Saturday, May 20, 2023

May 21 Radio History

➦In 1916...entertainer Dennis Day born, Owen Patrick Eugene McNulty (Died at age 72 of Lou Gehrig's Disease – June 22, 1988). He was a singer, radio, television and film personality and comedian of Irish descent.

Dennis Day
Day appeared for the first time on Jack Benny's radio show on October 8, 1939. He remained associated with Benny's radio and television programs until Benny's death in 1974. Mary Livingstone, Benny's wife, brought the singer to Benny's attention after hearing Day on the radio during a visit to New York.

Besides singing, Day was a mimic. On the Benny program, Day performed impressions of various celebrities of the era, including Ronald Colman, Jimmy Durante and James Stewart.

From 1944 through 1946 he served in the United States Navy as a Lieutenant. While in service he was temporarily replaced on the Benny radio program by fellow tenor Larry Stevens. On his return to civilian life, he continued to work with Benny while also starring on his own NBC show, A Day in the Life of Dennis Day (1946–1951).

On Benny's show, Day's having two programs in comparison to Benny's one was the subject of numerous jokes and gags, usually revolving around Day rubbing Benny's, and sometimes other cast members' and guest stars' noses in that fact (e.g., "Dennis, why do you have two horns on your bicycle?" "Why shouldn't I? I've got two shows!"). His last radio series was a comedy and variety show that aired on NBC's Sunday afternoon schedule during the 1954–55 season.

He went on to star in his own NBC radio sitcom (Dennis Day Show.) On TV he appeared in 237 episodes of the Benny Show, plus about a dozen guest acting gigs.

➦In 1931...WOR radio in New York City premiered The Witch’s Tale. Beginning in 1934 the pioneering horror show was broadcast on the Mutual Broadcasting System (of which WOR was the flagship station) where it aired until 1938.

➦In 1955...Comedian Ernie Kovacs started a daily morning radio show at WABC 770 AM NYC.  While working at WABC-AM as a morning-drive radio announcer and doing a mid-morning television series for NBC, Kovacs claimed to dislike eating breakfast alone while his wife, Edie Adams, was sleeping after her Broadway performances. His solution was to hire a taxi driver to come into their apartment with his own key and make breakfast for them both, then take Kovacs to the WABC studios.

Report: Biden Decides On Anna Gomez For FCC

President Joe Biden is expected to nominate veteran government lawyer Anna Gomez to fill a vacant spot on the Federal Communications Commission.

Gomez's selection may be announced soon and would give the FCC its first Democratic majority since Biden was elected, ending a partisan deadlock at 2-2, according to a Bloomberg report, which cited a person familiar.

Anna Gomez
The Biden nomination comes after the president's former nominee Gigi Sohn, withdrew her nomination in early March. Sohn, a former Democratic FCC official, was first nominated to the panel's board by the White House in October 2021.

Gomez has been viewed a possible frontrunner to fill the fifth commissioner seat at the FCC after Sohn withdrew.

Gomez is a former NTIA deputy assistant secretary (2009-13) who in January became a Senior Advisor for International Information and Communications Policy at the U.S. State Department.

Gomez earlier served for over a decade in various management positions at the FCC, and on the White House staff under President Bill Clinton. After leaving the NTIA, she was a partner at Wiley, a Washington law firm. Gomez is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University and earned her law degree from George Washington University in Washington, DC.

Gomez would be the first hispanic female to sit on the FCC since 2001, according to the National Hispanic Media Coalition. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus had previously urged Biden to appoint a Latino to the FCC.

Dan Bongino Explains Why He Left Fox News

Podcaster and former Fox News host Dan Bongino revealed the real reason behind his departure from the network that preceded the abrupt firing of Tucker Carlson in late April.

Bongino announced that he was leaving Fox back in April and immediately threw all his energy into his Rumble podcast The Dan Bongino Show. Since then, rumors have swirled on why Bongino and Fox decided to part ways and if there may have been any connection to Carlson’s ouster as well.

Mediaite reports he joined Megyn Kelly for the Friday edition of SiriusXM’s The Megyn Kelly Show in his first interview post-Fox to talk about the media shakeup and put those rumors to bed.

“I think a lot of people think this may be some kind of anti-Trump thing. I gotta say — that wasn’t my case,” Bongino said.

“I was not targeted. My show, they were dying to re-up — we negotiated for an entire year. So I can’t tell you like, ‘Oh, Fox got rid of me,’ because they didn’t. The liberal jerk wads are gonna go, ‘Oh Dan Bongino was fired.’ I just give them the middle fingers. It’s just stupid,” he clarified in the discussion.

He explained that the real reason he walked away from the network was because of differences in vision. “I negotiate my own deals. I don’t have an agent. I do my own business deals. I don’t need any, I do my own business.”

“They wanted the show. I just had a different vision for my role at the network and that’s okay. I’m not the Saturday guy, Megyn, I’m sorry I can’t work six days a week. I’ve got young kids and I’m not working six days a week. And even though we recorded the show on Friday, you know, the inside baseball of Fox, what happens when there’s breaking news? Which with Trump out there is all the time — you gotta be on,” Bongino concluded.

Bongino said the network’s offer included them being able to call him anytime to cover breaking news, which was not something he was interested in.

Lawmaker Urges FCC To Continuing Vetting Tegna Deal

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wrote FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel this week to provide moral support for the regulator’s decision to designate the Standard General-Tegna station group merger for hearing before an administrative law judge, reports 

Warren has been a critic of the deal as anticompetitive consolidation and a fan of the hearing designation.

“I urge the [Federal Communications Commission] to continue its thorough and careful review, regardless of recent calls by supporters of the deal to rush through the agency consideration," Warren wrote. Warren has said that she fears the deal will mean layoffs, reduced competition for ads and increased retransmission-consent fees.

The companies have made numerous promises that they say address those concerns, but Warren is skeptical of behavioral remedies, which she says are hard to monitor and easy to evade. “I commend the FCC for taking these concerns seriously by reviewing the merger thoroughly, consistent with its statutory authority,” she told Rosenworcel.

Standard General agreed to acquire Tegna in February of 2022 in an $8.6 billion deal that includes the assumption of $3.2 billion in debt. Apollo Global Management (AGM) is providing some of the funding for the deal. AGM controls Cox Media Group, which will own some of the Tegna stations if the deal is approved.

'Entertainment' Top Reason For Listening To Podcasts

About half of American adults say they’ve listened to a podcast in the past year, according to recently-released survey results from Pew Research Center. With podcasts gaining in popularity in recent years, the survey examines reasons why Americans tune in and the influence that podcasts have on their behaviors.

The results indicate that listeners engage with podcasts for a variety of reasons. Some 88% say that they listen to podcasts in order to learn, while an almost-equal 87% say they tune in for entertainment. Close behind, 81% engage with podcasts to have something to listen to when doing something else, while 71% do so to hear other people’s opinions.

The most common “major reason” for listening, though, is for entertainment, as cited by 60% of respondents. Some 55% say that learning is a major reason for listening, and 52% say a primary reason is to have something to listen to while they do something else.

These primary reasons for listening – entertainment and education – are reflected in the most common podcast topics among listeners. The leading topic is Comedy, which almost half (47%) say they regularly listen to, followed closely by Entertainment, pop culture, and the arts (46%). Politics and government (41%), Science and technology (40%) and History (40%) also figure prominently among the most frequently listened-to podcast topics.

Interestingly, there’s an age dynamic at play in the reasons why people listen to podcasts. The younger the adult, the more likely they are to say that entertainment is a major reason for tuning in, and the same pattern is apparent for listening to podcasts as a diversion.

By contrast, older listeners are more likely to listen to podcasts for educational purposes – and in fact this is the leading reason for listening among those ages 50-64 and 65+. Older listeners are also more likely than younger listeners to engage with podcasts in order to stay up to date about current events.

ESPN Makes It Official: Pat McAfee Expanding His Role

Former NFL player and one of the most successful voices in media, Pat McAfee is expanding his multiplatform ESPN role as part of a new multi-year agreement, officially announced this week at The Walt Disney Company’s Advertising Sales Upfront presentation in New York.

The Pat McAfee Show, the highly successful and innovative weekday sports talk and discussion program, will move to ESPN this fall. In addition to hosting the daily show, McAfee will contribute to ESPN digital and social platforms. He will also continue his college football analyst role on ESPN’s College GameDay, and host alternate presentations of ESPN college football telecasts.

The Pat McAfee Show, featuring McAfee and an ensemble of talented voices, will continue to deliver one-of-a-kind opinions, interviews and more when it moves to ESPN platforms this fall. The program will air live weekdays on ESPN, the ESPN YouTube Channel, the ESPN App and ESPN+. Details about ESPN’s new weekday afternoon schedule, which will continue to include SportsCenter, will be announced prior to The Pat McAfee Show launch this fall.

“Pat is a proven talent. He and his team have built The Pat McAfee Show into one of the most engaging programs in sports and all of media,” said ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro. “It’s a destination for athlete interviews and breaking news, and the centerpiece of a growing community of sports fans. We’re honored to bring Pat and the show to ESPN through a multifaceted, multiplatform approach.”

McAfee, the retired NFL All-Pro punter, has blazed a highly unique path to media stardom. The son of a truck driver – described as a “common man who has had the incredibly fortunate experience of living an extremely uncommon professional life,” McAfee originally launched his daily show in 2019. The Pat McAfee Show informs and entertains fans with humor, insight and perspective, while often breaking news and generating some of the most influential conversations in sports, including with many of the biggest names in sports.

“We are extremely honored that ESPN is blessing us with this opportunity to be a part of the next chapter of the ESPN family. We do not take that lightly and are going to work hard to make sure this is a success,” said McAfee. “All parties involved agree the time has come for a bunch of sports stooges in a Thunderdome in Indiana to sprinkle in some fun and celebration of sport as well.”

Beyond the weekday show, McAfee will continue to be an integral voice in ESPN’s college football presentation during the upcoming season. In 2022, he was named a full-time analyst on ESPN’s College GameDay.

Wink Martindale's 'History of R&R' Reaches Milestone

THE HISTORY OF ROCK 'N' ROLL WITH WINK MARTINDALE has picked up a “Communicator Award” from the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts and named "The World’s Best Regularly Scheduled Music Program" in the New York Festivals International Broadcasting Competition. This is the second year in a row that THE HISTORY OF ROCK ‘N’ ROLL won these two awards. 

The HISTORY OF ROCK ‘N’ ROLL is an internationally syndicated, weekly, two-hour, oldies music radio program. This year’s awards recognitions coincide with the show’s 100th episode, which aired last week.

Wink Martindale
Each themed HISTORY OF ROCK ‘N’ ROLL episode spotlights a different aspect pf rock and pop history, complete with brief stories behind each song. Some of what is heard is funny, some outrageous, and some deeply moving. But once listeners learn the facts behind their favorite songs, they never hear them again in exactly the same way -- because now they know the inside stories.

Some of these insights come from host Wink Martindale; others from the original hitmakers themselves. Typical episodes have included “The #1 Hits of 1982,” “The British Invasion,” “Folk-Rock Favorites,” “The Magic of Motown,” “Leading Ladies of the ‘80s,” “Dance Hits of the ‘60s,” “The Super Summer Song Collection,” “Superstars In Concert,” “Legendary DJs” and “Superstars In Concert.” Other episodes spotlight key hitmakers, such as Elvis, The Beatles, Elton John, and more

THE HISTORY OF ROCK ‘N’ ROLL WITH WINK MARTINDALE is produced by Reserve Productions and syndicated throughout North America by G Networks. It is represented around the rest of the world by Radio Express.

For more information and to hear the series’ demo. visit on the G Networks website.

Philly Radio: Audacy Stations Unveil Fixer-Up Home for Vet

Audacy Philadelphia celebrated Operation Legacy, a home rehabilitation project in partnership with Travis Manion Foundation (TMF), with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony at a local veteran’s home on May 19 at 11:00 a.m. ET in Hatfield, PA.

As part of the partnership with TMF and local home improvement partners, Audacy Philadelphia and its six stations – B101 (WBEB-FM), KYW Newsradio 103.9 (KYW-FM), SportsRadio 94WIP (WIP-FM), BIG 98.1 (WOGL-FM), Talk Radio 1210 WPHT (WPHT-AM) – teamed up to provide United States Marine Corps veteran Kris Giuranna a home fit for a hero and honor his contributions to the country.

“It is so rewarding to watch this project come to life,” said David Yadgaroff, senior vice president and Market Manager of Audacy Philadelphia. “Audacy Philly, along with our partners Travis Manion Foundation, Window Nation, Impriano Roofing and Main Line Pro Painting, are thrilled to honor Kris and his service to our country by providing him with the needed renovations for his new home.”

May 20 Radio History

➦In 1901
...Reginald Fessenden applied for high-frequency dynamo patent.  Fessenden (October 6, 1866 – July 22, 1932) was a Canadian-born inventor, who did a majority of his work in the United States and also claimed U-S citizenship through his American-born father.  During his life he received hundreds of patents in various fields, most notably ones related to radio and sonar.

Fessenden is best known for his pioneering work developing radio technology, including the foundations of amplitude modulation (AM) radio. His achievements included the first transmission of speech by radio (1900), and the first two-way radiotelegraphic communication across the Atlantic Ocean (1906). In 1932 he reported that, in late 1906, he also made the first radio broadcast of entertainment and music, although a lack of verifiable details has led to some doubts about this claim.

Reginald Aubrey Fessenden, is generally ignored and largely unknown. On December 24, 1906, at 9 P.M. eastern standard time, Reginald Fessenden transmitted human voices from Brant Rock near Boston, Massachusetts to several ships at sea owned by the United Fruit Company.

The host of the broadcast was Fessenden. After giving a resume of the program Fessenden played a recording of Handel's "Largo" on an Ediphone thus establishing two records - the first recording of the first broadcast. Fessenden then dazzled his listeners with his talent as a violinist playing appropriately for the Christmas season, "Oh Holy Night" and actually singing the last verse as he played. Mrs. Helen Fessenden and Fessenden's secretary Miss Bent, had promised to read seasonal passages from the Bible including, "Glory to God in the highest -and on earth peace to men of good will," but when the time came to perform they stood speechless, paralyzed with mike fright. Fessenden took over for them and concluded the broadcast by extending Christmas greetings to his listeners - as well as asking them to write and report to him on the broadcast wherever they were.

The mail response confirmed that Fessenden had successfully invented radio as we know it.

Technically, he had invented radio telephony or what radio listeners would call "real" radio as opposed to Marconi's Morse code broadcasting. Fessenden could truly lay claim to be the inventor of radio and he fully expected the world to beat a path to his door. Instead, he never received his due recognition, lost control of his patents and the ensuing revenue which made other inventors and companies immensely wealthy. Even today the Encyclopedia Canadiana does not give him a separate listing. Mention of him is only included under the listing for his mother Clementina who established Empire Day in Canada. Reginald is mentioned as one of her four sons, "inventor of the wireless telephone, the radio compass and the visible bullet for machine guns, he also invented the first television set in North America in 1919."

➦In 1919...The Canadian Marconi Co. was licensed for  XWA (Experimental Wireless Apparatus) in Montreal and in 1920,  it became the first commercial broadcast radio station (CFCF) in Canada, operating at 600 AM.

➦In 1954...Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock” was released. It didn’t catch on until it appeared on the soundtrack of “Blackboard Jungle” the following year.

➦In 1960...WRCA 660 AM in NYC became WNBC...again.

WNBC signed on for the first time on March 2, 1922, as WEAF, owned by AT&T Western Electric. It was the first radio station in New York City.

The call are popularly thought to have stood for Western Electric AT&T Fone or Water, Earth, Air, and Fire (the 4 classical elements).   However, records suggest that the call letters were assigned from an alphabetical sequence. The first assigned call was actually WDAM; it was quickly dropped, but presumably came from the same alphabetical sequence.

Friday, May 19, 2023

5/19 WAKE-UP CALL: Russian Forces In Retreat in Bakhmut

The Ukrainian military and Russia's Wagner private army both reported further Russian retreats around the city of Bakhmut on Thursday, as Kyiv pressed on with its biggest advance for six months ahead of a planned counteroffensive. Ukrainian troops near the front line said Russia was bombarding access roads to slow the Ukrainian assault, which has shifted momentum after months of slow Russian gains in Europe's deadliest ground combat since World War Two.

"Now, for the most part, as we have started to advance, they are shelling all the routes to front positions, so our armoured vehicles can't deliver more infantry, ammunition and other things," said Petro Podaru, commander of a Ukrainian artillery unit. Ukraine's military said troops had advanced in places by more than a mile. Its forces had been on the defensive for half a year, weathering a huge offensive by Moscow that saw only slow gains.

➤ZELENSKY ATTENDS GROUP OF 7 SUMMIT: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy will attend the Group of Seven (G7) Hiroshima summit this weekend, a Ukrainian security official said, putting fresh pressure on Russia against the backdrop of a city synonymous with the horrors of nuclear war . Zelenskiy will attend the gathering on Sunday, the third and final day, two officials involved in the arrangements for the G7 said, declining to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Canceled: Disney Job Migration From CA to Florida

Walt Disney Co is scrapping plans to build a nearly $1 billion corporate campus in central Florida that would have housed 2,000 employees, according to an e-mail to employees on Thursday, against the backdrop of its ongoing legal battle with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Reuters reports Disney parks chief Josh D'Amaro said "changing business conditions" prompted Disney to reconsider its 2021 plan to relocate employees, including its Imagineers who design theme park rides, to a new campus in Lake Nona.

The company was expected to spend as much as $864 million on the project, according to the Orlando Sentinel, on a campus that would have served as a base for Walt Disney Imagineering and the Disney Parks, Experiences and Products division.

Disney's decision to move the California-based Imagineering staffers across the country drew complaints from employees, many of whom said they did not want to move to Florida.

"Given the considerable changes that have occurred since the announcement of this project, including new leadership and changing business conditions, we have decided not to move forward with construction of the campus," D'Amaro wrote. "This was not an easy decision to make, but I believe it is the right one."

A week ago, Disney CEO Bob Iger publicly questioned Florida's interest in the company's continued investment in the state. In a call with investors to discuss quarterly results, he noted that Disney employed more than 75,000 people in Florida, attracts millions of visitors each year to Walt Disney World and had plans to invest $17 billion to expand the resort over the next decade.

"Does the state want us to invest more, employ more people and pay more taxes, or not?," Iger asked.

Disney Closing Star Wars Experience In Florida

Disney World’s Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, a two-day hotel experience, is closing and will make its final voyage this September after being open for only more than a year.

CNBC reports the experience blends elements of the company’s resorts, cruise lines and theme parks into a 48-hour romp in space. First teased during Disney’s D23 Expo in 2019, the Galactic Starcruiser, located near the company’s Orlando, Florida-based Disney World Resort opened in March 2022.

The voyage costs around $1,200 per person per day, with family packages reaching closer to $6,000 for the two-day excursion. That can be a hard number to digest, especially considering a typical Disney vacation for a family of four can cost that much for a week-long trip, depending on hotel and restaurant choices.

However, the Galactic Starcruiser has been lauded as a dream come true for fans looking for the ultimate Star Wars experience. The two-day jaunt includes a hotel room, all food and drink except alcoholic and specialty beverages, a day trip to the Hollywood Studios park, a Magic Band and valet service at drop-off.

The Galactic Starcruiser is more than a hotel, however. It is an immersive experience. Voyagers spend their time on the Halcyon meeting new characters and aligning themselves with the light or the dark side.

Top Ad Group Says Twitter No Longer 'High Risk'

Top advertising agency GroupM has told its clients that it no longer considers Twitter "high-risk" and is "cautiously optimistic" about the appointment of Linda Yaccarino as its new chief, the Financial Times reported on Friday.

Yaccarino will take over the social media platform beset with challenges and a heavy debt load, after she spent several years modernizing the advertising business at NBCUniversal.

Linda Yaccarino
Reuters reports WPP-owned GroupM had last year labelled Twitter as a "high risk" platform for advertising following Elon Musk's takeover. It flagged various issues including, large numbers of Twitter executives leaving or being fired and a wave of high-profile impersonations, that raised concerns about Twitter's abilities to follow the Federal Trade Commission's orders, various media reports showed.

GroupM had been holding back until there was a "return to normalcy" in regards to the amount of harmful content on the platform, which rose after the acquisition, the FT report said.

The group had been waiting for Musk to repopulate his senior leadership team and working with Twitter on improving "brand safety", it added.

Last year, Twitter laid off half its workforce but said cuts were smaller in the team responsible for preventing the spread of misinformation, as advertisers pulled spending amid concerns about content moderation.

WBD CEO: "Republicans Are Back on The Air" At CNN

David Zaslav, the CEO of CNN’s parent company Warner Bros. Discovery, yet again stood up for his overhaul of the struggling cable network, which has faced intense criticism since ditching its left-leaning commentary.

Zaslav said CNN’s team is “working hard” to reposition the network, and that “Republicans are back on the air” at CNN while speaking at the MoffettNathanson Technology, Media and Telecom Conference in New York on Thursday, according to Variety.

He went on to say that CNN’s notoriously “left-leaning” brand was changing, and cited a YouGov poll that found an 11-point improvement in US viewers’ trust in CNN, Variety reported.

That same report, conducted April 3-9, 2023, asked 1,516 adult Americans how trustworthy they rate news organizations. CNN was rated 26% trustworthy — the same as Fox and MSNBC.

“Our view is, there’s advocacy networks on either side. We have the best journalists in the world. We need to show both sides of every issue,” he said at the conference.

“CNN should be the place that people come for the best version of the truth and for journalism,” he added.

The 63-year-old media boss went on to address CNN’s attempts to rebuild itself as a network that addresses “both sides” of an issue rather than being an “advocacy network,” adding that the likes of CNN CEO Chris Licht are “working hard” to reposition the network.

Honolulu Radio: iHM Launches Asian Pop Format On KUCD

iHeartMedia Honolulu has announced the launch of America’s very first 100,000-watt Asian Pop radio station, KUCD PoP! 101.9, The Best PoP on the Planet, effective immediately.

Asian Pop music has become a worldwide phenomenon with its multicultural, positive, upbeat, fashionable dance music with influences from a variety of music genres. Asian Pop music features socially conscious lyrics that are attuned to the lives of young people today. iHeartMedia started developing this new and exciting music format in 2019 on KUCD-HD2 with its unique mix of songs from superstar artists like BTS, Blackpink, TWICE, NewJeans and Fifty Fifty.

PoP! 101.9 becomes the first 100,000-watt FM radio station in the United States to play 100% Asian Pop. This new station launch coincides with Asian/Pacific Islander Month throughout May. Meanwhile, the Alternative format heard on KUCD-FM as Star 101.9 since 1997 will swap frequencies and move to KUCD-HD2/K256AS, rebranding as Star 99.1, Hawaii’s Alternative Rock. Both stations will be heard worldwide on the iHeartRadio app.

“Asian Pop is exploding in popularity across the globe and becoming mainstream and mass appeal music here in Honolulu,” said Jamie Hyatt, iHeartMedia Honolulu Senior Vice President of Programming. “We are witnessing the passion listeners have for the format firsthand. It’s the next big music movement and we’re proud to be a part of it.”

“The Asian Pop format delivers a dream demographic for advertisers too, those who make the most purchasing decisions for households,” said Scott Hogle, iHeartMedia Honolulu Market President. “We are excited to add PoP! 101.9 to our legendary line up of stations that include 92.3 KSSK, Island 98.5, 93.9 The Beat, News Radio 830 KHVH, Fox Sports 990 and Star 99.1.”

Chicago Radio: Bru Signs MultiMedia Audacy Deal

Audacy announced a multiyear contract extension with radio and multi-media personality Joshua “Bru” Brubaker. Bru hosts his daily radio show on B96 (WBBM-FM) in Chicago, Power 96 (WPOW-FM) in Miami, Live 101.5 (KALV-FM) in Phoenix, and 15 other Audacy brands from a street-level studio in Los Angeles, CA. He also hosts the weekly national “Country Sunday Nights” show across Audacy’s portfolio of country brands.

“We are so excited to continue the partnership between Audacy and Bru,” said Jeff Sottolano, executive vice president of programming, Audacy. “His enthusiastic personality shines through on the air, in video, and across social platforms, and he has the ability to make any artist feel completely comfortable in his presence. He’s a total asset to our programmers and marketers across the company, and we look forward to watching him grow his network of followers across multiple platforms.”

R.I.P.: Sam Zell, Real Estate, Media Mogel

Real estate billionaire Sam Zell comments on his purchase of the Tribune Company during a 2007 news conference

Anybody who encountered Sam Zell — be they one of his executives, a rival in a business deal, a foundation chief or a journalist — knew where they stood with him.

Sam Zell, the raspy-voiced real estate billionaire who dabbled in media has died.   He was 81-years-old of age, according to The Chicago Sun-Times.

Zell had little patience for cockeyed ideas or sentimentality. He exulted in his reputation for using salty language even in politically correct times. It made him popular on the speaking circuit, where attendees eagerly listened for his business insights and for the entertainment he might provide.

With a career lasting more than 60 years, Zell amassed one of the leading fortunes in Chicago business circles. It was centered on real estate, but expanded into many other fields, including transportation, energy, manufacturing and radio stations.

He had a penchant for taking over companies that needed a turnaround, or “dancing on the skeletons of other people’s mistakes,” as he wrote in a 1970s article. It carried the title “The Grave Dancer,” and the nickname became his calling card. In 2017, Zell published a book that played on his nature, called “Am I Being Too Subtle?”

Forbes has estimated Zell’s fortune at $5.2 billion. He popularized the concept of real estate investment trusts, or REITs, which allow people to invest in broad property holdings via stock ownership. Among the companies he founded was Equity Residential, an owner of apartment buildings that Mr. Zell started while a student at the University of Michigan.

R.I.P.: Dick Nourse, The Voice of Utah

Dick Nourse (1940-2023)

Dick Nourse, who delivered the news to generations of Utahns as the lead anchor at KSL-TV for 43 years, has died, according to the SLTribe.

Nourse’s death was reported by KSL on Thursday. He was 83. No cause of death was mentioned, though the station said Nourse was a three-time cancer survivor. He had retired in 2007, after appearing on his first newscast at KSL-Channel 5 in 1964.

May 19 Radio History

➦In 1922..WGN Radio signed-on as WDAP. It was granted the sequentially issued call letters WDAP to Mid West Radio Central, Inc. in Chicago. The corporation was headed by Thorne Donnelley and Elliott Jenkins.

WDAP was originally located at the Wrigley Building. The studios were moved to the Drake Hotel the following July. In mid-1923 ownership was transferred to the Board of Trade, and the next year the Whitestone Company, managers of the Drake Hotel, took control.

The Chicago Tribune purchased WDAP, and on June 1, 1924, renamed it WGN. The call letters came from "World's Greatest Newspaper", a slogan used since 1911.

Elliott Jenkins, left, and Thorne Donnelly, right, are the original owners of WDAP, the predecessor to WGN radio. Jenkins and Donnelly are at their transmitter in the Wrigley Building in 1922. This 50 watt transmitter was built up from component parts by station engineers and was moved over to the Drake Hotel at the latter part of 1922.

The pioneering WDAP shifted its studios to two handball courts atop the Drake Hotel in July 1922 after a sudden violent storm destroyed its inaugural antenna, with pieces “picked up in all directions for weeks,” Jenkins wrote in a 1923 edition of Radio Broadcast. The station gained some early listeners, including Chicago Tribune publisher Col. Robert McCormick, who wrote to his mother, “you cannot help being thrilled at the little box that picks sounds from the air,” according to a WGN history published by the station in 1961.

Early programming was noted for its creativity and innovation. It included live music, political debates, comedy routines, and some of radio's first sporting event broadcasts, including the 1924 Indianapolis 500, and a live broadcast of the 1925 Scopes Trial from Dayton, Tennessee. In 1926, WGN broadcast Sam & Henry, a daily serial with comic elements created and performed by Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll. After a dispute with the station in 1927, Gosden and Correll took the program's concept and announcer Bill Hay across town to WMAQ and created the first syndicated radio show, Amos 'n' Andy.

A perennial ratings powerhouse, WGN Radio had double-digit audience shares and millions of regular listeners from the 1960s through the 1980s, when Wally Phillips, Bob Collins, Roy Leonard and other legendary broadcasters ruled the airwaves. In the spring of 1986, as Phillips was ceding the morning show to Collins after nearly 20 years, he still had a 15.7 audience share, nearly double the nearest competitor.

Today, the station is the only radio station in the Nexstar portfolio.

➦In 1926...inventor Thomas Edison spoke at a dinner for the National Electric Light Association in Atlantic City, NJ. Reportedly, when asked to speak into the microphone, he said, “I don’t know what to say. This is the first time I ever spoke into one of these things … Good night.”

Alan Freed

➦In 1960
...On this day in 1960, the man who coined the term, "Rock And Roll", Alan Freed, along with Mel Leeds and 7 other NYC disc-jockeys were accused of taking payola.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Report: ESPN Plans to Stream Flagship Channel

ESPN is laying the groundwork to sell its channel directly to cable cord-cutters as a subscription-streaming service in coming years, according to The Wall Street Journal citing people familiar with the matter, a shift with profound implications for the company and the broader television business.

Executives at ESPN and its parent, Disney DIS 1.38%increase; green up pointing triangle, for years have said it was inevitable that the sports-TV channel would one day be available as a stand-alone streaming service. Now, as consumers increasingly cut the cable-TV cord, the company is actively preparing for that shift under a project with the internal code name “Flagship,” the people said. The company has set no firm timeline for the change.

ESPN would continue to offer the TV channel after launching a streaming option, the people familiar with the matter said. Still, the change could have a major impact on cable-TV providers, since ESPN is one of the main attractions of the cable bundle. The providers pay to carry the ESPN channel and would have to compete with the new streaming service. 

ESPN has begun securing flexibility in its deals with cable providers to offer the channel directly to consumers, the people said. The financial terms of those deals couldn’t be learned. The company is having similar discussions with pro sports leagues as those rights deals come up and has secured the same flexibility from at least two major leagues, the people said.

The sports-media giant took its first step into streaming in 2018 with the launch of ESPN+, a monthly streaming service whose live programming includes golf events, certain Major League Baseball and professional hockey games, as well as a variety of scripted and unscripted programming. It has 25.3 million subscribers

But ESPN+ doesn’t offer access to the ESPN channel itself, including high-value programming like National Basketball Association and National Football League telecasts that are only available on TV. Project “Flagship” is about helping ESPN transition the full channel to streaming.

News Cycle Boosts Cable’s April Share of TV Viewing

Overall TV viewing declined in April but an upswing in cable news viewing increased cable’s share of the TV audience for the second straight month, according to Nielsen's April 2023 report of The Gauge, a monthly snapshot of total broadcast, cable and streaming consumption that occurs through a television. reports this gain for cable also represents the first back-to-back share increase for the category since the inception of The Gauge in May 2021. Both streaming and broadcast lost viewing share while streaming retained the largest share of total TV viewing.  

With a decrease of 1.9% from March to April, total TV usage in the U.S. declined for the third consecutive month, a trend that is typical as the summer months approach. By comparison, time spent watching TV declined 2.1% over the same period in 2022, Nielsen reported. 

The cable category exhibited the smallest dip in viewing across all categories in The Gauge this month, decreasing 0.6% vs. March, and was able to gain 0.4 share points to account for 31.5% of total TV viewing in April. Cable news viewing increased 4.3% from March to April and accounted for the largest portion of cable viewing (19%). 

NY Times Debuts New Audio App

The New York Times is leveling up its audio game. Today, the publication launched New York Times Audio, an iOS app for subscribers that serves as a one-stop shop for all of its audio journalism — including its current slate of podcasts like The Daily and The Ezra Klein Show. If you’re partial to a certain podcast platform like Spotify or Stitcher, no need to worry — the Times’ biggest podcasts will still be available for free on other players. 

Instead, the app appears to be an attempt by the Times to build a dedicated audience around all of its audio offerings — not just podcasts. It’ll serve as a home for even more audio journalism, including exclusives that the outlet is creating solely for the app.

This will include a 10-minute daily news recap show called The Headlines that publishes every morning and Shorts, which literally appear to be very short audio stories — under 10 minutes — on culture, lifestyle, cooking, and more. On top of that, there will be a “Reporter Reads” section featuring Times journalists reading their own stories and offering extra commentary. 

The audio exclusives are meant to sweeten the pot for current Times subscribers, helping the publication retain its 9.7 million subscriber base. The Times says it’s seen this formula work with newsletters, and it hopes to replicate it with audio, too.

“What we’ve seen with our subscriber-only newsletters specifically is that subscribers who engage with them engage and retain better than those who don’t. This aligns with our belief that offering differentiated value with a Times subscription is good for our users, and good for our business,” Jordan Cohen, executive director of communications for The New York Times, wrote in an email to The Verge. 

L-A Radio: KNX Airs Special On AI

The sudden emergence of artificial intelligence in the national conversation has spawned concerns about sweeping changes to daily life, education, the workforce, Hollywood and even our collective sense of reality. Audacy’s KNX News 97.1 FM in Los Angeles will cut through the uncertainty on May 18 at 4:00 p.m. PT with “Reality in an A.I. World,” a one-hour town hall broadcast and streamed live from the Audacy SoundSpace on L.A.’s Miracle Mile.

With A.I. a key sticking point in the ongoing Hollywood writers’ strike, the panel will feature actor, screenwriter, producer and director Justine Bateman. Other panelists include Ramsay Brown, chief executive officer of the A.I. Responsibility Lab, Brandie Nonnecke, co-director of the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology, and others.

“It seems like the impact of A.I. is suddenly everywhere you look and listen,” said Jeff Federman, regional president, Audacy Southern California. “Our audience wants to know how it will affect their lives, and they trust the team at KNX News to separate fact from rumor and hype.”

Mike Simpson, host of “LA’s Morning News” on KNX, and Charles Feldman, host of “KNX In Depth” and “LA’s Afternoon News,” will serve as hosts of the commercial-free event, which will air live on 97.1 FM and stream on the free Audacy app and on video at

📻Listeners can tune in to KNX News (97.1 FM and 1070 AM) in Southern California on air and nationwide on the Audacy app and website. Fans can also connect with the station via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

5/18 WAKE-UP CALL: Russian Missiles Rain On Ukraine

Russia launched cruise missiles at Ukraine’s capital and the Odesa region early Thursday, officials said, in an escalation ahead of a much-anticipated counteroffensive. Most of the missiles were shot down, and one death was reported from the attacks. Loud explosions were heard in Kyiv, and falling debris caused a fire in a non-residential building. It was the ninth Russian air raid that targeted the capital this month, a clear escalation after weeks of lull and ahead of a much-anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive using newly supplied advanced Western weapons. The attack was carried out by strategic bombers from the Caspian region, probably using cruise missiles, and Russia later deployed reconnaissance craft over the capital. According to preliminary information, all enemy targets were destroyed, Serhiy Popko, head of the Kyiv Military Administration, said in a Telegram post. Debris fell on two Kyiv districts and the fire at a garage complex was extinguished. There was no information so far about any victims, Popko said.

The Ukrainian military is working to destroy Russian ammunition, fuel and other supplies ahead of a broader ground campaign to reclaim captured territory. Kyiv’s is striking behind enemy lines while it waits for weapons from the West to use in the spring campaign. Strategists say such “shaping operations” are aimed at undermining the enemy and probing for gaps to exploit. For Ukraine, which is battling a larger military, the attacks help to chip away at Russia’s battlefield resources. Any engagement longer than a few days becomes a logistical contest, say commanders, so eliminating stockpiles has a broader impact than neutralizing individual tanks or artillery pieces, which are of little use without fuel or shells.

➤DeSANTIS MAY DECLARE NEXT WEEK: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will officially enter the race for president next week as his campaign donors begin a fundraising blitz, people familiar with the decision said. DeSantis’s intentions have been clear for months, but the decision to file formal paperwork with the Federal Election Commission declaring his candidacy, corresponding with the donor meeting in Miami on May 25, begins a new phase in his quest for the GOP nomination and puts him in direct competition with former President Donald Trump and a handful of other candidates. A more formal kickoff event or events would follow, but the details haven’t yet been made public. DeSantis, 44, is running second in polls to Trump, who has opened up a sizable lead in recent weeks and has sharpened attacks on the governor. But a number of analysts and people close to Trump expect DeSantis will gain back some ground after becoming an official candidate, garnering more attention from voters and the news media.

President Joe Biden, 80, would defeat former President Donald Trump, 76, by an even bigger margin than in 2020 if the election was held today, a new poll claims. There were 1,571 registered voters polled between May 10-13, revealing that Biden would lead Trump 47 percent to 40 percent, according to the WPA Intelligence survey results shared with The New York Post. In 2020, Biden defeated Trump by 4.5 percent in the popular vote, but if the election were held today, Biden would win by a whopping seven percent. Meanwhile, Florida governor Ron DeSantis, who is expected to announce his presidential bid, formally challenging Trump for the GOP nomination, for now trails behind by 36 percentage points, according to the latest RealClearPolitics poll.

SOME HOPE FOR DEBT CEILING AGREEMENT: Both sides of the talks on raising the U.S. debt ceiling expressed optimism yesterday that a deal would be reached before the government is forced to default. “I think at the end of the day we do not have a debt default,” Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said on CNBC. At the White House, President Joe Biden agreed, saying, “We’re going to come together because there is no alternative.” Unless Congress raises the debt ceiling, the government will be unable to pay its bills after June 1.

➤SUPREME COURT REFUSES TO BLOCK ASSAULT WEAPON BAN: The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday refused to block a local and state ban on assault weapon sales in Illinois. The court did not explain its rejection of an emergency request filed by gun rights advocates and a gun store. The ruling means that the ban stays in place at least until a scheduled hearing before a federal appeals court.

'Keep AM Radio Act' Bill Introduced In Congress

New bipartisan legislation was announced Tuesday in the U-S House — the AM for Every Vehicle Act — to require automakers to maintain AM broadcast radio in new vehicles at no additional charge. Out of 20 of the world’s leading carmakers, right have removed AM broadcast radio from their electric vehicles.

The AM for Every Vehicle Act is being led in the House by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), along with co-leads Reps. Tom Kean, Jr. (NJ-7), Rob Menendez (NJ-8), Bruce Westerman (AR-4), and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-3). The AM for Every Vehicle Act is being led in the Senate by Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Ted Cruz (R-TX).

The bipartisan, bicameral AM for Every Vehicle Act will:
  • Direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue a rule that requires automakers to maintain AM broadcast radio in their vehicles without a separate or additional payment, fee, or surcharge;
  • Require any automaker that sells vehicles without access to AM broadcast radio before the effective date of the NHTSA rule to clearly disclose to consumers that the vehicle lacks access to AM broadcast radio; and,
  • Direct the Government Accountability Office to study whether alternative communication systems could fully replicate the reach and effectiveness of AM broadcast radio for alerting the public to emergencies.
Bill text of the bipartisan, bicameral AM for Every Vehicle Act can be found here.

Hannity Mum on Report of Imminent Move to Fox News 8 P.M

Sean Hannity opened his Wednesday radio show casually talking about Joe Biden’s handling of the debt-default crisis happening in Congress – but did not address a Drudge Report headline saying he was soon to move to Tucker Carlson’s old 8 p.m. ET slot as part of a major primetime shakeup at Fox News.

The Wrap reports Drudge posted a banner headline on Wednesday claiming the exclusive, saying that “Hannity” would move to 8 p.m., and that Greg Gutfeld and Jesse Waters would be moving to join him in primetime. There was no attribution or additional information, however, and the headline linked to a Mediate write-up of the Drudge headline.

Fox strongly denied that any programming decisions had been made in the wake of Carlson’s ouster: “No decision has been made on a new primetime line-up and there are multiple scenarios under consideration,” Fox News said in a statement Wednesday.

Fox will have a unique problem trying to replicate that formula, in that “Gutfeld!” has been a breakthrough foray into late-night fare, and both he and Watters already apply their time as members of “The Five.” That’s a whole lot of programmed hours that are demonstrably not broken, and they are a big reason Fox News is still the most-watched cable news channel across the board post-“Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

Laura Ingraham, who’s kept a ratings-winning formula in the 10 p.m. ET pocket since 2017, would be the odd-host out in this scenario, assuming it’s true that both Gutfeld and Watters are getting dedicated hours in the 8 p.m.-10 p.m. bloc. But that’s still a big if, and even then, there would be options for “Ingraham Angle,” perhaps at Watters’ current 7 p.m. start time.

TV Ratings: CNN’s Trump Town Hall, NBA Playoffs Dominate

CNN’s town hall with former President Donald Trump topped its cable news rivals in its time slot, trailing only NBA basketball playoffs in the ratings.

The town hall from 8-9:10 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time last Wednesday averaged 3.308 million viewers, 11th among prime-time cable programs airing between May 8 and Sunday, behind six NBA playoff games on TNT and four on ESPN, and 47th overall, according to The L-A Times citing live-plus-same-day figures released Tuesday by Nielsen.

Viewership was the second largest for a CNN single-candidate town hall since 2016, trailing the Sept. 17, 2020, town hall with President Biden, which averaged 3.465 million viewers.

Fox News Channel averaged 1.446 million during the town hall with “Fox News Tonight,” hosted by former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, and the first 10 minutes of “Hannity”; in the same time slot, MSNBC averaged 1.398 million with “All in With Chris Hayes” and the first 10 minutes of “Alex Wagner Tonight.”

The New York Knicks’ 112-103 victory over the Miami Heat averaged 4.388 million viewers from 7:30-10:08 p.m. EDT, opposite the town hall. The playoff game was 10th for the week among prime-time cable programs and 39th overall.

The town hall and “Anderson Cooper 360,” which averaged 2.152 million viewers, were the only CNN programs among the week’s top 20 prime-time cable programs and top 40, which also covers daytime and late night. By comparison, Fox News Channel had four programs among the top 20 and 16 among the top 40; MSNBC had one among the top 20 and two among the top 40.

The town hall was unable to lift CNN out of its customary third-place status among cable news channels for either the day or the week. It averaged 731,000 viewers throughout the day last Wednesday, compared to 1.319 million for Fox News Channel and 927,000 for MSNBC.

Graphics Courtesy of RoadMN

Fox News Channel was first in prime time among cable news networks for the 117th consecutive week and third among all cable networks for the third consecutive week, averaging 1.425 million viewers, 2.9% less than its 1.468-million average the previous week.