Tribune Gets FCC Cross-Ownership Waivers; Chicago Market Granted Permanent Waiver. The Federal Communications Commission granted the cross-ownership waivers in five markets that the media company needs to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. In a statement, Tribune CEO Eddy Hartenstein says, “We are extremely pleased with today’s action by the FCC. This decision will enable the company to continue moving forward toward emergence from Chapter 11, a process we expect to complete over the course of the next several weeks.” The commission granted a permanent waiver in Chicago while allowing one-year waivers in Los Angeles, New York, South Florida and Hartford. Technically, the one-year waivers in the four markets cited mean Tribune will have to sell either its newspaper or broadcast outlets there within the year but the FCC is working on loosening the restrictions against cross-ownership in the top 20 media markets and industry observers seem to believe the change will take effect soon. The permanent waiver in Chicago means Tribune is not necessarily forced to sell a media outlet – many suspected its lone radio property news/talk WGN would be the first to go on the block. However, what Tribune’s plans are after it exits bankruptcy are unknown and a sale of WGN, Chicago and/or any of its newspaper and TV holdings are a distinct possibility.
Arbitron Releases Report Clearly Showing Increase in Radio Listenership During Super Storm Sandy. Radio listening data released by Arbitron for the New York Metro during hurricane Sandy shows how strong radio listening is during a natural disaster and the ability for radio to keep communities informed even when the power goes out. The report provides data for the entire New York Metro as well as a breakout of counties hardest hit by the storm as it made landfall during the evening of Monday, October 29. It shows a 70% general increase in listening as the storm hit the coast and an even greater percentage of increase along the coastal communities hardest hit. When the lights went out, when TV and desktop PCs were no longer available, many New York area residents turned on their battery powered radios. Many radio stations along the path of the storm, regardless of their regular format, revamped their programming to provide their listeners with weather updates, news and emergency information. In the wake of the storm, radio remained an information lifeline to the residents of New York, particularly in the coastal areas of the market. Average radio listening on Tuesday, October 30 in New York was 1,525,500 persons in any given quarter hour between 6:00 am and 12:00 midnight, up 8% from 1,406,700 persons 6-plus the week before. The average audience in the NY coastal communities (Monmouth, Fairfield SN, Nassau-Suffolk, Staten Island and Middlesex) totaled 670,200 on the Tuesday (6a-Mid) following landfall (10/30) which is 38% higher than the average of all Tuesdays year to date. The Average in the NY coastal communities (Monmouth, Fairfield SN, Nassau-Suffolk, Staten Island and Middlesex) totaled 651,200 on the Wednesday (6a-Mid) following landfall (10/31) which is 35% higher than the average of all Wednesdays year to date. For full details on this important story click here.
Clear Channel Ends FM Simulcast on KOGO, San Diego. The former country outlet “U.S. 95.7” flipped to a simulcast of Clear Channel’s news/talk KOGO, San Diego a year ago. Now, that ends with the FM side going all Christmas music and the word on the street is that after the holidays the station will return to a music format of some sort. Adding an FM signal to a news/talk station – especially a venerable one such as KOGO – generally gives the station a ratings boost. It appears that hasn’t been the case with KOGO and Clear Channel San Diego management must see an opening in the music landscape it’s willing to target. We’ll see where it goes after the holidays.
KSCJ, Sioux City Talk Host Randy Renshaw Retires. Talk show host and newsman Randy Renshaw retires from his long-time gig at Powell Broadcasting’s KSCJ, Sioux City, Iowa. Renshaw has been with the station twice – the first time back in 1983. He tells the Sioux City Journal that turning 62 on November 18 was a good reason to end his radio career and that he’d been contemplating retirement since age 55. In addition to news duties, Renshaw hosted the 8:00 am to 11:00 am “Open Line” program. With his departure, Mark Hahn takes over hosting the local talk show.
How to Get a Radio Brand-Building Website. TALKERS columnist and noted digital radio consultant Chris Miller serves up a new article offering powerful tips on how radio web designers can create sites that contribute toward building their station’s or program’s brand without distracting from it or diluting it. He covers the process on four basic but vital fronts: layout, content, graphics and interaction. Miller asks, “What’s the difference between your site and Google, YouTube and Facebook?” He states, “Those sites have a clear reason for being, and clean, well-organized content.” He strongly suggests, “Get your page looking more Facebookish, or YouTubeEsque, and you’ll go a long way toward building your website numbers.” Miller offers some nuts-and-bolts actions to get more people back more often and clicking on more content. Read the entire article here.
Opinion: Talk Radio Must Expand Beyond Politics to Survive. Nationally syndicated talk show host Doug Stephan responds to the effects of the Rush Limbaugh-Sandra Fluke incident and the recent news involving Dial Global and its citing Limbaugh’s comments in a SEC filing. Stephan says the March incident has cost him “hundreds of thousands of dollars” and that the industry must do a better job of convincing agencies and advertisers that all talk radio should not be lumped together. Read Stephan’s piece here.
Filling in This Week. At Tribune’s WGN, Chicago, longtime St. Louis radio veteran and Chicago native JC Corcoran fills in on Garry Meier‘s PM drive slot on the station on Wednesday and Thursday. He’ll also sub for WGN’s Mike McConnell on Monday, November 26. Corcoran can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lotus Communications Donates $50,000 to Los Angeles Boys and Girls Club. The cash donated to the Los Angeles Boys and Girls Club was not a fundraiser of contributions from listeners but a gift from Spanish sports talk KWKW, Los Angeles owner Lotus Communications. The station recently launched a major partnership with the Los Angeles Boys & Girls Club. After KWKW’s community service personnel learned that the Club was in desperate need of funds in order to provide after school programs, station management decided to step in with a $50,000 check. The money wasn’t raised by listeners. Station president James Kalmenson decided to make a difference in the community KWKW serves by adding a line item to its operating budget. “One of the founding principles of our company has been to be of service to our community. As a result of the donation, the Los Angeles Boys & Girls Club was able to greatly expand its services for the local community. Word quickly spread and the attendance immediately tripled and continues to thrive today.” KWKW has also launched a PSA campaign this month that will continue throughout 2013. Additionally, the station will sponsor the Club’s annual Thanksgiving Dinner, which typically feeds more than 300 people. In December, KWKW will donate 500 toys to the Club’s Christmas Toy Drive. They’ll also broadcast live at the Club on December 7 to encourage people to drop off toys, all of which go to children ages 2-16 at the Club’s annual Christmas event. KWKW personalities Armando Aguayo, Mario Amaya, Halim Zadat and Erika Garza will attend both the Thanksgiving and Christmas events. Pictured here with kids from the club are KWKW PD/OM Juan Rodriguez (l) and KWKW president James Kalmenson (r).