Saturday, December 30, 2023

Happy New Year To All!

 Media Confidential Returns January 2

Radio History: January 1

➦In 1923...the very first radio broadcast of the Rose Bowl aired in Los Angeles over KHJ radio — some 42 years before 93/KHJ became Boss Radio.

➦In 1925...Lucrezia Bori and John McCormack of the famous Metropolitan Opera made their singing debuts on radio. The broadcast over New York’s WEAF Radio soon to be the NBC flagship.

➦In 1927...The Blue Network aired its first program.   The Blue Network (previously the NBC Blue Network) was the on-air name of the now defunct American radio production and distribution service, which ran from 1927 to 1945. Beginning as one of the two radio networks owned by the National Broadcasting Company, the independent Blue Network was born of a divestiture in 1942, arising from anti-trust litigation, and is the direct predecessor of the American Broadcasting Company (ABC..see below) - organized 1943-1945 as a separate independent radio network and later TV broadcaster.

The Blue Network dates to 1923, when the Radio Corporation of America acquired WJZ Newark from Westinghouse (which had created the station in 1921) and moved it to New York City in May of that year. When RCA commenced operations of WRC, Washington on August 1, 1923, the root of a network was born, though it did not operate under the name by which it would later become known. Radio historian Elizabeth McLeod states that it would not be until 1924 that the "Radio Group" formally began network operations.

The core stations of the "Radio Group" were RCA's stations WJZ and WRC; the Westinghouse station WBZ, then in Springfield, Massachusetts; and WGY, the General Electric station in Schenectady, New York.

RCA's principal rival prior to 1926 was the radio broadcasting department of the American Telephone & Telegraph Company. AT&T, starting in 1921, had been using this department as a test-bed for equipment being designed and manufactured by its Western Electric subsidiary.

The RCA stations operated at a significant disadvantage to their rival chain; AT&T used its own high-quality transmission lines, and declined to lease them out to competing entities, forcing RCA to use the telegraph lines of Western Union, which were not as well calibrated to voice transmission as the AT&T lines.

Nevertheless, the WJZ network sought to compete toe-to-toe with the AT&T network, which was built around WEAF (today's WFAN). For example, both stations sent announcer teams to cover the 1924 Democratic National Convention, which was held in Madison Square Garden in New York City. Promotional material produced in 1943 claimed certain "firsts" in broadcasting by WJZ, such as the first educational music program in April 1922, the first World Series broadcasts in 1922, and the first complete opera broadcast, The Flying Dutchman, from the Manhattan Opera House.

RCA (as well as its consortium partners General Electric and Westinghouse) were to receive a break in 1926, when AT&T made a corporate decision to exit the broadcasting business and focus on its telecommunications business.

The Decatur Review (Illinois) for Sunday, December 12, 1926 reported the following in an article describing a broadcast to be sponsored by the Victor Talking Machine Company and aired the following New Year's Day, January 1, 1927, which is a description of this first Blue Network broadcast—note that it makes it clear that January 1, 1927 marked the debut of the Blue Network:

"TWO BIG NETWORKS: The network to be used for the first concert will consist of a combination of chains of stations affiliated with WEAF and WJZ, New York. It is also announced that this opening Victor program inaugurates a new chain system to be operated by the National Broadcasting Company, with WJZ as the "key" station. This new chain, which will be known as the "blue" network, will allow simultaneous broadcasting from WJZ through WBZ, Springfield and Boston, KDKA, Pittsburgh, and KYW, Chicago. For broadcasting of the first program, therefore, the "blue" network will be joined with the "red" network, as the WEAF chain is designated, as well as other stations in various cities. Following the New Year's night program, the concerts will be given bi-monthly, through the "blue" network (...)

Allegedly, the color designations came from the way the networks were represented on maps, with red lines (or pushpins) denoting the WEAF network circuits, and blue the WJZ circuits.

➦In 1927...the very first coast-to-coast network radio broadcast of the Rose Bowl was made. Graham McNamee provided the play-by-play on NBC Radio.The Rose Bowl football game was aired for the first time, coast-to-coast, on network radio.

➦In 1930..."The Cuckoo Hour" was broadcast for the first time on the NBC-Blue Network (it later became the ABC Radio Network).

➦In 1934...the classic radio horror show Light’s Out was heard for the first time on WENR Chicago. The show became an ‘almost midnight’ NBC thriller 16 months later.

➦In 1940…Broadcasting from the Empire State Building in New York City, radio station W2XDG, the first FM station licensed by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, became the first to broadcast with the new Frequency Modulation technology.\

➦In 1941...Lorne Greene was appointed first announcer for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's new national radio news service. His authoritative baritone on nightly wartime newscasts caused him to be nicknamed ‘The Voice of Doom’, nearly two decades before his reincarnation as Pa Cartwright on NBC-TV’s popular western series, Bonanza.

➦In 1947...WKSE, Buffalo signed on as WHLD-FM in 1947. It changed its call sign to WZIR in 1980, WRXT in 1984, and the current call sign in 1985.  It currently runs a Top 40 format, which has been in place since September 1984. The station is now owned by Entercom.

➦In 1950... 26-year-old disc jockey Sam Phillips opened his Memphis Recording Service (later renamed Sun Studios) at the corner of Union and Marshall in the Tennessee city. Some 3 and 1/2 years later, Elvis Presley walked in and spent $3.98 to make his first recording.

➦In 1953...legendary Hank Williams died at the young age of 29 from a drug/alcohol-related heart attack.  Hank wrote or co-wrote: “Cold, Cold Heart”, “Half as Much”, “Jambalaya”, “Your Cheatin’ Heart”, “Hey, Good Lookin”, & “I’m So Lonesome I Could Die.” Indisputedly the biggest star in the history of country music, Williams’ legacy is being carried on by his son, Hank Williams, Jr.

Radio History: December 31

➦In 1910...Actor Dick Kollmar was born in Rigewood NJ. He starred as 'Boston Blackie' in the long-running radio show, and co-hosted a WOR New York chat show with his wife, gossip columnist Dorothy Kilgallen.  On TV he hosted the series Broadway Spotlight & Guess What. He died Jan. 7 1971, an apparent suicide at age 60.

➦In 1914...Roy Rogers’ sidekick Pat Brady was born in Toledo Ohio. He appeared in more than 100 episodes of TV’s Roy Rogers Show, after hooking up with Roy in films & on radio.   He also sang with the western group Sons of the Pioneers. He died in a car accident Feb. 27 1972 at age 57.

➦In 1920...cowboy actor & narrator Rex Allen was born on a ranch in Arizona. Although he sang on radio’s WLS National Barn Dance, published over 300 songs, and starred in 19 Republic western movies, he is best remembered today for his distinctive narration of dozens of Disney films & TV shows.  He died Dec 17, 1999 just days short of his 79th birthday, after being accidently run over in his own driveway.

➦In 1923...In London,, the BBC began using the distinctive Big Ben chime ID.

➦In 1923...the first transatlantic radio broadcast of a voice occurred between Pittsburgh and Manchester, England.

➦In 1926...KOMO signed on the air in Seattle at AM 980.  Today the longtime Fisher Broadcasting outlet has an all-news format at AM 1000.

KOMO Control circa 1948 (Photos courtesy of

In July 1926, KOMO was founded on Harbor Island as KGFA 980 by two owners: Birt F. Fisher, whose lease on Seattle radio station KTCL was about to run out, and the Fisher brothers of Fisher Flouring Mills, who had been on the island since 1911. (The Fisher Brothers and Birt Fisher were not related.) In preparation for the switch to the new station, Birt Fisher changed KTCL's call sign to KOMO.

In December, his lease ended, and he took the call letters with him to KGFA. KOMO 980's first broadcast was December 31, 1926. The studios moved to Downtown Seattle in 1927. The station also began a long-running affiliation with NBC Radio that year as well, primarily with the Red Network, but also with the short-lived West Coast NBC Orange Network from 1931 to 1933. Over the following years, KOMO's frequency would go from 980 to 1080, back to 980, down to 920, up to 970, then back to 920, and settled at 950 after the NARBA frequency shakeup in 1941.

Circa 1948

Fisher's Blend Station, owner of KOMO, bought NBC Blue Network affiliate KJR from NBC in 1941. In 1944, KOMO switched frequencies with KJR (then at 1000 kHz) and sold KJR off two years later. At its new frequency, KOMO began broadcasting with 50,000 watts of power from its current transmitter site on Vashon Island in 1948. New studios at the corner of Fourth and Denny, near what is now the Seattle Center, were dedicated in February 1948.

➦In 1928...For the first time Auld Lang Syne was played by Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians to bring in 1929, during the band’s annual New Year’s Eve Party at  New York’s Hotel Roosevelt Grill. The event was heard on the CBS radio network, and became the longest running annual special program in broadcast history.

➦In 1940...ASCAP prevented the radio industry from playing any ASCAP-licensed music. The ban lasted for ten months. It was in reaction to a dispute between the radio networks and ASCAP, the American Society of Composers and Publishers.

➦In 1943...Singer John Denver was born Henry John Deutschendorf.  Denver was killed At age 53 on Oct 12, 1997, when his home-built high-performance aircraft he was piloting over Monterey Bay, California. crashed.

➦In 1961...LA radio station KFWB hired the Beach Boys for $300, appearing under that name for the first time, to perform at their Ritchie Valen’s Memorial Dance in Long Beach.   Previously the group had played California nightclubs as The Pendletones, as Kenny and the Cadets, and as Carl and the Passions.

➦In 1963...The "Dear Abby Show" premiered on the CBS Radio network. The 5-minutes program aired for 11 years.

➦In 1967...Radio stations across the nation had to comply with an FCC mandate that AM/FM outlets in major cities had to air non-duplicated programming.  The limit was 50 percent for simulcasts. Here's a NY Times story dated December 31, 1966 concerning NYC stations...

TV Ratings: NFL Up 10%

Boosted by a full season of games on ABC, rising viewing on Prime Video “Thursday Night Football,” and three big extra Christmas Day games, NFL’s average regular-season game is up 10% to 17.9 million Nielsen-measured viewers through 16 weeks of the season, MediaPost reports.

ABC, which added a full season of “Monday Night Football” games simulcast with ESPN, witnessed a massive boost of 33% to average 17.1 million. 

ESPN says that excluding two weeks (Week 3 and Week 14) where ABC and ESPN were airing different games “Monday Night Football” would be up 43% year-over-year, to average 18.3 million viewers.

Prime Video’s “TNF” package of games is 25% higher versus a year ago to 11.8 million viewers.

Three major Sunday NFL programmers continue to show strength with the sport -- Fox was up 1% to leading 19.9 million average regular-season viewers for its afternoon games, while NBC’s “Sunday Night Football”grew 7% to 19.8 million, and CBS’s afternoon game coverage rose 4% to 19.6 million.

Another major difference came from the NFL adding three major games on Christmas Day -- long a major viewing date for NBA regular-season games for family/friends. 

CBS’s Kansas City Chiefs-Las Vegas Raiders game, in which the Raiders upset the current Super Bowl champs, scored a leading 29.5 million viewers on the day. Fox’s Philadelphia Eagles-New York Giants contest earned 29.0 million; ABC/ESPN’s Baltimore Ravens-San Francisco 49ers pulled in with 27.6 million.

R.I.P.: Super Snake, Popular Phoenix Radio Personality

Super Snake, the popular Phoenix radio personality, has died at age 61. His family confirmed his death Saturday morning, reports.

“We are devastated by this unexpected loss,” his family said in a statement. “Snake had the ability to make you feel like he was everyone’s best friend because he was larger than life. We will continue to honor Snake’s legacy and ask for privacy at this time. Thank you to everyone who has reached out with support.”

Snake, who refused to reveal his real name, worked in San Diego radio after attending Pepperdine University. From there, he went to Houston, Dallas, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

He arrived at the old Power 92 station in the Valley in time for the Phoenix Suns’ magical run to the NBA Finals in 1993. Local media went all in covering the team and its star, Charles Barkley, and Snake was near-ubiquitous, covering the team and its players everywhere they went, and his popularity soared.

He had a signature laugh and an outgoing personality that showed in his many appearances with Suns team members, as well as other sports figures. As a child growing up in Phoenix, he was a Phoenix Suns ball boy.

Eventually, he left for New York but returned to the Valley, where he worked for HOT 97.5 and 103.9 as a DJ. He was scheduled to host a New Year’s Eve party in Scottsdale, which has been canceled.

He insisted on taking live calls, eschewing the prerecorded tracks that have become popular between songs.

Boston Radio: 98.5 The Sports Hub Maintains Its Leadership Position

Despite all the changes at 98.5 The Sports Hub, the rating have maintained.

Chad Finn sportswriter at The Boston Globe provided a recap of the changes.

Original morning show cohost Rich Shertenlieb abruptly left the “Toucher and Rich” program on Nov. 9, with nearly a month remaining in the ratings book.

It was the first time since February 2015, when Marc Bertrand replaced Andy Gresh on the midday show, that one of the main hosts from a Sports Hub daytime program changed.

Despite the changes during the fall ratings, covering the period from Sept. 14 to Dec. 6, the Sports Hub finished first overall and across all of its weekday and weeknight programming in the men ages 25 to 54 demographic, its primary advertising target.

Overall, the Sports Hub had a 16.3 share of men 25-54, well ahead of the runner-up, rock station WZLX (7.0). Rival sports radio station WEEI was seventh (4.4).

Last fall, the Sports Hub earned a 19.6 share, while WEEI was second at 9.0.

The breakdown this fall by day parts (Men 25-54):

TV Ratings: Cable News Suffers Viewership Declines

The cable news industry had an undeniably rough 2023, ending the tumultuous year with fewer eyeballs as cord-cutting continues to limit linear reach into American households and alternative news sources grab viewers.

Mediaite reports Fox News closed out the year on top, extending its reign as the most-watched cable television network for the 8th consecutive year. The network scored the top six shows in the cable news industry with The Five becoming the first non-prime time show to land at number one in both the key 25 to 54 age demographic and in total viewers. 2023 also marked Fox’s 22nd year in a row leading cable news in both total viewers and the demo in both total day and prime time viewers.

MSNBC was the only network to grow year over year in total viewers and solidified its spot as the second most-watched network on cable behind Fox with strong ratings for prime time hosts like Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell. MSNBC’s Morning Joe as well as early evening hosts Nicolle Wallace and Ari Melber also continue to be major ratings draws for the network, which benefited from Trump-heavy news cycles and former president’s ongoing legal dramas.

CNN, which changed leadership this year, has yet to see its ratings rebound and ended the year with its lowest numbers in total viewers since 2014 – hitting an all-time low in the demo.

MSNBC, which had its lowest-rated year in the demo since 1999, has the oldest audience of the big three cable news networks, with viewers averaging 70 in the fourth quarter of the year. Fox’s average viewer is 69, while CNN’s is 67 — up from 60 in 2017.  S&P Global Market Intelligence data puts Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC in only 70 million homes in the U.S. today, which is down from 90 million in 2016 as the cable business continues to contract.

While Fox has remained atop the industry, the network saw an 18 percent drop in year-over-year total viewers from 1.49 million to 1.2 million – its lowest total viewership since 2015. MSNBC averaged 784,000 total day viewers, up from 733,000 the year before. CNN, meanwhile, averaged 482,000 total day viewers, a 15 percent drop from 2022’s 568,000 average viewers.

Cause Of Death Released For Rio Swiftie

Ana Clara Benevides

Heat exhaustion is revealed as the cause of death of the Brazilian Taylor Swift fan who died attending her Rio concert in November, according to Digital Music News.

Ana Clara Benevides — the 23-year-old who passed out during Taylor Swift’s November 17 concert in Rio de Janeiro and died hours later at a local hospital — is revealed to have died from heat exhaustion, according to a forensics report obtained by The Associated Press this week.

The temperatures in the city were around 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) that day, with fans lined up for hours ahead of the show. Many accused organizers of failing to deliver ample water supplies for the 60,000-plus attendees at Nilton Santos Stadium — and fans were allegedly prevented from bringing their own water into the venue.

Swift in Rio
Though many have criticized the event organizers for a lack of water supplies, a friend of Benevides who also attended the concert told local media outlets that they had been given water while waiting to enter the stadium.

According to the report, Rio’s Forensic Medical Institute said that Benevides’ heat exposure led to cardiorespiratory arrest, and that she did not have pre-existing conditions or substance abuse that could have contributed to her death. Forensics experts who analyzed her body report that she had due to the heat, Benevides had “serious compromise to her lungs and sudden death.”

The company who organized the concert at Nilton Santos Stadium, Time 4 Fun (T4F), said in a statement that they “followed the best practices,” complied with “every demand from authorities,” and “distributed thousands of bottles of water” to concertgoers. T4F denied that it prevented fans from bringing their own water to the venue.

“In our 40 years in the business, this company had never registered a tragic episode” like Benevides’ death due to heat exhaustion, said T4F. The company also said Benevides was “promptly cared for by members of a rescue team and sent (to the hospital) in an intensive-care unit ambulance.”

A criminal investigation has been opened by the office of Rio’s public prosecutor. Following analysis of the forensics report, Rio police say “representatives of the company organizing the event will be called to testify.”

Swift Has Top Four Taylor Made Albums On Sales Chart for the First Time

Taylor Swift dominates Billboard’s Top Album Sales chart (dated Dec. 30), as she holds the entire top four titles. That marks the first time any act has claimed the entire top four at the same time, since the chart bowed in May of 1991. For good measure, Swift has five of the top six titles, and six out of the top 10, as her titles populate Nos. 1-4, 6 and 10. Swift tops the list with 1989 (Taylor’s Version), which rises 2-1 for a third nonconsecutive week on top.

Swift leads a busy Top Album Sales chart, as the latest tally reflects the tracking week of Dec. 15-21 — capturing pre-Christmas Day shopping activity. Many titles see increases thanks to general holiday purchases, retailer promotions and sale pricing. On the 50-position chart, of the 49 non-debuts, a total of 44 titles boast weekly sales gains. Only five titles see weekly declines.

The Swift parade in the top 10 of the chart is led by 1989 (Taylor’s Version), which climbs 2-1 for its third nonconsecutive week at No. 1 (95,000 copies sold; up 47%). Swift’s Midnights rises 5-2 (43,000; up 79%), Lover ascends 8-3 (30,000; up 55%) and Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) steps 6-4 (29,000; up 32%). The latter three are also former No. 1s.

Swift is also found in the top 10 at No. 6 with her chart-topping Folklore (falling two spots with 25,000; though up 4%) and at No. 10 with former leader Fearless (Taylor’s Version) (up from No. 16 with 19,000; up 70%).

Rounding out the non-Swift titles in the top 10 are these former No. 1s: Olivia Rodrigo’s Guts (9-5 with 26,000; up 37%), Stray Kids’ ROCK-STAR (holding at No. 7 with 24,000; up 20%), ATEEZ’s The World EP.Fin: Will (down 3-8 with 22,000; down 29%) and Dolly Parton’s Rockstar (10-9 with 19,000; up 8%).

Vinyl Sales Reach New Heights

Taylor Swift’s global appeal has led to a resurgence in sales of vinyl records — especially in the United Kingdom, where hot wax flew off shelves at the highest level since 1990.

The US has also seen the demand for vinyl spike as a new generation of music junkies ditch high-tech streaming services for a more retro listening format, The NY Post reports.

Revenue from vinyl records grew 1% to $632 million and accounted for 72% of physical format revenues, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

Across the pond, vinyl sales surged 11.7% this year, to 5.9 million units, according to CNN, citing figures released Thursday by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), an association of UK record companies and labels.

The figure marks a four-fold increase in sales from 2022, and the 16th consecutive year of increased vinyl sales, CNN reported, as a new generation of music junkies ditch high-tech streaming services for a more retro listening format.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Swift’s “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” album sold the most copies — capping off a blockbuster year for Time magazine’s Person of the Year, whose record-breaking “Eras Tour” earned her billionaire status.

The album, which was originally released in 2014, was re-released as “Taylor’s Version” on Oct. 27 — part of the 34-year-old’s effort to rerecord all of her discography previously owned by Scooter Braun.

The No. 2 and No. 3 spots were nabbed by The Rolling Stones’ “Hackney Diamonds” and Lana Del Rey’s “Did You Know Know There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd,” respectively.

In the US, physical music sales — which includes vinyl records, CDs and cassette tapes — saw a revival in the first half of 2023, though streamers like Spotify and Apple Music maintained their market dominance, accounting for 84% of the total revenues in the same six-month period, CNN reported, citing RIAA’s findings. For comparison, in the UK, 80% of recorded music is listened to on streaming platforms, according to the BPI.

Paid subscriptions were the “strongest driver” of revenue growth, RIAA said.

Remembering Those We Lost..


As the year comes to a close, a look back at some of the remarkable people we lost in 2023.

America's Top New Year's Resolutions for 2024

by Anna Fleck, Statista

Planning to save more money is top of mind for many Americans making resolutions for 2024. Where in previous years the vows to exercise more, eat healthier and lose weight had come in top positions, now the financial goal has leapfrogged them to become the most commonly cited resolution this year. This is according to data from a Statista’s Consumer Insights survey.

Slightly further down the list came the goal of reducing stress from work and spending less time on social media (both 19 percent), while less popular resolutions included cutting down on alcohol (13 percent) and becoming a vegetarian or a vegan (3 percent).

In a similar vein to saving more money, one in four U.S. adults said they wanted to reduce their spendings on living expenses such as food and energy in the coming year.

Infographic: America's Top New Year's Resolutions for 2024 | Statista
You will find more infographics at Statista
Looking further into U.S. savings habits, data from an earlier Statista survey found that in 2022, the three areas most commonly cut back on in times of high inflation and rising energy costs were contracts and subscriptions (66 percent), purchasing clothes (42 percent) and visiting bars, cafes and restaurants (39 percent).

World Population Projected To Top 8B New Year's Day

U-S Population by age, sex

The world's population grew by more than 75 million people this year, up 0.95% from New Year's Day 2023, according to the US Census Bureau. On Jan. 1, the population is expected to reach a little over 8 billion, from 7.9 billion a year ago. Next year, 4.3 births and two deaths are expected worldwide every second. 

Track the Census Bureau's US and world population clocks here.

Salem Media Announces Voluntary Delisting From NASDAQ

Salem Media Group, Inc. has announced it has given formal notice to the Nasdaq Stock Market of its intention to voluntarily delist its Class A Common Stock from the Nasdaq Global Market and to deregister its Class A Common Stock under Section 12(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

The Company currently anticipates that it will file with the Securities and Exchange Commission a Form 25 (Notification of Removal of Listing) on or about January 8, 2024, with the delisting of its Class A Common Stock taking effect no earlier than ten days thereafter. As a result, the Company expects that the last trading day of its common stock on the Nasdaq Global Market will be on or about January 18, 2024. Further, prior to March 29, 2024, the Company intends to file a Form 15 with the SEC to suspend the Company's reporting obligations under Sections 12(g) and 15(d) of the Exchange Act.

As previously noted in the Company’s Current Report on Form 8-K filed with the SEC on June 23, 2023, the Company had received written notice from Nasdaq that the Company was not in compliance with the minimum bid price required for continued listing on the Nasdaq Global Market under Nasdaq Listing Rule 5450(a)(1) based upon the closing bid price of the Class A Common Stock for the 30 consecutive business days prior to the date of the notice.

On December 26, 2023, the Company submitted a hearing request to stay the suspension of the Company’s Class A Common Stock and the filing of the Form 25-NSE pending the Panel’s decision.

However, subsequent to submitting the hearing request, on December 26, 2023, after careful evaluation of the options available to the Company, the Company’s board of directors determined that the voluntary delisting of the Company’s Class A Common Stock from Nasdaq is in the best interests of the Company and its stockholders. The Company anticipates significant financial savings as a result of this decision. In addition, delisting and deregistration provide several benefits to the Company and its stockholders including lower operating costs and reduced management time commitment for compliance and reporting activities.

Oops! Fox News ID's The Wrong Frank Thomas


Author Mark Twain once said "the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated," when rumors had spread that he had met his demise. On Friday morning, Fox News apparently took that to heart when it came to Baseball Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, according to USA Today.

During the show, The Faulkner Focus, the network ran a video to honor those prominent figures who have passed away this year and showed "The Big Hurt" during his career to go along with a clip of his Hall of Fame induction.

But Thomas is not dead, and Fox News meant to pay tribute to former MLB outfielder Frank Thomas, a three-time MLB All-Star who was born in 1929 and died on January 16 at the age of 93.

The now 55-year-old Thomas, who was a Fox baseball analyst from 2014 until this past spring, responded to his "death" on social media.

Thomas can still be seen these days peddling Nugenix supplements on your television.

Fox News later issued a correction acknowledging the mistake.

"We misidentified Frank Thomas, the three-time All-Star for the Pittsburgh Pirates," anchor Julie Banderas said. "The Frank Thomas we showed you unfortunately was also a former pro baseball. He is very much alive."

R.I.P.: Joey Meyer, Basketball Coach, WGN Broadcaster

Joey Meyer (1949-2023)
Joey Meyer, who played at DePaul and coached the Blue Demons to seven NCAA Tournament appearances in 13 seasons, has died. He was 74, reports The Chicago Tribune.

Meyer died Friday in Hinsdale surrounded by family, DePaul said in a release. The school did not provide further information.

Meyer played at DePaul for his father, Ray, for three seasons from 1968-71, averaging 16.4 points in 75 games. The Buffalo Braves selected the guard in the 18th round of the 1971 NBA draft, but he never appeared in a game in the league.

Meyer served as an assistant to his father for 11 seasons before taking over as head coach when Ray retired after coaching DePaul from 1942-84.

Joey Meyer guided the Blue Demons to the NCAA Tournament in each of his first five seasons. They reached the Sweet 16 in 1986 and 1987.

Meyer went 231-158 in 13 seasons as DePaul’s head coach. Some of his top players included Rod Strickland, David Booth and Tom Kleinschmidt.

After his time at DePaul, the Chicago native coached in the NBA’s developmental league and worked as a regional scout for the Los Angeles Clippers. He also worked as a color analyst on Northwestern basketball broadcasts on WGN-720 AM.

Radio History: December 30

➦In 1911...Actress Jeanette Nolan born (Died at age 86 from a stroke – June 5, 1998). Nominated for four Emmy Awards, she had roles in the television series The Virginian (1962–1971) and Dirty Sally (1974); and in films such as Macbeth (1948).

Nolan began her acting career at the Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena, California, and, while a student at Los Angeles City College, made her radio debut in 1932 in Omar Khayyam, the first transcontinental broadcast from station KHJ. She continued acting into the 1990s.

Nolan made more than three hundred television appearances.

➦In 1914...Radio & TV host Bert Parks born (Died at age 77 from lung cancer – February 2, 1992).  He is best known for hosting the annual Miss America telecast from 1955 to 1979.

Parks entered radio broadcasting at age 16, for Atlanta's WGST. Three years later, he moved to New York City and was hired as a singer and straight man on The Eddie Cantor Show, then becoming a CBS Radio staff announcer. Parks was the host of Break the Bank, which premiered on radio in 1945 and was telecast from 1948 to 1957, as well as Stop the Music on radio in 1948 and television from 1949 to 1952.

Bert Parks
The success of Stop the Music took a toll on the ratings of the popular radio show hosted by satirist Fred Allen, who began spoofing Parks's program with skits mocking the premise of the show, one called Cease The Melody.

With other celebrities, he hosted NBC radio's Monitor during the 1960s.

Parks' first game show was Party Line on NBC (broadcast from New York City NBC flagship station WNBT), which involved viewers calling in to answer questions and win $5 prizes; Party Line ran from June 8 to August 31, 1947, making its one surviving episode the oldest known game show and one of the oldest surviving television shows to have been recorded. Commercial kinescopes did not come out until fall 1947 (co-sponsored by NBC, DuMont, and Kodak), and the only kinescopes known to predate Party Line are a few episodes of Kraft Television Theater from February and June 1947.

Parks is most famous for hosting the Miss America telecast from 1955–79; each telecast ended with Parks singing "There She Is, Miss America", as the winner was crowned. Following the 1979 pageant, he was unceremoniously fired by the organization (he heard a newscast while on vacation) in an attempt to attract a more youthful audience. The Tonight Show host Johnny Carson led an on-air campaign to get Parks rehired, but was unsuccessful. In 1990, for the 70th anniversary of the Miss America pageant (during which Miss America 1991 was crowned), Parks was brought on by host Gary Collins to sing "There She Is" to the new Miss America, Marjorie Judith Vincent. It was the last time Parks performed the song live.

➦In 1917...actress Nancy Coleman born (Died at age 82 – January 18, 2000). After working on radio and appearing on the Broadway stage, Nancy Coleman moved to Hollywood to work for Warner Bros. studios.

Early in her career as an actress, Coleman portrayed Alice Hughes on the radio version of the soap opera Young Doctor Malone.  Coleman also appeared as the lead in the 04/13/1943 episode of "Suspense", entitled "Fear Paints a Picture". On television, she played Helen Emerson on Valiant Lady.

Jack Benny and Fred Allen

➦In 1936...The famous radio feud between Jack Benny and Fred Allen began. Good friends in real life, Fred Allen and Jack Benny inadvertently hatched a running gag in 1937 when a child prodigy, violinist Stuart Canin, gave a very credible performance on the Allen show, inspiring an Allen wisecrack about "a certain alleged violinist" who should hide in shame over his poor playing.

Allen often mentioned his show-business friends on the air ("Mr. Jacob Haley of Newton Highlands, Massachusetts" was Allen's way of saying hello to his pal Jack Haley), and on the Canin broadcast Allen knew Benny would be listening. Benny, according to Allen biographer Taylor, burst out laughing, then responded in kind on his own program. The rivalry gag went on for a decade and convinced some fans that the two comedians really were blood enemies.

The Allen-Benny feud was the longest-playing, best-remembered running gag in classic radio history.  The gag even pushed toward a boxing match between the two comedians and the promised event was a sellout, though the match never occurred.

➦In 1942...the radio program, "Mr. and Mrs. North", began it's run on the NBC Radio network. The show was a radio mystery series that aired on NBC and CBS from 1942 to 1954. Alice Frost and Joseph Curtin had the title roles when the series began in 1942.

The characters, publisher Jerry North and his wife Pam, lived in Greenwich Village at 24 St. Anne's Flat. They were not professional detectives but simply an ordinary couple who stumbled across a murder or two every week for 12 years. The radio program eventually reached nearly 20 million listeners.

➦In 1942...Frank Sinatra opened at New York's Paramount Theater for what was scheduled to be a four-week engagement, but turned into eight weeks because of its popularity.

Friday, December 29, 2023

TV Ratings: NBC News Scores A Hat Trick

NBC News is #1 for the week of December 18, with TODAY, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt and NBC News Daily topping broadcast news competition in the key A25-54 demo as 2023 concludes, according to Nielsen Media research.

TODAY is #1 in A25-54, beating Good Morning America by 154,000 viewers, marking its 19th consecutive weekly demo win – its longest streak since December 2021. TODAY also won across the board, including total viewers, on Wednesday, Dec. 20. Season-to-date, TODAY is the top-rated morning show in the key A25-54 and A18-49 demos, delivering its best start to a season in the key demos against GMA in five years.

NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt is the #1 evening newscast for the week in the key A25-54 demo, beating ABC World News Tonight by +70,000. Nightly News is also the most-watched newscast in A25-54 for four consecutive evenings (12/15,12/18,12/19 & 12/20), marking the longest daily winning streak in nearly four years, since March 2020. Season to-date, Nightly News improves its competitive position versus ABC across the board by double digits, including by +74% in the A25-54 demo compared to the same time period last year.

NBC News Daily also wins the week for the fifth consecutive time, topping GMA3 in the demo by +46,000 and delivering its largest A25-54 demo win on record. Additionally, NBC News Daily marks its longest demo streak on record, ranking #1 for 9 consecutive days in A25-54. NBC News Daily continues to be the #1 afternoon news program on all of TV in the key demo in its 12P-4P daypart, season to-date.

TV Ratings: NBA Christmas Viewership Sacked by NFL

Stronger NFL competition and fewer ABC games combined to sack NBA Christmas viewership for a loss.

Sports Media Watch reports viewership declined for at least four of the five NBA Christmas Day windows. The featured Celtics-Lakers game was the most-watched of the day with an average of 5.0 million across ABC (3.31M) and ESPN (1.69M), down 18% from Bucks-Celtics in the same window last year (6.08M).

Shifting to the ESPN portion of the schedule, Bucks-Knicks led the way with 2.49 million across ESPN and ESPN2 — down 39% from Sixers-Knicks on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 last year (4.07M). The late night Mavericks-Suns game averaged 1.47 million on ESPN, down 42% from Suns-Nuggets last year on ABC and ESPN (1.2, 2.52M). Bringing up the rear, Sixers-Heat averaged just 1.30 million on ESPN and ESPN2, down a whopping 73% from Grizzlies-Warriors on ABC and ESPN a year ago (4.75M).

This year’s Christmas slate was always going to be difficult for the NBA. This was the second-straight year that the NFL scheduled three games on the holiday, but unlike last year — when the schedule included two duds, Broncos-Rams and Buccaneers-Cardinals — all three games were strong on paper. The two afternoon games featured last year’s Super Bowl finalists facing historic rivals, while the primetime game pit the two best teams in the league.

Moreover, because Christmas fell on a Monday, the NFL scheduled its primetime game for ABC — leaving the NBA unable to simulcast all five games on the broadcast network as was the case last year. All three NFL games averaged north of 27 million, while last year’s schedule topped out at 25 million.

Despite the sharp declines, Christmas Day once again produced the largest audience of the NBA season. Celtics-Lakers topped the previous high set by the Pacers-Lakers NBA In-Season Tournament Final earlier this month (4.58M). Even Bucks-Knicks ranks seventh for the season among NBA games (pending results for Warriors-Nuggets).

November Traffic Stalls at Most News Websites

Eighty-five percent of right wing news websites in TheRighting’s top 20 lost year-over-year (YOY) unique visitors according to our exclusive analysis of mobile and desktop traffic based on Comscore data for November 2023. Infowars and both posted double-digit gains continuing a strong second half of the year for both sites while most other right wing websites slumped during this period.

Since June, has generated six consecutive months of YOY increases in unique visitors. Infowars registered gains five times in the last six months.

“Traffic to most right wing news websites continued its baffling end-of-year tailspin,” noted Howard Polskin, President, TheRighting. “Despite a news environment dominated by major international conflicts and domestic political turmoil, unique visitors kept dropping to news websites on the left, right and center. I don’t see this trend stopping soon, unless there are major surprises in the upcoming primaries where Donald Trump and Joe Biden are widely expected to secure their parties’ nomination. It’s also possible consumer interest in Donald Trump’s upcoming trials will drive more traffic to news sites in 2024.”

All three mainstream news websites TheRighting follows regularly experienced sharp decreases in YOY unique visitors. While led all news websites with 116,307,000 unique visitors in November, YOY traffic fell 20%. The New York Times brand tumbled 29%, its biggest drop of the year, while the Washington Post sagged 27%.

Winners and Losers Among Top 20 Right Wing News Websites for November 2023 (by unique visitor percentage increase/decrease from year ago)

  • (+122%)
  • ·Infowars (+46%)
  • ·Washington Examiner (+2%)
  • The Gateway Pundit (-78%)
  • Washington Free Beacon (-76%)
  • Twitchy (-75%)
Each month, TheRighting examines Comscore data on dozens of prominent right wing websites that post original content. TheRighting ranks the top 20 right wing websites on the basis of unique visitors and also provides data on whether unique visitors have increased or decreased year-over-year.

Source: Comscore Media Metrix® Multi-Platform, Custom-defined list, including, but not limited to,,,,,, Total Digital Audience, November 2023, U.S.

R.I.P.: Pat Ebertz, Longtime Twin Cities Radio Personality

Pat Ebertz (1961-2023)

The Twin Cities radio community has been paying tribute to longtime host and consultant Pat Ebertz following his death.

Friends and family of Ebertz say that he passed away at his home on Christmas Day. He was 62, according to Bring Me The News.

Ebertz spent time co-hosting the Dave Ryan in the Morning Show on KDWB from 1993 to 2008. He also worked with The Tom Barnard Morning Show at KQRS.

Tributes to Ebertz describe a radio professional who stood out from other DJs by inquiring about the well-being of his audience, establishing genuine ties with listeners.

A graduate of the University of North Dakota in 1988, at the time of his death he was working as a marketing consultant for digital, radio and television at Hubbard Broadcasting.

R.I.P.: Joe Hoppel, Longtime WCMS VA Personality

Joe Hoppel, beloved Hampton Roads radio personality and icon of country music radio, dies at 89

The Viriginian-Pilot reports Joe Hoppel Sr., fresh out of a New York broadcasting school, boarded a southbound bus in 1954, heading for his first professional job at a radio station in Portsmouth. The 20-year-old native Pennsylvanian didn’t know a lick about country music.

Over the next 50 years, though, he would become a local icon of country music radio, speaking through and playing songs on Hampton Roads’ airwaves. Joseph Michael “Joe” Hoppel Sr., 89, of Virginia Beach, died Tuesday. The radio personality worked at WCMS, 94.5 FM, for 49 years. For 47 of those, he hosted the station’s morning show, through which he built a multigenerational fanbase as part of many listeners’ commutes.

The Hoppel Headlock
“Mine and my sisters’ emails and Facebooks have been flooded with comments and messages from people who remember him,” said son Michael Hoppel, 66, of Moyock. “He touched so many people. It’s been amazing to hear from them.

Hoppel was named one of America’s top country music radio personalities five times and one time named the Music Director of the Year by the Country Music Association. He was twice honored as the Virginia Country Music Association’s Radio Personality of the Year. He was inducted into the Country Music Disc Jockey DJ Hall of Fame in 2002.

Born on July 17, 1934, Hoppel grew up in Nicktown, Pennsylvania, knowing he wanted a future in broadcasting. After high school, he enrolled at the Radio City Broadcasting School in New York City. His ease of oration and sonorous voice impressed instructors. When representatives of Portsmouth’s WLOW called about talent, teachers put Hoppel on the phone with them. The interview lasted only five minutes before he was hired.

He started in 1954 but was hired away by a competing station, WCMS, the following year. The career move was a bit risky. WCMS was less than a year old and it only played country music.

But more and more people started listening to WCMS and it didn’t take long for Hoppel to love country music.

“At the time, I didn’t know country music and didn’t like country music,” he told The Pilot in 1995. “But I started getting calls from listeners who knew all about the artists and where they lived. I decided there must be something to it.”

He met Elvis. Johnny Cash once put him in a headlock. Another time, Willie Nelson did too. And Kenny Rogers. It became a running gag that Hoppel loved. Someone was always there to snap a picture. The collection featured prominently in his 2010 book, “People I’ve Met, Things I’ve Done: 50 Years in Country Music Radio.”

R.I.P.: Dolly Dakota, North Dakota Radio Personality Dead At 56

Dolly Dekota
Dolly Dakota passed away Wednesday after a long battle with ovarian cancer, according to website posting at KFYR TV.

She made a name for herself in radio, first as production director for KFYR-AM and KYYY Y93. She was also on the air at Y93. Dakota was on the air at COOL 98.7 since 2015.

Dakota shared openly about her journey with cancer, appearing on North Dakota Today and writing about it herself on her blog Red Wing Soars.

“I was fortunate to work with Dolly for several years in radio, and our sarcastic senses of humor played off of each other beautifully. She never backed down from anything and was a true fighter right up to the end. She was tough, but a true friend who would do anything for you. Her strength, courage and determination throughout her life made her unique. She will be missed,” said Wayne Wolff, a KFYR anchor.

Radio History: December 29

➦In 1891...Thomas A. Edison patented "transmission of signals electrically" (radio).

Wendell Niles, Marilyn Monroe

➦In of the prominent announcers of big-time radio & early TV Wendell Niles was born in Twin Valley Minnesota.

Niles worked on such radio shows as The Charlotte Greenwood Show, Hedda Hopper's Hollywood, The Adventures of Philip Marlowe, The Man Called X, The Bob Hope Show, The Burns & Allen Show, The Milton Berle Show and The Chase and Sanborn Hour. On February 15, 1950, Wendell starred in the radio pilot for The Adventures of the Scarlet Cloak along with Gerald Mohr.

Wendell Niles
He began in entertainment by touring in the 1920s with his own orchestra, playing with the Dorsey Brothers and Bix Beiderbecke. In the early 1930s, Niles was an announcer at radio station KOL in Seattle. He moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1935 to join George Burns and Gracie Allen.

He and his brother, Ken, developed one of the first radio dramas, which eventually became Theatre of the Mind.

He toured with Bob Hope during World War II. Among his film credits are Knute Rockne, All American (1940) with Ronald Reagan and Hollywood or Bust (the last Martin & Lewis comedy, 1956) as himself.

Wendell Niles was the announcer for TV's "America's Show Of Surprises"... It Could Be You, and for the Hatos-Hall production Your First Impression. Niles was also the original announcer for Let's Make a Deal during that show's first season in 1963 and 1964; he was later replaced by Jay Stewart.

Niles and his brother, Ken, are the first brothers to have stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

He died March 28 1994 at age 89.

➦In 1945...Sheb Wooley recorded the first commercial record made in Nashville. The song was recorded at the studios of WSM-AM and released by the Bullet label; but it would be 13 years before Wooley would finally score with a big hit (“The Purple People Eater” was #1 for six weeks in 1958.)

WSM is credited with helping shape Nashville into a recording industry capital. Because of WSM's wide reach, musical acts from all across the eastern United States came to Nashville in the early decades of the station's existence, in hopes of getting to perform on WSM.  Over time, as more acts and recording companies came to Nashville, the city became known as the center of the country music industry. Disc jockey David Cobb is credited with first referring to Nashville as "Music City USA", a designation that has since been adopted as the city's official nickname by the local tourism board.

➦In 1945...The mystery voice of "Mr. Hush" was introduced to the audience of the radio show, "Truth or Consequences", which was hosted by Ralph Edwards.

Ralph Edwards
Born in Merino, Colorado,  Edwards worked for KROW Radio in Oakland, California while he was still in high school.  Before graduating from high school in 1931, he worked his way through college at the University of California, Berkeley, earning a B.A. in English in 1935. While there, he worked at every job from janitor to producer at Oakland's KTAB, now KSFO. Failing to get a job as a high school teacher, he worked at KFRC and then hitchhiked across the country to New York, where, he said, "I ate ten-cent ($2 as of 2014),  meals and slept on park benches".

After some part-time announcing jobs, he got his big break in 1938 with a full-time job for the Columbia Broadcasting System on WABC (now WCBS-AM), where he worked with two other young announcers who would become broadcasting fixtures - Mel Allen and Andre Baruch.

It was Edwards who introduced Major Bowes every week on the Original Amateur Hour and Fred Allen on Town Hall Tonight. Edwards perfected a chuckling delivery, sounding as though he was in the midst of telling a very funny story. This "laugh in the voice" technique served him well when 20th Century Fox hired him to narrate the coming-attractions trailers for Laurel and Hardy movies. He later used the conspiratorial chuckle frequently when surprising someone on his programs.

In 1940, Edwards created the game show Truth or Consequences, which aired for 38 years on radio and television. Contestants were asked to perform (often ridiculous) stunts for prizes of cash or merchandise.

➦In 1958...the first radio broadcast from space occurred when the voice of President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, "To all mankind, America's wish for Peace on Earth & Good Will to Men Everywhere".

➦In 1963...Much to the chagrin of the disc jockeys at 50,000-watt 77WABC in New York, the 5,000-watt blowtorch known as WMCA 570 AM and its famed “Good Guys” became the first New York radio station to play the Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand”. It didn’t take long for WABC to get revenge. WABC played the record an hour later and started calling itself the “official” Beatles station (W-A-Beatle-C).

Throughout the 1960s, WMCA would continue to beat other radio stations on most Beatles' promotions, scoring firsts, causing headaches in particular for rival WABC - most notably when Capitol Records printed a photograph of the "Good Guys" line-up - on the back of a limited edition record sleeve for the single, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (Side 2: "I Saw Her Standing There"). WMCA's Good Guys were also featured at both of the Beatles' concerts at Shea Stadium, on August 15, 1965 and on August 23, 1966.

WMCA Good Guys: Johnny Dark, Joe O'Brien, Jack Spector, B. Mitchel Reed. Harry Harrison

WABC responded in different ways, scoring a success during the Beatles' second New York visit in August 1964 - when the band stayed at the Delmonico Hotel, rousing thousands of teenage fans into a frenzy - while broadcasting from one floor above the Beatles' rooms.  WABC later went against its own music policies, promising promoter Sid Bernstein that it would play a new group he was handling before any other New York City radio station - if it could get exclusive access to the Beatles. WABC never added records "out of the box" - but it did for Sid Bernstein when it played The Young Rascals' "I Ain't Going To Eat Out My Heart Anymore" - before other radio stations.

Since WABC knew WMCA already had a relationship with the Beatles, with tapes of the group promoting the station - what could WABC do to achieve the same? In August 1965, WABC came up with what it thought was a brilliant idea - issuing "medals" called "The Order of the All-Americans" - tied to its own DJs.  The strategy was to present the medals to each of the Beatles the next time they were in New York. Everything was set. The goal was to get each Beatle to comment on the "medal" - and then to get each to say the station's call letters, "W-A-B-C." These in turn could be used in station IDs and promotions, etc. - thus matching WMCA's success at getting the Beatles to promote WMCA and its Good Guys. But WABC's plan backfired. The station got its interviews, but none of the band's members would utter WABC's call letters. According to Beatles' historian Bruce Spizer, manager Brian Epstein ordered the Beatles to stop "giving away valuable promotional spots to radio stations for free."

Ted Danson is 76
  • Actor Jon Voight is 85. 
  • Singer Marianne Faithfull is 77. 
  • Actor Ted Danson is 76. 
  • Singer-actor Yvonne Elliman is 72. 
  • Actor Patricia Clarkson is 64. 
  • Comedian Paula Poundstone is 64. 
  • Guitarist-singer Jim Reid of The Jesus and Mary Chain is 62. 
  • Actor Michael Cudlitz (“The Walking Dead”) is 59. 
  • Singer Dexter Holland of The Offspring is 58. 
  • Actor Jason Gould is 57. 
  • News anchor Ashleigh Banfield is 56. 
  • Director Lilly Wachowski (“The Matrix”) is 56. 
  • Singer-guitarist Glen Phillips (Toad the Wet Sprocket) is 53. 
  • Actor Kevin Weisman (“Alias”) is 53. 
  • Actor Jude Law is 51. 
  • Actor Maria Dizzia (“Orange Is the New Black”) is 49. 
  • Actor Mekhi Phifer is 49. 
  • Actor Shawn Hatosy (“Reckless,” ″The Faculty”) is 48. 
  • Actor Katherine Moennig (“Ray Donovan,” “The L Word”) is 47. 
  • Actor Alison Brie (“Glow,” ″Community”) is 41. 
  • Country singer Jessica Andrews is 40. 
  • Actor Iain de Caestecker (“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) is 36. 
  • Actor Jane Levy (“Suburgatory”) is 34. 
  • Drummer Danny Wagner of Greta Van Fleet is 25.
  • In 2011..Bobby Purify [Robert Lee Dickey], American soul singer (I'm Your Puppet), dies at 72
  • In 2020..Phyllis McGuire, American pop vocalist (McGuire Sisters - "Sincerely"; "Sugartime"), dies at 89
  • In 2022..Pele, Brazilian soccer attacking midfielder (92 caps; Player of the Century; 1,281 goals in 1,363 games; Santos