All posts by MAB Staff

FOIA Requests on the Rise for State Agencies

capitol3According to a report in MIRS, state departments say they are facing an onslaught of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The main state agencies in the spotlight, the Michigan Departments of Environmental Quality (DEQ), as well as Health and Human Services (DHHS), have been slammed with a record number of FOIA requests this year due to the media attention and coverage of the Flint water crisis.

The DEQ reported receiving 6,895 FOIAs during Fiscal Year (FY) 2015. So far in FY 2016, now in its sixth month, the department is up to at least 3,562 requests. The agency is projecting a 20-percent increase from last year, according to a DEQ spokesperson. The DHHS has had to bring on three temporary employees to help address the volume of FOIA requests. There have been at least 163 health-related FOIAs received by the DHHS so far this calendar year, compared to 680 total in 2015.

Mike Scott Joins Midwest Communications/Lansing

MikeScottMidwest Communications has announced that Mike Scott (pictured right) has joined the company as Operations Manager of their four-station Lansing cluster.  Mike will oversee WJQX-FM, WLMI-FM, WWDK-FM, and WQTX-FM.  Mike was previously with Kroll Communications’ WRSR-FM (Flint).

Mike’s background includes work at WOMC-FM, WNIC-FM, and WYCD-FM, all in Detroit.

Midwest VP/Market Manager Patrick Pendergast, in a news item appearing in All Access said,  “We are thrilled to land Mike given his talent and experience across a wide variety of formats. He is ideally suited to lead our four station cluster. As a Michigan native, he’s the perfect fit for us.”

Mike is quoted as saying, “I can’t express in words how excited I am to join the great team at Midwest Communications and lead this great programming group. I’d especially like to thank both Jeff McCarthy, Vice President of Programming and Patrick Pendergast  for this opportunity and look forward to joining the Lansing team.”

Nominations Open for MAB Hall of Fame and Lifetime Achievement Award

Our industry has some of the most outstanding people involved in it. Many industry leaders have served their community, their audience and their advertisers selflessly and tirelessly for years. It is time to recognize them! It is only fitting that as an industry we recognize excellence, those who go way above and beyond normal expectations. You may know a broadcaster like this, one who should be recognized.

Take a few minutes to nominate someone for the MAB Hall of Fame or Lifetime Achievement Award. The nominations close Friday, April 29.  Please click through to the application form here.  Fill out the form and attach a brief bio and any other documentation you may have to describe the outstanding job your nominee has done, going above and beyond what would be normally expected of a person holding a position in our industry. Criteria is listed on the website. If you need help, contact Alisha or Jennifer at the MAB: (517) 484-7444.

The Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement awards will be presented at the Annual Meeting and Advocacy Conference, August 30-31, 2016 at The Inn at St. Johns Conference Center, Plymouth Michigan.  For more information on the Conference, click here.

Associate Member Highlight: Comrex

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Comrex – Fun Facts:

  • Comrex was founded in 1961. Our first product, designed by Comrex founder John Cheney, was a wireless microphone for use in live television news broadcasts. Since then, we’ve developed state-of-the-art equipment to meet a variety of broadcasting needs. From telephone couplers and hybrids, to POTS and ISDN codecs, to IP-based talk show management systems, and handheld IP codecs, Comrex has created a varied portfolio of products which have become industry staples over the years.
  • We are pioneers in IP broadcasting. The Comrex ACCESS, released in 2007, is an IP codec which, while it performs exceptionally in a variety of applications, is specialized for remote broadcasts. With ACCESS, users have conducted remote radio broadcasts from airplanes, moving bicycles, boats in the middle of the ocean, and mountains in the Himalayas. Additionally, we’ve applied our IP knowledge to other products, to build STAC VIP, our IP-based talk show management system and VH2, an IP-based two-line hybrid.
  • Comrex does television, in addition to radio! Though we’ve gained a reputation in radio, in 2012 we recognized an opportunity to apply our IP broadcasting knowledge to video. Comrex LiveShot is an IP-based video acquisition and transmission tool – weighing only three pounds, LiveShot plugs into the back of a camera and sends video and audio to a studio in real time with very low latency. LiveShot can also receive video and audio from the studio, making it easy to view teleprompter or programming from the station while also sending live footage from the field. Due to its portability and flexibility, LiveShot has become popular with users in a wide span of markets, from colleges to sports teams to large network affiliates.
  • The average Comrex employee has been with the company for over ten years. That is an incredibly low turnover rate! We care deeply about our team and there’s a reason our employees choose to stick around.
  • We’re entirely employee owned, and we’re proud of that. This means that Comrex isn’t accountable to outside investors – we answer only to ourselves, and to our customers. Our independence gives us the freedom to focus on customer service and careful research and development, rather than exponential profit growth. We’re never on a third-party’s timeline – we can truly prioritize the quality of our equipment over everything else. This care and attention to detail is present not just in our products, but in our interactions with customers.

For more information about our history and products, contact us at info@comrex.com, or visit our website at www.comrex.com.
COMREX_LOGO_tagline_500reverseComrex will be exhibiting at NAB 2016, from April 18-22 – our booth number is C1633. In the next month, we’ll be displaying at the ACM Western Region Conference, and the Worldwide Radio Summit. and the Great Lakes Broadcasting Conference and Expo, May 2-3, 2016.

For more information on upcoming events, visit our website at www.comrex.com.

MSU and WKAR Develop App for Flint Residents During Water Crisis

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Photo credit; WKAR

Michigan State University and WKAR-TV have put the power of information in the hands of Flint residents through a new tool that navigates community resources in the wake of the ongoing water crisis.

The mobile app “Empower Flint” provides a checklist of important actions people can take to protect themselves, their families and pets as they battle elevated lead levels in the water supply. Released March 1, the app was developed by a team of researchers and specialists from MSU, the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, and WKAR-TV in collaboration with the people of Flint.

“Our goal was to build something that adapts to the needs identified by Flint residents, and that stands the test of time as community needs evolve,” said Kami Silk, MSU associate dean for research and professor of communication and agbio research. “Our hopes are that the app will fill an information gap and be embraced as coming from a trusted and familiar voice in Flint: MSU.”

The app’s “find” operation enables users to search for the closest water stations, free water filters, lead testing sites, community events, and sources of nutritious food. Users will also find directional maps, news feeds, and volunteer and community activities at their fingertips. Most important, “Empower Flint” pushes out critical alerts about water safety, lead levels, and immediate steps that residents can take for personal and public health.

“We saw a lot of experts and community partners providing a lot of important information,” said WKAR-TV Station Manager Susi Elkins. “Since we’re communicators, we saw it as a chance to put our expertise to use for the greater good and devise a way to make communicating that information as easy as possible.”

Associate Professor of Media and Information Brian Winn led the development of the app starting in mid-January with members of the College of ComArtSci’s GEL Lab.  Silk and Elkins assembled ongoing focus groups of residents to test and provide feedback the app.

The app may be downloaded to both iOS and Android devices here.

WGVU Holds “Great Wine and Food Symposium” Fundraiser

WGVU_031016On February 26, WGVU (Grand Rapids) held its 27th annual Wine and Food Symposium, presented by D&W Fresh Market.  Station supporters were able to sample from over 300 wine and beer selections as well as gourmet food from around the world and were able to converse with experts on the menu.

Those attending were also treated to live music by Dutcher Snedeker on the piano.

The event was held at the Grand Rapids Public Museum.  More photos here.

Traverse City Broadcaster Phill Orth Passes

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Photo courtesy of the Orth Family.


Longtime Traverse City broadcaster Phillip “Phill” Earl Orth passed away March 6 at age 66 in Traverse City.

In a March 8 article in the Traverse City Record-Eagle, it was noted that Phill was “a well-known Traverse City radio disc jockey who was awarded gold records for being an early supporter of songs like ‘Play That Funky Music’ and ‘You Sexy Thing.’ To this day, many people remember him fondly as “Orth of the North.” Later in his career as a sales manager for the MacDonald Broadcasting stations in Petoskey, he enjoyed mentoring his team to help them be successful.

Phill was also involved in Traverse City politics at a young age, serving as both mayor of Traverse City and a Traverse City Commissioner.

Phill is survived by his wife, Linda Weeks; his daughter, Mareesa (Jason Spykerman) Orth; brother, David Orth; and sister, Lois Orth, both of Traverse City; stepchildren, James (Julia) Kreft, of Madison, Wisconsin, and Katie (Ryan) Brang, M.D., of Marquette; two grandchildren, Sonja and Sylvia; and his beloved Samoyed dog, Macy.

WGRY-AM Becomes WMQU-AM in New Partnership

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(Standing L-R) Jerry Coyne and Sheryl Coyne, owners of Blarney Stone Broadcasting, are proud to finalize the agreement for programming on WMQU 1230 AM with Baraga Radio Network’s (sitting L-R), Tom Hornacek, Board of Directors President and Therese O’Brien, General Manager.

Blarney Stone Broadcasting’s WGRY-AM 1230 (Grayling) has become WMQU-AM 1230, after a partnership with Baraga Radio.

Baraga Radio Network – The Catholic Light for Northern Michigan – will lease the station for seven years. At the conclusion of the contract on Feb. 28, 2023, BSB will donate the FCC license and transmitting equipment to Baraga.

“People may know us for our world-class rock station and our sports talk station, but we’re thrilled to join Baraga and help expand faith-based radio in Northern Michigan,” said Sheryl Coyne, President and CEO of Blarney Stone Broadcasting.  “We’re extremely proud to show yet another aspect of our commitment to this community.  “While we liked having our AM station as an alternative during conflicts in our live sports coverage, we feel this is a much better use for it, and we look forward to a tremendous partnership with the good people at Baraga.”

On January 15, the call letters were changed to WMQU (Mary Queen of the Universe); the format change went into effect on March 1.

Baraga Broadcasting, a listener-supported radio network in Northern Michigan, proclaims the Truth and beauty of the Roman Catholic Faith by offering educational and inspirational programming that aims to engage its listeners and encourage them to live out their Faith in Jesus Christ.

“We are so excited to be able to bring Catholic radio to the people of Grayling and the surrounding communities,” said Therese O’Brien, general manager of the Baraga Radio Network. “We have been overwhelmed by the positive interest received from all of the local Catholic churches. Baraga Radio Network will be a spiritual boost and a light in the darkness for these souls and for the many visitors to our area.”

WXYZ-TV Celebrates Anniversary of Downtown Studio

7 Action News anchor JoAnne Purtan at the downtown studio anchor desk.
WXYZ-TV 7 Action News anchor JoAnne Purtan at the downtown studio anchor desk.

On February 26, WXYZ-TV (Detroit) celebrated the one-year anniversary of its downtown street-side studio. The celebration included live coverage and special interviews throughout the day on the station’s newscasts.

The studio is located inside the Qube building on Woodward Avenue along Campus Martius Park. It provides 7 Action News viewers with a unique look at the heart of the city and the year-round activities in the park.

WXYZStudio2_400The downtown studio is home to 7 Action News at noon with JoAnne Purtan. It is also an integral part of 7 Action News newscasts and has become a central location for interviews with the region’s top newsmakers. It’s a premiere location for downtown events and special programming, including musical performances on the patio.

“The feedback from the community and our viewers has been tremendous,” said Mike Murri, vice president and general manager of WXYZ and WMYD. “We are thrilled to be part of the resurgence in Detroit and to provide viewers with this unique perspective on downtown development. The studio in the Qube showcases our goal to be part of the rebirth of the city we serve.”

The downtown broadcast studio takes WXYZ-TV back to its roots. The station first began broadcasting in 1948 from studios inside the Maccabees Building in Detroit’s Midtown. Sixty-six years later, Detroit’s legendary television station returned to broadcast from the heart of the city.

Jermont Terry Joins WDIV-TV

Jermont-Terry_244Jermont Terry has joined WDIV-TV (Detroit) as a news reporter,  bringing 15 years of reporting experience to the station.  He began working at WDIV on February 29.

Prior to moving to Detroit, Terry worked as an investigative reporter, where he led the I-Team unit at WTMJ, which is the Milwaukee NBC affiliate’s investigative team. He also spent time working at WXII, the NBC affiliate in Greensboro, North Carolina, and four years working as an investigative reporter at WKYT, the CBS affiliate in Lexington, Kentucky. Terry also worked as a producer and reporter at WLFI, the CBS affiliate in West Lafayette, Indiana. Terry started his journalism career on the AM/FM dials in his home state of Illinois, while attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The Chicago native graduated with a Bachelors of Science Degree in broadcast journalism from the College of Communications at the University of Illinois. In 2015, The Milwaukee Press Club honored Terry with a first place award for best investigative series. Throughout his career, he has been honored with numerous awards including an Associated Press award for Best Enterprise/Investigative Story. His work and contributions at WKYT and WXII led to the prestigious Edward R. Murrow award. Jermont is an active member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the Investigative Reporters and Editors.