Category Archives: April 2017

Remembering Tim Davis

This piece originally appeared in the The Jacobs Media Strategies Blog on April 10, 2017 and is reprinted by permission.

Tim Davis

By Fred Jacobs, President
Jacobs Media Strategies,
Bingham Farms, MI

If you’ve done business with Jacobs Media or jācapps throughout the ’90s and ’00s, chances are you interfaced with Tim Davis. He worked for our companies for a lot of years and impacted them in more ways than I can even convey to you in this blog post. In fact, this blog wouldn’t have existed had it not been for Tim convincing me – OK, cajoling me – to start it more than 12 years ago.

So the truly sad next chapter in the Tim Davis story is that he passed away over the weekend after a brief illness at the shockingly young age of 49. He touched a lot of lives throughout radio, in our companies and across an eventful and successful career.

Tim’s journey with Jacobs Media was a bit….non-linear. We originally hired him to back up Tom Calderone during the early go-go Edge years. We were signing on stations pretty quickly in the early ’90s in the middle of the Grunge explosion and Alternative music was Tim’s passion.

He moved to Detroit from some place called Texas with his young wife, Kathy. And, as he acclimated to the Motor City and our company, it became very clear to us that while he loved radio programming, it was technology, computers and the Internet where his true talents lied.

He was ahead of the curve, he even read Wired, he listened to The Church, he couldn’t understand why more people didn’t subscribe to Rhapsody and his instincts for how consumers would get and share entertainment and information as technology burgeoned were very sharp and incisive.

It wasn’t long before Paul and I convinced him to shift out of programming consultation to become our first (and only) Director of Digital. Tim fought us – which became common. He wasn’t sure a position that wasn’t clearly connected to specific client revenue was a good long-term plan. Thankfully we convinced him otherwise, and his longevity with our companies proved that for once, he was wrong. We actually had a lot of mostly healthy, philosophical arguments during a time in radio and media when those exchanges were really beneficial.

Tim knew a lot about a lot of things and enjoyed talking about where it was all headed. And he was a true fan of radio – commercial and public – and wanted very much for it to survive the Digital Revolution. He also was a fan of Christian radio and ended up introducing our company to a different world of broadcasting where we continue to have a footprint to this day.

As Steve Goldstein commented on Facebook yesterday, “Tim dragged many of us into the digital world. Many great conversations. He will be missed.”

True that. Tim designed Jacobs Media’s first website. And the second. And the third.

As mentioned, JacoBLOG was his idea. And he held my hand through its early years, encouraging me to keep it going and entered every post to make sure they looked good and contained clever and relevant links.

Tim also was a key player in our foray into ethnographic research. In both “The Bedroom Project” and “Goin’ Mobile,” he played a huge role in how those projects were analyzed and presented. There were many conversations, debates and arguments along the way as we all worked together to figure out how to do something very challenging that we’d never done before.

And when I had this ridiculous idea that we could aggregate hundreds of radio station databases to conduct web studies that would be cost-effective and predictive, he figured out how to engineer it and make it happen. If you participated in the first 10 Techsurveys or any of the other research studies we conducted during that period, Tim was the guy behind the wheel, coordinating it all. And then building hundreds of tables, charts, pyramids and infographics that helped make the data come alive and helped make Jacobs Media look good.

Oddly enough, Tim had a knack for tech but also studied graphic design at Texas A&M. All those logos for all those projects came from him.

But perhaps his biggest contribution came with the launch of jācapps. We were talking a lot back in 2007 about the rise of mobile. We were seeing it very clearly in our Techsurveys and other studies, but like others, we were doing a lot of talking. So, in the fall of 2008 when the Dow was dropping hundreds of points a day and radio (and maybe our company) was on the brink, Tim walked into my office holding his iPhone and pointing to an app for a radio station he discovered. Its key feature was that it streamed a Rhode Island radio station – something none of us had seen before. He connected the dots that the smartphone could become the new millennium’s Walkman.

A few weeks later – and just 100 days after Apple opened its now-famous App Store – jācapps was born. Tim was at the helm during the first few years when we were still feeling our way along as software developers. Most of you now know that adventure worked out pretty well.

A quick story: Every year, we take the staff to a Detroit Tigers game and while Tim was not a baseball fan, he got excited at that first game when the Tigers scored a couple of “points.” Tim was an early adopter of a lot of gadgets and was one of the first people I knew who had a GPS. On the way home from that game, Tim was driving. When we got a couple blocks away from the office, he flipped on his GPS. I sarcastically assured him I could get us successfully back to the office without the help of satellite technology, but he told me how comfortable it made him feel to simply know where he was. That very much summed up how the guy lived his life.

Along the way, Tim became a Detroit guy (although he still pined for Texas), settled into the community and had two kids – Xander and Alyssa – both of whom are teenagers now. As hard as he worked, for him and Kathy, it was always about family – his kids, his parents and his brother.

We parted ways 2+ years ago, but Tim’s impact on our company is always a part of our conversations. Back home in Dallas, he went to work for Rockfish, an Internet ad agency, where he became their Director of Digital Strategy. I spoke to him before the holidays and he was truly enjoying the gig and its new challenges.

It’s cliché to say, but in this case, it’s true. Tim left it on the field every day. He worked very hard and was the most loyal employee who ever graced our doors. He challenged me and everyone who worked for the place. And he made us better, smarter and more thoughtful. Tim was often blunt, always honest and very much in your face if you pissed him off. But you never questioned his work ethnic or his passion for doing the job well and making it look good.

A number of you have asked about where to send flowers and as Kathy reminded me yesterday, “Tim was not a flower guy.” She’ll be forming an education trust for Xander and Alyssa and we’ll get you that info as soon as it becomes available.

If you’ve been on the planet for a while, you have no doubt become accustomed to the births and passings of friends, family and co-workers. It’s all part of life. But this one hits very close to home for us at Jacobs, as well as for many of you who came to know Tim over a bright career of innovation, accomplishment and just being a good guy.

Tim Davis will be missed.

A postscript: Tim was a big fan of South By Southwest and made the trek during his years here with Jacobs Media. I always asked for a little “ROI” in exchange for attending – a client memo, a blog post, or some other tangible benefit. Tim never let me down and this post is one of his takeaways from the 2011 SXSW event that became a much-talked-about topic here at the company. It’s here.

WMXG Flips to Classic Country

AMC Partners Escanaba, LLC (Armada Media/Radio Results Network) has switched the format of WMXG-FM (Stephenson) to classic country.  The change was effective on April 3.

The station is now operating under the “The Maverick” moniker and is playing “the biggest country songs and artists from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.”

WMXG  was recently acquired by AMC Partners from Escanaba License Corporation.  An application for the transfer was filed on March 21 and is pending FCC approval.  AMC Partners has been running the station under a LMA and up until the format flip, had been simulcasting news/talk WCHT-AM.

WOOD-TV Signs Agreement For Downtown Studio

WOOD-TV (Grand Rapids) has announced that it has entered into a one-of-a-kind partnership with the Grand Rapids Art Museum to form the GRAM WOOD TV Media Arts Center.

The station has reached a long-term agreement with GRAM for a permanent studio location overlooking Rosa Parks Circle in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids.

Every year during ArtPrize, WOOD TV8 broadcasts almost 150 hours from the “Today Show”-type studio. Because of the new agreement, it will be possible to broadcast year-round.

WOOD TV8’s main studio will remain in Heritage Hill, just east of the downtown area.

GRAM WOOD TV Media Arts Center is tied to a comprehensive plan that will be announced in late April to expand local engagement across West Michigan. Details will be announced at a later date.

FCC to Change Noncommercial Ownership Form

Commission to eliminate need for social security numbers from board members of noncommercial licensees for Biennial Ownership Report.

David Oxenford - Color
David Oxenford

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

Last week, we wrote about two of the three broadcast items to be considered at the FCC meeting on April 20. We wrote here about the draft order to restore the UHF discount and here about the relaxation of the restrictions on fund-raising for third parties by noncommercial stations. The third item, also related to noncommercial licensees, is the resolution of the long-simmering dispute about whether or not to require that those individuals with attributable interests in noncommercial broadcast stations – officers and board members – to provide their Social Security Numbers or other personal information to the FCC to obtain an FCC Registration Number – an FRN. The draft order released last week indicates that the FCC will eliminate that requirement at its April 20 meeting.

The obligation to obtain an FRN was adopted so that the FCC could comprehensively track the ownership of broadcast stations and determine the interests of individual parties across the broadcast media nationwide. This was principally done for purposes of assessing the diversity of ownership of the media – including by minorities and women. By making each attributable owner get their own FRN, interests across the broadcast media landscape could be tracked with greater precision. However, objections were raised when the FCC proposed to apply this obligation to noncommercial broadcasters, requiring that officers and board members provide their Social Security Number or other personal information to obtain an FRN. Despite these objections, the previous Commission ordered noncommercial broadcasters to provide this information, going so far as to suggest that attributable interest holders who did not provide the information necessary to obtain an FRN could be sanctioned. See our articles here and here. The current FCC under Chairman Pai rescinded the decision of the Media Bureau upholding the obligation (see our post here) – leading to the draft order to be considered at the April 20 meeting.

Noncommercial broadcasters have argued that this information is not as necessary as for commercial broadcasters in assessing diversity, as noncommercial stations don’t have owners in the traditional sense of the word. Their officers and board members don’t have an economic interest in the business success of the station. In fact, those with attributable interests in noncommercial stations often don’t become officers or directors because they are interested in radio or television at all, but instead because they are interested in a noncommercial entity’s broader purpose. For instance, a member of the board of a state university may become a board member because of his or her interest in some academic department, or because of the athletic teams at the university and not even know when appointed to the board that among the university’s holdings is a broadcast station. Some board members may become members by being an elected official – e.g. state governors are often ex-officio members of state university boards. The fear is that, by requiring that these individuals provide personally sensitive information, they may be discouraged from participating in these nonprofit endeavors. A majority of the current Commission appears to have accepted that reasoning and has now teed up the concept of allowing noncommercial stations to obtain Special Use FRNs (“SUFRN”) for these individuals – which will not require personally identifiable information or Social Security Numbers.

The FCC did note, however, that these individuals need to use the same SUFRN for any broadcast interests that they may have. So if an individual sits on the board of multiple broadcast licensees (e.g. the governor of a state who may be on the board of several state universities that are the licensee of broadcast stations), that individual must provide the same SUFRN to each licensee. Also, if an attributable party has an interest in a commercial broadcast station and obtains an FRN in connection with the ownership report of that station, they need to use that FRN on the ownership report of the noncommercial licensee. Noncommercial licensees thus will still need to survey their officers and board members to make sure that they don’t have other broadcast interests and to coordinate with other licensees in state systems to make sure that the same SUFRN is used.

Biennial ownership reports for all stations, commercial and noncommercial, are due on December 1 of this year, reporting on the ownership of the licensee as of October 1. While this order, if adopted on April 20, will make information collection easier for noncommercial licensees, they should still start planning their information collection process for getting information about the broadcast interests of board members in time for the December 1 deadline.

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.

Another Performance Royalty Bill Introduced

Congressman Darrel Issa (R-CA) has once again introduced performance royalty legislation that would require radio stations to pay fees to the record labels to play their songs. In response, the NAB issued the following statement:

“NAB has significant concerns with this legislation that would upend the music licensing framework that currently enables broadcasters to serve local communities across the country and would result in less music being played on the radio to the detriment of listeners and artists. NAB thanks the almost 200 Members of Congress who support the Local Radio Freedom Act and recognize the tremendous benefits of free, promotional airplay for musicians and labels.”

In Michigan, Congressmen Fred Upton (R-6), Tim Walberg (R-7), Paul Mitchell (R-10) and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-12) cosponsored the Local Radio Freedom Act.

MAB Washington Counsel David Oxenford discusses both, this most recent royalty bill and an older proposal, here.

Snyder Signs Bill to Protect Proprietary Info in Bidding

Governor Rick Snyder

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation sponsored by Senator Rick Jones (R-24), to ensure that all companies compete on an equal playing field when bidding for a public contract with the State of Michigan.

Senate Bill 69, now Public Act 21 of 2017, exempts a bid, quote, or proposal involved in a procurement process from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), until the final notification is received that the contract has been awarded.

“Before this change, vendors could unfairly use FOIA to find out how much money the state can spend on a particular project and also look at bids from their competitors before a final decision has been made,” said Senator Jones. The new act also exempts trade secrets and financial or proprietary information from FOIA. Jones said that many businesses are refusing to participate in the procurement process in Michigan because they fear that their trade secrets or financial information will be compromised.

Details & Materials Available for Statewide Tornado Drill/EAS Test

Graphic 005In cooperation with the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division, and with the endorsement of the MAB Board of Directors, the National Weather Service will conduct a test with the Tornado Warning EAS Code at 1:00pm Eastern Time on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 as part of Michigan’s Severe Weather Awareness Week. The MAB received a waiver from the FCC to use the actual EAS Tornado Warning Code (“TOR”) for this statewide test.

This test will be in conjunction with a statewide tornado drill. In addition to the EAS activation, your area may experience a test of tornado sirens which may alarm some members of the public. Your assistance in informing the public before the test is requested.

The MAB Board of Directors encourages all broadcasters and cable operators to participate. Other states, including Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois, have conducted similar successful tests in the past few years. Though encouraged, participation in this test by broadcast stations and cable systems is voluntary. This test was also endorsed by the State Emergency Communications Committee (SECC).

If there is a threat of actual severe weather on April 19, the test will be postponed until April 20, 2017. If there is a threat of severe weather on April 20 the test will be cancelled. The go/no-go decision will be made by 4pm the day prior by the National Weather Service, as well as the Statewide Tornado Drill Working Group. MAB will post a go/no-go status on its homepage at http://www.michmab.com.

While the audio of this test will repeat several times in the script “This is a Test,” and with the EAS Tornado Code being used, the crawl on TV stations and cable stations will read “A Tornado Warning has been issued for…(and it will list your counties).” We ask that TV broadcasters and cable operators participating in the test to display a “This is a Test” graphic behind the crawl.

An updated graphics kit for on-air, web and social media use is available here.

The test will be originated on the NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) and these tests will will cover all counties in Michigan and will originate from the NWS offices at Grand Rapids, Gaylord, Marquette, Detroit/Pontiac and Northern Indiana. They will be relayed via the State Relay (SR) and Local Primary (LP) stations.

The TOR code test may be run in lieu of a Required Weekly Test (RWT) the week of April 17, 2017.

What to Expect in Your Market on April 19, 2017

As noted above, its more than likely that your area may experience a test of tornado sirens in addition to the activation of the EAS tornado alert. All businesses, organizations, families and individuals are welcome to participate in the voluntary statewide preparedness activity. Nearly all state of Michigan facilities will be involved.

How Broadcasters Can Help

This is an excellent opportunity for broadcasters to show the importance of radio and television in times of emergencies. We ask broadcasters to take an active role in their communities to alert listeners and viewers about not only the test alerts, but our role in providing vital information to the public in times of severe weather and other emergencies.

Local Emergency Management Coordinators have been encouraged to reach out to broadcasters in advance of the test.

***The MAB asks broadcasters to reach out to their local emergency management personnel regarding the activities in their own market. We ask you to cover it in your news, community affairs programs, popular personality shows and in your weather breaks.***

Please use Emergency Managers in newscast interviews and on your local morning shows and talk programming.

Not certain who to contact? The MAB has a list of statewide emergency management contacts available here.

A Statewide Tornado Drill Media Toolkit, including talking points, sample social media posts and more is available. Download the kit here.

An updated graphics kit for on-air, web and social media use is available here.

If you have not done so, the MAB encourages you to begin on-air mentions and promotion of the tornado test as soon as possible.

There are recorded radio PSAs for severe weather week available as well as a live read script for both radio and television:

PSA #1 :30 Download (Statewide Tornado Drill)
PSA #2 :30 Download (Outdoor Sirens)
Live Read Script Download

The State of Michigan has prepared graphics for use on your webpage and social media posts here.

Additional Information/Contacts

The official website for the Statewide Tornado Alert: http://michigan.gov/miready

Michigan State Police contact:

Dale R. George
Public Information Officer
Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Michigan State Police
7150 Harris Drive
Dimondale, Michigan 48821
Phone: 517-284-3962
Fax: 517-284-3857
GeorgeD5@michigan.gov

Michigan Association of Broadcasters contact:

Dan Kelley
Technology Manager
Phone: (517) 484-7444
dkelley@michmab.com

Register Now and Save!


Early-bird registration is now open for the annual MAB Advocacy Conference and Annual Meeting, to be held at Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville, August 22-23.

While speakers are still being lined up for this event, the awards ceremony is not to be missed as we induct broadcasters into the Michigan Broadcasting Hall of Fame and present the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Day 2 of the conference features the annual MAB Foundation Golf Scramble Fundraiser!

It’s a great chance to catch up with fellow broadcasters from around the state and discuss the legislative and regulatory issues facing today’s broadcasters.

Registration and lodging information is available here.

Hurry! Hall of Fame and Lifetime Achievement Award Nominations Due April 28

Do you know a broadcaster that deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, or receive the Lifetime Achievement Award? Now is the time to nominate them! Nominations due Friday, April 28, 2017.

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

Check out the previous award recipients here.

All awards will be presented at the Awards Banquet on Tuesday, August 22 at Crystal Mountain Resort.

Bill Stegath, Michigan Radio Alumnus, Passes

Bill Stegath in 2013
Bill Stegath in 2013

Michigan Radio (WUOM/WFUM/WVGR) reports that Dr. William B. Stegath, its longest living alumnus, passed away March 29, just two weeks before his 97th birthday.

Stegath was sports director for WUOM from 1953 to 1962 and is best known as the Voice of the Wolverines, announcing Michigan football games on the station, a role only held by two other people.

He also announced Michigan basketball, baseball and hockey games.   He was the recipient of eight national broadcasting awards and was inducted into the Michigan Stadium Media Hall of Fame this past September.

Stegath enrolled at the University of Michigan in 1938, earning his under undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate degrees at the University.  He also served in the U.S. Air Force from 1943 to 1946 and earned the rank of captain.

Returning to Michigan after the war, he served as professor of communications, the assistant executive director of the Alumni Association, and the first camp director at Camp Michigania.

More on Bill Stegath in the 2013 video: