2017 NAB Show: Cars, Congrats, and Commish #1. Media consultant Holland Cooke is in Las Vegas covering the 2017 NAB Show for TALKERS magazine. In today’s report, Cooke covers yesterday’s Radio Luncheon where attendees heard Ford Motor Company’s Scott Burnell speak and witnessed Premiere Networks’ Delilah inducted into the NAB Hall of Fame. Also yesterday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai delivered the keynote address and reassured attendees that he remains “‘fundamentally optimistic about the future of broadcasting’ because of the ‘localism, diversity, and public service’ that distinguishes diligent broadcasters.” Read Cooke’s entire report here.
Hannity Plans Legal Action Against Debbie Schlussel. On his Fox News Channel program last night (4/25), Sean Hannity led off the program by addressing the allegations being directed against him by attorney and conservative media figure Debbie Schlussel. Detroit-based Schlussel stated during an interview on KFAQ, Tulsa’s Pat Campbell program that Hannity propositioned her after a book signing event in Detroit about a decade ago and that, after she rebuffed his advances, she was blacklisted from being a guest on Fox News Channel. Last night, Hannity said, “I have to start tonight by addressing a well-orchestrated effort by the intolerant left in this country that is designed to silence every conservative voice and by any means necessary. Now, I’m speaking out tonight so that you, our audience, will understand what is really happening and what is at stake when it comes to freedom of speech in this country.” He said in a prepared statement that he is planning legal action against Schlussel. “This individual is a serial harasser who has been lying about me for well over a decade. The individual has a history of making provably false statements against me in an effort to slander, smear and besmirch my reputation. The individual has not just slandered me over the years, but many people who this individual disagrees with.” Schlussel told NBC News she doesn’t believe Hannity will sue because, “If he did, it could spur other people to come forward and he wouldn’t want that.” NBC News notes that Schlussel is a polarizing media figure, having suggested that President Barack Obama is a “secret Muslim” and that death camps in occupied Poland during World War II were run by Poles and not Germans. Read the NBC News piece here.
Emmis to Sell $80 Million in Assets. Indianapolis-based Emmis Communications will be a different company in July of 2018. The Indianapolis Business Journal reports that under pressure from lenders, the company will shed $80 million worth of its radio assets in order to pay down debt. This is the result of recently renegotiated terms with lenders JPMorgan Chase Bank and Bank of New York Mellon. Emmis CFO Ryan Hornaday tells the IBJ, “We’re confident that we can achieve the $80 million [divestiture] without selling a substantial portion of the portfolio. We do still have some very desirable assets.” The company owns 19 radio stations in five markets: New York, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Austin, and Indianapolis. The IBJ reports that Emmis’ total debt was $221 million as of February 28, 2017. Read the story here.
Nielsen Explores All-News, News/Talk Listening Trends Over Seven Years. There’s been a lot of scrutiny of the audiences for all-news, news/talk, and talk oriented public radio leading up to and since the 2016 election. Over all, according to ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s PPM surveys of radio listening, the three formats have realized increased listenership of late. Now, Nielsen shows how listening to the all-news and news/talk formats has changed over the past seven years, based on PPM data. (Remember, Nielsen includes public talkers in the larger news/talk category.) The result is that listening to all-news has remained fairly steady during that time across the three demos cited – persons 6+, 18-34, and 25-54. For news/talk, the format scored a 10.6 share in March of 2011 (6+), and a 10.2 share in March of 2017. In the 25-54 demo, 2011 saw an 8 share compared to this year’s 7.6 share. And probably buoyed by younger public radio listeners, the 18-34 demo rose from a 4.2 share in 2011 to a 4.6 share this year. See the whole report here.
ESPN Layoffs Coming Today. The names of those who are exiting sports media giant ESPN will begin to trickle out as time passes, but for now only a few of the estimated 100 ESPN staffers – mostly television and radio personalities – are known, with reporter Ed Werder tweeting that he’s been let go. It’s unclear how many of the cuts are from the radio and the television sides of the operation, but ESPN chief John Skipper says in a memo to staff, “A necessary component of managing change involves constantly evaluating how we best utilize all of our resources, and that sometimes involves difficult decisions…we have been engaged in the challenging process of determining the talent — anchors, analysts, reporters, writers and those who handle play-by-play — necessary to meet those demands. We will implement changes in our talent lineup this week. A limited number of other positions will also be affected and a handful of new jobs will be posted to fill various needs.”
TALKERS News Notes. We now know the trial date for the Nielsen vs Bubba the Love Sponge suit in Florida. U.S. District Court Judge James D. Whittemore has scheduled the case to start on January 2, 2018, with a pre-trial conference on December 8, 2017. Judge Whittemore also ruled on Bubba’s motion to exclude Nielsen Audio expert witness David Haas, denying it…..Chicago media maven Robert Feder reports that WGN, Chicago director of marketing and digital innovation Jackie Paulus will exit the station and join Jimmy deCastro’s new sports marketing and rep firm After The Whistle as a partner…..Public radio icon Robert Siegel announces he’s retiring as host of NPR’s “All Things Considered” in January of 2018. Siegel assumed that position in 1987. He’s been with NPR since 1976…..Here are some more winners of 2017 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards: In Seattle, Sinclair Broadcast Group’s KOMO “News 1000/FM97.7” is honored with the award for Overall Excellence. The station also took first place for Breaking News for its coverage of the Seattle May Day protests. CBS RADIO’s WCBS-AM, New York; KCBS-AM, San Francisco; WBZ-AM, Boston; WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM, Chicago and five other stations amassed 25 awards with the four mentioned being honored for Overall Excellence. Bonneville’s KTAR-FM, Phoenix picked up three Murrows, including Overall Excellence.
U.S.-North Korea Tensions, Trump’s First 100 Days, Sanctuary Cities Ruling, Canadian Lumber Tariff, Mexican Wall, Trump’s Proposed Tax Cuts, Michael Flynn Case, Ivanka in Berlin, and MLB, NBA, and NHL Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/25). The military tensions between North Korea and the United States and concerns about a full-blown war starting; the judging of the Trump Administration’s first 100 days; a California judge blocks part of President Trump’s sanctuary cities order; talk about the effects of Trump’s tariff on Canadian lumber; debate over whether President Trump’s Mexican wall will actually get funded and built; the tax cuts being proposed by the Trump Administration; comments from House members that it appears Michael Flynn broke the law in accepting payments from Russia; Ivanka Trump attends European conference with Angela Merkel and IMF managing director Christine Lagarde; and MLB, NBA and NHL action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Former WJMN, Boston personality Bobby Blaze is joining Beasley Media Group’s crosstown rhythmic AC WBQT “HOT 96.9 FM” to host the afternoon drive show, effective tomorrow (4/27). Blaze says, “I’m so excited to be back on Boston radio and being surrounded by the most talented on-air team in Boston. You only become great when you’re surrounded by great people and that’s what ‘HOT 96.9’ represents.”…..Morning personality Fitz exits Entercom’s country KKWF, Seattle “100.7 The Wolf” and the “Fitz in the Morning” program. Entercom states, “‘Fitz in the Morning’ will no longer be on air on 100.7-FM The Wolf in Seattle as of Monday, April 24. Fitz has been an important part of the station for nearly 12 years, but we have decided to part ways. We wish him well, and we will be conducting a nationwide search for the station’s next morning show.” In the interim, morning personalities Ellen Tailor and Randy The Biscuit will host the program…..The afternoon drive Zepp & Terri show – featuring Brian Zepp and Terri Traen – exits Cumulus Media’s classic rock KQRS, Minneapolis. The two had been partnered on the show for the past year. Traen was formerly part of the Tom Barnard morning show. As a result of the move, Ray Erick is now hosting the 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm slot…..With the departure of Brett Hall from the stations – and the radio biz – Saga Communications names Tom Scott morning drive host at hot AC KJBX, Jonesboro, Arkansas and to voice track the night show at sister country KDXY.
Karaoke for a Cause. Pictured above at Cumulus Media’s Stage 17 in New York City are members of the band Ocean Park Standoff and staffers from Voss Foundation. The band performed for an intimate group of listeners on Monday (4/17). Afterward, WPLJ personality Ralphie Aversa sang karaoke to the group’s new single “Good News” competing against a winning listener. “Karaoke for a Cause” is raising awareness of Voss Foundation and VOSS Water’s annual #31Days to Make a Difference initiative. Voss Foundation is dedicated to providing access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene as a means to enable community-driven development in Sub-Saharan Africa and raising awareness of the ongoing need in the region.