Saturday, May 4, 2024

Radio History: May 5

➦In 1899...Freeman Fisher Gosden born in Richmond, VA (Died – December 10, 1982).  He was a radio comedian, actor and pioneer in the development of the situation comedy form. He is best known for his work for the radio series Amos 'n' Andy.

Gosden, Correll
During World War I he served in the United States Navy as a wireless operator, which prompted his great interest in the young medium of radio. While attending school in Richmond, Gozzie worked part-time in Tarrant's Drug Store at 1 West Broad Street.

In 1921, Gosden first teamed up with Charles Correll to do radio work, presenting comedy acts, sketches, and hosting variety shows. They met in Durham, North Carolina, both working for the Joe Bren Producing Company. Their first regular show came in 1925 with their WEBH Chicago show Correll and Gosden, the Life of the Party. On this show the two told jokes, sang, and played music (Correll played piano and Gosden banjo).

In 1926, Gosden and Correll had a hit with their radio show Sam & Henry on Chicago radio station WGN. Sam & Henry is considered by some historians to have been the first situation comedy.

From 1928 to 1960, Gosden and Correll broadcast their Amos 'n' Andy show, which was one of the most famous and popular shows on radio in the 1930s. Gosden voiced the characters "Amos", "George 'Kingfish' Stevens", "Lightning", "Brother Crawford", and some dozen other characters.

In 1969, Gosden was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in radio. He died from congestive heart failure in Los Angeles, California in 1982 at the age of 83

➦In 1900...The music and entertainment magazine The Billboard began weekly publication after six years as a monthly. The name was later shortened to Billboard.

Perry Como - Early '40s

➦In 1970...Entertainer Perry Como recorded the song “It’s Impossible.” When it peaked a few months later at #10 on the pop music chart, it meant Perry had notched hits in four consecutive decades – the 1940s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.

➦In 2008...John R. Gambling rejoined WOR 710 AM NYC. When WOR ended Rambling with Gambling in 2000 after 75 years on the air, John R. Gambling moved up the dial to WABC, taking over the post-morning-drive 10 a.m. - noon slot. Gambling was fired by WABC on February 29, 2008 in a cost-cutting move.  On April 30, 2008, WOR announced the return of John R. Gambling to its air waves in his old morning-drive time slot.

On December 20, 2013 John R. Gambling did his last morning show on WOR after announcing his retirement from broadcasting (Gambling was effectively forced out as iHeartMedia purchased the station, and was replaced by the duo of Todd Schnitt and Len Berman). Gambling emerged as a host on AM 970 WNYM from 2014 to 2016. While at AM 970 WNYM, his show was produced by Frank Morano he decided to permanently retire from broadcasting, citing chronic knee problems resulting from an accident. With this, because he also had no sons named John to continue a show, the 91-year run of Rambling with Gambling came to an end.

Adele is 36

  • Actor Michael Murphy is 86. 
  • Actor Lance Henriksen (“Millennium,” ″Aliens”) is 84. 
  • Comedian-actor Michael Palin (Monty Python) is 81. 
  • Actor John Rhys-Davies (“Lord of the Rings,” ″Raiders of the Lost Ark”) is 80. 
  • Former MTV News correspondent Kurt Loder is 79. 
  • Drummer Bill Ward of Black Sabbath is 76. 
  • Actor Melinda Culea (“The A Team,” ″Knots Landing”) is 69. 
  • Actor Lisa Eilbacher (“An Officer and a Gentleman,” ″Beverly Hills Cop”) is 67. 
  • Actor Richard E. Grant (“Gosford Park”) is 67. 
  • Singer Ian McCulloch of Echo and the Bunnymen is 65. 
  • Newsman Brian Williams is 65. 
  • TV personality Kyan Douglas (“Rachael Ray,” “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”) is 54. 
  • Actor Tina Yothers (“Family Ties”) is 51. 
  • Singer Raheem DeVaughn is 49. 
  • Actor Santiago Cabrera (“Heroes”) is 46. 
  • Actor Vincent Kartheiser (“Mad Men”) is 45. 
  • Singer Craig David is 43. 
  • Actor Danielle Fishel (“Boy Meets World”) is 43. 
  • Actor Henry Cavill (“Man of Steel,” ″The Tudors”) is 41. 
  • Bassist Josh Smith of Halestorm is 41. 
  • Singer Adele is 36. 
  • Singer Chris Brown is 35.

  • In 2008..Jerry Wallace, American country and pop singer ("Primrose Lane"; "If You Leave Me Tonight I'll Cry"), dies of heart failure at 79
  • In 2008..Thomas Boggs, American rock drummer (Box Tops), dies at 63

FCC's Starks Supports AM For Every Vehicle Act

In an address to the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB) Washington Watch event, FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks expressed his full support for the AM for Every Vehicle Act. 

He emphasized the crucial role that AM radio plays in public safety and information dissemination. Starks highlighted its resilience and importance to the Emergency Alert System (EAS) infrastructure1.

RadioInk reports Commissioner Starks acknowledged the efforts of broadcasters in ensuring that AM radio receivers remain in vehicles, including electric vehicles. He recognized the value of AM radio as a free, reliable source of industry news programming for listeners who log many miles on the road. Starks stated, “AM radio plays a critical, critical role in public safety infrastructure.” Former heads of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have also emphasized AM’s resiliency due to its long-distance signals, which contribute to the success of the National Public Warning System1.

Geoffrey Starks
Starks invited feedback from broadcasters on how the FCC can further support the industry, particularly in addressing interference issues caused by LED lights and other electronic devices in vehicles that disrupt AM radio signals. He assured that the FCC is equipped to handle such complaints and conduct field testing to resolve interference problems.

Another issue Commissioner Starks addressed was the impact of Pre-Sunrise Authority on broadcasters. He acknowledged concerns raised by broadcast groups that if Daylight Saving Time (DST) becomes permanent, AM stations could face reduced power and signal strength up to 8 a.m. during wintertime, affecting listener numbers and revenue. Starks expressed his willingness to review changes to the authority if necessary.

Lastly, he briefly discussed his support for the FM geo-targeting allowance implemented by the FCC. Starks closed with optimism for legacy media, emphasizing that radio and television stations continue to provide free reception over the air, especially for those who cannot afford additional subscriptions in their households or are fatigued by existing subscriptions. Calls Radio America's Stage For Artists

Artist and music industry figure this week shared his perspective on the significance of radio during a panel discussion titled “What is Radio in 2024?” hosted by Digital Music News. Here’s what he had to say:

Radio as a Cultural Conduit: According to, radio remains one of the most important conduits for the world of music. Despite the rise of streaming platforms, radio stations that execute their programming effectively continue to hold cultural relevance. These stations serve as staples of culture within communities. People tune in not only for the music but also for the personalities, community leaders, and relatable content.

America’s Stage for Artists:  He emphasized that radio functions as “America’s stage” for artists, especially those in their breakout phase. When artists lack other outlets, radio provides a platform for reaching a mass audience. He made comparisons to other countries: BBC’s reach across the UK and NRJ’s coverage in France. Similarly, getting attention from influential radio hosts like Ryan Seacrest can significantly impact an artist’s visibility.

Engagement and Authenticity: Unlike streaming platforms, radio engagement is not algorithmic. Real humans actively tune in—whether in their cars or at work—because they connect with the hosts and personalities. challenges the notion that streaming’s skip rates are solely due to short attention spans. Instead, he highlights the importance of personality. Artists like Cardi B, beyond their music, become personalities that listeners want to engage with.

Monetization and True Reach: While streaming relies on algorithms and sometimes “ghost listening,” radio’s monetization model involves real human choices. People actively select what to listen to. The challenge lies in accurately measuring radio reach. Unlike streaming skip rates, radio engagement cannot be easily quantified. It’s about more than just passive consumption; it’s about being part of a moment.

Paramount Global, Skydance End Exclusive Deal Talks

Paramount Global will end exclusive negotiations with Skydance Media without a deal, according to a person familiar with the discussions, allowing it to evaluate a rival bid for the home of "Mission: Impossible" and "SpongeBob SquarePants".

Reuters reports a special committee of the Paramount board, created to evaluate offers for the company, has been holding exclusive deal talks with Skydance Media. That period of exclusivity was due to end at midnight eastern U.S. time on Friday.

An eleventh-hour overture from Sony Pictures Entertainment and private equity firm Apollo Global Management expressing interest in acquiring Paramount Global complicated negotiations, another person familiar with the talks told Reuters.

The companies submitted a non-binding offer letter on Wednesday, signed by Sony Pictures Chief Executive Tony Vinciquerra and Apollo partner Aaron Sobel, a source confirmed to Reuters. The $26 billion offer is a combination of cash and assumption of debt.

That may have forced the special committee's hand, especially after some shareholders raised concerns about the deal with David Ellison's Skydance and have urged Paramount to consider other offers, including the one from Apollo.

A source close to the Redstone family said Shari Redstone, who controls the Paramount media empire, would support the special committee's consideration of a possible Sony-Apollo transaction or any deal that would benefit shareholders.

Paramount's special committee is set to meet on Saturday to discuss the deal, the New York Times reported, citing two people with knowledge of the company's plans.

New NBA Deal Will Reshape How Fans Consume Basketball

The NBA is poised to make waves in the media landscape with its upcoming multiyear media rights deal. Here’s what we know:

Record-Breaking Fees: The NBA is expected to announce a groundbreaking media rights pact that will significantly increase its annual fees from TV and streaming outlets. Reports suggest that the new deal will more than double the current fees, reaching an impressive $6 billion annually after the 2024-25 NBA season1. This substantial increase reflects the league’s growing popularity and the value it brings to broadcasters and streaming platforms.

Streaming Platforms in the Mix: Two streaming services are vying for exclusive NBA game packages:

  • Amazon Prime Video: Known for its aggressive sports acquisitions, Amazon is likely to secure a significant package of games. It already holds the rights to NFL “Thursday Night Football” and will stream its first exclusive playoff game next season.
  • Peacock (NBCUniversal): Philadelphia-based cable giant Comcast Corp. has reportedly made a $2.5-billion bid for a package of games on its streaming service, Peacock, and broadcast network NBC1. Streaming platforms recognize that live sports content is a powerful draw for audiences, allowing them to build scale and attract users.

Traditional Media Companies Under Pressure: Legacy media companies face challenges due to rising costs and declining revenues in their traditional TV businesses. While Amazon aggressively invests in sports rights, traditional broadcasters must adapt to the changing landscape.

Disney’s Retained Rights: Walt Disney Co. is expected to retain the rights to the NBA Finals, one of TV sports’ crown jewels. The Finals will continue to air on broadcast network ABC. Disney’s ESPN will also maintain regular-season and playoff game coverage. The network’s commitment to the NBA aligns with its plans to offer a direct-to-consumer version of ESPN by 20251.

Warner Bros. Discovery’s TNT at Risk: The ongoing negotiations could result in the loss of an NBA TV package for TNT, which has been a cornerstone of NBA programming for over three decades. If Comcast’s bid for streaming service Peacock succeeds, it would be a significant blow to Turner (TNT’s parent company) from a public image standpoint1.

NBA’s next TV deal has the potential to reshape how fans consume basketball and may further elevate streaming platforms in the competitive media landscape.

Report: Fox Sports To Ask Record Amount for Next Big Game

Fox Broadcasting Co. is asking for at least $7 million per 30-second advertisement during the NFL‘s next Super Bowl on Feb. 9.

A trio of people familiar with the matter told Variety that the asking price for ads represents a bump in starting negotiations with buyers, up from the range CBS initially sought for the Super Bowl this year.

The average price for a 30-second commercial during the NFL title game in February was $6.47 million, according to sports business website Sportico. That average represented an 11% hike from the previous year’s Super Bowl.

The slots for overtime, only the second in Super Bowl history, cost around $4 million, according to Ad Age.

Fox has not publicly disclosed an official price for the next Super Bowl’s TV ads.

Last winter’s Super Bowl drew an average of 120.3 million viewers, the largest audience for a single-network telecast, according to Nielsen.

In an interview Monday with Variety, Fox President of Advertising Sales Jeff Collins alluded to the high viewership for the NFL’s biggest event, saying that “we have never received the Super Bowl in this good of a shape before.”

Mike Seidel, Others Out At The Weather Channel

Meteorologist Mike Seidel is out at The Weather Channel with more than a dozen others due to downsizing that has hit the cable network and its parent company, Allen Media Group.

Several producers including Michelle Birnbaum, a 27-year veteran at the network, also lost their jobs this week. “Layoffs are hard as too many of us know these days,” Birnbaum wrote on her public LinkedIn page. “I am also grateful that this is my first one. Still it does not make it any less difficult. I wish only the best for such an iconic brand as The Weather Channel and those still working very hard there every day.” 

Trish Landers Ragdale, another senior producer, also noted her job departure on her public social media. “They say all good things must come to an end,” she wrote in a Reels video. “After 14 years at The Weather Channel, I had to say goodbye. Definitely not by choice and not expected. At its best and at its worst, I was truly proud to wear the TWC logo.”

Allen Media Group, the media company owned by Byron Allen, is currently undergoing strategic changes that involve a reduction-in-force (RIF) initiative. The goal of these changes is to better position the company for growth. According to a company spokesperson, these adjustments will result in expense and workforce reductions across all divisions of the company.

Byron Allen

Let’s delve into the details:

Syndication Group: This unit includes a roster of reality series. TheGrio: An African American-focused offering where the Managing Editor has apparently been dismissed.

Network Group: Includes The Weather Channel and seven specialty offerings with free ad-supported television (FAST) channel deliverability under the Entertainment Studios banner.

Broadcast Group: Operates under the Allen Media Broadcasting banner. Comprised of 27 stations in 22 markets, including cities like Tucson, Honolulu, Madison (Wisconsin), Eugene (Oregon), and Montgomery (Alabama).

Impact on Over-the-Air Television Stations: Reduction-in-force initiatives have already impacted the over-the-air television stations. For example, KADN-15 in Lafayette, Louisiana, bid farewell to five part-time production staff members. At WTHI-10 in Terre Haute, Indiana, a 15-year sports director is among those affected.

Company Performance: Despite the layoffs, Allen Media Group’s brands continue to perform well. In many areas, their revenue growth has greatly outpaced the market.

Reason for Reduction-in-Force: The company spokesperson stated that these changes are aligned to drive future business opportunities and support growth strategies in the rapidly evolving industry.

In March 2018, the cable network was acquired by media mogul Byron Allen  through his Entertainment Studios to acquire the network from its previous owners, The Blackstone Group, Bain Capital and Comcast/NBCUniversal.  While the terms of the deal weren’t made public, the Hollywood Reporter pegs the deal to be around $300 million. The deal does not include The Weather Channel’s digital properties, such as their websites, and, or their mobile app; those remained the property of IBM at the time and now are held by a private equity firm.

Wichita Radio: Radio Personality Carol Hughes Is Back

One of Wichita’s favorite longtime radio DJs — Carol Hughes, who was laid off from KFDI in 2020 after more than 20 years on the air — is back. 

The Wichita Eagle reports Murfin Media will officially launch its new radio station on Monday, which it’s calling 100.5 The Twister. The FM station, part of Murfin Media’s five-station collection, previously was called My Country 100.5 and focused on artists who performed the red dirt style of country music made popular by artists who got their starts in Oklahoma and Texas. 

Station managers “flipped the switch” on Thursday at noon, said Murfin Media’s general manager John Pohlman, and now, the station is playing throwback hits by artists like Toby Keith, Garth Brooks, George Strait, Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn and more. 

Carol Hughes
On Monday, the station’s three new on-air disc jockeys will start their shifts, and Hughes will have the midday shift, which runs weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Hughes also used to have the midday show at 101.3 KFDI-FM but was among several employees laid off in the height of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. 

Dan Holiday, who for years was on air at 102.1 KZSN-FM before leaving to start a radio meteorology company, is the station’s new program director. He’ll also serve as the “morning drive” host weekday mornings from 6 to 10 a.m. 

Pohlman said that Holiday and Hughes used to compete for listeners when both were afternoon DJs on different stations but are happy to be working together now. 

The station’s afternoon drive DJ, on air weekdays from 3 to 7 p.m., will be Becca Walls, who is based in Nashville and has lots of country music industry connections, Pohlman said. 

“She’s really deeply connected with big hit artists in Nashville,” Pohlman said. “She’ll be up here off and on.” 

Pohlman said that The Twister was Holiday’s brain child. He was tasked with developing a new format when the station realized it needed to make a change. 

“We just weren’t seeing the traction and response on the red dirt music that we were hoping to see,” Pohlman said. ”..Some of the other stations in the market are focusing on new country, and they really had abandoned a lot of the big hit music from the ’80s, ’90s and early 2000s. There’s a big gap in the market for that type of mega hit, big-star artist.” 

Hughes said she plans to keep her other job, which is hosting paranormal podcasts for Real Story Media. Two of them have taken off, she said — Real Ghost Stories Online and The Grave Talks — which together have around 160 million downloads. 

Those who want to hear The Twister can tune into 100.5 FM in the Wichita area or stream the station online at

CRB Unveils Agenda Committee for Next Country Radio Seminar

The Country Radio Broadcasters (CRB) has revealed the 2024–2025 Country Radio Seminar (CRS) Agenda Committee leaders and members who will collaborate to develop the annual three-day convention’s schedule. Here are the key individuals:

Agenda Chair:

Shelley Hargis from BMG/BBR Music Group will continue to lead as the Agenda Chair. Her dedication to the country music industry and CRS is evident, and she is excited to contribute to making this year’s event the best yet. Joining Shelley Hargis are two Co-Vice Chairs:

  • Krista Hayes from BMG/BBR Music Group
  • Jesse Tack from WUBE/Hubbard Cincinnati

Committee Members:

  • Andrea Burtscher (Audacy)
  • Kevin Callahan (Pamal Broadcasting)
  • Samantha DePrez (Curb Records)
  • Paisley Dunn-Banks (Seven Mountains Media)
  • Nick Steele (Audacy)
  • Amy Foxx (Hubbard Broadcasting)
  • Alek Halverson (iHeartMedia)
  • Maverick Johnson (iHeartMedia)
  • Sarah Kay (Rubber City Radio Group/WQMX)
  • Victoria Mason (Warner Music Nashville)
  • Brad Mates (Band & Crew Financial)
  • Nicole Michalik (Beasley Media/WXTU)
  • Ashley Morrison (iHeartMedia)
  • Jordan Pettit (Opry Entertainment Group)
  • Scott Roddy (Audacy)
  • Jennifer Shaffer (Wheelhouse Records/BBR Music Group/BMG)
  • Kathleen Shea (SiriusXM/Pandora)

Digital Music Summit: Brittani Johnson from Big Loud Records will lead the agenda content for the Digital Music Summit, which will return on the first day of CRS 2025. The Digital Music Summit Team also includes:

  • Claire Heinichen (Spotify)
  • Gemma McInturff (Spotify)
  • Vipin Reddy (UMG Nashville)
  • Alina Thompson (SiriusXM/Pandora)

CRS 2025 is scheduled to take place from February 19 to 21.

Bell Media Reports 33 Percent Increase In Digital Revenue

Canada's Bell Media, a division of BCE Inc., continues to face revenue challenges in recent quarters due to various factors impacting the media industry.

Here are the highlights from BCE Inc.'s Q1 2024 earnings report:

Financial Performance: Consolidated adjusted EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization) showed growth of 1.1%, surpassing Q1 plan expectations. The company achieved a 0.8 percentage-point increase in adjusted EBITDA margin, reaching 42.7%, driven by 2.0% lower operating costs. Net earnings were $457 million, down 42.0%. Net earnings attributable to common shareholders stood at $402 million, down 44.6% (equivalent to $0.44 per common share). Adjusted net earnings reached $654 million, resulting in an adjusted EPS of $0.72, down 15.3%1.

Mirko Bibic
Cash Flows and Subscribers: Cash flows from operating activities declined by 9.2% to $1,132 million. Free cash flow remained stable at $85 million. Wireless operating momentum continued, with the highest Q1 mobile phone postpaid net activations since 2018 (up 4.5% to 45,247). Retail Internet net subscriber activations were the best in 17 years (up 13.9% to 31,078), demonstrating customers’ preference for fiber. IPTV net activations increased by 30.0% to 14,1741.

Bell Media: Digital revenue at Bell Media surged by 33%, driven by digital platforms and advertising technology. However, total media revenue and adjusted EBITDA were down year over year due to a one-time retroactive subscriber revenue adjustment in Q1 2023. Notably, this quarter marked the first year-over-year advertising revenue growth since Q4 20221.

Mirko Bibic, President and CEO of BCE and Bell Canada, emphasized the team’s focus on operational efficiencies and balancing growth with profitability.

NFL Network Parts Company With Michael Irwin

Former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin has been let go by the NFL Network after a 15-year tenure as an analyst. Irvin joined the network in 2009 with insights and commentary during his time there, according to The Dallas Morning News.

In 2023, Irvin faced allegations of improper behavior. A woman accused him of making lewd comments during the Super Bowl festivities in Phoenix, Arizona. As a result, the network suspended Irvin from its programming during the 2023 season. The case eventually reached a settlement, and Irvin was reinstated. However, it appears that this reinstatement was temporary. The NFL Network has now decided to part ways with the Hall of Famer1.

Irvin’s absence will undoubtedly be felt by viewers who appreciated his football expertise and charismatic presence. Over the years, he contributed to various shows on the network, including the popular “GameDay Morning” during the season. His departure marks the end of an era.

Additionally, after 21 years, the nightly news show “NFL Total Access” will air its final episode on May 17. The show featured highlights, analysis, and interviews, and has been a staple for football fans. Its hosts, including Kimmi Chex, Mike Yam, David Carr, and Michael Robinson, bid farewell as the network shifts its programming. The network recently implemented a round of layoffs, affecting both on-air personalities and behind-the-scenes staff.

While Irvin continues his work as a guest on FS1’s “Undisputed”, his time with the NFL Network ended.

Landmark Ruling Expected In Google Antitrust Case

The landmark antitrust trial involving Google has reached a critical juncture as the final arguments were presented Friday, reports the NYTimes.. Here are the key points from the trial:

Judge’s Scrutiny: U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, presiding over the case, expressed skepticism about the emergence of a formidable rival search engine to compete with Google. He questioned whether any other company could amass the necessary resources—both financial and data-related—to develop a search engine capable of challenging Google’s dominance. Judge Mehta remarked that under the current market conditions, it seemed “very, very unlikely, if not impossible” for a competitor to emerge1.

Default Search Engines and Contracts: The trial focused on the default search option, particularly on smart devices. Federal prosecutors alleged that Google spends over $20 billion annually to ensure its search engine automatically answers queries on platforms like Apple’s iPhone, Safari, and Mozilla’s Firefox. The money spent on these default search contracts, primarily with Apple, now exceeds Google’s annual investments in improving search quality. The judge pointed out that users often stick with the pre-installed default search engines on their devices, emphasizing the importance of this issue in the trial1.

Google’s Defense: Google’s lead litigator, John Schmidtlein, argued that Google’s success is attributed to superior technology rather than any questionable tactics. He maintained that Google’s dominance results from engineering excellence, not anti-competitive practices. Schmidtlein asserted, “Google is winning because it’s better,” echoing the sentiment of those who testified in court1.

The landmark trial could have far-reaching implications for Google’s position in the search engine market. The judge’s scrutiny and the focus on default search contracts underscore the significance of this case

Nielsen Strikes Deal With SAG-AFTRA Union

Nielsen said that actors’ union SAG-AFTRA has selected Nielsen as its third-party provider of streaming content measurement. reports the union needs the data because its new contract calls for members to get additional pay based on the success of streaming shows.

“New business models require new tools, and that’s why we’ve enlisted Nielsen,” SAG-AFTRA national executive director and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said. “The information they provide will give us the means to cross-check the data streamers give us and ensure employers are fulfilling their contractual obligations to our members.” 

Nielsen’s data will complement first-party data from streaming platforms and serve as a consistent and comparable lens through which the performance of streaming titles across various distribution platforms can be analyzed.  

“The rapid evolution of the media landscape and audience behaviors over the past decade has not only affected how content is consumed and measured, but also greatly impacts the financial models on which the entertainment industry operates,” Nielsen CEO Karthik Rao said. “We are incredibly proud that SAG-AFTRA has chosen Nielsen as the source for objective and consistent audience measurement insights in the streaming space.”

R.I.P.: Gary Shelton, OM For Cumulus Savannah Cluster

Gary Shelton ('69-'24)
Cumulus Media has confirmed that Gary Shelton (known on-air as DJ Rax), Operations Manager, Cumulus Savannah, Program Director for WEAS-FM and WTYB-FM, and On-Air Host, WEAS-FM, died on Wednesday, May 1st, at the age of 49. 

He was with Cumulus Media for almost six years. Eric Mastel, Regional Vice President/Market Manager, Cumulus Savannah released the following statement:

"Today, with heavy hearts, we bid farewell to Gary Shelton, Operations Manager for Cumulus Savannah. Gary (DJ Rax) was a cherished member of our team and a beacon of our organization's strength. His dedication, leadership, and unwavering commitment have left an indelible mark on Cumulus Savannah and the hearts of all who had the privilege to work alongside him. As we mourn his loss, we also celebrate the profound impact he has had on our collective journey. His legacy of excellence will continue to inspire us as we navigate forward, guided by the lessons learned and the spirit Gary infused into our workplace.”

- Eric Mastel, Regional Vice President/Market Manager, Cumulus Savannah

Radio History: May 4

➦In 1886...The graphophone, the  bridge between the earlier gramophone and the modern phonograph, was patented, featuring wax cylinders which conducted music better than Thomas Edison's original tinfoil ones.

It was invented at the Volta Laboratory established by Alexander Graham Bell in Washington, D.C., United States.

Its trademark usage was acquired successively by the Volta Graphophone Company, then the American Graphophone Company, the North American Phonograph Company, and finally by the Columbia Phonograph Company (later to become Columbia Records), all of which either produced or sold Graphophones.

It took five years of research under the directorship of Charles Sumner Tainter and Chichester Bell at the Volta Laboratory to develop and distinguish their machine from Thomas Edison's phonograph.

Among their other innovations, the researchers experimented with lateral recording techniques as early as 1881. Contrary to the vertically-cut grooves of Edison phonographs, the lateral recording method used a cutting stylus that moved from side to side in a "zig zag" pattern across the record. While cylinder phonographs never employed the lateral cutting process commercially, this was later to become the primary method of phonograph disc recording.

Bell and Tainter also developed wax-coated cardboard cylinders for their record cylinders, instead of Edison's cast iron cylinder which was covered with a removable film of tinfoil (the actual recording medium) which was prone to damage during installation or removal.  Tainter received a separate patent for a tube assembly machine to automatically produce the coiled cardboard tubes which served as the foundation for the wax cylinder records. The shift from tinfoil to wax resulted in increased sound fidelity as well as record longevity.

Besides being far easier to handle, the wax recording medium also allowed for lengthier recordings and created superior playback quality. Additionally the Graphophones initially deployed foot treadles to rotate the recordings, then wind-up clockwork drive mechanisms, and finally migrated to electric motors, instead of the manual crank that was used on Edison's phonograph.

➦In 1922...WJR Detroit sign-on as WCX, owned by the Detroit Free Press newspaper, operating at 580 kHz from the Free Press Building. It shared this frequency with WWJ, another station owned by The Detroit News.  In 1925, the Jewett Radio & Phonograph Company of Pontiac, Michigan purchased WCX. Sometime thereafter the station became known as WCX/WJR.  Also by 1925, WWJ was at 850 kHz, and both stations were broadcasting with 5000 watts of power. On November 11, 1928, it moved to 750 as a result of the FRC's General Order 40 (it has broadcast on 950 AM since 1941).

On December 16, 1928, the station moved from the newspaper's offices to its current location in the Fisher Building. It began identifying as "WJR Detroit, from the Golden Tower of the Fisher Building," which soon became famous across the country. Goodwill Stations Inc., formed by George A. Richards (who also owned the Detroit Lions), acquired WJR in 1929, and it became known as "The Goodwill Station" (along with WGAR in Cleveland and KMPC in Los Angeles).

WCX ceased to exist, and WJR acquired all its assets. In 1931, the station raised its power to 10,000 watts; four years later, it would broadcast with 50,000 watts.  On March 29, 1941, WJR moved from 750 to 760 kHz in accordance with the NARBA frequency reallocations. Before North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement of 1941, 750 kHz was a clear channel under 1928 rules.

The Fisher Building, a National Historic site in the City's New Center area, is home to the Fisher Theatre, with the WJR radio antenna

Logo '70s-'80s

WJR became a CBS affiliate on September 29, 1935, after having been affiliated with NBC-Blue. On the same date, WJR's officials formally dedicated the station's new 50,000 W transmitter.

Richards died in May 1951, and in 1964, Goodwill Stations was sold to Capital Cities Communications, which later merged with ABC and later with the Walt Disney Company. Upon the sale, WJR's air slogan became "The Great Voice of the Great Lakes". Also in 1964, WJR acquired full rights to Detroit Tigers baseball games with announcers Ernie Harwell and George Kell. The station became the flagship of the "Tiger Baseball Network." In the late 1960s, WJR also became the flagship station for Detroit Red Wings hockey and Detroit Pistons basketball.

Logo Today

The station is also remembered among many Metro Detroiters for its advertising campaigns and jingles including "W-J-R ... Radio 76 ... Cares About Detroit." Another: "This is America's finest - AM stereo 76." Regularly on his show, J.P. McCarthy would state in a nonchalant way "This is the world's greatest radio station, WJR Detroit," with a manner that made it seem like the most obvious of facts.

WJR signed on an FM outlet in 1948 at 96.3 MHz. The station was known as WJR-FM until 1982 when it became WHYT. It is now WDVD.

Music programming on WJR has been phased out almost entirely over the past two decades. As of June 2014.

WJR was sold with other ABC Radio stations to Citadel Broadcasting in January 2006. Citadel merged with Cumulus Media on September 16, 2011.

➦In 1922...KNX-AM, Los Angeles, California signed-on.

Friday, May 3, 2024

Cumulus Media Reports 1Q 2024 Revenue Drop

Cumulus Media Inc. today announced operating results for the three months ended March 31, 2024. 

Mary G. Berner, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cumulus Media, said, “We are thrilled to have refinanced our capital structure to secure five-year maturities with favorable terms through a successful debt exchange and ABL Facility upsize and extension. This is an excellent outcome for the Company especially given the generally difficult financing environment for legacy media companies. Specifically, we extended maturities to 2029, reduced the principal amount of outstanding debt by approximately $33 million, obtained attractive interest rates, maintained a structure free of financial maintenance covenants, and increased capacity on our ABL Facility by 25%.”

Mary Berner

Berner continued, “The importance of these transactions is underscored by the continuing choppiness in the macroeconomic environment. While our Q1 revenue was in line with guidance and a marked improvement from 2023 trends, it is also reflective of the uncertainty that continues to weigh on advertisers. With the advertising environment still unsettled, these new terms provide us additional time and flexibility to execute against our key business priorities - accelerating digital growth, reducing fixed costs, and continuing to de-lever our balance sheet - each of which is foundational to our ability to build long-term shareholder value." 

Q1 Performance Summary: 

  • Posted total net revenue of $200.1 million, a decline of 2.7%, a sequential improvement versus Q4 2023's year-over-year performance 
  • Generated digital revenue of $34.4 million, an increase of 7.3% year-over-year
  • Digital revenue comprising 17% of total company revenue
  • Digital marketing services growth of 25% driven by the addition of new products and investment in our digital sales capabilities 
  • Recorded first quarter net loss of $14.2 million compared to net loss of $21.5 million in Q1 2023 and Adjusted EBITDA(1) of $8.4 million compared to $10.3 million in Q1 2023
  • Continued to improve operating leverage by reducing fixed costs by approximately $4 million

Updated Capital Structure Activity:

  • Consummated the exchange offer for our 6.75% Senior Notes and First Lien Term Loans due 2026 on May 2, 2024, with favorable terms and aggregate participation of approximately 97% of debt outstanding Total debt reduced by approximately $33 million 
  • Existing debt maturities extended from 2026 to 2029 
  • Interest rate modified on exchanged Notes to 8.00% and exchanged Term Loans to SOFR + 500 basis points
  • Amended ABL Facility, increasing capacity to $125 million from $100 million and extending maturity to 2029
What Cumulus Is Not Reporting

At Cumulus Media’s Annual General Meeting, shareholders made their stance clear by rejecting the current executive compensation. A significant 64.87% of stockholders expressed disapproval of the compensation package for the company’s executives1. This rejection highlights the importance shareholders place on aligning executive pay with company performance.

CEO Mary Berner has been at the center of this discussion. Let’s take a closer look at her compensation and the company’s performance:

Total Compensation for Mary Berner:
  • In 2023, Mary Berner received total annual compensation worth US$4.5 million. This includes a salary of US$1.5 million and other components.
  • Notably, her total compensation is 467% above the industry average for American media companies with similar market capitalizations.
Company Performance: Over the past three years, Cumulus Media’s earnings per share (EPS) declined by 6.7% per year. In the last year, the company’s revenue decreased by 11%2. Given this relatively weak performance, shareholders are understandably concerned about high compensation for the CEO.

Cumulus Gets Debt Extension

Cumulus Media, a major player in the media industry, has successfully secured an extension to repay its debt. Here are the key details:

Debt Amount: Cumulus had approximately $325.7 million in debt set to mature in 2026.

Extension Offer: Through an exchange offer, the company managed to push back the maturity date to 2029. This extension provides Cumulus with much-needed financial breathing room. The exchange offer achieved about 94% of the company’s targeted $346 million reduction in debt. Lenders agreed to eliminate restrictive covenants on the debt, modify certain provisions, and release collateral securing the old notes.

Interest Rate: While Cumulus will pay a higher interest rate (8% compared to the current 6.75%), it gains more time to repay what’s owed.

Strategic Flexibility: By proactively extending the debt maturities, Cumulus aims to enhance its long-term strategic and financial flexibility.

This move allows Cumulus to focus on its operations and navigate the challenges faced by the media landscape. The company’s quarterly earnings report is expected soon, shedding further light on its financial performance2. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask! 

Houston Radio: Sarah Pepper Exits Mornings At Mix 96.5 FM


KHMX-FM host Sarah Pepper announced Thursday that she is resigning from Mix 96.5.

"It breaks my heart to say that I have to leave," Pepper told listeners.  Pepper said her reason for leaving was because of her mom's health. She said the best decision she could make for her and her mom was to move them back to their hometown in Indiana, reports KHOU TV11

"If you've been through this then you know when parents get old, it's really hard to accept the fact that they are getting old, and as hard as it is for me, my mom is not going to get any younger," she said.

Pepper used her resignation announcement to reflect on how much Houston means to her. The popular radio host said she was 28 years old when she first came to Houston for a job interview. She said the minute she landed and had real Tex-Mex food, she was hooked. She called her mom that night and told her they were moving to Houston even before being offered the job.

Sony, Apollo Propose $26B Deal for Paramount Global

Sony Group Corp. and Apollo Global Management Inc. made a $26 billion proposal to buy Paramount Global, the media giant that owns CBS and MTV, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Bloomberg reports the offer was described as a nonbinding expression of interest, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing a preliminary proposal. It would be an all-cash offer for Paramount shares, plus the assumption of debt.

Paramount, which is controlled by Shari Redstone, has been weighing a merger proposal from David Ellison, the head of Skydance Media and son of Oracle Corp.’s co-founder. A period of exclusive talks between Paramount’s board and Ellison is scheduled to end Friday.

That proposed transaction, which involves buying out the controlling Redstone family at a premium and merging Ellison’s company into Paramount, has been criticized by other Paramount investors concerned about dilution of their holdings. Some have urged Paramount to consider other offers.

A special committee of Paramount directors went back to Ellison with a list of additional terms, which he largely matched, according to people familiar with the discussions. Ellison and his investors, which include RedBird Capital Partners, agreed to buy more Paramount nonvoting stock at a premium to sweeten the deal for the company’s other investors. The committee hasn’t yet decided whether to accept the offer.

Nonvoting shares of Paramount jumped more than 14% to $13.99 in New York. The move by Sony and Apollo was reported earlier Thursday by the New York Times.

The approach to Paramount is the latest by Apollo. The alternative asset manager previously suggested buying just the Paramount film studio and then made a tentative bid for the whole company, one the Paramount board didn’t view as complete.

Sony, already a major player in entertainment, is most interested in Paramount’s film and TV library. The deal being contemplated involves the Tokyo-based company acquiring a majority stake in the new venture, with Apollo as an investor. Still, a transaction involving a foreign owner and the consolidation potentially of two large Hollywood studios would likely face regulatory scrutiny.

NBA Targets $76B From New TV Rights Deals

The National Basketball Association is close to signing new long-term broadcasting agreements that would pay the league about $76 billion over 11 years, or three times its current deal, ccording to Bloomberg.

The league has agreed to the general framework of deals with Walt Disney Co. and Inc. that are worth $2.6 billion and $1.8 billion a year, respectively, according to people familiar with the terms. While neither is signed and they remain subject to change, it would be a surprise if either fell apart, said the people, who asked not to be identified since the talks are ongoing.

The league has yet to decide the winner of a third package, a race that is down to Warner Bros. Discovery Inc. and Comcast Corp. Comcast has proposed a deal worth about $2.5 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal, more than double what Warner Bros. pays under its current contract.

The league is going to secure a record payday of close to $7 billion annually thanks to strong demand for live sports and the emergence of new bidders. Like the NFL, the league has split its rights into more packages to maximize its returns. Disney, the parent of ESPN and ABC, and Warner Bros.’ Turner Sports have been the league’s two primary partners, but the NBA has prioritized bringing in a third partner rooted in technology.

Amazon is discussing a package of games for its Prime video platform. That would include some conference finals, though the specifics will depend on the outcome of the negotiations with Comcast and Warner Bros., according to the people. Amazon has been the most aggressive tech company when it comes to pursuing live sports. It already holds rights to Thursday Night Football in the US, as well as tennis and mixed martial arts in various territories.

Disney will air games on its ABC and ESPN networks, as well via streaming, the people said. The company is expected to keep the NBA finals. In the past, Disney has had one of the two conference finals, while Turner aired the other.

Comcast appears to be the favorite for a third piece of the contract, thanks to the size of its offer and ownership of the NBC broadcast network. The league wants to reach as many people as possible, and the audience for cable networks has been contracting. Comcast and would air games on the NBC broadcast network, its suite of cable networks and the Peacock streaming service. NBC last held NBA rights in the 2001-2002 season.

Some industry experts had questioned whether the NBA was seeking too much for its TV rights given that audience for the finals has declined in recent years. The league’s current media deals are worth a total of $24 billion, or over $2.6 billion a year.

Radio In An Evolving Landscape


Nielsen's audience measurement reporting provides comprehensive overviews of the media universe and deep dives into the audio landscape. In its newest report, The Record, Nielsen partners with Edison Research and hones in on the most relevant part of the audio landscape for advertisers: ad-supported audio.

Radio Is The Dominant Source of Ad-Supported Audio Listening

When it comes to the audio sources that advertisers care about - the platforms on which they can reach consumers with messaging - the vast majority of that listening happens on AM/FM radio. 7 out of every 10 minutes spent with ad-supported audio is done listening to AM/FM radio. Consumers spend over 3x as much time with radio than they do with podcasts, and over 6x as much as with ad-supported streaming audio. Radio's dominance goes even further in the car, making up more than 80% of ad-supported audio in-car.  

After looking at the share of time spent with all ad-supported audio, the next step is to delve deeper into the largest source, AM/FM radio, and examine what formats are drawing the most listening. AM/FM delivers engaging content across a variety of spoken word and music formats, each one offering advertisers a chance to reach a different target consumer. The Record also finds that format shares differ by platform preference as well, between all radio listening and AM/FM streams.  

News/Talk (including commercial and non-commercial stations) earns the highest share of total radio listening across OTA and station streams for P18+ at 10.8%. Also landing in the top 5 for total listening are AC, Classic Hits, Country and Classic Rock. When looking at streaming-only listening, News/Talk is number one with a bullet at 21.7%, with AC and Classic Rock still placing in the top 5. All Sports and Urban AC/R&B also show up strong among AM/FM streams. 

5/3 WAKE-UP CALL: Police Swarm UCLA, Hundreds Arrested

Police forcibly removed scores of defiant pro-Palestinian protesters at several colleges on Thursday, including taking down an encampment at UCLA in a jarring scene that underscored the heightened chaos that has erupted at universities this week. In the pre-dawn hours, helmeted police swarmed a tent city set up at the University of California in Los Angeles, using flash bangs and riot gear to push through lines of protesters who linked arms in a futile attempt to halt their advance. Los Angeles police said on social media that 210 people were arrested at UCLA, and hundreds of arrests were made at other universities overnight and on Thursday. "I'm a student here," one UCLA protester told cameras as he was led away, his hands bound. "Please don't fail us. Don't fail us." Hours later, the student, who would only give his first name as Ryan, was back on campus and vowed he would not stop fighting.

➤PROTESTORS REQUESTED VEGAN, GLUTEN-FREE FOOD: UCLA protestors requested vegan, gluten-free food . . . Participants in the ongoing “Palestine Solidarity Encampment” at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) have reportedly asked supporters to bring “vegan” and “gluten-free” food, whie warning “no nuts” and “no bananas.” The request list was obtained by Fox News’ Bill Melugin, and includes a variety of other supplies, including objects for use in clashes with counter-demonstrators and police, such as “gas masks,” “shields,” and “skater helmets.”

➤TIME TO CLEAN-UP: Work crews began removing tents, wood and other debris after officers forcibly removed a pro-Palestinian encampment in one of the most violent episodes since college demonstrations began last month. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protestors were arrested, a California Highway Patrol officer told a local ABC affiliate. How many were affiliated with UCLA couldn’t be determined. At Columbia University, officials closed libraries, dining halls and the student center and asked the NYPD to stay on campus through graduation. Clashes at both schools have drawn national attention as students show solidarity with Gazans. Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks on Israel sparked the war in the enclave. Universities have struggled to balance free expression with maintaining order and combating inflammatory and antisemitic rhetoric from some demonstrators.

➤OBAMA STAFFER FEELS 'BETRAYED' BY BIDEN:  Philip Martin, a former Obama-Biden administration staffer, says he feels betrayed by President Joe Biden’s “unconditional support” for Israel as it continues its attack in Gaza, almost seven months after the terrorist group Hamas killed 1,200 people in Israel and took 250 hostages. Martin, a former director in the U.S. Department of Education, told USA TODAY he’d joined the Obama campaign in 2008 because he was furious that the Bush administration had “hijacked" the country's pain to justify killing civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.But now, he says Biden is having a similar effect with his Israel foreign policy. "Seeing the Biden administration provide unconditional support to the Israeli war machine that is killing, displacing, starving, and otherwise terrorizing Palestinian civilians makes me just as furious and feels like a betrayal,” he said.

➤COHEN 'DESPONDENT' OVER NOT GETTING JOB WITH TRUMP ADMIN: Michael Cohen was “despondent” when he learned he wasn’t getting a job in the Trump administration, a former lawyer for Stormy Daniels said. Keith Davidson, testifying for a second day in Donald Trump’s New York hush-money trial, said he got a call from the one-time personal attorney for the former president in December 2016. “I thought he was going to kill himself,” Davidson said of Cohen. Trump has previously tried to discredit Cohen, calling him a liar and a bad lawyer. Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover up the payment to Daniels. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee has denied any wrongdoing. The trial resumes tomorrow.

TV Ratings: 'The Five’ Keeps Outperforming Primetime

When Tucker Carlson was booted from Fox News last year, he took his massive prime time ratings with him. But according to Mediaite, an overlooked story is that in the final years of his reign he often traded ratings wins with a show that aired in the afternoons, a show that has now grown into a consistent behemoth of a ratings winner: The Five.

The Five features Fox News hosts Greg Gutfeld, Jesse Watters, Dana Perino, and Jeanine Pirro and rotating co-hosts Jessica Tarlov and Harold Ford Jr. The 5 p.m. show is the perfect place to find passionate and sometimes tense and loud debates on everything from politics to sports to culture.

In the first quarter of 2024, The Five averaged more than three million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. For context, Fox’s prime time shows, which top competitors MSNBC and CNN, don’t quite reach those numbers. Jesse Watters Primetime averaged 2.79 million viewers, Hannity averaged 2.4 million, and The Ingraham Angle averaged 2.2 million viewers.

Airing at 5 p.m. is typically not supposed to bring in the kind of ratings that beat a network’s prime time lineup, but The Five has defied the odds in that respect. The show became the first non-prime time program to break into the cable news top 10 for 10 consecutive quarters.

📺Among Total Viewers

  1. The Five — Fox News (3,027,000)
  2. Jesse Watters Primetime — Fox News (2,570,000)
  3. Hannity — Fox News (2,217,000)
  4. Gutfeld! — Fox News (2,083,000)
  5. Special Report with Bret Baier — Fox News (2,056,000)
  6. The Ingraham Angle — Fox News (2,013,000)
  7. Deadline: White House — MSNBC (1,678,000)
  8. Outnumbered — Fox News (1,612,000)
  9. The Beat with Ari Melber — MSNBC (1,585,000)
  10. Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell — MSNBC (1,579,000)
  11. America’s Newsroom — Fox News (1,542,000)
  12. The Faulkner Focus — Fox News (1,510,000)
  13. Your World with Neil Cavuto — Fox News (1,481,000)
  14. The Story — Fox News (1,469,000)
  15. All in with Chris Hayes – MSNBC – (1,451,000)

📺Among Adults 25-54

  1. Gutfeld! — Fox News (295,000)
  2. The Five — Fox News (262,000)
  3. Jesse Watters Primetime — Fox News (244,000)
  4. Hannity — Fox News (240,000)
  5. The Ingraham Angle — Fox News (198,000)
  6. Outnumbered — Fox News (197,000)
  7. Special Report with Bret Baier — Fox News (196,000)
  8. The Faulkner Focus — Fox News (188,000)
  9. America’s Newsroom — Fox News (186,000)
  10. Fox News at Night — Fox News (183,000)
  11. Fox & Friends Saturday — Fox News (167,000)
  12. America Reports — Fox News (163,000)
  13. The Story — Fox News (162,000)
  14. Fox & Friends Sunday — Fox News (161,000)
  15. Your World with Neil Cavuto — Fox News (160,000