Saturday, February 3, 2024

Radio History: February 4

➦In 1927...KGA-AM, Spokane, Washington signed-on.

For many years, KGA was a successful country music outlet. In 1994 it switched to a news/talk format. It now airs a sports format and simulcasts on a translator at 103.5 FM. KGA was a 50,000 watt clear-channel Class A station for most of its life, and could be heard after sunset around the Pacific Northwest, plus part of Western Canada.

On July 15, 2008, KGA reduced its nighttime power from 50,000 watts to 15,000 watts, surrendered its status as a Class A to Class B, and changed its directional antenna system. Class A stations have the widest coverage areas and best protection from interference from other stations. All of this was done so that its sister station, KSFN in Piedmont, California, could increase its nighttime power from 230 watts to 2,400 watts. The justification for this change was gaining several hundred thousand potential listeners in the San Francisco Bay Area while sacrificing KGA's smaller potential audience in the Pacific Northwest.

KGA 1510 AM (50Kw-D, 15Kw-N) Red=Local Coverage

➦In 1935...the CBS Radio Network first aired “Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch”, one of the many soap operas written by Frank & Anne Hummert. It moved to NBC that September but was cancelled 27 months later.  The plot:  Mrs. Wiggs, facing eviction, scrabbles for survival with her number of children and hopes for the return of her husband, who left many years before, looking for gold in the Klondike.

➦In 1940...'Amanda of Honeymoon Hill' was a 15-minute daily radio soap opera produced by Frank and Anne Hummert. Broadway actress Joy Hathaway had the title role, sometimes described as "the beauty of flaming red hair." The series was broadcast from February 5, 1940, until April 26, 1946, initially on the Blue Network at 3:15 p.m. until August 1942. It then moved to CBS, airing at 10:30 a.m. until 1943 when it was heard at 11 a.m.

➦In 1977...Fleetwood Mac‘s 11th album “Rumours” was released. The LP became their second to top Billboard’s album chart, staying #1 for 31 weeks. More than 17 million copies have been sold in the U.S.

➦In 1983...singer Karen Carpenter died at her parent’s home in Los Angeles of heart failure caused by chronic anorexia nervosa. Her death, at the age of 32, brought about more public awareness of the disease, characterized by a loss of appetite brought on by mental illness.

➦In 1983…radio announcer & actor Jim Ameche succumbed to lung cancer at age 68.  He was radio’s first “Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy,” and announcer for many network programs out of Chicago. The younger brother of Don Ameche later was director for the filmed TV series Julia.

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

In the 1940s, he had several programs on WGN radio in Chicago.   He was also heard on stations in Los Angeles and Palm Springs in the late 1950s and early 60s. For many years he was a popular local radio personality in the New York City area. By the late 1960s, he was working as an announcer on New York's WHN and the TV pitchman for a Longines Symphonette Society mail-order record album featuring clips of old-time radio broadcasts.  For many years, he was the afternoon announcer on WQXR, the classical radio station of The New York Times, and was a familiar and beloved voice. He also recorded numerous radio ads in Phoenix, Arizona in his later years.

Grammys 2024: Women Set To Dominate

Women are poised to pile up the gold at the Grammy awards on Sunday, reflecting a rise in female representation on pop music charts and record-setting performances at stadium concerts and cinemas.

The 66th Annual GRAMMY Awards will take place on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT at the Arena in Los Angeles, and will broadcast and stream live on CBS and Paramount+. 

Reuters reports Taylor Swift, SZA and songs from the Oscar-nominated "Barbie" movie lead the competition for the music industry's highest honors. Jon Batiste is the only man among eight nominees for album of the year, the top Grammy prize.

SZA, the female singer of revenge fantasy "Kill Bill," will head into the ceremony as the most-nominated artist with nine nominations.

The strong showing coincided with a year of milestones for women in entertainment and gains in the predominantly male music business.

Swift's Eras Tour broke ticket sales records, eclipsing Elton John's, at the same time Beyonce played to packed stadiums. "Barbie" created a pink-fueled phenomenon at cinemas, where Swift's concert film also became a blockbuster.

"Women had a phenomenal year, not just in music, but in 'Barbie' being the biggest-grossing movie," said Billboard awards editor Paul Grein. "Women dominated pop culture."

In addition to Swift and SZA, the other women vying for this year's album prize are Miley Cyrus, Lana Del Rey, Olivia Rodrigo, Janelle Monae and boy genius, the band featuring indie rock musicians Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus.

It is just the 12th time in the Grammys' 66-year history, Grein said, that women received the majority of nominations for album of the year. Changing demographics in the Recording Academy, the group of musicians, producers, engineers and others who vote on the Grammy nominees and winners, likely prompted a shift. Since 2019, the percentage of female members has risen to 30% from 26%.

Some of the male competition was between albums. Harry Styles, Bad Bunny and other past Grammy winners did not release new music during the eligibility period of October 2022 through Sept. 15, 2023.

Still, the percentage of women artists on the Billboard Hot 100 at the end of 2023 reached 35%, a 12-year high, according to a study by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and professor Stacy L. Smith.

UMG Artists Disappear From TikTok

The world’s largest record label, Universal Music Group (UMG), has started pulling its music from TikTok, after the 2 heavyweights failed to sign a new deal following lengthy contract negotiations.

According to a posting at newsletter, there’s no love lost between the pair, with UMG citing TikTok’s lack of protections against AI in a scathing open letter, as well as deriding the app’s compensation rates for being “a fraction” of what other major social platforms pay. In response, TikTok slammed UMG’s “false narrative” and “self-serving actions”.

TikTok users will no longer be able to soundtrack their videos with songs from UMG’s mind-bogglingly extensive catalog, with the work of Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Adele, The Beatles, and Drake, among others, being removed from the app.

With a presence in 74 countries, UMG makes up nearly one-third of the industry, spending big to sign artists to one of its 100+ labels. All told, the company accounts for nearly double the market share of competitor Warner Music Group, and greater than the combined share of all independent record labels.

The dispute brings to light the complicated economics of an industry that's been in an almost permanent state of flux, with 5 major format changes (vinyl, cassette, CD, download, and streaming) in roughly as many decades. Although TikTok’s power comes from its ability to popularize music from emerging artists, with songs trending on the app often breaking into the charts, it’s not been exactly clear how the power dynamic between social media behemoths like TikTok and artists, labels, and publishers has changed in recent years — but with UMG’s departure, we might be about to find out.

$potify Podcasts Renews Joe Rogan

Spotify Technology SA has announced a new multi-year deal with comedian and podcaster Joe Rogan on Friday, in a bid to tap into the popularity of his show to drive its advertising revenue.

Rogan’s fresh deal—estimated to be worth as much as $250 million over its multiyear term, according to The Wall Street Journal citing people familiar with the matter—involves an upfront minimum guarantee, plus a revenue sharing agreement based on ad sales.

"The Joe Rogan Experience" podcast, which debuted in 2009, has been an exclusive offering on the music streaming platform since 2020, with the company touting it as the most-listened-to podcast globally.

Reuters reports Spotify also said it will soon make Joe Rogan's show available on other platforms such as Apple, Amazon and YouTube.

Joe Rogan has interviewed well-known politicians, businessmen and celebrities including film director Quentin Tarantino, singer Miley Cyrus and Tesla (TSLA.O), opens new tab CEO Elon Musk on his podcast.

Sweden-based Spotify is focusing on boosting ad revenue on its platform with the help of its advertising marketplace for podcast publishers and creators - the Spotify Audience Network.

"Since the podcast has been exclusive to Spotify, overall podcast consumption on the platform has increased by 232%," the company said, adding its revenue last year increased 80% compared with 2021.

The multi-year deal with Rogan, which is estimated to be worth as much as $250 million, involves an upfront minimum guarantee, plus a revenue sharing agreement based on ad sales, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

The company declined to comment on the terms of the deal but in an email response said the estimated value of the deal mentioned in the WSJ report was incorrect.

Spotify first added podcasts in 2015 and made a major push into the medium from 2019, buying podcast networks Gimlet Media and Anchor FM and signing exclusive deals with reality TV star Kim Kardashian and former U.S. President Barack Obama.

Diamond Sports to Televise 2024 Rangers, Guardians, Twins Games

Bankrupt U.S. sports broadcaster Diamond Sports Group reached agreements on Friday to televise Texas Rangers, Cleveland Guardians and Minnesota Twins games in 2024, giving it a roster of 12 Major League Baseball teams as it moves ahead with an Amazon-backed restructuring agreement.

Diamond Sports is a Sinclair Broadcast regional sports channels under the Bally Sports brand. It said in court filings in Houston bankruptcy court that the renewed agreements resolved a possible lose-lose scenario that could have canceled the teams' broadcast contracts outright, cutting into Diamond's revenue and leaving the teams scrambling to find new broadcast arrangements for a baseball season that begins in late March.

"We are pleased to have reached agreements with the Cleveland Guardians, Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers that work for all parties and enable us to continue delivering high-quality, live game broadcasts on Bally Sports to dedicated fans through the 2024 season," Diamond Sports said in a statement.

Diamond entered the year with television rights to 11 MLB teams, but sought to renew an expired agreement with the Twins and renegotiate terms with the Rangers and Guardians, leading those teams to seek early termination instead.

Reuters reports the agreements reached on Friday will allow Diamond to pay less than its previous contract rate, allowing the broadcaster to earn a profit on the broadcast contracts for one more year, while giving the teams breathing room so they the find new television partners for 2025, according to the court filings.

Diamond filed for bankruptcy in March 2023, caught between expensive broadcast rights agreements and a drop in revenue due to cord-cutting by sports viewers. The sports broadcaster had been headed toward a liquidation of its business before reaching a restructuring deal in January with its lenders, Sinclair, and Amazon.

Diamond will receive $450 million in financing from its existing lender group, $495 million from Sinclair and $115 million from Amazon, using the funds to pay down older debts and continue operations.

Amazon will take a minority equity stake in Diamond as part of the deal, and Amazon's Prime Video will stream MLB, NBA and NHL games as permitted by Diamond's contracts with sports teams.

Diamond has streaming rights for just five of the 12 MLB teams - the Miami Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays, Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers and Milwaukee Brewers - under contract, which has been a source of contention between Diamond Sports and MLB.

For 2024, Diamond and Amazon will have the right to stream games for 15 NBA teams, 11 NHL teams, as well as those five MLB teams.

Grand Rapids Radio: Another New Morning Show Coming to WIXX

After a rollercoaster of recent events at 101 WIXX announced Friday new morning show hosts, according to WFRV TV.

WIXX posted on its Facebook with the big announcement. “We have something to tell you…The brand-new hosts are Huggie and Natalie in the Morning.’

One of the morning show hosts, Dan ‘Huggie’ Amsden, joined the station back in June 2022 and took over 101.1 WIXX’s PM Drive Show. Huggie, who is from Illinois, has worked in radio in Las Vegas, Boise, Portland, and Seattle.

Huggie and Natalie
Huggie also shared the news on his Facebook page with the following message: "I can’t believe this is happening! Like I said, this is my dream. Meeting Natalie … everyone just knew that we were meant to meet and take on this journey together. She’s one of the greatest people I have ever met… you’re going to love her! Give us a chance as we grow together and build a show that everyone can love. We are geek’d to share our mornings with you… sheesh haha here we go!"

Not much is known yet of Natalie, however, WIXX commented on Huggie’s post saying that she was “a new addition to the team.”

For those who need a quick catch-up, here is a brief timeline:

  • November 28 Murphy in the Morning retires from WIXX after 32 years
  • November 30 Otis Day, who was previously with WIXX, announces return to radio for KISS FM
  • December 8 Nick & Katie, Murphy in the Morning Co-Hosts, announce their departure from WIXX
  • December 14 Chris Carson named new morning host at WIXX
  • January 3 Otis Day announces Nick & Katie as Co-Hosts at KISS FM
  • January 10, 2024 Chris Carson out at WIXX

A start date for Huggie and Natalie in the Morning has yet to be announced. The Facebook reel ended by saying “Coming soon."

Boston Radio: 'Good Fits' Emerge For Middays At The Sports Hub

As the third chair on Zolak and Bertrand at 98.5 The Sports remains open after Rob “Hardy” Poole moved to the mornings, several names have been floated to fill that key midday role.

“My opinion is, I would move Joe Murray from the nights to the third chair in the midday, if Joe wants it,” Felger and Mazz executive producer Jimmy Stewart said this week on the “Off-Air Show” with Mike Felger.

“If not, I would go with Matt McCarthy,” Stewart added. “I like Matt. I don’t know how his production skills are, but I like Matt as far as somebody who will get in there. He can run the show if Marc (Bertrand) is off. He’ll challenge (Scott) Zolak. Matt really can do every sport well. That’s if we’re talking about internal candidates.”

The Boston Herald reports Phil Perry, Patriots Insider for NBC Sports Boston, has also been mentioned as a possible fit for the midday third chair. Perry filled in for the show’s four hours earlier this week.

“Phil Perry seems to be getting a lot of run,” Felger said. “I feel there’s momentum behind Phil Perry.”

But if Perry joined the former Pats QB on the midday show, that could be a show “overloaded” with Patriots content, Stewart said.

Last week, Felger and Mazz host Tony Massarotti mentioned Perry, Cerrone Battle, and Michael Holley as good fits for the midday show.

A 98.5 spokesperson said last week, “The on-air full-time position at the Sports Hub remains posted and we are actively searching for the right fit for the mid-day show.”

Reading PA Radio: WEEU Stunting With Oldies

WEEU 830 AM is stunting this weekend with oldies and is expected to unveil its new format Monday.

The Reading-based radio station was acquired last year by Treese Media Group of Montgomery County, co-owned by John and Kristina Treese and gained FCC  approval in January.

The station was put up for sale earlier last year by Twilight Broadcasting, which had bought WEEU in 2019 after its former owner, Reading Eagle Company, filed for bankruptcy.

Treese bought assets for $138,000. Asset include WEEU’s studio building at 34 N. Fourth St. and a transmitter and tower site off Interstate 78.

The stunting this weekend is airing as equipment upgrades are made.

“Something I plan to immediately expand is local sports programming” Treese said. “I hope to also rebuild WEEU’s local news department.”

Treese has had a long career in radio, having worked as an on-air personality, news reporter, DJ, and station manager for multiple Pennsylvania stations. When he heard WEEU was for sale, it seemed like the perfect fit — a heritage station with a large reach and a local audience.

He said that even amid the digital age, he believes strongly in the value of radio, especially when the focus is hyperlocal.

WEEU went on the air in December 1931. It is the oldest continually operating radio station with its original call letters in Reading and — until the sale is finalized — the only locally-owned and operated radio station in the city.

Reading Eagle Company purchased the station Dec. 1, 1946, for a reported $250,000.

Reading Eagle Company filed for Chapter 11 federal bankruptcy protection March 20,2019 citing an untenable financial situation. The company went up for sale, and a bidding process resulted in just one qualified bid from MediaNews Group for $5 million.

Chicago TV: Ivory To Succeed Tom Killing At WGN

As WGN-TV chief meteorologist Tom Skilling prepares to sign off after nearly 46 years at the station, a successor has been named.

The Chicago Tribue reports Demetrius Ivory, 48, who joined WGN in 2013, was named the station’s new chief meteorologist Thursday, a promotion that carries with it the challenge of filling the void left by the imminent departure of Chicago’s longest-tenured and most-trusted TV weathercaster.

“It’s a big task,” Ivory said Friday. “It’s not replacing him, just kind of continuing the work that he was doing and the incredible things he’s done for the city and for the weather community.”

Ivory and Skilling
Skilling, an esteemed meteorologist and broadcaster who has been the face of Chicago weather since joining WGN in 1978, is retiring Feb. 28. Ivory will take the reins on Feb. 29 — leap day — leading the WGN Weather Center Team into the post-Skilling era.

A Cleveland native who earned a degree in atmospheric sciences at Ohio State, Ivory was a meteorologist at stations in Pennsylvania and Ohio before coming to Chicago to work under Skilling.

“I came here with a dollar and a dream,” Ivory said. “Basically me and everything I owned in a car.”

Ivory put down roots in Chicago and at WGN, where he met his future wife, Erin McElroy, an anchor and reporter at the station. The couple divorced about a year ago but remain amicable co-parents in the northern suburbs and co-workers at WGN, Ivory said.

As chief meteorologist, Ivory will deliver weather forecasts on WGN afternoon and evening news. Viewers, he said, can expect the same kind of accurate information they depended on from Skilling, but delivered in his own way.

Zuckerberg Wealth Surges

As of Friday’s close, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg is the richest he has ever been, thanks to a 22% surge in Meta stock that has left him with a $28 billion paper windfall. The CEO now has a net worth of $165 billion, making him wealthier than Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

CNBC reports he’ll also receive roughly $174 million in cash when the company pays out its first-ever dividend in March. Zuckerberg owns around 350 million Class A and B shares, both of which are eligible for the dividend. Zuckerberg will earn more than $690 million on an annual basis if Meta maintains its 50 cent quarterly dividend.

It is a remarkable change of fortune for a man whose net worth is closely tied to the performance of Meta stock. In 2021, Zuckerberg’s net worth peaked at around $142 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, as the Nasdaq reached a fresh high.

But a market-wide correction hit Meta harder than most. Investors and analysts harshly criticized the company for plowing billions of dollars into Reality Labs, its virtual reality division. Zuckerberg responded by executing deep cuts across the board, dubbing it Meta’s “year of efficiency”

Many other tech CEOs followed suit throughout 2022, 2023 and into 2024. Still, at its lowest point in October 2022 and November 2022, Meta shares could be acquired for around $90 apiece and Zuckerberg was worth $36 billion — a quarter of his all-time high.

Meta reported fourth-quarter earnings that beat on the top and bottom lines. It posted growth in every key metric tracked by the street, and more than tripled its net income compared to the year-ago quarter. The company is now worth $1.2 trillion.

Twin Cities Radio: WCCO Raises $443K+ for Second Harvest Heartland

Audacy raised over $443,000 to benefit Second Harvest Heartland during News/Talk 830 WCCO’s (WCCO-AM) “Let’s Kick Hunger Day Radiothon,” presented by Lindus Construction, Lexus of Wayzata and Maplewood and Compeer Financial. The amount raised during the 15th annual radiothon, held on February 1, brought the overall fundraising total to over $4.2 million since 2010.

“I couldn’t be prouder of everyone’s hard work on this event. This is yet another great example of how local radio can truly help change lives,” said Jeff Gonsales, Senior Vice President and Market Manager, Audacy Minneapolis. “We’re so grateful that WCCO can partner with Second Harvest Heartland and impact the community on such an amazing and rewarding day.”

“We are overwhelmed by and grateful for the support of WCCO listeners in our mission to end hunger in Minnesota,” said Allison O’Toole, Chief Executive Officer, Second Harvest Heartland. “I also want to thank the amazing partners we have at WCCO and our sponsors from Lexus of Wayzata and Maplewood, Lindus Construction, and Compeer Financial. The money raised on Let’s Kick Hunger Day goes a long way toward helping Minnesota families access the nutritious food they need to thrive.”

The radiothon was conducted onsite at Second Harvest Heartland, live on News/Talk 830 WCCO on February 1 from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. CT. Station hosts spoke with members and clients of Second Harvest Heartland, current board members and other leaders in the community fighting against hunger. Interviews for the day included Second Harvest Heartland CEO Allison O’Toole, Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch, Minnesota Twins President Dave St. Peter, Twins radio play-by-play voice Kris Atteberry, Minnesota United Chief Executive Officer Shari Ballard, and corporate partners Andy Lindus of Lindus Construction, Jeremy Mertes and Matt Meyer with Lexus of Wayzata and Maplewood, and Jase Wagner of Compeer Financial. Listeners were encouraged to donate via phone banks.

Second Harvest Heartland was created on October 1, 2001, when Second Harvest Great Minneapolis and Second Harvest St. Paul joined forces to bring together more than 44 years of combined history and experience to the fight against hunger. Second Harvest Heartland is among the nation’s largest, most effective hunger relief organizations.

News/Talk 830 WCCO’s 15th annual “Let’s Kick Hunger Day Radiothon” is a part of Audacy’s commitment to making a meaningful difference at scale. Audacy uses its reach and personal connection with listeners to advance causes that promote strong mental health and build sound communities.

­čô╗Listeners can tune in to News/Talk 830 WCCO (WCCO-AM) in Minneapolis on air and nationwide on the Audacy app and website. Fans can also connect with the station via X, Facebook and Instagram.

Radio History: February 3

➦In 1927...a forerunner of the FCC, the Federal Radio Commission, was created by a law signed into effect by U.S. President Calvin Coolidge.The FRC was a government body that regulated radio use in the United States from its creation in 1926 until its replacement by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1934. The Commission was created to regulate radio use "as the public interest, convenience, or necessity" requires. The Radio Act of 1927 superseded the Radio Act of 1912, which had given regulatory powers over radio communication to the Secretary of Commerce and Labor. The Radio Act of 1912 did not mention broadcasting and limited all private radio communications to what is now the AM band.

WEAV 960 AM (5Kw DA-2)
➦In 1935...WEAV-AM, Plattsburgh NY signed-on as WMFF (1935-1948), owned by Plattsburgh Broadcasting Corporation (in turn controlled by the Bissell family), and operating on 1310 kHz. The North American Radio Broadcasting Agreement in 1941 moved the station to 1340 kHz.

On October 23, 1948,  the station changed its call letters to WEAV and relocated again, this time to the current 960 kHz. At one time an affiliate of ABC Radio  and its predecessor, the Blue Network, WEAV switched to CBS Radio in the late 1950s.

The station inaugurated FM service on February 3, 1960, with the launch of WEAV 99.9. FM (now WBTZ-FM) as a simulcast of the AM station.

WEAV-AM currently airs Sports Talk as 960 AM The Zone.

➦In 1935...Martin Block started at WNEW-AM (now WBBR 1130 AM) in NYC at a salary of $20 per week. In 1935, while listeners to New York's WNEW in New York were awaiting developments in the Lindbergh kidnapping, Block built his audience by playing records between the Lindbergh news bulletins.

This led to his Make Believe Ballroom, which began February 3, 1935 with Block borrowing both the concept and the title from West Coast disc jockey Al Jarvis, creating the illusion that he was broadcasting from a ballroom with the nation’s top dance bands performing live. He bought some records from a local music shop for the program as the radio station had none. Block purchased five Clyde McCoy records, selecting his "Sugar Blues" for the radio show's initial theme song.

Because Block was told by the station's sales staff that nobody would sponsor a radio show playing music, he had to find himself a sponsor. Block lined up a producer of reducing pills called "Retardo"; within a week, the sponsor had over 3,000 responses to the ads on Block's radio show. Martin Block's style of announcing was considerably different than the usual manner of delivery at the time. Instead of speaking in a voice loud enough to be heard in a theater, Block spoke in a normal voice, as if he was having a one-on-one conversation with a listener.

Abbott & Costello
When one of Block's sponsors offered a sale on refrigerators during a New York snowstorm, 109 people braved the elements for the bargain Block advertised; by 1941 potential sponsors for his show had to be put on a waiting list for availabilities.

➦In 1938... the kids radio adventure drama Challenge of the Yukon (about Sgt. Preston & his ‘wonder dog’ Yukon King) debuted in a 15 minute format on WXYZ Detroit.  It completed George W. Trendle’s trilogy of juvenile adventures preceded by The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet.  

The show went to the networks (ABC, then Mutual) in 30 minute form 1947 to ’55, and was retitled as Sgt. Preston of the Yukon beginning in 1951.

➦In 1938...the comedy team of Abbott & Costello made their debut as cast members on CBS Radio’s “The Kate Smith Hour.” Their routine "Who's on First?" is one of the best-known comedy routines of all time in the world, and set the framework for many of their best-known comedy bits.

➦In 1959… it was “the day the music died,”  as Don McLean named it in his 1972 hit, “American Pie.”  22-year-old Buddy Holly, 28-year-old J.P. Richardson (The Big Bopper) and 17-year-old Ritchie Valens died in a chartered plane crash near Mason City, Iowa.

At the time, Holly and his band, consisting of Waylon Jennings, Tommy Allsup, and Carl Bunch, were playing on the "Winter Dance Party" tour across the Midwest. Rising artists Valens, Richardson and Dion & the Belmonts had joined the tour as well. The long journeys between venues on board the cold, uncomfortable tour buses adversely affected the performers, with cases of flu and even frostbite. After stopping at Clear Lake to perform, and frustrated by such conditions, Holly chose to charter a plane to reach their next venue in Moorhead, MN. Richardson, who had the flu, swapped places with Jennings, taking his seat on the plane, while Allsup lost his seat to Valens on a coin toss.

Soon after takeoff, late at night and in poor, wintry weather conditions, the pilot lost control of the light aircraft, a Beechcraft Bonanza, which subsequently crashed into a cornfield. Everyone on board was killed. A number of monuments have been erected at the crash site and in Clear Lake, where an annual memorial concert is also held at the Surf Ballroom, the venue that hosted the artists' last performance.

In 1979, Wolfman Jack emceed a sold-out concert at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. Featured performers in the “Tribute to Buddy Holly” show were Del Shannon, Jimmy Clanton and the Drifters.

➦In 1968...Paul McCartney recorded “Lady Madonna” at EMI's  Abbey Road studios in London. The record is credited to The Beatles, but McCartney played with unknown session musicians.

The song was release in mid-March, the single was their last release on Capitol Records in the U.S. All subsequent releases, starting with "Hey Jude" in August 1968, were issued on their Apple Records label.

➦In 1971...Jay C Flippen died at age 71, during surgery for an aneurysm caused by a swollen artery, one month before his 72nd birthday. He was a radio announcer for the New York Yankees.

➦In 2003... authorities arrested producer Phil Spector at his mansion in suburban Los Angeles. The body of actress Lana Clarkson had been found in the foyer. Her body was found slumped in a chair with a single gunshot wound to her mouth with broken teeth scattered over the carpet. Spector told Esquire in July 2003 that Clarkson's death was an "accidental suicide" and that she "kissed the gun". The emergency call from Spector's home, made by Spector's driver, Adriano de Souza, quotes Spector as saying, "I think I've killed someone". De Souza added that he saw Spector come out of the back door of the house with a gun in his hand.

On April 13, 2009 a jury returned a guilty verdict against Spector.  He was taken into custody  and was formally sentenced, on May 29, 2009, to 19 years to life in the California state prison system. Spector died in prison on January 16, 2021.

➦In 2003…Longtime St. Louis radio personality Ron Morgan died of a heart ailment at age 60.

Ron Morgan
Ron Morgan came to St. Louis in 1973, taking an on-air position on Pulitzer powerhouse KSD. It was the beginning of a stay in St. Louis radio that would span nearly twenty years.

Known as “Morgan in the Morning,” he peppered his programs with droll humor supplemented with an infectious laugh and gave his program team plenty of opportunities to share the spotlight.

He also did mornings at KSD-FM and KLOU, as well as other shifts at KMOX and KHTR.

Morgan was also program director at CBS-owned KLOU when it hit the air with an oldies format, giving the station a strong group of personalities to complement the music, and he served as operations director at KSD-FM.

Mary Healey and Peter Lind Hayes

➦In 2015...actress/singer Mary Healy, who was part of a husband-and-wife comedy team with Peter Lind Hayes in the 1950s and ’60s, appearing on television and in a “life in suburbia” WOR 710 AM from their home in their New Rochelle NY, died at age 96. 

They appeared together on two early 50’s TV variety shows, “The Peter Lind Hayes Show” on NBC and “Star of the Family” on CBS.  The couple also had the leads in the NBC sitcom  “Peter Loves Mary,” and were frequent guest panelists on the CBS game show “What’s My Line?” and vacation hosts on Arthur Godfrey’s TV & radio programs.

Blythe Danner is 81
  • Actor Blythe Danner is 81. 
  • Guitarist Dave Davies of The Kinks is 77. 
  • Actor Morgan Fairchild is 74. 
  • Actor Pamela Franklin (“The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie”) is 74. 
  • Actor Nathan Lane is 68. 
  • Guitarist Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth is 68. 
  • Actor Thomas Calabro (“Melrose Place”) is 65. 
  • Drummer Lol Tolhurst (The Cure) is 65. 
  • Actor Michele Greene (“L.A. Law”) is 62. 
  • Country singer Matraca Berg is 60. 
  • Actor Maura Tierney (“ER,” ″NewsRadio”) is 59. 
  • Actor Warwick Davis (“Harry Potter” films, “Willow”) is 54. 
  • Actor Elisa Donovan (“Clueless”) is 53. 
  • Singer Daddy Yankee is 48. 
  • Actor Isla Fisher is 48. 
  • Singer Jessica Harp (The Wreckers) is 42. 
  • Actor Matthew Moy (“2 Broke Girls”) is 40. 
  • Rapper Sean Kingston is 34. 
  • Actor Brandon Micheal Hall (“God Friended Me”) is 31.
  • In 2019..Bob Friend, MLB baseball pitcher (4-time MLB All Star), dies from cardiac arrest at 88
  • In 2021..Jim Weatherly, Pop and country songwriter ("Midnight Train To Georgia"), dies at 77

Friday, February 2, 2024

500 Journalists Laid Off In January

Over 500 journalists were laid off from news outlets in January, according to Politico citing a new report released Thursday, as many organizations continue to struggle financially.

The layoffs reflect the grim state of the news business. In January alone, the industry — including print, broadcast and digital media — saw 538 announced layoffs, according to the report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The job cuts come after an already bleak year. The news industry shed 3,087 digital, broadcast and print news jobs in 2023 — the highest annual total since 2020, when 16,060 cuts were recorded.

In the last month, dozens of layoffs were announced at outlets including NBC News, Time magazine, Business Insider and The Los Angeles Times — the last of which saw more than 100 employees cut. Pitchfork is also facing layoffs as it’s being folded into men’s magazine GQ, and Sports Illustrated is shedding a “significant reduction” of its 100-member workforce. Staffers at Cond├ę Nast walked off the job over the company’s plan to lay off staff.

And, less than a year after it launched, The Messenger shut down “effective immediately” on Wednesday, leaving its journalists without a job. (Numbers from The Messenger’s layoffs were not included in the 538 job cuts reported by Challenger, Gray & Christmas.)

The LA Times cut more than 70 positions in June and The Washington Post eliminated 240 jobs through a voluntary separation package in October.

The layoffs also come during an election year, triggering worry over how outlets can sustain robust political coverage. The LA Times cuts are “gutting our Washington bureau in an election year,” union Chair Brian Contreras said in a statement.

The eliminations at the LA Times will have “devastating” implications for the publication’s journalists of color if the layoffs go as expected, according to the newsroom’s Latino, Black, Asian American Pacific Islander and Middle Eastern, North African and South Asian caucuses.

The Latino caucus would lose 38 percent of its members, the Black caucus would lose 36 percent of its members, and the AAPI and MENASA caucuses would lose 34 percent of their combined membership, according to a statement.

January was one of the biggest months for layoffs in almost 15 years, a new report found, as more than 82,000 people lost their jobs. The largest sectors for layoffs were finance, tech, food production and retail, and companies cited restructuring, closing, market conditions and cost-cutting as the biggest reasons for the staffing changes.

Apple Ends Streak of Declines

 Apple posted a sales increase for the all-important holiday quarter, ending a recent slump that had been one of the company’s worst earnings streaks in more than two decades.

On Thursday, Apple reported revenue of about $120 billion, up 2.1% from the October-to-December period a year earlier, and net income of $34 billion, up 13%. Both of those figures exceeded analyst expectations, according to FactSet.

Apple’s crucial iPhone business grew nearly 6% from the same year-ago quarter, with $69.7 billion in sales versus the $67.6 billion analysts had projected, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Apple said it has surpassed 2.2 billion active devices for its products. “This is obviously the engine for the company and for the future,” Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri said in an interview.

Apple’s results underscored the strong performance this earnings season of the largest technology companies, especially among those that are infusing their products and services with artificial intelligence. Microsoft reported its strongest profit growth in more than two years as it continues to refresh many of its business software offerings with the same technology behind ChatGPT.

Philly Radio: The Fanatic To Target Younger Demos

The new program director at Beasley Media's WPEN  97.5 the Fanatic believes Philadelphia is definitely large enough to support two sports talk radio stations.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Masteller is the new program director at 97.5 The Fanatic and is burdened with the seemingly insurmountable task of competing with local behemoth 94.1 WIP. Not only is WIP a legacy station that carries both Eagles and Phillies games, they easily outpace The Fanatic in every time slot in ratings and are able to regularly feature interviews with local stars like Jason Kelce and callers like Bryce Harper.

The Syndicated Rick and Bubba Show To End This Year

The “Rick & Bubba Show” is calling it quits after 30 years, but fans of the popular morning radio show needn’t fret just yet. Hosts Rick Burgess and Bill “Bubba” Bussey have promised to remain on the air through the end of the year.

“We have decided that this will be the final year of the ‘Rick & Bubba Show,’ Burgess, 59, said on Thursday’s program, which is nationally syndicated and produced at WZZK-FM in Birmingham. “There it is. I just said it right out.”

“That’s it, and that’s the deal,” said Bussey, 59. “We will finish out this year, and we’re going to go wide open and have a great year, and have a lot of flashbacks and memories, and talk about the last 30 years that, by the way, you folks have made possible. And we don’t discount that.”

The two promised to make their final year on the show “a celebration,” looking back at the past and emphasizing the things that have made “Rick & Bubba” beloved by listeners.

Universal Music Group Announces Label Restructure

The Universal Music Group announced a massive restructuring of its record label operations on Thursday (Feb. 1), reorganizing its web of frontline labels to align them under two main companies, in Republic Records and Interscope Records. The move, which can loosely be termed an East Coast (Republic) and West Coast (Interscope) realignment, means that Interscope’s John Janick and Republic’s Monte Lipman will be leading U.S. label operations for UMG.

Billboard reports as part of the move, the other U.S. label heads will now report through to Janick and Lipman, a source confirms. In the new alignment, Janick will now oversee Interscope, Geffen, Capitol, Motown, Priority, Verve and Blue Note, while Lipman will oversee Republic, Def Jam, Island and Mercury.

UMG chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge announced the move Thursday in a memo to staff, in which he acknowledged that Republic and Interscope have been the two market leaders in current market share in recent years; in 2023, Republic claimed 13.47% of the U.S. market, while Interscope was second, at 8.80%.

RIP: Joe Madison, Radio Legend And Activist Dies At 74

 Joe Madison, the award-winning radio legend and social activist also known as “The Black Eagle” whose eponymous live morning show helped bring attention to pressing human and civil rights issues, died Tuesday following a yearslong battle with prostate cancer. He was 74.

Madison’s family confirmed the death in a statement on Wednesday.

“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of our beloved husband and father, Joe Madison. He passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family,” the family statement said in a social media post shared by Sirius XM Urban View, where Madison worked for the last 15 years.

2/2 WAKE-UP CALL: U-S Again Targets Yemen

The U.S. struck Houthi targets in Yemen, citing the threat they pose to merchant vessels and U.S. Navy ships in the Red Sea. That comes as Washington prepares its response to an Iran-backed militia’s drone attack that killed three U.S. service members in Jordan on Sunday. Houthi rebels have said their latest assaults on global shipping are aimed at pressuring Israel and the international community to end the Israel-Hamas war. Analysts say their goal is to control the Arabian Peninsula. 

The attacks in the Red Sea, as well as the warships and mines clogging the Black Sea since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, threaten a long-held global concept allowing any country to sail the high seas. Stateside, the U.S. announced new sanctions against Israeli settlers in the West Bank, as concerns grow that Israel hasn’t done enough to curb the attacks on Palestinians there.

BIDEN SANCTIONS WEST BANK SETTLERS: President Joe Biden ordered the U.S. to impose financial sanctions on Israeli settlers who have attacked Palestinians in the West Bank in his administration's most significant action to try to calm West Bank violence amid the Israeli-Hamas war. The sanctions, which Biden authorized Thursday, target four Israelis who engaged in actions that "undermine peace, security and stability in the West Bank" through violence aimed at Palestinian civilians. While much of the world's attention has been focused on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, settler attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank have surged since Oct. 7.

➤DEFENSE SECRETARY TALKS ABOUT BEING MIA: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin apologized publicly for the first time for keeping secret his January hospitalization related to cancer treatment, saying the medical challenges were a "gut punch" and his initial instinct was to keep it private. 

Austin has faced bipartisan criticism for concealing his cancer diagnosis and hospitalization from the White House, Congress, his own staff and the public. Austin underwent surgery for prostate cancer on Dec. 22, then was taken on Jan. 1 by ambulance from his home in northern Virginia to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for complications that had developed. 

➤FLA SENDS GUARD TO TEXAS: Gov. Ron DeSantis is sending Florida National Guard and State Guard members to Texas to assist with placing razor wire along the southern border, DeSantis announced Thursday. The Supreme Court ruled last week that the federal government had the power to remove razor wire and other barriers the Texas government erected at the border, but Texas National Guard continued placing the wire last week.  Florida will send up to 1,000 National Guard members and State Guard volunteers to assist Texas "relatively shortly." “The goal is to help Texas fortify this border, help them strengthen the barricades, help them add barriers, help them add the wire that they need to so that we can stop this invasion once and for all,” DeSantis said from Jacksonville’s Cecil Airport Thursday morning. “And the states have to band together.”

NY Post 2/2/24
➤MIGRANT THUGS MAY BE HEADED TO CALIF: Four of the migrants cut loose without bail after allegedly ganging up on two NYPD cops near Times Square may be on the run. Cops believe the group hopped on a bus bound for California on Wednesday after giving phony names to a church-affiliated nonprofit group that helps migrants get rides out of the city, according to law enforcement sources. Four migrants were charged with assault on a police officer and obstruction immediately after the shocking, caught-on-video attack Saturday in Midtown: Darwin Andres Gomez, 19, Kelvin Servita Arocha, 19, Wilson Juarez, 21, and Yorman Reveron, 24. All were released without monetary bail, though Reveron, who had prior arrests on his rap sheet, was put on supervised release.

➤FEDS AFTER AMAZON: Amazon is facing a government order that could make it responsible for the safety of goods from so-called third party sellers.  The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is set to decide whether Amazon’s online retail business makes it a distributor, according to people familiar with the matter. That designation could give it the same safety responsibilities as traditional retailers for goods it sells for outside vendors on its website and ships for them through its logistics network, potentially opening up the company to lawsuits and extensive recalls. Amazon has said that it invests in product safety across its site and that for the more than 60% of sales that are by third parties, it is merely a platform for sellers and buyers to connect, and therefore not responsible for ensuring the quality and safety of those products. Amazon accounts for nearly 40% of all e-commerce in the U.S., according to research firm eMarketer.

➤TRUMP'S LEGAL FEES SOAR: Civil lawsuits could end up costing Donald Trump and his family real-estate conglomerate as much as half a billion dollars.  In one New York case where an ex-columnist alleged defamation, the ex-president is facing verdicts exceeding $88 million. In another, the New York Attorney General claims he exaggerated his wealth to lenders and is seeking $370 million, plus interest during any appeal. The attorney general has also asked the judge to restrict Trump’s ability to apply for loans and acquire commercial real estate in New York. If the fraud case results in a large penalty, Trump might need insurance companies to help structure bonds guaranteeing payment should his appeal efforts fall short. Trump has said the case is a political hit job. In the defamation suit, he could seek to reduce the punitive damages. Trump’s net worth is an estimated $3 billion; in a deposition last year, he testified that he had more than $400 million in cash.

➤SMALL PLANE CRASH KILLS ;'SEVERAL': Several people were killed when a small plane crashed into a Florida trailer park on Thursday night, setting fire to several homes, according to local fire officials. The single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza V35 went down in the Bayside Waters mobile home park in Clearwater just south of the Clearwater Mall around 7:08 p.m., according to the Clearwater Fire and Rescue Department. The pilot of the plane reported engine failure before going down, the FAA said in a statement. The agency said it’s not clear how many people were on board. The wreck resulted in “several fatalities, both from the aircraft and within the mobile home,” according to Clearwater Fire and Rescue Chief Scott Ehlers. Video released by the fire and rescue department showed the apocalyptic-looking scene, with the plane wreckage still smoldering next to charred buildings and trees.

It Was A Happy Holiday for Amazon Earnings


Amazon reported strong growth in sales and profit for the end of last year as robust holiday spending online helped extend its recovery from a postpandemic slump.

The Wall Street Journal reports the e-commerce giant on Thursday also projected continued strength in the current quarter, thanks in part to interest in artificial intelligence that it said is driving healthy sales in its cloud-computing arm.

Amazon’s results, amid a flurry of other solid financial reports by big tech companies, sent its shares up sharply. Amazon said that profit in the three months through December surged to $10.6 billion, its strongest level in two years—from a meager $278 million in the same quarter the previous year. Revenue rose 14% to $170 billion. Both figures easily beat Wall Street expectations.

Meta Reports Best Earnings In Two Years

Facebook parent Meta Platforms posted its best quarterly sales growth in more than two years and initiated its first-ever dividend, a testament to its investments in artificial intelligence that have made targeted ads smarter.

The Wall Street Journal reports the strong results come despite regulatory challenges and child-safety concerns. At a Senate hearing this week, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg told parents whose children were harmed by social media that he was sorry for their suffering, but he didn’t say whether Meta played a role in causing harm to children.

Meta said Thursday that sales increased to $40.11 billion in the three months through December, up 25% compared with the year-earlier period. The company also announced a $50 billion increase in its share-buyback authorization. In the third quarter of 2023, Meta reported record revenue of $34.15 billion, up 23%.

The latest results for Meta and other tech giants show strength across the industry as companies benefit from interest in AI and resurgent spending on everything from digital ads to gadgets. Companies have emerged leaner and more profitable after slashing jobs and other costs during the post pandemic tech slump that started in 2021, helping send tech stocks soaring over the past year.

Houston Radio: John McClain Exits SportsRadio 610

For the first time in 39 years, longtime Houston pro football writer John McClain won’t be heard on the city’s sports talk radio stations, The Houston Chronicle is reporting.

McClain, who retired in 2022 after 47 years at the newspaper, was laid off by Audacy's SportsRadio KILT 610 AM. The 72-year-old appeared on the station six times a week, wrote four weekly columns for the station’s website and hosted a podcast with 610's Sean Pendergast. McClain was on the “Payne & Pendergast” morning show for the last time Wednesday. He will record one more podcast episode with Pendergast on Thursday and make his station farewell on “The Drive” with Clint Stoerner and Ron Hughley at 4 p.m. Friday.

McClain became a regular on Houston’s airwaves in 1985 talking about the Oilers on KTRH (740 AM), where he remained for 15 years before making the leap to 610 where he had been for the past 24 years.

Portland OR Radio: Tim Rainey Named PD at KKRZ, KXJM

iHeartMedia has announced Tim Rainey has been named Program Director for KKRZ-FM and KXJM-FM for the Portland market. 

As Program Director, Rainey will be responsible for all on-air, social, and digital strategies for both KKRZ-FM and KXJM-FM. He will report to Rich Moore, Senior Vice President of Programming for iHeartMedia Seattle and Portland.

“We’re very excited to be adding Tim to our programming team in Portland,” said Rich Moore, Senior Vice President of Programming for iHeartMedia Seattle and Portland. “Tim has great experience and creativity for this role and has a tremendous passion for this business. We can’t wait to get going.”

Tim Rainey joins Portland from the Southern California News Group, based in Orange County, California, where he was most recently the Senior Director, Content Marketing since 2022. Rainey previously programmed KDND and KUDL Sacramento, WDZH Detroit and WNOU Indianapolis. Prior career stops include Tulsa, Las Vegas and Reno. Rainey is a graduate from UNLV with his degree in Broadcast Journalism and started his career in radio as a teenager at his hometown radio station, KGVM-FM, in Gardnerville, Nevada.