Saturday, January 6, 2024

Radio History: January 7

➦In 1904...The Marconi Company made a proposal that there be an international radio distress signal in Morse Code.

“C.Q.D” meant “Stop Sending and Listen” although many eventually thought it to mean “Come, Quick, Danger”. The code was replaced in 1908 by “S.O.S.” because it was quicker to transmit by wireless radio and could not be misinterpreted.

➦In 1924...composer George Gershwin began work on the incomparable score of “Rhapsody in Blue” (he completed it some three weeks later). George was only 26 years old at the time.

➦In 1927...First established commercial telephone service between North America and Europe.

Using radio, the American Telephone and Telegraph Co hosted a two-way conversation between New York and London. The two parties on the line were Walter S Gifford, the president of AT&T, in NY, and Sir Evelyn Murray, the Secretary of the General Post Office, which managed the British telephone system at the time.

➦In 1939...comedian Red Skelton was given his first national starring vehicle as ‘Avalon Time’ debuted on the NBC Red radio network.

➦In 1940...Gene Autry’s "Melody Ranch" debuted on the CBS Radio Network. It stayed on the air for 16 years.

➦In 1941...The NBC Blue Radio Network debuted "The Squeaky Door". The show was later became known as "Inner Sanctum." Raymond Edward Johnson was ‘Raymond your host’ for the first 4 seasons.  Thereafter an even more malevolent (but nameless) host was portrayed by Paul McGrath until the final Sanctum show in October 1952.

Nikola Tesla
➦In 1943...Inventor Nikola Tesla, best remembered for his design of the alternating current (AC) electricity supply system and his contributions to the invention of radio communication, died of a coronary thrombosis at the age of 86.

Tesla's theories on the possibility of the transmission by radio waves go back as far as lectures and demonstrations in 1893 in St. Louis, Missouri, the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the National Electric Light Association.  Tesla's demonstrations and principles were written about widely through various media outlets. Many devices such as the Tesla Coil were used in the further development of radio.

In 1898, Tesla demonstrated a radio-controlled boat—which he dubbed "teleautomaton"—to the public during an electrical exhibition at Madison Square Garden.  The crowd that witnessed the demonstration made outrageous claims about the workings of the boat, such as magic, telepathy, and being piloted by a trained monkey hidden inside. Tesla tried to sell his idea to the U.S. military as a type of radio-controlled torpedo, but they showed little interest.   Remote radio control remained a novelty until World War I and afterward, when a number of countries used it in military programs.

Radio Shows Surprising Resilience

It’s a familiar refrain: “Legacy media is dead” — unless you’re talking about radio.

Despite being one of the oldest media formats, dating back to the 1890s, radio has maintained relatively stable listenership over the past decade. Pay TV, while newer, has faced more significant declines, CNBC reports.

In 2009, 92% of Americans age 12 or older listened to traditional, or terrestrial, radio in a given week, according to data from Pew Research published last year. By 2022, that number fell 10 percentage points. Pay TV penetration, on the other hand, fell 20 percentage points between 2014 and 2023, according to data firm Statista. In the third quarter of last year, the pay TV industry shrank at a record pace, analysts at MoffettNathanson said in their latest cord-cutting report.

“Terrestrial radio has stayed steady even as other mediums like satellite radio, podcasts and Apple CarPlay have come on board,” said Guggenheim media analyst Curry Baker.

“Historically, radio personalities and stations have engaged with local audiences,” which tend be “sticky,” Baker said. “Cable networks never really did that.”

Radio has maintained the upper hand on many media formats partly because of its accessibility and relative lack of cost barriers. Most cars come already equipped with access to AM and FM radio at no additional cost, and according to Statista data from 2022, the majority of U.S. drivers choose to listen to terrestrial AM/FM radio over any other form of entertainment on the road.

But radio listenership has also been bolstered by the unique ability of stations to capture local audience loyalty. Listeners tune in to hear familiar voices, such as Elvis Duran on New York’s Z100 or Ryan Seacrest on Los Angeles’ KIIS-FM. Conservative commentators have also traditionally commanded large followings on their radio shows, such as Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

“Radio is an interactive medium, and part of that is contesting,” Tom Poleman, chief programming officer at iHeartMedia, told CNBC. “For over half of our listeners, contesting is one of the reasons that they come to radio. Over time, contests has become more accessible with digital options like text-to-win and social media contests. Radio is also inherently social: 80% of our listeners say that they come because they trust our host to be the voices of the community.”

iHeartMedia, which controls 860 stations across the U.S., captures an average of 250 million monthly listeners, the company said in November, the largest reach of any radio broadcaster in the U.S.
Over-the-air evolution

Like other legacy media, radio has faced increasing encroachment from digital audio formats, such as podcasting and streaming platforms. Radio giants such as iHeartMedia and SiriusXM have adopted podcasts and digital output as part of their business models.

Pat McAfee Claims ESPN Suit Is Trying To Sabotage His Show

Pat McAfee called out ESPN executive Norby Williamson by name in an explosive segment on Friday after The Post’s Andrew Marchand wrote a column opining that McAfee needs to get better TV ratings if his show is going to be a headache for ESPN in the wake of the Aaron Rodgers-Jimmy Kimmel dustup.

\On his show on Friday, McAfee spoke to co-host A.J. Hawk about how the show rates on various platforms and proceeded to go off on Williamson, ESPN’s Executive Editor and Head of Event and Studio Production and a member of company president Jimmy Pitaro’s inner circle.

“We’re very appreciative, and we understand that more people are watching this show than ever before. We’re very thankful for the ESPN folks for being very hospitable. Now, there are some people actively trying to sabotage us from within ESPN — more specifically, I believe, Norby Williamson is the guy who is attempting to sabotage our program,” McAfee said.

“Now, I’m not 100 percent sure. That is just seemingly the only human that has information, and then that information gets leaked, and it’s wrong, and it sets a narrative of what our show is.

“And then are we just gonna combat that from a rat every single time? Somebody tried to get ahead of our actual ratings release with wrong numbers 12 hours beforehand. That’s a sabotage attempt. It’s been happening this entire season from some people who didn’t necessarily love the old addition of ‘The Pat McAfee Show’ to the ESPN family. There’s a lot of those.”

Asked by The Post, an ESPN spokesperson did not have immediate comment to McAfee’s remarks.

Williamson is one of ESPN’s longest tenured employees, having joined the company in 1985. He is known for being a proponent of meat-and-potatoes sports talk, and has alternately butted heads with talents over the years who veer from that vision — Dan Le Batard’s executive producer Mike Ryan tweeted “Pat” with three clapping emojis after the segment on Friday afternoon — and had great relationships with ones who stick to it.

NFL Games Made Up 93% Of The Most Watched TV Programs

The NFL’s new 11-year media rights agreement with its television partners kicked-in last year. Under the contract, NBC, CBS, Fox and ABC/ESPN will, on average, pay an increase of 80% for the rights to televise/stream NFL games. Nielsen’s annual ranking of the 100 most watched programs in 2023, found the broadcast networks may have wound up with a bargain, Forbes reports.

More Americans watched NFL games on TV in 2023 than any other programming, accounting for 93 of the 100 highest rated shows. The dominance of the NFL with viewers is continuing. Anthony Crupi of Sportico notes in 2022, the NFL accounted for 82 of the top 100 telecasts. In 2021 the NFL had 75 of the top 100 shows and had numbered 72 in 2020. In addition, Sports Media Watch notes, for the 2023 regular season, the NFL had 17 games surpassing 25 million viewers, compared to nine in 2022.

At a time when the audience for linear television continues to erode, the NFL remains an outlier. Heading into the final weeks of the 2023 regular season, NFL games on TV/digital platforms have averaged 17.5 million viewers, a year-over-year increase of 8%. (Early morning international games are excluded.)

With the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes delaying the start of the broadcast season, NFL primetime games benefited. With a lack of original content ESPN’s Monday Night Football were simulcast on ABC. Subsequently, “MNF” ratings grew year-over-year by 24%. Also, with an average audience of 21.8 million, NBC’s Sunday Night Football is on track to have its highest audience delivery since 2015.

Moreover, Amazon’s second season of Thursday Night Football has also generated strong ratings growth. In 2023, Amazon averaged 11.9 million viewers, an increase of 24% from 2022. For the 2023 season, Thursday Night Football reported 13 weeks of year-over-year percent double-digit viewership increases. Furthermore, the audience delivery of all 15 “TNF” games was greater than every broadcast and cable program that evening.

To no one’s surprise, dominating the top-rated programs of 2023 were NFL postseason games. Super Bowl LVII on Fox became the most watched program ever with an average audience of 115.1 million viewers. As in previous years, the next two highest rated shows were the AFC (53.1 million) and NFC (47.5 million) conference championship games. Collectively, of the 20 most watched programs of the year were NFL games, 11 of them were in the postseason.

Regular season holiday games were especially strong. The tripleheaders of NFL games on Thanksgiving and Christmas all ranked among the most watched games of 2023.

Collectively, the three Thanksgiving Day games averaged a record high 34.1 million viewers (TV and digital). Also, the total unduplicated audience across all three games was 133 million, the second best after last season. The late Thanksgiving Day game on CBS averaged 41.8 million viewers, fifth highest in 2023 and the second most watched NFL regular season game ever after last season’s Thanksgiving game. The early afternoon Thanksgiving game on Fox averaged 33.7 million viewers, seventh highest, the most-watched early Thanksgiving Day game to date. NBC’s primetime Thanksgiving game averaged 27.6 million viewers, 19th highest, the highest prime-time Thanksgiving game since 2015.

This year, the three NFL Christmas Day games (on Monday) averaged 28.7 million viewers, a 29% increase from 2022, all ranked among the most watched regular season games. The early afternoon Christmas Day game on CBS averaged 29.5 million viewers, ranking 14th in 2023 and was the most watched Christmas Day game in 34 years. The late afternoon Christmas game on Fox averaged 29.0 million viewers, ranking 15th. The primetime Christmas game aired on ABC and averaged 27.6 million viewers, ranking 19th. It was also the second-most-watched Monday Night Football game since 1996. With Christmas falling on Wednesday in 2024, the NFL has announced they will not be scheduling any games this year.

The top-rated college football game was the storied Big Ten rivalry Ohio State and Michigan. With both schools undefeated and nationally ranked, the game played on Thanksgiving weekend on Fox. averaged 19.1 million viewers, the most watched regular season college football game since 2011 and ranked 58th in 2023.

‘Tis The Season

The Golden Globes will get the film and TV awards season properly underway on Sunday, but they’ll likely look a little different thanks to a host of fresh categories, an updated voting body, redesigned trophies, and even a new network.

Comedian Jo Koy will host the revamped ceremony, with critics predicting Barbenheimer domination and a host of TV gongs for Chartr office favorite Succession, as the awards show attempts to drag itself out of a prolonged reputational and ratings rough patch.

In 2021, the now-dissolved Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the show’s ex-organizers, came under fire for controversies ranging from financial corruption to racism and discrimination. The accusations saw celebrities boycott the awards, Tom Cruise return his previous Globes, and the 2022 ceremony take place behind closed doors.

New owners Dick Clark Productions will be hoping to leave those controversies behind with their shiny new ceremony. From 1998 to 2020, the Globes broadcast attracted a 19.3 million audience on average, even with a huge drop off in 2008 owing to a writers’ strike, but viewership for the most recent shows slumped to 6.9 million and 6.3 million, respectively.

Reporter Who Aired Explosive Paul Pelosi Story Exits Network

Reporter Miguel Almaguer, who famously mysteriously disappeared from NBC News for several weeks after his explosive Paul Pelosi report was retracted in 2022, has left the network. 

On Nov. 4, 2022, Almaguer suggested in a report that aired on "Today" that Pelosi, the husband of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, might not have been in immediate danger when police arrived the night he was assaulted in his San Francisco home. NBC News retracted the report that afternoon as it began to go viral, saying it didn't meet standards.

Almaguer, once a regular on "Today" and "NBC Nightly News," was then absent until he quietly returned on Dec. 12, 2022. He was reportedly suspended, but NBC wouldn’t admit it on the record and Almaguer did not respond to multiple requests for comment during the prolonged absence. Media insiders were baffled by NBC News' lack of transparency on the issue, and some liberal outlets fumed the report had fueled far-right conspiracy theories about the nature of the attack.

Thirteen months later, Almaguer posted a message on social media announcing he had left NBC News. The circumstances of his exit are unclear.

"Seen a lot. Done a lot. Learned a lot. Thankful for my nearly 2 decade long run at NBC News. But more than anything grateful for those in the trenches with me. With them it was more an adventure than work. Change is hard and goodbyes aren't easy. But turning the page is exciting. In news ... I love a great last line. This one is still being written," Almaguer posted on Instagram. 

Almaguer sent a memo to NBC staffers about his departure obtained by Fox News Digital.

Philly Radio: Arbitrator Rules WHYY Must Rehire Reporter

Jad Sleiman
A reporter who was fired for his standup comedy has been reinstated to his job at a Philadelphia-based public radio station through an arbitrator, who agreed that his jokes were, in some part, funny.

AP News reports Jad Sleiman, 34, is to be fully reinstated to his position with WHYY, a Philadelphia-based NPR station, after an arbitrator determined that, while the bits posted to social media could be interpreted as “inflammatory,” the organization “rushed to judgment” in its decision to terminate him.

In a phone call Friday, Sleiman said he felt vindicated by the decision and plans to return to work.

“When a news organization says you’re a racist, bigot, whatever, people believe them,” he said. “So it was a lot of abuse from a lot of people who have never met me, who’ve never seen my stand-up just saw what WHYY said about me, which is not great.”

Sleiman said he was considering further legal action for statements made by WHYY about his character.

Sleiman had been working as a reporter on The Pulse, a nationally syndicated health and science program, since 2018 when he was terminated a year ago after executives found his social media account — under Jad S. or @jadslay — that posted clips of his standup comedy.

Officials at WHYY argued that his standup comedy violated the company’s code of conduct, social media guidelines and values of social responsibility, finding his routine to be “inflammatory.” They submitted nine videos from social media as their evidence. They argued the clips were “‘egregious’ in content, and had ‘sexual connotations, racial connotations, and misogynistic information,’ ” according to the arbitration documents.

Sleiman, who has worked as a reporter in the United States and abroad since 2013 after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, argued in arbitration his stand-up routines stem from his experiences as an Arab American raised in a Muslim family, and his time in military service and reporting in the Middle East.

While arbitrator Lawrence S. Coburn conceded some or portions of the videos could be seen as inflammatory — “the very low standard in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that I am required to apply,” he wrote — he also found them to be sometimes “simply funny.”

“More important, I find that the message of the clip, if one is open to receiving it, cannot be interpreted to be inflammatory,” he continued.

For another, Coburn said “it is difficult to believe that a fair-minded person would find the clip inflammatory.”

“But the bar is very low, and WHYY’s 1.3 million person audience might have a few people who would find the clip inflammatory,” he added.

Singer Michael Bolton Recovering From Brain Surgery

Michael Bolton

Singer Michael Bolton revealed on Friday that he is canceling upcoming shows due to “unexpected challenges” from a brain tumor and subsequent brain surgery.

“Thanks to incredible medical team, the surgery was a success,” the “When a Man Loves a Woman” singer, who is 70, wrote in an Instagram.

The Wrap reports hje said he received the diagnosis “just before the holidays” and that the doctors determined he needed immediate surgery.

The Grammy winner said he is taking the “next couple of months” off to focus on his recovery.

“It is always the hardest thing for me to ever disappoint my fans or postpone a show, but have no doubt I am working hard to accelerate my recovery and get back to performing soon,” Bolton wrote.

He didn’t specific how long he expected his “temporary break” to last. His tour, was scheduled through May, would next have taken him to Florida, Ohio, Canada and California in February. He is separately booked in July for two dates at London’s The O2 arena.

Radio History: January 6

➦In 1838...Morse Code privately demonstrated

➦In Danny Thomas was born Amos Muzyad Yahkoob in Deerfield Michigan.  His broadcast credits began in radio with Baby Snooks, the Bickersons (Drene Time) & The Big Show.  Besides his own successful TV sitcom Make Room for Daddy (later renamed the Danny Thomas Show) he had a hand in producing the Dick Van Dyke Show, the Andy Griffith Show, and the Mod Squad.  He founded St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

He died Feb 6, 1991 after a heart attack, at age 79.

➦In 1939...producer/journalist Carlton E Morse, premiered 'I Love A Mystery', which aired afternoon's on NBC's West Coast radio Network.

He is best known for his creation of the radio serial One Man's Family, which debuted in 1932 and ran until 1959 as one of the most popular as well as long-running radio soap operas of the time.

Carlton E Morse
A radio legend, he experimented with television and published three novels. Morse is considered by many to be one of the best radio scriptwriters.

After losing his newspaper job, Morse brought several scripts he had written throughout the 1920s to an interview with NBC. He soon was offered a job at KGO, the San Francisco outlet of NBC's Blue Network, and began his radio career scripting House of Myths. Morse began work on NBC Mystery Serial, which included such episodes as "Captain Post: Crime Specialist" and "Case of the One-eyed Parrot". Other mysteries scripted by Morse included The Witch of Endor, The City of the Dead, Captain Post: Crime Specialist, The Game Called Murder and Dead Men Prowl.

He also did four programs based on San Francisco Police Department files: Chinatown Squad, Barbary Coast Nights, Killed in Action and To the Best of Their Ability. Morse worked closely with San Francisco Police Chief William J. Quinn, who narrated all four series.

"One Man's Family" was a daily soap opera, targeted at housewives, and "I Love a Mystery" was an adventure serial for adolescents and lovers of the macabre. Both are regarded by radio historians as two of the all-time best radio serials.

➦In 1941...a young actor appeared for the first time in a new program on CBS Radio, 'Home of the Brave'. This marked Richard Widmark‘s professional acting debut.  His first film appearance was 6 years later.

➦In 1945...a new mystery drama ‘The Saint’ based on the Leslie Charteris novels, began a Saturday evening run on NBC radio. Vincent Price did not come to the lead role of Simon Templar until 1947 on CBS.

➦In 1957…Elvis Presley made his third and final appearance on CBS-TV’s Ed Sullivan Show, performing seven numbers over a 20-minute segment. Among them were “Peace in the Valley” and “My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again.” Sullivan called Presley a “fine boy” and said he was easy to work with.

Sullivan demanded that the cameramen shoot Elvis only from the waist up this time. Presley sang seven songs: "Hound Dog," "Don't Be Cruel," "Love Me Tender," "Heartbreak Hotel," "Peace in the Valley" (at the request of the network), "Too Much," and "When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again."

Joe O'Brien
➦In 1969...NYC personality Joe O'Brien started at WNBC 660 AM.  A Yonkers native, O'Brien began his career in 1935 when he got his first radio job with WMCA 570 AM in NYC. He worked at the station for 34 years and became one of the Good Guys team of DJs in the late 1960's. They played Top 40 hits and became nearly as popular as the music they played.

For a time, O'Brien was the No. 1 morning man in New York City.

O'Brien handled morning duties until he was replaced by Don Imus in 1972. Mr. O'Brien then went to WHUD in Peekskill, N.Y. He retired in 1986, but continued to do weekend specials for WHUD until 2000.

He died in a car accident in 2005 at age 90.

➦In 1971...WJRZ 970 AM sold to Pacific Southern.  It changed its call letters on May 16 and became WWDJ, known on the air as "97-DJ", attempting to take on WABC and replace WMCA as the New York market's second Top 40 outlet.

For a brief time, program director Mark Driscoll began imaging the station as "9-J", giving rise to a recorded parody of the station called "Nine" produced by a group that included future disk jockeys Howard Hoffman and Randy West.

The station was hampered by a directional signal that covered Manhattan and parts of New Jersey well but suffered in the rest of the Five Boroughs and was virtually nonexistent on Long Island and western New Jersey. Eventually, FM competition from WCBS-FM and adult top 40 station WXLO (now WEPN-FM), and an evolution to adult Top 40 by WNBC (now WFAN), began to eat into WWDJ's ratings. In November 1973 it was ranked 15th in the Arbitron ratings.

E G Marshall
➦In 1974...CBS returned to dramatic radio programming at night with the first broadcast of the CBS Radio Mystery Theater, hosted by E.G. Marshall. The program debuted on 218 CBS stations and ran for nine years.

➦In of the last surviving announcers of bigtime radio, Bob LeMond died of complications from dementia at age 94.

He was best known as the voice who announced for the television shows Leave It to Beaver and Ozzie and Harriet. LeMond was also the announcer for the first radio sitcom by Lucille Ball, My Favorite Husband, as well as for the first television pilot episode of I Love Lucy. The peak of his announcing career spanned from the 1930s well into the 1960s.

LeMond first became involved in radio announcing during the 1930s. He was selling advertising for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner when his brother-in-law asked him to read a commercial for a radio show that his advertising agency was sponsoring. This audition was performed live on the air, and LeMond was hired on the spot for a salary of $20 a week. He worked at KEHE (later KECA) in Los Angeles in 1937-38 and at KYA in San Francisco in 1938-39 before being hired by CBS as one of its main announcers.

Bob LeMond
In 1942, LeMond was the announcer for The Second Mrs. Burton and Hollywood Showcase on radio. An October news report indicated that he would be the announcer for Lights Out, but military service intervened.

He continued to announce even after entering the U.S. Army during World War II, where he worked for Armed Forces Radio from 1942 until 1946. He ran the Mosquito Network, which broadcast to United States military personnel throughout the South Pacific. After the Japanese surrendered, he was named manager and officer in charge of Radio Tokyo.

LeMond returned to work at CBS after World War II, where he enjoyed the peak of his career. His most famed work came as the announcer for Lucille Ball's radio sitcom My Favorite Husband from 1948 until 1951. He continued to work with Ball as the announcer for the pilot episode of the television show which eventually became I Love Lucy.

LeMond's other blossoming television and radio credits during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s included Leave It to Beaver, The Red Skelton Show, Red Skelton, Bat Masterson, Our Miss Brooks, My Friend Irma, Spike Jones, Edgar Bergen's Do You Trust Your Wife? and Life with Luigi. He also announced for countless television special events including the Academy Awards (for sponsor General Motors' Oldsmobile division) and the Tournament of Roses Parade.

He officially retired from show business in 1971.

➦In 2012...Religious WFME 94.7 FM NYC (now Audacy-owned Classic Hip-Hop WXBK) license changed from non-commercial to commercial.

Kate McKinnon is 40
  • Singer Kim Wilson of the Fabulous Thunderbirds is 73. 
  • Country singer Jett Williams is 71. 
  • Actor-comedian Rowan Atkinson (“Mr. Bean”) is 69. 
  • Singer Kathy Sledge of Sister Sledge is 65. 
  • Chef Nigella Lawson is 64. 
  • Singer Eric Williams of BLACKstreet is 64. 
  • Actor Norman Reedus (“The Walking Dead”) is 55. 
  • TV personality Julie Chen is 54. 
  • Actor Danny Pintauro (“Who’s The Boss”) is 48. 
  • Actor Rinko Kikuchi (“Babel”) is 43. 
  • Actor Eddie Redmayne (“Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them,” ″The Theory of Everything”) is 42. 
  • Comedian Kate McKinnon (“Saturday Night Live”) is 40. 
  • Actor Diona Reasonover (“NCIS”) is 40. 
  • Singer Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys is 38.
  • In 2006..Lou Rawls, soul singer-songwriter and producer ("You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine"), dies of cancer at 72
  • In 2022..Calvin Simon, American funk and gospel vocalist (Parliament/Funkadelic - "Livin' the Life"), dies at 79
  • In 2022..Peter Bogdanovich, American film director and producer (The Last Picture Show; Paper Moon), dies at 82
  • In 2022..Sidney Poitier, Bahamian-American actor, first black actor to win Oscar for Best Actor ('Lillies in the Field' - 1963; To Sir, With Love"; "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"), director (Stir Crazy), civil rights advocate, and diplomat, dies at 94

Friday, January 5, 2024

R.I.P.: Philip J. Lombardo, Chairman Emeritus of the BFoA

Phil Lombardo (1936-2024)

The Broadcasters Foundation of America has announced the passing of Philip J. Lombardo, who died last night following a brief illness. 

Lombardo was CEO of Citadel Communications and Chairman Emeritus of the Broadcasters Foundation, having previously served as Chairman for 15 years. The family has requested that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the Philip J. Lombardo Memorial Fund, which will be established by the Broadcasters Foundation next week in honor of Lombardo’s dedication and service to the broadcasting industry and to the Foundation’s charitable cause.

“Last night, the Broadcasters Foundation and the broadcast industry lost a great man,” said Scott Herman, Chairman of the Broadcasters Foundation. “As Chairman of the Broadcasters Foundation for many years, Phil left an indelible mark. He was passionate about our mission and one of our biggest donors, giving both time and money to helping colleagues in need.”

“It would be impossible for me to quantify all that I learned from Phil Lombardo over the course of our nearly 40-year association,” said Ray Cole, President and COO, Citadel Communications. “Phil was a boss, a mentor, and a partner. Most of all, he was a dear friend who changed my life in immeasurable ways. While his impact on the broadcasting industry was vast and deep, Phil’s enduring legacy will be the vision and passion with which he led the Broadcasters Foundation of America. His contributions to its mission — helping fellow broadcasters in need — had no bounds. That commitment is sure to live on forever.”

Lombardo’s impactful role as Chairman from 2000 to 2015 was vital to the Foundation’s ability to increase the amount of grants awarded annually to broadcasters in need from just over $60,000 in 2000 to nearly $2 million in recent years.

“Phil had a strong personality, but his heart was bigger,” added Tim McCarthy, President of the Broadcasters foundation. “No one worked harder than Phil to raise money from our biggest donors. He gave more than anyone in our industry to colleagues who need it most.”

Audacy, CBS News Radio Extend Affiliation

Listeners in the nation’s top markets will continue hearing the best-in-class news and information from CBS News Radio under a new, multi-year affiliation agreement with Audacy. 

Under the terms of the agreement, CBS News Radio will deliver its award-winning global news coverage to 27 Audacy-owned stations, including WCBS 880 (WCBS-AM) in New York, KNX News (KNX-AM/FM) in Los Angeles and KCBS All News (KCBS-AM/KFRC-FM) in San Francisco.

CBS News Radio will provide its full news and programming to the Audacy stations, including top-of-the-hour newscasts, CBS WORLD NEWS ROUNDUP, breaking news, special events coverage, correspondent interviews and audio.

“This new agreement ensures listeners in the top markets continue to get CBS News Radio’s award-winning national and global news for years to come,” said Steve Raizes, executive vice president of podcasting and audio for Paramount Global. “This new agreement continues our long-running relationship with Audacy and its stations.”

Under the new agreement, Audacy’s stations will also have the ability to simulcast iconic CBS News broadcasts such as the CBS EVENING NEWS WITH NORAH O’DONNELL, 60 MINUTES and FACE THE NATION WITH MARGARET BRENNAN.

Skyview Network Afiliates Now Have Access To AP Elections Results

Skyview Networks has announced radio affiliates now have access to elections results and maps from The Associated Press, as part of its expanded agreement with AP.

Affiliates who opt to utilize AP’s elections data will have the opportunity to design their own visualization dashboard for what best suits their needs. They will have access to live vote count maps, declared winners, and delegate counts in every major party primary and caucus event in the 2024 presidential race.

“We are pleased to bring AP’s gold standard election data to radio affiliates through Skyview Networks,” said Sara Trohanis, AP vice president for Americas revenue and strategic partnerships. “AP has counted the vote and declared winners in every U.S. presidential election since 1848, and we look forward to providing accurate, trusted results to the world once again in 2024.”

“Our newly extended agreement with The Associated Press lifts our network opportunities to new heights,” said Jeanne-Marie Condo, president of network partnerships and chief revenue officer of Skyview Networks. “AP’s expansive portfolio of news coverage and short-form inventory is a beacon for advertisers seeking the highest of standards in network reach.”

Steve Jones, president and chief executive officer of Skyview Networks commented, “As part of our renewed agreement with AP, we’ll be collaborating on additional opportunities to grow the audio segment of their diverse and global business so that more of their valuable services are available to radio broadcasters and audio consumers.”

For more information about AP’s products and services, visit Additional details on Skyview Networks’ audio solutions platforms are available at

Philly Radio: How Would Bankruptcy Affect Audacy Talent?

Audacy, the parent company of 94.1 WIP, KYW NewsRadio 1060, and several other Philly radio stations, is preparing to file for bankruptcy within weeks, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The Philadelphia-based radio company, which owns hundreds of stations nationwide, is grappling with $1.9 billion in debt while navigating an advertising slump. The company, which has a podcast partnership with The Inquirer, reported a $234.3 million loss in the third quarter of this year and skipped a debt payment in September. It also delayed a debt repayment of $18.9 million that had been due in December, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

Audacy has already negotiated a bankruptcy plan with its lenders, who are expected to assume ownership of the company following the restructuring, according to the Wall Street Journal. As a result, the bankruptcy filing isn’t expected to have much day-to-day impact on WIP, which recently agreed to a six-year deal that will extend the broadcast rights for Eagles games through the 2028 season, according to industry sources.

What’s unclear is how much Audacy’s impending bankruptcy and poor financial situation will impact talent.

Last week, former WIP afternoon cohost Jon Marks cited the company’s financial situation as one reason he opted to depart the station, despite the ratings success he’s had with former Eagles defender Ike Reese. Marks told Crossing Broad that during contract negotiations, WIP made it clear it wasn’t going to offer him a contract that paid as much as retired morning show host Angelo Cataldi or longtime sports talker Howard Eskin.

“After Angelo was gone, they said, ‘Hey we’re not paying people Angelo money anymore, we’re not paying people Howard money, we’re not paying people Anthony Gargano money.’ … They had, ‘This is what we’re willing to offer you,’ ” Marks said, adding, “I knew this was over a year ago. They knew they were only going to go a certain amount, and I knew that wasn’t going to be enough.”

Listeners probably won’t notice immediate changes at KYW or the company’s four other Philly stations: the New 96.5, 1210-AM WPHT, B101, and 98.1 WOGL.

ABC Closes Out 2023 as Most-Watched Broadcast News Network

ABC News has closed out 2023 as the year’s most-watched broadcast news network for the 11th year in a row, TheWrap is reporting.

First earning the title in 2013, ABC News maintained its ratings dominance as several of its programs — including “World News Tonight with David Muir” and “Good Morning America” — outpaced their competitors with the No. 1 highest total viewers and key demo ratings.

“ABC News’ commitment to delivering the news that our audiences are seeking is stronger than ever,” ABC News president Kim Godwin said in a statement to TheWrap. “Our teams are reporting on the biggest news events of the day and also the important, often-hidden stories behind the headlines. Their dedication is evident in the stellar reporting and programming ABC News produces every day on every platform.”

In 2023, the network’s signature morning program, “Good Morning America,” ranked as the No. 1 morning newscast in terms of total viewers for the 12th consecutive year since 2012. “GMA,” which is anchored by Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos and Michael Strahan, also grew its lead on NBC’s “Today” to achieve the largest lead in eight years since 2015.

“World News Tonight with David Muir” also maintained its ranking as the most-watched evening newscast for the seventh year in a row. The evening news broadcast has now held the title of the No. 1 newscast in terms of total viewers, adults 25-54 and adults 18-49 for four consecutive years.

Not only did “World News Tonight” average a win over its competitors, but it also scored the most total viewers among evening newscasts for all 23 weeks of the year. Additionally, the David Muir-anchored program spent 36 weeks in 2023 as the most-watched program of the week across broadcast and cable, excluding sports. Across broadcast and cable TV, “World News Tonight” ranked as the week’s No. 1 program for 14 weeks in 2023, a higher record than any other broadcast or cable program.

“20/20” also posted impressive gains as it increased its 2022 viewership to become Friday’s No. 1 newsmagazine, outpacing “Dateline” when it came to total viewers, adults 18-49 and adults 25-54. In particular, “20/20” beat “Dateline” in all key demographics for the second time in the past three years.

Fan-favorite “The View” similarly ranked as the No. 1 program this year among all network and syndicated daytime talk shows and news programs in terms of both households and total viewers, with the ABC News talk show taking the No. 1 spot for households and total viewers for the third consecutive year.

Elsewhere, in 2023 “GMA3: What You Need to Know” outpaced the total viewership of CBS’ “The Talk” and NBC’s “NBC News Daily.”

Study: Broadcasters Are Significant Contributors to Nation’s Economy

The local commercial broadcast television and radio industry generates $1.23 trillion of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 2.52 million jobs through direct and stimulative effect on the American economy, found a new study by Woods & Poole Economics with support from BIA Advisory Services.

The analysis examines broadcasting’s impact on the economy through direct employment, its ripple effect on other industries and as an advertising medium for messaging consumers. Radio and television stations’ influence on the national economy, as well as information by state, is provided in the study.

“From trusted local and national news, live sporting events and popular network programming to critical emergency information, broadcasters provide the content Americans rely upon each day. These local stations are also an engine for economic health and development keeping local dollars within our hometowns across the country,” said NAB President and CEO Curtis LeGeyt. “America’s broadcasters provide jobs, connect businesses with new customers through advertising and stimulate growth.”

The study found that direct employment from local commercial broadcasting, which includes jobs at local television and radio stations as well as in advertising and programming, is estimated at more than 314,000 jobs, generating more than $55 billion annually in economic impact. Broadcast television accounts for over 193,000 of these jobs, as well as more than $34 billion in GDP, while broadcast radio generates 121,000 jobs that result in more than $21 billion in GDP.

1/5 WAKE-UP CALL: ISIS Claims Responsibility for Iran Terror

Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for a pair of bombings that killed dozens of people yesterday in the largest attack in Iran since the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iranian authorities are investigating the blasts and have vowed revenge. The Middle East is on edge because of the war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas—an Islamist militant group that has moved closer to Iran in recent years—and increasing tensions between the U.S. and Israel on one side and other Iranian-backed militant groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen on the other. Separately, a deadly U.S. drone strike in Baghdad was the Biden administration’s first known targeted killing of an Iranian-backed militia leader. The attack that killed Moshtaq Talib Al-Saadi marked a more aggressive bid to stop ongoing attacks on American forces there, U.S. officials said.

: Russia recently used short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) sourced from North Korea to conduct multiple strikes against Ukraine, the White House said on Thursday, citing newly declassified intelligence. National security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters the United States will raise the development with the United Nations Security Council. Kirby called North Korea's arms transfer to Russia a "significant and concerning escalation" and said the United States would impose additional sanctions against those facilitating the arms deals.

➤TRUMP COMMERCIALS TARGET HALEY: Former President Donald Trump is escalating his attacks against GOP presidential rival Nikki Haley in a new ad airing on New Hampshire airwaves as he seeks to quell his former ambassador to the United Nation’s surge of support in the early-primary state. The 30-second spot attempts to portray Haley as soft on border security by aligning her immigration policies with those of President Joe Biden, arguing that both politicians “opposed Trump’s border wall.” “Confirmed warnings of terrorists sneaking through our southern border. Yet, Haley joined Biden in opposing Trump’s visitor ban from terrorist nations,” a narrator says, as pictures of large groups of people at the border play in the background. “Haley’s weakness puts us in grave danger. Trump’s strength protects us."

➤TWO MORE STATES CONSIDER REMOVING TRUMP FROM BALLOT: Groups of voters in Illinois and Massachusetts have filed petitions to remove Donald Trump from the 2024 ballot in their states. Both want him declared ineligible to hold office based on his alleged actions and words in support of the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, 2020. His removal from the ballots in Colorado and Maine is being challenged in court.

➤COVID IS STILL AROUND: A new variant of the coronavirus is increasing in the U.S. and is now claiming at least 1,200 lives each week. But that number is about one third of the death toll this time last year, and just one-eighth of the rate in 2021. Another severe wave of the virus is considered unlikely, according to a report in The New York Times. Infectious illnesses generally peak just after the holidays. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that about 7.1 million people in the U.S. have been ill this season with Covid, flu, or the respiratory illness known as R.S.V.

➤STUDENT DEAD IN SCHOOL SHOOTING: A sixth-grader was killed and five other people were injured when a gunman opened fire at a high school in Perry, Iowa, on Thursday. Officials said the gunman was also dead of what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. During a news conference, Dallas County Sheriff Adam Infante said the shooting was first reported at 7:37 a.m., shortly before classes at Perry High School were set to begin. Deputies were on the scene within seven minutes. 

ESPN and NCAA Reach New, Eight-Year Media Rights Agreement

ESPN and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) have reached a new, eight-year agreement beginning Sept. 1, 2024, for NCAA championships media rights. The deal includes domestic rights to a record 40 NCAA championships – 21 women’s and 19 men’s events – and international rights to those same NCAA championships plus the Division I men’s basketball tournament.

“ESPN and the NCAA have enjoyed a strong and collaborative relationship for more than four decades, and we are thrilled that it will continue as part of this new, long-term agreement,” said ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro. “The ESPN networks and platforms will exclusively present a record number of championships, including all rounds of several marquee events that, together with the NCAA, we have grown over time. This unprecedented deal also further strengthens The Walt Disney Company’s industry-leading commitment to women’s sports and will help fuel our continued growth, including in the critical streaming space.”

The agreement continues exclusive coverage of sports included in the previous ESPN agreement – including all rounds of marquee NCAA Championship events (women’s basketball, softball, volleyball, gymnastics, baseball, FCS football, and more) – and adds coverage of the Division I men’s and women’s tennis team championships and the national collegiate men’s gymnastics championship. It also includes full rights for the men’s National Invitation Tournament (NIT) and Women’s Basketball Invitation Tournament (WBIT), as well as international rights for the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. Division II and Division III also add coverage on ESPN platform of championships in men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball.

San Antonio-Austin Radio: Zann Fredlund New PD For KXXM, KHFI

iHeartMedia announced Thursday that Zann Fredlund has been named Program Director for the San Antonio and Austin, TX market, effective immediately.

As Program Director, Fredlund will be responsible for managing a talented team, curating engaging content, orchestrating the tone, and programming to elevating our online presence. She will report to Jason McCollim, Senior Vice President of Programming for iHeartMedia San Antonio & Austin.

Zann Fredlund
“This is a huge move for Central Texas! Zann brings a powerhouse mix of experience and innovation that’s set to revolutionize KHFI & KXXM’s presence, both on-air and online,” said McCollim.“Zann is all about creating top-notch content, guiding exceptional talent, and positioning our stations as the ultimate destination for dynamic music and information. We can’t wait to see her impact.”

Zann joins the Central Texas Market from iHeartMedia Seattle, where she most recently served as the Assistant Program Director for KBKS. She began his career at Wired 96.5 in Philadelphia and is a graduate of Temple University.

“I am so thankful for the opportunity to join the incredibly talented and innovative team at iHeartMedia Central Texas, said Fredlund.“I’d like to extend a huge thank you to Amy Leimbach and Jason McCollim for entrusting me to be part of the vision for iHeartMedia’s heritage CHR brands in San Antonio and Austin. I’d also like to thank my Seattle family who have welcomed me here with open arms. Without the guidance of Maynard, Rich Moore, Mark Glynn and the rest of the team in Seattle, I would not be embarking on this exciting opportunity in 2024.”

Boston Radio: Red Sox Nation Wondering About Will Flemming

With spring training just around the corner, Boston baseball fans wonder about Will Flemming’s future role with the broadcast team.

Audacy Boston’s WEEI has put up a job posting for a “Red Sox Play by Play/Analyst Announcer” for the 2024 Sox season — which kicks off with spring training games in late February and then regular season games at the end of March.

Once this position started circulating on social media, Sox fans immediately wondered about what this means for Flemming, who has been calling games on WEEI since 2019.

Flemming is also a play-by-play broadcaster for ESPN.

The Boston Herald reached out to Audacy Boston’s WEEI, asking how this job posting will impact Flemming and if he will return to WEEI broadcasts for the 2024 Sox season.

“The station is simply building a bench,” an Audacy spokesperson said in a statement.

For the announcer role, WEEI is looking for someone with “extensive experience” as a radio baseball announcer.

“Strong on-air voice required with the ability to change tempo and passion as game action dictates,” the posting reads. “Knowledge of Red Sox history and the Boston sports scene necessary.”

Atlanta Radio: Justin Schaflander New VP Sales for Cumulus

Cumulus Media
 announces that it has appointed Justin Schaflander as Vice President of Sales for Cumulus Atlanta. Schaflander joins Cumulus Media from Good Karma Brands/ESPN Los Angeles, where he was Director of Sales for two years. 

Justin Schaflander
Prior to that, Schaflander was with iHeartMedia for 13 years and was Region President over Atlanta/Georgia markets, Market President – Atlanta, and Vice President of Sales – Atlanta. In his new role with Cumulus Atlanta, Schaflander will report to Melissa Forrest, Vice President/Market Manager.

Melissa Forrest, Vice President/Market Manager, Cumulus Atlanta, said: “This is the second time Justin and I have had the opportunity to work together. He is one of the strongest sales leaders I have ever had the benefit of partnering with. I look forward to maximizing the growth of our great stations and team.”

Justin Schaflander commented: “It is an amazing day when you can both return to your home and reunite with one of your mentors simultaneously! I would like to thank Dave Milner and Melissa Forrest for this opportunity to head Sales for Cumulus Atlanta and its heritage brands. Something special is in the air - I can feel it!”

đź“»Cumulus Media owns and operates four popular radio stations in the Atlanta market, including: New Country 101.FIVE/WKHX-FM (Country); 99X/WNNX-FM (Classic Rock); Q99.7/WWWQ-FM (CHR); and OG 97.9/WWWQ-H3 (Urban/Classic Hip Hop).