All posts by MAB Staff

Pai Proposes To Add Blue Alerts To EAS

Chairman Ajit Pai

On May 19, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced a proposal to add an alert option to the nation’s Emergency Alert System (EAS) to help protect our nation’s law enforcement officers.

Called a “Blue Alert,” the option would be used by authorities in states across the country to notify the public through television and radio of threats to law enforcement and to help apprehend dangerous suspects. The Chairman unveiled the proposal at an event hosted by the Department of Justice announcing the nationwide rollout of the National Blue Alert Network.

“As we have learned from the very successful AMBER Alert initiative for recovering missing children, an informed public can play a vital role in assisting law enforcement,” Chairman Pai said. “By expanding the Emergency Alert System to better support Blue Alerts, we could build on that success – and help protect those in law enforcement who risk their lives each day to protect us.”

Blue Alerts can be used to warn the public when there is actionable information related to a law enforcement officer who is missing, seriously injured or killed in the line of duty, or when there is an imminent credible threat to an officer. As a result, a Blue Alert could quickly warn you if a violent suspect could be in your community, along with providing instructions on what to do if you spot the suspect and how to stay safe.

Chairman Pai’s proposal would amend the FCC’s EAS rules by creating a dedicated Blue Alert event code so that state and local authorities have the option to send these warnings to the public through broadcast, cable, satellite, and wireline video providers.

Suzanne Goucher, EAS representative for the National Association of State Broadcast Associations (NASBA) said “the new code would be voluntary, so if states or stations didn’t want to use the new code for Blue Alerts, they could still use LEW, Law Enforcement Warning, for other incidents/situations.”

House Holds Hearing on Modernizing EAS

On May 20, Representative Greg Walden, (R-OR), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee (and a former broadcaster), led a hearing on modernizing America’s emergency alert system.

“As we move forward, we want to make sure that our first responder community, and the citizens they serve and protect, have access to the latest technologies. And, we want to make sure that it is an evolving force, not something that is simply locked in place,” said Walden.

Broadcasters made their case for the importance of advanced emergency alerts via the new next gen ATSC 3.0 standard and the necessity for the FCC to approve NAB’s request, along with noncommercial broadcasters and tech companies, to roll out the new standard on a voluntary basis.

Sam Matheny, Chief Technology Officer for the National Association of Broadcasters told lawmakers: “All NAB members, the thousands of free, local radio and television broadcasters in your hometowns, take seriously their role as the most trusted source of news and emergency updates. Whether it’s preparing listeners and viewers for the coming storm, directing them to needed supplies and shelter during the disaster, or helping towns and cities rebuild in the aftermath, local stations are part of the communities they serve. And, local radio and TV stations are sometimes the only available communication mediums in an emergency when cell phones and wireless networks fail. In fact, a new poll was released by Morning Consult, reaffirming that broadcasters are the number one medium that the American People turn to in times of emergency, by a factor of nearly four to one.”

“This unique combination of trust and reliability is why, in addition to our ongoing, comprehensive news coverage of emergencies, broadcasters form the backbone of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). EAS connects over-the-air broadcast radio, television and cable systems to communicate critical safety information to the public during sudden, unpredictable or unforeseen events. These capabilities can be enhanced by a station’s voluntary upgrade to Next Gen TV, which will enable significant life-saving advances in emergency communications. One need look no further than the recent and tragic fire in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, or the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy to appreciate the vital role of a reliable communications infrastructure during a time of crisis. ”

 

Annual EEO Public File Report Deadline for Stations in Michigan

June 1, 2017 is the deadline for broadcast stations licensed to communities in Arizona, the District of Columbia, Idaho, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming to place their Annual EEO Public File Report in their public inspection file and post the report on their station website.

In addition, a certain group of these stations, as detailed below, must electronically file their EEO Mid-term Report on FCC Form 397 by June 1, 2017.

For more information, please read the advisory from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP here. (PDF download via MAB)

Traffic Director Tips: Joni Reed (Black Diamond Broadcasting/Cheboygan)

(L-R) MAB’s Denise Weston, Black Diamond’s Joni Reed and Lynne Peck.


Joni Reed is Traffic Director for Black Diamond Broadcasting’s WMKC-FM, WGFM-FM, WQEZ-FM and WCBY-AM.  Joni works with Traffic and Billing Director Lynne Peck and both are based at the company’s Cheboygan, Michigan location.  Joni has been in traffic for 10 years.

Joni:  I started at the radio station 11 years ago, and sent out the billing before I was actually a traffic director. Within a year or two, I became a traffic director.  As we have several stations, we would print all of the invoices, go through them, sign and notarize, then fold and keep them in alphabetical order, adding each station’s invoice, so we could mail them all together for each client.

Later, we started printing monthly statements, so we added that into the same process.

Recently we were bought by Black Diamond Broadcasting, adding 2 more stations to our overall billing group.  During the transition of adding them to Marketron, we got some information from the trainer about something available. You can earmark all your invoices that have special instructions, or are co-op, as you enter your orders in ‘Remarks’ in the Header Field.  After you create your batches and post them, you can create an invoice report for the day of your invoices and when you print them, all the orders that you earmarked as special will print first and the rest will be in alphabetical order for you!

For us it has been a great time saver. We only have to pull out the agency invoices as the agency statements print at the end of the statement batch, but the agency invoices print in alphabetical order by agency.

We will NEVER GO BACK!!!! Can’t believe we didn’t know this earlier! We have A LOT of ‘special’ people, so it has saved time in more ways than one.

Hope this helps someone else save time!

 

WCMU Honored with Michigan Community Action Award

(L-R)  John Stephenson, Executive Director of the Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency; Amy Robinson, WCMU News Director; Rick Westover, WCMU Program Director; Ken Kolbe, WCMU General Manager; and Kate White, Michigan Community Action Executive Director.

WCMU’s “Warm Hearts, Warm Homes” campaign has received the 2017 Community Service Award from Michigan Community Action (MCA). The award was presented May 9 at a special ceremony at the State Capitol in Lansing.

“Warm Hearts, Warm Homes” is a partnership involving WCMU, Consumers Energy and Isabella Bank that provides home-heating assistance to families in need. The December 2016 campaign raised $68,000 to help pay heating bills for residence in central and northern Michigan.

The generosity of WCMU Public Radio listeners during the five-day campaign triggered a dollar-for-dollar matching donation from Consumers Energy and Isabella Bank who worked with Michigan Community Action to distribute the funds to those in need.

“Michigan Community Action has helped more than 10,000 families in each of the last three years keep warm,” Rick Westover, program director of WCMU, said. “The combined generosity of Consumers Energy, Isabella Bank and CMU Public Radio listeners allowed MCA to continue to meet the growing need for home-heating assistance in our listening area.”

This year’s Warm Hearts, Warm Homes campaign brings to $138,000 the funding provided for help with heating bills during the last three years.

“Thanks to MCA for the “Warm Hearts, Warm Homes” recognition, but it’s the feedback and generosity of our listeners that provides warmth in our hearts,” said Westover.

Listener feedback:

Atlanta: “I’m on social security and keep my thermostat at 60, but I know there are people worse off than me, I’m willing to help with what I can.”

Petoskey: “I am a beneficiary of the energy assistance program through the NMCAA. I cannot express enough my gratitude for this program, which is helping my family keep warm this winter.”

Saginaw: “I love the Warm Hearts idea. It’s so important to help low income residents – these heating funds always run out at the end of the winter”

A Day in May

Tim Moore

Editor’s Note: 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:  Tim Moore,
Managing Partner,
Audience Development Group

This month marks the sixth anniversary of the largest natural disaster visited on the American landscape in the new Century. At 5:34 p.m. on Sunday, May 22, 2011, an EF5 tornado’s 200 mile per hour winds cut a mile-wide swath through Joplin (Missouri’s fourth largest metro) killing 158 and injuring more than a thousand.

In its aftermath only Zimmer Radio’s in-house radar and engineering foresight linked the market with the outside world. Three TV stations and other radio companies were decommissioned by the tornado. The following is a verbatim e-mail between two members of Zimmer’s highly respected engineering team 48 hours after the storm:

From: David Obergoenner to Morgan Grammar Date: 24 May 2011 Subject: Joplin 11:39 PM

Thanks, Morgan. As of this afternoon we still had two staff members missing. Many of our people including the air staff lost their homes, cars, everything. But there they were, all day today, on the air, helping other hurting folks via radio. We have such a great staff!!! Much of our broadcast day was taking calls from people trying to find friends and family…and helping folks find food and shelter. Some of the calls tore my heart out. So many good people in that town…

We’ve brought in a couple of RV’s for staff members to use who don’t have homes anymore…or theirs’ are too badly damaged to safely return to. All of our stations were on simulcast wall to wall; with weather coverage from an hour before the storm hit Joplin. We knew it was going to be a bad one. 6 of our 7 signals stayed on the air without missing a beat through the storm. Zimmer stations are about the only thing left on radio or TV.

Our 5 kw AM took a direct lightening hit as the storm blew through and was off the air until about 4am when Mel got it fixed. The BE AM-6a was still fine. The generators at all the sites saved our butts again. The tornado just missed our 1,000 foot Joplin Super Tower (with 3 of our FM’s on it) and just missed our studio complex by a couple of blocks. The winds at our studios were so strong it tore out several trees near our parking lot. Several of our staff’s cars were parked there and it really tore them up too.

I have no idea how our STL tower survived that…I guess that ERI tower I insisted on is pretty tough. We still haven’t been able to get to our old location which also has a 400 foot tower. Mel says he saw the tower but not sure if the building is still standing. Our TV tenant has been off the air since the storm hit, as has most of the TV here. That’s about where we are this evening. Joplin will not be back to normal for a VERY long time.

Zimmer had previously installed actual radar when they launched their News -Talk KZRG. Operations Manager Chad Elliot had fortuitously worked out a text warning system with some Kansas Sheriff’s departments to the west. Elliot came immediately to his facility on learning a massive multiple-vortex storm was making up over Kansas and headed for Joplin. He alerted local emergency departments and a large local high school with commencement ceremonies that afternoon! The damage was beyond description, including the 10-story St. Johns Medical Complex, actually deformed over a foot on its foundation; only part of the $2.8 billion in damages.

In the weeks that followed, Zimmer radio was appropriately hailed as a savior for so many who, thanks to the advanced warning, were able to take shelter. The company was visited by countless agencies including the NAB and many broadcasters who simply wanted to know “how they accomplished it.”

The answer was of course foresight and an investment in “overbuilt” facilities including their in-house radar. As for Zimmer’s human assets, it’s fair to say they were priceless.

 

 

FCC Watch: Rusticus Sells 55% of WYGR (Wyoming-Grand Rapids)

In an application filed with the FCC on May 11, Roland Rusticus is selling 55% of WYGR, LLC, licensee of WYGR-AM and associated translator W235BN to partners Scott R. Pastoor and Eric A. Mills.

Pastoor is increasing his percentage of ownership from 35 to 55% for $123,000.  Mills is buying 35% of the licensee for $213,000. Rusticus will retain 10%.

In other FCC actions, Family Life Broadcasting System has received approval for a minor change (directional antenna pattern) for translator W232CA (Detroit).  The translator rebroadcasts co-owned WUFL-AM (Sterling Heights).

Not in Michigan:

The FCC has fined the operators of an unlicensed LPTV station $144,344.00 for operating without a license.  The station was first licensed in 1990, renewed in 1993, but failed to renew in 1998.  The FCC wrote to the licensee in 2004, inquiring if he had submitted a renewal request in 1998, but received no response. As a result, the FCC canceled the license. According to the FCC, the station conitnued to operate, ignoring repeated warnings that they were in violation of the law.  Read more here.

 

Saga Communications Sells TV Stations, Expands Radio Holdings

Grosse Pointe Farms based Saga Communications, Inc. announced May 10 that it has entered into an agreement with Evening Telegram Company d/b/a Morgan Murphy Media to sell the Company’s television stations in the Joplin, MO – Pittsburg, KS and the Victoria, TX television markets for an aggregate purchase price of approximately $66.6 million. The Company also assigned to SagamoreHill Midwest, LLC its options to acquire the assets owned by Surtsey Media, LLC and used in the operation of KVCT in the Victoria, Texas market and KFJX in the Pittsburg, Kansas market.

Edward K. Christian

Edward K. Christian, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company (and a 2012 recipient of the MAB Lifetime Achievement Award) said, “We’ve had the great pleasure of owning KOAM in Joplin since 1994 and KAVU in Victoria since 1999. It has been a great experience for us to serve both communities with terrific television stations that focused heavily on the local markets. We made a very difficult decision that with all the changes taking place in the television industry that it was time for us to return to our roots in radio.”

The Company also announced the purchase the assets of WCKN(FM), WMXZ(FM), WXST(FM), WAVF(FM), WSPO(AM), W261DG and W257BQ, serving the Charleston, SC radio market and WVSC(FM), WLHH(FM), WALI(FM), W256CB and W293BZ, serving the Hilton Head and Beaufort, South Carolina radio markets, from Apex Media Corporation for $23.0 million.

Edward K. Christian, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company, said, “The Charleston stations are heritage radio stations that are very tightly focused on serving their local communities. Southern Living Magazine named Charleston the South’s Best City. The Hilton Head/Beaufort stations serve a regional market that will give us very strong development opportunities. Southern Living Magazine named Beaufort the South’s Best Small Town. We look forward to working with the existing staff to continue to serve these growing communities with great radio stations. Saga intends to continue building its business in radio by continuing to identify and acquire middle market stations.”

Saga expects to close both transactions, subject to the approval of the Federal Communications Commission, in September 2017.

WQON’s Dave Sherbert to Retire

Dave Sherbert

Via Maureen Barkume, Blarney Stone Broadcasting:

“Big Dog” Dave Sherbert wasn’t there when the Italian inventor Gugglielmo Marconi built the first commercially successful wireless telegraphy system that paved the way for commercial radio. To listeners throughout Central and Northern Michigan, it just seems that way.

But soon, that friendly, mellow voice that has graced the airways from a signal emanating from this lovely river town will go silent. Sherbert, 65, who has entertained us in our homes, cars and boats with music, interviews and, every now and then, one of his own fishing stories, is retiring. Friday, May 19, will be his last day on the air for Blarney Stone Broadcasting’s Q-100 (WQON, 100.3-FM).

Q100’s Big Dog Dave Sherbert (far left) and his wife Ruth Sherbert (far right) met BB King backstage at a concert at Soaring Eagle Casino Resort with Q100 contest winners.

“It’s time,” he said. This monumental life decision hit him like a bucket of ice water – well, a lot more than a bucket full, to be accurate. An avid fisherman in all seasons, Sherbert hit a soft spot on a local lake when he was ice-fishing this winter and wound up chest deep in the frigid water.

“This (local radio) has become a young person’s thing – especially at a rock station,” he said. “And besides, I want to enjoy the next 20 years or so.”

He has no big plans for his retirement, other than to fish more and spend more time on the golf courses with his wife, Ruth, who has been retired for the last 18 months.

“That’s something my wife and I can do together,” he said, “as long as I keep my mouth shut.”

One thing Sherbert won’t be doing, like many retirees from this region, is head south for the winters. “No plans for anything like that,” he said. “You can’t ice fish in Florida.”

So he’s staying put in Grayling, where he’s called home since 1976 after moving north from his first radio gig in Kalamazoo, which he started in 1973. Nevertheless, his departure leaves a gaping hole in Q-100’s lineup, where Sherbert has been a fixture since, well, since forever, it seems.

And he will be missed.

“We’ll do our best to fill that slot, but we’re not kidding ourselves: Nobody can replace Dave Sherbert,” Blarney Stone President Sheryl Coyne said. “Those are some impossible shoes to fill.”

“But we wish Dave and Ruth all the best in his well-earned retirement and we cannot thank him enough for all he did for Jerry and me when we bought the stations in 2012. His reputation in our community and the institutional memory he had regarding how things worked around here.  Honestly, I don’t know how we would have managed without him. He made the transition so much smoother than we had a right to expect.”

Born in Kingsport, Tennessee, to a pastor who brought his family north to find a teaching position, Sherbert remembers moving to Houghton Lake when he was about 5 years old. But the family didn’t stay Up North very long. He spent his formative years moving back and forth a couple of times from Eaton Rapids, south of Lansing, to Gull Lake (between Battle Creek and Kalamazoo), where his father taught English and his mother stayed home to raise three children.

Both of his siblings wound up in the medical profession. Dave chose radio.

“Our parents gave us all the same career advice,” he said. “We could do anything we wanted – as long as we get a job.”

So he forged a career by talking for a living, which is a bit ironic for someone who prefers to keep to himself and not say a whole lot when the red “ON AIR” light is off. In fact, anyone who doesn’t know Sherbert and meets him around town might describe him as being a bit shy, or even introverted.

“But in the studio, I’m just sitting there in a padded room talking to myself,” he said. “I’m there speaking into the microphone, like I’m talking to just one person.”

He wasn’t always so quiet, apparently.

“When we were making those long trips in the car, my dad used to give me a dime to shut up for 10 minutes,” Sherbert said. “That’s when I learned there was money in talking.”

While it might involve a bit more than how one listener described his job – “All you do is take requests and play songs!” – he acknowledged he has been blessed to cross paths professionally with renowned people like Fred Bear, Chet Atkins, former Gov. William Milliken and a Miss America from Michigan.

Many of those close encounters came during the talk show Sherbert started 28 years ago, the one that has evolved into the hour-long “Northern Focus” show that airs weekly on Friday mornings at 9 a.m. When he started the segment, it was typically a 20-30-minute interview at a local restaurant.

Sometimes he pre-taped the show, but often it was live. One of his fondest memories of that show was the morning his guest failed to appear.

“And we were live,” Sherbert said. “But there was this older gentleman there who overheard what was going on and he happened to mention he was in radio back in the 1940s.”

So Sherbert invited him over to the microphone.

“One of my better moments,” he said. “The man turned out to be a great interview.

Over the years, Sherbert has worked for all three local Blarney Stone Broadcasting stations – twice, he said.

“Apparently, I can’t keep a job,” he joked. He also has worked under seven owners in his career in Grayling.

“And I can truthfully say that Sheryl and Jerry have been the best ones, by far,” Sherbert said. “They treat us like human beings.”

Sherbert also held titles such as news director and program director among the many hats he has worn. He remembers the days that he would go home from a long day that included four-plus hours of live radio, then cutting numerous commercials and programming his next day’s show only to go home, get out the manual typewriter and type up the invoices for billing.

“The technology today,” he said. “Things have changed – and that’s a very good thing. But I have to admit, it’s been a lot of fun.”