headlines after threatening to get longtime producer Ray Santiago fired during an on-air rant earlier this year.

“I was pretty certain that was going to be it,” Kay admitted. “I would leave the show after 21 years in September. It had been a great run, a long run and I just said, ‘That’s it.’ I’m probably too old to do it.”

But after some soul-searching — and a push by station owner Good Karma Brands to retain him — Kay decided to change gears. La Greca and Rosenberg expressed excitement and gratitude he did, with Rosenberg acknowledging his future at the station may have been in doubt had Kay left.

Wake-Up Call: Yellen Believes Banking System "Sound"

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen offered firm, upbeat reassurances to rattled bank depositors and investors Thursday, even as American financial institutions and European agencies ordered fresh rescue efforts following the second-largest bank collapse in U.S. history. Questioned closely, sometimes aggressively, Yellen told senators at a Capitol hearing that the U.S. banking system “remains sound” and Americans “can feel confident” about the safety of their deposits. Her remarks, against the backdrop of deepening concerns about the health of the global financial system, were an effort to signal to markets that there would be no broader contagion from the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank in California and Signature Bank in New York.

By the time her testimony was over, another major institution, First Republic Bank, received an emergency infusion of $30 billion in deposits from 11 banks, according to Treasury. And in Europe hours earlier, Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second-largest lender, got a promise from the Swiss central bank of a loan of up to 50 billion francs ($54 billion). Eleven of the biggest U.S. banks Thursday announced a $30 billion rescue package for First Republic Bank in an effort to prevent it from becoming the third to fail in less than a week and head off a broader banking crisis.

San Francisco-based First Republic serves a similar clientele as Silicon Valley Bank, which failed last week after depositors withdrew about $40 billion in a matter of hours. New York’s Signature Bank was shuttered on Sunday. It appears that First Republic, which had deposits totaling $176.4 billion as of Dec. 31, was facing similar issues. The group of banks behind the rescue package confirmed that other unnamed banks had seen large withdrawals of uninsured deposits. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insures deposits up $250,000 for individual accounts.

First Republic Bank was on Thursday propped up by a group of 11 other banks in a bid to stem the contagion from SVB's collapse, amid fears that both banks were worryingly similar. 'This show of support by a group of large banks is most welcome, and demonstrates the resilience of the banking system,' said a group of U.S. regulators led by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Both banks courted a high-net-worth clientele. First Republic's clients included Mark Zuckerberg (left), who was offered a 1.05 percent mortgage rate on a $5.95 million loan for his five-bedroom Palo Alto home in 2011. At the time, the average 30-year rate was 4.45 percent. Both banks also had high levels of uninsured deposits - 94 percent at SVB, and 68 percent at First Republic. At most banks, roughly half of all deposits are uninsured.

NY Post Graphic (3/17/23)

NY Post (3/17/23)
➤BIDEN FAMILY ALLEGEDLY RECEIVED MONEY FROM CHINA: House Oversight Republicans said in a new memo issued Thursday that members of President Joe Biden’s family received just over $1 million indirectly from a Chinese company – the committee’s latest disclosure in its investigation into the Biden family’s business dealings.  The memo, which representatives for the White House and Hunter Biden’s legal team quickly dismissed, does not provide any evidence tying the payments directly to President Joe Biden, which Republicans have said is the purpose of their investigation.

The memo names Hallie Biden, the widow of the president’s son Beau Biden, as a previously unknown recipient of payments from Biden family associate John Robinson Walker, who wired members of Biden’s family money after receiving $3 million a China-based company. Hallie Biden and Hunter Biden, the president’s younger son, were romantically involved for a period after Beau Biden’s death. The House Oversight Committee quietly subpoenaed Bank of America for the financial records of three of Hunter Biden’s associates, including Walker, on February 27, which is how it obtained these records.

House Oversight Republicans claim that these transactions raise questions about foreign influence over the Biden family, but there is still no conclusive evidence that Joe Biden was involved in his son’s business matters and there is no indication he abused his powers in public office to help his family make money. President Biden has previously denied any involvement in his son’s overseas business dealings.

➤GENERAL SAYS ISIS REMAINS THREAT TO HOMELAND: General Michael Kurilla, head of US Central Command, told Congress that 'at least hundreds of thousands' of US citizens could be vulnerable to an attack by ISIS-K and that the group has the 'ultimate goal to strike on the American homeland'. ISIS-K - the Islamic State in Khurasan - is an ISIS affiliate based in Afghanistan and a sworn enemy of both the Taliban and the United States. The group has claimed responsibility for the Kabul airport attack during the US evacuation in August 2021 which killed 170 Afghan civilians and 13 US soldiers. It continued launching attacks throughout 2022, including on mosques and schools. Kurilla's comments were made during an address on Thursday to the Senate Armed Services Committee as part of a request for defense spending for fiscal year 2024. 

➤RUSSIAN JET SEEN IN VIDEO DUMPING FUEL ON U-S DRONE: The Pentagon released video footage Thursday from a U.S. MQ-9 drone that crashed in the Black Sea on Tuesday showing a Russian jet buzzing and dumping fuel on it and apparently damaging the drone’s propeller.  The declassified footage shows a Russian Sukhoi-27 jet flying very close to the unmanned surveillance aircraft, in one of the first direct military confrontations between the U.S. and Russia since the invasion in Ukraine began more than a year ago. 

It wasn’t clear whether the video showed one jet flying past the drone twice, or both Russian jets that the Pentagon says were there. The U.S. said one of the Russian jets collided with the drone, also known as a Reaper, in international airspace, in what a Pentagon spokesman called an “unsafe, unprofessional intercept.” The footage doesn’t show an exact moment of collision, though it does show a Sukhoi flying directly toward the drone and coming into almost immediate contact, before the video feed is scrambled. At the end of the 42-second clip, after the video feed resumes, the MQ-9 drone’s propeller appears bent. In a summary released alongside the video, the Pentagon said “the propeller can be seen again and one of the props can be seen damaged.”

➤FLORIDA’S ‘ANTI-WOKE’ LAW LOSES IN APPEALS COURT: A federal appeals court has blocked Florida Governor Ron DeSantis from enforcing his so-called “anti-woke” law restricting how the state’s colleges and universities can teach their students about racial issues. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker called the law “positively dystopian.” It prevents college instructors from making their students “feel guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress” due to their race, color, sex or national origin.” The state will appeal the ruling.

➤10 CHARGED IN DEATH OF VIRGINIA MAN: Seven sheriff’s deputies and three hospital workers have been charged with second-degree murder in the death of a Black man who died while being admitted to a mental hospital near Richmond, Virginia. Irvo Otieno, of Richmond, had a history of mental health problems. He had been in custody for several days before being admitted to Central State Hospital, where he died. His family and their attorneys say he was subjected to brutal treatment that led to his death. Otieno was 28.

YouTubeTV Hikes Price

Google announced a price increase for its YouTube TV subscription on Thursday. It’s rising from $65 per month to $73 per month starting in April, according to an email sent to subscribers Thursday.

YouTube TV is Google’s cable replacement. It provides access to live TV and cable channels, delivered through an internet connection.

“As content costs have risen and we continue to invest in the quality of our service, we are updating our price to keep bringing you the best possible service,” the company said in the email to subscribers.

CNBC reports Google’s move to hike the price of its over-the-air subscription for cord cutters comes after several competing online streaming services have also raised the amount they charge, including services from Disney, Apple and HBO.

In December, YouTube TV secured rights to the NFL’s “Sunday Ticket” package, which will allow it to sell a bundle of out-of-market NFL games that don’t air on local TV to subscribers around the country.

YouTube will pay about $2 billion per year for the package, CNBC reported, which had several other bidders including Apple and Disney. Google hasn’t announced pricing for its “Sunday Ticket” bundle, but it cost $80 per month under its previous owner, DirecTV.

Google will also lower the price of an add-on to access higher-resolution 4K streams from $20 per month to $10 per month, according to the email.

Tik Tok Talking To Potential Buyers

Even as TikTok’s Chinese owners publicly resist pressure from the Biden administration to sell the wildly popular video app, conversations between TikTok and potential buyers are heating up, sources told On The Money at The NY Post.

TikTok is mulling over its options and exploring possible deals it considered when President Trump had threatened to ban the app in 2020, a source close to TikTok told On The Money.

The source wasn’t able to elaborate further, but talks orchestrated by the Trump administration had included a proposal for Oracle — the software giant owned by billionaire Larry Ellison — to partner with Walmart to own a US TikTok subsidiary, taking control of US user data and content moderation.

The talks come as politicians from across the political spectrum – including the progressive flank of the Democratic Party – are calling for a forced divestiture of TikTok from its Beijing-based parent, ByteDance.

SiriusXM Radio And Kevin Hart Extend Deal


SiriusXM has annoounced that it has extended its relationship with global superstar Kevin Hart and his entertainment company Hartbeat through a new multi-year deal. Under the agreement, Hartbeat will continue to curate content at the intersection of comedy and culture for Kevin Hart’s Laugh Out Loud Radio (ch. 96), where all programs will exclusively premiere.

Hart will also continue to host his popular podcast, Gold Minds with Kevin Hart, which debuts its new season tonight exclusively on SiriusXM, featuring Kevin in conversation with Ryan Coogler. In addition, Hartbeat will produce a slate of new, talent-led programs, including Love Thang with Punkie Johnson and One Song with Diallo and LUXXURY, hosted by Diallo Riddle and Blake “LUXXURY” Robin. The channel will also be the exclusive home for a never-before-heard stand-up album from the late comedy legend Bernie Mac.

"ABC's Wide World of Sports" Named 2023 NAB Hall of Fame Inductee

Long-running sports anthology series "ABC's Wide World of Sports" will be inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Broadcasting Hall of Fame at the 2023 NAB Show as this year's television inductee. The show, which aired on ABC from 1961-1998, will be honored at NAB Show during the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame Ceremony on the Main Stage, held April 17 in Las Vegas, Nev.

Legendary journalist Jim McKay served as the longtime host of the iconic sports series, which brought athletics from across the globe into living rooms of Americans on Saturday afternoons for 37 years. Fulfilling the promise of the show's opening sequence of "Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport," McKay and the show's co-hosts introduced sports that were not traditionally broadcast on television in the United States, such as rodeo, badminton and barrel jumping.

The National Radio Talent System Deadline Approaching

As previously announced, the National Radio Talent System, a division of RAB, is in the process of planning and producing five Radio Talent Institutes in the spring and summer of 2023. College students from universities throughout the country apply to the various Radio Talent Institutes providing students with a truly immersive experience and unmatched introduction to broadcast radio.

The talent incubator spans six to ten days and is led by broadcast professionals who bring their real-world industry knowledge and expertise. The program is designed to empower and educate students on the many opportunities available to them as they begin to think about their career path.

Upcoming spring and summer 2023 institutes include:

R.I.P.: Jim Gordon, Troubled Rock Musician

Jim Gordon (1945-2023)

Jim Gordon, the famed session drummer who backed Eric Clapton and The Beach Boys before being diagnosed with schizophrenia and going to prison for killing his mother, has died. He was 77, according to AP News.

Gordon died Monday at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation confirmed Thursday. It’s believed he died of natural causes, but the official cause will be determined by the Solano County coroner.

Gordon was the drummer in the blues-rock supergroup Derek and the Dominos, led by Clapton. He played on their 1970 double album “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs” and toured with them.

Gordon was credited with contributing the elegiac piano coda for “Layla.” The group’s keyboardist Bobby Whitlock later claimed Gordon took the piano melody from his then-girlfriend, singer Rita Coolidge, and didn’t give her credit.

Gordon can be heard on George Harrison’s first post-Beatles album “All Things Must Pass,” The Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” album, and Steely Dan’s 1974 song “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number.”

R.I.P.: Jim Lago, Longtime KKTX Corpus Christi Morning Host

Jim Lago
Long time radio personality Jim Lago died Wednesday night in Corpus Christi.

He was a familiar voice on local radio airwaves. Jim Lago retired in December 2019 after a broadcasting career of more than 30 years.

At the time of his retirement, Lago was host of "Lago In The Morning," which aired on KKTX 1360.

In April 2019, Jim Lago was hospitalized after he had a mild stroke while on the air.

Big Frank, a former co-worker of Lago's at KKTX, tells KRIS 6 News that Lago had been dealing with some health issues. No cause of death was given, and funeral arrangements are pending.

Jim Lago had been inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame in 2016.

March 17 Radio History

Kate Smith
➦In 1931...Kate Smith started to become 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). The show's resident comics, Abbott and Costello and Henny Youngman, introduced their comedy to a nationwide radio audience aboard her show, while a series of sketches based on the Broadway production of the same name led to The Aldrich Family as a separate hit series in its own right in 1940.

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

Phil Baker
➦In 1933...Phil Baker was heard on network radio for the first time when The Armour Jester was heard on the old NBC Blue network. Baker rapidly rose to the top of the radio ratings, and was quizmaster on the original $64 Question (Take It Or Leave It).

➦In 1935...Major changes on KSO Clarinda, Iowa as it gained a sister station in Des Moines, KRNT. To accommodate the new station, KSO moved to 1430 kc, a frequency previously used by KWCR, Cedar Rapids.  KWCR moved to Des Moines and given to KSO-AM call-sign.

Starting in 1925, KSO was authorized to operate from Clarinda, Iowa, on October 7, 1925.  The owner of the station was the A.A. Berry Seed Company. KSO was assigned the frequency of 241.8 meters (1240 kc) with a power of 500 watts. A used 500 watt Western Electric Transmitter was acquired from WHO, Des Moines. The first KSO broadcast was on November 2, 1925. The station used the slogan, "Keep Serving Others".

In 1927 KSO was moved to 1320 kc. Then, in the great revision of frequency assignments which occurred on November 11, 1928, KSO moved to 1380 with 1,000 watts power, but it had to share the frequency with WKBH, LaCrosse, Wisconsin. On January 18, 1929, KSO was ordered to reduce power to 500 watts; then, the share time order ended on February 28, 1931.

Iowa Broadcasting Co. entered into KSO's history in 1931 when it purchased the station from the Barry Seed Co. Iowa Broadcasting had been formed by Gardner and Mike Cowles, the newspaper publishing brothers who owned the Des Moines Register and Tribune, Minneapolis Star, and Look magazine. The sale from Barry Seed Co. to Iowa Broadcasting occurred on June 26, 1931.

For about a year KSO remained in Clarinda under Iowa Broadcasting ownership. One June 4, 1932, authority was received to suspend operations until October 1, 1932. The FRC granted permission in September 1932 for Iowa Broadcasting to move KSO to Des Moines. KSO returned to the air with studios and transmitter at the Register and Tribune building in downtown Des Moines on November 5.1932, but with a reduced power. KSO was now authorized to use 100 watts.

Note: On-Air Signs for KRNT and KSO

On September 11, 1989, the KSO call letters were retired.

Today, 1460 is owned by iHeartMedia. In early 2001, the call letters were changed to KXNO, and 1460 became an all sports station, featuring the Fox Sports Network.

Fred Allen
➦In 1956...John Florence Sullivan aka Fred Allen died from a heart attack (Born - May 31, 1894). The Fred Allen Show radio (1932–1949) made him one of the most popular and forward-looking humorists in the Golden Age of American radio.