WLS, Chicago Receives $44k Notice of Apparent Liability for Improper Ad Content. The Cumulus Media news/talk station admitted to airing content during the spring of 2009 paid for by Workers Independent News in the form of 90-second spots, 15-second promotional announcements and several long-form programs. The issue was whether the content was properly identified as sponsored content. (The violation took place while WLS was still owned and operated by Citadel Broadcasting, which does not alleviate Cumulus of responsibility.) The text cited here by the commission illustrates the issue. In this newsy-sounding segment listeners heard: “Workers Independent News, I’m Doug Cunningham. As Federal Economic Stimulus dollars flow to Chicago, State Representative Joe Lyons says it’s more critical than ever that the State put together a capital bill to take maximum advantage of the stimulus to put Chicago back to work.” Cumulus argued the “Workers Independent News” phrase was sufficient to identify the content as paid for. The FCC disagreed saying, “Since the subject matter of the 11 announcements at issue related to a state legislative issue impacting the local economy of Chicago, it would not have been apparent to listeners from the announcements themselves that they were sponsored programming, even if commercial programming preceded and succeeded the 11spots. In addition, the name ‘Workers Independent News,’ content, format and duration of the announcements were not consistent with typical commercial matter.” The FCC levied a $4,000 fine for each of the 11 instances for a grand total of $44,000.
Beasley Broadcast Group Announces Net Income Gain. The news for Beasley was a mixed bag. During the fourth quarter of 2011 revenue was down by $1.8 million compared to the same quarter one year ago but a drop in interest expense allowed the company to realize a 1.7% gain in net income. In a statement, chairman and CEO George Beasley said, “Radio advertising remained relatively stable despite widespread economic concerns and volatility in the capital markets throughout the year. Importantly, during the fourth quarter and throughout 2011, we continued to make progress across the organization in enhancing operating efficiencies and maintaining a disciplined approach to spending. Overall, the industry recorded seven consecutive quarters of growth through the third quarter of 2011 which underscores our belief that radio remains both resilient and highly relevant in a digital world.” For Beasley, and most other radio operators for that matter, national business was the problem with a drop of almost 24%.
Talk Host Doc Thompson Out at WRVA, Richmond. The talk host who, until very recently was doing PM drive at Clear Channel’s WRVA, Richmond and the late morning show at the company’s WLW, Cincinnati, is not working at either after announcing Friday evening on his Facebook page he’s off WRVA. Thompson was let go from WLW – while on his honeymoon – as that station made changes to its lineup and now, eight days later, he loses his Richmond gig. Thompson is positive, though, writing: “I am no longer hosting my Richmond show. In the world of radio broadcasting… sometimes these things just happen. As I said earlier in the week it will all work out for the best and I am blessed.” Thompson and his new bride – WHIO-TV, Dayton reporter Yuna Lee – recently relocated to Ohio. They met while both working in Richmond and Lee found a reporter’s job in Ohio so the two could make the move to be closer to WLW.
Jason Jackson New Midday Host at WAXY, Miami. The Lincoln Financial Media sports talk station announces longtime Miami sports personality Jason Jackson hosts the new 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm daily program on WAXY, Miami. Jackson is known in the market for his work at WSVN-TV and on Sun Sports coverage of the NBA’s Miami Heat in which he hosts pre-game, halftime and post-game shows as well as provides courtside analysis. Prior to his work with the Heat he worked for ESPN. WAXY program director Marc Hochman says, “Adding Jason Jackson to the lineup solidifies 790 The Ticket’s standing as the destination for outstanding sports talk radio in South Florida. Jason adds more strength to our existing lineup and bolsters our commitment to the highest quality of sports talk radio in South Florida.” Jackson takes over for “The Sports Brothers” – Ed Freeman and Jeff Fox.
Controversial Memphis Host Thaddeus Matthews Returns to Air After Battle with Licensee. Talk host and local political lightning rod Thaddeus Matthews leases WPLX, Memphis from owner Bill Pollack and Matthews’ recent, news-making on-air spat with Republican congressional candidate Charlotte Bergman was the incident that caused Pollack to shut off the transmitter on the afternoon of February 1. Matthews returned to the air Friday, February 2 after getting a judge to issue a temporary restraining order to force Pollack to turn the transmitter back on. The back story went viral via YouTube but here it is in a nutshell: Matthews was interviewing African-American Republican candidate Bergman on his show. When she didn’t answer questions to his liking, he lashed out at her in a raw, epithet-filled tirade and finally refused to shake her hand for fear her “whiteness might rub off” on him. WPLX is positioned as a blues station but Matthews’ talk show airs every afternoon. Matthews tells WHBQ-TV, Memphis his LMA includes and option to buy the station which he intends to do.