FCC Shoots Down Request for Investigation into Broadcasters Airing Presidential Press Conferences. Last week, the activist organization Free Press filed an emergency petition with the FCC calling on it to “investigate the spread of false Covid-19 information via broadcast outlets across the United States.” Free Press co-CEO Jessica J. González and senior policy counsel Gaurav Laroia state, “The FCC possesses both the authority and the responsibility to ensure the public airwaves are utilized in the public interest. This duty is heightened in times of crisis. Specifically, broadcasters are prohibited from knowingly airing false information about a catastrophe that causes ‘substantial public harm.’” Yesterday (4/6), the Commission’s Office of General Counsel and Media Bureau wholly rejected the petition saying it “seeks remedies that would dangerously curtail the freedom of the press embodied in the First Amendment and misconstrues the Commission’s rules. The decision also makes clear that the FCC will neither act as a roving arbiter of broadcasters’ editorial judgments nor discourage them from airing breaking news events involving government officials in the midst of the current global pandemic.” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is quoted saying, “Under my leadership, the FCC has always stood firmly in defense of Americans’ First Amendment freedoms, including freedom of the press. And so long as I am chairman of this agency, we always will. The federal government will not—and never should—investigate broadcasters for their editorial judgments simply because a special interest group is angry at the views being expressed on the air as well as those expressing them. In short, we will not censor the news. Instead, consistent with the First Amendment, we leave it to broadcasters to determine for themselves how to cover this national emergency, including live events involving our nation’s leaders.”
SportsGrid Shows to Air Across SB Nation Radio Network. Two of SportsGrid’s national talk shows – “Ferrall Coast to Coast” with Scott Ferrall and “Game Time Decisions” with Gabe Morency – will air on the SB Nation Radio schedule beginning April 14. “Ferrall Coast to Coast” will air weekdays from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET and “Game Time Decisions” will air from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm ET. Ferrall comments, “This new opportunity allows me to reconnect with my long-time loyal listeners all over the country across the SB Nation network of radio stations. I’m looking forward to changing sportscasting by including the sports betting perspective and commentary to the millions of engaged fans.”
Broadcasters Foundation of America Announces Emergency Grants. The Broadcasters Foundation of America’s executive committee of the board of directors held an emergency meeting recently to respond to broadcasters in financial need due to the coronavirus pandemic. The criteria for emergency grant qualifications has been revised to provide aid to broadcasters who meet the requirements and have been infected. BFoA chairman Dan Mason says, “Never in our history as broadcasters have we experienced an event that has caused this much hardship. Thus, we have revised provisions to our emergency grant eligibility guidelines.” For more information, broadcasters in need can email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.broadcastersfoundation.org/coronavirus.
Austin American-Statesman Launches New Streaming Talk Station. Former KLBJ-AM, Austin personality Jeff Ward is one of the Austin market radio pros to join the newest streaming venture from the Austin American-Statesman. The new station – called the Statesman News Network – joins the news organization’s streaming music station Austin360 Radio as the paper’s next audio venture. Ward will host the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon program. He says, “There will be plenty of common-sense rants. But the goal of the show is always the same: I want you to find it compelling, and I want you to feel forced to think.” The paper says that other shows lined up for the stream include: “From the Newsroom” featuring interviews from the staff of the newspaper; “512 Tech and Business Report,” a daily update on local business and technology news from Amy Edwards; “Longhorn Confidential,” breaking news, interviews and updates on the Texas Longhorns; “Austin Found,” in which Statesman reporter and Austin history buff Michael Barnes and radio personality JB Hager share the stories behind the making of the Texas capital; plus more.
PPM Analysis: February 2020 Extra. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents and “extra” look at Nielsen Audio’s February 2020 PPM survey. In this report, he presents a rank of the PPM markets based on weekly, 6+ AQH share for all spoken-word stations; a rank of the highest market-wide gains in spoken-word listening; a rank of the markets that lost the most 6+ share; and more. See it all here.
Radio Pros, ‘Sterling On Sunday’ Keeps You on the Air. The national radio show “Sterling On Sunday” invites laid off radio performers to participate in their on-air comedy routines and dramas. “We have had a stunning array of top talent in our sketches such as Charlie Van Dyke, JJ Wilson, but mostly people who wish to remain anonymous due to their alimony situation. If you can cut an mp3, we can write a part for you.” “Sterling On Sunday” is aired (10:00 pm to 1:00 am) on major stations live such as KMBZ-FM, Kansas City; KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh; WPHT, Philadelphia; KFBK, Sacramento; plus about 100 more. “Broadcasting from home is nothing new to us. It’s the right way. We will give you credit, script approval, and generally talk you up. Hear past shows at www.waltermsterling.com so you know what you’re getting into. No broadcaster should be off the air, it’s unnatural. C’mon let’s make a show. We also have a plan to pay you for helping our team clear the show…cash!” Contact email@example.com.
U.S. Coronavirus Cases and Death Toll, the Hydroxychloroquine Debate, Trump Fires Whistleblower, Financial Markets Activity, Boris Johnson in ICU, Wisconsin Primary, 5G-Coronavirus Conspiracy, USS Theodore Roosevelt Controversy, Chinese Journalist at WH Presser, and Presidential Race Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/7). The number of Covid-19 cases in the U.S. and the death toll; the medical and political debate over the effectiveness of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine in treating coronavirus; the aftermath of President Trump’s firing of intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson; the world’s financial markets react to coronavirus news; British Prime Minister Boris Johnson moves to the ICU for Covid-19 treatment; the battle between Wisconsin’s governor and the state Supreme Court over the primary elections; the conspiracy theory that 5G is exacerbating coronavirus symptoms; the captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt is removed for pleading for help for his coronavirus-infected crew; a Chinese journalist is admitted to the White House press briefing; and the November presidential election were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
Former KRBZ-FM, Kansas City Morning Host Sues Entercom for Discrimination. Former KRBZ-FM, Kansas City “96.5 The Buzz” morning host Afentra Bandokoudis has filed suit against Entercom Kansas City for “discrimination and retaliation in violation of the Equal Pay Act.” She’s seeking back pay, benefits, bonuses, and more. Bandokoudis’ complaint alleges that she was paid less than her male counterparts despite outperforming their shows. She was paid a base salary of $100,000 and her PD/afternoon host Scott Geiger, a.k.a. Lazlo, made $185,000. (Bandokoudis and Geiger were married from 2005 through July of 2018, a month before Bandokoudis was fired from the station.) She alleges Johnny Dare, morning host on sister rock station KQRC, made more than $185,000 despite her show outperforming his. Bandokoudis goes on to claim that after she complained about the par disparity, she was subject to retaliatory actions before ultimately being let go in 2018.
Music Radio News and Career Moves. At iHeartMedia’s Chicago hip hop WGCI, Zach Boog is named the new evening host, taking over for DJ MoonDawg, who exited during the company’s January restructuring. He’d been filling in on the daypart along with other WGCI staffers. Station PD Johnnie D. Glover says, “It is an honor to promote Zach to nights on 107.5 WGCI. He is extremely entertaining, works hard to produce compelling content, and has a very organic way of connecting with Chicago listeners. Zach has a bright future and I look forward to working with him to create many exciting memories with 107.5 WGCI’s audience.”…..Griffin Communications CHR KHTT, Tulsa “106.9 K-Hits” brings Kacy Termini aboard as co-host of the new “Chubbs & Kacy Show” to debut on Monday (4/13). She comments, “I’ve been so impressed with what ‘K-Hits’ and the Griffin brands have been able to do in our community. Every time something happens, they step up to help their neighbors and keep them safe and informed. Especially at such a trying time for many. I’m excited to work with Chubbs and do our part to make Green Country even more special. We still need to laugh – in both the hard times and the good ones!”…..Condolences to the family and friends of programming pro John Roberts, who passed away recently after a esophageal cancer. He’d been serving as regional operations manager for Townsquare Media in Tyler, Texas. Townsquare SVP of programming Kurt Johnson says, “John was a true pro, one of the best our business has ever seen. But more importantly he was a great friend to everyone, and he made a huge impact on his family, his staff, his community, and basically with everyone he met.”