Saturday, August 5, 2023

Radio History: August 6

➦In 1881...gossip columnist Louella Parsons was born in Freeport Illinois.  She was featured on a succession of big budget star vehicles on network radio, including Hollywood Hotel & Hollywood Premiere.  For six years she also had a 15 minute show business gossip show on Sunday night.  She died of arteriosclerosis Dec 9, 1972 at age 91.

➦In 1911...Lucille Désirée Ball born (Died  – April 26, 1989). She was an actress, comedian, model, entertainment studio executive and producer.

Lucille Ball
She was the star of the self-produced sitcoms I Love Lucy, The Lucy Show, Here's Lucy, and Life with Lucy, as well as comedy television specials aired under the title The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour.

Ball's career began in 1929 when she landed work as a model. Shortly thereafter, she began her performing career on Broadway using the stage names Diane Belmont. She later appeared in several minor film roles in the 1930s and 1940s as a contract player for RKO Radio Pictures, being cast as a chorus girl or in similar roles.

During this time, she met Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz, and the two eloped in November 1940. In the 1950s, Ball ventured into television. In 1951, she and Arnaz created the sitcom I Love Lucy, a series that became one of the most beloved programs in television history. The same year, Ball gave birth to their first child, Lucie Arnaz, followed by Desi Arnaz Jr. in 1953. Ball and Arnaz divorced in May 1960, and she married comedian Gary Morton in 1961.

She died of an aortic aneurism April 26, 1989 at age 77.

➦In 1915...Jim Ameche born in Kenosha, WI (Died  at age 67 – February 4, 1983). He was a familiar voice on radio, including his role as radio's original Jack Armstrong on Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy.

Jim Ameche
When his older brother, Don, left his position as the host and announcer for The Chase and Sanborn Hour in the early 1940s, Jim took over for the remainder of the show's run. He also was heard as mountie Jim West on ABC's Silver Eagle (1951–55). Other shows Ameche was heard on included Grand Hotel, Hollywood Playhouse, and Big Sister. In the 1940s, he had several programs on WGN radio in Chicago.

He was heard on stations in Los Angeles and Palm Springs in the late 1950s and early 60s. For many years he was a popular local radio personality in the New York City area. By the late 1960s, he was working as an announcer on New York's WHN 1050 AM and the TV pitchman for a Longines Symphonette Society mail-order record album featuring clips of old-time radio broadcasts. In the 1960s he also read radio advertisements for Gibson wines.

For many years, he was the afternoon announcer on WQXR, the classical radio station of The New York Times, and was a familiar and beloved voice.

➦In 1939...1st broadcast of "Dinah Shore Show" on NBC radio.

➦In 1973...Wolfman Jack first aired on WNBC 660 AM, New York.

Wolfman Jack
The Wolfman was paid handsomely to join WNBC in New York in August 1973, the same month that American Graffiti premiered, and the station did a huge advertising campaign in local newspapers that the Wolfman would propel their ratings over that of their main competitor, WABC, which had "Cousin Brucie" (Bruce Morrow).

The ads would proclaim, "Cousin Brucie's Days Are Numbered", and they issued thousands of small tombstone-shaped paperweights which said, "Cousin Brucie is going to be buried by Wolfman Jack".

After less than a year, WNBC hired Cousin Brucie, and Wolfman Jack went back to California to concentrate on his syndicated radio show.

➦In 1982....WQXI (Atlanta) was first to use Harris Corp AM stereo system

➦In 1991...Broadcast journalist Harry Reasoner died at age 68 (Born - April 17, 1923). Reasoner workedfor ABC and CBS News, known for his inventive use of language as a television commentator, and as a founder of the 60 Minutes program. Over the course of his career, Reasoner won three Emmy Awards and a George Foster Peabody Award in 1967.

Harry Reasoner
He served in the Army during World War II and after the war, he then resumed his journalism career with The Minneapolis Times.  After going into radio with CBS in 1948, Reasoner worked for the United States Information Agency in the Philippines. When he returned to the US, he went into television and worked at station KEYD (later KMSP) in Minneapolis. Reasoner later joined CBS News in New York, in 1956, where he eventually hosted a morning news program called Calendar from 1961 to 1963, on top of doing commentator and special news narration duties.

In 1968, Reasoner teamed up with Mike Wallace to launch 60 Minutes, a new newsmagazine series. On 60 Minutes and elsewhere, he often worked with producer and writer Andy Rooney, who later became a well-known contributor in his own right.

In 1970, Reasoner was hired away from CBS by ABC to become an anchor on the network's newly revamped nightly newscast. At the time of his hire, the network's New York-based broadcast, ABC News, was anchored by Howard K. Smith and Frank Reynolds, both former colleagues of Reasoner at CBS. Beginning in December 1970, Reasoner was moved into Reynolds' position and the newscast became known as ABC Evening News.

Reasoner anchored the news alongside Smith until 1975, when he took the sole anchor position while Smith moved into a commentary role. The next year, however, ABC decided to pair Reasoner with a new co-anchor, former Today Show co-host Barbara Walters; ABC had gone to great lengths to hire her away from NBC. Walters and Reasoner did not enjoy a close relationship; Reasoner did not like sharing the spotlight with a co-anchor and also was uncomfortable with Walters' celebrity status.

➦In 1998…Sportscaster John Beasley "Jack" Brickhouse died of heart failure at age 82 (Born - January 24, 1916). Known primarily for his play-by-play coverage of Chicago Cubs games on WGN-TV from 1948 to 1981, he received the Ford C. Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983. In 1985, Brickhouse was inducted into the American Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame along with the Voice of the Yankees Mel Allen and Red Sox Voice Curt Gowdy. Brickhouse served as the organization's Secretary/Treasurer and was a member of its board of directors.

He began his long broadcasting career when only eighteen, at Peoria radio station WMBD in 1934. Chicago radio station WGN hired him in 1940 to broadcast Cubs and White Sox games, largely on the recommendation of their top announcer, Bob Elson. His was the very first face shown when WGN-TV, Chicago's Channel 9, began broadcasting in 1948.

➦In 2008...Once known as  WWDJ in the '70s, 970 AM  WHTT became WNYM, under the ownership of the Salem Media Group. This change included adopting a conservative talk format.

John R. Gambling hosted a midday show on WNYM from April 2014 until September 2016.

➦In 2011...Songwriter and broadcaster Fred Imus, the younger brother of Don Imus, was found dead  in Tuscon, AZ at age 69.  Imus was a country music host on SiriusXM Radio.

➦In 2012...R. Peter Straus died at age 89 (Born February 15, 1923). He was a media proprietor and was president of WMCA 570 AM, and chairman of Straus News, a publisher of newspapers in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. He was the director of Voice of America from 1977 to 1979.

R Peter Straus
Straus, who took over WMCA in the late 1950s and turned it into one of the nation’s most innovative radio stations, broadcasting what are regarded as the first radio editorials and political endorsements and helping to popularize rock ’n’ roll.

The son of a radio entrepreneur and the scion of a family steeped in public service, Straus counted diplomats, cabinet officials, legislators and philanthropists among his forebears. He became a United Nations official, director of the Voice of America and administrator of American aid to Africa.

WMCA pioneered public service radio in New York. It was the first station in the country to run editorials on political and civic issues, with Mr. Straus himself reading opinions on the air, and the first to endorse a presidential candidate, backing John F. Kennedy in 1960.

In December 1963, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” wailed out over WMCA, and Beatlemania, with a big boost from the station, soon engulfed the region. It was hardly a surprise. WMCA had been playing rock ’n’ roll since the 1950s, and WMCA’s Top 40 format, along with that of its fierce rival WABC, dominated the New York airwaves through the 1960s. WMCA’s disc jockeys, known as the Good Guys, became almost as well known as the stars whose records they played.

After Straus converted the station to an all-talk format in 1970, WMCA was known for years as a forum for liberal causes. It was the first station to call for the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon in the Watergate scandal, the first to ban cigarette advertising and the first to accept ads from abortion rights advocates and makers of contraceptives.

It broadcast “Call for Action” programs featuring an ombudsman to help listeners who had problems with government agencies, corporations and landlords, and “Crime Stoppers,” to help the police solve crimes.

Catherine Hicks is 72

  • Children’s music performer Ella Jenkins is 99. 
  • Actor-director Peter Bonerz is 85. 
  • Actor Louise Sorel (“Days of Our Lives”) is 83. 
  • Actor Ray Buktenica (“Rhoda”) is 80. 
  • Actor Dorian Harewood is 73. 
  • Actor Catherine Hicks (“Seventh Heaven”) is 72. 
  • Singer Pat MacDonald of Timbuk 3 is 71. 
  • Actor Stepfanie Kramer (“Hunter”) is 67. 
  • Actor Faith Prince is 66. 
  • Singer Randy DeBarge of DeBarge is 65. 
  • Actor Leland Orser (“ER”) is 64. 
  • Actor Michelle Yeoh (“Everything Everywhere All At Once,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”) is 61. 
  • Country singers Peggy and Patsy Lynn of The Lynns are 59. 
  • Actor Jeremy Ratchford (“Cold Case”) is 58. 
  • Actor Benito Martinez (“American Crime,” “The Shield”) is 55. 
  • Country singer Lisa Stewart is 55. 
  • Writer-director M. Night Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense”) is 53. 
  • Actor Merrin Dungey (“Summerland,” ″Alias”) is 52. 
  • Singer Geri Halliwell Horner of Spice Girls is 51. 
  • Actor Jason O’Mara (“Life on Mars”) is 51. 
  • Actor Vera Farmiga (“Up In The Air,” ″The Departed”) is 50. 
  • Actor Soleil Moon Frye (“Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” ″Punky Brewster”) is 47. 
  • Actor Melissa George (“Alias,” ″Grey’s Anatomy”) is 47. 
  • Singer Travis McCoy of Gym Class Heroes is 42. 
  • Actor Leslie Odom Jr. (stage: “Hamilton,” TV: “Smash”) is 42. 
  • Bassist Eric Roberts of Gym Class Heroes is 39.

  • In 1991..Harry Reasoner, American newscaster (60 Minutes, ABC, CBS), dies at 68
  • In 2004..Rick James, American funk musician ("Super Freak"), dies of pulmonary failure and at 56
  • In 2012..Marvin Hamlisch, American composer and conductor (The Sting; A Chorus Line), dies at 68
  • In 2016..Pete Fountain [Pierre LaFontaine], American jazz and Dixieland clarinetist (Lawrence Welk, 1957-59), dies at 86
  • In 2017..Darren Daulton, American baseball catcher (MLB All-Star 1992, 93, 95; World Series 1997; Silver Slugger Award 1992; Philadelphia Phillies), dies of brain cancer at 55
  • In 2020..Wayne Fontana [Glyn Geoffrey Ellis], British rocker (The Mindbenders - "The Game Of Love"), dies at 74
  • In 2021..Herbert Schlosser, American television executive (NBC - hired Johnny Carson; championed Laugh-In; conceptualized Saturday Night Live), dies at 95

Audacy Reports Ad Market Remains 'Challenging'

Audacy, Inc. Friday reported financial results for the quarter ended June 30, 2023.

  • Net revenues for the quarter were $298.5 million, down 6.6% compared to $319.4 million in the second quarter of 2022. Local spot was down 3.7%, while national spot was down 16.6%
  • Digital revenues, were $66.7 million, down 4% compared to the second quarter of 2022. Local digital outperformed national, increasing 7.1% year-over-year
  • Total operating expenses for the quarter were $433.8 million, which includes a gain on sale of $9.9 million and a non-cash impairment loss of $125.4 million, compared to $296.2 million in the second quarter of 2022, which included a gain on sale of $0.1 million and a non-cash impairment loss of $1.8 million
  • Operating loss for the quarter was $135.3 million, compared to operating income of $23.3 million in the second quarter of 2022
  • Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was $14.4 million, compared to $38.5 million in the second quarter of 2022
  • For the third quarter, total revenues are pacing down 4%, with local spot pacing down 1% and national spot pacing down 22%. Digital revenues are pacing up 7% or sequentially 11 percentage points better than the second quarter
  • As of June 30, 2023, the Company’s liquidity was $81.6 million

On June 30, 2023, we effected a one-for-thirty reverse stock split. As a result of the Reverse Stock Split, every thirty (30) shares of Common Stock issued and outstanding were automatically combined into one (1) share of issued and outstanding Common Stock, without any change in the par value per share

David J. Field, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, stated: “Second quarter net revenues were down 6.6% in line with our quarterly guidance, reflecting challenging ad market conditions.  During the quarter, we saw accelerated growth across certain of our key performance metrics including radio revenue share, station audience ratings, and digital platform usage.  We also made meaningful progress on our ad tech and ad product roadmap as we work to develop important new pools of digital demand and growth.

David Field
"Expenses were impacted by $10.4 million in charges related to the accelerated recognition of podcast expenses as we terminated one of our two largest podcast agreements and positioned ourselves for improved growth going forward.

"We have initiated discussions with our lenders to enhance our balance sheet and establish a strong financial footing to enable the company to capitalize on its growth opportunities. Notwithstanding current challenges, Audacy has established a prominent position as a scaled, leading multi-platform audio company distinguished by our exclusive premium content, top positions across the country’s largest markets, and unrivaled leadership in news and sports radio. We continue to invest in our people, platform, content, technology and capabilities and serve our listeners and customers with excellence.

"Ad market conditions remain challenging, but have stabilized entering the third quarter. We are pacing down 4% with local spot considerably stronger than national spot. We expect Audacy’s Q3 revenues to decline by mid-single digits."

Social Media Influencer Incites Mayhem In NYC

Twitch streamer Kai Cenat was issued a desk appearance ticket Friday night and walked free from a Manhattan precinct after “encouraging” a mob of young fans to descend upon Union Square Park, where all hell broke loose.

The influencer, who has more than 20 million followers, was expected to face two counts of inciting a riot and unlawful assembly in connection to the Friday afternoon mayhem, NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey said at a press conference.

Most well-known for his animated livestreams on YouTube and Twitch, Cenat has built a large following. Cenat has 6.5 million followers on Twitch and 3.6 million subscribers on YouTube.

Cenat in custody
It wasn’t immediately clear if those charges were ultimately filed. The 21-year-old live streamed left the 19th Precinct on the Upper East Side early Saturday morning and was hustled into waiting black SUV without commenting to the media.

The NY Post cites sources said he only received a desk appearance ticket.

Cenat hadn’t obtained a permit for his gaming accessory giveaway in in the park Friday afternoon and the event quickly morphed into violent chaos as thousands of young fans stormed the surrounding streets.

Sixty-five others were taken into custody throughout the three-hour melee, 30 of whom were juveniles.

Videos show the rioters tossing cones, bottles and rocks at one another, as well as innocent passersby and responding officers.

According to Maddrey, at least three cops and four civilians were injured in the anarchy.

One 17-year-old was taken to the hospital with what authorities initially believed was a gunshot wound, but was later discovered to be injuries sustained after the teen was hit with fireworks that a rioter tossed into the crowd.

Report: Trump Was In A Rage On Plane

Former President Donald Trump was privately “raging” over media coverage of his historic arraignment in Washington, DC Thursday, where he pleaded not guilty to four counts in federal court—the charges related to Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, leading up to the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

CNN reporter Alayna Treene, citing sources, described Trump as “very angry” after his arraignment—in part because the judge referred to him as “Mr. Trump” and not “Mr. President.” Later, Forbes reports Trump was “raging on the plane” as he flew from Washington to his home in Bedminster, New Jersey. “He was definitely pissed off,” Treene said, “as he was watching the news coverage of this come in. And so even though publicly he still wants to sound defiant...privately he is very angry.”

After leaving the courthouse Thursday, Trump spoke to reporters at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, saying his most recent indictment was “persecution of a political opponent” and calling it “a very sad day for America.”

On Friday afternoon, Trump took to his Truth Social platform to again accuse President Biden of using the Justice Department to target a political rival. “Every one of these many Fake Charges filed against me by the Corrupt Biden DOJ could have been filed 2.5 years ago, but they waited and waited until I became dominant in the Polls, and then they filed them all, including locals, right in the middle of my Campaign,” he said. “They want anybody but “TRUMP.” Not fair and perhaps, not legal. ELECTION INTERFERENCE!!!”

Obama Biographer Exposes The Ex-President

Tablet’s lengthy Q&A with historian David Garrow, who wrote the lengthy 2017 biography "Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama," has stunned social media with its various claims about the former president, who remains one of the Democratic Party's most popular and influential figures. 

The New York Times reviewed Garrow's biography as an "impressive if gratuitously snarly" book that "clearly intended to break the 44th president’s monopoly on his personal narrative."

Previously, in the 1,078-page biography Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama , Garrow unmasked how a young Obama considered a gay relationship while at college, and cheated on Michelle with his ex during their first year of dating. 

It also revealed how OBama - has made a career from speaking engagements and several book deals - once called America a 'racist society' in an unpublished manuscript from his days at Harvard Law.

Already aired for some six years, Garrow, 70, addressed many of these revelations Wednesday in the 16,000 word interview, while also offering some new insight on the man commonly thought to be the Democratic Party's most influential figure.

Canceled: Lizzo's Career

Disney officially cancels the Lizzo concert at Magic Kingdom

It’s been about 48 hours since news of pop star Lizzo’s scandals broke wide. She’s being sued by former dancers for misconduct and harassment. Others who worked with her are backing these people up and now more allegations are coming out.

The result is a career collapse for Lizzo, according to Showbiz411. In those two days, her record sales including streaming and airplay have collapsed. Looking at numbers from Luminate, the trends have not just fallen but evaporated. It’s as if every radio has pulled Lizzo’s hits. Fans stopped streaming the records, and forget about buying them or downloading them.

This kind of thing is rare and scary. Lizzo is going to need to a massive defense and a PR campaign no one’s ever seen before. The timing couldn’t be worse because the union strikes have stopped the talk shows she might have gone on to explain or defend herself. Lizzo’s only recourse, I guess, would be a People magazine cover story. But even that is dicey at this point.

According to the Luminate numbers, Lizzo was averaging about 2,000 copies of everything included per day from last Friday. However, on August 3rd her total sales dropped to just 30. That’s including streaming and downloads plus airplay. It all just went away.

The lawsuit — brought by plaintiffs Crystal Williams, Arianna Davis, and Noelle Rodriguez — alleges nine areas of misconduct. The allegations made against all three defendants include a hostile work environment that featured sexual harassment, a failure to prevent or remedy sexual harassment in the workplace, and a failure to prevent or remedy religious harassment in the workplace.

NY Times Publisher Meets Staffers: It Didn't End Well

New York Times staffers were left fuming after their boss turned a deaf ear at a long-sought sit-down to complaints about the Gray Lady’s decision to disband the sports department, The NY Post has learned.

Times chairman and publisher AG Sulzberger agreed to meet with sports journalists on Thursday at company headquarters in Midtown– nearly a month after news leaked he was shuttering its sports division in September and replacing it with coverage from The Athletic, a sports news site it bought last year for a whopping $550 million.

Times higher-ups had outlined a plan to move the roughly 40 unionized sports journalists to different desks — and rely on The Athletic, which employs about 500 non-unionized workers, for daily coverage.

“The entire newsroom is outraged at how badly this has been handled and how poorly the sports staffers have been treated,” a source said.

Staffers at the meeting griped that many journalists have been reassigned to new beats “haphazardly” without much consultation and that some feel their goals and careers as sports writers have been flushed away by the paper.

“AG was very composed [during the meeting],” an employee told The Post. “He said ‘The Times faced a crossroads years ago and found ways to be innovative.’ He said: ‘We can’t be stuck in amber. We can’t keep trying to pursue this one model.'”

“It was a hard message to hear,” the source added, explaining that when staffers pressed the exec to promise that the paper wouldn’t repeat this strategy of acquiring other sites and replacing its journalists, he declined and instead emphasized to look at his “track record.”

“The most recent thing on his track record is he murdered the sports desk,” fumed another Times employee.

Insiders said the move — which came two months after Times management negotiated a new contract with the newspaper’s union, The NewsGuild of New York — was a sneaky, low blow that caught employees flat-footed.

Apple Services Cushions Sales Slump

by Felix Richet, Statista

Citing strong currency headwinds and an "uneven macroeconomic environment",  Apple reported its third consecutive quarter of declining sales on Thursday. The overall results were slightly better than expected, however, as record services sales partly glossed over lackluster iPhone, Mac and iPad sales. Total sales were down 1.4 percent to $81.8 billion year-over-year, but without the positive impact of Apple's ever-growing services segment, the decline would have been significantly steeper at 4.4 percent. CEO Tim Cook was quick to point out that iPhone and overall sales grew on a constant currency basis, but that will likely not be enough to appease Wall Street, which has come to expect more of the same from Apple, meaning perpetual growth.

iPhone sales, still at the heart of Apple's business, fell 2 percent to $39.7 billion in the June quarter, which is traditionally weak in terms of iPhone sales as new models are just around the corner. Mac sales dropped by 7 percent to $6.8 billion, but Apple remains positive on its Mac line-up, which is now running exclusively on the company's own silicon. iPad sales saw the biggest year-over-year decline at almost 20 percent, which can partly be explained by the launch of the popular iPad Air in last year's June quarter.

Meanwhile Apple's services business was once again the star of the show, as it grew 8 percent to a new record of $21.2 billion, more than 25 percent of the company's overall sales. "We had all-time records in cloud, in video, in AppleCare, in payments and June quarter records in App Store, advertising and Music," CFO Luca Maestri said in a conference call with investors. "It goes from the fact that our installed base continues to grow, so we've got a larger pool of customers, to the fact that our customers are more engaged as we have more transacting accounts and paid accounts on the ecosystem," he explained.
Infographic: Services Gloss Over Apple's Hardware Slump | Statista
You will find more infographics at Statista

Looking ahead, Apple expects more of the same for the upcoming quarter, as improvements in the iPhone and services segments are projected to be offset by double-digit declines in iPad and Mac sales.

Radio History: August 5

➦In 1914...Parley Edward Baer born (Died from a stroke at age 88 – November 22, 2002). He was an actor in radio and later in television and film.

Parley Baer
Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Baer in the 1930s served on radio as director of special events for KSL. His first network show was The Whistler, which was soon followed by appearances on Escape (notably narrating "Wild Jack Rhett" and as the title patriot in an adaptation of Stephen Vincent Benet's "A Tooth for Paul Revere"), Suspense, Tales of the Texas Rangers (as various local sheriffs), Dragnet, The CBS Radio Workshop, Lux Radio Theater, The Six Shooter, and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, to name a few.

In 1952, he began playing Chester, the trusty jailhouse assistant to Marshal Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke, eventually ad-libbing the character's full name, "Chester Wesley Proudfoot" (later changed to "Chester Goode" in the televised version of the series, which featured Dennis Weaver in the role of Chester). Baer's portrayal of Chester was generally considered his finest and most memorable role, and as he often said, the one he found most fulfilling.  Baer also worked as a voice actor on several other radio shows produced by Norman MacDonnell, performing as Pete the Marshal on the situation comedy The Harold Peary Show, as Doc Clemens on Rogers of the Gazette, and as additional characters on Fort Laramie and The Adventures of Philip Marlowe.

Other recurring roles included Eb the farm hand on Granby's Green Acres (the radio predecessor to television's Green Acres), Gramps on The Truitts, and Rene the manservant on the radio version of The Count of Monte Cristo. His later radio work included playing Reginald Duffield and Uncle Joe Finneman on the Focus on the Family series Adventures in Odyssey in the 1980s and 1990s

Harold Arlin

➦In 1921...The first baseball game ever broadcast on radio aired on KDKA Pittsburgh, between Pittsburgh Pirates versus Philadelphia Phillies game and took place at Forbes Field. The Pirates defeated the Phillies 8-5. It was broadcast by KDKA staff announcer Harold Arlin. That year, KDKA and WJZ of Newark broadcast the first World Series on the radio, between the New York Giants and the New York Yankees, with Grantland Rice and Tommy Cowan calling the games for KDKA and WJZ, respectively.

➦In 1935...The radio soap opera 'Backstage Wife' first aired. The show highlighted travails of Mary Noble, a girl from a small town in Iowa who came to New York seeking her future. Vivian Fridell had the title role from 1935 until the early 1940s. It was then taken over by Claire Niesen, who played Mary Noble for 14 years, until the end of the series. Mary's husband, Larry Noble, was portrayed by Ken Griffin, then James Meighan and finally, Guy Sorel. The daily radio drama first aired — on the Mutual Broadcasting System. The show, produced by prolific soap opera creators Frank & Anne Hummert, continued in the usual quarter-hour format on NBC and finally CBS Radio, until January 2, 1959.

➦In 1957..."American Bandstand" debuted nationally on ABC-TV, hosted by Dick Clark.

Friday, August 4, 2023

Disney Spinning Off ESPN Remains An Option, But Unlikely

Disney CEO Bob Iger is looking for new ways to jumpstart ESPN because the rate of U.S. cable cancellations has accelerated. In years past, ESPN could still generate revenue growth by increasing programming fees for pay TV distributors, such as Comcast, Charter and DirecTV.

That dynamic no longer exists, reports CNBC. As ESPN revenue declines, it will become a larger anchor on Disney’s earnings. That has prompted Iger to explore different strategic alternatives.

Bob Iger
Iger told CNBC’s David Faber last month he has had become more confident about when ESPN will launch a direct-to-consumer product. ESPN’s best programming is still exclusive to the linear cable TV bundle.  When ESPN does decide to offer an unbundled subscription service, it will likely cause even more people to cancel pay TV. That’s why ESPN has waited so long to go direct to consumer.

Iger declined last month to say when he planned to offer a direct-to-consumer ESPN. It likely won’t be in 2023 or 2024, according to people familiar with the matter.

Discussions with the leagues Iger wants to find minority partners to take equity stakes in ESPN. The sports network has held early talks with the National Football League, Major League Baseball, The National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association on the concept.

Selling a part of ESPN to professional sports leagues would be unprecedented. The leagues are focused on transitioning their own products to a streaming-dominated landscape. Taking a stake in ESPN and having the network’s expertise in building an all-sports subscription service could help the leagues create a unified product and navigate the new economics outside of the traditional TV bundle.

If ESPN can’t find a suitable deal for minority partners, it has not ruled out a full spin of the network, according to CNBC citing a person familiar with the matter.

Iger has resisted spinning off ESPN in the past and told CNBC he wanted to stay in the sports business. 

Iger is looking for partners who bring advantages to ESPN in either content or distribution. Still it’s unclear if another strategic company would have any interest in owning a minority stake in ESPN. If Disney is the majority owner, it would control the fate of the network.

According to The NYTimes, ESPN's dual revenue stream — fees from cable subscribers and advertising — the sports juggernaut has earned earn billions of dollars for Disney. In the first six months of the 2023 fiscal year, Disney’s cable networks division, which is anchored by ESPN and its spinoff channels, generated $14 billion in revenue and $3 billion in profit.

The problem: Wall Street is fixated on growth. Revenue for those six months was down 6 percent from a year earlier, as profit plunged 29 percent.

Liberty Media Completes Stock Reclassification

 Liberty Media Corporation today reported second quarter 2023 results. Headlines include:

Attributed to Liberty SiriusXM Group

  • SiriusXM reported second quarter 2023 operating and financial results
  • Second quarter 2023 revenue of $2.25 billion
  • Net income of $310 million, up 6% year-over-year; diluted EPS of $0.08
  • Adjusted EBITDA(2) of $702 million; up 3% year-over-year
  • Free cash flow(2) of $323 million
  • SiriusXM increased full-year free cash flow guidance on August 1st
  • Announced fall preview of next gen SiriusXM experience
  • Liberty Media’s ownership of SiriusXM was 83.4% as of July 28th
  • Received $71 million proceeds to settle intergroup interest in Formula One Group
  • Received 1.8 million shares of Atlanta Braves Holdings common stock to settle intergroup interest in Braves Group; shares will be exchanged with one or more third party lenders and proceeds will be used to reduce debt at Liberty SiriusXM Group

Philly TV: Fox To FCC..License Challenge Is 1A Threat

Fox is invoking the First Amendment in its opposition to a challenge to its character qualifications to hold a Federal Communications Commission broadcast license.

The Media and Democracy Project (MAD), citing Fox's settlement of the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit over election misinformation, last month challenged the renewal of Fox’s WTXF Philadelphia, and by extension the company’s character qualifications for holding any TV station licenses at all, according to

The  FCC is authorized to review a license applicant’s “citizenship, character, technical, financial and other qualifications.”  

According to a copy of its opposition to that challenge, filed with the FCC Wednesday (August 2), MAD has failed to make a case that Fox's license renewal should be denied and is treading dangerous ground.

Cable News Ratings: Tuesday Was Good Day for MSNBC

Former President Donald Trump’s indictment announcement Tuesday led to a bump in cable news viewership, with MSNBC overtaking Fox News for the primetime crown with 2.63 million viewers.

Trump’s third criminal indictment was announced on Tuesday and included multiple charges of conspiracy and obstruction. The indictment, which is related to Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 Election, detailed the former President’s actions during the Jan 6. riot. 

MSNBC, the only network to broadcast special coverage of the indictment, swept overall primetime figures as the No. 1 most-watched cable news channel. Fox News came in second place with 2.19 million total viewers, while CNN lagged behind with 1.06 million viewers, according to The WRAP citing Nielsen-live-plus-same-day figures. 

The trend continued in the demo for primetime, with MSNBC leading the pack with 350,000 viewers in the key cable demographic among adults 25-54. Fox News came in second with 279,000 viewers, and CNN came in third with 208,000 viewers in the demo. 

Sactown Radio: KSFM Adding D-Lo and KC To PM Drive

Audacy announces “D-Lo & KC” as the new afternoon show for KSFM 102.5 (KSFM-FM) in Sacramento. The show, starring Damien Barling and Kenny Caraway, will be heard weekdays from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. PT beginning August 14. The duo will continue to host middays on sister station ESPN 1320 (KIFM-AM).

“Since launching their show over three years ago, D-Lo and KC have built an incredibly engaging program fueled by an extremely passionate audience,” said Stacey Kauffman, Regional Vice President, Audacy Sacramento. “We have no doubt this show’s rapid growth will be a welcomed addition to KSFM’s afternoon drive.”

“We’re thrilled for the opportunity to join KSFM and bring our passion for music and the culture to that heritage brand,” said D-Lo & KC. “We’re very thankful for the vision ‘Complex,’ Aaron and Stacey share with us.”

Barling’s radio career launched in 2001 when he began an internship at KSFM 102.5. Working through the ranks for several years, Barling’s internship turned into a part-time/fill-in host and, in January of 2005, he became part of a morning show that would enjoy huge ratings success over the next several years. In 2009, he launched a sports management company that oversaw the career of several WNBA athletes. He returned to Sacramento radio in 2014 and, in April 2016, he headed up the launch of “The Lo-Down.” The show was a ratings success, consistently finishing in the top five of the 25-54 demographic while rating No. 1 in the 18-34 demographic.

8/4 WAKE-UP CALL: Trump Pleads 'Not Guilty'..Again

Donald Trump pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from his alleged widespread efforts to remain in power after his 2020 election loss. The former president’s third arraignment in four months took place blocks from the U.S. Capitol his supporters stormed on Jan. 6, 2021. Trump is accused of conspiring to subvert the will of American voters after now-President Biden defeated him. Trump has denied wrongdoing and accused prosecutors of pursuing him to undermine his bid to return to the White House. The magistrate judge handling former President Trump’s arraignment on charges related to trying to overturn the 2020 election warned him Thursday against bribing or influencing witnesses. U.S. Magistrate Judge Moxila Upadhyaya reminded Trump during the arraignment proceedings that bribing, influencing or retaliating against witnesses is a crime.

➤FED UNIONS DENOUNCE DESANTIS: The two largest federal employee unions on Thursday denounced Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s recent vow that as president he would “start slitting throats” in the federal bureaucracy — the latest escalation in intensifying Republican attacks on government operations they want to slash or eliminate. DeSantis, whose campaign for the GOP nomination has included promises to downsize agencies and fire bureaucrats, made the comments this weekend in New Hampshire while criticizing the “deep state,” echoing a term regularly used by former president Donald Trump to deride Washington.

➤ZELENSKY CALLS CORRUPTION 'REVOLTING': President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday decried "revolting" practices exposed during an audit of Ukraine's military recruitment centers and pledged to fix the system by placing in charge people who understood the meaning of war. Zelensky has expressed indignation at corruption uncovered during the audit last month after a high-profile incident of wrongdoing came to light in the Black Sea port of Odesa. "We had a detailed conversation," Zelensky said in his nightly video address after meeting Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko and the head of the SBU security service, Vasyl Maliuk. "The investigation is revealing numerous abuses," Zelensky said. "And they are frankly revolting." The probe of recruitment offices is part of a long-running campaign to root out corruption, a critical issue as Ukraine presses a campaign to join NATO and the European Union.

Apple Sees Third Straight Quarter of Falling Sales

 Apple said revenue declined for the third consecutive quarter, the company’s most prolonged sales slump since 2016 as the iPhone-maker continued to deal with declining demand for consumer devices.

Overall iPhone revenue, generally a primary driver of Apple’s profits, missed estimates and fell compared with last year, but Chief Executive Tim Cook highlighted strong sales in emerging markets.

The Wall Street Journal reports the Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant posted sales of $81.8 billion for the quarter ended in July, down 1.4% from the prior year. but largely in line with analyst estimates. Net income was up 2.3% annually at $19.9 billion. The company’s all-important iPhone sales fell 2.4% to $39.7 billion, missing analysts expectations of $40.2 billion in iPhone revenue.

Apple said revenue in its services unit reached a new all-time high of $21 billion, driven by more than one billion paid subscriptions to offerings such as streaming music, TV products or spending software in the App Store.

It’s been about seven years since Apple has seen three straight quarters of falling revenue, when it ended its fiscal 2016 with sales down 7.7% annually, mostly due to declining iPhone sales. The same phenomenon is behind Apple’s slump in 2023, although investors and analysts generally remain optimistic that the company will find a way to maintain and grow its dominant position in consumers’ lives.

Amazon Reports Blowout Profit of $6.75B posted its strongest quarterly profit in a year and a half on Thursday, driven by recovering health in its core online retail business and the effects of months of cost cutting.

The Wall Street Journal reports the Seattle company on Thursday reported $6.75 billion in profit for the three months through June, reversing a loss a year earlier and close to twice the amount analysts were expecting. Revenue rose by nearly 11% to $134.2 billion, also beating expectations.

Sales growth in Amazon Web Services, the cloud-computing division that accounts for the bulk of the company’s profit, continued to slow after hitting its weakest pace on record in the first quarter of the year.

Amazon projected a range for revenue in the current quarter that broadly topped analysts’ projections.

The company’s shares rose by 6.8% in after-hours trading Thursday. As of the close of regular trading Thursday, the stock had jumped by more than half this year, regaining ground after steep losses. Amazon’s stock hit an all-time high in 2021 but then fell by more than 50% through the end of last year, as the company worked through changes in consumer demand and an expensive overbuild of its logistics network.

Tenga: Ad Market Is Steadily Improving

Excluding political, second quarter ad revenues were down just slightly, Tegna president and CEO Dave Lougee told analysts in the company’s quarterly conference call Thursday morning, according to TV Newscheck.

“Automotive, our largest category within AMS [Advertising and Marketing Services], has steadily recovered and is generating strong year-over-year growth — and it did so in the second quarter for the fourth consecutive quarter, and is doing it again and is strong in Q3 as well,” Lougee said.

Later, during the Q&A session, Tegna SVP of Financial Planning Julie Heskett added detail on the national and local advertising trends. “We too are seeing improvement in national. National is still weaker than local. Local continues to hold in there and is doing good. National is improving sequentially quarter-over-quarter and I would expect that to continue into Q3 as well,” she said.

Julie Heskett
Just before the call concluded, Lougee announced that Heskett will become CFO of Tegna at the end of this year as Victoria Harker retires. Harker, who said she is very proud of what she’s accomplished in 17 years at Tegna and Gannett, will assist with the transition through the end of March 2024.

In her formal remarks on the call, Harker had also noted the continuing recovery of the auto sector. “We also continue to see year-over-year strength in home improvement, services, and travel and tourism,” she noted.

Categories facing headwinds in the current macro-economic environment include media, telcom, restaurants, healthcare, and retail,” Harker added.

Entravision Reports 23 Percent Revenue Surge

Entravision Communications Corporation, a leading global advertising solutions, media and technology company, today announced financial results for the three- and six-month periods ended June 30, 2023.

Second Quarter 2023 Highlights

  • Record quarterly advertising revenue
  • Net revenue up 23% over the prior-year quarter
  • Net loss attributable to common stockholders of $2.0 million compared to net income attributable to common stockholders of $8.5 million in the prior-year quarter
  • Consolidated EBITDA down 37% compared to the prior-year quarter
  • Operating cash flow up 7% over the prior-year quarter
  • Free cash flow down 89% compared to the prior-year quarter\
  • Digital revenue led the way with a 32% jump to $229.9 million, boosted by acquisitions, 
  • Audio off 9% to $13.5 million
  • Television down 8% to $29.9 million.

“We delivered another strong quarter at Entravision with record quarterly revenue of $273.4 million, increasing 23% year-over-year,” said Chris Young, Chief Financial Officer. “While elevated operating expenses led to a decline in adjusted EBITDA, we remain focused on managing expenses and leveraging our strong balance sheet to ensure we are well-positioned to grow in the current macroeconomic environment. We were also excited to welcome Michael Christenson as our new CEO at the beginning of July. We look forward to continuing to drive growth under his leadership."

Boston Globe President Fired For Excessive Spending

Boston Globe Media Partners, responding to an unlawful termination lawsuit by former president Vinay Mehra, said the executive was fired after racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in “excessive, unauthorized, and inappropriate spending” of company funds.

“Mehra repeatedly used his corporate credit card or else spent company money to run up extraordinary expenses that offered no benefit to the Globe,” the parent company of The Boston Globe said in a document filed on Wednesday in Suffolk Superior Court. “At first, Mehra acknowledged the Globe’s objections to these abuses, and promised they would not recur. But they did recur, and Mehra eventually simply stopped even attempting to justify them.”

Vinny Mehra
David W. Sanford, a lawyer representing Mehra, said, “The Boston Globe’s accusations are false and a jury that will hear this case eventually will understand them to be false. . . . The hard work of the litigation begins now with discovery, and discovery will show Vinay is right.”

In its filing, the Globe said “the final straw” that prompted Mehra’s dismissal for cause came when it found $400,000 in charges on a company credit card for “Serving Our Front Lines,” a program to raise money from readers to provide meals during the pandemic to health care workers and to support local restaurants.

The Globe said that most of the money spent to support the program was its own, and that the biggest beneficiary was a suburban hospital introduced to the company by Mehra’s wife, a doctor who sees patients there. Some $124,000 went to meals from a restaurant whose owner Mehra knew, and the owner, who was not named, also received $28,000 for a “management fee.”

Other spending cited by the Globe included $23,000 for a leased car, $45,000 for a Bloomberg terminal, $14,000 for a trip to the Super Bowl in Atlanta with Mehra’s wife, “an acquaintance who was not a significant Globe advertiser, and the acquaintance’s son,” and “hundreds of thousands of dollars” for consultants.

Gannett Reports Losses Narrow

Gannett achieved Q2 2023 revenues of $672.4 million, a 10.2% decrease YoY, according to Mediapost citing financials released by the firm on Thursday.

Digital revenues, which now make up 39% of Gannett’s total, increased by 0.8% to $262.1 million, compared to the same quarter in 2022. 

Gannett reported a net loss of $12.7 million, a $41 million improvement over the loss in second quarter of 2022.  

The company’s Digital Marketing Solutions business saw a 4% increase in revenues YoY to $122.8 million.

In addition, digital-only subscription revenues of $37.9 million grew 16.6% year-over-year and increased 17.3% year-over-year on a same store basis.  

“We believe we are making great progress on our strategy, and our results signify a notable turning point in our business trajectory," says Michael Reed, chairman and CEO of Gannett. 

Gannett drew 185 million average monthly unique visitors in Q2, with 134 million coming from he USA Today Network (based on June 2023 Comscore Media Metrix) and 51 million average monthly unique visitors form its U.K. digital properties..

Skyview, Country Top 40 Reach Long-Term Syndication Deal

Fitz, host of country music’s longest-running national countdown show, Country Top 40 (CT40) with Fitz, and Skyview Networks, a leading audio solutions company, in collaboration with Northstar Audio, LLC announced today the multi-year renewal of their syndication partnership for Skyview’s network sales and turnkey distribution platforms.

The program, originally known as Bob Kingsley’s Country Top 40 until naming Fitz the host in December 2019 following Bob Kingsley’s passing, initially partnered with Skyview in January 2020. Since then, the program has continued to expand its network reach and is heard on over 240 stations nationwide.

Fitz, host of CT40 with Fitz, expressed his excitement for the renewal stating, “I am beyond thrilled about our renewal with Skyview Networks for CT40! This partnership has been a game-changer, and I’m thrilled to create with them for years to come. The incredible support and innovative solutions from the Skyview team continue to exceed my expectations, and I can’t wait to see what new heights we’ll reach.”

Radio History: August 4

➦In 1735…In colonial times, the defense of John Peter Zenger against libel charges in 1735 is often seen as the cornerstone of American press freedom. After the American Revolution, several states provided for freedom of the press, and the First Amendment (1791) to the U.S. Constitution declared that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech or of the press.” Whether these acts were intended to prohibit prosecution for seditious libel or merely to prohibit prior restraint has been a matter of controversy.

➦In 1921...KDKA Pittsburgh aired the first tennis match on radio.  Within eight months management figured out that sports on radio would bring in big sales revenues; so the Davis Cup match between Great Britain and Australia was aired on the radio.

WGY 1927

➦In 1927...General Electric's WGY in Schenectady, NY, began experimental operations from a 100,000-watt transmitter.  Later, the FCC regulated the power of AM radio stations to not exceed 50,000 watts on “clear channels” frequencies.

WGY was the flagship station of General Electric's broadcast group from 1922 until 1983. It is the heritage clear-channel occupant of the 810 kHz frequency and has a signal which covers much of the Northeast by day and much of the eastern United States by night.

➦In 1957…The Everly Brothers made their second appearance on CBS-TV's "The Ed Sullivan Show" singing "Bye Bye Love" and introduced their upcoming single, "Wake Up Little Susie," a song that was initially banned by radio stations in Boston and elsewhere because it was about two teenagers who accidentally fell asleep together at a drive-in movie. The song, however, does not say that Susie and her boyfriend had sexual relations. In fact, it strongly implies that they did not. They simply fell asleep because they were bored by the movie.

➦In 1958...The Billboard Hot 100 is published for the 1st time, with "Poor Little Fool" by Ricky Nelson at #1.

➦In 1966...a ban of The Beatles records went into effect at some radio stations. United Press International story on the developing radio ban, appeared in a Camden, New Jersey newspaper, used the headline, “DJs Ban The Beatles for Lennon Remarks.” The News and Observer newspaper of Raleigh, NC used that same day used a more descriptive headline: “Stations Ban ‘Sacrilegious’ Beatles.” Another that day, The Republic newspaper in Columbus, Indiana, ran the headline: “Christianity Will Go, Says Prophet Lennon; Beatles ‘More Popular Than Jesus’?”

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Capitol Records, which then distributed Beatles recordings in the U.S., had already issued a statement explaining that Lennon was “quoted out of context and misconstrued.” Rather, Lennon was being “conjectural” on the topics of Christianity and rock `n roll, said the spokesman, and “only intended the broadest comparison…. He definitely intended no irreverence.” Nonetheless, the radio bans of Beatles music continued.

➦In 1983...WHTZ 100.3 FM moved its transmitter to Empire State Building in Manhattan.