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Two Big Days for Talk Radio in the Big Apple. Today (6/19) kicks off a big couple of days for talk radio in New York City starting with the ninth annual installment of “Talk Radio Day at the United Nations” – the massive radio row at the iconic headquarters of the World Organization — produced by TALKERS magazine in association with the Talk Radio News Service and the United Nations Foundation. Tomorrow is the power-packed day of “Talkers New York 2014” — the 17th annual installment of the talk media industry’s longest running and most important national convention. More than 25 hosts, shows and networks are participating in the United Nations initiative which is already underway at the time of this posting. They are interviewing international policy experts, ambassadors, newsmakers and UN department leaders. Tomorrow, more than 55 industry leaders will address hundreds of attendees from radio stations, networks and broadcast-oriented organizations from across the country in an anticipated event that was been sold-out two weeks in advance. Look for full coverage of both exciting events right here in the days ahead. Meanwhile, from today’s broadcasts from the United Nations, pictured here is Fox News Radio personality Alan Colmes (left) interviews UN deputy general secretary Jan Eliasson (right).
KARN-FM, Little Rock Announces New Programming Lineup. Arkansas news/talker KARN-FM, Little Rock “Newsradio 102.9” has new morning drive and afternoon programming as the Cumulus Media station names Arkansas native Kevin Miller morning drive host and Doc Washburn afternoon talk personality. The station says Miller is a longtime market veteran who has worked at such stations as adult contemporary KURB “B98.5” and CHR KLAL “Alice 107.7.” Beginning Monday, July 7, Doc Washburn begins hosting the 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm program. Washburn comes to Little Rock from his most recent gig at Greater Media’s WBT-AM/FM, Charlotte. He’s also worked in the Savannah, Georgia; Panama City and Fort Walton Beach, Florida markets. KARN-FM program director Adam Thomas states, “Kevin and Doc bring passion, experience and a love of local radio to mornings and afternoons on Arkansas’ legendary news radio station.”
Edison Research: Broadcast Radio Grabs 52% of Audio Listening. According to a new study of 2,096 Americans ages 13+ that the company calls the “Share of Ear” measurement, Americans spend more than four hours per day listening to audio from all sources and AM/FM broadcast audio (heard on all of its platforms) has a 52% audience share of listening. The study asked the panel about its audio listening habits including radio, internet delivered radio, pure-play digital services, and consumers’ own music collections. The study is based on a 24-hour listening diary recorded last month. Edison Research president Larry Rosin comments, “Edison’s ‘Share of Ear’ study is a response to the many requests from all corners of the audio industry and investment community for ‘total share of everything’ figures that did not previously exist. Edison reported last September that America is in a ‘golden age of audio consumption.’ Seeing that Americans spend roughly a fourth of their waking day listening to some sort of audio confirms it.”
Alpha Media’s Portland Stations to Use Clip Interactive Technology. Calling it a first for the Portland, Oregon market, Alpha Media announces it signs on with Clip Interactive to have the company’s technology allow listeners to be “interactive” with its six stations that include: talk KUFO-AM “Freedom 970,” CHR KBFF “Live 95.5,” country KUPL “98.7 The Bull,” sports talk KXTG-AM “750 The Game,” news/talk KXL “FM News 101” and triple A KINK. The station says that new apps loaded with the Clip technology have been pushed out and that with “Clip Interac-tive’s technology, these apps now enable our listeners to access a live feed of what’s playing, listen to the stations streams and browse the content aired in the past hour. Users can also interact with what they hear by rating music, entering contests, accessing special offers and more.” Alpha SVP and market manager Milt McConnell adds, “Clip Interactive has been an important partner of Alpha Broadcasting and we are excited to implement their new technology, which greatly benefits our listeners, advertisers and other partner companies. These apps will enable us to further engage our listener base while quantifying the effectiveness of our advertisers’ campaigns.”
NJBA Convention Report. Media consultant Holland Cooke reports from Atlantic City where the New Jersey Broadcasters Association just wrapped its annual convention. Among the topics covered: The Great Debate – Internet Pure-Plays versus AM/FM Broadcasters; the still-high consumption of audio content in a multi-media universe; and selling audio content in the current era. Cooke reports that while Connoisseur chief Jeff Warshaw admits that “radio hasn’t been its own best friend lately,” many radio people believe that digital audio services are hot not necessarily because they are good, but because they exist on the “shiny new object” that is the smartphone or tablet, thereby making them de facto “cool.” Read more of Holland Cooke’s NJBA report here.
Getting the First Look. KQTH, Tucson morning drive personality Jon Justice (pictured at left wearing lanyard) stands outside the Nogales Border Patrol facility where child immigrants are being quartered. Justice is credited with breaking the story that went national after receiving a tip from insiders about the conditions in which the children were being kept. Here, Justice is part of the first group of media allowed to tour the facility. TALKERS hears that it was Justice’s tenacity in requesting the media be allowed to see the site that, in part, led to the Border Patrol opening the facility to the media.
Obama Administration’s Iraq Policy, Washington Redskins Decision, Global Warming Debate, Benghazi Suspect Testimony, Primary Races/State of the GOP, IRS Scandal/Missing Lerner Emails and World Cup Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (6/18). The political turmoil in Iraq and the Obama Administration’s military policy there; the cancellation of the Washington Redskins’ trademark and debate over the team’s name; the ongoing discussion over man-made climate change and proposals to limit carbon emissions; the Benghazi suspect’s story about the attack on the U.S. consulate; mid-term primary races and the state of the GOP; the missing emails from Lois Lerner and the IRS scandal; and World Cup action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
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.”