NAB Pushing for Relaxed Ownership Regs. The National Association of Broadcasters is asking the Federal Communications Commission to modernize what it calls the “outdated radio ownership rules” as part of the quadrennial media ownership review expected to take place later this year. The NAB states that the last change in ownership rules was part of the 1996 de-regulation of the industry and that since that time, competitors such as SiriusXM and the various digital audio services were born and have changed the audio media landscape. Specifically, the NAB is suggesting the FCC consider the following: For station owners in the top 75 Nielsen Audio markets, raise the cap to up to eight FM signals and put no limit on the number of AM stations it can operate. In the markets smaller than the top 75, it suggests there be no restrictions on the number of FM or AM stations a single entity can operate. In explaining its request, the NAB writes, “The Commission’s goal of fostering audio programming ‘tailored to the needs and interests of specific local markets’ must account for today’s reality: tailoring now occurs on the basis of specific listeners, not just on the basis of local radio markets. The FCC’s approach to regulating free OTA radio must reflect today’s competitive audio market in which consumers have access to a virtually infinite number of ‘stations’ tailored to their specific interests. Continuing to insist that the existing radio ownership limits are necessary because local stations only compete among themselves defies reality and is contrary to law. Indeed, the FCC’s current regulatory framework simply ignores a large portion of the listening and advertising equation. The notion of what constitutes a competitor to radio stations must include audio outlets that consumers in local markets are listening to and the outlets that advertisers use.”
WGOW-FM, Chattanooga Morning Host Jeff Styles Wounded, Charged in Road Rage Incident. Chattanooga morning drive talk host Jeff Styles has been charged with aggravated assault and vandalism after a Friday afternoon road rage incident that left him with a gun-shot wound to his arm. WRCB-TV, Chattanooga reports that Styles – morning drive co-host on Cumulus Media’s news/talk WGOW-FM, Chattanooga – and fellow motorist Nickolas Bullington were involved in a road rage incident late Friday afternoon (6/15) that ended after Styles allegedly attacked Bullington’s car with a “military grade tomahawk” and Bullington responded by shooting Styles in the arm with a handgun. Styles was treated at a local hospital and arrested the following day. The WRCB-TV report includes a statement from Styles’ lawyer alleging Bullington was the aggressor and Styles the victim. Styles hosts “The Morning Press” with co-host Jim Reynolds and program and news director Kevin West.
Robert Feder Provides Glimpse Behind the Ratings Woes at WGN, Chicago. Windy City media maven Robert Feder publishes an exclusive report on what some of the station’s talent are saying about the state of Tribune’s venerable WGN-AM as it moves from the Tribune Tower to brand new studios at 303 Wacker Drive. It’s no secret that WGN has suffered a long trend of dwindling ratings as measured by Nielsen Audio’s PPM surveys, and Feder’s story offers a look at what at least a few of the station’s personalities are feeling about the situation. Read it here.
ESPN Audio Now Available on iHeartRadio. This move adds ESPN Audio’s networks and on-demand content to the iHeartRadio digital platform. The multi-year deal with iHeartMedia allows users to livestream the ESPN Radio Network shows – “Golic and Wingo,” Dan Le Batard, Stephen A. Smith, etc. – the O&O’s in New York, Chicago and L.A., ESPN-affiliated stations, live play-by-play events, and ESPN’s roster of podcasts. ESPN VP, Audio and Talent Traug Keller says, “We are consistently looking for new ways to give fans access to ESPN Audio’s tremendous content. iHeartRadio, with its expansive network and reach, will help us bring new listeners into the fold and give current fans yet another way to enjoy their sports content, anytime, anywhere.”
National Radio Institute Begins Today at University of Tennessee. Today begins the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters Radio Talent Institute at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. At this session, students from four different universities will learn from broadcast pros from Patrick Communications, Midwest Communications, Stonecom Radio, Entercom, Cumulus Media, Scripps Radio, 5 Star Radio/Saga Communications, Cromwell Communications, Thunderbolt Broadcasting, and others. The course is led by industry professionals and facilitated by the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters and the University of Tennessee’s College of Communications and Information and was spearheaded by radio consultant Dan Vallie. The TAB Radio Talent Institute is the fourth of eight Radio Talent Institutes this summer from the National Radio Talent System, next are Confer Radio Talent Institute at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania; Hubbard Radio Talent Institute at Central Washington University; KBA WKU Radio Talent Institute at Western Kentucky University, and the MBA Radio Talent Institute at Northwest Missouri State University.
TALKERS News Notes. The case of Nielsen Audio v. Bubba the Love Sponge was supposed to begin in trial court today, but the start of the eagerly awaited legal face-off will not happen until July 23 – that is, unless the two parties come to a settlement. Nielsen’s complaint that Bubba the Love Sponge damaged its reputation by tampering with the PPM survey in the Tampa market goes back more than two-and-a-half years. Although a settlement is always a possibility, it seems unlikely Bubba would concede anything after spending as much on legal fees as he has up to this point. Nielsen is seeking $1 million in damages. Federal Judge James Whittemore offered no reason for the change in trial start dates but says it’s expected to last five to seven days…..cabana, the digital audio division of AdLarge Media, is announcing an exclusive ad sales representation deal for the newly launched true crime podcast network Murder.ly. AdLarge co-founder and co-CEO Cathy Csukas says, “True crime dramas are sought-after and in high demand among listeners and advertisers. We’re proud to represent the titles in Murder.ly and bring this exclusive opportunity to cabana advertisers.”
Three Join Broadcasters Foundation Board of Directors. The Broadcasters Foundation of America elects Wendy McMahon, president of the ABC Owned Television Stations Group, and Charlie Weiss, publisher of New Bay Media’s TV Sector Brands, to its board of directors, and names Dennis Lyle, president and chief executive officer of the Illinois Broadcasters Association, an officer and vice president. The new directors and Lyle were voted in during the board meeting that took place in New York City last week. In a related story, at the TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! conference held in New York City on June 8, WPG, Atlantic City morning host and Heavy Hundred member Harry Hurley (pictured below at left) donated $2,000 to the Broadcasters Foundation of America on behalf of his successful Harry Hurley Charitable Foundation. Foundation president Jim Thompson (right) accepted the check. This marked the third year in a row that Hurley has made a large donation to the Broadcasters Foundation.
Trump-Russia Investigation/Roger Stone Allegation, Illegal Immigration Enforcement, Inspector General’s FBI-Clinton Probe Report, Trump Trade Wars, Trump-Kim Jong Un Meeting, and MLB Action Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The investigation into possible connections between Trump campaign operatives and Russian agents and the allegation Roger Stone met with a Russian promising “dirt” on Hillary Clinton; the controversy over the treatment of illegals with young children; the inspector general’s report on the FBI’s investigation of the Hillary Clinton email server case; the tariffs being levied by the U.S. and retaliation by China and concerns about a global trade war; President Trump’s meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un; and Major League Baseball action were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. Rock programmer Mat Bates has reportedly exited Cumulus Media’s legendary triple A KFOG, San Francisco where he was serving as program director.…..In the Reno market, Lotus Communications names Tina Smash morning drive host at classic rock KOZZ. Smash is taking over the morning host role from operations manager and program director Jave Patterson who will assume the afternoon drive show hosting duties on Lotus’ sister active rock KDOT “Rock 104.5.”…..On-air pro Diana DeVille joins Strategic International Ministries’ country KWSV, Simi Valley, California “99.1 The Ranch” to host the midday program that was hosted by departed personality Mese Smith. Station programmer Michael Raffety says, “It’s always hard replacing a strong personality that listeners have grown to love, like Mese Smith. But if anyone can carry on the success, it’s Diana Deville. She’s loaded with great ideas and has a genuine love for the country music format and listener. I know the audience will grow to love Diana as much as they do Mese.”…..Some of the winners at the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters awards luncheon held last Thursday (6/14) include Capitol Broadcasting’s hot AC WRAL-FM, Raleigh-Durham “MIX 101.5,” winner of the Radio Station of the Year honor in the large market category. Station PD Michele Williams says, “We at ‘MIX 101.5’ are honored to accept the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters’ radio station of the year award for 2017. We thank this amazing community for allowing us to give back through events like our Radiothon for Duke Children’s Hospital, Interfaith Food Shuttle’s Back Pack Buddies Mediathon and our annual Christmas Choir Competition that supports local schools’ music programs. It’s a privilege to serve you, our listeners, and we look forward to what’s to come in 2018 and beyond.” Other winners were Beasley Media Group’s hip hop WZFX-FM, Fayetteville, which took home the Station of the Year honor for medium market stations, as well as WPEG, Charlotte “Power 98” evening personality Ya Girl Nikki who was honored with Large Market Personality of the Year.