Saturday, April 20, 2024

Radio History: April 21

➦In 1940... The radio quiz program, “Take It or Leave It” aired on CBS. Contestants were offered a top prize of $64 by Bob Hawk. Losers left as there were no lovely parting gifts or consolation prizes.

"Take It or Leave It" was a very popular radio quiz show in America during its run. The title was derived from the fact that each time a contestant answers a question correctly, he or she will be asked to either "Take" his/her winnings and walk away, or "Leave" it and proceed with the next question.

The show ran for 10 years on CBS (1940-1947) and NBC (1947-1950), and was hosted by Bob Hawk (1940-1941), Phil Baker (1941-1947), Garry Moore (1947-1949), Eddie Cantor (1949-1950), and Jack Paar (1950). It became the precursor of another American game show called "The $64,000 Question" on NBC Radio.

➦In 1960…Dick Clark testified before a congressional committee investigating payola.

Dick Clark
In 1950, there were approximately 250 disc jockeys in the U.S. By 1957, the number had grown to over 5,000. The increase was partially due to the sheer amount of new records being produced, both by major and indie labels. As the name suggests, a disc jockey was responsible for sorting through all these releases (naturally, the sorting was influenced by payola). These on-air personalities had so much clout with younger listeners, Time magazine called them the “poo-bahs of musical fashion and pillars of U.S. low- and middle-brow culture.”

Aware of their rising status, jocks established flat rate deals with labels and record distributors. A typical deal for a mid-level DJ was $50 a week, per record, to ensure a minimum amount of spins. More influential jocks commanded percentages of grosses for local concerts, lavish trips, free records by the boxful (some even opened their own record stores), plus all the time-honored swag. As Cleveland DJ Joe Finan later described the decade, “It was a blur of booze, broads and bribes.”

Clark admitted that over a period of 28 months he'd had a financial interest in 27 percent of the records he played on his "American Bandstand" TV show. Clark was ordered to sell off some of his conflicting interests, but had his name cleared -- unlike disc jockey Alan Freed, who refused to admit that payola was an illegal or immoral practice.

Alan Freed and Dick Clark both played important parts in the rise of rock ’n’ roll (Freed embodied the incendiary spirit of the music more than Clark, refusing to play white cover versions of black songs, such as Pat Boone’s “Tutti Frutti”). And though they both denied ever accepting payola, it’s almost impossible to imagine two young, popular jocks not succumbing to a little temptation. Guilty or not, it was Freed who ended up taking the fall for DJs everywhere.

Why did the committee single him out? Freed was abrasive. He consorted with black R&B musicians. He jive talked, smoked constantly and looked like an insomniac. Clark was squeaky clean, Brylcreemed, handsome and polite. At least on the surface. Once the grilling started, Freed’s friends and allies in broadcasting quickly deserted him. He refused—“on principle”—to sign an affidavit saying that he’d never accepted payola. WABC fired him, and he was charged with 26 counts of commercial bribery. Freed escaped with fines and a suspended jail sentence. He died five years later, broke and virtually forgotten.

Previous to the trial, Dick Clark had wisely divested himself of all incriminating connections (he had part ownership in seven indie labels, six publishers, three record distributors and two talent agencies). He got a slap on the wrist by Committee chairman Oren Harris, who called him “a fine young man.” As Clark told Rolling Stone in 1989, the lesson he learned from the payola trial was: “Protect your ass at all times.” Surprisingly candid words from the eternal teenager.

After Freed went down in 1960, Congress amended the Federal Communications Act to outlaw “under-the-table payments and require broadcasters to disclose if airplay for a song has been purchased.” Payola became a misdemeanor, with a penalty of up to $10,000 in fines and one year in prison.

➦In 1982...The TV sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati” aired for the final time after four seasons and 90 episodes.

NYC Radio: WFAN's John Sterling Honored At Yankee Stadium

The legendary New York Yankees radio voice, John Sterling, has officially retired from broadcasts. The club announced this momentous decision, and in recognition of his remarkable career, a pregame ceremony will take place at Yankee Stadium on April 201. Sterling, who has been the voice of the Yankees for 36 seasons, will be honored during this special event. His contributions to the team and his iconic calls will forever resonate with fans.

The New York Yankees announced Monday afternoon that legendary Yankees play-by-play radio voice John Sterling, who has called 5,420 regular season Yankees games and 211 postseason Yankees games, is retiring effective immediately. He honored in a pregame ceremony on Saturday, April 20, and will visited the WFAN booth during the game. 

Sterling’s voice has been synonymous with the Yankees for multiple generations of Yankees fans since joining the club during the 1989 season. Known for his resonant tone, signature home run calls and Yankees victory call (“Ballgame over! The Yankees win … Theeeeeee Yankees win!”), he called 5,060 consecutive games from September 1989 to July 2019. His final game this season was the Yankees’ 8-3 win vs. Toronto on Sunday, April 7.

Philly Radio: WIP's Glen Macnow Is Retiring

Glen Macnow

94.1 WIP-FM host Glen Macnow is retiring after three decades as a Philly sports talker: ‘It’s time’

Often a calm voice in a sea of hot takes and outlandish behavior, longtime 94.1 WIP host Glen Macnow is retiring from the radio station he’s called home for more than three decades. His final show will be July 13.

Macnow said it was his choice to walk away, a rarity these days with any media job. Like so many popular Philly sports talkers, Macnow was a reporter for The Inquirer before making the jump to radio.

“I’ve been working as a newspaper or radio guy since I was 21 years old,” Macnow told The Inquirer. “I’m now in my late 60s, and it’s just time.”

R.I.P.: Howie Schwab, Longtime ESPN Producer, Trivia Show Personality

Howie Schwab, a longtime ESPN producer and trivia show star, died Saturday at age 63, according to a report on

Schwab, who joined ESPN in 1987, hosted the network’s trivia show “Stump the Schwab,” which ran from 2004 to 2006 and was hosted by the late Stuart Scott, according to a Yahoo Sports report.

Schwab was the final challenge for contestants, who would try to beat him in sports trivia for prizes. Schwab posted a 64-16 record on the program, according to a New York Post report.

“I’m proud of that. Eighty percent is pretty darn good,” Schwab told The Athletic in 2020. “There were a couple of times when people were better. I’ll admit it. I had no problem with it. I remember one time I was disappointed because this guy was a cocky SOB who beat me and it bothered me a little. Bottom line is I’ve lived through so many things in sports and I’ve always been into sports, so (getting stumped) was fine.”

Schwab, from Baldwin, N.Y., was a 1982 graduate of St. John’s University, according to an AwfulAnnouncing post.

The report noted he worked as the coordinating producer for the network’s website in the mid-1990s and later served the same role on ESPN studio productions of SportsCenter and Outside the Lines

Schwab left ESPN in 2013 and later worked for Fox Sports and on “Sports Jeopardy!” according to the Yahoo Sports report.

FCC Looking for Comments Regarding GeoTargeting

The FCC is currently advancing the concept of FM geotargeting, which would allow radio stations to deliver content specifically tailored to localized audiences. Here are the key details:

The FCC has initiated a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) to gather public input from broadcasters regarding their support or concerns about FM geotargeting.

The proposed change would permit FM booster stations to create their own content, subject to certain implementation issues such as programming synchronization and notification procedures.

Discussions within the FNPRM also address the possibility of amending regulations to handle predicted interference during booster construction permit applications.

Additionally, the FCC proposes a new rule that would cap the number of program-originating FM booster stations an FM station can operate at 25.

NAB President Curtis LeGeyt acknowledges the FCC’s cautious approach, recognizing that unregulated micro-targeting technologies could potentially harm local stations’ ability to serve their communities and maintain viable advertising models.

While some groups, such as NABOB and GeoBroadcast Solutions, fully support this measure, it remains a topic of debate within the broadcasting industry.

The FCC’s exploration of FM geotargeting reflects the evolving landscape of radio broadcasting, balancing technological advancements with the need to preserve local focus and competitive edge.

Vinyl Is Still Far From Its Glory Days

by Felix Richter, Statista

Music lovers around the world will come together on Saturday to celebrate Record Store Day. Conceived in 2007 to highlight the cultural significance of independent record stores and celebrate vinyl record culture, the occasion is now widely honored with live performances, special vinyl releases, artist meet-and-greets and other events taking place at record stores across the globe. One of the original objectives of Record Store Day – keeping vinyl records alive – is no longer a priority though, as they are alive and well.

Continuing one of the more surprising comebacks of the digital age, vinyl album sales in the United States have grown for the 17th consecutive year in 2023. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), 43.2 million EPs/LPs were sold in the U.S. last year, up from less than a million in 2006, when the vinyl comeback began.

Infographic: Despite Comeback, Vinyl Is Still Far From Its Glory Days | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

So how big is vinyl's comeback really? Should we all dust off our old record players to prepare for the analog future of music? Vinyl LPs accounted for more than 40 percent of album sales in the United States last year, which is quite substantial. Factoring in streaming and downloads of single tracks, however, that number drops to less than 5 percent of album equivalent music consumption, which puts things in perspective. According to RIAA, vinyl records accounted for 8 percent of record music revenues in the U.S. last year, as streaming continues to be the industry's biggest moneymaker by far. Moreover, as our chart illustrates, vinyl is still far away from its glory days in the 1970s, when more than 300 million LPs and EPs would be sold in a single year.

However big or small the impact of rising LP sales on the music industry’s bottom line may be, it’s fascinating to witness a hundred year-old technology come back from near extinction. Physical goods, it appears, still hold value for many people, even in the digital age. Interestingly, vinyl LPs appear to have become a bit of collectors' item for fans, who listen to music digitally but still want to own a physical object: according to Luminate, only 50 percent of vinyl buyers actually have a record player.

Chicago Media: 3 Pro Teams Looking To Land New TV home

The Chicago White Sox, Chicago Bulls, and Chicago Blackhawks are in the final stages of negotiations to establish Stadium as their new television home. Their current contract with rights holder NBC Sports Chicago is set to expire in October, but there’s a possibility of a six-month extension. If that occurs, Stadium would take over broadcasting when the White Sox begin play next year.

Stadium, whose offices and studio are located in the United Center, aims to transform into a regional sports network (RSN) and seek distribution through pay-TV providers. Additionally, it already has a streaming platform in place and could potentially offer a direct-to-consumer service via its app. The teams, led by Bulls and Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, are also exploring over-the-air partners to carry their games. 

However, starting an RSN in the current landscape presents challenges—cable viewership is declining, while streaming usage is on the rise. Transitioning to a new RSN won’t necessarily solve this issue and could even create complications when seeking carriage on cable and satellite providers like Comcast and DirecTV.

Diamond Sports Group, which operates 19 Bally Sports-branded networks, has been in bankruptcy court for over a year but is now emerging with a reorganization plan. Meanwhile, Major League Baseball is producing games for the Diamondbacks, Padres, and Rockies, who lost their RSNs. The Cubs’ Marquee Sports Network also made cost-cutting decisions during spring training by not sending broadcasters to most of their games.

It’s worth noting that Jerry Reinsdorf acquired majority control of Stadium last spring. Initially launched in 2017 with Sinclair Broadcast Group, Stadium later supplied nongame programming to the Bally networks under Sinclair’s purview. When Sinclair divested the RSNs to Diamond, Stadium became independent. The move may impact staff at NBC Sports Chicago, and the network would be the latest RSN to leave NBC’s stable of networks.

Hold The Phone: Samsung Now Largest Seller of Smartphones

Samsung has reclaimed its position as the world's largest smartphone seller, dethroning Apple in the first quarter of 2024. Preliminary data from research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) revealed that Samsung shipped a market-leading 60 million units, some 20% more than Apple during the same period.

Although Samsung's return to the top spot is not entirely surprising — iPhone sales historically peak in the fourth quarter, and the two smartphone giants constantly tussle for #1 — what is noteworthy is the nearly 10% year-over-year decline in Apple's sales, as demand for its products in China falls. By contrast, Samsung sales were flat, and overall smartphone shipments grew 8%.

Samsung only has a small foothold in the Chinese market, while Apple was a major player in the region last year, boasting over 17% market share. And, like in so many other sectors, Chinese consumers are increasingly opting for a “Made in China” option, with Apple facing intense competition in the nation from rivals Transsion and Xiaomi, both of which reported strong double-digit growth in the most recent quarter. With fewer groundbreaking new features in recent releases, consumers are also holding onto their devices for longer.

Apple has been working hard to diversify away from the iPhone, but the product remains the primary gateway into the Apple ecosystem and its infamous walled garden — and the slump in sales comes at a tough time. The recently launched Vision Pro headset is struggling to gain traction, and the company faces a DOJ lawsuit over the iPhone's alleged monopolistic power. All told, the company’s shares have lagged the wider market (S&P 500) by 13% this year

How Listeners Feel About AI Jocks

NuVoodoo Research has released programming and marketing micro-tactics from NuVoodoo Ratings Prospects Study 23 in a second season of Moneyball for Radio. 

New videos are released every Thursday at The team at NuVoodoo are focusing on the incremental things you can do that can add up to the additional tenth of a rating point that is the goal for stations in rated markets.

With all the news and discussion in the radio trade press last week about using AI talent on the air, they thought it was worthwhile to roll back to last summer’s Ratings Prospects Study 22 in which we looked at how listeners felt about radio using AI voices. 

In that sample of over 2,500 14-54s nationwide interviewed at the end of June 2023, they asked radio listeners how they’d feel if the person hosting a show on a music radio station was:
  • Broadcasting live from a studio in their area.
  • Pretending to be live but was actually pre-recorded.
  • Pretending to be local but is really in a distant city.
  • Simulating being human, but is actually an AI voice bot.
Not surprisingly, a strong 58% majority in the chart below felt good about live and local hosting. A small percentage felt bad, presumably because they feel anything but music is bad. Surprisingly, around half didn’t care about hosting that was pre-recorded or piped in from a distant city – but only a small 23% sliver felt good about either of those options.

An AI simulated host appealed to a slightly higher percentage than the pre-recorded or piped-in modes, likely because of the novelty of AI. However, AI hosting got the strongest negative vote at 35%. A 39% plurality just didn’t care about an AI bot hosting the show; it didn’t matter to them. Clearly their expectations from the talent on music radio are not very high, which we found very sad.

Later in the interview, in a grouping of statements they asked respondents to agree or disagree with, we posed, “Most of the DJs on radio stations are computer-generated AI voices.” And across the full sample 27% agreed. 

The number was higher still among men in the sample (32%) and among the more AI-aware Millennials (33%) and Gen Zs (28%). 

John Malone Exits as Director Emeritus of Charter

John Malone

John Malone, the media mogul and chairman of Liberty Media Corporation, has decided to step down from his position as director emeritus at Charter Communications. His departure is attributed to concerns surrounding the Clayton Act, a 1914 antitrust law that has prompted investigations by the Department of Justice.

In his resignation statement, Malone cited “the uncertainty around Clayton Act inquiries.” This law has also led to the recent resignations of Steven A. Miron and Steven O. Newhouse at Warner Bros. Discovery1. Despite stepping down from Charter, Malone remains heavily invested in the company through Liberty Broadband, which maintains three board seats. He expressed confidence in Charter’s leadership team and business strategy.

Malone had been a director emeritus at Charter since 2018 when he retired as Charter’s full-time director. He continues to hold a seat on the board of Liberty Media, where he serves as chairman, as well as on the Warner Bros. Discovery board.

The Department of Justice’s investigation into potential violations of the Clayton Act underscores the importance of antitrust laws in maintaining fair competition. Malone’s exit follows a settlement in March 2023, where he and certain Charter Communications board members agreed to pay $87.5 million to resolve an investor lawsuit related to Charter’s acquisition of Time Warner Cable in 2015.

Malone’s legacy as a cable industry pioneer and his role in orchestrating mergers continue to shape the media landscape. His decision to step down reflects the ongoing scrutiny faced by major corporations and their leaders in navigating antitrust regulations.

Poll: Millions Want To Leave New York

About 7 million New Yorkers plan to leave the state, as revealed in a recent Marist poll. Approximately 37 percent of New Yorkers—roughly 7 million people—expressed their intention to move away.

 Interestingly, this sentiment is more pronounced among Republicans, with 46 percent planning to leave, compared to 29 percent of Democrats.

This mass migration echoes a trend that gained momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic and continued in the subsequent years. Northerners sought warmer weather, cheaper living, and more favorable tax conditions. In 2022, New York’s population experienced a significant decline, with 101,984 fewer residents—the largest drop in the nation that year.

The reasons behind this exodus vary. Many New Yorkers seek to escape the high costs associated with living in the state, including expenses related to housing, taxes, and everyday living. As home prices surge even in cities that were once more affordable, some view the South or Midwest as attractive alternatives, offering relief from financial burdens and the possibility of homeownership.

While white New Yorkers are more likely to stay, with only 33 percent planning to move, 42 percent of non-white respondents expressed their intention to leave. Additionally, New Yorkers’ satisfaction with their state varies, with 52 percent believing that things have worsened in the last year. The economy has also faced challenges, with roughly the same percentage reporting a decline.

The departure of millions of New Yorkers underscores the impact of external factors on migration patterns and highlights the ongoing importance of antitrust laws in maintaining fair competition, as seen in the recent resignation of media mogul John Malone from his position at Charter Communications.

WBD Lost Money In 2023, But Its CEO Made $50M

David Zaslav

Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav's annual compensation rose nearly 27% to $49.7 million in 2023, a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) showed on Friday.

Reuters reports the rise in pay was partly related to the loss-making media conglomerate's decision to align its executive compensation to focus more on debt reduction and free cash flow.

Warner Bros Discovery reported an 86% jump in free cash flow to $6.16 billion in 2023, partially because of lower spending during the Hollywood strikes that had paralyzed production for months.

The company reported a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss in February, pressured by the decline of cable TV, a weak advertising market and the fallout from the Hollywood strikes.

Zaslav received stock awards of $23.1 million in 2023, compared with $12 million in 2022. Shares of the company rose 20% last year.

Although Zaslav's pay rose from 2022, it dwarfs his 2021 compensation of $246.5 million.

Lawmakers Have Questions For New Sports Streaming Venture

On February 8, news of a joint venture proposal emerged, forged by The Walt Disney Co., owner of ESPN, along with FOX Corporation and Warner Bros. Discovery. Their plan? To create a sports-focused subscription video-on-demand platform with a reported $40 per month fee. 

The proposal triggered a Wall Street sell-off for some broadcast TV companies, including Gray Television and FuboTV. In response to this “Hulu for Sports” plan, FuboTV even filed an antitrust lawsuit in a New York federal district court against the trio of media giants, aiming to halt their plans.

Now, two Members of Congress have chimed in to express their concerns about negative consumer impact and anti-competitive behavior resulting from this sports streaming joint venture. U.S. lawmakers Jerry Nadler and Joaquin Castro are raising questions about the implications of this collaboration between Disney, Fox, and Warner Bros. on the streaming landscape.

Nadler (D., N.Y.) and Castro (D., Texas) have written a letter to Murdoch, Disney CEO Bob Iger, and WBD CEO David Zaslav, demanding answers to 19 questions regarding the details of how the forthcoming service will present itself to both consumers and leagues. Within the extensive series of questions is a broad concern by the two legislators that the streaming product will create a series of negative effects across the industry. The pair have set an April 30 deadline for a response, which they also intend to have sent to the Justice Department.

Former Veep Mike Pence Wants TikTok Banned

Former Vice President Mike Pence has been vocal about his stance on TikTok, the popular social media platform. He firmly believes that the United States should ban TikTok, citing concerns about privacy and national security. Pence asserts that TikTok serves as a platform for the Chinese Communist government, allowing them to collect data on Americans without their knowledge.

In his words, “Young Americans need to know that their privacy is being compromised.” Pence’s position aligns with other Republican candidates who have urged President Joe Biden to take a tougher stance against China on various issues. The battle over TikTok is just one aspect of the broader tensions between the US and China regarding technological ambitions and data security.

Interestingly, Pence also took a jab at one of his rivals in the Republican presidential nomination race, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who initially criticized TikTok but later signed up for the platform after meeting with one of their executives. Pence, however, remains resolute: "Well, they are never going to change my mind".

As the debate continues, the fate of TikTok remains uncertain, and the clash between privacy concerns and global technology platforms persists.

Taylor Swift Using TikTok to Promote New Album

Taylor Swift has teamed up with TikTok to create an experiential campaign that offers fans an exclusive in-app experience related to her new album, “The Tortured Poets Department”. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Exclusive Features: TikTok’s campaign provides first-of-its-kind features for Swifties.
  • Playlists: Fans can dive into the album with playlists to create.
  • Challenges: Unlock exclusive artwork for their profiles by completing challenges.
  • Fan Spotlight: There’s even an opportunity to be featured in a Fan Spotlight carouse.
  • UMG Dispute: Interestingly, TikTok and Universal Music Group (UMG) have been in an ongoing licensing dispute. Official recordings from UMG artists were mostly removed from TikTok due to this disagreement. However, Taylor Swift’s music recently reappeared on the platform, allowing her to circumvent the UMG embargo and collaborate with TikTok for this campaign.
  • Swift’s Power: Swift’s partnership with TikTok showcases her influence in the music industry. Despite the ban, she receives additional promotional support from the platform, emphasizing her ability to make waves as an artist.

Swifties can head over to TikTok and explore the Taylor Swift In-App Experience—a unique way to connect with her latest album!

Austin Radio: KOKE-FM, The Horn Being Sold

A pair of Austin radio stations are set to get new ownership. Norsan Media, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based media company, reports that it has purchased Genuine Austin Radio, which operates KOKE-FM 99.3 and The Horn FM 101.9 FM and 1260 AM.

Norsan Media specializes in content geared toward Hispanic and Spanish-speaking audiences, operating stations in the Carolinas, Florida and Texas. The company already operates La Raza 95.1 in Austin, which specializes in regional Mexican music.

At the moment, it is unclear if the acquisition will impact the programming on either station - KOKE-FM currently airs country music and The Horn specializes in University of Texas-oriented sports content - or if it will impact any on-air talent at either station.

The FCC still has to approve the sale before the acquisition is finalized.

Radio History: April 20

➦In 1935...'Your Hit Parade' debuted on NBC, as a 60-minute program with 15 songs played in a random format.

Initially, the songs were more important than the singers, so a stable of vocalists went uncredited and were paid only $100 per episode. In 1936-37, it was carried on both NBC and CBS. The first number one song on the first episode was "Soon" by Bing Crosby. The dramatic countdown to the #1 song was adopted several years later, after the show had moved to CBS.

Some years passed before the countdown format was introduced, with the number of songs varying from seven to 15. Vocalists in the 1930s included Buddy Clark, Lanny Ross, Kay Thompson and Bea Wain (1939–44), who was married to the show's announcer, French-born André Baruch. Frank Sinatra joined the show in 1943, and was fired for messing up the No. 1 song, "Don't Fence Me In" by interjecting a mumble to the effect that the song had too many words and missing a cue. One source says his contract was not renewed due to demanding a raise and the show being moved to the West Coast. As he zoomed in popularity he was rehired, returning (1947–49) to co-star with Doris Day.

Hugely popular on CBS through the WWII years, Your Hit Parade returned to NBC in 1947. The show's opening theme, from the musical revue George White's Scandals of 1926, was "This Is Your Lucky Day", with music by Ray Henderson and lyrics by Buddy G. DeSylva, Stephen W. Ballantine and Lew Brown.

Dozens of singers appeared on the radio program, including "Wee" Bonnie Baker, Dorothy Collins, Beryl Davis, Gogo DeLys, Joan Edwards (1941–46), Georgia Gibbs, Dick Haymes, Snooky Lanson, Gisèle MacKenzie, Johnny Mercer, Andy Russell, Dinah Shore, Ginny Simms, Lawrence Tibbett, Martha Tilton, Eileen Wilson, Barry Wood, and occasional guest vocalists. The show featured two tobacco auctioneers, Lee Aubrey "Speed" Riggs of Goldsboro, North Carolina and F.E. Boone of Lexington, Kentucky. The radio series continued until January 16, 1953.

The success of the show spawned a spin-off series, Your All-Time Hit Parade, sponsored by Lucky Strike and devoted to all-time favorites and standards mixed with some current hits.

➦In 1952...the "Big Show" finished a two year run on the NBC Radio Network.

The Big Show was radio 90-minute variety program featuring top-name comics, stage, screen and music talent, and was aimed at keeping American radio in its classic era alive and well against the rapidly growing television tide. For a good portion of its two-year run (November 5, 1950-April 20, 1952), it was hosted by legendary stage actress and personality Tallulah Bankhead,

The Big Show began November 5, 1950 on NBC with a stellar line-up of guests: Fred Allen, Mindy Carson, Jimmy Durante, José Ferrer, Portland Hoffa, Frankie Laine, Russell Knight, Paul Lukas, Ethel Merman, Danny Thomas and Meredith Willson.

The show's success was credited to Bankhead's notorious wit and ad-libbing ability in addition to the show's superior scripting. She had one of the funniest writers in the business on her staff: Goodman Ace, the mastermind of radio's legendary Easy Aces. She included renowned ad-libbers in the show—particularly Fred Allen (he and his longtime sidekick and wife, Portland Hoffa, appeared so often they could have been the show's regular co-hosts) and Groucho Marx, both of whom appeared on the first season's finale and appeared jointly on three other installments.

As Bankhead recorded in her memoirs, she took the show because she needed the money but nearly changed her mind when she feared she'd be little more than a glorified mistress of ceremonies with nothing to do but introduce the feature performers. "Guess what happened?" she continued. "Your heroine emerged from the fracas as the Queen of the Kilocycles. Authorities cried out that Tallulah had redeemed radio. In shepherding my charges through The Big Show, said the critics, I had snatched radio out of the grave. The autopsy was delayed."

➦In 1961…The U.S. Federal Communications Commission approved FM stereo broadcasting.

Invented in 1933 by American Edwin Armstrong, wide-band FM is used worldwide to provide high-fidelity sound over broadcast radio. FM broadcasting is capable of better sound quality than AM broadcasting

In the late 1950s, several systems to add stereo to FM radio were considered by the FCC. Included were systems from 14 proponents including Crosby, Halstead, Electrical and Musical Industries, Ltd (EMI), Zenith, and General Electric. The individual systems were evaluated for their strengths and weaknesses during field tests in Uniontown, Pennsylvania using KDKA-FM in Pittsburgh as the originating station.

The Crosby system was rejected by the FCC because it was incompatible with existing subsidiary communications authorization (SCA) services which used various subcarrier frequencies including 41 and 67 kHz. Many revenue-starved FM stations used SCAs for "storecasting" and other non-broadcast purposes. The Halstead system was rejected due to lack of high frequency stereo separation and reduction in the main channel signal-to-noise ratio.

The GE and Zenith systems, so similar that they were considered theoretically identical, were formally approved by the FCC in April 1961 as the standard stereo FM broadcasting method in the United States and later adopted by most other countries.

➦In 1972...Bertram Lebhar Jr., a retired radio and television station operator, who formerly broadcast sports in NYC under the name of Bert Lee and who was long a leading tournament bridge player, died at age 65.

Friday, April 19, 2024

Netflix Blows Past Earnings Estimates As Subscribers Jump 16%

Netflix has delivered impressive results in its first quarter of 2024. Here are the key highlights:

  • Earnings per share (EPS): Netflix exceeded expectations, reporting $5.28 per share, surpassing the estimated $4.52 per share expected by LSEG.
  • Revenue: The company’s revenue reached $9.37 billion, outperforming the anticipated $9.28 billion expected by LSEG.
  • Total memberships: Netflix’s subscriber base grew significantly, reaching 269.6 million, exceeding the projected 264.21 million according to Street Account.
  • Net income: Netflix achieved $2.33 billion, or $5.28 per share, compared to the prior-year period’s $1.30 billion, or $2.88 per share. The company’s revenue for the quarter stood at $9.37 billion, a substantial increase from the year-ago quarter’s $8.16 billion.

The company added 9.33 million subscribers in the first quarter, more than five times the number of customers it added during the same period a year earlier, with its efforts to limit password sharing continuing to bear fruit. Netflix began limiting password sharing in earnest about a year ago. 

Wall Street Journal graphic

Netflix has spent the last year limiting account sharing, working to expand its ad business and changing its line-up of prices and plans to better position itself for future growth. It plans to stop providing investors quarterly membership numbers and the average revenue generated per member early next year because it now has multiple pricing tiers in a variety of markets, and will add annual revenue guidance.

Netflix is strategically transitioning from emphasizing subscriber growth to focusing on profitability. To achieve this, they have implemented measures such as price hikes, addressing password sharing, and introducing an ad-supported tier. Investors are keen to see how these efforts impact Netflix’s performance and are also curious about the company’s venture into video games. Additionally, Netflix’s partnership with TKO Group Holdings to bring WWE content to the platform and its potential expansion into live sports offerings have piqued interest.

As of now, Netflix’s stock has seen remarkable growth, with a 27% increase year-to-date and approximately 85% growth over the last 12 months. These results demonstrate the streaming giant’s resilience and continued appeal to audiences worldwide

Netflix said Thursday it will no longer report quarterly membership numbers and average revenue per membership starting in the first quarter of 2025.

This is a significant change for the company and for the so-called “streaming wars,” which have largely been defined by a race for customers. Netflix wants investors to judge the company by the same metrics executives view as “our best proxy for customer satisfaction,” the company said in its quarterly shareholder letter.

A TikTok Ban Would Impact The Music Industry

A potential TikTok ban in the United States could significantly impact the music industry. Let’s delve into the implications:

TikTok’s Influence: TikTok has experienced hyper-rapid growth over the past six years and currently boasts the third-largest user base among social networks, trailing only Facebook and Instagram.

While entertainment content dominates TikTok, the extent of music-related content remains somewhat unclear. Many TikTok stars gain fame through lip-syncs, dance routines, and videos set to existing music, while a smaller number of artists directly promote their own music on the platform.

YouTube vs. TikTok: To understand TikTok’s impact, we can draw parallels with YouTube. YouTube is the world’s largest distributor of music, surpassing even Spotify. YouTube’s music usage outpaces Spotify, despite the latter having more plays for hit songs. YouTube’s free service accessibility contributes to its popularity.

Unlike Spotify, YouTube allows anyone to upload videos with music, maintaining relative independence from the music industry.

Potential Consequences of a TikTok Ban: A TikTok ban would disrupt countless marketing and promotion plans for artists and labels. It could affect the reach of both established and emerging artists, hindering the creation of viral hits at the current pace.

Billboard charts would also experience significant shifts due to TikTok’s role in breaking new artists and promoting hit songs.

Adaptability and New Opportunities: The music industry has consistently adapted to changes. Even if TikTok were to vanish, new avenues for promoting music and connecting with fans would emerge.

As history has shown, artists and the industry find innovative ways to thrive despite challenges.

Political Ad Spending Following the People

In the days leading up to the Super Tuesday primaries this month, viewers of Walt Disney Co.’s Hulu streaming service in Los Angeles saw a blizzard of political ads featuring everything from US Senate candidates to the battle over a city council seat.

Bloomberg reports streaming services have become the fastest-growing outlet for political commercials as media giants have introduced ad-supported versions of their services and become more accepting of the spots.

Where Politicians Are Spending: Streaming services with ads score big gains this election cycle

Political spending on streaming services has nearly quadrupled this election cycle from the same period in 2022, according to data from AdImpact, which tracks campaign outlays. At the current pace, streaming may soon pass cable TV, which is in decline as more customers cancel the product.

Not all streaming companies take ads. Inc. and Apple Inc. don’t accept political ads on their services. Paramount Global, Warner Bros. Discovery Inc. and Comcast Corp., which have all launched ad-supported versions of their services, accept the spots. Hulu, a pioneer in online TV ads, began allowing a wider range of political commercials in 2022.

Streaming services aren’t required to publicly report political ad buys, unlike broadcasters. That makes it harder for campaigns to see what their allies and opponents are spending. But if regulators update the rules, the added visibility may hasten the shift to streaming even more dramatically, Goldberg said.

FCC Chair Backs Bill Forcing TikTok Parent To Divest

FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel finds it shocking that U.S. law prevents foreign ownership of old media assets but has nothing to say about new media — including the wildly popular TikTok, which is owned by a Chinese company. 

A bill passed by the House last month would require parent company ByteDance to divest TikTok or face a ban in the U.S. However, the bill appears to have stalled in the Senate. If it ever makes it to the President’s desk, she believes he should absolutely sign it.

Jessica Rosenworcel
Rosenworcel emphasizes that while the FCC doesn’t have authority over apps like TikTok, the lack of oversight for newer forms of media is stunning. She highlights the need to be thoughtful about who invests in media in the country. 

Additionally, she discusses the impending vote on reinstating net neutrality rules, online privacy, and her push for a new “cyber trust mark” for connected devices in homes. The goal is to ensure basic standards and safety for consumers when purchasing devices like baby monitors.

The commission is set to vote April 25 on reinstating the net neutrality rules repealed by Rosenworcel’s predecessor Agit Pai. The rules prevents internet providers from blocking or throttling consumer access to websites or services, creating fast lanes, or censoring content. Basically, net neutrality categorizes internet providers as common carriers, similar to the regulatory classification given to landline phone service.

NPR CEO Ted Talk: "Truth Is a Distraction"

NPR CEO Katherine Maher remains under scrutiny for her role as a “woke” Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) enforcer. 

Let’s explore the context:

Background: Maher was previously the CEO of the Wikimedia Foundation, which oversees Wikipedia. Her appointment as NPR’s CEO has raised questions about her approach to media leadership.

Controversial Views: Maher’s social media posts have drawn attention. She once justified the shoplifting epidemic in Los Angeles by linking it to the sins of slavery. Her stance on issues like DEI and social justice has been criticized by some.

Impact on NPR: As the head of a prominent news outlet, Maher’s views and leadership style may influence NPR’s editorial decisions. Critics argue that her ideological positions could affect the network’s objectivity and balance.

Public Debate: The debate over Maher’s suitability for the role reflects broader discussions about media bias, journalistic integrity, and the role of public funding.

SiriusXM Sued For Patent Infringement

Sirius XM Holdings is facing legal challenges related to patent infringement. Here are the notable instances:

Fraunhofer Lawsuit (2023): Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Angewandten Forschung e.V. (Fraunhofer), a Germany-based research organization, filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Sirius XM Radio Inc. in a six-year-long legal battle.

The dispute centered around technology related to satellite communication networks. In 1998, WorldSpace International Network obtained an exclusive license from Fraunhofer for this technology, which was later sublicensed to a Sirius XM predecessor company.

Despite subsequent bankruptcy proceedings and agreements, Fraunhofer maintained that Sirius XM had infringed on its patents. However, the court ruled in favor of Sirius XM, citing equitable estoppel due to Fraunhofer’s five-year silence and related conduct.

Keystone Autonics Lawsuit (2007): Keystone Autonics, an Austin, Texas-based company, sued both Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio for alleged patent infringement. Keystone Autonics claimed that the radio companies used technology directly from patents it owned.

Fraunhofer Revival (2019): Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft’s patent infringement suit against Sirius XM Radio was revived in the Federal Circuit. The dispute centered on Sirius XM’s reliance on a possibly-defunct licensing agreement, which Fraunhofer argued infringed on its patents.

‘The Tortured Poets Department’ Has Already Broken Records

Just how hyped are people about the release of Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department, which dropped at midnight on April 19? Even before the album’s release, Swift’s latest effort had already broken records, and it’s poised to smash many more during its first week out. 

According to Forbes, Spotify said Thursday that Tortured had become the most pre-saved album countdown in the streaming service’s history. And within days, Swift will likely tie with Jay-Z for the all-time record for most solo No. 1 albums. How has the 34-year-old accomplished these incredible milestones? You can credit rabid fans, the success of the Eras tour, a much-discussed relationship with a Super Bowl champion and, not least, Swift’s enviable business savvy in building her brand.

What Is The Tortured Poets Department?

The LP is the latest release from Taylor Swift, who announced the new album while accepting her 14th Grammy earlier this year. She has since dropped lots of hints on social media about the album’s content, which focuses on the stages of heartbreak.

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What Records Has Tortured Poets Department Broken?

She broke the Spotify presave record following the launch of the Tortured Poets countdown page in late March. The page counted down the seconds until the album’s release. The streaming service also wisely tied it to a display it put up in Los Angeles related to the album, taking advantage of Swift fans’ love for puzzling out the meaning of her songs and her online and musical actions.

This comes after the Eras tour generated more than $1 billion, making it the most successful tour of all time. She also set a record for most-attended concert by a female singer with the opening night of Eras, which drew more than 69,000 people.

And the Eras movie released last fall grossed more than $100 million and became the highest-grossing concert movie ever. Its digital release boosted the film to Disney+’s most-streamed music movie of all time.

She has more Billboard chart appearances than any other female artist, and the first single from Tortured Poets Department, which is “Fortnight,” recorded with Post Malone, will extend her record. The only question is how high it will go—but again, she’s got the most top 40 appearances ever.

NBA’s Exclusive TV Rights Negotiating Window Expected To Pass

The National Basketball Association’s exclusive media rights negotiating window with current partners Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery is likely to expire Monday without a new deal, according to CNBC citing people familiar with the matter.

Beginning next week, the NBA will be able to work on agreements for new partners to show packages of games. Amazon, Apple, YouTube TV, Comcast’s NBCUniversal/Peacock and Netflix have all had preliminary conversations with the league expressing potential interest, CNBC reported last year. The exclusive negotiating window with the league’s incumbent partners officially ends Monday.

While no agreement is expected to be announced by the deadline, Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery both continue to work on terms with the league, an NBA spokesperson confirmed. The NBA would like to bring in at least one new partner to serve as a flagship streamer, CNBC reported last year. The league wants a “robust” streaming partner that will use marketing and reach to make the games a priority on their platform, CNBC reported.

“We continue to have productive discussions with Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery on a renewal of our media deals,” a league spokesperson said in a statement to CNBC.

Warner Bros. Discovery’s TBS began airing NBA games in 1984, and TNT has shown NBA games since 1988. Disney’s ESPN and ABC have broadcast the NBA since 2002. The two companies have both publicly expressed a desire to renew with the NBA and have joined forces with Fox to launch a new streaming service geared to sports fans that don’t already pay for cable. That service will debut in the fall, the companies said earlier this year.

The NBA is looking to double the $24 billion it generated from its previous media rights deal with Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery by adding new partners and charging more for rights

Former CBS Chief Les Moonves Settles Ethics Complaint

Former CBS President Leslie Moonves has agreed to pay a $15,000 fine to settle a Los Angeles city ethics complaint. 

The LA Times reports the complaint stems from his role in an alleged cover-up of sexual assault accusations against him. 

The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission unanimously approved this settlement after previously rejecting a proposal for $11,250 in fines as too low. Under the settlement, Moonves admitted that he violated city law by interfering with a police investigation into the sexual assault allegations. 

The allegations involved the LAPD and drew comparisons to the novel and movie “L.A. Confidential,” where corrupt police officers protect powerful figures. Then-Police Capt. Cory Palka, who had known Moonves for nearly a decade, allegedly worked with Moonves and other CBS executives to bury a complaint made by a former colleague, Phyllis Golden-Gottlieb, alleging that Moonves had sexually assaulted her in the 1980s. 

Moonves’ career as head of CBS eventually collapsed amid a widening sex scandal that came to light as part of the #MeToo movement. He stepped down from CBS in September 2018, denying harassing or assaulting women. 

The ethics complaint detailed how Moonves interfered with the police investigation into Golden-Gottlieb’s report. The case highlights the intersection of power, ethics, and accountability in the entertainment industry.

4/19 WAKE-UP CALL: Israel Strikes Back

Israel, early Friday morning local time, launched missiles in a retaliatory strike against Iran, a senior U.S. official told ABC News. The missile launches follow Iran's attack last Saturday, where the country sent a volley of more than 300 uncrewed drones and missiles toward targets throughout the country, Israeli military officials previously said. All but a few were intercepted by Israel and its allies, including the United States, officials said.

Iran's attack came more than six months after Hamas terrorists invaded Israel on Oct. 7, after which the Israeli military began its bombardment of the Gaza Strip. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the country's war cabinet have met several times since the Iran strikes, and as ABC News previously reported, at least two strikes were previously aborted.

⛽OIL PRICES JUMP: Oil prices jumped more than 3% on Friday after Israel carried out a military strike on Iran, triggering fears of an expanding war in the Middle East. Israel carried out a limited military strike against Iran and is currently assessing the strike’s effectiveness and damage caused, a source familiar with the situation told NBC News. The operation was carried out in the early hours of Friday morning local time. Both oil benchmarks pared gains after initially jumping over 3% on news of explosions in Iran.

➤TWH PUSHES LONG-SHOT DEAL: VThe White House is pushing for a long-shot deal that presses Israel to accept a new commitment to Palestinian statehood in exchange for diplomatic recognition by Riyadh, U.S. and Saudi officials said. The Biden administration is offering Riyadh a more formal defense relationship, help acquiring civil nuclear power and a renewed push for a Palestinian state—a package that U.S. officials say is in the final stages of negotiations. Israel has long sought normalized relations with Saudi Arabia, its most powerful Arab neighbor. The deal could mean a diplomatic breakthrough for President Biden amid his re-election campaign. Meanwhile, more aid is getting into Gaza, but not enough to avert a looming famine. Separately, Iran could work on building nuclear weapons if Israel attacks its nuclear facilities in retaliation for Tehran’s Saturday assault, a senior Iranian official warned.

➤ANTI-ISRAEL STUDENTS ARRESTED: Jewish students at Columbia University applauded the removal of anti-Israel protesters who were camping out in tents on campus Thursday – claiming the unruly demonstration made them fear for their safety. 

“It makes me feel safer. It makes me feel like the administration is finally implementing their policies and the truth is, today of all days, it looks like everyone who supports their cause — the anti-Israel, pro-Hamas cause — came out of the crevices and it’s a lot of people,” sophomore Jonny Lederer told The Post. Cops decked out in riot gear moved in and arrested more than 100 protesters Thursday after Columbia president Minouche Shafik gave the green light for cops to clear the encampment from the Upper West Side campus. Some of the arrested protesters even had to be carried away to waiting NYPD corrections buses.

➤SPEAKER RISKING JOB:  House Speaker Mike Johnson is risking his job for the Ukraine aid he once opposed. The approximately $60 billion for Kyiv is part of a broader package including aid to Israel and Taiwan, as well as a TikTok crackdown, that is set for a final vote on Saturday. With a 218-213 margin in the House, Johnson will likely have to rely heavily on Democratic votes. The Senate could take up the measure next week. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R., Ga.) last month filed a motion to force Johnson out of the speakership but didn’t force a vote. Rep. Thomas Massie (R., Ky.), joined the effort this week and said the speaker should step down. Johnson has said he’s not resigning.

➤MOLINARO BREAKS 11TH COMMANDMENT: Rep. Marc Molinaro, R-N.Y., accused his fellow Republican lawmaker, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., of holding Congress "hostage" after she called to oust House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La. Greene last month introduced what’s known as a “motion to vacate,” which, if passed, would boot Johnson from the speakership. The effort picked up steam this week after Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., announced he supports it, calling out Johnson shortly after he unveiled a plan to deliver foreign aid to U.S. allies.  But Greene's push drew condemnation from many Republican lawmakers, especially after the House was frozen for weeks after former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., was ousted last year.  

➤FBI WARNS OF CHINESE HACKERS: Chinese government-linked hackers have burrowed into U.S. critical infrastructure and are waiting "for just the right moment to deal a devastating blow," FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Thursday. An ongoing Chinese hacking campaign known as Volt Typhoon has successfully gained access to numerous American companies in telecommunications, energy, water and other critical sectors, with 23 pipeline operators targeted, Wray said in a speech at Vanderbilt University. China is developing the "ability to physically wreak havoc on our critical infrastructure at a time of its choosing," Wray said at the 2024 Vanderbilt Summit on Modern Conflict and Emerging Threats. "Its plan is to land low blows against civilian infrastructure to try to induce panic." Wray said it was difficult to determine the intent of this cyber pre-positioning which was aligned with China's broader intent to deter the U.S. from defending Taiwan.