Friday, March 16, 2018

Mid-State PA Radio: Cumulus Swaps WWKL, WZCY Frequencies

Cumulus Media announces that it flipped the frequencies of two of its Harrisburg, PA, radio stations Thursday, March 15, at 2pm ET. CHR station WWKL-FM (formerly known as HOT 93.5 FM) moved from 93.5 on the dial to 106.7 as the new HOT 106.7.

The 106.7 frequency had been home to Cumulus Media’s Country-formatted WZCY-FM, which segued to its new home at 93.5 as 93.5 NASH FM. HOT 106.7 FM’s strong signal will bring HOT 106.7’s CHR programming to a larger audience across the Harrisburg-York-Lancaster DMA. Concurrently, the stations’ respective websites launched their new online homes at and

Cumulus Media also announced programming enhancements at 93.5 NASH FM, which adopts the new moniker, “Your Neighborhood Country”. The new 93.5 NASH FM refocuses its music selections on more familiar, gold-based Country music, playing artists including Shania Twain, Carrie Underwood, Garth Brooks, Blake Shelton and George Strait. In addition, Afternoon On-Air Host and Program Director Charles “Chachi” Angelo moves to Mornings on the station with his Co-Host, Jenna Clay. Midday Host Alex Harley will move to Afternoons on 93.5 NASH FM, followed by NASH Nights Live in Evenings and The Blair Garner Show in Overnights.
Ron Giovanniello, Regional Vice President, Cumulus Media-Pennsylvania, said: “We want our listeners and advertisers to know that we are just moving their favorite radio stations. We have tried our very best to make this as simple as possible. The exact same HOT radio station that listeners and advertisers have loved for decades is now on the best and biggest FM signal in the entire Harrisburg-York-Lancaster, PA, DMA at 106.7 FM, allowing listeners to hear HOT everywhere. Likewise, our NASH Country radio station moves from 106.7 FM to 93.5 FM. At the same time, we are excited to launch some new programming elements to 93.5 NASH FM, including Chachi & Jenna in the Morning and Alex Harley in Afternoons. Also, 93.5 NASH FM will now play all your favorite Country music including the music that made Country great, mixed in with today’s hit Country.” 

WWKL 106.7 FM (14 Kw) Red=Local Coverage Area
John O’Dea, Cumulus Harrisburg Programming Operations Manager and WWKL-FM Program Director, said: “Since 2001 when we first launched HOT we have seen the station continue to go and grow in Harrisburg. By moving HOT to the massive 106.7 signal, we now have the opportunity to reach listeners across the Harrisburg, York and Lancaster markets.”

WZCY 93.5 FM (1.25 Kw)
Charles “Chachi” Angelo, WZCY-FM Program Director, said: "We're excited to be live and hyper-local with the best mix of Country music in all of the neighborhoods surrounding Harrisburg and York. I have so many people to thank: Alex Harley for all of his hard work with re-imaging the new station, our Cumulus leadership for putting their faith in our programming strategy, everyone in our Promotions, Digital, and Sales departments, and our families at home for their unwavering support. I'm looking forward to getting back to mornings with my on-air partner Jenna Clay, and waking up Harrisburg and York with local stories that affect their daily lives, all while playing the best of 'Your Neighborhood Country'."

Study: Non-Com N/Ts Benefit Most From 'Trump Bump'

After years of declining or flat ratings, news/talk stations grew their overall share performance in 2016 for the first time in at least five years. A new report from Gabe Hobbs Media shows news/talk increased its total week AQH share in the crucial adults 25-54 demo from a 2.4 in 2015 to a 2.5 in 2016.

That performance is an about-face from the 2011-15 trend when the share tumbled 2.9-2.4. Looked at another way, more than half (55%) of news/talk stations boosted their 2016 ratings while 25% maintained their numbers and 20% were down. That’s a major turnaround from 2015 when 52% lost ratings ground and just one-third (33%) improved.

Conducted by Gabe Hobbs Media using Nielsen data, the study tracks 122 news/talk stations in 44 of the top 50 markets in the 25-54 demo from Jan. 2011 through Dec. 2016.

Although the share increase was relatively modest, the number of AQH persons made a much bigger leap, up 14.5% year-over-year from a total of 2,600 to 3,000. All numbers quoted are for persons 25-54.

“The overwhelming majority of any ‘Trump Bump’ went to non-commercial radio,” Hobs says. Non-comm news/talkers leapt from a 2.5 AQH share in the money demo in 2015 to a 3.1 in 2016. Commercial FM news/talkers were flat at a 3.9 and commercial AM stations dipped 1.7-1.6.

iHM To Now Focus On Operations Vs. Debt

iHeartMedia paid $1.4 billion last year in interest on its debts. Its media division, which includes the broadcast stations, a popular music app and Premiere Networks that syndicates shows by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and others, had $3.6 billion in revenue and $735 million in operating income.

Counting its global business in outdoor billboards, which is not part of the bankruptcy, the company had $6.2 billion in revenue over all.

The bankruptcy is the culmination of iHeartMedia’s yearslong dance with its creditors, reports The NYTimes.

It is also the latest and most high-profile shift in the tumultuous radio business, which has struggled to retain advertising dollars and compete with streaming services like Spotify and Pandora.  Cumulus Media, iHeart’s closest competitor, with 445 stations, declared bankruptcy four months ago.

Annual advertising, radio’s chief revenue source, has hovered around $16 billion for years, according to a report last year by the accounting firm PwC. By 2021, the report projected, that figure, for terrestrial broadcast stations, would reach only $16.6 billion, with a 10-year compounded annual growth rate of just 0.425 percent.

Bob Pittman
iHeartMedia has maintained that its radio stations remain popular and vital even as it has introduced apps and negotiated new licensing deals intended to control its royalty payments online.

“We have transformed a traditional broadcast radio company into a true 21st-century multiplatform, data-driven, digitally focused media and entertainment powerhouse with unparalleled reach, products and services now available on more than 200 platforms,” Robert W. Pittman, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement announcing the bankruptcy filing.

Lance Vitanza, an analyst at Cowen, said that iHeartMedia had done better than most radio companies in expanding its audience and adapting to new technologies, but that debt had weighed it down — a burden that could find relief through the bankruptcy process.

“Ultimately, when they come out of bankruptcy, they will be in a much better position,” Vitanza said. “We expect them to be able to focus their resources on growing their business rather than on debt service, which is what they’ve had to do for the last 10 years.”

Bain Capital: Too Smart For Their Own Good?

Bain Capital has had better weeks.

The NYPost reports the Boston private-equity firm was a lead investor in three leveraged buyouts — Toys ‘R’ Us, iHeartMedia and Guitar Center — each of which experienced a financial collapse in recent days.

The Mitt Romney-founded firm co-led the 2008 buyout of America’s biggest radio station owner, iHeartMedia, and on Thursday the San Antonio, Texas, company filed for bankruptcy protection.

In 2005, Bain was a lead investor in Toys ‘R’ Us, which announced Thursday it was liquidating its 730 stores, putting 33,000 jobs at risk.

And the 34-year-old PE shop was also the lead investor in 2007 in Guitar Center, the musical instrument retailer that this week proposed a debt refinancing that, if accepted by bondholders, would be considered a default, credit agencies said.

Twenty-two percent of Bain LBOs from 1984-92 went bankrupt, Applebaum wrote in her book, “Private Equity at Work.” That is a far higher percentage than the industry average, according to the book. It happened under previous leadership.

The $26 billion iHeart buyout seemed a stretch, even at the time.

Bain, and Thomas H. Lee Partners first agreed to buy iHeart, then called Clear Channel, in 2007.

But as the deal was set to close, the Great Recession began.

Lenders financing the buyout — including Citigroup and Morgan Stanley — moved to terminate the deal.

Bain and THL took the lenders to court and forced the buyout to be completed.

Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners control 68 percent of the voting stock of iHeartMedia, according to the company’s most recent annual report.

Tallahassee Radio: Jeff Horn New OM For Adams Group

Jeff Horn
Adam Radio Group/Tallahassee has  announced that Jeff Horn has appointed Operations Manager of the cluster and Program Director of Country WWOF 103.1 The Wolf.

He replaces Gregory "Big Moose" Juszczyk who recently relocated.

"We are thrilled to have Jeff on our team," said Hank Kestenbaum, Vice President & General Manager of Adams Tallahassee. "Jeff has spent 30 years in Tallahassee radio and his prior experience in Country Radio and in similar positions made him the perfect candidate for us, not to mention we have a prior history together. I guess you could say we put the band back together!"

"It is so exciting to be back in country radio and even more exciting to be with Adams Radio and The Wolf," said Horn. "I can hardly wait to dive in!"

WWOF 103.1 FM (51 Kw) Red=Local Coverage Area
Previously Horn served as PD for WEBL in Memphis, WYZB in Fort Walton Beach, Operations Manager for iHeart Media Tallahassee, TRIAD Broadcasting, and North Florida Broadcasting. Jeff began his radio career in Miami with Y-100, 96x, and K-102.

VT Radio: Dana Jewell Returning To N/T WDEV

Dana Jewell
Vermont Radio Broadcaster and former WDEV Wake Up Vermont co-host Dana Jewell, known for his easygoing conversational manner and humor, will return to WDEV AM 550 and simulcast on FM 96.1, 96.5, 98.3, 101.9 on March 26, according to

Jewell was the signature morning voice six days a week at WDEV from 2001 to 2008 following the retirement of longtime morning host Michael Carey. For eight years listeners started their day with Dana. In 2008 Jewell left WDEV to pursue a career in sales.

Raised in Burlington, Jewell began his career spinning records at Arthur’s Disco in the mid-1970s. In 1980 he was hired at WSYB in Rutland for evenings. His radio career has included stints with WEZF, WDOT, WVMT and WEXP as well as Hall Communications. He founded the Hometown Clipper coupon mailer in 1991, and joined the morning team on WDEV in 2001.

“I have missed Radio Vermont since the day I left. It’s good to be coming back where I belong,” Jewell said.
WDEV 550 AM (5 Kw-D, 1 Kw-N DA-2)
“(Jewell) was a staple of WDEV for a number of years, greeting listeners each day with his friendly style,” said general manager and owner Steve Cormier, who took over the business from Ken Squier. “We have many listeners who remember Dana and will be happy to hear him on WDEV again.”

Fox News Signs Shepard Smith To Long-Term Deal

Fox News has re-signed longtime anchor Shepard Smith to a new multiyear deal, according to an announcement by 21st Century Fox and Fox News Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch.

“Shepard Smith is an exemplary journalist whose skill in anchoring breaking news is unrivaled. His powerful storytelling on both television and digital platforms has elevated our entire news gathering process,” Murdoch said.

According to The Hill, Smith, 54, began with the network at its inception in 1996. He will continue to serve as its chief news anchor and managing editor of breaking news and said in the deal's announcement that he is "honored to continue to call Fox News my home."

Meanwhile, Smith says opinion programming on his network doesn't "really have rules" and exists "strictly to be entertaining," in an interview published Thursday.

"Some of our opinion programming is there strictly to be entertaining," Smith told Time Magazine's Daniel D'Addario in a piece titled, "Shep Smith Has the Hardest Job on Fox News."

“We serve different masters," Smith, 54, added when discussing the difference between the opinion side of Fox News, including shows such as "The Sean Hannity Show," and the network's news division. "We work for different reporting chains, we have different rules. They don’t really have rules on the opinion side. They can say whatever they want. If it’s their opinion."

According to Nielsen Media Research, "Shepard Smith Reporting," which airs at 3 p.m., averaged 1.6 million viewers and 335,000 in the key 25–54 demographic that advertisers covet most, topping CNN and MSNBC in both categories.

Meredith Puts Magazines On The Block

Media company Meredith has hired advisers to explore a sale of its Time, Fortune, Money and Sports Illustrated magazines following its $1.84 billion acquisition of Time Inc in January, people familiar with the matter said.

According to Reuters, the move illustrates how Meredith sees some of Time Inc's titles that attract primarily male readership as not playing to its core strength in women's magazines, which include Better Homes & Gardens, Family Circle and Martha Stewart Living.

The Des Moines, Iowa-based company has tapped investment banks Citigroup and Houlihan Lokey to find potential buyers for the magazines, the sources said this week. There is no certainty that a divestiture will occur, the sources added.

While it's possible that media, telecommunications or technology companies could express an interest in the magazines, a sale to wealthy individuals, such as philanthropists or billionaires, is viewed by Meredith as more likely, according to one of the sources.

It was not clear how much the magazines could be worth. Fortune and Money generated more than $20 million in 12-month earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBIDTA), while Time generated more than $30 million in 12-month EBITDA, according to one of the people.

The potential divestitures underscore how Time Inc's primary attraction for Meredith was building scale in digital advertising. With its roots in traditional publishing, Meredith has been in a fierce competitive online race against internet giants such as Alphabet Incs Google and Facebook Inc for consumer eyeballs and advertising dollars.

The deal with Time Inc expanded Meredith's reach with internet-savvy millennials, creating a digital media business with 170 million monthly unique visitors in the United States and more than 10 billion annual video views.

Report: Podcast Boom Is Here To Stay

According to a new report from the Radio Advertising Bureau, 44% of the U.S. population has listened to a podcast.

And that an increase from 2006 where the figure was 11 percent.

The 2018 Infinite Dial by Edison Research and Triton Digital found that podcasting remained an emerging source of entertainment and information with 73 million Americans listening to a podcast every month, 48 million Americans listening weekly, and the average listener taking in 7 podcasts per week.

RAB says that radio outlets and their personalities are tapping into the world of podcasting in a very big way with iHeartRadio, Cumulus/Westwood One, ABC News Radio, Entercom, Hubbard Radio and 44% of local radio stations producing and purveying original content. And through content and distribution partnerships with podcast production companies, the depth and quality of audio content has never been better.

Podcasting in its simplest form is audio programming, available on-demand, and offers a unique way for brands to partner with broadcast radio. The Westwood One Podcast Network has grown with popular podcasts that resonate with audiences, such as "The Ben Shapiro Show," "The Jim Rome Podcast," "Talk is Jericho." Last year iHeartRadio saw a 60% increase in podcast listenership as it's the standalone #1 podcaster among commercial broadcast radio companies, with 525 original and branded podcasts spanning 18 different categories, from business and sports to science and entertainment.

The podcasting boom is here to stay, concludes the RAB, and brands are recognizing that in a big way as they continue to leverage the medium to engage and tell their stories to targeted consumer groups.

Rihanna Ad Sparks Outrage, Snapchat Offers Apology

An ad on Snapchat asking users if they'd rather "Slap Rihanna" or "Punch Chris Brown" has spawned widespread outrage, including from the singer herself, and brought profuse apologies from the company behind the visual-messaging app.

CBS News reports Snapchat said it is investigating how the ad for a mobile video game called "Would You Rather" made it to the app.

Rihanna, who Brown was convicted of assaulting when she was his girlfriend in 2009, posted an angry statement on her Snapchat and Instagram accounts.

"I'm just trying to figure out what the point was with this mess!" Rihanna, 30, wrote. "I'd love to call it ignorance but I know you ain't that dumb! You spent money to animate something that would intentionally bring shame to DV victims and made a joke of it!!!"

"Shame on you" she goes on to say. "Throw the whole app-oligy away."

"This advertisement is disgusting and never should have appeared on our service," a Snap, Inc. spokesman said in a statement. "We are so sorry we made the terrible mistake of allowing it through our review process."

Snapchat said most of its advertising is bought through a self-service platform but is subject to review that should have stopped the ad. "Would You Rather" is now blocked from advertising there.

Brown pleaded guilty to felony assault for his attack on Rihanna in 2009 just hours before the Grammy Awards.

Spotify Relies On its Free Service To Acquire Paying Users

Spotify loses money on every new user that takes advantage of its free service tier, but that shouldn't concern investors in the long-run, Spotify chief financial officer Barry McCarthy told investors on Thursday.

"The ad supported service is also a subsidy program that offsets the cost of new user acquisition," McCarthy told investors.

The Spotify service comes in two tiers: First, a free version, supported by ads. And then, there's the $9.99 ad-free Spotify Premium service, where the company makes most of its subscription revenue.

According to BusiunessInsider, while the free tier eventually leads many customers into eventually becoming a Spotify Premium customer, it's still a costly investment: After a customer moves from the free tier to Spotify Premium, it takes 12 months on average for Spotify to recoup the costs of all the music they listened to without paying.

The company attributes those losses to the music licensing fees and royalties that it has to pay on every song that streams on its service. That's added up to $10 billion in music fees since Spotify debuted in 2008. In 2017, it meant that Spotify lost $1.5 billion on $5 billion in revenue.

Spotify sees its free service as a marketing and acquisition expense, McCarthy said, and believes that it will pay off financially for Spotify once the company has the scale necessary to grow its margins.

March 16 Radio History

➦In 1906...comedian Henny Youngman was born Henry Youngman in London. Famous for the line “Take my wife … please.” His big break came when he was booked on the popular Kate Smith radio show in 1937.  Had his own TV show (with boxer Rocky Graziano)The Henny & Rocky Show in 1955. His career was revived via repeated appearances on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In in the 1960’s. He made 12 guest appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. He died of pneumonia Feb 24, 1998 at age 91.

➦In 1916...actress Mercedes McCambridge was born in Joliet Ill.

Orson Welles dubbed her “the greatest radio actress” after she had lead roles in many of his Mercury Theatre broadcasts in the 1930’s while starring on Broadway.  She guested on numerous radio dramas (Lights Out, Inner Sanctum, Studio One, Bulldog Drummond, Ford Theatre, Gang Busters, Abie’s Irish Rose, etc.) and had lead roles in both East and West Coast originations of I Love a Mystery. Later she had a healthy career in TV, and won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for All the King’s Men.

She died March 2 2004, two weeks before her 88th birthday.

➦In 1922...WKY AM, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma went on-the-air.

1944 Print Ad
"5XT" became the 87th licensed station in the United States on March 16, 1922. It was owned by the Oklahoma Radio Shop (Earl C. Hull & H.S. Richards). The station was assigned the WKY call letters and began broadcasting weekdays from noon to 1:00 P.M. and from 7:30 to 9:30 P.M. On Sundays, WKY was on the air from 3 to 4 P.M. and 7:30 to 9:30 P.M.

On November 1922, WKY announced a "silent night" policy, meaning the station would broadcast only four, and later three nights a week. This was so listeners could have a chance to tune into other stations in neighboring states.

Richards and Hull struggled to keep WKY on the air. In late 1925, Richards left the radio business, but Hull continued to keep WKY on the air by selling shares of the station to radio dealers in Oklahoma City. The dealers paid Hull a small salary to keep the station broadcasting; however they decided the financial drain had become too much. In 1928, WKY was purchased by the Oklahoma Publishing Company, publishers of the Daily Oklahoman for the hefty sum of $5,000 (over $63,000 in 2010 dollars).

The formal opening of the new WKY was set for November 11, 1928, but the station went on the air several days earlier to carry the presidential election returns as Herbert Hoover won in a Republican landslide.

By the following year, WKY was attempting to operate like the powerhouse stations in the east. Aside from the programming from NBC, everything broadcast by WKY originated locally.

In 1958, WKY became the second Top-40 formatted station in Oklahoma City, behind KOCY, (now KEBC). During the 1960s and 70's WKY fended off serious challenges from 50,000 watt rival KOMA 1520 AM.

Although KOMA was very famous outside Oklahoma City, due to its large nighttime signal (like WABC in New York), WKY was usually the ratings leader in the city itself (as WMCA won New York City ratings books from 1963–1966); WKY continued to top many Arbitron ratings sweeps into the 1970s.

Ironically, WKY mainstays during that time—Danny Williams, Ronnie Kaye and Fred Hendrickson—would go on to become "KOMA Good Guys" when the station flipped from a standards to an oldies format.

Today, WKY is owned by Cumulus and airs an Hispanic format.

➦In 1926...Comedian Jerry Lewis was born Joseph Levitch in Newark New Jersey. As well as comedian he was also a successful actor, singer, humanitarian, film director, film producer and screenwriter, known for his slapstick humor in film, stage, TV and radio. Lewis was one-half of the hit popular comedy duo Martin and Lewis with singer Dean Martin from 1946 to 1956. He hosted the live Labor Day weekend TV broadcast of The Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon for 44 years.  Lewis died of cardiovascular disease Aug. 20 2017 at age 91.

Dick Beals

➦In 1927 actor Dick Beals was born in Detroit.

His career began doing child voices on all three of WXYZ radio’s juvenile dramas The Lone Ranger, The Green Hornet and Challenge of the Yukon. He may be best remembered as the voice of Speedy Alka Seltzer in TV commercials.  Due to a glandular condition his voice never matured, and he went on to do young voices on scores of Warner Bros. and Hanna-Barbera TV cartoon series.  A licensed pilot, in his later life he flew himself from his California home to faithfully attend Seattle OTR conventions.

He died May 29 2012 at age 85.

➦In 1929...WHP-AM, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania went on-the-air.   The origin of WHP actually dates back to 1925, when a small radio station, known then as WHBG signed on at 1300 AM, with a tiny 20 watt transmitter (today it has 5Kw).  The station was first owned by Skane Electrical Service, however, it was then sold in early 1927 to Mack’s Battery Service, who changed the name to WMBS, moved its location to Lemoyne, and changed it’s position on the dial to 1280AM.

The WHP name was crowned to the station in 1929, when the Harrisburg Telegraph Newspaper took over the station, and moved it’s dial position to 1430AM. The station later moved to 1460 AM, and eventually moved to its well known frequency of 580 AM in 1951.

Today, WHP is owned by iHeartMedia and airs a News/Talk format.

➦In 1947...U.S First Daughter Margaret Truman appeared on Radio in her professional radio debut, singing with the Detroit Symphony.

➦In 1956...WQXR 1560 AM boosted power to 50Kw, Today the call letters are WFME.

➦In 1963...The Peter, Paul & Mary single, "Puff The Magic Dragon," debuted on the Billboard Hot 100. It was banned by several radio stations whose management thought the song was about the joys of smoking marijuana. The group has always denied the allegation.

➦In 1964…Alan Freed was charged with tax evasion in a grand jury indictment stemming from the earlier payola investigation that ruined the career of the ex-disc jockey.

➦In 1983...Arthur Godfrey, WCBS Radio, died of emphysema at the age of 80.

Arthur Godfrey
Godfrey served in the United States Navy from 1920 to 1924 as a radio operator on naval destroyers, but returned home to care for the family after his father's death. Additional radio training came during Godfrey's service in the Coast Guard from 1927 to 1930. It was during a Coast Guard stint in Baltimore that he appeared on a local talent show and became popular enough to land his own brief weekly program.

On leaving the Coast Guard, Godfrey became a radio announcer for the Baltimore station WFBR (now WJZ (AM) and moved the short distance to Washington, D.C. to become a staff announcer for NBC-owned station WRC the same year and remained there until 1934.

Recovering from a near-fatal automobile accident en route to a flying lesson in 1931 (by which time he was already an avid flyer), he decided to listen closely to the radio and realized that the stiff, formal style then used by announcers could not connect with the average radio listener; the announcers spoke in stentorian tones, as if giving a formal speech to a crowd and not communicating on a personal level. Godfrey vowed that when he returned to the airwaves, he would affect a relaxed, informal style as if he were talking to just one person. He also used that style to do his own commercials and became a regional star.

Arthur Godfrey 1948
In addition to announcing, Godfrey sang and played the ukulele. In 1934 he became a freelance entertainer, but eventually based himself on a daily show titled Sundial on CBS-owned station WJSV (now WFED) in Washington. Godfrey was the station's morning disc jockey, playing records, delivering commercials (often with tongue in cheek; a classic example had him referring to Bayer Aspirin as "bare ass prin"), interviewing guests, and even reading news reports during his three-hour shift. Godfrey loved to sing, and would frequently sing random verses during the "talk" portions of his program. In 1937, he was a host on Professor Quiz, radio's first successful quiz program.

Godfrey became nationally known in April 1945 when, as CBS's morning-radio man in Washington, he took the microphone for a live, firsthand account of President Roosevelt's funeral procession. The entire CBS network picked up the broadcast, later preserved in the Edward R. Murrow and Fred W. Friendly record series, I Can Hear it Now. Unlike the tight-lipped news reporters and commentators of the day, who delivered breaking stories in an earnest, businesslike manner, Arthur Godfrey's tone was sympathetic and neighborly, lending immediacy and intimacy to his words. When describing new President Harry S. Truman's car in the procession, Godfrey fervently said, in a choked voice, "God bless him, President Truman." Godfrey broke down in tears and cued the listeners back to the studio. The entire nation was moved by his emotional outburst.

Godfrey made such an impression on the air that CBS gave him his own morning time slot on the nationwide network. Arthur Godfrey Time was a Monday-Friday show that featured his monologues, interviews with various stars, music from his own in-house combo and regular vocalists. Godfrey's monologues and discussions were usually unscripted, and went wherever he chose.

"Arthur Godfrey Time" remained a late morning staple on the CBS Radio Network schedule until 1972.

➦In 1983...NYC and L-A Air Personality B. Mitchel Reed, died at the age of 56.

He was born Burton Mitchel Goldberg in Brooklyn, New York.

After serving in the U.S. Air Force, he entered the world of radio while teaching political science at his alma mater.

Reed hosted the all-night Birdland Jazz Show at WOR (AM) in New York in 1956. A year later, he landed a job at KFWB in Los Angeles.

On January 2, 1958, KFWB became a Top 40 station known as "Coloradio Channel 98," and the DJ's were known as "The Seven Swinging Gentlemen." The lineup included Bruce Hayes, Al Jarvis, Joe Yocam, Elliot Field, Bill Ballance, and Ted Quillan. Reed held the 6-9 P.M time slot. Under Program Director Chuck Blore, KFWB became the number one radio station in LA.

He was known as "The Fastest Tongue in the West," for the speed in which he spoke to his audience. He left KFWB for WMCA in his home state of New York on February 7, 1963. He soon became part of a team of disc jockeys known as "The Good Guys," among them Jack Spector.

Reed went to London, England in pursuit of a band making headlines in hopes of breaking them in New York. The band was none other than The Beatles. His persistence paid off as it led to advance record pressings and exclusive interviews. This helped usher in "Beatlemania" in early 1964.

By 1965, Reed decided to return to Los Angeles. His last show at WMCA was on March 20. Thousands of his fans cheered him at the airport upon his departure. Many fans who were thrilled of his return greeted him when he arrived in LA. This ushered in his second stint at KFWB and The Wide Wide Weird World of BMR.

After attending the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, Reed realized he wanted to go in another direction music-wise. He met with San Francisco based DJ Tom Donahue over the frustrations of radio music restrictions. Donahue was a Program Director for underground station KMPX (FM). With no such music station in LA, Reed left KFWB and founded KPPC-FM in Pasadena. Both stations achieved more success than anticipated with the popularity of AOR programming.

Both stations ran into a conflict with their respective owners thus resulting in a strike. After the strike ended in June 1968, Donahue, got Metromedia to take on the AOR format at KMET (FM). Reed programmed what would become one of the first 24 hour automated music stations. It would go live in the summer of 1969. He left KMET for one year in 1971 to work at KRLA. He returned to KMET in 1972 where he stayed the next six years.

In 1978, Reed underwent coronary bypass surgery. He would leave KMET for KLOS (FM) in 1979. His lingering heart condition caught up with him on March 16, 1983. He died in his West Los Angeles home at the age of 56.

➦In 2012...Bell Canada, the country's biggest telecommunications company, announced it had agreed to buy Montreal-based Astral Media Inc. for $3.38 billion, giving the company more control over content for its cellphone, Internet and land-line services. The deal provided for the acquisition of Astral's 84 commercial radio stations, 22 English-language specialty television channels, and 13 French channels.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

John Skipper Left ESPN Over Cocaine Extortion

Former ESPN president John Skipper was the target of a cocaine extortion plot that forced his shocking resignation in December.

At the time, Skipper cited a substance abuse problem, but in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, he admitted the real reason he stepped down was because his drug addiction put the company in a terrible position.

“In December, someone from whom I bought cocaine attempted to extort me,” Skipper told James Andrew Miller.

John Skipper
Skipper, who talked about how careful he typically was when it came to drugs and his sources, said a new dealer he had never used before tried to shake him down. He did not go into specifics, but said he was so spooked by the situation, he went right to Disney CEO Bob Iger and the two ultimately decided Skipper had to go.

According to the NY Daily News, Skipper claims his recreational drug use, which he attributed to his being a “hippie” and starting his professional career at Rolling Stone magazine, never got in the way of work. He admitted that he used cocaine, but never dabbled in heroin or opioids and that being a “master of compartmentalization” allowed him to go through his professional life without a hint that he was stoned.

He said his carelessness in putting himself in a position to be extorted by a cocaine dealer opened his eyes to the fact that he had a drug problem.

While he copped to his taste for cocaine in the interview, Skipper flatly denied rumors that his resignation was at all connected to sexual misconduct.

Skipper’s problem was drugs, not sex, he said.

iHeartMedia Files For Bankruptcy

iHeartMedia Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection after reaching an agreement in principle with investors over a balance-sheet restructuring, a decade after a private-equity-led buyout left the company laden with billions in debt, according to The Wall Street Journal.

iHeartMedia said in a statement early Thursday the agreement in principle was with holders of more than $10 billion of its outstanding debt and its financial sponsors.

The chapter 11 filing in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, came after months of talks with investors on restructuring terms.

Based in San Antonio, iHM operates 856 terrestrial stations and controls Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings Inc., one of the biggest billboard companies in the world.

The company said Clear Channel Outdoor and its subsidiaries didn’t commence chapter 11 proceedings. It also said its day-to-day operations would continue as usual during the restructuring process.

iHM said it believes its cash on hand, together with cash generated from continuing operations, will be sufficient to fund and support the business during the bankruptcy proceedings.

Bob Pittman
“iHeartMedia has created a highly successful operating business, generating year-over-year revenue growth in each of the last 18 consecutive quarters. We have transformed a traditional broadcast radio company into a true 21st century multi-platform, data-driven, digitally-focused media and entertainment powerhouse with unparalleled reach, products and services now available on more than 200 platforms, and the iHeartRadio master brand that ties together our almost 850 radio stations, our digital platform, our live events, and our 129 million social followers,” said Bob Pittman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

“The agreement we announced today is a significant accomplishment, as it allows us to definitively address the more than $20 billion in debt that has burdened our capital structure. Achieving a capital structure that finally matches our impressive operating business will further enhance iHeartMedia’s position as America’s #1 audio company.”

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Despite sluggish sales and a steady loss of listeners to new platforms, the company had avoided bankruptcy for years by pushing out debt maturities through refinancing and swaps.

Private-equity firms Thomas H. Lee and Bain Capital purchased iHeart, then known as Clear Channel Communications, in 2008 on the eve of the financial crisis. The $26.7 billion deal was troubled almost from the start, and the private-equity firms had to sue its banks to stand by debt they had promised to provide for the deal.

Over the past five years iHeartMedia has spent more on debt payments than it earns. With more than $8 billion in debt maturing next year, the company began talks with creditors on a deal to swap a big chunk of debt for some of its equity.

The bankruptcy filing paves the way for iHeartMedia to shed most of the debt it took on in the 2008 buyout.

Recent talks had centered on a plan to hand 94% of the equity in iHeartMedia’s radio business and all of the equity in Clear Channel Outdoor to senior creditors led by Franklin Mutual Advisers Inc. The company and its creditors had been haggling for weeks over how much of the remaining 6% of equity in the radio business should go to the company’s junior bondholders and private-equity sponsors.

The company’s radio network remains dominant in the industry, but it has like its peers failed to substantially increase revenue in recent years. The company earned just enough money to make its annual debt payments, but never enough to pay down the debt from the 2008 buyout.

iHM's Financials Impacted By Digital Services

iHeartMedia’s bankruptcy comes just over three months after Cumulus Media Inc., the nation’s No. 2 radio broadcaster, filed for bankruptcy. The reach of traditional radio stations remains massive, though advertising revenues have stagnated in the face of challenges from technology titans such as Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google.

The Wall Street Journal reports traditional radio stations also face competition from on-demand streaming services such as Spotify AB and Apple Inc.’s Apple Music. That leaves iHeartMedia and other radio broadcasters as the place audiences go to for costlier programming such as news, talk and sports.

Still, iHM says its broadcast radio stations alone reaches 271 million people in the U.S. each month, more than any other media and tech company including Facebook and Google.

In 2016 the company, which has offered free streaming of thousands of its radio stations since 2011, rolled out a pair of on-demand subscription music-streaming services to compete with Spotify and Apple Music. The move, however, isn’t expected to add much—if anything—to the company’s bottom line and is viewed internally as an attempt to keep listeners from migrating to rival platforms.

John Malone’s Liberty Media Corp., which owns satellite-radio leader Sirius XM, has also been circling iHeartMedia, offering to pump $1.16 billion into the broadcaster in return for a 40% stake in the reorganized company. Liberty has built a position in iHeart’s debt in an effort to have a say in the company’s restructuring.

While a deal is still possible, missing from today's bankruptcy filing was a cash infusion of $1.16 billion offered by Liberty Media and its partially owned SiriusXM division. Under the offer, SiriusXM and Liberty would each own 20% of a court reorganized iHeartMedia. Many analysts were surprised by the fire-sale valuation.

Among the music companies listed as creditors on the iHeart docket are Nielsen (owed $20 million); SoundExchange ($6.4 million); Warner Music Group ($3.9 million); Universal Music Group ($1.3 million); and Spotify ($2.1 million). Performance rights organizations ASCAP and BMI are each owed slightly over $1.4 million while Global Music Rights is looking at a $2 million debt.

IHeartMedia traces its roots to the 1972 purchase of KEEZ-FM in San Antonio, Texas, where it is currently headquartered. It also produces syndicated radio programs that feature “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest and political personalities Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

The company had 14,300 employees at the end of 2016, according to its most recent annual report.

Disney Restructures As Digital Disruption Shakes Up Media Industry

Walt Disney Co. announced Wednesday that it is restructuring, combining its international media business and its streaming content into one unit and creating another unit to house its consumer products business along with Disney Parks and Resorts.

According to The LA Times, the move is the latest effort by a legacy Hollywood studio to restructure operations at a time of massive digital disruption in the traditional film and TV industry.

As Disney prepares to buy film and TV assets owned by 21st Century Fox, a $52.4-billion deal that requires federal regulatory approval, it was expected to restructure to find a way to integrate Fox's assets into Disney's business infrastructure.

Disney's new direct-to-consumer and international unit will include the upcoming Disney-branded streaming service and the planned ESPN+ streaming service, as well as Disney's stake in Hulu. Kevin Mayer, who has been Disney's chief strategy officer since 2015, was named chairman of that unit.

Bob Chapek, who most recently served as chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, was named chairman of the parks, experiences and consumer products unit.

"We are strategically positioning our businesses for the future, creating a more effective, global framework to serve consumers worldwide, increase growth and maximize shareholder value," Robert A. Iger, Disney's chairman and chief executive, said in a statement. "With our unparalleled studio and media networks serving as content engines for the company, we are combining the management of our direct-to-consumer distribution platforms, technology and international operations to deliver the entertainment and sports content consumers around the world want most, with more choice, personalization and convenience than ever before."

NBC News To Launch Online News Stream

Comcast Corp’s NBC News plans to launch an online streaming service this year as part of its effort to reach younger viewers who prefer to watch their favorite shows online, executives said on Wednesday.

Reuters reports NBC News, like other broadcast news outlets, faces an aging audience. The median age of “NBC Nightly News,” for example, is 64 years old, according to Nielsen.

Launching an online streaming service would help attract younger viewers, said Andy Lack, NBC News chairman, in a news briefing at NBC’s offices in New York.

The company has not decided if the service would be subscription-based.

To cater to millennial viewers, NBC has stepped up its focus on growing its digital business. Comcast NBCUniversal invested $500 million in Snapchat owner Snap Inc during its initial public offering.

In July, NBC News launched a twice-daily news show on Snapchat called “Stay Tuned”.

That show has 5 million subscribers, said Nick Ascheim, head of digital at NBC News. It is on track to have 37 million to 38 million unique visitors in March, up from 33 million in February, he said.

Snapchat has 80 million daily active users in North America, according to the company’s fourth-quarter earnings.

Still, the “core audience,” or those viewers coming back for three episodes over the past seven days is increasing - a sign of engagement, Ascheim said.

More than half of the 33 million unique visitors watched the show at least three times in the past week, he said.