All posts by MAB Staff

Michigan Radio Holding Garrison Keillor Celebration

Last week, we wrote that WCMU Public Radio (Mt. Pleasant) was hosting a listener party to celebrate Garrison Keillor’s retirement from “A Prairie Home Companion.”  We have since learned that Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor is also hosting a listener party:

mir-ann-arbor-logo-bwAfter more than 40 years, Garrison Keillor is stepping down as the host of “A Prairie Home Companion.” Michigan Radio is celebrating Keillor’s final performances as host with “Garrison Keillor’s Retirement Celebration” at the station’s studios in Ann Arbor.  Listeners are invited to stop by and enjoy a slice of cake, sign a retirement card, and watch part of his final live show with fellow fans via video stream. The station is also giving away some “A Prairie Home Companion” prizes during the event.

The celebration will be held Saturday, June 25 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Information online here.

John Gay Joins WDZH-FM

JagCBS Radio’s WDZH-FM (Detroit) has announced the hiring of Jon Gay as the station’s new midday air talent.  Gay, known on-air as “Jag” comes to the station from New Orleans, where he was program director and afternoon drive host at KVDU-FM.

Gay previously worked at WKQI-FM (Detroit) between June 2011 and December 2012.

CBS Radio SVP/Market Manager Debbie Kenyon told All Access: “I am thrilled to add Jag to the 98.7 AMP RADIO lineup.  We are dedicated to keeping the station live and local and I can’t wait to hear Jag during the workday. I look forward to his fun on-air demeanor and know he’ll make a lot of listeners’ workdays go by a lot faster!”

Gay began his new position on June 15.

WWMT-TV Welcomes Mara Thompson

marathompson_300WWMT-TV (Kalamazoo) has hired former WPBN/WTOM-TV (Traverse City) news reporter Mara Thompson.  Thompson joined the station on June 6.

Thompson is a 2014 graduate of Michigan State University, majoring in journalism with a concentration in electronic news.

While at MSU, she was an announcer for the Big Ten Network Student U and was an anchor and reporter for the Emmy award-winning student news program Focal Point.  She also interned at WLNS-TV in Lansing, as well as WPBN/WTOM-TV in Traverse City.

Broadcast Auction Bids Heat Up

The FCC is stepping up the pace of the bidding rounds in the forward part of the incentive auction. Beginning June 13, the agency started conducting three rounds of bidding per day, up from the previous two. Initially, experts suggested that the reverse auction could run a maximum of 51 rounds. However, the new schedule may mean that the auction could end in late June – early July.

While it’s not clear when the forward auction begins, the agency has now set July 1 as the deadline for wireless auction applicants to make their upfront payments.

MABPAC Fundraiser: Let’s Go to the Ballpark!

Please join the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Political Action Committee (MABPAC)
for the Detroit Tigers v. Chicago White Sox baseball game and fundraiser on Monday, August 29, prior to the 2016 MAB Summer Advocacy Conference.

Guests will enjoy the game and picnic-style dinner and drinks in one of the private party suites located by third base.

What: Tigers vs. White Sox
When: Monday, August 29 – Suite opens at 6 p.m.; Game time is 7:10 p.m.
Where: Comerica Park, Detroit
Cost: $250/person

Reserve your spot by clicking HERE.

Space is limited and is available on first come, first served basis. Reserve your tickets today!

NOTE: In compliance with the Michigan Campaign Finance law, only personal checks/payments can be accepted. No corporate checks, please.

Questions? Contact Elena Palombo at or 517-484-7444.

Thank you and we look forward to seeing you at the game!

Senate Committee Greenlights Internet Gaming Bills

capitol3Senate Bills 889 and 890 allowing eight Michigan casinos to launch their own Internet gaming websites were voted out of the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee, despite testimony claiming the bills are unconstitutional and would cost the state “hundreds of millions of dollars” in lost revenue from tribal casinos.

Legislation includes a statement that says the Legislature finds that the Internet is “an integral part of everyday life for a significant number of residents of the state,” and that “Internet wagering on games of chance and games of skill is a core form of entertainment for millions of individuals across the world that generates billions of dollars in revenue for governments.”

The bill would grant licenses for Internet gambling in Michigan for just companies that currently have a casino license. This would include the Detroit casinos, and with tribal governments that have a gambling compact with the state. The bill would also require the licensees to make a non-refundable $100,000 application fee and a $5 million license fee (which could be refunded if a license is not granted).

The bill also imposes a 10 percent tax on gaming revenues, which the Legislature would appropriate.

Urgent EAS Notice: New Equipment Requirements

eas-logo_300MAB ABIP inspector R. Dale Gehman has issued the following advisory.  Please review your EAS equipment immediately to assess your situation.

If you need further assistance, feel free to contact the MAB at (800) 968-7622.

R. Dale Gehman – GC&C – June 20, 2016

A new set of EAS Rules and Guidelines adopted by the Federal Communications Commission become effective on July 30, 2016, mandating the following:

1). All EAS Participants must have an operational EAS Decoder that recognizes the new FCC EAS ‘FIPS’ Code #000000 (National Location Code).

2). All EAS Participants must have an operational EAS Decoder that recognizes and acts immediately to ‘relay‐to‐air’ an EAS Activation received coded with the EAS Event Code; ‘NPT’ (National Periodic Test) that is received with a valid ‘FIPS’ Code.

3). All EAS Participants must register with the FCC’s new ‘EAS Test Reporting System’ (ETRS) once the ‘ETRS’ server is operational. The FCC will release a Public Notice announcing the launch of ‘ETRS’ and that upcoming notice will specify a WEB‐URL link that Stations must use to complete their ‘ETRS’ registration.

4). Once item ‘3’ above occurs; Licensees will have sixty (60) days to establish an account and enter each Station’s data into the FCC’s ‘ETRS’. Once ‘ETRS’ is operational, Stations must log in and report all EAS Activations to the FCC’s Server using the log‐in account registered for each Station.

5). FEMA has scheduled a National EAS Test for Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016 at 2:20 PM EDT. The National EAS Test will originate using the new EAS FIPS Code 000000 (New National Location Code) and using the modified EAS Event Code ‘NPT’ (National Periodic Test).


Unfortunately, many of the original 1996 vintage EAS Decoders/Encoders must now be replaced as they cannot be upgraded to accomplish both the modified response to receipt of an ‘NPT’ Event Code nor can they be upgraded to recognize the new ‘000000’ FIPS National Location Code.

An example of vintage EAS Gear that cannot be upgraded includes, but not limited to; TFT’s EAS911, the Gray SAGE ENDEC and most of the 1996 era EAS boxes.

Most Stations previously upgraded to current vintage EAS Gear that polls FEMA’s IPAWS-CAP Server via the Internet, in compliance with the FCC Rules. Licensees should insure that current vintage EAS Gear has the latest software and firmware updates prior to July 30, 2016!

Stations that continue to operate with vintage EAS Gear that has not been upgraded successfully to recognize the National FIPS Code ‘000000’ and upgraded with a modified response to the EAS Event Code ‘NPT’ – will be in violation of the Rules on August 1, 2016, a violation that subjects the Licensee to a significant monetary assessment and notice of violation upon inspection.

Longtime Broadcast Engineer Ren Flagg Passes

Ren_Flagg_300The MAB has learned that Renwood Carl “Ren” Flagg passed away on June 14 at the age of 78.  Flagg was a longtime broadcast engineer in Michigan, starting in 1961 as a transmitter engineer with WWTV/WWUP-TV in Cadillac and Sault Ste. Marie.
In 1967, he joined WJRT-TV in Flint as an engineer overseeing studio operations and maintaining a microwave link from the Fisher Building in Detroit to the WJRT studio in Flint.

In 1968, Flagg moved to WILX-TV/WJCO-AM in Jackson where he oversaw the technical operations of the (then) combined TV/AM studios and transmitters.  From 1973 to 2000, he was sales manager of Cruse Communications, based in Okemos.  His most recent position was with Spring Harbor University, where he was a video engineer in the communication department.

Flagg was known for his brilliance and keen sense of humor.

He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Janice, and two children.  Services were held on June 18.

Free MAB Web Training on Wage/Overtime Laws

When Taking Care of Business Requires Working Overtime

Responding to the Department of Labor’s New
Overtime Pay Obligations: A Guide for Broadcasters

Wednesday, June 22, 2016
2:00 – 3:15pm ET

On May 18, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor published final regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that more than doubled the minimum salary level necessary to be exempt from the Act’s overtime rules.

While the changes affect all businesses subject to the FLSA, broadcasters in particular may feel the impact of the changes given the staffing models used by many TV and radio stations.

The new requirements will go into effect on December 1, 2016, and broadcasters need to take steps to adapt to, and minimize the impact of, those changes prior to that deadline.

Communications and Employment practice attorneys from the Washington D.C. law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman will be online to discuss what the new requirements will mean for broadcasters come December, and how these changes affect the existing exemption for certain employees at small market stations.


Scott R. Flick, Partner, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman
Rebecca Carr Rizzo, Counsel, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman
Moderator, Oscar Rodriguez, President, NASBA & Texas Association of Broadcasters

Register here by June 21 to receive login details.