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Jacobs Media
Monday, December 10, 2012 Volume 1   |   Issue 24
 
The Grinch came early
The GrinchThe world’s most-hated radio station?
Thanks to social media, Sydney’s 2Day FM is being punished by a global wash of anger and spite, after the object of a phone prank killed herself. Friday’s NOW newsletter had the story of Aussie jocks Mel Greig and Michael Christian posing as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, and getting all the way to a nurse involved with the medical care of Kate Middleton. They considered that a bit of fun – but as you probably heard all weekend, 46-year-old nurse (and mother of two) Jacintha Saldanha committed suicide. Was that foreseeable? Probably not. And five years ago, she wouldn’t have been subjected to the avalanche of criticism from Twitter and other social media. Now the abuse has turned to Mel Greig and Michael Christian, and their station. Owner Southern Cross Austereo has suspended their show, but this is far from the first time 2Day FM has punched listeners’ buttons -

2Day FM2Day FM has quite a history.
Three years ago, Kyle Sandilands hooked a 14-year girl up to a polygraph machine live on the air, and she said she’d been raped when she was 12. Sandilands then said “Right, and is that the only sexual experience you’ve had?” That was one of the reasons 2Day FM’s license was put on probation. Sandilands also conducted a contest to find the smallest penis in Sydney, and he called journalist Alison Stephenson “some fat slag” and “a piece of s- ,” because she wrote about his ratings. Among other things, he said “Watch your mouth, or I’ll hunt you down.” As for last Tuesday’s prank call to the London hospital where Kate Middleton was being treated, Mel Greig and Michael Christian said on the air that it was “a career highlight.” Now they’re off the air and receiving counseling, says the station. Back in London, the hospital complained, but said it had not disciplined the nurse, and the English crown says it had not complained. The Aussie DJs got lucky (in getting through to the hospital) – and then very unlucky.

U.S. morning shows may pull back on the pranks (for a while).
One Very Large Company PD says “I would not be involving any well-known personalities in any calls for a while. But this was a freak accident. The Australian jocks had no way of knowing it would wind up a disaster. But…they are not doing a great job of explaining the mess or defending themselves.” He says “to my knowledge, never in the long history of phone pranks has something this horrible ever happened.” Again, what’s different about this phone prank gone wrong? The multiplier effect of social media. A programmer with significant responsibilities at another Very Large Company says “This incident may necessitate a meeting, but I'm not sure what policy I'd change. This isn't a ‘wee for a Wii’ thing [at a Sacramento CHR], where a person’s health was directly affected by the stunt, and could have been predicted.” He says “It’s sad, but I cannot lay the blame for the London tragedy on the station, despite it possibly being a catalyst for the final horrible result.” As for the design of the stunt, a former radio CEO tells this newsletter “The whole thing just reinforces that in the family of media, radio is still the 13-year-old boy.” He says that “like with Rush, the worry among agencies will be, ‘They did it once, what’s to keep it from happening again, and do I want my client caught in the crossfire?’”

 
Envision Radio
 

Clear ChannelMore bad press and bad vibes – fallout from Clear Channel’s synchronized job cuts.
Even one Wall Street guy is appalled – “I’m a numbers guy, so I understand the end of a company’s calendar/fiscal year, and there is superficial ‘neatness’ in making personnel decisions. But putting those decisions into effect can be moved around by weeks, if not months, and not materially impact income statements or balance sheets.” He says “what I find hard to understand is how well-paid top executives figure that firing someone between Thanksgiving and Christmas/Hannukah is anything other than ruthless and uncaring – plus it is unnecessary fiscal timing.” And that timing may be one of the most curious things about the December 6 cuts in many major markets – why make it all so obvious to the local media? You’d think that Clear Channel (Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners) learned a lesson after the Inauguration Day mass firings of 2009.

• The San Antonio Express-News, Clear Channel’s hometown paper, covers the “debt-laden and money-losing company.” You’re in the business and you know that despite the debt, Clear Channel has a huge range of valuable assets in radio and outdoor, and that its cash-flow margins would be the envy of almost any other industry. Yet even Clear Channel’s hometown paper can’t get anything in the way of an explanation, behind the now well-worn statement that “we are constantly looking at all aspects of our business…so we can continue to operate as effectively and efficiently as possible.”

• “Little Jimmy gets a pink slip…from a secret corporate philanthropic specialist, no doubt containing an uplifting holiday message from the company.” An ironic 1930s-style audio “news report” about the Clear Channel layoffs from IndyMedia.org is circulating around the Internet – quick work, following last week’s layoffs.

• Detroit – WMXD’s Frankie Darcell was just one of eight air personalities cashiered, says WDIV television. The others included Jag from CHR Channel 95.5 WKQI, Dave Dahmer of classic rock “D 106.7” WDTW, Eric Chase of sports WDFN (1130), and four folks from AC (now all-Christmas) ‘Fresh 100.3” WNIC – Dan Watkins, Jenna Cork, Kristin Burns and Danielle Car.

Walton & Johnson• Houston – Walton & Johnson are indeed missing from classic rock “Arrow” KKRW (93.7). But the guys say “we still broadcast to a dozen rock and talk stations throughout the South, and we are still currently the most listened to radio show in the southern region of communist-occupied America.” (That’s part of their shtick.) They urge listeners to seek them out online. W&J say they “were removed from the airwaves by a greater power…ratings were good, advertising sales were excellent, and our audience is by far one of the most intelligent in the industry.” (They call them “The 10%’ers.”) Got your own thought about the Clear Channel cutbacks? Email Tom@RTK-Media.com.

Mario GabelliFisher Communications may face another fight with big investor Mario Gabelli.
These two crossed swords last year, when David Lorber-run FrontFour Capital was pushing Fisher management with its own slate of directors. Gabelli staged a “forum” to let Fisher CEO Colleen Brown and FrontFour have it out. Now, Gamco sends Brown a formal note stating that it’s “currently evaluating all options,” for the period when Fisher takes nominations for its board. As the holder of more than 25% of Fisher stock, Gamco might well nominate its own slate of directors. Also, as Paul Harvey might’ve intoned, “no known connection” - Seeking Alpha reports that three Fisher insiders have recently bought more stock. CFO Hassan Natha added another 4000 shares last week and holds 12,290 shares of “FSCI.” Director Paul Bible acquired another 1,000 shares, bringing his stake to 8,313 shares. And Matthew Goldfarb picked up 2,000 shares on November 28 and has 5,260 shares. Fisher stock closed Friday at $25.96, up 24 cents (or about 1%).

Broadcasters Foundation

Connoisseur’s bid to stop Clear Channel from acquiring New York’s WOR (710) falls short.
It was a Hail Mary pass, anyhow – Connoisseur Media charged that the failure of the Aloha Station Trust to finish selling off former Clear Channel stations over the last 4-1/2 years made a “prima facie case” that there’s bad faith. Jeff Warshaw-led Connoisseur asked the Commission to set a new six-month deadline to clean the remaining stations out of the Jeanette Tully-run Aloha Trust. Connoisseur was also challenging license renewal for Clear Channel’s Newark, NJ-licensed CHR “Z100” WHTZ, on the same grounds. The Commission says Aloha is in the clear, and that the trust is not part of either the $30 million acquisition of WOR (710) from the Buckley family or the Z100 renewal. It’s widely expected that Clear Channel will use its first AM in the New York market to park its Premiere-syndicated fare like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. That’s what WABC (770) owner Cumulus seems to expect – a battle between its own talent like Mike Huckabee and Geraldo Rivera, and Clear Channel.

To eliminate interference from a Low Power FM, a Georgia station is changing frequencies.
Fairly rare, but the FCC has no problem allowing Georgia-Carolina Radiocasting to move its country WSGC-FM, Tignall from 105.3 to 96.7, still as a Class A. The Commission says that’s in the public interest since it will improve reception for listeners, while preserving a new vacant allotment at 105.3. There’s no window for taking applications for 105.3, and it’s a good bet there won’t be, for a long time. The current problem for WSGC-FM is WZKQ-LP - a low power FM on the same channel in Hodges, South Carolina.

The Fall-book PPM ratings from Canada’s largest markets –
The three-legged Bureau of Broadcast Measurement consortium incorporates the Arbitron PPM device into its own system, but using Canadian rules and procedures. For example, Canada gives everybody aged 2 and up their own meter, and measures Monday through Sunday, 2am to 2am (around the clock). It also issues a three-month “book,” instead of Arbitron’s 13 monthly books in the U.S. (That increases the size of the sample.) The BBM also uses the meter to deliver regional and national TV ratings. Read the full set of Fall-book rankings here. Some highlights from Canada’s five PPM-measured markets, for the Fall survey of August 27-November 25 –

CHFI◊ Toronto, market #1 - It’s a “lucky 13” for Rogers-owned AC CHFI – the thirteenth book that “Lite Favourites” has been #1 overall, as it has been every quarter since the PPM was introduced. CHFI has a 13.2 share, with a quarterly cume of nearly 5.2 million, and a daily cume of 976,400. CHUM-FM, Bell Media’s hot AC, has an 11.3 share for its best number since Fall 2009. Its estimated cume is 4,482,400, with a daily cume of about 880,000.

◊ Montreal, market #2 – In the Anglo ratings, Astral Media’s “News Talk 800” CJAD is also a member of the Lucky 13 club, with the best topline share since PPM came to town. CJAD has an amazing 25.2 share with the market’s minority English-speaking population. Cogeco’s rhythmic AC “Beat 92.5” CKBE leads all the music stations with a 16.6 share. In the Francophone ratings, Cogeco’s talk CHMP (“Vous le Savez Maintenant”/Now You Know) wins its fifth straight book, with a 22.5 share.

CJJR◊ Vancouver, market #3 – “New Country JR FM,” the Jim Pattison group’s CJJR, grows to an 8.1 share, for its best-ever PPM number. Astral’s CHR “Virgin Radio 95.3” CKZZ also has a station-best 8.1. A 13.1 share is strong enough to give news/talk CBU, the CBC-1 outlet, its alltime high share in PPM and the first win during the era of electronic measurement.

◊ Calgary, market #5 – Corus-owned “Country 105” CKRY keeps its 10.1 share, but loses the #1 overall ranking to CBC-1 outlet CBR, which jumped 9.8 to 10.7. Bell Media’s hot AC/rhythmic AC-leaning “Kool 101.5” CKCE pulls a 5.1, for its best number ever.

◊ Edmonton, market #6 – “102.3 Now” CKNO, Rawlcom’s hot AC, continues to climb, this time to an 11.4 share that again leads the market. Corus-owned “News Talk Sports 630” CHED is the only other station in double digits, with a 10.2 share.

Also from Canada – how CHUM, Toronto handled the 1980 death of John Lennon.
Warren Cosford says “It was December 8, and I immediately went to CHUM and started pulling and carting clips from the many interviews we had with John, and passed them along to Larry Wilson on FM. I then called J. Robert Wood who, as National PD, was in Vancouver, and told him I thought we should do a live broadcast tribute from Nathan Phillips Square. He said that would be fine but that I should also call Fred Sherratt who was in Saskatoon with Allan Waters. Sherratt appointed me temporary PD of both CHUM and CHUM-FM until after the Nathan Phillips Square broadcast and asked me to alert City-TV GM Fred Klinkhammer. I then called Brian Thomas, Larry MacInnis, Bob McMillan, Zeke Zdebiak, Duff Roman and George Jones for a meeting at 9am to begin planning for what Larry called ‘Whatever Gets You Through The Night: A Tribute to John Lennon.’ Then I called publicist Joanne Smale and asked her what local musicians might have known, had contact with, or idolized Lennon...The next day at least 50,000 people showed up at Nathan Phillips Square, many with candles. All the U.S. networks came up from Buffalo and asked for 'feeds' from the stage…We then announced we would be creating a ‘scroll’ that listeners could sign, which we would be sending to Yoko Ono. It would be available at CHUM Reception the next day…We got a call from the police saying that ‘hundreds’ of people were marching down Yonge Street to CHUM. We opened a box of teletype rolls and got ready to file people in the front doors, through the lobby and out the back door. The CHUM lobby was, essentially, destroyed. It was the best time and the worst time to be in radio.” R.I.P. to John Lennon, who died on December 8, 1980, at the age of 40.

NYMRADThe New York radio market’s official Holiday party is Friday afternoon, thrown by NYMRAD.
New location this year, at the Rooftop Lounge of the Empire Hotel at 44 West 63rd Street. But the time (1pm to 4:30pm) is the same as last year’s event, which was held at a trendy club in Chelsea. This NOW newsletter will be there to cover the NYMRAD party for you – it’s fertile ground for “You Can’t Make This Up” stories. You can meet the movers and shakers of New York’s radio, agency and client scene with a ticket, here.

 
On The Block

WJLS “Big Dawg 99.5” WJLS-FM and its AM sister sell for $4.5 million cash, in the biggest deal to hit Beckley, West Virginia in a while. Seller is First Media Radio, which has 26 other stations in the Southeast and Pennsylvania. Buyer is West Virginia Radio Company of Raleigh, whose principals are John R. Raese, David A. Raese (each 45% owners) and Dale Miller. Their Morgantown company doesn’t currently own any other stations in Beckley, which is Arbitron market #274. Country “Big Dawg” WJLS-FM is a Class B at 99.5. Sister WJLS does some soul-saving with a southern gospel format, and has 4,500 watts daytime/470 watts at night, on 560 KHz. The buyer began an LMA last Friday. Broker – Patrick Communications.

After a ten-year LMA ends, Christian teaching KLFF (890) is sold to lay-Catholic IHR Educational Broadcasting. A slightly complicated situation in San Luis Obispo, so let’s take it in pieces. LOGOS Broadcasting ended its lease of KLFF on October 31, saying that “donations have seldom been sufficient” to cover the $8,500 monthly payment. Then the licensee, the Collins Family Trust (run by Jerry and Catherine Collins) filed to take the station silent. Now comes an outright sale to IHR of Loomis, California, which owns 17 stations and holds construction permits on five more. It has concocted this formula for buying 5,000-watt fullltimer KLFF, licensed to Arroyo Grande - #1, the Collins trust donates the license – only the license – to IHR for $1 (one dollar). #2, for the “goodwill” of “building up a listener base among Christian believers in San Luis Obispo County and portions of Monterey and Santa Barbara Counties over the past ten years,” there’s “consideration” of $676,000. It’s due in monthly payments at the rate of 2.4% interest, starting at $1,500 a month. #3, The Collins Trust also gets a total of $30,000 in monthly non-compete payments, at $500 a month. IHR will convert KLFF to non-commercial operation, and it will begin LMA’ing the station – and airing Catholic programming – on January 1. Note that this deal doesn’t involve Christian CHR “K-Life” KLFF-FM, San Luis Obispo. It’s owned by LOGOS – the folks who gave up the money-losing LMA of the AM.

It’s 2-for-1 in Michigan’s Traverse City market, where the new WYPV, Onaway at 106.3 is deemed to be worth two existing FMs. They’re the classic rock “Bear” simulcast of Mio-licensed WAVC at 93.9 and Mackinaw City-licensed WOEZ (until recently named WLJZ) at 94.5. All three facilities are Class C2’s. A year ago, Del and Mary Reynolds filed to acquire Northern Star Broadcasting from Wade Fetzer. Now we’ve got the straight-up 2-for-1 station exchange between Northern Star and Michigan Broadcasters LLC. (Greg Fraley, Brian Sommerfield, Victoria Bishop).

In the speedway city of Talladega, Alabama, oldies WHPH, Jemison (97.7) will be heard outside its own protected signal contour, thanks to an $18,000 translator deal. Jemison is northeast of Talladega, and translator W257CM at 99.3 gives WHPH coverage of the better-known city. But while this deal benefits WHPH, it’s being done by somebody else – you can’t use a translator to extend the coverage of a commercial FM past its protected contour. The Reynolds family of Birmingham (that’s Paul, Lyle, Lee and Joan Reynolds) owns WHPH. While Comtek (Edward Montgomery) will own the translator. Comtek’s paying $9,000 at closing and another $9,000 within six months.

 
Worth Reading

“We forecast that growth in Pandora’s active users as well as mobile listener hours will slow down” in 2013, says Trefis. Its analysts say Pandora’s already quite large and “there is a competitive threat from other Internet-based music players.” Even so, Trefis says “growth will remain healthy” and there is “still high demand” for its service. The headache continues to be “no respite from rising costs” due to music royalties. Kurt Hanson’s RAIN newsletter reports on the Trefis opinion and says that for all the music industry’s focus on Pandora’s $1.3 billion market cap – that figure doesn’t mean much. On Friday, Pandora (“P”) stock gained a dime to close at $7.97, up about 1%.

SpotifySpotify discovers that music curators – “journalists, trendsetters” - may be more valuable than it thought. The Swedish-born online music service re-formatted a number of features last week, and founder Daniel Ek says “Social has always been a very big part of what we do…but finding people who can introduce you to music you care about has been hard. There are only a handful of people who are expert curators of music.” That’s according to PaidContent.

“What can the PD, manager or owner do about the oncoming connected car revolution?” Fred Jacobs of Jacobs Media offers a handy précis of his presentation at Thursday’s Arbitron Client Conference – where he and Connected Vehicle Trade Association’s Valerie Shuman shared the podium, and where Fred offers five recommendations for radio. You read one of them in Friday’s “NOW” newsletter (“take a long test drive” of a connected car), and Fred’s got the other four on his blog here.

“Here’s how you know the new Exitos 93.9 KXOS, Los Angeles is different,” says Sean Ross. He says “the core acts shown on its website are Maroon 5, Ke$ha, fun., David Guetta, Lady Gaga and…Robbie Williams.” What’s that mean? In his “First Listen” to the Grupo Radio Centro-connected CHR that recently switched to Anglo hits with Spanish jocks, Ross says “Robbie Williams’ single ‘Candy’ hasn’t been released in the United States yet…but in Mexico, it’s #3 on the Nielsen BDS tally of stations that play English-language music.” More about the newest thing in big-market CHRs (very broadly defined) from Sean at Billboard.biz.

 
Transitions

Ralph CipollaRalph Cipolla had a ticking clock in his head – ten years as a major market operations manager with Greater Media in Detroit and then ten years as a consultant with Jacobs Media. He told Jacobs two years ago that the ten-year mark would be time for a change, and now he’s leaving in early 2013 (“post-Super Bowl, pre-St. Patrick’s Day”) to find “new experiences and new relationships.” Fred Jacobs calls him “one of those rare left-brain/right brain people, with a diverse skill set.” Ralph, visible at last week’s Arbitron Client Conference in Annapolis, is at Ralph@JacobsMedia.com and Ralph.Cipolla@me.com.

Bill Radke circles back to handle mornings on Seattle’s non-com news/talk KUOW-AM/FM. Radke (“RAD-key”) was most recently doing talk on Bonneville’s commercial news/talk KIRO-FM (97.3) and left that gig in October after two years. During his first stint at KUOW, he created what the station calls the “news-satire show Rewind,” and it was nationally syndicated by NPR. Radke’s also hosted public radio’s Marketplace Morning Report and “Weekend America” for American Public Media. The Seattle Board of RadioDiscussions.com has the “WTF?” posting from a sharp Seattle listener who noticed Radke’s return to Puget Sound Public Radio-run KUOW.

Arnold DeanArnold Dean, long of WTIC Hartford’s “Sports Talk” show, dies at 82. For 64 of those years, he was on the radio, and you can count him among the very earlier practitioners of sports call-in radio, starting in 1976. The CBS Local Hartford site says “he never really retired, taking ‘Husky Extra Points’ calls two weeks before his death, and co-hosting the Tailgate Show at Rentschler Field” for this year’s UConn football games. Arnold joined WTIC (1080) in 1965 and hewed to the request of then-GM Leonard Patricelli for a less-ethnic-sounding name than “Arnold D’Angelo.” After WTIC’s iconic morning man Bob Steele retired, Arnold and Tom McCarthy took on the morning show. CBS Hartford GM Suzanne McDonald calls Arnold Dean “a treasured member of our WTIC family.”

 
You Can't Make This Up

A lucky mistake - John Rook, the famed Top 40 programmer, "says that like many Pittsburghers, I was using the famous 'Liberty Tubes,' to enter and exit the city, when I was program director of KQV in the mid-60s. Entering the tunnel one afternoon, everything seemed right [at the station]. But upon exiting, a record not on our playlist suddenly was on our frequency. I hurried to a pay phone, called the DJ and asked why he was programming a song not on our playlist. He assured me he was not guilty. I hurried back to the car to continue listening - only to find it was WING in Dayton, several hundred miles away, coming in on our signal at 1410 KHz. Continuing to listen, I liked what I heard, and soon I invited WING’s Jim Quinn to Pittsburgh, where his contributions to that city have been truly legendary.”

You can grab any issue of Tom Taylor Now on the archive page – just click on the “Current Issues and Archives” link at the bottom of each daily newsletter. Thanks for telling a friend or colleague about NOW – and see you back tomorrow morning. Tom

 
 
 
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