Saturday, February 17, 2024

Radio History: February 18

➦In 1920...Bill Cullen born (died from lung cancer July 7, 1990).

He was a radio and television personality whose career spanned five decades. His biggest claim to fame was as a game show host; over the course of his career, he hosted 23 shows, and earned the nickname "Dean of Game Show Hosts". Aside from his hosting duties, he appeared as a panelist/celebrity guest on many other game shows, including regular appearances on I've Got a Secret and To Tell the Truth.

Cullen's broadcasting career began in 1939 in Pittsburgh at WWSW radio, where he worked as a disc jockey and play-by-play announcer or color commentator for Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Hornets games. In 1943, Cullen left WWSW to briefly work at rival station KDKA before leaving Pittsburgh a year later to try his luck in New York. A week after arriving in New York, he was hired as a staff announcer at CBS.

His last regular radio job was as one of the hosts of NBC Radio's Monitor from 1971–73.

➦In 1922...WOC-AM, Davenport, Iowa, went on the air. WOC is widely known as the radio station where future U.S. President Ronald Reagan got his start re-creating Chicago Cubs baseball games.

Beach Boy Brian Wilson Has Dementia

Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson

Brian Wilson‘s longtime business partners are seeking to become the Beach Boys singer’s co-conservators, weeks after the death of his wife, Melinda Wilson.

In a petition filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Wilson’s publicist Jean Sievers and business manager LeeAnn Hard said the 81-year-old musician has been diagnosed with a “major neurocognitive disorder” and is “unable to provide for his own personal needs for physical health, food, clothing or shelter.” Melinda, Wilson’s wife of 28 years, tended to her husband’s needs — but that came to an end when she died on Jan. 30 at age 77.

Melinda, Brian Wilson
\Court documents, obtained by The LA Times, say that Melinda was appointed the agent for his healthcare and a successor was not named. As co-conservators, Hard and Sievers seek to ensure that the singer’s needs are met while he remains in his home, documents say. They will not oversee Wilson’s estate, which is included in his trust — of which Hard is a trustee.

“They have had a close relationship with Mr. and Mrs. Wilson for many years, and Mr. Wilson trusts them,” the documents say.

The petition also detailed the Grammy winner’s declining mental capacity. The singer’s psychiatrist, Dr. Stephen S. Marmer, revealed in a declaration also filed Wednesday that Wilson is taking medication for dementia and is incapable of self-administering medicine and sticking to his medication schedule.

Marmer conducted a mental evaluation that revealed that Wilson has major impairments in information processing and alertness.

“Mr. Wilson’s psychiatrist opines that Mr. Wilson lacks the capacity to give informed consent to medical treatment and Mr. Wilson has a major neurocognitive disorder,” the petition said.

The court documents added: “Mr. Wilson has expressed a preference to appoint Ms. Sievers and Ms. Hard as his co-conservators, and he has stated that he agrees with and consents to the conservatorship.”

The conservatorship was the result of “careful consideration” by the “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” singer, his seven children, doctors and housekeeper Gloria Ramos, a statement on Wilson’s website said.

“This decision was made to ensure that there will be no extreme changes to the household and Brian and the children living at home will be taken care of and remain in the home where they are cared for by Gloria Ramos and the wonderful team at the house who have been in place for many years helping take care of the family,” the Wilson family wrote.

They added: “Brian will be able to enjoy all of his family and friends and continue to work on current projects as well as participate in any activities he chooses.”

A hearing on Sievers and Hard’s petition for Wilson’s conservatorship is set for April 30.

Study: Radio Generates Increases In Voter Reach

This week on a webinar, Nielsen unveiled a bombshell study sure to catch the attention of political campaigns, media strategists, and political agencies. 

Nielsen matched a massive voter file to cross platform media use and found the early use of AM/FM radio generates significant voter reach growth, especially among undecided voters.

Five key findings:

  • AM/FM radio is best used as a mass voter reach platform rather than as a solution to reach tiny niches: Nielsen reveals AM/FM radio exceeds TV and CTV in voter reach among all voting segments, especially with independent/unaffiliated voters.
  • Prior political media plans lose impact: The same TV/digital/CTV buy from the prior year reaches 12% fewer voters this year.
  • Contrary to popular belief, CTV and digital cannot replace all of TV’s lost reach: Surprisingly, CTV and digital generate only modest voter reach lifts to the base linear TV buy.
  • AM/FM radio to the rescue: Shifting 20% of the political media plan to AM/FM radio generates significant increases in voter reach overall, especially among undecideds, light TV viewers, Gen Xers, and Millennials.
  • Campaigns that use AM/FM radio “early and often” benefit: The Nielsen analysis of key local races reveals early and substantial use of AM/FM radio as a mass reach platform generates impressive incremental reach in races won by narrow margins.

Detroit Radio: Stoney Exits Morning Show at 97.1 The Ticket

Mike Stone is known, around the station, for lingering. After his four-hour morning show at WXYT 97.1 The Ticket would end at 10 a.m., he'd usually stick around, often searching for someone to go to lunch with, according to The Detroit News.

Stone has staying power, like few experience in the cut-throat business that is sports-talk radio. He arrived in the area in 1986, and in 1994, he helped launch WDFN "The Fan." In the late 1990s, he teamed with Bob Wojnowski for the "Stoney and Wojo Show," that made Stone a household name for decades to come.

On Friday morning, Stone, 65, signed off for the last time from his morning show, "Stoney and Jansen," in an emotional speech in which he thanked at least 100 people by name.

"I never thought I'd be here three years," Stone said, "let alone 38. It's been awesome.

"I am somewhat sad that I will not be on the air every day," continued Stone, during a 13-plus minute farewell, "but I know that sadness ends when there's no fricking alarm at 4:30 in the morning."

Stone's long run at WDFN, the first sports-talk station in Metro Detroit that set the standard for the business, ended in 2009, when Clear Channel (Stone called it "Cheap Channel") issued mass layoffs across the country, and in Detroit, signaled the battle with rival 97.1 The Ticket was over.

Stone joined The Ticket in December 2009, first working with Bill McAllister (with Sara Fouracre), and then Jamie Samuelsen (with Heather Park).

Philly Radio: WXTU to Air Toby Keith Special Sunday

Beasley Media Group’s 92.5 WXTU-FM was saddened to hear about the passing of country music legend Toby Keith. Toby Keith has been an integral part of XTU for over 3 decades and many of the station’s staff members had become friends with the Country legend.

“Toby Keith is a legend because he mastered the art of singing what the country world was thinking,” said WXTU-FM Morning Show Host Andie Summers. “He was exactly what Dolly Parton meant when she said country music is ordinary people telling ordinary stories in an extraordinary way.”

WXTU will feature a special show entitled “A Tribute To Toby Keith: A Country Life” that will air this Sunday, February 18th from 8am-11am. The program will be hosted by Midday Personality and Program Director, Razz On The Radio.

The special will highlight his legendary career with stories, memories and music that spanned over three decades.

Report: Peacock, Paramount+ Have Talked Partnership

Paramount Global has held recent talks with Comcast about joining forces in streaming through a partnership or joint venture, among several potential strategic options the entertainment company is pursuing, reports The Wall Street Journal citing people familiar with the situation. 

Paramount’s flagship service, Paramount+, is home to “Star Trek” programming, originals such as “1883” from superproducer Taylor Sheridan and simulcasts of CBS PARA -4.69%decrease; red down pointing triangle football games, while Comcast’s Peacock is known for live soccer and football, originals like “Poker Face,” and a deep library with shows such as “The Office.”

Bringing the two streaming apps under one roof could produce significant cost savings—from spending on programming to marketing—and create a more in-depth offering for consumers, especially with regard to live sports. A commercial partnership or joint venture are among the arrangements the companies could pursue. 

Entertainment companies across the industry are exploring new streaming bundles and ventures to gain scale, attract more customers and help alleviate the costs of running their direct-to-consumer services amid declines in pay TV subscribers. Last week, Disney’s ESPN, Fox Corp. and Warner Bros. Discovery announced they were combining forces to create a sports streaming joint venture.

Paramount and its parent company, National Amusements, have been exploring a range of potential strategic options in recent months as the entertainment company, owner of the Paramount movie studio and cable channels such as Nickelodeon and MTV, faces continued headwinds in a media industry dominated by bigger players.

Taylor Swift Plays To Her Biggest Audience Ever

Taylor Swift couldn't help but get a little emotional as she played to her biggest concert crowd yet during her first night in Australia, according to Parade.

She welcomed 96,000 fans to the sold-out stadium in Melbourne on the evening of Friday, Feb. 16, and, in concert footage uploaded to the internet by fans, you can tell how awestruck she is by the milestone. 

"This is the biggest show that we have done on this tour—or any tour I have ever done," she told the crowd during the Lover segment of the show, as seen in a video uploaded to Twitter. "So, yeah, that's the version you get of me tonight; the version that's completely starstruck by the fact that so many of you wanted to hang out with us on a Friday night in Melbourne."

@kiara__chantelle When Taylor cries, we all cry 🤧💕 Still can't believe she's here! Grateful for the last 16 years! 💕🌟 @Taylor Swift #taylorswift #taylorsversion #erastour #eras #erastourtaylorswift #Australia #Aussie #aussieswifties #swiftie #melbourne #melbn1 #mcg ♬ original sound - Kiara

Then, during the now-traditional ovation Swifties give the singer as she sits down at her piano to play "Champagne Problems," she went through the full range of emotion as she took in the absolutely massive crowd surrounding her. 

➤Swift donates $100,000 

Meanwhile, Swift has donated $100,000 to the family of the woman slain in a shooting near a rally for the Kansas City Chiefs where the singer’s boyfriend, tight end Travis Kelce, and his teammates were celebrating their Super Bowl victory.

The Grammy Award-winning performer’s two contributions of $50,000 each were posted early on Friday to the GoFundMe memorial page set up by relatives of radio personality Elizabeth Lopez-Galvan, who was the lone fatality in Wednesday’s gun violence. She was 43.

A message left with the donations on the page reads: “Sending my deepest sympathies and condolences in the wake of your devastating loss. With love, Taylor Swift.”

Representatives for the singer confirmed to CNN and the showbiz trade publication Variety that the contributions from Swift were authentic.

Big Game Buzz Aired On the Radio

Super Bowl LVIII certainly was the Big Game this year. CBS Sports reports that it was the biggest Super Bowl in history, drawing more than 123 million people tuning in across all platforms on Sunday. From the national anthem to the overtime win, and all the ads and celebrity sightings in between, there were many buzzworthy moments. Katz surveyed over 500 listeners after the Big Game and found radio was a natural home to many of these ensuing discussions, proving that radio can amplify the impact of events by extending word of mouth and growing audiences.

In the two days following the Super Bowl, radio was buzzing with discussions around the game. According to Katz's survey, 7 in 10 listeners reported hearing on-air conversations about the Big Game during their daily radio listening - led by men, at 77%. These live conversations on AM/FM radio, involving trusted on-air personalities, echo the same ones people are having across America - and when that dialogue is about big events involving big advertiser investments, marketers are also winners. 

                            % of Listeners 12+ Who Heard Super Bowl Discussions 

The study shows how radio excels at reaching consumers on-the-go and outside the home, furthering the reach and impact of big televised events where and when TV cannot. So it is no surprise that 7 in 10 listeners reported hearing Super Bowl discussions while driving in the car, by far the most common location for both men and women. Super Bowl engagement also continued while listeners were at work, for 13% of men and 7% of women. But we cannot ignore at-home listening, as 4 in 10 listeners reported hearing Super Bowl discussions on the radio from the comfort of their homes and home offices. 
Where Listeners 12+ Heard Super Bowl Discussions On the Radio

The Super Bowl is a sporting event that transcends sports; therefore, its discussions go far beyond sports stations. Katz's study found that radio stations of all types, across spoken word and music formats, helped extend the buzz around trending topics. Music stations were the leading source of conversations for all adults - led by women, at 38%. Sports stations were the top locations for men to hear conversations, followed by News and Music stations. Discussions around big events like the Super Bowl cross genres, potentially reaching new audiences that were unengaged, or under-engaged with the telecast. 

% of Listeners 12+ Who Heard Super Bowl Discussions By Radio Station Format

Whether you're a diehard football fan, or more of a casual watcher, there's no denying the Taylor-mania surrounding this year's Super Bowl. Taylor Swift's name popped up most frequently among the Super Bowl topics listeners remembered hearing about on the radio (even ahead of MVP, Patrick Mahomes). That's not due to any shortcomings of the game itself, but rather a reflection of what is most buzzworthy this year. Even among men, game conversations were neck and neck with Taylor Swift. 

Whether you're a diehard football fan, or more of a casual watcher, there's no denying the Taylor-mania surrounding this year's Super Bowl. Taylor Swift's name popped up most frequently among the Super Bowl topics listeners remembered hearing about on the radio (even ahead of MVP, Patrick Mahomes). That's not due to any shortcomings of the game itself, but rather a reflection of what is most buzzworthy this year. Even among men, game conversations were neck and neck with Taylor Swift. 

Super Bowl Topics Listeners 12+ Recall Hearing Discussed on the Radio 

The Super bowl truly is an event for the masses, mixing sports, music, and pop culture, providing relevant and appealing content to any age and interest. Radio has its finger on the pulse of big pop culture events and is a natural home to discussions among its trusted and beloved on-air personalities across formats. Radio amplifies event impact, extending brand conversations, and growing audiences beyond TV's reach.

Former CBS Chief Leslie Moonves Settles L-A Ethics Case

Les Moonves

Former CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves has agreed to pay an $11,250 fine to settle a Los Angeles City Ethics Commission complaint that accused him of interfering with a police investigation and inducing a government official to violate laws.

The L-A Times reports the incident dates back to November 2017 when former Los Angeles Police Cmdr. Cory Palka began working with Moonves and other CBS executives to allegedly bury an LAPD complaint made by a woman who had accused Moonves of sexual assault in the 1980s.

At the time, Moonves was the television industry’s most powerful executive. He had presided over CBS for more than two decades, the architect of the network’s dramatic turnaround.

Palka, who has since retired, was then head of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollywood station. He’d known Moonves for nearly a decade because he had been part of Moonves’ security detail for the Grammy Awards for several years.

Moonves & wife Julie Chen
Moonves’ illustrious career soon collapsed amid a widening sex scandal that came to light as part of the #MeToo movement. Moonves, who stepped down from CBS in September 2018, has denied harassing or assaulting women.

His unraveling began Nov. 10, 2017, when a former colleague, Phyllis Golden-Gottlieb, was inspired to speak out about her allegations of past dealings with Moonves. She drove to the Hollywood station to file a report against Moonves. Later that night, Palka called CBS officials and alerted them to the existence of Golden-Gottlieb’s report.

Over the next few weeks, Palka, Moonves and one of Moonves’ underlings discussed strategies to thwart Golden-Gottlieb’s report and worked to make sure it didn’t gain traction within the Police Department or the L.A. County district attorney’s office, according to records in the case, which came to light in late 2022 as part of a report by New York Atty. Gen. Leticia James.

James had accused Moonves and CBS of misleading investors about the scope of the sexual harassment uncovered at CBS — information that was damaging to the company’s stock.

Fox News To Air Haley Town Hall Sunday

FOX News Channel’s (FNC) John Roberts will present a town hall with 2024 Republican presidential candidate and former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley on Sunday, February 18th in Columbia, South Carolina. 

The pre-taped one-hour event will air at 5 PM/ET with an encore at 10 PM/ET focusing on critical issues impacting American voters, her strategy in South Carolina and other news of the day.

John Roberts currently serves as the co-anchor of America Reports (weekdays, 1-3 PM/ET) on FOX News Channel which is the number one rated news program in its timeslot. Leading up to and throughout the 2024 presidential primary cycle, Roberts has presented headline-driving interviews with Republican presidential candidates including former Vice President Mike Pence, Vivek Ramaswamy, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), former Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) and former Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR). In 2023, he reported live from Jerusalem at the start of the Israel-Hamas war. 

Additionally, he has interviewed several members of the Biden Administration, including senior advisor to the President Gene Sperling, White House National Security Communications Adviser John Kirby, then White House National Economic Council director Brian Deese and Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh.  

Beyoncé's New Music Hits A Billboard Country Chart

Pop and R&B/hip-hop superstar BeyoncĂ© made a surprise announcement during Super Bowl LVIII on Feb. 11, releasing two tracks noticeably different in sound from the bulk of her catalog: “Texas Hold ‘Em” and “16 Carriages.”

The former is officially being promoted to country radio, as announced in a Columbia Nashville email to stations Feb. 14 at 11 a.m. ET, and arrives as BeyoncĂ©’s first entry on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart (dated Feb. 24), starting at No. 54 with 1.1 million in audience via 100 stations at the format in the tracking week ending Feb. 15.

The Country Airplay survey reflects songs’ audience impressions on nearly 150 U.S country radio stations as monitored by Mediabase and provided to Billboard by Luminate.

“We immediately added it [in] a sub-power rotation, which is where we put top-trending new music,” Alpha Media-owned KBAY San Jose, Calif., program director Bo Matthews tells Billboard of “Texas Hold ‘Em.” “I want people to hear it. One of the biggest artists in the world delivered a great country record for us to have fun with, and the song is really good. We are in the business of creating excitement for our listeners and I’m embracing the moment. Plus, there is plenty of room for great artists, even from other genres. It’s a big country tent.”

Concurrent with its Country Airplay entrance, “Texas Hold ‘Em” opens at No. 38 on Pop Airplay, with its plays on 98 chart reporters translating to 1.3 million audience impressions at the format.

“We put the BeyoncĂ© directly into a strong rotation so it can be heard. I want the station to sound as interesting as possible, because the opposite is boring,” muses Dave Parker, pd of Sinclair’s WUSH Norfolk, Va. “This song is sounding great and doesn’t sound like anything else. Plus, the feedback from listeners and even fellow staffers so far has been very positive.”

Says Tim Roberts, pd of Audacy’s WYCD Detroit, of “Texas Hold ‘Em”: “I think it’s a good record, and country is so popular right now, it’s great that she wants to be here. Just like we do with any song on our playlist, now the listeners will decide.”

All charts dated Feb. 24 – including the Hot 100, reflecting songs’ streaming, airplay and sales Feb. 9-15 – will update on Tuesday, Feb. 20 (a day later than usual due to the Presidents’ Day holiday in the U.S. Feb. 19).

NYC Radio: Audacy’s 4th Annual Leading Ladies Returns March 20

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Audacy’s 4th annual Leading Ladies, presented by Olay Body, returns to New York on March 20 at the historic Kings Theatre in Brooklyn. 

The intimate event features Kelsea Ballerini, Meghan Trainor, Elle King, Christina Perri and more sharing the stage and stories for an unforgettable night of entertainment. Hosted by Audacy’s Katie Neal and NEW 102.7 (WNEW-FM) morning show host Karen Carson, Leading Ladies amplifies women’s voices in music through personal stories, triumphs and songs.

“It’s been incredible to see Leading Ladies grow from a Country concert to a multi-genre showcase featuring some of the best female performers in music today,” said Neal. “I’m honored to be part of an event that focuses on women's empowerment and can’t wait to see these fabulous females perform aside one another.”

“I’m excited to see this year’s women share the stage for what is sure to be a spectacular night filled with not only great music but great stories,” adds Carson. “Women are powerhouses, and it’s phenomenal that we’re able to celebrate each other while watching some of our favorite female artists together on one stage.”

Listeners can get early access to tickets through the presale on Thursday, February 22, from 10:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. ET or while supplies last. To get the presale link and code, download the free Audacy app and follow NEW 102.7, or sign up for the NEW 102.7 newsletter at Tickets for Leading Ladies presented by Olay Body go on sale on February 23 at 10:00 a.m. ET and can be purchased at For more information on the event, visit

Additional sponsors of Leading Ladies include New Jersey Division of Travel & Tourism, Slomin's Home Security and Key Food Stores Co-operative, Inc.

The event media kit is available here.

Radio History: February 17

➦In 1908...Walter Lanier "Red" Barber born (died October 22, 1992 at age 82).  Barber was a sports commentator, nicknamed "The Ol' Redhead", was primarily identified with radio broadcasts of Major League Baseball, calling play-by-play across four decades with the Cincinnati Reds (1934–1938), Brooklyn Dodgers (1939–1953), and New York Yankees (1954–1966). Like his fellow sports pioneer Mel Allen, Barber also gained a niche calling college and professional American football in his primary market of New York City.

Red Barber 1934
Barber was born in Columbus, Mississippi. The family moved to Sanford, Florida in 1929, and at the age of 21, he hitchhiked to Gainesville and enrolled at the University of Florida, majoring in education. It was there in January 1930 that Barber got his start in broadcasting.

An agriculture professor had been scheduled to appear on WRUF, the university radio station, to read a scholarly paper over the air. When the professor's absence was discovered minutes before the broadcast was to begin, Barber, who working as a janitor, was called in as a substitute. It was thus that the future sportscaster's first gig was reading "Certain Aspects of Bovine Obstetrics". After those few minutes in front of a microphone, Barber decided to switch careers. He became WRUF's director and chief announcer and covered Florida football games that autumn. Then he dropped out of school to focus on his radio work. After four more years at WRUF he landed a job broadcasting the Cincinnati Reds on WLW and WSAI when Powel Crosley, Jr., purchased the team in 1934.

Joe Kearns
➦In 1947...The US government’s Voice of America began shortwave transmissions to the Soviet Union.  It targeted the Soviet citizens in Russia under the pretext of countering "more harmful instances of Soviet propaganda directed against American leaders and policies". The Soviet Union responded by initiating electronic jamming of VOA broadcasts on April 24, 1949.

➦In Joseph Kearns, one of bigtime radio’s busiest regulars, best remembered as Mr. Wilson in TV’s Dennis the Menace, died after a cerebral hemorrhage at age 55.   He was The Man in Black in the early years of CBS Radio’s ‘Suspense,’ and played Ed the security guard for Jack Benny’s underground vault.  Kearns joined the staff of radio station KSL in Salt Lake City in 1930 remaining there until 1936 when he moved to Los Angeles, where found regular work in network radio.

➦In 1972...after getting their hands on some stolen tapes Los Angeles radio station KDAY played two unreleased Rolling Stones songs non-stop for 18 hours. The outraged Stones got a cease-and-desist court order the next day. The tapes were stolden from the home of producer Marshall Chess home.

➦In 1979…after five years airing locally on Minnesota Public Radio, Garrison Keillor‘s variety show “A Prairie Home Companion” was first broadcast nationally as part of NPR’s “Folk Festival America.”  It's first local radio broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio in 1974.

➦In 1991…Radio Personality Gary Gears died from a heart attack at age 46.

Gary Gears AFVN 1968
Gary Gears may have had one of the best voices of all. According to Jeff Roteman's WLS Tribute website, The "Big G" joined WLS in 1971 after a brief stop at WCFL. Gary started at the Big 89 doing the 1-5 am overnight shift. By 1972, Gary had moved to middays working 9 til 12 noon replacing Joel Sebastian. In 1973, Gary was replaced by J.J. Jeffrey.

Gary Gears spent time at the legendary KOIL in Omaha before joining and serving in the US Armed Services. Gary was heard on AFVN radio in Vietnam. After his time in the service, Gary went to KQV in Pittsburgh from Minneapolis St Paul. After leaving Pittsburgh , Gary spent most of his career in Chicago at legendary stations WCFL, WLS and many others including  WDAI, WIND, WJEZ, WJJD, WKQX, WMAQ and WRQX.  He also spent time at CHUM in Toronto.

He served in Vietnam where he was a DJ at AFVN in Saigon.

Gary's voice was heard on commercials all over the country in the 70's.

➦In 1994...Radio personality Barney Pip (real last name: Pipenger) was killed in a traffic accident in Indianapolis. He burned to death in the accident. An article in Radio & Records said it was two weeks before his body was identified.

Pip started his career in 1959 with notable stops at  WCFL Chicago, WPIX FM NYC and WIFE Indianapolis.  He also worked at WJET Erie, Pa., WEEP Pittsburgh, WGLI Babylon, N.Y., WOKY Milwaukee, WIFE Indianapolis, WHHY Montgomery, Ala.

➦In 2021...Syndicated radio talker Rush Limbaugh died at age 70 from lung cancer.

Friday, February 16, 2024

Soros Buying Into Audacy Could Be Game Changer

Is George Soros trying to buy his way into silencing Republican talk show media? 

The Washington Examiner calls it a political nightmare that could be a future reality, as the left-wing billionaire reportedly purchased $400 million worth of debt in Audacy, the second-largest radio broadcast network in the country. Audacy broadcasts numerous political talk shows of popular Republicans nationwide, including Dana Loesch, Mark Levin, Guy Benson, Sean Hannity, and Rich Zeoli. 

Given Soros’s radical left-wing political ideology, one could only imagine how it will affect the landscape of political talk radio. There has not been any confirmation either way. However, it would be a logical assumption that Soros could implement programming changes on channels that feature popular Republican talk show hosts. It would be another effort by the Left’s vast political network to control the flow of information and political messaging to the nation, especially with the high stakes of this year’s presidential election. 

A Republican source considered “close to the situation” echoed these sentiments and believed Soros’s purchase was part of a grand scheme to “exert influence on public opinion in the months leading up to the 2024 presidential election,” the New York Post reported.

“This is scary,” the source said, according to the New York Post.

Objectively, it’s a shrewd move by the affluent left-wing political activist. Of course, this could all just be a conjectural overreaction. However, if Soros were to implement a Republican talk show purge nationwide, it would undoubtedly be seen as a political power play to influence public opinion. And in many ways, if this does happen, it should be considered the Left’s counter maneuver to Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter, now known as X. It should make Republicans at least a bit uneasy. 

Audacy reported it had over 40 million users across its platforms. Not all of them are listeners to political talk show hosts, as Audacy also owns many sports talk radio stations. However, the audiences of the people mentioned above represent a significant portion of those who use Audacy. And while it’s all speculative at the moment, a Soros-built radio broadcast company, especially one that would remove popular Republican media, arguably could have a significant impact later this year and beyond.

Report: CNN To Slash Budgets, Anchor Salaries

CNN boss
Mark Thompson is looking to fund his digital-first transformation by cutting anchor salaries — currently more than $50 million — as he seeks to remake the ailing cable network into a U.S. version of the BBC, media observers and former CNN executives have told TheWrap.

Thompson, the former head of the BBC and The New York Times, has said he wants to unleash a “revolution” at the 43-year-old news network, and will not spare the network’s formidable talent roster.

Top CNN earners include prime-time anchor Anderson Cooper, who makes an estimated $20 million a year; Wolf Blitzer, who earns about $15 million; Jake Tapper, who pulls in more than $8.5 million; and Chris Wallace, who makes about $8 million, two insiders said. Other co-anchors, including John Berman, Kate Bolduan and Sara Sidner, make in the $1 million to $2 million range, a third executive with knowledge of salaries told TheWrap.

Thompson has indicated in a staff memo he is looking to trim production costs “that now look difficult to support,” which media experts and former staffers say is likely to mean cuts to at least some of those big salaries. But contracts for some of the biggest stars, including Cooper and Tapper, are not due to expire until after the presidential election — at the end of 2025 or 2026, according to two people familiar with the situation. 

DOJ Has Concerns Over Proposed New Sports Streaming Plan

The U.S. Department of Justice aims to scrutinize a sports streaming platform planned by Walt Disney, opens new tab, Fox, opens new tab and Warner Bros Discovery, opens new tab over concerns it could harm consumers, sports leagues and rivals, Bloomberg Law reported on Thursday.

Reuters reports the Justice Department will examine the terms of the deal when it is finalized, the report added, citing two people familiar with the matter.

Earlier this month, the three media companies said they will launch a joint venture to start a sports streaming service this autumn to capture younger viewers.

The trio have a broad portfolio of professional and collegiate sports rights, which span the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, FIFA World Cup and college competitions.

A new app would provide non-exclusive access to a collection of television sports networks, including ESPN, Fox Sports 1 and TNT, as well as to content that is streamed.

Fox, Warner Bros Discovery and Disney could not be immediately reached for comment, while the Justice department declined to comment.

"I think it obviously raises serious competition issues and antitrust issues when you have the largest players in the online distribution of sports getting together and jointly launching a new service," said Seth Bloom, antitrust lawyer with Bloom Strategic Counsel in Washington and former general counsel of the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee.

He added, "The DOJ would likely look at the competitive implications of that and whether other companies that wish to provide this service will be foreclosed from the market.”

Fubo, a sports-focused streaming service, called for scrutiny of the new joint venture shortly after it was announced. In a Feb. 7 statement, Fubo said the media partners command "significant market share," reportedly controlling 60% to 85% of all sports content.

“Every consumer in America should be concerned about the intent of this joint venture and its impact on fair competition,” it said.

NAB Announces 2024 Crystal Radio Award Finalists

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Thursday announced the finalists for the 2024 NAB Crystal Radio Awards, which has honored radio stations’ outstanding community service efforts since 1987. Winners will be announced during the We Are Broadcasters ceremony that takes place on the Main Stage at NAB Show, April 16 at 9:30 a.m. PST.

NAB will also present Hubbard Broadcasting’s KSTP-FM, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., with the esteemed Crystal Heritage Award during the ceremony. The Heritage Award recognizes radio stations that have won a total of five Crystal Radio Awards for exceptional year-round community service efforts. Only 11 other stations have received this honor.

Finalists for the 2024 Crystal Radio Awards are:

Pay TV Planning Their Attack Against New Sports Venture

It’s been about a week since Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery and Fox announced a new joint venture to offer live sports outside the traditional cable bundle, and pay TV distributors are still trying to figure out just how disruptive the new service will be.

The key question for distributors such as Comcast, Charter and DirecTV is whether they’ll be allowed to offer the same skinny bundle of linear networks that Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery and Fox announced will be available to consumers later this fall. That bundle includes ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, Fox, FS1, FS2, and a handful of other cable channels that showcase sports.

If Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery and Fox allow distributors to offer the same product, in addition to the standard cable bundle, there’s likely to be minimal consternation about the joint venture. But, CNBC reports it’s not clear that will be the case, given that may defeat the purpose of its existence.

In 2023, Charter began offering a package of cable networks that didn’t include sports to lower the cost of cable TV for customers who only wanted news and entertainment. Offering sports to only those people who want to watch sports is good for distributors, but it’s harmful to programmers, who benefit from the millions of households that pay for sports but don’t watch them.

That’s why, logically, the new sports joint venture only makes sense if the three media companies bar distributors from offering the same product.

Privately leaders at Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery and Fox have begun to hear complaints from some distributors, who are concerned the new skinny bundle will lead to increased cable TV cancellations, according to people familiar with the matter.

If the sports joint venture refuses to allow distributors the same terms as it’s offering retail customers, distributors could either refuse to carry their networks when carriage renewal deals are up or even sue, according to Craig Moffett, an analyst at MoffettNathanson.

Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery and Fox all rely on the pay-TV distributors for the bulk of their revenue.

Providence Radio: Longtime PRO-FM Morning Host Giovanni Is Retiring

Long-running Providence morning radio host “Giovanni” announced Thursday that he will retire from 92 PRO-FM April 29 after 50 years with the station, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary on the same day.

According to a posting at the PRO-FM website, Daniel Centofanti, known to his listeners and fans as “Giovanni” has hosted “Giovanni in the Morning” for 25 of those years, and became a fan of WPRO AM when he was 12 years old.

“The first encounter I had with this radio station is I wrote a letter to Salty Brine, (the longer-running WPRO morning host) I was 12 years old, and I said, “can I have a tour of the station?” he told Gene Valicenti in an on-air interview. “This is when the station was down in Providence on Mason Street, which doesn’t exist anymore. So I put my phone number in there.

“Unbeknownst to my mother, the phone rings one morning and guess who’s on the phone? Well, it’s Salty. He invited us, so my dad and I came down to the station, I got a tour. And ever since then I’ve been enamored with this particular outfit, WPRO, I got to be friendly with the people who work here, and you know the rest,” he said.

“I never did a shift on WPRO, that’s the ironic part, that’s the station that propelled me to want to be in radio,” he said.

He began on air at WPRO-FM in 1974.

“I remember the first song I ever played, it’s “My Maria” by B.W. Stevenson.”

In 2009, he was inducted into the Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame after 35 years on the air.

Gio added that management was highly supportive of his decision to retire. “As you know, radio can be brutal, one day you’re here, the next day you’re gone, but not with this company, they were really nice to me.”

2/16 WAKE-UP CALL: Fani's Furor..Prosecutor Gives Fiery Testimony

The district attorney in Donald Trump’s Georgia election-interference case rebutted allegations that her romantic relationship with another prosecutor should disqualify them. Fani Willis testified that defense lawyers seeking to sideline her had made false and offensive statements about her history with Nathan Wade, whom she hired to be the chief prosecutor against the former president and his associates in the racketeering case. Trump has called the case a witch hunt. Separately in New York, Trump’s hush-money trial is set to begin on March 25, making it the first of the four criminal cases the former president faces to be heard by a jury.

Trump has argued that the case is politically driven.

➤TRUMP LAWYERS SKEWER SMITH:  Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers on Thursday lashed out at special counsel Jack Smith after he opposed Trump’s request that the Supreme Court delay a trial into whether he tried to steal the 2020 election. In Trump’s final brief before the Supreme Court will consider that delay, his lawyers told the court Smith has created “the appearance of partisanship.”

“As before, there is no mystery about the Special Counsel’s motivation,” they wrote. “Commentators across the political spectrum point to the obvious −the Special Counsel seeks to bring President Trump to trial and to secure a conviction before the November election in which President Trump is the leading candidate against President Biden.”

➤BIDEN-BIBI RIFT GETTING TENSE: The looming Israeli military plans to invade Rafah have exacerbated tensions between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and the Biden administration, which has grown increasingly frustrated with its attempts to rein in Israel’s military campaign. The consequences of the distrust between President Biden and Netanyahu, who have spoken 19 times since Hamas’s Oct. 7 assault, have grown only starker in recent days. Biden now appears to be trying to draw a line with Israel’s proposed military operation on Rafah where 1.1 million Palestinians—many of them displaced—now reside. In their latest call Thursday, Biden “reiterated his view that a military operation should not proceed without a credible and executable plan for ensuring the safety of and support for the civilians in Rafah,” the White House said in a statement. Netanyahu, meanwhile, has vowed to forge ahead, saying Wednesday that Israel would mount a “powerful” operation in the city once residents are allowed to evacuate.

➤EGYPT BUILDING GAZA WALL: Egyptian authorities are building a walled enclosure near the border with Gaza, according to Egyptian officials and security analysts. Fearful that an Israeli military push further south in the enclave will set off a flood of refugees, Cairo has for weeks sought to bolster security there to keep Palestinians out. The new compound is part of contingency plans if large numbers of Gazans do get in. The governor of Egypt’s North Sinai region said that the construction was part of an effort to take an inventory of houses destroyed during Egypt’s past military campaign against Islamic State extremists. Meanwhile, Israeli troops entered the main hospital in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis after its intelligence indicated that hostages kidnapped by Hamas, as well as bodies, were being held there. Hamas called Israel’s incursion part of a systematic policy of targeting hospitals and destroying civilian infrastructure in Gaza and a violation of international law.

➤U-S SHOPPERS CUT BACK IN JANUARY: Retail sales fell a seasonally adjusted 0.8% from a month earlier, the Commerce Department said. The larger-than-expected loss came after a strong round of holiday shopping in December, which the report revised to a 0.4% gain. Excluding autos, sales were down 0.6%; economists expected an increase. The economic data appeared to have had little impact on U.S. markets. Meanwhile, a 2024 immigration wave is expected to deliver an economic windfall for the U.S.—but with recent migrants earning and producing less than their predecessors, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The world’s major economies fell behind the U.S.’s, and in China, leader Xi Jinping wants to put the state back in charge of the crumbling real-estate market as part of a push to rein in the private sector.

➤RIVALRY LED TO K-C SHOOTING: A dispute between several people led to yesterday’s Super Bowl rally shooting in Kansas City, preliminary findings suggest. The incident that killed at least one person and wounded more than 20 others had no link to terrorism or homegrown violent extremism, according to preliminary findings. Two teens are currently detained, officials said. Their relationship to one another, and whether they were previously known to law enforcement, is under investigation.

➤F-B URGES ADVERTISERS HOW TO AVOID PAYING APPLE: Facebook parent Meta is encouraging advertisers to use a workaround to avoid paying a 30% service charge to Apple.Meta has long offered so-called boosted posts for Facebook and Instagram that users can purchase on their smartphones to amplify their content’s reach. They account for billions of dollars annually for Meta, according to people familiar with the matter. Later this month, Meta will begin levying an extra surcharge on U.S. advertisers who purchase boosted posts from apps on iPhones and iPads. The money will go to Apple, which announced in 2022 that it would start treating boosted posts as in-app purchases, entitling Apple to 30% of Meta’s revenue from them. Meta says that boosted posts should be considered a form of advertising in part because small businesses often use them to reach bigger audiences.

➤FBI INFORMAT INDICTED FOR LYING: A former FBI informant has been indicted by a Justice Department special counsel for allegedly lying about President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden's overseas business dealings in a major setback for House Republicans' impeachment inquiry of the president.

Rod Stewart Cashes-In..Music Catalog Sold

Rod Stewart sold his song catalog, including hits like “Maggie May” and “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy,” as well as some name and likeness rights to Irving Azoff’s Iconic Artists Group for a $100 million.

People familiar with the transaction told The Wall Street Journal that the rights Stewart sold span his solo career as well as his time as a member of Faces and the Jeff Beck Group. 

The 79-year-old British rock star’s discography includes 10 No. 1 albums overall, and studio albums that sold more than one million copies each, The Journal reported.

IAG has also raised more than $1 billion in new capital for future catalog investments led by the private markets investment firm HPS Investment Partners, the people told The Journal.

Stewart joins an IAG roster that includes the Beach Boys, Cher, Joe Cocker, Nat King Cole, David Crosby, Dean Martin, Linda Ronstadt, Graham Nash and Stephen Stills, per the management company’s website.

Stewart, who’s on vocal rest ahead of a five-concert stint within four days, told The Journal via email: “Irving and I are a couple of old-timers and I believe we have a mutual respect and admiration for each other. My life’s work is in safe hands with him.”

Azoff, the former CEO of Ticketmaster and co-founder of IAG, inked the agreement with Stewart after he backed out of a potential deal to sell his catalog to London-based song-catalog manager Hipgnosis in May following two years of negotiations, according to The Journal.

Report: Debra O'Connell Now In Charge At ABC News

Embattled ABC News president Kim Godwin’s days could be numbered despite getting her contract renewed — as staffers quietly cheered her effective demotion, The NY Post is reporting.

The Disney-owned network elevated veteran exec Debra OConnell on Wednesday to helm a new division that would encompass ABC News — putting Godwin under her — amid softening ratings at top-ranked shows  “Good Morning America” and “World News Tonight with David Muir.”

The move was widely cheered at ABC News headquarters with more than one staffer overheard saying: “Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead,” as others “celebrated at the bar” and breathed a sigh of relief that the “dictatorial” culture under Godwin would soon come to an end, multiple sources told The Post on Thursday.

Debra O'Connell
“The mood after the announcement was very light and happy. People are relieved,” one source said. “They feel network can get back to its glory days with Debra coming in.”

The rejoicing came despite Godwin getting a three-year extension shortly after Disney announced OConnell’s new role, which will also include oversight of ABC’s local affiliates and cable channels like FX and Disney.

“This is the beginning of the transition [of Godwin’s exit],” said one source close to the network. “Everyone gets renewed and then dumped. It’s the ABC News and Disney way.”

“It’s called the cost of doing business,” said a former Disney exec. “Renew her. Guarantee three years of money and then let her de-select and decide it’s time to go write her leadership book, which she is planning.”

OConnell, meanwhile, turned up at “Good Morning America’s” studios in Times Square before the crack of dawn — just 12 hours after news of the shakeup — to greet the staff and anchors and to send a clear message that “she is in charge,” a source told The Post.

FOX News Media Appoints Ad Sales Leadership Team

FOX News Media (FNM) has named a new advertising sales leadership team, announced Jeff Collins, president of advertising sales, marketing and brand partnerships for Fox Corporation. Effective immediately, Trey Gargano will serve as executive vice president of ad sales, overseeing all FNM platforms, including FOX News Channel, FOX Business Network, FOX News Digital, FOX News Audio, FOX Weather and FOX Nation. He will replace Collins, who was recently elevated to president of the division for FOX Corporation. Additionally, Ryan Roelle has been promoted to senior vice president of national sales where she will focus on endemic and national advertising in addition to leading linear and digital sales across the country. Roelle will report to Gargano and continue to be based in Chicago. 

In making the announcement, Collins said, “Over the past four years, Trey’s vast knowledge and deep understanding of the news marketplace helped drive new revenue streams while Ryan has increased the effectiveness and performance of our endemic and national sales teams. Together, they will ensure continued growth across FOX News Media platforms and success for our valued partners.”

Trey Gargano
Since joining FOX News Media in 2020, Gargano has served as senior vice president of ad sales. In this capacity, he oversaw all national, political and direct response sales. Previously, he spent 20 years with Turner Broadcasting where he held a number of leadership positions, including vice president of portfolio ad sales and client lead across CNN and Turner/Warner Media. Throughout his tenure with the network, he oversaw linear, digital, branded content, out of home, experiences and new ad products. He was also the lead for healthcare, kids marketplace and politics. Additionally, he managed the Turner digital portfolio sales team from 2010 to 2012. Gargano got his start in the industry working as a broadcast specialist for Young & Rubicam.

Ryan Roelle
As senior vice president of national sales, Roelle will lead FNM’s linear and digital sales efforts while overseeing the Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit and Atlanta sales teams. She will also continue to focus on endemic and national advertising. For the past five years, she has served as the vice president of linear and digital ad sales central from FNM’s Chicago Bureau. She rejoined the network in 2018 following three years at Viant where she was the senior director of sales and enterprise sales based in Chicago. Prior to that, Roelle spent nearly 12 years at FOX News where she rose to the level of director of digital sales for the Midwest and West Coast. In this capacity she helped drive development and growth of the FOX News portfolio through multiscreen deals across the Midwest territories. She got her start in the industry at CNBC as a sales assistant and planner. 

FOX News Media operates the FOX News Channel (FNC), FOX Business Network (FBN), FOX News Digital, FOX News Audio, FOX News Books, the direct-to-consumer streaming services FOX Nation and FOX News International and the free ad-supported television service FOX Weather. Currently the number one network in all of cable, FNC has also been the most watched television news channel for 22 consecutive years, while FBN is the top business channel on cable. Owned by Fox Corporation, FOX News Media reaches nearly 200 million people each month.