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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

| November 18, 2020

NAB and FCC Challenge Third Circuit Court’s Action on Ownership Changes in the Supreme Court. In a brief filed with the Supreme Court of the United StatesNational Association of Broadcasters, the Federal Communications Commission (and fellow petitioners Bonneville International Corporation, Connoisseur Media LLC, Fox Corporation, News Corporation, News Media Alliance, Nexstar Inc., The Scranton Times L.P., and Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.) are asking the Supreme Court to reverse the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that vacated the FCC’s ownership rules changes. As industry watchers are aware, after adopting a Reconsideration Order, the FCC repealed the Newspaper/Broadcast Cross-Ownership Rule, the Radio/Television Cross-Ownership Rule, and the TV Joint Sales Agreement Attribution Rule. It also established a modest presumptive waiver of the Local Radio Ownership Rule for parties seeking approval of a limited number of transactions involving radio stations in markets that contain multiple “embedded” markets. In the brief, NAB and the FCC argue that Section 202(h) of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 directs the FCC to review its media ownership rules every four years and to “repeal” or “modify” any rule that is no longer “necessary in the public interest as the result of competition.” They note that no party challenged the FCC’s statutorily mandated competition analysis, nor did the Third Circuit question it on the merits. Yet, they argue, the Third Circuit concluded that the Commission inadequately considered the effect of those changes on minority and female ownership – even though Section 202(h) says nothing about that issue. On that ground alone, the Third Circuit vacated all the Commission’s rule changes (as well as other agency actions in these consolidated cases) and ordered the agency to collect additional statistics on ownership diversity. The same divided Third Circuit panel has repeatedly elevated its policy concerns over the statutory text and purported to retain jurisdiction over the FCC’s Section 202(h) orders, effectively blocking review by any other court for more than 15 years. The petitioners are asking the Supreme Court to rule on “whether under Section 202(h) the Commission must produce and consider statistical evidence or conduct an in-depth theoretical analysis regarding effects on minority and female ownership before repealing or modifying media ownership rules that it determines are no longer ‘necessary in the public interest as the result of competition.’” Oral arguments for this case have not been scheduled yet.

Michigan Station Owner Jamie McKibbin Dies in Boating Accident. The owner of McKibbin Media GroupJamie McKibbin – died in a boating accident on Clendening Lake in Harrison County, Ohio on Sunday (11/15). McKibbin and James ‘Bud’ Miller were on a hunting trip when the accident happened. McKibbin and his wife Katina own the company that includes news/talk WKHM-AM/W268CA, sports talk WKHM-HD2/W270CJ “FOX Sports 101.9,” country WIBM-AM/W240DG and CHR WKHM-FM in the Jackson, Michigan market and adult contemporary WCSR-FM in the Hillsdale, Michigan market. On the WKHM-AM website the company posted his obituary that says, “Jamie achieved his lifelong dream of owning radio stations with the purchase of the Jackson stations in December 2019, followed by the addition of his hometown stations in Hillsdale in February 2020. He was also involved with the Michigan Association of Broadcasters and had recently joined its board of directors.” McKibbin is also survived by his 14-year-old son Walker.

TALKERS News Notes. News comes from NAB that the 2021 Audio Engineering Society fall convention will co-locate with NAB Show on October 11–13, 2021 in Las Vegas. NAB says, the co-location brings together the premiere convention for pro audio professionals with the world’s largest convention encompassing media, entertainment, and technology. The AES Show will take place at the Westgate Hotel, adjacent to the Las Vegas Convention Center where NAB Show will be held. The AES fall convention was previously co-located with NAB Show New York at the Javits Convention Center annually in October from 2017–2019. The two events were held virtually in 2020. NAB EVP of conventions and business operations Chris Brown says, “We are excited to be building the most significant, in-person media and entertainment event of 2021 and are ready to bring the industry together once again at NAB Show in October. Together with AES, we will provide unparalleled access to critical information, inspiration and solutions for audio engineers and content creators.”…..iHeartMedia and podcast network and production studio Cloud10 Media are partnering for a two-year production and distribution deal  that will “leverage Cloud10’s diverse slate of curated celebrity-hosted audio programs and iHeartMedia’s national cross-platform network in order to reach a wider audience of consumers across the country.” As part of the deal, all existing and upcoming Cloud10 Media podcasts including “Busy Philipps is Doing Her Best,” “Daddy Issues with Joe Buck and Oliver Hudson,” “Work in Progress with Sophia Bush,” and more will be distributed by the iHeartPodcast Network and will be promoted across iHeartMedia’s multiplatform network…..FOX Sports Radio reports record audience gains across multiple digital platforms for October 2020. FSR says it experienced its best streaming month of all time in October, with total listening hours increasing +28% year-to-year. Additionally, the FOX Sports Radio Podcast Network’s audience grew +123% year-to-year in October, marking FSR’s second-best month ever in terms of podcast listens. FOXSportsRadio.com also experienced its second-best month in history with October page views growing +46% year-to-year, and the network’s YouTube channel saw its views increase by +41% year-to-year in October…..SiriusXM announces a new long-term agreement with the NBCUniversal News Group under which the simulcasts of MSNBC and CNBC will continue to air on SiriusXM, as will the TODAY Show Radio channel. TODAY Show Radio is a 24/7 channel dedicated to TODAY and is home to exclusive radio programs hosted by some of the morning show’s stars. Under the new agreement, SiriusXM also becomes the exclusive advertising representative and end-to-end ad tech platform for a broad slate of NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC podcasts. In addition to live airings of TODAY, the channel features exclusive weekly programs including “The Hoda Show” hosted by Hoda Kotb (Mondays from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm ET) and “Off The Rails” (Tuesdays from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm ET) with co-hosts Al Roker, Dylan Dreyer, and Sheinelle Jones…..Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports that Chicago Public Media is naming Sasha-Ann Simons host of the 11:00 am to 1:00 pm “Reset” talk program on WBEZ-FM. Simons is currently a host and correspondent at American University’s WAMU-FM, Washington, DC. She takes over for Jenn White who left WBEZ to take on the hosting duties for the WAMU-FM-based “1A” program syndicated by NPR. Since her departure, Justin Kaufmann has been serving as interim host. Simon begins her duties on December 14.

WPG-AM, Atlantic City Morning Host Harry Hurley Makes ‘Insider 100 Power’ List. Calling it “a coveted, tough list to make,” WPG-AM, Atlantic City morning drive host Harry Hurley tells TALKERS magazine he is honored to make Insider NJ’s “Insider 100 Power” list. He adds, “It’s a real professional honor to be included and I’m so appreciative with what they wrote about me.”

Trump’s Continued Challenge of Election/Fires HS Official, Biden Transition, COVID-19 Stats & Projections/Vaccines, Holiday Get-Together Controversy, Georgia Recount/Runoff Elections, and Big Tech Senate Hearing Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/17). The continuing rhetoric from President Trump about the election results and his firing of Homeland Security official Chris Krebs for vouching for the integrity of the vote; the transition of the Joe Biden administration; the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and abroad, projections for future cases, and the progress on vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna; the contentious issue of mandates against large gatherings for Thanksgiving and Christmas; the presidential election recount taking place in Georgia and that state’s January runoff elections for its U.S. Senate seats; and testimony from Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee 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. Air personality Kasper joins Alpha Media Canton as evening host for its hot AC WHBC “Mix 94.1.” Cluster content director Gabriel Carrillo says, “It’s not often you get the opportunity to bring in a talent with whom the audience is intimately familiar. When [OM] Bo Matthews and I had the chance to sign-on Kasper to the team it was a no-brainer. Finding someone with an instant connection to the market is very rare to find. We sound LOCAL and on the pulse of what is going on in our community. His experience in both Cleveland and Youngstown give our station a true Northeast Ohio feel.”…..Condolences to the family and friends of longtime classic rock WONE-FM, Akron air personality T.K. O’Grady, who passed away at the age of 66 from natural causes. WEWS-TV, Cleveland reports that O’Grady worked in radio for 40 years and joined Akron’s Rubber City Radio in 1998. WONE-FM posted on its website that there will no service or calling hours due to COVID-19, adding, “May his memory be eternal.”

Monday, October 26, 2020

| October 26, 2020

Monday Memo: Listeners’ Mindset, Advertisers’ Message. Notwithstanding the president’s hope that “pandemic fatigue” will buoy his message that “we’ve turned the corner,” survey data presented at the NAB/New York virtual convention – now underway and available on-demand – describes how Americans really feel, and how our advertisers can relate. In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke’s conference notes, and specific tips for improving results from endorsement spots. Read it here.

Pending Business: A Secret of Success. Sales and marketing pro Steve Lapa, president of Lapcom Communications Corp, writes in his column today, “Every dominant business understands how important it is to set a standard, stick to it, improve it, own it and infuse it into the culture of the organization. Does your radio station strive to set industry-leading sales standards? You don’t need the highest-rated radio station to set a standard for sales performance and service. You don’t need the highest rates, or the most revenue. You need commitment, and the relentless pursuit of setting and improving standard-setting performance.” Read more here.

Nexstar Media Group’s Operational Realignment Ups Sean Compton to President, Networks. On Thursday (10/22), Nexstar Media Group announced a combination of its two primary subsidiaries – Nexstar Digital LLC and Nexstar Broadcasting into a new subsidiary called Nexstar Inc. In this new alignment, Karen Brophy becomes president, digital; Timothy Busch is now president, broadcasting; and Sean Compton rises from executive vice president to president, networks in which he’ll oversee WGN America, Antenna TV, and WGN Radio. All three will answer to Nexstar Media Group president, COO and CFO Thomas Carter. He says, “The operational realignment we are announcing today will accelerate Nexstar’s growth by leveraging our leading local content and positioning the company to become an even more nimble and competitive organization, thereby creating new value for shareholders… We completed the highly accretive acquisition of Tribune Media a year ago and quickly and efficiently integrated their assets, resulting in first year operating synergies exceeding $185 million. At the same time, we converted the Tribune enterprise to Nexstar’s operating, sales and other protocols and successfully and cost-effectively launched ‘News Nation’ on WGN America. As a result, we are leveraging our industry leading scale, diversified business model and solid operating execution to deliver record 2020 financial results as we dynamically manage the business to offset the impacts of the pandemic, reduce leverage and return capital to shareholders through quarterly cash dividends and share repurchases. Our decision to reorganize the business’ operating structure at this time reflects our view that there remains tremendous upside to be realized by maximizing the value of our assets, content and strong consumer engagement with our digital properties.”

iHeartMedia Birmingham Launches ‘BIN 92.7.’ The Birmingham, Alabama market joins the growing number of iHeartMedia markets airing the BIN: Black Information Network format as the company unveils “BIN 92.7” on FM translator WW224CK, Vestavia Hills. The company says “BIN 92.7” will broadcast 24/7 national and local news focused on serving the Black community and providing an information window for those outside the community to help foster communication, accountability and a deeper understanding. The station will feature top national on-air anchors and correspondents including award-winning broadcaster Ed Gordon and renowned journalist Roland Martin. Black Information Network president Tony Coles says, “BIN’s goal has always been to be the most trusted source for news in the Black community, and part of that strategy is, of course, to be available on both broadcast and digital stations across America. We’re thrilled to bring BIN, a full-time news service by and for the Black community, to Birmingham and provide listeners there with both the national and local news that impacts their lives.”

TALKERS News Notes. The FCC issues a Public Notice announcing the Access to Capital Working Group of its Advisory Committee on Diversity and Digital Empowerment and the FCC’s Media Bureau will co-host a virtual symposium titled “Path to Media Ownership and Sustainability” on November 6, 2020 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm ET.  The symposium will examine access to capital for small and diverse broadcasters.  The event will be convened virtually via WebEx and will be available to the public streaming via the Internet at www.fcc.gov/live. It will feature broadcasters and lenders discussing how to obtain financing for broadcast station transactions in today’s challenging financial circumstances, as well as experts discussing the history of the previous broadcast tax certificate policy and the potential for a new tax certificate policy to increase broadcast ownership diversity.  The symposium will also include presentations from Nielsen Global Media on ratings measurements for multi-ethnic broadcast stations, and a discussion of how small and diverse broadcasters can attract increased advertising revenue.  Finally, congressional staff members will provide updates on pending legislation intended to increase diverse media ownership…..Talk media personality Tom Donahue announces he has returned to Tom Donahue Reports to produce his program as a podcast in which he’ll no longer conform to a formatted show, thereby allowing him “greater versatility and creativity in producing audio content.” He continues to stream his show on Talk Stream Live. Also, Donahue is launching a commentaries service in the form of capsules made available to stations as one- or two-minute episodes. “America’s First News with Matt Ray” recently added the reports to his show twice weekly…..Pictured below is Salem Radio Network syndicated talk radio personality Sebastian Gorka (center) with SRN V.P./news & talk programming Tom Tradup (left) and Breitbart Washington political editor Matt Boyle (right) at a celebration of Gorka’s birthday in Alexandria, Virginia. Among the guests were: Salem executives David Santrella and Phil Boyce; former White House press secretary (and Newsmax TV personality) Sean Spicer; WMAL-FM, Washington talk host Larry O’Connor; and KABC, Los Angeles radio and political commentator Joseph DiGenova.

New Orleans Talk Radio Pioneer Keith Rush Dead at 89. WWL-TV, New Orleans reports that Keith Rush, a conservative talk radio icon who worked in the market for 60 years, died last Thursday (10/22) at age 89. According to WWL-TV, Rush was best known for his talk radio program on WSMB-AM that aired during the 1970s and 1980s. Local politician Lawrence E. Chehardy is quoted in the piece saying of Rush’s program, “It was a great forum because you could go on and discuss the issues with him and take phone calls from listeners. It was a way for elected officials to be able to converse with their constituents, long before the days of social media.” Rush began his radio career in the mid 1950s as a disc jockey. He transitioned to talk in the 1970s.

The Presidential Election/‘60 Minutes’ Interviews, Early/Mail-In Voting, COVID-19 Stats & Projections/Pence Office Outbreak, Hunter Biden Emails Case, Social Media ‘Censorship,’ Amy Coney Barrett Confirmation, California Power Outages and Wildfire Threats Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The November 3 presidential election and Sunday night’s appearances by Donald Trump and Joe Biden on “60 Minutes”; reports of record numbers of early and mail-in votes; the rising number of positive cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and around the world and projections for the fall/winter seasons, as well as the outbreak among the staff of Vice President Mike Pence; the leaked emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop; allegations by conservatives that Twitter and Facebook are censoring their political messages; the confirmation vote on Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett; and the power outages in California as high winds threaten more wildfires 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. In Phoenix, Entercom promotes Chris Hernandez to operations manager for the cluster. In this role, Hernandez will lead operations efforts for classic hits KOOL-FM, country KMLE-FM, and CHR KALV-FM “LIVE 101.5.” At the same time, the company ups Daniel Valentine to music director for “LIVE 101.5.” Entercom Phoenix SVP and market manager Dave Pugh says, “Chris Hernandez has consistently shown amazing drive that leads to substantial results and I’m confident in his ability to take our collection of stations to higher levels. Daniel Valentine has proven his extensive music expertise over the years and I’m looking forward to watching his career grow as he leads LIVE’s music operations. Both are veterans in our company, and I’m honored to elevate two hard working individuals.”…..The programming lineup for iHeartMedia’s “HBCU Homecoming Celebration on iHeartRadio” is taking place on November 12. It will include Angela Yee, co-host of the morning show “The Breakfast Club,” and special guests exploring female entrepreneurship and the art of brand building as the modern-day self-CEO as part of the iHeartRadio Beautiful Possibilities presented by Ulta Beauty.  During the discussion, the panel participants will share their personal stories of success and explore how they rise above challenges to define their careers. The panel aims to uplift, inspire and pave the way for the next generation of Black women leaders and will be followed by a performance by singer and songwriter H.E.R. “Breakfast Club” co-host DJ Envy will emcee the iHeartRadio HBCU Homecoming Party on the Yard, presented by McDonald’s. The virtual event will include celebrity guest and McDonald’s owner/operator interviews, legendary HBCU Homecoming highlights, and several special surprise moments. The event will culminate with a performance from global superstar Khalid across all iHeartMedia hip hop and R&B stations…..Legendary Chicago jock Ron Britain, a.k.a. Ron Magel, has died in his hometown of Louisville at the age of 86. Chicago media writer Robert Feder writes about the career of the man who was known as King B on the radio. During his more than 50 year radio career, Britain worked at some 21 stations but achieved the peak of his fame at former CHR outlet WCFL-AM which he joined in 1965.