Geoffrey Starks to be Nominated as New FCC Commissioner

Geoffrey Starks, who currently serves as an Assistant Chief in the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, was nominated by President Trump to fill the FCC Commissioner’s seat currently held by Mignon Clyburn.

Commissioner Clyburn has announced that she will be stepping down. If confirmed by the Senate, Starks will be the second Democratic Commissioner, joining Jessica Rosenworcel. His term will run until 2022.

Senate consideration of his nomination is likely to be paired with an extension of the term of Commissioner Carr, the most recent Republican to join the FCC. If both are approved, the FCC will continue with a 3-2 Republican majority as is usual during the administration of a Republican president. The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on Geoffrey Stark’s nomination to the FCC on June 20.

DHHS Plans Hepatitis A Awareness Campaign

According to a report in Gongwer, there are currently 218 diagnosed cases of Hepatitis A in Michigan.  The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) said it will run a media campaign from June through August to encourage public information about the potentially fatal disease, urging people to be vaccinated.

The department did not provide full details on how the campaign will be run, but one focus will be to get information to people who would be most at risk for the disease, including intravenous drug users, homeless persons, people who have been in prison, and people with chronic liver disease.

Appeals Court Orders Redistricting Proposal Put On Ballot

It now appears that Michigan voters will consider a redistricting proposal at the polls after a unanimous Court of Appeals panel ordered the Board of State Canvassers take the “necessary steps to place the proposal on the ballot for the general election.”

The organization opposing the redistricting petition, Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution, argued the proposal was more of a general revision of the Constitution than an amendment and failed to properly cite all aspects of the Constitution that would be changed by the proposal. However, the judges held that the redistricting petition was “confined to a single purpose, that of correcting the partisan aspects of the constitutional provisions regarding the redistricting commission and does so without interfering with the operation of government.” State (COA docket No. 343517)

A statement from Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution said the group would appeal to the Supreme Court, “The VNP proposal is (an) anti-democratic scheme that would completely silence the people’s elected representatives and replaces them with an unaccountable commission.”

What Anthony Bourdain Taught Me About Radio Broadcasting

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: Our MAB Digital Guru’s weekly post usually appears in our Web/DIgital/Social section of MAB NewsBriefs.  This week, however, I’ve elected to put Seth’s piece in our programming section.  -Dan Kelley

The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

Last Friday morning, we awoke to the sad news that Anthony Bourdain, the preeminent pioneer in the world of food tourism, had taken his own life. He was an icon. I was a fan. In many ways, Anthony Bourdain shaped my career.

Like many radio broadcasters, I have bounced from city to city across the country. Every few years, I seemed to pack up my belongings and find a new home. In the course of all my moving, I learned that every city is unique. Sometimes, I learned this lesson the hard way.

My radio career began at WBRU in Providence, in the shadow of the Boston music scene. I was a college student working at the station, and like most twenty-somethings, I thought I knew a lot more than I did. After graduating, I stuffed my belongings into a U-Haul and headed out to St. Louis, where I became the Imaging Director at 105.7 The Point. I was hired by Allan Fee, and every once in a while, we didn’t see eye to eye. I distinctly remember a heated discussion we had over a music imaging sweeper that I was creating. It was the early 2000s, and I thought we should include the song, “The Impression That I Get,” the 1997 modern rock hit by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Allan was opposed. I didn’t understand why.

What I didn’t realize at this early stage of my career was that my point of reference was distorted by my time in New England. Sure, the Bosstones could sell out five nights at the Middle East for their annual Hometown Throwdown, but that didn’t mean they were any more than a one-hit wonder hundreds of miles west in St. Louis.

Instead, St. Louis was in the midst of a long-term love affair with The Urge, a local band that could easily sell out a string of shows at Mississippi Nights. I only knew The Urge from their minor hit, “Jump Right In,” that we had played for a few weeks in Providence. But in St. Louis, they were gods. Looking back on that discussion now, I see it as an epiphany: This was when I first discovered how important it was for a radio broadcaster to understand and tap into the local culture. I realized that Allan was right, and I was wrong.

While sports has never been my strong suit, I quickly learned this was another arena in which it is vital for broadcasters to know their market. In fact, sometimes music and sports align. When I returned to Providence as WBRU’s Program Director, I embraced the Dropkick Murphys. If I were blindly following the music charts, I never would have touched this Boston punk band. Instead, we spun them more than any radio station in America. This paid off in spades when they released a song called “Tessie,” a re-imagining of a classic Red Sox anthem, just as the baseball team broke the Curse of the Bambino and won the World Series for the first time in 86 years. That song was not a hit anywhere else, but we had it in heavy rotation, because we understood the local culture.

Radio Terroir
The need to understand local culture extends far beyond just music and sports. Anthony Bourdain was one of the people who taught me that. During my brief tenure in St. Louis, I was exposed to a variety of regional dishes, including toasted ravioli, Imo’s pizza, and Ted Drewes ice cream. At the time, I didn’t recognize their significance.

But years later, I started a social dining group in Boston. This club introduced me to the world of local celebrity chefs. I saw surprising parallels between the culinary world and the world of rock and roll. On a national level, fans fawned over superstar chefs like Mario Batali, Wolfgang Puck, and Gordon Ramsay.

But among them all, Anthony Bourdain was unique. His straight-talking book, Kitchen Confidential, read like a rock star memoir, filled with tattoos, scars, and drug addiction. (I highly recommend listening to the audio version, which Anthony narrates himself.)

What made Bourdain stand out was his understanding of place. He was keenly aware of the fact that just like every city or town has a different music or sports scene, every locale has a different food culture. He loved using food as a gateway to explore different local cultures. He built a fascinating career out of it.

There’s a fantastic word in the culinary world: “Terroir.” It describes how the location where a food is grown impacts the flavor. It’s used most often in wine making. When the wines made from grapes grown on the shady side of a vineyard hill taste different than the wines that use grapes from the sunny side, that’s terroir. More and more, however, the word terroir has been adopted to describe food. With the rise of the local food movement, top chefs increasingly use the availability of fresh, local ingredients as a major factor when creating their menus. As a result, the place informs the taste.

More than anybody, Bourdain embodied that connection between taste and place. He showed the world why people eat breakfast tacos in Austin, banh mis in San Jose, and coneys in Detroit.

Several years ago, I produced a podcast called Taste Trekkers. It was a podcast for “foodies who love travel and travelers who love food.” I would interview culinary experts from different cities about their local food scenes. This podcast owed a bigger debt of inspiration to Anthony Bourdain than anyone else. He made me want to explore different cities through food in the same way I had explored them through music during my radio career.Today, I like to think about the concept of terroir applied to radio stations. The reason that Los Angeles radio still plays Dramarama, Detroit radio still spins J Dilla, and Bay Area radio continues to rotate Too $hort is the same reason that barbecue sauce styles change as you drive across the South. The place informs the taste.

From time to time, I’ll see a Program Director move to a new city to take over a radio station. They’re usually eager to put their stamp on the station immediately: change the logo, overhaul the music library, or alter the on-air lineup. In doing so, they make the same mistake I was making when I wanted to image a St. Louis radio station with the Mighty Mighty Bosstones; they’re ignoring the terroir.

Anthony Bourdain would never make this mistake. He always showed great respect for the local culture. I believe that if Anthony Bourdain were to take over a radio station in a new city, the first thing he would do is learn the terroir. He would want to understand how the place informs the taste. We should all strive to be more like Anthony Bourdain.

Thank you for the inspiration, Tony. You will be missed.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

Another Birthday, Another Bash for B93


On June 2, iHeartMedia’s WBCT-FM (Grand Rapids) held its annual “Birthday Bash” concert before a sell-out crowd at Fifth Third Ballpark.

The annual concert this year featured a number of country artists, including Rascal Flatts, Gary Allan, Morgan Evans, Devin Dawson and Tyler Rich.  All 7500 seats at the ballpark were sold.

This is the first year for the event to be held at the ballpark.  Tim Feagan, Regional Market President at iHeartMedia said, “After evaluating the changing concert landscape and reviewing facilities and infrastructure, B-93.7 has decided to move its Birthday Bash celebration to the Fifth Third Ballpark.  The new facility for the Birthday Bash will provide better sightlines, concession choices, facilities and seating for all attendees.”

Holy Family Radio Acquires Vicksburg Signal

On June 1, an application was filed with the FCC to assign the license of non-commercial station WVAV-FM from Vineyard Academy to Holy Family Radio.  The station serves the Vicksburg/Kalamazoo area.

The station is being donated.  Holy Family Radio has been programming the station.

Holy Family Radio, based in Grand Rapids, owns WVHF-AM, Licensed to Kentwood and WSPB-FM, Bedford.

WVAV-FM operates on 91.5 mHz with 20kw ERP.  The assignment is subject to FCC approval.

WGHN-AM and WMPA-FM Flip Formats

On May 26, owners Will Tieman and Wendy Hart have flipped WMPA-FM (Ferrysburg) has flipped to a new classic rock format as “Classic Rock 93.1.“  The station had previously featured a country music format.

WMPA Program Director Jesse Bruce is hosting a local request show at 12 p.m. as well as afternoons from 3-7 p.m. He had been hosting afternoons on sister AC 92.1 WGHN-FM.  WMPA will also carry the syndicated “Nights with Alice Cooper.”

WGHN-AM (Grand Haven), which has a companion FM translator has switched from sports to oldies  as “Oldies 94.9.“  The station will continue with its lineup of sports play-by-play including the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Lions, Detroit Red Wings, University of Michigan, and Spring Lake High School.

WGHN-FM (Grand Haven) retains its AC format with Mary Ellen Murphy, replacing Bruce in afternoons.

Bob Seger Boulevard? WCSX Says ‘Yes’

Beasley Media Group’s WCSX-FM (Detroit), in support of a petition to have Bob Seger Boulevard approved by the Ann Arbor Michigan School Board, programmed 24 hours of Bob Seger music this past Saturday, June 2.

WCSX-FM’s Big Jim’s House Morning Show challenged WCSX-FM Program Director Jerry Tarrants that they could get more than 9,470 likes on the brand new “Make Bob Seger Boulevard” Facebook page. Within only a few days, Bob Seger fans from all over the world made their voices known with likes for the page going well over the 9,470 likes needed! As a result, listeners were able to enjoy 24 hours of Seger on the station.

“I should have known that Bob Seger fans would rise to the occasion,” said Program Director Jerry Tarrants. “It will be fun. The incredible response will help to support our efforts in naming a street sign after this Rock legend. It is something that everyone in the Detroit area and around the world wants to see happen!”

The effort was started in early May when the station announced that it, the City of Ann Arbor and the Ann Arbor School Board were teaming up to have a street named in honor of Detroit Classic Rock legend Bob Seger in front of his Alma Mater in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Nielsen Releases First CMO Report, Showing Digital On The Rise

According to an article in All Access, Nielsen released the first in what it plans to be an annual series of reports based on interviews with Chief Marketing Officers and other survey data. The Nielsen CMO Report 2018 indicates that 82% of marketers expect to increase their digital spending by an average of 49% as a percentage of their total advertising budget in the next 12 months and that almost 80% plan to increase their investment in analytics or attribution solutions in the same time frame.

The marketers, however, were less enthusiastic about measuring return on investment, with just 26% saying they are “highly confident” in their ability to accurately measure ROI from digital (and only 23% saying the same for traditional media). Find the full report by clicking here.

Though the article spoke a lot about digital media in which broadcasting has a strong presence, it reported that traditional media remains “critical to brand building,” and 62% said their plans are organized to support an omnichannel approach.

“We conducted the research for the Nielsen CM Report 2018 with one central goal, to give voice to brand advertisers who are facing some of the most daunting challenges of their organizations,” Nielsen SVP/Product Marketing and Strategy Eric Solomon told All Access. “What we heard was that, despite the prevalence of new advertising and promotional channels and significant investments in data and technology, marketers are still struggling to generate and prove sales results in an increasingly omnichannel world.”

Bill Ballenger Joins Michigan Talk Network

Bill Ballenger

Longtime political commentator Bill Ballenger has joined the Michigan Talk Network to host a brand new weekly political talk program.

Ballenger who has been a staple of the Michigan political scene for years, debuted the series, The Political Insider with Bill Ballenger on June 2.

“Bill is a respected and sought-after voice in politics both in Michigan and on the national scene,” remarked MTN President Ivey Gruber. “Bill cuts through the noise and in this political season with so much going on, we knew we wanted him on the MTN team.”

A graduate of Harvard, Ballenger founded Inside Michigan Politics before leaving early in 2016. He served in both the Michigan House and Senate before joining the administration of President Gerald Ford as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

Bill has “a go to perspective when it comes to important political issues and I am thrilled that he will be delivering those insights on a regular basis,” commented Steve Gruber, the host of The Steve Gruber Show, MTN’s flagship program heard statewide on 25 affiliates each day.

Ballenger is expected to cover the big races in Michigan for Governor, U.S. Senate and the 14 Congressional seats that are all up for grabs come November 6, 2018. The state will also likely have a number of ballot proposals that voters will decide on election day including a proposal to legalize marijuana for recreational use. The Political Insider debuted this past Saturday on several of the 40+ affiliates serviced by The Michigan Talk Network.

For more information on The Political Insider with Bill Ballenger, contact:

Ivey Gruber, President MTN ivey@stevegruber.com
Sarah Griffith, Director of Operations sarahg@stevegruber.com