Saturday, March 2, 2024

Radio History: March 3

Alexander Graham Bell
➦In 1847
...Alexander Graham Bell born (Died - August 2, 1922). The Scottish-born scientist, inventor, engineer, and innovator is credited with inventing and patenting the first practical telephone. He also founded the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) in 1885.

Bell's father, grandfather, and brother had all been associated with work on elocution and speech and both his mother and wife were deaf, profoundly influencing Bell's life's work. His research on hearing and speech further led him to experiment with hearing devices which eventually culminated in Bell being awarded the first U.S. patent for the telephone in 1876. Bell considered his invention an intrusion on his real work as a scientist and refused to have a telephone in his study.Many other inventions marked Bell's later life, including groundbreaking work in optical telecommunications, hydrofoils, and aeronautics.

➦In 1885...Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, established American Telephone and Telegraph Company in 1885, which acquired the Bell Telephone Company and became the primary phone company in the United States. This company maintained a monopoly on telephone service in the United States until anti-trust regulators split the company in 1982.

AT&T Corporation was eventually purchased by one of its Baby Bells, the former Southwestern Bell, in 2005 and the combined company became known as AT&T Inc.

WWJ Control

➦In 1922...WWJ-AM, Detroit, Michigan signed-on.

WWJ first signed on the air on August 20, 1920 under the call sign 8MK, and was founded by The Detroit News; the mixed letter/number calls were assigned to the station by the United States Department of Commerce Bureau of Navigation, the government bureau responsible for radio regulation at the time. The 8 in the call sign referred to its location in the 8th Radio Inspection District, while the M in the call sign identified that the station operated under an amateur license. It is not clear why the Detroit News applied for an amateur license instead of an experimental license. As an amateur station, it broadcast at 200 meters (the equivalent of 1500 AM).

8MK was initially licensed to Michael DeLisle Lyons, a teenager, and radio pioneer. He assembled the station in the Detroit News Building but the Scripps family asked him to register the station in his name, because they were worried this new technology might only be a fad, and wanted to keep some distance.

Ty Tyson
The Scripps family were also worried radio might replace newspapers if the medium caught on, so the family financially supported Michael. In fact, most early radio stations were built, for the same reason, by families who owned newspapers – out of concern that radio would put them out of business, on the basis that newspaper readers would find it more timelier to tune to listen to the headlines on radio at any given time than wait to read them in a daily newspaper the next day.

On October 13, 1921, the station was granted a limited commercial license and was assigned the call letters WBL. With the new license, the station began broadcasting at 360 meters (833 AM), with weather reports and other government reports broadcast at 485 meters (619 AM).

On March 3, 1922, for reasons that are not known, the call letters, 'WWJ, were assigned to the station. Some believe the new call letters are an abbreviation for stockholders William and John Scripps, but on page 82 of a book published by the Detroit News in 1922, WWJ-The Detroit News, it stated that "WWJ is not the initials of any name. It is a symbol. It was issued to the Detroit News by the government in connection with the licensing of this broadcasting plant."

Ty Tyson was the original “voice” of the Detroit Tigers was 39 years old that first radio summer of 1927.

Today Newsradio WWJ 950 AM is owned by Audacy.

➦In 1925...KFWB Los Angeles signed-on.  The station was launched by Sam Warner, a co-founder of Warner Brothers. The station launched the careers of such stars as Ronald Reagan and Bing Crosby. The station was the first to broadcast the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, California.

FL Governor Vetoes Social Media Ban Bill

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has vetoed legislation that would have banned social media for minors younger than 16 and required age verification to access pornographic websites.

"I have vetoed HB 1 because the Legislature is about to produce a different, superior bill," DeSantis said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. "Protecting children from harms associated with social media is important, as is supporting parents’ rights and maintaining the ability of adults to engage in anonymous speech. I anticipate the new bill will recognize these priorities and will be signed into law soon."

Ron DeSantis
The Palm Beach Port reports the governor has been negotiating with House Speaker Paul Renner in recent days, and lawmakers are already pushing forward another proposal with a big concession to DeSantis’ parental rights concerns. 

In a statement, Renner said the new bill "will empower parents to control what their children can access online while also protecting minors from the harm caused by addictive social media platforms. This balance ensures that while you, as parents, have the power to guide your children's online activities, the law is also there to protect them."

That original (HB 1) would have been the strictest social media clampdown in the nation, banning platforms using “addictive features” for all minors younger than 16 years old. 

But an amendment to the replacement bill (HB 3), filed Friday afternoon shortly after DeSantis’ veto announcement, adds a parental permission exception for Floridians who are 14 and 15 years old. 

Legacy Media Advertisers Flocking To Social Media Platforms

Social media companies are soaking up the billions in advertising dollars that once flowed to legacy media companies — a trend that continues to accelerate despite an ever-growing mountain of evidence indicating the Silicon Valley titans govern their ballooning kingdoms with little regard for how their products negatively impact society.

CNN  reports that while the dramatic shift has empowered these companies, it has also simultaneously dealt massive blows to news organizations, most of which are struggling to survive as they see their one-time revenue sources sour on their products in favor of tech platforms.

Just two months into 2024, several news organizations are already collapsing in plain sight. The Messenger shuttered last month; an already-slimmed down BuzzFeed announced it would slash 16% of its remaining staff; and Vice Media said it would lay off hundreds of employees and cease publishing on its website as it pivots to an entirely new business model. Over the last few years, the situation has grown more dire, with nearly every major news organization cutting their workforces to survive — if they can. Hundreds of local outlets have not been so lucky, closing their doors as advertising dollars disappear.

A substantial portion of the advertising dollars that once supported the carefully manicured gardens of legacy media outlets have migrated over to a free-for-all hellscape ruled by mostly unregulated Silicon Valley deities who prioritize profits and growth over the public good. As a result, the news organizations which work tirelessly to behave responsibly are seeing their business models collapse and future jeopardized, while executives like Mark Zuckerberg tout record profits.

To be fair, brands would likely prefer to advertise on the platforms of responsible media actors versus the risky world of social media. But Big Tech offers these brands much more effective targeting, while boasting a larger and younger audience than legacy news organizations. To make matters worse, news companies have been far too slow to adapt to the changing technological landscape, often sporting ugly websites and apps and lacking the tools necessary to hone in on specific audiences advertisers want to spend their dollars to reach.

Meta Says It Won’t Renew Deals With News Publishers

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has announced that it will not renew commercial deals with news publishers in Australia and the U.S.. This decision comes after the number of people using a dedicated tab for news on Facebook in these countries dropped by more than 80% last year, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The move signifies a shift away from its previous strategy, and Meta also plans to remove the dedicated news feature.

These changes impact existing agreements with publishers. For instance, News Corp, which publishes The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires, had a three-year deal with Meta regarding Australian news. Additionally, News Corp had previously reached a deal with Meta in the U.S. However, deals in the U.S. and the U.K. have already expired.

As Meta reevaluates its approach to news content, the landscape of digital media continues to evolve. The decision not to renew these deals reflects the challenges faced by both tech companies and traditional news outlets in adapting to changing user behaviors and preferences.

Nashville Radio: 2 New Stations Using AI To Reach Target Audiences

Two new radio stations in Nashville are powered using artificial intelligence to broadcast music for highly specific audiences.

“It’s making the creation of radio experiences so much faster and more efficient, that we can actually take the time to invest in these really localized interesting formats, like the ones that we’ve launched in Nashville,” said Super Hi-Fi CEO Zack Zalon.

WKRN TV2 reports Zalon’s company has partnered with Xperi and Cumulus Media to broadcast two HD radio stations on 104.5FM HD2 and HD3: “The Hill” and “Nashville Songwriter Radio.”

“The Hill” is meant for high school students and spans multiple genres while “Nashville Songwriter Radio” highlights songs from Nashville singers and songwriters.

“These kinds of stations are designed to bring the artists up that really deserve that kind of attention that would never get that attention through just a plain algorithm alone,” Zalon said.

Zalon said the stations use AI in concert with humans to bring hyper-specific stations cost-effectively.

Humans record song introductions and curate a large selection of music, and then the AI selects the songs and introductions and broadcasts the show.

“The humans are selecting all the ingredients and putting it all on a plate, and then the AI is kind of selecting those ingredients, mixing it all together and creating the final stew, the final dish,” Zalon explained.

Zalon said this use of AI won’t cost anyone their jobs in the short run because the technology speeds up tasks and doesn’t eliminate them.

“The best way to think about it is it’s like a power tool for the human to supplement what they’re doing,” he said.

Many Nashville musicians are worried artificial intelligence will hurt their industry and/or take jobs, but Belmont University music business professor Clyde Rolston is optimistic about AI and radio.

“I think it’s great for Nashville. People who aren’t necessarily signed to a big publishing company have the potential to get exposure that they might not get otherwise, and that’s a great thing for those artists and those songwriters,” Rolston said.

“I see this is just as the next step, and in radio embracing technology,” he added.

Musk Sues OpenAI

Elon Musk has filed a lawsuit against OpenAI and its CEO, Sam Altman, alleging breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. 

The billionaire claims that OpenAI violated the agreement it made with him, which stated that the company would be a nonprofit developing AI for the public good and that its research would be open source.  Musk asserts that OpenAI has abandoned its mission of benefiting humanity in favor of profits. 

The lawsuit centers on the founding agreement, which Musk contends was memorialized when OpenAI was incorporated. 

However, legal experts express skepticism about Musk’s case, as oral promises made years ago without a formal contract may be challenging to enforce. Regardless, this legal battle highlights the evolving landscape of AI research and the delicate balance between profit motives and societal impact.

Nexstar Asks Court to Overturn Station Ownership Rules

Nexstar Media Group has filed papers in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit asking the court to overturn FCC station ownership rules, which the agency recently upheld and tightened in its 2018 Quadrennial Regulatory Review of the broadcast ownership rules. 

TVTechnology reports the FCC is required to review its ownership rules every four years but was so late with the 2018 review that it began the 2022 review without completing it. The NAB sued and in September U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has issued a ruling giving the Federal Communications Commission 90 days to complete the 2018 quadrennial review of ownership rules. 

In December, the FCC completed that review by upholding most of the ownership rules and tightening some others. The ruling closes “a loophole that involves the transfer of [a network] station affiliation to a multicast stream or low-power station that can be used to evade rules,” FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenthal said at the time. 

In its filing in the Appeals Court in Texas, where Nexstar has its headquarters, Nexstar complained that “despite the Commission’s delay [in completing the review], the Quadrennial Order is replete with legal errors. First, the Quadrennial Order violates the Administrative Procedure Act and the Telecommunications Act of 1996 in several ways. 

Among other things, the Quadrennial Order fails to consider important data submitted by participants, reaches conclusions directly contrary to the record, and employs reasoning that is illogical and inconsistent. Second, the Order exceeds the Commission’s statutory authority because it tightens media ownership rules in spite of the statute’s clear deregulatory purpose and the lack of basis for such tightening. And third, the Order’s new content-based restriction on multicasting ignores important First Amendment and statutory authority concerns that participants raised directly with the Commission during the notice-and-comment period.”

Portland OR Radio: The Buzz Rebrands As Bella 105

Audacy announces the launch of Bella 105 (KRSK-FM) in Portland. The station, previously known as 105.1 The Buzz, will continue to provide favorites from today’s biggest pop artists like Adele, Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, Rihanna, Taylor Swift and more.

“We’re thrilled to unveil the next chapter of KRSK and introduce Bella to listeners in Portland and beyond,” said Jamie Tanchyk, Brand Manager, Bella 105. “Making friends as an adult just got a whole lot easier! Your new bestie has arrived, and she can't wait to share her favorite songs with Portland.”

Additional on-air staff updates will be made in the coming weeks.

📻Listeners can tune in to Bella 105 (KRSK-FM) on air in Portland and nationwide on the Audacy app and website. Fans can also connect with the station via X, Facebook and Instagram.

Judge Says Google Must Face Advertisers' Antitrust Claims

 Alphabet's Google must face advertisers' proposed class action lawsuit claiming that it monopolizes the ad exchange market, a U.S. judge ruled on Friday.

However, Reuters reports,  U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel dismissed some other antitrust claims, including those focused on ad-buying tools used by large advertisers.

Castel was reviewing a number of cases against Google, and his decision struck down many claims but allowed at least one key set to proceed.

The advertisers, he wrote, "have not plausibly alleged antitrust standing in the markets for ad-buying tools used by large advertisers, but they plausibly allege antitrust standing as to injuries they purportedly suffered from anti-competitive practices in the ad-exchange market and the market for small advertisers' buying tools."

Castel also said Gannett the largest U.S. newspaper chain and publisher of USA Today, could try in a separate case to prove that Google fraudulently concealed anticompetitive effects of some technology. Gannett alleged that it sold some of its ad space directly to advertisers, but Google still made the inventory available for auction on its ad exchange in order to accrue transaction fees for its own benefit.

The U.S. Justice Department sued Google in January 2023, accusing it of abusing its dominance in digital advertising. The government asked for the divestiture of the Google Ad Manager suite, including Google's ad exchange, AdX

Google Ad Manager is a suite of tools including one that allows websites to offer advertising space for sale and an exchange that serves as a marketplace that automatically matches advertisers with those publishers.

Boston Radio: WEEI Rival Hopes Audacy Will 'Make It'

98.5 Sports Hub's Mike Felger

As WEEI’s owner emerges from bankruptcy, the leading voice for the dominant rival in town says he hopes the sports talk competitor will “make it.”

98.5 The Sports Hub’s Mike Felger addressed Audacy’s bankruptcy and WEEI this week, saying he’s “rooting for them big time.”

The Boston Herald reports Felger on Wednesday during the “Off Air Show” asked ex-WEEI host Mark Dondero about his former employer’s situation. Dondero is the newest member of the 98.5 on-air team.

“So what’s the word over there?” Felger asked Dondero. “Are they going to make it?… I hate the bankruptcy (expletive). I hope they make it. I’m rooting for them big time.”

Dondero — who joined 98.5 as a part-time, on-air host, mainly on weekends — said he imagines that WEEI will continue to exist, but he said multiple times about WEEI’s future, “I don’t know.”

“You should be able to have two stations in Boston,” Dondero said. “It’s ridiculous with the amount of passion that’s in the area for the teams.

“I don’t see them going down,” he added. “I hope they’re fine, but I don’t know. They didn’t talk to me all that much with certain things, so I don’t know.”

Felger compared the Boston sports talk competition to the soda rivalry between Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

Twin Cities TV: Lee Valsik Signs-Off At KARE 11

Lee Valsvik has said goodbye to KARE 11 Saturdays after 26 years.

Valsvik appeared on her last Saturday morning broadcast with the Twin Cities NBC affiliate at the weekend. The segment was filmed at the Minneapolis Convention Center, which was hosting the Home and Garden.

KARE 11 marked Valsvik’s last day with highlights from her 26 years on the show.

“It’s hard getting up, but once you get up and you get there and you meet all these wonderful people all over the Twin Cities … we have so much fun,” Valsvik told cohost Belinda Jensen during the segment.

While she may be leaving TV, Valsvik will continue on the radio at KOOL 108 from 9 a.m. to noon on weekdays. She also hopes to spend more time at her cabin and with her family, according to KARE 11.

Last year, Valsvik was inducted into the Minnesota Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Pittsburgh Radio: Bill Hillgrove Exits Steelers Broadcast Booth

Bill Hillgrove

The radio voice of the Pittsburgh Steelers is stepping aways from the broadcast booth. Bill Hillgrove has been calling the Steelers on radio since 1994.

"Bill Hillgrove's contributions to both the Steelers Radio Network and the Steelers organization have spanned nearly three decades that included him serving as our play-by-play announcer for four Super Bowl appearances and countless other memorable games during his tenure," said President Art Rooney II on the Steelers website. 

"He has played a major role in broadcasting to our amazing fans on our radio network, but he also found time to be part of so many special events since he began working alongside the great Myron Cope on the airwaves in 1994. Bill will truly be missed by Steelers Nation, but we are excited for him and his family to enjoy his retirement."  

After the 1993 season, Jack Fleming announced his retirement, the Steelers began looking for his replacement and that's when Hillgrove answered the call.  He would become the voice of the Steelers along with the voice of both Pitt football and basketball. 

NYC Radio: Spanish Broadcasts of MLB Mets To Air On 92.3 FM HD2

Audacy announces Spanish broadcasts of New York Mets baseball will be available via the Audacy app and website beginning with the 2024 season. Games will also be heard on 92.3 FM HD2.

Broadcasters Max Perez-Jimenez and Nestor Rosario will return to deliver calls of the game. The duo will also continue to host pregame and postgame shows heard before and after every game on 92.3 FM HD2.

"We're thrilled to make it easy for Spanish-speaking fans to catch every play of the Mets season,” said Ivan Lee, Brand Manager, WCBS 880 and 92.3/1010 WINS. “The familiar voices of Max Perez-Jimenez and Nestor Rosario will sound incredible throughout the Tri-state area, whether you're tuning in through the Audacy app or on crystal clear HD radio.”

Listeners can also hear 92.3 FM HD2’s audio on all SNY and PIX11 television broadcasts by using the SAP option and selecting Spanish audio.

WCBS 880 (WCBS-AM / WCBS-FM HD2) serves as the flagship radio station of the New York Mets, including all English-speaking play-by-play broadcasts and pregame and postgame shows for all Spring Training, regular season and postseason games.

Fox News To Provide Extended Coverage of Super Tuesday

FOX News Media will present extensive live programming of the Super Tuesday presidential primaries emanating from the network’s New York City headquarters on Tuesday, March 5th.

Starting at 7 PM/ET, FOX News Channel’s (FNC) Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum will lead live marathon coverage surrounding the results during Democracy 2024: Super Tuesday Primaries. Throughout the evening, the co-anchors will be joined by a rotating team of commentators and hosts including Dana Perino, Sandra Smith and Bill Hemmer who will break down the latest developments in real-time on the electronic “Bill-Board.” Chief political analyst Brit Hume, Harold Ford Jr. and Kellyanne Conway will also contribute to the live coverage, along with appearances from Laura Ingraham, Jesse Watters, Sean Hannity, Shannon Bream, Jonathan Turley, Andy McCarthy, Jessica Tarlov, Kayleigh McEnany, Trey Gowdy and Karl Rove who will analyze the impact of the critical primary races for the presidential candidates.

FNC White House correspondents Peter Doocy and Jacqui Heinrich will provide viewers with live reports from the White House while FOX News Media correspondents will provide updates across major campaign destinations, including Aishah Hasnie in Florida, Bill Melugin in South Carolina, Grady Trimble in Virginia, Rich Edson in Texas, Mark Meredith in North Carolina, Christina Coleman in California, Alicia Acuna in Colorado and Alexis McAdams in New York.

At 11 PM/ET, FOX News @ Night anchor Trace Gallagher will continue the Democracy 2024: Super Tuesday Primaries coverage with Gillian Turner and Mike Emanuel taking the reins from 1-4 AM/ET.

FNC’s Special Live Programming Includes:

Layoffs Are Underway at Universal Music Group

The layoffs and restructuring at the Universal Music Group have begun to take place, multiple sources tell Billboard.

As part of the new structure, several top executives have been laid off, Billboard can confirm. Interscope Geffen A&M president of promotion Brenda Romano is among those to have been let go, as well as Interscope’s executive vp/head of media strategy and communications Cara Donatto and senior VP of A&R Nick Groff and Def Jam executive vp of media and brand strategy Gabe Tesoriero.

So far, Billboard has confirmed almost 50 layoffs across UMG labels, including Interscope, Republic, Capitol, Def Jam and Island, as well as at catalog division Universal Music Enterprises and in UMG corporate, though the total number is far higher. Def Jam executive vp of promotion Noah Sheer, Interscope executive vp of promotion Chris Lopes, Capitol executive vp of global marketing Mike Sherwood and UMe head of promotion Jamie Hartley have also been let go.

R.I.P.: David Joseph Anton, Former Twin Cities Personality

Former Radio personality David Anton passed away February 21.  Anton died aboard his boat, according to friends it was the place he loved most.

Originally from Chicago, Illinois, he moved to the Minneapolis St. Paul area after being recruited by REV 105.

Anton also loved radio, he loved the music, the people, and the magic of making it happen. He felt blessed to be a part of it for so many years all the way from college radio to WCCO. He was an avid Blackhawks fan, and never a fair weather fan. Though when it was nice out, you could find him enjoying nature and gardening. And more than anyone can even could ever know, he loved his children.

Memorial service 2:00 pm, Sunday, March 3rd. A Celebration will follow at Cuzzy's Bar, 507 Washington Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55401.

Radio History: March 2

➦In 1897...British patent No. 12,039 (1897) "Improvements in Transmitting Electrical impulses and Signals, and in Apparatus therefor", was granted to a 22-year-old Marconi.

As a boy he took a keen interest in physical and electrical science and studied the works of Maxwell, Hertz, Righi, Lodge and others. In 1895 he began laboratory experiments at his father’s country estate at Pontecchio where he succeeded in sending wireless signals over a distance of one and a half miles.

In 1896 Marconi took his apparatus to England where he was introduced to Mr. (later Sir) William Preece, Engineer-in-Chief of the Post Office, and later that year was granted the world’s first patent for a system of wireless telegraphy.

The apparatus that Marconi possessed at that time was similar to that of one in 1882 by A. E. Dolbear, of Tufts College, which used a spark coil generator and a carbon granular rectifier for reception. A plaque on the outside of BT Centre commemorates Marconi's first public transmission of wireless signals from that site. A series of demonstrations for the British government followed—by March 1897, Marconi had transmitted Morse code signals over a distance of about 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) across Salisbury Plain. On 13 May 1897, Marconi sent the world's first ever wireless communication over open sea.

➦In 1950...Karen Anne Carpenter born (Died - February 4, 1983 at age 32).  She was a singer and drummer who was part of the duo the Carpenters alongside her brother Richard. She was praised for her contralto vocals, and her drumming abilities were viewed positively by other musicians and critics.

Carpenter was born in New Haven, Connecticut, and moved to Downey, California, in 1963 with her family. She began to study the drums in high school, and joined the Long Beach State choir after graduating. After several years of touring and recording, the Carpenters were signed to A&M Records in 1969, achieving commercial and critical success throughout the 1970s. Initially, Carpenter was the band's full-time drummer, but gradually took the role of frontwoman as drumming was reduced to a handful of live showcases or tracks on albums.

Carpenter had the eating disorder anorexia nervosa, which was little-known at the time, and was briefly married in the early 1980s. She died at age 32 from heart failure caused by complications related to her illness; her death led to increased visibility and awareness of eating disorders. Her work continues to attract praise, including being listed among Rolling Stone's 100 greatest singers of all time.

➦In 1963..The Four Seasons became the first group to score three consecutive No. 1 hits in the US with “Walk Like A Man”. Interestingly, the recording session for this song was interrupted by smoke and water seeping into the studio due to a fire in the room above.

➦In 1974....Super WCFL 1000 AM Chicago Survey From March 2, 1974

➦In 1983…Sony and Philips introduced their jointly-developed compact disc system.  Within a decade of the CD’s introduction, vinyl records had virtually disappeared from stores. The compact disc is an evolution of LaserDisc technology, where a focused laser beam is used that enables the high information density required for high-quality digital audio signals.

Friday, March 1, 2024

iHeartMedia: 2024 Will Be a ‘Recovery Year’

The radio business’ slog through a slow advertising market appears to be improving in 2024. “As we look to the year ahead, we see 2024 as a recovery year and we expect a return-to-growth mode,” iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman said during the company’s Thursday earnings call for the fourth quarter of 2023.

Billboard reports iHeartMedia expects its first-quarter revenue will be flat to down 2% compared to the prior-year period. That would be an improvement from the 5.2% revenue decline, to $1.07 billion, in the fourth quarter. iHeartMedia actually beat its previous revenue guidance of a high single-digit decline. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $208 million was down 34% from the prior-year period but fell within the guidance range of $205 million to $215 million. 

Wall Street cheered the news. iHeartMedia shares rose as much as 33.9% to $3.04 Thursday morning before falling to a still-impressive $2.75, up 21.1%, in the early afternoon. 

Full-year revenue of $3.75 billion was down 4% year over year. Revenue for the multiplatform group — which includes broadcast radio stations, live and virtual events, and the company’s national sales organization — was down 6.2% to $2.44 billion.

Podcasts were bright spots in both the fourth-quarter and full-year results. In the fourth quarter, a 16.6% increase in podcast revenue more than offset a 1.1% decline in all other digital revenue, leading the digital audio group revenue up 5.5% to $317.7 million. For the full year, a 13.8% improvement in podcast revenue drove a 4.6% improvement in iHeartMedia’s digital audio group as other digital revenue was flat.

Pat McAfee Power Struggle With ESPN Continues

Earlier this year, Pat McAfee sent shockwaves through the sports media world when he openly criticized Norby Williamson, the ESPN executive senior vice president of studio and event production. During an appearance on Showtime’s “All the Smoke” podcast, McAfee doubled down on his previous comments, asserting that he doesn’t have “a motherf------ boss”.

Here’s a breakdown of the situation:

The Warning Shot:

  • McAfee initially referred to his comments about Williamson as a “warning shot.”
  • He emphasized that he is the executive producer of his show and reports directly to ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro and Disney CEO Bob Iger.
  • According to McAfee, he doesn’t consider Williamson his boss.
  • Williamson, the former president of ESPN, had previously left McAfee waiting for 45 minutes during a meeting years ago.
  • Williamson allegedly banned ESPN talent (many of whom were friends with McAfee) from appearing on McAfee’s show when it was still on YouTube.
  • The tension escalated when McAfee’s show replaced SportsCenter at noon, leading to a behind-the-scenes war between SportsCenter personnel and McAfee’s team.
  • McAfee viewed the move to ESPN as a positive step and didn’t expect internal resistance.

The Unexpected Battle:

  • Upon joining ESPN, McAfee felt unwelcome and realized he was in a battle with his own company.
  • The negativity didn’t come from external sources but from within ESPN itself.
  • McAfee described it as being at war: “We’re at war. That’s what we’re doing.”
  • He discovered leaks, negative comments, and efforts to undermine his show.
  • The goal seemed to be making the show impossible to advertise with and discouraging viewership.

In this power struggle, Pat McAfee stands firm, asserting his independence and commitment to his show. The battle continues, and fans eagerly watch how it unfolds. 

Jax Radio: Corporate Mandate Pushes Talker Mark Kaye Out The Door

Cox Media Group cancels “The Mark Kaye Show” based at its Jacksonville news/talk outlet WOKV-FM and syndicated to O&Os WDBO, Orlando; KRMG-AM/FM, Tulsa and WHIO-AM/FM, Dayton. 

The program aired in the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm ET daypart and the stations are going to replace the show with “The Erick Erickson Show” based at CMG’s WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta. The Erickson program is syndicated by Compass Media Networks. It appears that producer Hannah Guile is also exiting as a result of this move. 

In a memo to staffers obtained by Barrett News Media, Cox Media Group Jacksonville Vice President and Market Manager Jimmy Farrell said “Earlier today we let Mark Kaye know that we’re no longer continuing with The Mark Kaye Show. The show’s last airing was today. Moving forward, we’re excited to transition to The Erick Erickson Show weekdays from 12 – 3 PM.”

From his early days hosting “The Big Ape Morning Mess” on 95.1 WAPE in Jacksonville to his transition to the talk radio world, he had carved a niche for himself. His voice—a blend of wit, candor, and unapologetic takes—had rallied the Kayetriots, a tribe bound by conservative ideals.

The show began as a modest hour-long segment in 2017, but Mark’s influence grew. By January 2019, it expanded to two hours, and after the passing of Rush Limbaugh, Mark stepped into the coveted 12-3pm timeslot. His syndicated show reached other Cox Media Group stations, including 1290 WHIO/95.7 WHIO-FM in Dayton, 740 KRMG/102.3 KRMG-FM in Tulsa, 580/107.3 WDBO in Orlando, and late-nights on 750 WSB/95.5 WSBB in Atlanta. He even hosted a weekly show on Newsmax TV12.

Seth Meyers Show with President Tanks In Demo

President Joe Biden’s appearance on Late Night With Seth Meyers did not perform as well as he might have hoped.

Biden appeared on the talk show, hoping to draw up support amid his tight race against likely Republican nominee Donald Trump. The attempt struggled to land, however, especially among the critical 25-54 age demographic, Nielsen Media Research found.

The interview brought in an average of 852,000 viewers and just 181,000 in that demographic. The figure is 32% less than the same day the year prior.

Meyers’s show has declined in ratings significantly over his tenure, partly due to the public transition away from cable television.

Biden has made it a strategy to attempt to connect with voters through talks with entertainment figures and comedians rather than press interviews. Critics suspect that the strategy is a purposeful one aimed at avoiding hard-hitting questions, as entertainers are unlikely to confront him with administration problems in an uncomfortable manner.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) speculated that Biden’s appearance was a calculated one meant to soothe divisions within the Democratic Party over the war in Gaza, particularly ahead of a tough primary in Michigan.

Fox News Channel’s late night offering Gutfeld! nearly tripled Meyers on Monday night averaging 2,131,000 viewers, 291,000 in the 25-54 demo and 174,000 in the 18-49 demo.

CRS Presentation Highlights What Listeners Want

Country radio listeners want a human connection from their stations of choice, according to Smith Geiger Group’s Andrew Finlayson who made a presentation to CRS attendees on Thursday

Listeners have diverse desires when it comes to radio, and their preferences shape the experience they seek. Here are some key aspects that resonate with radio audiences:

Human Connection: Listeners value the personal touch that radio provides. They appreciate on-air personalities who introduce them to new music, share insights about songs and artists, and offer companionship. The presence of an on-air personality significantly influences listening time, especially among Black audiences. Authenticity and relatability matter more than polished perfection.

Content Preferences:
  • Country Music News: Fans of country music appreciate updates about their favorite genre.
  • Music Information: Insights into the music being played and details about artists enhance the listening experience.
  • Local Breaking News: Relevant local news keeps listeners informed.
  • Area Weather: Weather updates cater to practical needs.
  • Escape from Everyday: Country radio serves as an escape from broader news categories like national/international news, sports, and politics .

Style of Presentation:
  • Casual Approach: 68% of listeners prefer a casual, everyman style.
  • Avoiding Values or Politics: 63% appreciate personalities who steer clear of political discussions.
  • Authenticity Over Polish: Genuine personalities resonate with 86% of listeners 1.
  • Elements for On-Air Talent:
  • Being Real: Authenticity matters most.
  • Positive Outlook: A positive demeanor resonates with audiences.
  • Transcending Boundaries: Being local to the listener’s area is less critical, suggesting great personalities can connect beyond geographical limits.
AI Voices: While AI voices in radio broadcasting exist, their reception is mixed. Some listeners remain skeptical or outright opposed, emphasizing the continued importance of human elements in radio.

In summary, listeners seek a good time, companionship, and an escape from the everyday through radio. Whether it’s discovering new music, hearing local news, or connecting with authentic personalities, radio continues to play a vital role in people’s lives.

The study underscores the enduring value of human connection, authenticity, and relatability in on-air talent, which remain central to the listening experience.

Walt Disney Heirs Release Iger Letter of Support

 The heirs of Walt and Roy Disney, who founded the Walt Disney Company in 1923, have taken a firm stance in the ongoing proxy battle. In a pair of letters addressed to shareholders, nine of the founders’ grandchildren, including Abigail and Roy Disney, have publicly announced their support for Bob Iger12. 

They have forcefully rejected the campaign led by Trian Partners CEO Nelson Peltz and others, referring to them as “hedge-fund-backed opportunists.” The heirs express concerns that these activists are not interested in preserving the Disney magic but rather stripping it down to make a quick profit for themselves.

This proxy fight is not merely about the company’s future; it’s a battle for its soul. The Disney heirs draw parallels to a past episode when another corporate raider, Saul Steinberg, attempted a hostile takeover of Disney. Steinberg’s defeat serves as a reminder that the current activists must also be defeated to protect the company’s rich legacy and guide its bright future.

Nelson Peltz, an experienced activist investor, launched his first proxy campaign against Disney in January 2023. His criticisms include Disney’s compensation practices, lack of a succession plan, and weak corporate governance3. However, the Disney heirs stand firmly behind Bob Iger and the current board, emphasizing the importance of preserving the company’s magic and legacy.

In this high-stakes battle, the Disney family rallies behind their CEO, Bob Iger, as they defend the beloved company from what they perceive as wolves in sheep’s clothing.

NY Times Investigating Internal Leak

The New York Times has initiated a leak investigation following a report by The Intercept

The report revealed that the Times had withheld an episode of its podcast, “The Daily,” which focused on sexual violence committed by Hamas on October 7. The controversy centers around information related to freelancers involved in the original reporting. The Times management is actively probing how this information was leaked to The Intercept. 

The Wrap reports this internal investigation, led by the Times’ Director of Policy and Internal Investigations, Charlotte Behrendt, is highly unusual for the publication, as such probes are infrequent within their own staff. 

The coverage of the Israel-Hamas conflict has been a point of tension across media outlets, with the challenge of navigating the complexities of war and framing the conflict accurately. The Times previously faced criticism for its reporting on a Gaza hospital explosion, where it later issued an editors’ note acknowledging overreliance on Hamas claims without immediate verification.

Comcast, MASN Still Talking New Contract

The contract between MASN (Mid-Atlantic Sports Network) and Comcast has been extended until March 7, following ongoing discussions between the two parties. 

Orioles fans who subscribe to Comcast-operated Xfinity will be able to watch the team’s spring training game against the New York Yankees on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. The original contract was set to expire on the last day of February but has now been extended by a week, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Here are some key points about the situation:

MASN and Comcast Relationship: MASN, which serves as the TV home for both the Washington Nationals and Orioles, has had a deal with Comcast since 2006. However, there is currently no direct-to-consumer option to watch MASN, so fans rely on cable subscriptions to access most Orioles and Nationals games1.

Potential Blackout: If the two sides fail to reach a new agreement by next week or cannot agree on another extension, MASN would be blacked out for Xfinity subscribers. This extension provides a temporary reprieve, but the situation remains uncertain1.

Challenges for Regional Sports Networks: MASN faces challenges similar to other regional sports networks. In recent years, these networks have lost subscribers as viewers shift from cable to streaming services. In some markets, Comcast has moved regional sports networks to more expensive premium tiers. If a similar move were made in the Baltimore area, subscribers who don’t watch MASN might see a slight decrease in their cable bills, but baseball fans who want to watch Orioles and Nationals games would need to subscribe to an elevated Xfinity package or consider switching to other cable providers like DIRECTV or Verizon Fios1.

As negotiations continue, fans hope for a resolution that allows them to enjoy their favorite baseball games without disruptions.

3/1 WAKE-UP CALL: Dueling Events At U.S.-Mexico Border

President Biden and Donald Trump both traveled to southern Texas today to use the border with Mexico as a backdrop for their push to convince voters that they would best handle the recent surge in migrants crossing into the U.S. The day offered a split-screen preview of a debate that is likely to continue in the months leading up to November’s presidential election. Recent polls showed voters’ views on immigration have shifted to the political right, including one that found that Americans are most likely to say that immigration is the country’s top problem. Biden, who has in recent months changed his tune on immigration and begun to favor a border crackdown, visited Brownsville. He met with border officials there and delivered a speech criticizing Republicans for blocking a recent bipartisan immigration bill and daring Trump to team up with him in tightening border security.

Biden travels to the Southern Border, where over 7 million migrants have crossed over illegally since he took office, and starts talking about the "Climate Crisis." Donald Trump is talking about Laken Riley, a young woman who was killed last week by one of these…

➤CHAOS AS AID TRUCKS ARRIVE IN GAZA: Israeli troops opened fire on Palestinian civilians as chaos erupted around a convoy of aid trucks in Gaza, the Israeli military and enclave health officials said. The two sides gave starkly different accounts after dozens were killed, and Hamas paused cease-fire talks. Aid deliveries to Gaza have become dangerous missions as law and order have broken down in some parts of the enclave after almost five months of war and as the population grows increasingly desperate with supplies of food and medicine running short. 

Police working for Hamas have largely vanished from the streets.

➤POLL: U-S DIVIDED ON UKRAINE: As Russia makes battlefield advances and Ukrainian soldiers run short on ammunition, U.S. adults have become fractured along party lines in their support for sending military aid to Kyiv, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. 

Democrats are more likely to say the U.S. government is spending “too little” on funding for Ukraine than they were in November, but most Republicans remain convinced it’s “too much.” That divide is reflected in Congress, where the Democratic-held Senate — with help from 22 GOP senators — passed a $95 billion package of aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan earlier this month. But the bill, which includes roughly $60 billion in military support for Kyiv, has languished in the Republican-held House as Speaker Mike Johnson has so far refused to bring it up for a vote. President Joe Biden, along with top Democrats and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, passionately urged the Republican speaker during a White House meeting this week to take up the foreign aid package, but Johnson responded by saying that Congress “must take care of America’s needs first.”

➤U-S SENATE PASSES GOV'T FUNDING: The Senate followed the House in passing a temporary extension of government funding on Thursday, sending the measure to President Biden's desk after a bipartisan vote that once again averts a government shutdown.  The Senate voted 77 to 13 to approve the short-term extension that funds some government agencies for another week, through March 8, and others until March 22. The House passed the bill earlier in the day by a vote of 320 to 99. The president has said he will sign the legislation.

Congressional leaders had announced a deal to keep the government open Wednesday evening, saying they "are in agreement that Congress must work in a bipartisan manner to fund our government."  Six of the 12 annual spending bills will now need to be passed before the end of next week. The leaders said the one-week extension was necessary to allow the appropriations committees "adequate time to execute on this deal in principle" and give lawmakers time to review the package's text. 

➤TRUMP REMAINS ON ILL BALLOT..FOR NOW:  An Illinois judge is extending a hold on a Wednesday decision barring Donald Trump from the state’s primary ballot over his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, keeping the delay in place until the suit is fully resolved on appeal. The ruling issued Thursday is a procedural win for Trump because it extends the delay from just a few days to until the challenge plays out on appeal, which could take months. That means a similar case out of Colorado could be resolved by the US Supreme Court first, potentially negating the Illinois challenge. Cook County Circuit Judge Tracie Porter, who kicked Trump off the ballot, has agreed to extend the pause past Friday after Trump appealed her ruling Wednesday night.

➤POLL: BIDEN TOO OLD: Swing-state voters across every major demographic group describe President Joe Biden as too old, a Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll has found, showing that concerns about his age have permeated even the most reliable constituencies of the Democratic party. Overall, eight in 10 voters in crucial states said Biden was too old, when asked to think about the frontrunners in the 2024 election. The survey was taken after a special prosecutor’s report that cast the 81-year-old president as an “elderly man with a poor memory.” In contrast, less than half of respondents said his almost-certain rival, 77-year-old Donald Trump, was too old. Still, Trump faces his own vulnerabilities with swing-state voters, with a majority saying the former president is dangerous.

In a sign of how top-of-mind Biden’s age and acuity are for swing-state voters, more than 1,000 poll respondents mentioned those themes even before they were asked about them directly. They referenced them in reply to an open-ended question about what they had seen, read or heard about the candidate recently.

Judge Rules Reporter Herridge In Contempt of Court

Judge Cooper, Catherine Herridge

A federal judge held a veteran investigative reporter in contempt of court on Thursday for not revealing her sources for articles she wrote about a scientist who was investigated by the FBI.

The NY Times reports Catherine Herridge, formerly of CBS News and Fox News, was ordered to pay $800 a day until she divulged the information. The judge, Christopher Cooper of U.S. District Court in Washington, stayed the fine for 30 days to give Ms. Herridge time to appeal.

The case, which has alarmed First Amendment advocates, relates to a series of articles that were written by Ms. Herridge and her colleagues in 2017, while she worked at Fox News. The articles revealed that the F.B.I. had investigated the scientist, Dr. Yanping Chen, a Chinese American who is the president of the University of Management and Technology in Arlington, Va., over suspicions of Chinese military ties and whether she had lied on U.S. immigration forms.

The FBI ended its investigation without bringing charges against Dr. Chen, a year before Ms. Herridge and her colleagues published and aired their reporting.

In 2018, Dr. Chen sued the FBI and other government agencies, accusing them of violating the Privacy Act by leaking information to Ms. Herridge. The Privacy Act has protections for personal information collected by federal agencies.

Judge Cooper ruled last year that Ms. Herridge must reveal her confidential sources. On Thursday, he held her in civil contempt for disobeying that order. He said he had not issued the order lightly, deciding that Dr. Chen’s need for the information overcame Ms. Herridge’s First Amendment protections.

“Herridge and many of her colleagues in the journalism community may disagree with that decision and prefer that a different balance be struck, but she is not permitted to flout a federal court’s order with impunity,” Judge Cooper wrote in Thursday’s ruling.

Patrick Philbin, a lawyer for Herridge, said in an email: “We disagree with the district court’s decision, and to protect Ms. Herridge’s First Amendment rights, we intend to appeal.”

Herridge, who left Fox in 2019 to join CBS News as a senior investigative correspondent, was among nearly two dozen CBS News journalists who were laid off by the network this month.

2024 Country Radio Hall Of Fame Honorees Announced

Country Radio Broadcasters (CRB) has revealed the 2024 Country Radio Hall of Fame inductees, including on-air personalities Cody Alan (SiriusXM) and the duo Pat & Tom (KNCI/Sacramento), alongside off-air luminaries Mike Moore (WKHX/Atlanta), Jim Robertson (retired, KIKK/Houston, WOGK/Gainesville/Ocala) and Meg Stevens (WUBL/Atlanta).

The honorees were announced during the CRS Honors at CRS 2024. They will be inducted at the Country Radio Hall of Fame Induction and Dinner on June 19 at the Virgin Hotel Nashville. More information on the event, including date, time and ticket information, will be released closer to the event.

“On behalf of the selection committee, congratulations to the well-deserving Country Radio Hall of Fame Class of 2024. These professionals stand out in so many ways and are a great example of distinguished broadcasters who have positively affected the lives of so many in the country radio and music community,” shares Joel Raab, the CRB’s Country Radio Hall of Fame Committee Chairman.

The Country Radio Hall of Fame is dedicated to the recognition of individuals who have made significant contributions to the radio industry over a 20-year period, 15 of which must be in the country format.

The John Clay Wolfe Show Debuts in Palm Springs March 2

Marking the Palm Springs debut for The John Clay Wolfe Show, Alpha Media’s 93.7 KCLB Rock introduces the program to its Saturday morning lineup starting tomorrow, March 2.  It will air 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. PT.  Heard on more than 65 radio stations nationwide, the show attracts more than a million listeners weekly.  Wolfe drives the morning program with his love of cars, comedy and daily observations along with celebrity guests like Sammy Hagar, Adam Carolla and Cheech and Chong.  

Wolfe comments, “We’re excited and looking forward to sharing our show with new listeners who are making KCLB their favorite radio station.”

“We at 93.7 KCLB are very excited to be the latest station to add its call letters to the growing list of The John Clay Wolfe Show affiliates across the country,” says Dax Davis, Director of Sales and Programming for Alpha Media Palm Springs.  “As the heritage Rock Station in the Coachella Valley, we are always looking for great and entertaining content our listeners can relate to and can’t find anywhere else...The John Clay Wolfe Show checks all of those boxes!”

Report: News Media Looking To Tighten Talent Costs


The tightening economics of the TV news industry have fueled speculation that the multimillion dollar contracts its top stars have long enjoyed are set to face steep cuts, reports Mediaite.

Earlier this month, Claire Atkinson at The Ankler reported that new CNN chief Mark Thompson was scrutinizing the large salaries of big names at the network. A veteran of the considerably more frugal BBC and relatively more frugal New York Times, Thompson is working to foment a digital revolution at CNN as part of an effort to fend off the oncoming linear apocalypse. To do so, according to Atkinson, he’s eyeing some of the top salaries weighing down CNN’s balance sheet.

It’s not just CNN. Fox News, which continues to turn a billion dollar annual profit despite industry-wide headwinds, is not ruling out belt-tightening when it comes to its stars. A source familiar with the inner workings of the network told Mediaite, “The business model is evolving; they’re looking at all costs including talent.”

The business model is indeed evolving. Cord-cutting is an existential threat to what has long been an extraordinarily lucrative way to deliver news. Cable news networks make some of their money from advertising and most of their money from affiliate fees paid by cable carriers. Fox Corporation’s cable properties, which include Fox News, earned $1.4 billion in advertising and $4.1 billion in affiliate fees in 2023. Every year that second number grows smaller; the rapid pace of consumers jumping to streaming and other cheaper alternatives is a real crisis for the industry. Last year, the proportion of U.S. households paying for traditional TV subscriptions dropped below 50% for the first time.

The solution: frantically prepare for a post-linear world while profits are still high. Pull the emergency brake before the car flies off the cliff.

That has manifested mostly in layoffs; CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, CBS News, ABC News, and NBC News have all implemented staffing cuts in the last two years. Yet the salaries commanded by the networks’ stars are increasingly out of touch with this bleak reality. Networks can only afford to shrink their newsrooms a dozen reporters at a time for so long before people start to question how the big names are still making tens of millions.