Saturday, February 6, 2016

February 7 Radio History

In 1915...First train-to-station radio message, Binghamton, NY

In 1963...B. Mitchel Reed starts at WMCA

March 15, 1963
In 1963…The Vee-Jay label released the first Beatles single in the U.S., "Please Please Me" b/w "Ask Me Why." The first pressings became valuable collectors' items because their name on the label was misspelled "Beattles." Dick Biondi, a disc jockey at WLS in Chicago at the time and a friend of Vee-Jay executive Ewart Abner, played the song on the radio perhaps as early as February 8, 1963, thereby becoming the first disc jockey in the United States to play a Beatles record on the radio. "Please Please Me" peaked at #35 after four weeks on the WLS music survey, but did not show up on any of the major national American record charts. The label re-issued the single in January 1964 to a much better result: it peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, trailing only the group's "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "She Loves You."

In 1964...Just after 1:00 p.m. EST, Pan Am Yankee Clipper flight 101 landed at New York City's JFK Airport. An estimated 5,000 screaming fans were waiting to greet the Beatles as they arrived for their first U.S. tour and an appearance on CBS-TV's "The Ed Sullivan Show."

In the United Kingdom, the Beatles had experienced popularity since the start of 1963. But in the US, Capitol Records, owned by the band's record company EMI, had for most of the year declined to issue any of the singles.

The phenomenon of Beatlemania in the UK was regarded with amusement by the US press, once it made any comment. When newspaper and magazine articles did begin to appear towards the end of 1963, they cited the English stereotype of eccentricity, reporting that the UK had developed an interest in something that had come and gone a long time ago in the US: rock and roll.

In late 1963, Capitol Records agreed to release the single "I Want to Hold Your Hand" with a large accompanying promotional campaign, due to Ed Sullivan's agreement to headline the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show.

The Beatles American television debut was on 18 November 1963 on The Huntley-Brinkley Report, with a four-minute long piece by Edwin Newman.

On 22 November 1963, the CBS Morning News ran a five-minute feature on Beatlemania in the UK. The evening's scheduled repeat was cancelled following the assassination of John F. Kennedy the same day. On December 10, Walter Cronkite decided to televise the piece again on the CBS Evening News,[10] and the resulting interest led to the rush-release of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and—only weeks before The Beatles' arrival—a US commercial breakthrough.

Eleven weeks before the Beatles' arrival in the U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. The nation was in mourning, in fear, and in disbelief. The assassination came after a fifteen-year build-up of Cold War tension. The motivation and identity of the assassin, would be doubted by many Americans for decades even after the Warren Commission issued its report in September 1964. As the U.S. tried to restore a sense of normality, teenagers in particular struggled to cope, as their disbelief began to be replaced by a personal reaction to what had happened: in school essays, teenagers wrote that "then it became real", and "I was feeling the whole world is going to collapse on me", and "I never felt so empty in all my life".

When the Beatles first hit American shores in 1964, radio personalities scrambled to befriend them and scoop other stations.   Media writer Peter Kanze recapped the radio battle for The Beatles in 1989 and it was reprinted recently at

According to Kanze, Rick Sklar was WABC’s Program Director from 1962 through 1976, and he remembered that “WABC never deviated from its standard policy with and artist, including the Beatles.   In order to get played on the station, the artist had to be established first.  Once they made it, fine, but we weren't going be the station to take a chance.  “WABeatlesC” went on the first American Beatles releases, but only because of their track record in England.  I don’t think that it was very significant that WMCA played “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” before we did.  As far as we were concerned, the Beatles weren't known yet.  Once the Beatles were known, though, we always tried to have the exclusive. “

(Courtesy of the WABC Tribute Website  Find out more, visit the Beatles Page: Click Here.)

The “exclusive” or “scoop” (a record that has been obtained first by one radio station in a given area and no other) was all-important in those days, and still is to some extent with superstar performers.  In the case of the Beatles, it was meant to convey the impression that one radio station had a closer relationship to the group than the other.  Hence, newer music, better gossip, etc.

As recounted at, WABC had a huge advantage when The Beatles visited New York City. As the flagship station for the ABC radio network, it had access to lots of high tech equipment. This included wireless RF microphones. During The Beatles first 1964 visit to New York, when they stayed at The Plaza, it was impossible for virtually any of the media to get access to them.

So, during their second 1964 visit when they stayed at the Delmonico Hotel, WABC mounted an all out offensive. The suite above The Beatles was rented by WABC and was used to set up a remote studio. Using those wireless microphones, WABC disc jockeys Scott Muni and Bruce Morrow wandered around the hotel ready to broadcast anything that might have to do with The Beatles. It gave the station a huge edge. And, it didn’t hurt that as many security and hotel staff people as possible were presented with "gifts" from WABC. Needless to say, there were very few places where the WABC people could not roam.

By now most of the 10,000 teenagers who packed the streets outside of the hotel were listening to WABC on their transistor radios. When WABC disc jockeys Scott Muni and Bruce Morrow asked them to sing WABC jingles as they were playing on WABC, the entire crowd was able to do so in unison.


The power of all of this was best illustrated when Ringo Starr lost his gold Saint Christopher’s medal which was attached to a chain around his neck. Apparently as he was entering the hotel, an over zealous fan inadvertently snatched it.   Bruce Morrow and Scott Muni learned this while interviewing him over the air at the hotel. WABC listeners also heard this and so did the girl who had the medal, Angie McGowan. She had her mother call Cousin Brucie that night. But, program director Rick Sklar, ever the master promoter, could see the advantages of stretching out this drama a while longer. Even though WABC recovered the medal within a few hours, Rick arranged for the girl to stay overnight, safely secluded with her mother in a hotel room while the station continued to broadcast appeals for the medal's safe recovery. As you would expect, this became a media sensation and WABC held all the cards. By the time the following evening rolled around, everyone was listening to WABC to see if the medal would ever be recovered. Twenty-four hours after its initial loss and subsequent recovery, WABC reunited the medal with Ringo over the air. It was a publicity bonanza for the station.

In 1965...Billboard published a story about Scott Muni being dropped from the 77 WABC line-up.

Muni is best known for his time at WNEW-FM, where he arrived in 1967 and remained for 31 years. Also known as "Scottso" and "The Professor," Muni began his New York radio career as a "Good Guy" on top-40 WMCA in the late '50s. He then moved to WABC in 1960, where he played an integral role in breaking the Beatles before leaving the station in 1964.

Muni's arrival at WNEW as program director helped usher in the progressive rock format, which quickly spread to other major U.S. cities, providing an outlet for countless seminal artists largely ignored by the dominant top-40 stations of the day.

Artists he interviewed in the '70s, including Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger and Pete Townshend, counted him among their friends.

Muni left WNEW in 1998 and moved over to WAXQ.

He passed away in September 2004 at age 74 after suffering a stroke

In 1976...the Federal Communications Commission raided and closed down pirate radio station WCPR, operating out of Brooklyn, New York.

In 2000...Robin Scott died at the age of 79. Scott was responsible for launching England's BBC Radio 1 in 1967.

In 2014... Scott Shannon last show at WPLJ.

On February 25, 2014, WCBS 101.1 FM announced that Scott Shannon will be hosting a brand new Morning Show entitled Scott Shannon in the Morning which started on March 3

Les Moonves Calls CBS Promotion 'Great Honor'

Brian Stetler, Les Moonves
Les Moonves wants people to be talking about CBS's Sunday telecast of Super Bowl 50, not about the board meeting that made him CBS Corporation's chairman this week.

But when, Brian Stetler from CNN's Reliable Sources, asked about the promotion in an interview on Thursday, Moonves said it was "a great honor and a great privilege."

"I'm very pleased that Sumner Redstone handed the reins to me," Moonves told CNNMoney. He referenced his 20-year tenure with CBS and the company's storied past, including the legacy of the man who built CBS, Bill Paley, and said, "I'm very excited to be the chairman."

Moonves quickly pivoted to the Super Bowl, an event that CBS has invested a year's worth of preparation and promotion into. The company is charging a record $5 million per 30-second commercial spot and is using the game to flex its muscles across television and the Internet.

He spoke with CNNMoney from San Francisco, the site of Sunday's game. Watch more from Moonves on CNN Reliable Sources Sunday morning at 11 (Eastern).

His trip out West followed an unexpected meeting of the CBS board of directors on Wednesday, one day after Redstone sent a resignation letter to the board.

Redstone, 92, the controlling shareholder of both CBS and Viacom, has been in poor health. After he resigned as CBS's executive chairman, his daughter Shari nominated Moonves to take his place.
Related: Les Moonves replacing Sumner Redstone atop CBS

Moonves declined to comment on Redstone's health. When asked if they had spoken, Moonves said, "I've received correspondence from him."

He also had nothing to say about the succession plan at Viacom, where CEO Philippe Dauman was named chairman on Thursday over the objections of Shari Redstone.

No Fireworks For SB50 Halftime Show

When halftime arrives at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, the now wildly popular entertainment extravaganza that follows the first half will have a different feel, and not just because it is the 50th Super Bowl.

The show will also be held in broad daylight, according to The NY Times.

Dramatic lighting and pyrotechnics have become synonymous with recent Super Bowl halftime shows, and the absence of a dark sky or a dimly lighted stadium as a backdrop presented a big challenge for the event’s organizers, who start planning each show over a year in advance.

“Something has to replace those elements — I can’t say what — but we knew we had to do something,” said Mark Quenzel, the senior vice president for programming and production at NFL Network, which produces the pregame and halftime shows. “Have we found the solution? I sure hope so.”

On Dec. 3, the NFL confirmed that the British rock group Coldplay would take the stage during the Pepsi-sponsored concert on Feb. 7. But the Grammy Award-winning group won’t be the only artists set to serenade fans on Sunday.

“We called the right guests, so we know that we have great people joining us,” Coldplay’s lead singer, Chris Martin, said during the Pepsi  Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show press conference, promising only the best artists would be joining them.

It was revealed that Beyoncé will join the band onstage along with Bruno Mars. Both know what it takes to put on a successful halftime show; Beyoncé rocked the stage in 2013 while Mars brought the funk in 2014.

The Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, led by Gustavo Dudamel, will also perform, reports

SB50 And Commercials Getting Streamed This Year

The big game day is almost upon us:  Super Bowl 50 will pit the Carolina Panthers against the Denver Broncos on Sunday night at 6:30 pm ET. But American viewers don't need cable or even a television antenna to tune in: CBS is streaming the game online for free.

According to WaPo, Super Bowl games have been streamed online since 2012, usually on the site of whichever channel has broadcast rights. But there will be at least one significant change for the Super Bowl this year: National ads accompanying the game will be live-streamed along with the main attraction for the first time, according to Variety. So just because you have old-fashioned television access doesn't mean you'll have to miss out on livetweeting about the same Super Bowl ads as everyone else.

Fans will be able to watch it on from their computers or tablets. They can also use the CBS Sports app to stream it to a pretty wide range of connected-TV devices, including Roku set-top boxes, Apple TVs,  Google's Chromecasts and Xbox Ones.

Indy Radio: iHM Moving GM Rick Green To Richmond

Rick Green
After nearly a decade leading iHeartMedia's Indianapolis cluster of radio stations, Rick Green is departing the market Feb. 12.

The 61-year-old Green is set to become iHeart’s area president in the mid-Atlantic region, overseeing 29 stations in six markets and iHeart’s Virginia News Network. He begins his new job, which is based out of Richmond, Virginia, on Feb. 15. Green will be one of iHeart’s 18 area presidents.

Under his direction, iHeart rebranded and reprogrammed its WOLT 103.3 FM from hard rock to mainstream alternative in June 2014; rebranded WNDE 1260 AM to Fox Sports Radio and launched a simulcast on FM 97.5—a Franklin frequency it acquired in early July; and acquired Country wUBG 98.3 FM from Disney.

More recently, Green saw two on-air stars—Bob Kevoian and Kristi Lee—depart from the popular "Bob & Tom Show" on WFBQ 94.7 FM Q95 last month.

Green said he isn’t too concerned with the changes on "Bob & Tom".

“The Nielsen data shows without Bob and Kristi during the first two weeks of January, the station is still No. 1 with listeners 25 to 54 in the mornings,” Green told the Indy Business Journal. “It appears the change of the cast hasn’t had any impact on the ratings—yet. It doesn’t feel like we’ve lost any momentum on that show.”

Q95, despite a somewhat aging demographic, is still a strong property for iHeart, Green said.

“We see a lot of kids following their parents to Q95,” he said. “We have a lot of 25-, 30- and 35-year-old guys who still like classic rock. We’ve not seen any reason to believe there will be format adjustments to the station.”

Programming Seen As 'Glass Ceiling' For Women

According to the latest MIW Gender Analysis Study released by the Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio Group (MIW’s) out of 11,201 AM and FM radio stations, accounted for by MStreet Publications as of December 31, 2015, 1878 or 17.3% have women holding the GM position in 2015. This is a one-tenth percentage point drop from 2014, which was 17.4%, but does continue to show growth from 2004, eleven years ago when the percentage was only 14.9%. The annual study is compiled, analyzed and released by the MIW’s from information provided by *MStreet Publications.

In the top 100 markets, the number of women GM’s is just barely ahead of the national average. In 2015 16.3% of stations in these markets were managed by women, which compares to 16.2% in 2014. Overall the best management opportunities for women continue to be in sales management although there has been essentially only a minor change for the last eleven years. In 2015, 30.5% of all stations have a women sales manager, which is just slightly up from last year. And in the top 100 markets just under 31% of the stations have women SM’s, which showed a decrease of one and a half percentage points from 2014.

The greatest challenge for women in radio management continues to be as programmers. Women currently only program 10.9% of all stations in the country, which compares to 10.7% nine years ago. The news is a little better in the top 100 markets where women programmers now represent 11.9%, which compares to 12.2% in 2015, but does show a decrease year-over-year.

"Tracking the leadership roles of women in media brings awareness to the continued need to reach back and lift up," comments MIW Spokeswoman Kay Olin. "There is an incredible talent pool of strong and capable female leaders and they stand ready to make a difference. It is the responsibility of all of us in the media industry to make sure that we are conscientiously and consistently practicing inclusion."

Billboard Analysis: Women And Country Radio

Country Artists Cam, Kelsea Ballerini and Mickey Guyton
For a multitude of reasons, males dominate country radio. In Nashville, it's a tired topic and one that people are wary to talk about. But following the release of the year-end charts, it's worth against asking -- again: Why aren't women getting hits at country radio?

In short: Not Yet. But its complicated.

An analysis of the year-end Billboard Country Airplay chart shows females represented 16 percent of the top 100 songs of 2015. Solo female artists and all-female bands represented 12 songs in total. Another 4 songs were by bands with at least one female. Separately, another 3 songs were by male artists featuring a female artist.

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Smartphone-based Music Listening Increasing

Just as the internet has changed the way people communicate, work and learn, mobile technology has changed when, where and how consumers access information and entertainment. And smartphone use that goes beyond routine calls and text messages does not appear to be slowing, according to a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults conducted in July 2015.

The percentage of smartphone owners who say they have ever used their phone to watch movies or TV through a paid subscription service like Netflix or Hulu Plus has doubled in recent years – increasing from 15% in 2012 to 33% in 2015.

Among the smartphone activities measured, getting location-based information is the most universal task. Nine-in-ten smartphone owners use their phone to get directions, recommendations or other information related to their location, up from 74% in 2013.

Listening to music and shopping on the go are especially popular among smartphone owners ages 18 to 29: 87% have listened to an online radio or music service on their phone, compared with 41% of those 50 and over, and 73% have shopped online through their mobile device, versus 44% of older users.

SiriusXM's Jenny McCarthy Relives Her Cheerleader Days

Her days as a teen cheerleader may be long behind her.

But Jenny McCarthy, 43, showed she's still got the moves, dressing up and jumping for joy on Friday at a special SiriusXM broadcasting center in downtown San Francisco.

McCarthy couldn't stop smiling before going on-air for her show Dirty, Sexy, Funny at the NFL's Radio Row, two days before Super Bowl 50 in nearby Santa Clara.

February 6 Radio History

In 1911...Ronald Wilson Reagan was born. H who served as the 40th President of the United States from 1981 to 1989. Prior to his presidency, he served as the 33rd Governor of California from 1967 to 1975, following a career as an actor and union leader in Hollywood.

Raised in a poor family in small towns of Northern Illinois, Ronald Reagan graduated from Eureka College in 1932 and worked as a sports announcer on several regional radio stations. After moving to Hollywood in 1937.

In 1924…the first worship service heard over radio was aired by the British Broadcasting Corporation in England. The service originated from St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church in London.

In 1925…WMCA signed-on at 880 AM. In 1928 it moved to the 570 kHz frequency, sharing time for the next three years with municipally-owned WNYC.

In 1945, host Barry Gray began dropping music and adding talk with celebrities and later call-in listeners; he is thus sometimes considered "The Father of Talk Radio", and his show lasted on WMCA through several decades and format changes.

WMCA began playing rock music in the late 1950s with a Top 40 format. Among its disc jockey staff were future legends Scott Muni and Murray "the K" Kaufman.

In 1960, WMCA 570 AM began promoting itself by stressing its on-air personalities, who were collectively known as the Good Guys. 

Led by program director Ruth Meyer, the first woman to hold the position in New York City radio, this was the era of the high-profile Top 40 disc jockey with an exuberant personality aimed at a certain audience segment. With the advent of the Good Guys format, WMCA became more"on top" of new music and started to become known for "playing the hits."

In the early 1960s, the top 40 format was still young, and the field was crowded in New York City. Two major 50,000-watt stations, WMGM 1050 AM (now WEPN) and WINS 1010 AM, had battled each other for years. Then in 1960, WABC 770 am joined the fray and started featuring top 40 music. Ultimately, it was WMCA's earnest competition with rival WABC that forced WMGM (in early 1962) and then WINS (in spring 1965) to abandon the top-40 format. There was so much attention on the high-profile WMCA-WABC battle that WMGM and WINS were each summarily forced to find a new niche.

In 1926..Flashback 90-years and find out what was going on with radio...Click Here

Courtesy of  American Radio History

In 1929…RCA Victor formed. Radio Corporation of America (RCA) purchased the Victor Talking Machine Company, then the world's largest manufacturer of phonographs (including the famous "Victrola") and phonograph records (in British English, "gramophone records"). The company then became RCA-Victor. With Victor, RCA acquired New World rights to the famous Nipper trademark.

In September 1931, RCA Victor introduced the first 33⅓ rpm records sold to the public, calling them "Program Transcriptions". These used a shallower and more closely spaced implementation of the large "standard groove" found on contemporary 78 rpm records, rather than the "microgroove" used for post-World War II 33⅓ rpm "LP" (Long Play) records. In the depths of the Great Depression, the format was a commercial failure, partly because the new playback equipment they required was expensive. After two or three years the format was abandoned and two-speed turntables were no longer offered in consumer products, but some Program Transcriptions lingered in the company's record catalog throughout the decade.

In 1943…Frank Sinatra first appeared as a vocalist on the CBS radio show, "Your Hit Parade."

In 1950...“Dangerous Assignment” starring Brian Donlevy found a weekly timeslot on NBC Radio.  The adventure show, set in many international venues, had tested well as a summer replacement six months earlier, and continued for about five years.

That same evening in 1950, also on NBC Radio, “Nightbeat” starring Frank Lovejoy as a newspaper reporter with an eye for human interest stories, began a two-and-a-half-year run.

Paul Harvey
In commentator Paul Harvey was arrested for trying to sneak into the Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, to prove that security was lax at this top secret installation.

In 1974…the "CBS Mystery Theater" premiered on the CBS Radio Network. Writers were paid a flat $350 per hour-long script, actors got the union scale of $73.92 per show.

In 1986...Radio consultant Bob Hattrick was found stabbed to death at his St. Louis home. Get the news and Flashback to 1986 through the pages of Radio&Records..Click Here

Danny, daughter Marlo Thomas - 1960
In 1991..Comedian, Singer, radio/TV personality Danny Thomas, whose career spanned five decades, died of a heart attack at age 76.

Danny Thomas and Doris Day 1952
Thomas first reached mass audiences on network radio in the 1940s playing shifty brother-in-law Amos in The Bickersons, which began as sketches on the music-comedy show Drene Time, co-hosted by Don Ameche and Frances Langford. Thomas also portrayed himself as a scatterbrained Lothario on this show. His other network radio work included a stint as Jerry Dingle the postman on Fanny Brice's The Baby Snooks Show, and appearances on the popular NBC variety program, The Big Show, hosted by stage legend Tallulah Bankhead.

Thomas also had his own radio program, The Danny Thomas Show. The 30-minute weekly variety show was on ABC in 1942-43 and on CBS in 1947-48.

As a "starving actor", Thomas had made a vow: If he found success, he would open a shrine dedicated to St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless causes. Thomas never forgot his promise to St. Jude, and after becoming a successful actor in the early 1950s, his wife joined him and began traveling the United States to help raise funds to build his dream - St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  He fervently believed “no child should die in the dawn of life.” With help from Dr. Lemuel Diggs and close friend, Anthony Abraham, an auto magnate in Miami, Florida, Thomas founded the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1962. Since its inception, St. Jude has treated children from all 50 states and around the world, continuing the mission of finding cures and saving children.

Courtesy of American Radio History

In 1998...Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys died of cancer. He was 51

Joe O'Brien
In 2000…Former WMCA Good Guy Joe O'Brien retired.  A Yonkers native, he began his career in 1935 when he got his first radio job with WMCA-AM in New York City.

He worked at the station for 34 years and became one of the Good Guys team of disc jockeys in the late 1960's. They played Top 40 hits and became nearly as popular as the music they played.

They had the same clean-cut hairstyles, wore matching suits and worked together at record hops and personal appearances. They also sang as a group and released an album. During that time, Mr. O'Brien was the No. 1 morning man in New York City.

In 1970 he left for WNBC-AM, where he handled morning duties until he was replaced by Don Imus in 1972. Mr. O'Brien then went to WHUD in Peekskill, N.Y. He retired in 1986, but continued to do weekend specials for WHUD until 2000.

O'Brien was killed in an auto accident July 26, 2005 at age 90.

 In 2006...Buffalo’s WWKB 1520 AM ended their music era as Classic Hits station with “Yesterday’s Gone” by Chad & Jeremy.

In 2005...Karl Haas, host of the long-running syndicated classical music radio program "Adventures in Good Music," died of multiple organ failure at 91. Haas began his radio program Adventures in Good Music on WJR in Detroit, Michigan in 1959.  Syndicated broadcasts of the show across the United States began in 1970 on WCLV, Cleveland, Ohio. The show was eventually syndicated to commercial and public radio stations around the world and became the world's most widely listened-to classical music radio program.

In 2006….ABC announced plans to sell 24 radio stations to Citadel.

In 2014…Baseball announcer/former MLB outfielder (Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians)/Baseball Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner, who was a New York Mets broadcaster for more than 50 years, died while battling Bell's palsy at the age of 91.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Philly Radio: Molly Schuyler Claims WIP's Wing Bowl

Dennis Rodman (lower left) was in attendance
Sports WIP 94.1 FM 24th annual Wing Bowl at Phily's Well Fargo Center was staged Friday moring with a familiar face winning.

Morning Host Angelo Cataldi w/Molly
Molly Schuyler is the Wing Bowl champion once again. The 2014 winner regained her crown by eating 429 wings, that's 14 per minute.

Schuyler held off last year's winner, Patrick Bertoletti, who downed 408 wings. In 2015, Bertoletti overcame Schuyler with a late charge, but he couldn't repeat the feat.

"She whooped me" this time, Bertoletti conceded on WIP's radio broadcast after the competition ended.

The other three finalists were Notorious B.O.B., who was the top local entrant with 306 wings eaten; U.S. Male, who ate 234 wings; and Skin and Bones, who ate 191 wings.

Temple student Matt Gyerman, nicknamed "Blonde Mamba", won the college division and took home $5,000.

A record six contestants were disqualified for vomiting, doubling the previous high mark of three. Another was ejected for mixing plates of wings.

Penelope from Collegeville was named Wingette of the Year, and won a $5,000 check of her own.

iHeartMedia 'Burning The Sofa To Heat-Up The House'

Saddled with $20.6 billion of debt, iHeartMedia is working on a deal that would retire about $1.4 billion of its most-pressing obligations before 2019, some trading at less than 39 cents on the dollar, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

According to BloombergBusiness, the plan marks the company’s latest attempt to rein in the debt it took on in its 2008 acquisition by private equity firms Bain Capital Partners LLC and Thomas H. Lee Partners LP, a $24 billion deal that came to symbolize the excesses of the pre-crisis buyout boom.

iHM’s struggles reflect the broader challenges facing traditional radio in the digital age. As online music services surge, spending on advertising for radio is smaller than it was in 2008, according to the Radio Advertising Bureau.

The radio and billboard company was bought by Bain and Thomas H. Lee as the recession hit and credit markets froze. The deal, which took two years to complete, was in and out of court and the price was re-negotiated at least once.

Clear Channel’s name changed to iHM in 2014 to reflect the title of its streaming music application and to rebrand as a media company. That app surpassed 80 million registered users, the company said last month.

Yet iHM’s legacy businesses -- 850 radio stations and billboards -- still contribute the bulk of its revenue, and those sales aren’t growing quickly. iHM is projected to report sales of $6.2 billion in 2015, a 1.1 percent drop from 2014.

Bob Pittman, Chairman-CEO
iHM’s sales have never fully recovered from a pre-recession high in 2007, the last time the company reported a profit. Since then, the company has lost between $219.5 million and $4 billion every year. Those losses have continued thanks in part to growing interest payments on the debt inherited from the buyout.

iHM has spent the past eight years refinancing and restructuring that debt -- without materially reducing the amount. It has pushed back the payments instead.

To boost its cash, IHeart has been tapping its healthier divisions. In December, Clear Channel International BV raised $218 million to help fund a special dividend for the parent company. Clear Channel Outdoor raised more than $566 million in January by selling billboards in eight markets to Lamar Advertising Co. and other buyers.

“It’s a case of burning your sofa to heat up the house,” Philip Brendel, a credit analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence. “It’s not necessarily a good idea but you’re running out of options.”

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Sumner Redstone Named Chairman Emeritus of Viacom

By Jessica Toonkel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Viacom Inc's board of directors named Chief Executive Officer Philippe Dauman as executive chairman, replacing majority owner Sumner Redstone, overriding calls for an independent board chief from Redstone's daughter, who voted against Dauman.

Viacom  announced on Thursday that the ailing 92-year-old Redstone was becoming chairman emeritus, a day after CBS Corp said Redstone, also the CBS majority owner, was stepping down as executive chairman and being replaced by CEO Leslie Moonves.

The boards of CBS and Viacom have been discussing Redstone stepping down for several weeks, according to two sources familiar with the situation.

Thursday's decision puts Viacom firmly in the hands of Dauman, a longtime associate of Sumner Redstone. His daughter, Shari, said in a statement she wanted someone who was not a member of her father's trust to run Viacom, which would have excluded Dauman.

Dauman and Moonves are natural rivals as leaders of the two halves of the empire that Redstone separated 10 years ago. After Redstone's eventual death, analysts expect several scenarios, such as selling the companies in pieces, leaving them as they are, or reuniting them, which could pit the executives against one another.

Sumner Redstone and the rest of Viacom's board voted in favor of Dauman, and only Shari Redstone voted against him, according to a source close to the company. Viacom said Shari Redstone turned down the non-executive chairman role.

Shari Redstone will "continue to advocate for what she believes to be in the best interests of Viacom shareholders,” she said in a statement.

Viacom shares initially rose sharply, but later pared gains, closing up 1.5 percent at $45.34 on Nasdaq.

Investor reaction was mixed.

SpringOwl Asset Management, a Viacom shareholder that has agitated for change, was disappointed by the move. "It raises questions about the board, corporate governance and fiduciary duties," the firm said in a statement. "The market agrees ... that someone other than Philippe Dauman should be the Chairman."

Michael Cuggino, president and portfolio manager at San Francisco-based Permanent Portfolio of Family Of Funds, which is the fifth largest voting shareholder in Viacom and CBS,  applauded Dauman's appointment, and was willing to give him time to improve the company’s performance.

“Viacom’s issues have not gone away and they still need to be tackled, but all the noise surrounding Sumner’s situation has been taken out of the equation,” Cuggino said. “The answer to whether Philippe is the right guy to do this will come later."

Sal Muoio, whose investment firm also is a top owner of voting Viacom shares, said he is also willing to give Dauman time: “This at least is a step toward clarity. I think we need to wait and see how these operational things unfold.”

Mario Gabelli, the largest Viacom shareholder outside the Redstone family, said on financial news channel CNBC that Dauman has six to nine months to prove himself.

"Philippe has to deliver," Gabelli told Reuters in an interview. "How does he jump-start the process? It's going to be tough to get into the digital world and over-the-top (Internet), given his perception of what his core competences are. It's going to be a challenge."

Gabelli dismissed the idea that Moonves could take over both companies: “He can’t do both, I don’t think.”

Redstone hived off Viacom from CBS, expecting faster growth from the owner of MTV and Paramount than the storied television network, but in recent years CBS has outperformed Viacom. CBS shares are up more than 135 percent in the last five years, while Viacom has eked out a 3 percent gain.

Viacom in recent years has suffered from falling ratings at its cable networks as its audience of younger viewers migrate to online and mobile video. In April 2015, the company announced a restructuring to save $350 million annually. Dauman has taken steps to woo advertisers by using data to better target their commercials.

The elder Redstone has faced questions about his health and leadership abilities for some time. He underwent a mental examination last Friday by a psychiatrist hired by his former girlfriend, Manuela Herzer, who has challenged Redstone's mental competency in a lawsuit.

The results of the examination have not been made public. Neither CBS nor Viacom explained why Redstone stepped aside.

After Herzer's lawsuit, investor Gabelli called for the media company to disclose the state of Redstone's mental competence.

Shari Redstone, 60, has said both companies needed an "independent voice" as chair who was not involved in the family's personal matters. She supported Moonves as CBS chief.

Dauman serves as a Sumner Redstone trustee in the event of his death as well as his health care proxy.

Shari Redstone believes Herzer's lawsuit is weighing on her father's mind.

"Ms. Herzer's lawsuit, and the fact she is actually trying to once again insert herself into my father's life, is causing my father tremendous stress and agitation," she said in a declaration to a California court filed this week.

Redstone controls about 80 percent of the voting shares in Viacom and CBS Corp through a holding company.

In January, Viacom said it cut the compensation of its top two executives, Redstone and Dauman, as the company faced business pressures and a sharp drop in its share price.

(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru and Jessica Toonkel in New York; Additional reporting by Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles and Dan Levine in San Francisco; Writing by Nick Zieminski and Bill Rigby in New York; Editing by Tiffany Wu, Bill Rigby and Jeffrey Benkoe)

News Corp's Revenue Falls Fourth Quarter In A Row

(Reuters) -- News Corp's revenue fell for the fourth quarter in a row, hurt by a stronger dollar and dwindling advertising revenue in its core news and information business, which includes the Wall Street Journal.

Newspaper and magazine publishers have been under unabated pressure to offset a decline in print advertising dollars by shoring up their digital business to attract advertisers and by boosting subscriptions.

News Corp, controlled by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, said revenue at its news and information unit declined 8.1 percent in the second quarter.

The unit, which accounted for about 65 percent of total revenue, also houses Dow Jones and the New York Post. Here, ad revenue fell 12 percent, mainly due to weakness in print ads.

The company said digital revenue increased and accounted for a third of total ad revenue at Dow Jones. It did not provide numbers.

"News Corp is a company with a lot of opportunities in front of it and a lot of ways to leverage its assets. This particular quarter shows that's still a work in process," said Tony Scherrer, director of research at Smead Capital Management, which owns about 3.9 million shares of News Corp.

News Corp, which split off from Twenty-First Century Fox Inc in 2013, has been diversifying to rely less on its print business.

The company said it expects its fast growing digital real-estate unit, where revenue jumped 35 percent, to become a core pillar of profitability.

Revenue in its book publishing business, which includes HarperCollins Publishers, fell 5 percent.

The company sold more printed books in the quarter, but not enough to offset the fall in e-book sales, a softness felt by other publishers also, Chief Executive Robert Thomson said on a conference call.

The company's total revenue fell 4.3 percent to $2.16 billion in the quarter. Analysts were expecting revenue of $2.13 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue also took a $141 million hit from foreign currency fluctuations, primarily from a weak Australian dollar.

In Australia, where Murdoch was born, News Corp's ad revenue declined 26 percent and the company said it was taking steps to streamline costs at newspapers, which includes the Australian and the Sunday Mail.

News Corp's net income available to shareholders fell 56 percent to $62 million. Its adjusted profit of 20 cents per share missed analysts' estimates of 21 cents.

The company's shares were unchanged at $12.21 in extended trading.

Tribune Publishing Gets $44.4M From Merrick Media, LLC

Tribune Publishing Company Thursday announced it has completed a $44.4 million private placement transaction with Merrick Media, LLC that will enhance the Company’s position for pursuing strategic acquisitions and digital initiatives.

Michael W. Ferro, Jr., Chairman and CEO of Merrick Media, joins the Tribune Publishing Board of Directors as Non-Executive Chairman.

Eddy W. Hartenstein, who has served as Non-Executive Chairman of Tribune Publishing since its spin-off from Tribune Media Company in August 2014, remains on the Tribune Publishing Board of Directors.

Commenting on the $44.4 million private placement transaction, Tribune Publishing Chief Executive Officer Jack Griffin said, “This transaction supports key elements of our ongoing strategic plan and provides our Company with additional capital to accelerate our growth strategies. We continue to evaluate growth opportunities where we can achieve measurable, value-enhancing synergies that drive financial contribution and maximize shareholder value.”

Eddy Hartenstein commented, “We are pleased to have Michael Ferro join our Board. He is a proven value creator, and his strong entrepreneurial business acumen enhances our ability to execute our strategic plan and grow the Company.”

Michael Ferro said, “I am excited to be working with the Company’s award-winning brands. I see tremendous upside to create value and put Tribune Publishing at the forefront of technology and content to benefit journalists and shareholders.”

In addition to his role at Merrick Media, LLC, Mr. Ferro also served as Director and Chairman of the Board of Chicago-based Merge Healthcare, Inc., where he oversaw the revitalization of the technology company and its highly successful sale last year to IBM.

Mr. Ferro is also the past Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and founder of Click Commerce, Inc. Under Mr. Ferro’s leadership, Click Commerce pioneered the market for Internet portals that drove the integration of disparate systems in numerous vertical markets.

Mr. Ferro is the former Chairman of the media and technology company Wrapports, LLC, whose investments include the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Reader and several high-growth digital businesses, such as and Mr. Ferro will retain his economic interest in Wrapports, LLC. He has relinquished all operating involvement with the Chicago Sun-Times.

NYTimes Announces Newsroomwide Strategy Review

Buoyed by strong digital growth and cost savings, The New York Times Company reported on Thursday an increase in quarterly profit but said revenue was flat as its print business continued to decline. The earnings report came on the same day that a sweeping examination of the newsroom, which will include identifying further areas for cost reductions, was announced.

Dean Baquet, the newspaper’s executive editor, will lead the newsroom effort along with David Leonhardt, the founding editor of The Times’s digitally focused The Upshot, Mr. Baquet said in a note to the newsroom.

“We need to develop a strategic plan for what The New York Times should be, and determine how to apply our timeless values to a new age,” Mr. Baquet wrote.

“Although our digital revenue is growing strongly, we continue to feel the impact of declines in parts of our print business,” he added. “That means the company must continue to carefully manage its costs.”

In the quarterly report released on Thursday, The Times said its net income for the fourth quarter was $52 million, an increase of 48 percent compared with the same period in 2014. Company revenue was $445 million during the last three months of 2015, the same as the year-ago period.

For the year, revenue was $1.58 billion and net income was $63 million.

In the earnings release, Mark Thompson, the company’s chief executive, described the fourth quarter as “strong” and extolled the company’s progress, including its new virtual reality offerings and the growth of T Brand Studio, a unit that creates content for Times advertisers.

Digital revenue remained an area of growth. Digital advertising revenue increased 11 percent during the fourth quarter, to $70 million, a number representing about a third of the company’s total advertising revenue.

For the full year, digital advertising revenue increased 8 percent compared with the previous year, to $197 million, and digital-only subscription revenue was $193 million last year, a roughly 14 percent increase from 2014.

CRS Announces New After-Hours Entertainment Options

Country Radio Seminar 2016 will deliver a number of entertainment options at this year’s seminar, including networking, on-site showcases, after-hours events and performances, and more, making this year’s new CRS experience extra special.

“I think people are going to be surprised at the number of entertainment possibilities we are offering at CRS 2016,” said CRS Executive Director, Bill Mayne. “We are continuing to raise the bar at Country Radio Seminar and, without question, we are providing a total 360 experience for all that attend this great event each and every year.”

Located at the Omni Hotel in downtown Nashville, restaurant and music venue Barlines will be open throughout the seminar and will be an area where attendees can relax and network, while enjoying award-winning southern comfort food and hand-crafted Tennessee brews. Live musical performances are scheduled for each night at the venue.

The New Faces of Country Music® show, which is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 10 from 6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m., will wrap up the three-day seminar with a packed evening of entertainment. Prior to the show, the New Faces Cocktail Reception is sponsored by Big Spark Music Group and will offer beer and wine as well as feature a high energy performance by Olivia Lane. The cocktail reception is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. – 6:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 10.

After the cocktail reception, CRS will hold their annual New Faces of Country Music Dinner and Performance, which is sponsored by ACMand St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The New Faces show will feature performances by Brothers Osborne, Cam, Chris Janson, Kelsea Ballerini and Old Dominion. Attendees who do not have tickets to the New Faces of Country Music Show™ are invited to attend the live feed viewing party of the artist performances in Barlines.

Immediately following the New Faces Show, the grand lobby of the CRS Performance Hall will be transformed into the official New Faces of Country Music After Party, sponsored by Warner Music Nashville. Guests will enjoy drinks as WMN introduces The Last Bandoleros. The After Party will be full of energy and will make for an unforgettable seminar finale.

Bill Mayne CRS Executive Director

CRS also welcomes a number of other after-hour destinations and sponsored events, including Bob Kingsley’s Acoustic Alley, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum Reception and Gallery Tours, the Mix Lounge, in2une/Momentum Label Group Showcase, Nashville-Access Superpick Showcase, Reviver Records After Hours Party, SSM Nashville Beer Garden, Stallions Entertainment Showcase, Smith & Wesley Performance at Barlines, Thirty Tigers at The Stage, the SMG CRS Fest 2016 at Margaritaville (sponsored by Spin Doctors) and more.

For a full list of already announced after-hour activities, download the CRS 2016 App through the app stores on iPhone and Android. A full agenda is also available on

To register for Country Radio Seminar 2016, held Monday, Feb. 8 through Wednesday, Feb. 10 at the Omni Nashville, visit