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By Mark Wainwright
Talk Host/Voice Artist
Radio and television broadcasting were changed forever on a summer afternoon in 1962. Everybody realized it then; hardly anyone cares or remembers today
(This article was originally published in TALKERS and cross-posted to LinkedIn on July 23, 2020. A revised version also ran in TALKERS and was cross-posted to social media in July of 2021. It has been edited and amended prior to posting and publication on the 60th anniversary this week.)
SYRACUSE — Instant, worldwide audio/video communication has become a routine aspect of our lives that we now take for granted. We can hold the technology in our hands and access it anytime. Yet it wasn’t so long ago that this was the stuff of science fiction.
By the early 1960s, live worldwide radio had been around for decades. With a combination of shortwave transmission and some intricate international phone links, you could get a radio broadcast from just about anywhere to just about anyplace. There were limitations, and the audio quality wasn’t great, but it could usually be done. The bandwidth demands of “broadcast-quality” television, however, were a much higher hurdle.
On the “Day of Infamy,” radio news had to grow up in a big hurry
By Mark Wainwright
The concept of news on the radio barely existed in the early days of the medium. While radio had been covering important happenings since its beginning — Roosevelt’s “Fireside Chats,” political conventions, elections, major sports events and such — news, as we know it, was a low priority. It wasn’t until radio’s “Golden Age”in the 1930s that regular updates of the day’s news began to take hold. Americans typically depended on newspapers to get their daily news fix, even more so when “breaking news” happened. Radio wasn’t really equipped to handle these situations, so it fell to the wire services and newspapers to break the news. Those old movie scenes of reporters running in and yelling “stop the presses!” or of street-corner newsboys hawking “extra, extra, read all about it!” were not just dramatic license.
By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Like those network spots for “The Ben Ferguson Podcast” that air on many talk stations, TV networks are using their affiliates’ air to divert viewing to their own digital platforms. Some network-produced shows being promoted are only available on streams. “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” is shown on Peacock before it airs on NBC at 11:35 pm.
It gets worse. The extended Dish Network/Tegna stand-off over lucrative retransmission fees stations charge cable and satellite providers blacked-out CBS stations I tried to tune-into in hotel rooms in Washington and Texas in the last two weeks, in the middle of football season.
WIP, Philadelphia’s Angelo Cataldi Announces Retirement. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that longtime WIP-FM, Philadelphia morning host Angelo Cataldi will retire from the Audacy sports talk station when his contract expires at the end of 2022. Cataldi has been with the station since 1989. The Inquirer’s Rob Tornoe writes that Cataldi decided to work another year (instead of retiring at the end of 2021) “after meeting with WIP’s new program director, Rod Lakin, whose first day at the station was Monday. Cataldi told listeners he started to become burned out back in May and was prepared to announce his retirement at the end of this year when his contract expired but said Lakin asked him to remain on an additional year.” WIP made some concessions to keep Cataldi around for another year, including a new four-day work week, a driver to shuttle him to Atlantic City for remotes, and the rehiring of marketing director Cindy Webster as a “special consultant” to the show to “help with our relationships with the teams and promotions.” Cataldi hosts the show with fellow cast members Rhea Hughes and Al Morganti as well as a rotating group of Philadelphia sports figures.
Audacy Names Lena Moss Glaser VP and Executive Producer for 2400Sports. Production pro Lena Moss Glaser joins Audacy as vice president and executive producer of the company’s new podcast studio, 2400Sports. In this role, Glaser will oversee all production and content operations for all 2400Sports podcasts, partnering with producers and talent internally and externally to develop slates of new podcasts. Audacy chief digital officer J.D. Crowley says, “I’m thrilled to welcome Lena to Audacy and our podcast team as we continue to scale our newest studio 2400Sports. Her deep experience in sports media, from digital and social-first content to international productions at the biggest sporting events in the world, and her ability to find unique stories that engage a diverse range of audiences, combined with her reputation as an incredible leader, makes her a perfect fit to lead 2400Sports, and we’re looking forward to Lena lending her voice, skills and talent to our team.” Glaser began her career with NBC, where she produced network studio shows for four Olympic Games and served as coordinating producer of NBC’s Paralympics coverage in Sochi, Rio, and Pyeongchang. Her additional remote, studio, and feature credits include work on the US Open, Wimbledon, and Roland Garros; three Super Bowls, and “Football Night in America.”
Round Two of September PPM Ratings Released. The second of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s September 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Washington, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. Nielsen’s September 2021 survey period covered August 19 – September 15. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. In the Washington market, Hubbard Radio’s all-news WTOP-FM drops seven-tenths for an 8.5 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) finish and falls from #1 to #2. At Cumulus Media’s crosstown news/talk WMAL-FM, the station sheds one-tenth for 3.2 share finish and the #13 rank. iHeartMedia Boston’s news/talk WRKO tacks on one-tenth to finish with a 3.9 share and remains ranked #9 while sister all-news WBZ-AM adds four-tenths to remain ranked #3 on the strength of a 6.6 share. In Seattle, Bonneville’s KIRO-FM continues its occupation of the #1 spot even though it dipped two-tenths and wrapped the survey with a 7.1 share. Lotus Communications’ all-news KOMO-AM/FM stays in the #3 rank while shedding four-tenths for a 5.4 share. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this round of markets (as well as yesterday’s first round) here.
CUMULUS Promotes Conrad Trautmann to Chief Technology Officer. Rising from his previous position as SVP, technology & operations for CUMULUS MEDIA to chief technology officer is Conrad Trautmann. He reports directly to president and CEO Mary Berner. Trautmann joined CUMULUS MEDIA’s Westwood One in 2000 as EVP, technology, and was promoted in February 2016 to SVP, technology & operations. In his new role, he is responsible for the oversight of companywide broadcast engineering and information technology, as well as purchasing, real estate and facilities management across the company. He also serves on the Radio Technology Committee of the National Association of Broadcasters. Berner says, “Conrad’s contributions to the company over the past 21 years are countless. Unsurprisingly, Conrad has done a particularly commendable job successfully leading the company through the technical challenges presented by COVID-19, and by severe weather events we’ve experienced across the country. He has also been critical to broadening and advancing the technology that drives our growth platforms in digital and podcasting. This promotion recognizes the vital role that he continues to play in our success.”
Triton Digital Releases August 2021 Streaming Ranker. Data from Triton Digital’s Streaming Metrics measurement service for the August 2021 period is released. Rankings are computed based on Average Active Sessions (AAS) which represents the average number of sessions at any point in time in the reported time period, with invalid sessions omitted. AAS can be calculated by dividing Total Listening Hours by the number of hours within the reported time period. Measuring the Monday – Sunday 6:00 am to 12:00 midnight period in the U.S., iHeartMedia is far and away #1 with 289,528 AAS. The following media companies also ranked in the top 25: NPR Member Stations (#2), Audacy (#3), Cumulus Streaming Network (#4), Beasley Broadcasting Corporate (#7), Hubbard Broadcasting (#8), Salem Communications (#11), Urban One (#12), Bonneville International (#13), Midwest Communications (#18), and Lotus Broadcasting (# 23). You can see all the rankings in the August survey here.
Jim Thompson to Retire from Broadcasters Foundation of America; Tim McCarthy to Transition to President Role. The Broadcasters Foundation of America announces that president Jim Thompson will retire from the Foundation at the end of 2022. In conjunction with that announcement, the BFoA unveils a succession plan whereby Thompson and broadcast veteran Tim McCarthy will serve as co-presidents through 2022, at which time Thompson will move into an active consultancy role. The search committee unanimously chose McCarthy as the best candidate for the position, and the board of directors unanimously endorsed him and the succession plan. BFoA chairman Scott Herman says, “I have known Tim for almost 20 years. He is an outstanding leader and I look forward to working with him and Jim for a seamless transition. Jim has done a phenomenal job getting the word out about our mission and increasing the number of broadcasters we help. The entire board and I are delighted that he will remain with the Foundation as co-president and then as a consultant.” Thompson says, “Serving the mission of the Broadcasters Foundation has been the most rewarding experience of my career. I cannot think of a more worthy task then helping our colleagues in their darkest moments. The search committee and the board have made an excellent choice in Tim – I know I will be leaving our mission in good hands.”
TALKERS News Notes. Chicago morning drive star Eric Ferguson is off the air at WTMX-FM for the month of October while Hubbard Radio deals with the accusations of now three former station staffers who’ve accused Ferguson of inappropriate behavior. Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that Hubbard Chicago VP and market manager Jeff England announced to the rest of the staff that Ferguson would be off the air while the station does more investigating. He said, “We take these allegations seriously and we are confident in the results of multiple investigations we have initiated. But we also owe it to ourselves and our listeners to have a deliberate and thoughtful process about our path forward, and candidly we are not there yet.”…..Beasley Media Group announces that WBZ-FM, Boston “98.5 The Sports Hub” air personality Hardy is adding new duties as afternoon drive host at sister classic rock station WBOS-FM “ROCK 92.9.” Hardy is co-host of the “Zolak & Bertrand” midday show on “98.5 The Sports Hub.” WBZ-FM program director Rick Radzik says, “Hardy is one of the most talented, creative people I have ever worked with. His day-to-day role on ‘Zolak & Bertrand’ and with 98.5 will remain the same. Expanding his role locally and within the company is a win for everyone.”
MIW Announces Traci LaTrelle is This Year’s Mentee. This year’s mentee in Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio’s MIW & BDSradio Mentorship Program is Howard University Radio Network’s WHUR-FM music and assistant programming director Traci LaTrelle. MIW Board president Ruth Presslaff comments, “Traci is incredibly accomplished and still eager to grow further in our business. I am so excited for the opportunities that lie ahead of her and the chance for MIW to play a part in her growth. Congratulations to Traci and, as always, big thanks to Haley Jones, Scott Musgrave, and MRC Data who make this mentorship possible.”
Biden Infrastructure and Reconciliation Bills/Debt Ceiling, Facebook Whistleblower, COVID-19, January 6 Investigation, and California Oil Spill Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/5). The negotiations among Democrats over President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill and his $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill and the related issue of the debt ceiling; Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen appears before a U.S. Senate committee; the rate of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., boosters, and mask & vaccine mandates; the ongoing investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack and the subpoenaing of Trump administration officials; and the damage and probable cause of the Southern California oil spill were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.
NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Recalibration!” looks back at this past week of July 26-30. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, executive editor, TALKERS magazine; Harry Hurley; talk show host, WPG, Atlantic City; Mark Simone, talk show host, WOR, New York; Dr. Renee Kohanski, forensic psychiatrist/medical profession podcaster; Ralph Nader, political activist/talk show host, “The Ralph Nader Radio Hour”; Walter Sterling, talk show host, “Sterling on Sunday”; and Victoria Jones, executive director, DC Radio Company. The show airs each week on its flagship, WONK-FM, Washington, DC, Friday evenings at 6:00 pm ET. It also airs throughout the weekend on WTIC-AM, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY; WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; KQEN, Roseburg, OR; the Virginia Talk Radio Network; CRN Digital Talk Radio Network; the iHeart Podcast Network; Pioneer Valley Radio, Springfield, MA; Podcast Radio, UK and many more. To listen to this week’s episode, please click here. To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here. “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.
Schultz, Husmann Join Quu. Selected to become Quu’s head of marketing and product manager, respectively, are Suzy Schultz and Ben Husmann. Schultz and Husmann will report directly to chief executive officer Steve Newberry, who comments, “Suzy and Ben are respected executives and creative problem solvers known for leading innovation in audio. With deep industry knowledge, they’re uniquely qualified to fortify the significant expansion of Quu’s software and services [which will roll out] later this year.” Creative Prism founder/chief executive officer Schultz notes, “Developing a consistent, clarified, and fresh approach to Quu’s brand and messaging is a dream come true. We’re focused on empowering Quu’s customers and offering the industry access to ratings and revenue growth opportunities that build on radio’s core product.” Meanwhile, Husmann states, “My role is to make it quick, easy, and painless for stations to enhance their programming and advertising metadata and visuals for the car dashboard and beyond. I’m excited to collaborate with the elite team at Quu to build a new and improved user experience on top of Quu’s extensive capabilities.” Schultz’s marketing/content production company Creative Prism will oversee branding, communications, marketing strategy, productization, and sales enablement for Quu customers. Prior to founding Creative Prism, Schultz was Cumulus Media/Westwood One’s senior vice president of corporate marketing, and managing editor of iHeartRadio. Formerly AccuRadio’s chief operating officer, Husmann was senior vice president/product and technology for TagStation and NextRadio. Quu enables radio stations to publish sales and programming messages on car dashboards; it delivered over six billion “visual Quus” in 2020. Earlier this month, Quu and Bonneville announced a multi-market partnership.
Tunein, iHeart Partner On Strategic Technology and Content. The agreement will allow TuneIn to dispense on more than 850 iHeartMedia digital stations. In addition, TuneIn will have access to local advertising demand from iHeartMedia’s monetization assets, including its sales force of nearly 2,000 sellers in every major market, and Triton Digital‘s advertising technology. iHeartMedia chief data officer/president of revenue strategies Brian Kaminsky comments that the partnership is “a great marriage of content and technology. [It is] enabled by Triton’s cutting edge and comprehensive suite of audio advertising technology to support streaming audio and podcast businesses with both direct and programmatic sales. With Triton’s Supply Side Platform, local advertisers will have the ability to reach additional iHeart and TuneIn listeners through both direct and programmatic sales.” TuneIn chief revenue officer Rob Deichert notes, “The relationship with iHeart demonstrates the power of TuneIn’s open platform to flexibly align with the content, distribution and monetization assets of our partners to jointly create new and previously unrecognized value. We’re incredibly pleased to partner with iHeartMedia and Triton as we continue our mission to delight listeners and reinvent radio for a connected world.”
WNYC Appoints Clary Deputy Editor. The newly-created role at WNYC Broadcasting Foundation-owned public radio news/talk WNYC, New York will be filled August 30 by current Vice VP Stephanie Clary. As deputy editor, Clary will oversee the station’s news coverage, working with editors in charge of multiplatform desks to align journalistic priorities. Per a WNYC press release, “In Stephanie, we have found a truly impressive journalist with deep experience covering local, national, international and breaking news on both digital and broadcast platforms. She has developed strategies to enhance newsroom innovation and dynamism. She will bring those skills to WNYC as we continue to grow our audience, expand our reach, and produce impactful journalism that improves the lives of people in New York City and our region. Her track record as a leader in a wide range of newsrooms makes her the perfect fit for this role. She has managed large teams of journalists, bringing to each job her unique mix of editorial judgement, product expertise, digital skills, and news judgment. Our team is the next place she wants to bring her talents and skills.” Clary comments, “I’m thrilled to join a newsroom that’s so essential to our city and region at a time when local news is diminishing in even the largest metropolis. This role is an incredible opportunity to work on both audio and digital at an institution with such a deep and respected legacy, and such committed journalists. I’m excited to be a part of helping to serve more communities with impactful, mission-driven journalism and storytelling.” Prior to her present role at Vice, Clary was CNN’s director of social publishing; managing editor at Mic; managing editor of NBC start-up “Breaking News”; and part of the Seattle Times team that won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage of the 2009 Lakewood police shooting in Washington.
Nielsen’s Q2 Revenue, Income Increase. Second quarter 2021 revenue for Nielsen Holdings rose 6.2% year-to-year to $861 million. Net income from continuing operations attributable to shareholders was up 207.1% to $86 million. Meanwhile, adjusted EBITDA rose 11.8% to $370 million. The audience measurement division saw revenue gain 4.3% to $629 million, while outcomes & content revenue was up 11.5% to $232 million. The company revised full-year 2021 guidance: It increased total revenue growth projections from 2% – 3% to 2.5% – 3% on a constant currency basis; adjusted EBITDA from $1.47 billion – $1.49 billion to $1.475 billion -$1.49 billion; and adjusted earnings per share from $1.47 – $1.58 to $1.54 – $1.61. According to chief executive officer David Kenny, “[The results] demonstrate our continued strategic and operational transformation, as the global media ecosystem evolves. We have increased confidence in our full-year outlook, which is reflected in our updated 2021 guidance. We continue to see healthy renewals from existing clients, growing interest from new clients, and steady progress in our global product development. We are executing well against our strategy and roadmap to create long-term value and are pleased with steady progress again this quarter.”
House-Passed Bill Contains Public Media Funding. The Fiscal Year 2022 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill earmarks money for public media. Corporation For Public Broadcasting president/chief executive officer Patricia Harrison remarks, “We appreciate the House of Representatives’ strong support of public media, providing $565 million for CPB’s [fiscal year] 2024 advance appropriation, ensuring that public media remains free and available to every American. As the country continues to address the impact of a global pandemic on every aspect of American life, public media is responding with content and services that support the increased educational, informational, and public safety needs of America’s diverse communities. We are grateful for the House’s ongoing support of $20 million for the public broadcasting interconnection system, which allows for the distribution of content from producers to local stations and is part of our nation’s emergency alert system.” Regarding the $31.8 million provided for the Department of Education‘s “Ready To Learn,” Harrison states, “The program enables the creation of accessible, educational public media content, on air, online and in the community, for children ages 2 to 8. As the appropriations process continues, we look forward to working with Congress on funding decisions to support a healthy and vibrant public media system.”
Have You Heard This Podcast? That’s a question those at ABC News are most likely again posing regarding the network’s “Have You Seen This Man?,” which begins its second season (Wednesday) August 11. Listeners are invited to join a real-time global search by U.S. Marshals for fugitive John Ruffo, who stole over $300 million. Instead of reporting for a 17-year prison sentence, the scammer – currently on the “15 Most Wanted” list – vanished. Involved in one of the largest frauds of its time, Ruffo swindled banks out of more than $300 million, using the cash to transform himself into a Wall Street luminary. The six-part Sunny Hostin-hosted podcast features reporting by ABC News senior investigative reporter Matthew Mosk, who embeds with the U.S. Marshals on Ruffo’s trail. Mosk reports the story of how 23 years ago, Brooklyn computer salesperson Ruffo pleaded guilty to fraud. After turning in his ankle monitor on his way to a 17-year prison sentence, Ruffo left his car at New York’s JFK Airport and disappeared. Tips have kept marshals on their toes for two decades and listeners could be the key in uncovering the final clue in finding Ruffo, who was rumored to be behind home plate at a Los Angeles Dodgers – Boston Red Sox baseball game. The podcast reports on Ruffo’s disappearance through the eyes of those who were there, including the attorney who persuaded a judge to let Ruffo drive himself to prison; the bailiff who took off Ruffo’s handcuffs; the FBI agent who got the call when Ruffo skipped town; Ruffo’s former wife, who remarried after abandoning hope that he would make contact with her; and family members who found themselves temporarily homeless after Ruffo skipped bail. A four-part Hulu original limited series on the global search for Ruffo is currently in production from ABC News Longform. The first season of “Have You Seen This Man?” followed the search for murderer Lester Eubanks, who was on the run for over 45 years. That podcast yielded more than 300 tips; the case remains active.
SiriusXM’s SXM-8 Satellite Ready for Service. The SXM-8 satellite completed in-orbit testing and has been handed over to SiriusXM. Last month (6/6), a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the satellite into space from Cape Canaveral. SXM-8 is the ninth digital, audio radio satellite built by Maxar for the satcaster. SiriusXM senior vice president/satellite and repeater systems engineering & operations Bridget Neville notes, “We are committed to enhancing our satellite fleet and ability to deliver the best audio entertainment, traffic, weather, data and information services for years to come. We congratulate our engineering team, Maxar, and SpaceX on a successful launch and commissioning.” Maxar senior vice president/space programs delivery Chris Johnson adds, “We are proud of our long-standing relationship with SiriusXM and excited to see SXM-8 ready for service to bring entertainment to millions of SiriusXM subscribers. The entire Maxar team is committed to excellence – playing a role in the success of our customers’ missions is what drives us every day.” SXM-8 is more than 27-feet tall and weighed nearly 7,000 kg at launch. SXM-8 has an almost 30-feet in diameter mesh reflector that will allow SiriusXM programming to reach radios, including those in moving vehicles.
TALKERS News Notes. Whereas Nielsen July 2021 stats indicate double-digit declines by Newsmax’s cable news competition, Newsmax is touting a year-over-year total audience increase of 500%, maintaining it is the country’s fourth-rated cable news network. Chief executive officer Christopher Ruddy states, “Newsmax is growing across almost every metric.” The cable news network draws over 30 million regular viewers … Airing weekly on CRN Digital Talk Radio and in numerous radio markets across the country, “What’s Cookin’ on Wine” notes its 750th episode with an on-air celebration. Among those taking part include Brewer Clifton founder/winemaker Greg Brewer; Arthur Vineyards proprietor David Long; Pisoni Vineyards founder Gary Pisoni; Boisett Collection proprietor Jean-Charles Boisset; and CIRQ & CHEV Wines founder Michael Browne. The Michael Horn and Nicole Nielson-hosted show began broadcasting from Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in 2002; Michael Jordan spun off “What’s Cookin’ on Wine” and created “The Word on Wine,” which originates from Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa (California). According to Jordan, “What’s Cookin’ on Wine” has become “one of the most respected radio shows and podcasts in the world of wine. Bringing the joy of wine to the public is my passion; it’s only fitting to celebrate the legacy of the show with some of the most important people in the industry.” In addition to being an original host of “The Word on Wine” and “What’s Cookin’ on Wine,” certified sommelier Horn hosts the daily syndicated “What’s Cookin’ Today.” He founded CRN in 1983 and is its chief executive officer … Public radio news/talk WMFE, Orlando’s former president/chief executive officer Stephen McKenney Steck, 77, died this past Saturday (7/24) in Orlando. He was hit by a car while biking. Responsible for signing on WMFE in 1980, Steck founded the Carroll McKenney Foundation For Public Media, a nonprofit producer of Central Florida programming and podcasts.