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By Thomas R. Ray, III CPBE, AMD, DRB
Tom Ray Consulting
NEW YORK — You may have seen my warning in Friday’s edition regarding a PSA that was released by the Ad Council, under the auspices of FEMA, extolling the virtues of the emergency alerts the public can now receive on their cell phones. A great idea. Worthy of getting the word out. Even if the PSA promotes a service available on cell phones.
Only one problem. The PSAs (there are several, and they are also available for television) use the EAS two-tone alert tone as part of the message.
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai Addresses Missouri Broadcasters Association on AM Revitalization. FCC commissioner Ajit Pai wasn’t physically at the Missouri Broadcasters Association convention over the weekend but he delivered an opening statement before a panel discussion about revitalization of the AM band. Referencing the recent tornados in Oklahoma and the tornado that devastated Joplin, Missouri two years ago, Pai pointed to Zimmer Radio’s KZRG, Joplin as an AM outlet that kept Joplin residents informed when most other forms over communications – cell phones and the internet – were knocked out by the power loss to the region. Pai stated, “In the wake of the Joplin tornado, when mobile phone service and the Internet were all but wiped out, broadcasters led by KZRG-AM 1310 provided around-the-clock, uninterrupted coverage for nine consecutive days. KZRG told residents how to get disaster relief and connected people in need with people who could help. The residents of Moore, Oklahoma have a long road ahead of them, but if they need inspiration for how to rally and recover, they can look to Joplin as a model.” As for the future of AM, Pai said, “But AM radio plays an important role in towns throughout the United States every single day. AM stations cover local politics and host debates about local issues. They cover community events, such as high school sports. And they reach out to all parts of society, with programming targeted at minorities, people who speak foreign languages, and the elderly.” Pai reiterated his move to address the AM band in Washington, DC, “I proposed last year that the FCC launch an AM Radio Revitalization Initiative. The last time the FCC comprehensively reviewed its AM radio rules was over two decades ago. I think it’s time we do so again. Since I made this proposal, I’ve been amazed by the outpouring of support from broadcasters across the country. They’ve shared many ideas with me for improving the AM band, and I know that you’ll be discussing some of them today. Such as: How can the FCC make it easier for AM broadcasters to obtain an FM translator? Should we eliminate the AM ratchet rule? Should we replace the current minimum efficiency standard with a minimum radiation standard? Should we modify community of coverage standards? And what about the long-term future of the band? Should our goal be to transition stations to all-digital? Or are there other options we need to think about? These are just a few of the questions that I hope you’ll address during today’s panel.”
Tom Ray’s Professional Opinion: Do NOT Air the FEMA/Ad Council PSA! You may have seen TALKERS technical editor and noted engineering consultant Tom Ray‘s warning in this past Friday’s edition of TALKERS (5/31) regarding a PSA that was released by the Ad Council, under the auspices of FEMA, extolling the virtues of the emergency alerts the public can now receive on their cell phones. A great idea. Worthy of getting the word out. Even if the PSA promotes a service available on cell phones. Only one problem. The PSAs (there are several, and they are also available for television) use the EAS two-tone alert tone as part of the message. Why is this a problem? According to Ray who writes in a scathing column posted today (6/3), “Well, FCC regulation 11.45 states that the EAS codes and the EAS two-tone alert cannot be used for any purpose unless directly associated with an actual EAS message or an EAS test.” Ray continues, “I believe the FCC fine for using the tone outside an EAS message starts around $10,000. I, along with numerous other persons around the country, sent out the alert NOT to air this PSA. I even sent notes to the SBE and the NAB. Around 4:00 pm on Friday, May 31, a notice was released by the FCC granting FEMA a waiver for one year to utilize the EAS two tone alert in their PSA’s. It is apparently OK to air this PSA. I’m wondering how you prove it is the one produced by FEMA and is legal. I then received an email from someone at FEMA that stated, ‘See, we aren’t off our rockers. This notice was supposed to come out before the release of the PSA.’ Three letters came to mind. W. T. F.” To read Tom Ray’s entire column, click here.
Brent Seltzer and Meg McDonald Named “Official Greeters” of Talkers New York 2013. TALKERS magazine is pleased to announce that the Los Angeles-based husband and wife team of Brent Seltzer and Meg McDonald have been named to serve as the “Official Greeters” of the forthcoming Talkers New York 2013 set this week for Thursday, June 6 in the Big Apple. In the words of TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison, “Brent and Meg are one of the most colorful and dynamic couples in the radio business today and the contributions they made to the past two California installments of the TALKERS conference in 2012 and 2011 proved to be invaluable. We are absolutely delighted that they will be joining us in New York City Thursday for the big annual event and serving in this key role.” Brent Seltzer is a legendary radio journalist/talent whose roots go back to the golden era of album rock radio when he established himself as one of the nation’s most successful and creative “rock ‘n’ roll radio newsmen.” He was heard on such storied stations as KMET, KNX, KZLA and KMPC, Los Angeles and KGB, San Diego among others. A ubiquitous figure in the voice-over field since then, Brent is the main voice and writer of the widely heralded, short-form feature “Brent Seltzer: Still at Large” heard on XM Satellite Radio, Podjockey, and WSRO, Santa Rosa. Meg McDonald APR, who serves as co-writer and co-performer on “Still at Large,” is the multi-award winning president and founder of McDonald Media Services, one of the premiere public relations firms on the West Coast for the past three-plus decades. The beautiful and gorgeous-voiced daughter of popular character actress Elisabeth Fraser (“The Phil Silvers Show”) and famous film and TV dancer Ray McDonald, Meg has been in show business and media since birth. According to Harrison, “Brent and Meg will be playing a significant role in the lineup of TalkersRadio – but we’ll save that story for later in the summer.” The role of “Official Greeters” at the TALKERS conference consists of being the liaison between the directors of the conference and its attendees providing a vital link in keeping everything moving smoothly along its very tight and power-packed schedule.
WBT, Charlotte Drops Doc Washburn’s Evening Show. Telling the Charlotte Observer that the program wasn’t cost-effective, program director Jason Furst announces that Doc Washburn’s 9:00 pm to 1:00 am talk show is being replaced by Premiere Networks nationally syndicated “America Now with Andy Dean.” Washburn will remain a regular fill-in host on the station.
Clear Channel Announces Debt Restructure Terms. The bond exchange that Clear Channel announced back in mid-May has been completed and the terms are as follows. A new $5 billion Term Loan D has been created as Term Loan B lenders and/or Term Loan C lenders agree to push the maturity of a portion of their loans due in 2016 to January 30, 2019. The company states that “approximately $6.7 billion in aggregate principal amount of term loans was submitted for extension in the offer and, accordingly, the amount of each lender’s term loans that was accepted for extension was reduced by a proration factor of approximately 74.6808%.” Upon the closing of the offer, CCU’s cash flow credit facility consisted of an approximately $3 billion Term Loan B facility which matures on January 30, 2016, an approximately $198.2 million Term Loan C facility which matures on January 30, 2016 and a $5 billion Term Loan D facility which matures on January 30, 2019. Concurrently with the closing of the offer, CCU entered into an amendment to the agreement governing its cash flow credit facility, which permits CCU to make AHYDO catch-up payments beginning in May 2018 with respect to the new Term Loan D facility and any notes issued in connection with CCU’s previously announced exchange offer with respect to its outstanding 10.75% Senior Cash Pay Notes due 2016 and 11.00%/11.75% Senior Toggle Notes due 2016. The new Term Loan D facility has the same security and guarantee package as the outstanding Term Loans B and C and borrowings under the new Term Loan D facility bear interest at a rate equal to, at CCU’s option, adjusted LIBOR plus 6.75% or a base rate plus 5.75%.
WGN, Chicago Boasts Digital Ratings Peak. Tribune’s WGN, Chicago reports the station achieved its highest digital ratings ever Wednesday, May 29 during its coverage of the Chicago Blackhawks 2013 Western Conference Semifinals Game 7 defeat of the Detroit Red Wings. The historic game registered 22,917 simultaneous digital listeners at 10:00 pm, the peak of the thrilling overtime playoff victory by the Blackhawks. WGNRadio.com shattered its previous streaming record of 11,771 recorded on May 27, 2013 and the next closest was 10,318 during the Blackhawks Stanley Cup run on June 2, 2010. The station says it will continue to broadcast on all of its digital platforms as it covers the 2013 NHL Western Conference Final featuring the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings.
WPRO, Providence Takes Page from the Papers. Cumulus Media’s “Newstalk 630 AM and 99.7 FM” WPRO, Providence and its website 630WPRO.com, begins a regular column called “Your Voice, Your Turn,” an op-ed platform where “Rhode Island’s most intriguing voices will share their opinions with the people of the Ocean State.” The first column in this ongoing series features the state’s Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Deborah A. Gist with a piece titled, “The Truth About Testing.” WPRO program director Craig Schwalb states, “As Commissioner of Education, Ms. Gist’s voice is prominent in, and important to, Rhode Island which makes her the perfect choice to launch the ‘Your Voice, Your Turn’ Op-Ed platform on 630wpro.com.” The station says it “looks forward to showcasing the views of other notable Rhode Islanders on a regular basis.”
Mike Kinosian, Managing Editor
RadioInfo and Talkers
LOS ANGELES — Chalk it up to misreading the economic tealeaves or perhaps to good old-fashioned avarice, but several radio groups have fallen victim to the, “(S)he who has the most toys, wins” hypothesis.
Administer sodium pentothal to a cross-section of radio managers and the overwhelming majority will vociferously state that, owing to its cookie-cutter nature and mounting pressure to deliver grossly unrealistic percentages to the bottom line, the business is no longer fun. Countless executives at high-billing, strong ratings performing outlets have been unduly placed in the gut-wrenching position of laying off personnel and making other vital cutbacks – forced to share the load of paying for what could be considered out-of-control acquisition sins at the corporate level.