Category Archives: April 2017

WXYZ-TV Announces 2020 Town Hall Meetings


As part of a project that began nearly seven years ago, WXYZ-TV (Detroit) kicked off a series of town hall meetings this past Monday Night (4/24) in Macomb County.

The project, Detroit 2020, was created by the station as a future vision for the cities they serve.  The station set out to unify, inspire and take action.  As part of that effort, the station is holding a series of town hall meetings to learn what matters to their audience and to the communities they serve.

The first town hall meeting was held this past Monday night at the Wyndham Garden Sterling Heights and was free and open to the public.

“We’re going into the communities we serve to simply listen and learn from our neighbors,” said Mike Murri, vice president and general manager for WXYZ and WMYD. “We want to hear their vision for the future and how our platforms at WXYZ and WMYD can help us get there together.”

Carolyn Clifford, 7 Action News anchor, hosted the event. Chuck Stokes, WXYZ editorial director, Ross Jones, 7 Action News investigator, and Ameera David, anchor, were also on hand to join the discussion.  The station featured part of the town hall meeting both on-air and on Facebook Live.

For more information about the Detroit 2020 town hall meetings, go to wxyz.com.

WXYT’s Terry Foster Retires

Terry Foster

Terry Foster, co-host of the “Valenti and Foster” show on WXYT-FM/97.1 The Ticket (Detroit), has retired from the station, effective April 20. Foster suffered a stroke and was on medical leave for much of the second half of 2016. He returned to the show in January but has now decided to refocus his time on his health and his family.

Stated Foster, “I am retiring from sports radio but I am not retiring from life. It is time for me to move on to a more low-key career. I want to thank Deb Kenyon and James Powers for helping me get through a difficult time of my life and for the support during my 13-year career with 97.1 The Ticket. I also want to thank the most talented man in radio, Mike Valenti, for showing me the ropes and thank the men behind the glass and my main crew David ‘The Hatchet Man’ Hull and Mike Sullivan. We were a great team. I just could no longer keep up the brisk pace of talk radio after my illness.”

“I appreciate the love and show of support from the fans during my most trying days and through my career in radio and newspaper. And I would love one last hug from my CBS Radio family in Southfield. I found out over the past few months that health and family are the most important things in life. I will see you at the next game.”

WXYT Program Director Jimmy Powers, added, “Terry has brought witty banter, laugh-out-loud humor and engaging personal stories to thousands of Detroit listeners every afternoon over the past 13 years. He was a vital part of making ‘Valenti and Foster’ the success it is and his contributions to local radio and to our station will be sorely missed. Everyone at 97.1 is sending good vibes and well wishes for health and happiness to Terry and his family.”

Mike Valenti will host afternoons (2:00-6:00 PM) solo until a new co-host is named.

“It’s been a great run for Terry Foster and me on 97.1 The Ticket for more than a decade,” said Valenti. “Working with Terry has provided some memorable on-air moments. I want to wish Terry the same success in retirement that we have enjoyed together as a team. All the best, Terry, to you and your wonderful family.”

FCC Releases Names of TV Repack Regional Coordinators

According to MAB’s Washington, D.C. Attorney David Oxenford, the FCC released a Public Notice announcing FCC staff members who will help to coordinate the repacking of the TV spectrum. Each of these FCC staff members has been assigned a particular geographic area in which they will be responsible for contacting broadcasters to help to coordinate the repacking of their stations. These frequencies were changed in order to fit all the remaining stations into the smaller TV band left after the end of the incentive auction. The notice also lists stations that will be assigned a new channel in the post-auction repacking.

The Full Closing and Channel Reassignment Public Notice can be found here.

FCC Finds Online Sources Satisfy EEO Requirements for Wide Dissemination of Job Openings by Broadcasters and MVPDs

David Oxenford - Color
David Oxenford

By: David Oxenford, Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP
www.broadcastlawblog.com

The FCC on Friday (4/21) released a declaratory ruling making it significantly easier for broadcasters and MVPDs to meet their EEO obligations imposed by FCC rules. These rules for broadcasters and MVPDs (cable and satellite TV providers) require that these businesses, when filling job openings, widely disseminate information about the openings in a manner that is expected to reach members of all community groups in the area from which employees are likely to be found. In the past, under the rules adopted in 2002, the Commission has not allowed recruitment to be conducted solely through online sources. Instead, the 2002 order suggested that the daily newspaper would, in many communities, be an outlet that would reach the diverse groups within a community – though most broadcasters supplemented newspaper publication with notifications to numerous schools, community organizations, educational institutions and others who might possibly refer employee candidates. Stations that relied solely on online sources faced substantial fines from the FCC (see the cases we summarized here and here).

The decision on Friday recognized that we are in a different world than when these rules were adopted almost 15 years ago. Now, most recruiting is done online. Thus, in response to a petition I filed on behalf of clients (summarized here), the FCC determined that a broadcaster or MVPD can rely solely on online sources in its recruiting. It no longer needs to use the newspaper, reach out to community groups or even use its own airwaves to give notice of job openings to satisfy the wide dissemination obligation. The FCC encouraged stations to continue to use some of these outreach methods, but it is no longer required. The broadcaster or MVPD needs to be reasonable in picking online sources that are likely to reach the members of various groups within its community – though the decision as to exactly which online employment sources to use will be left to the good-faith discretion of the broadcaster or MVPD. The Commission went so far as to say that, depending on the circumstances, a single online source could reasonably be found to be sufficient.

Note that this ruling does not change any other EEO requirement. Even though broadcasters no longer need to reach out to community groups to meet the requirement of wide dissemination of job openings, a separate “prong” of the FCC’s EEO policy still requires that broadcasters notify community groups of job openings when a group specifically asks to be notified of such openings. So all outreach to community groups is not over. Also, this ruling does not disturb the requirement that broadcasters engage in efforts to educate the public about broadcast employment opportunities and how to find those opportunities and to train for them. This requirement for non-vacancy specific outreach requires that a broadcaster conduct a certain number of menu options every two years – things like attending job fairs, participating in internship or scholarship programs and having employees speak at educational institutions or before community groups about broadcast employment.

Nor does the ruling lessen the paperwork requirements of completing an annual EEO public file report and otherwise retaining information about a station’s hiring practices. Random EEO audits will also continue (see our post here about the last EEO audit notice). For more about the FCC’s EEO rules, see our posts here and here. Even though some EEO obligations must continue to be observed by broadcasters, this is one step supported both by broadcasters and members of the minority community to bring FCC-required recruiting practices into the modern day.

David Oxenford is MAB’s Washington Legal Counsel and provides members with answers to their legal questions with the MAB Legal Hotline.  Access information here. (Members only access).

There are no additional costs for the call; the advice is free as part of your membership.

Proposal to Eliminate Main Studio Rule

According to a report in Inside Radio, the FCC is circulating a proposal to relax radio’s Main Studio Rule. A law firm, Garvey Schubert Barer (GSB) has formally petitioned the Commission to repeal the regulation for all radio and television stations. The firm says in the petition, that doing away with the Main Studio Rule won’t reduce broadcasters’ “bedrock obligation” to serve the local community. “Instead, it is meant to recognize the technological and economic realities of today’s broadcast marketplace—that stations can serve their communities while realizing substantial and necessary cost savings by maintaining fewer offices and smaller staff.”

FCC chair Ajit Pai has not announced whether he’d support abolishing the rule, but he supports modernizing the agency’s regulations. Commissioner Michael O’Rielly called the Main Studio Rule “outdated and unnecessary” saying it “should be eliminated or severely modified.” The Media Bureau is believed to be evaluating the Main Studio Rule’s future as part of its ongoing AM revitalization initiative. Pai has said he’s most likely to act first on items which have broad support. GSB’s petition could be a mechanism to test how much consensus there is for abolishing the rule.

NMU Professor to run for Congress

Dwight Brady

A Northern Michigan University professor has announced his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives 1st Congressional District. Department of Communications and Performance Arts Professor Dwight Brady made his announcement  April 24 at the Marquette County Courthouse.

The seat is currently held by Republican Rep. Jack Bergman.

The 1st District covers the Upper Peninsula and the northern third of the lower peninsula. A primary election is expected, as another Democrat, retired Marine Lt. Col. Matthew W. Morgan of Traverse City, last month declared his candidacy.

Brady teaches multimedia journalism and media law at NMU. He has worked with students to create award-winning documentaries on topics from gray wolves to renewable energy. He won an Emmy Award for “Michigan’s Green Energy Economy” and was appointed to the Michigan Climate Action Council by then-governor Jennifer Granholm. The Mining Journal listed him as one of the “Movers and Shakers” of 2016 for his documentary “Boxed In” which looks at the Dark Store issue.

Lawmaker’s Bill Will Eliminate Daylight Saving Time

State Representative Pete Lucido (R-36) introduced legislation (HB 4011) to place the entire State of Michigan under the Eastern Time Zone (EST), and do away with the Daylight Saving Time (DST). Currently, only two other states in the nation, Alaska and Hawaii, do not have DST. If passed, HB 4011 would direct Governor Snyder to petition the U.S. Department of Transportation to make these changes. The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) oversees the nation’s time zones and the uniform observance of Daylight Saving Time.

According to the USDOT website, the principal standard for deciding whether to change a time zone is the convenience of commerce, which is defined very broadly to include consideration of all of the impacts upon a community that would result in a change in its standard of time, including a question of where does the community receive TV and radio broadcasts from. The bill has been sitting in the House Commerce and Trade committee since January with no pending action.

MAB Wants to Hear From You! Let us know what you think about this legislation by emailing gov@michmab.com.

FEMA Releases Results of Nationwide EAS Test; Plans Another

Last week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released a report of the September 28, 2016 Nationwide EAS Test.

The full report can be downloaded here.

The agency also released a list of key successes of the September 28, 2016 EAS Test:

    • A majority of stations reported a clean, clear and easily understandable audio message.
    • Some stations broadcasting in Spanish were able to select and play the Spanish language version of the test message.
    • Use of the National Periodic Test event code allowed the test to occur without alarming the public.
    • The test elevated public awareness, providing important information on EAS within the landscape of public alert and warning.

Reports indicate that approximately 88 percent of EAS participants across the country were able to receive and relay the test message.

The agency has also announced that it is currently planning and coordinating for another test.  No date has been announced yet.  For more information, visit FEMA’s Emergency Alert System resource page here.

Final Call for Nominations

This Friday, April 28 is the deadline for nominations for the annual Michigan Broadcasting Hall of Fame and Lifetime Achievement Awards.  The awards will be presented during the Awards Banquet at the MAB Advocacy Conference and Annual Meeting, Tuesday, August 22 at Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville.

Click here for more information on the qualifications and to fill out the form to nominate someone.

Check out the previous award recipients here.

Interlochen Public Radio Presents “Show & Tell”

As part of its recent fund drive, Interlochen Public Radio Executive Director Peter Payette wanted to offer listeners a chance to get to know their public radio hosts a little better.  So, he hosted an online round of Show and Tell on Facebook.  IPR staffer Kate Botello explained the subculture of Unicornos. Aaron Selbig showed how he prevents boredom at work. Morgan Springer suggested that IPR staff aren’t as funny as they used to be.  And wait, there’s more!

IPR’s David Cassleman shows their disciplined approach to avoiding clichés in their writing:


See more of Peter’s interviews with the IPR staff here.