Category Archives: Broadcasting Industry News

WRIF Introduces “iPhone Stickers”

Detroit’s WRIF-FM (“The Riff”) is the first radio station to take advantage of Apple’s new iOS stickers, with the release of the Dave & Chuck WRIF iPhone sticker pack, provided by jacapps, a Detroit-based application developer.

As a result of Apple’s introduction of custom stickers to iPhone messages, WRIF listeners may begin to enjoy a selection of clever, whimsical images in their text messages. Listeners may download the Dave & Chuck WRIF sticker pack from a special section of the AppStore. Once installed, they can drag and drop the “stickers” into their text conversations. You can see how it works in this video:

“WRIF has always been on the leading edge of technology,” notes Beasley Detroit Market Manager Mac Edwards. “The Riff was the first radio station in Detroit to stream online, and it currently has the largest digital footprint of any radio station in the Midwest. So, when Dave & Chuck said they wanted their huge fan base to be able to use
this technology to share images, catch phrases, and memes, we were proud to make their wishes come true! “

“We are committed to pioneering new methods of engagement between our audience and our brands,” adds Beasley Media Group Digital EVP Steve Meyers. “This is a fun example of that commitment!”

“We were happy to be involved in the creation of customized iPhone stickers for Beasley,” says jacapps COO Bob Kernen. “The Dave and Chuck Show is a phenomenon here in Detroit, and these stickers are going to be incredibly popular. It’s another jacapps ‘first’ and we’re excited that Beasley Media Group led the way.”

Jacobs Media President Fred Jacobs comments, “As someone who was personally involved with the original WRIF sticker craze back in the ‘70s, these virtual stickers are a wonderful evolution. And they’re a great example of how traditional radio broadcasters can make optimal use of the digital tool kit. It’s Bumper Stickers 2.0!”

National Radio Hall Of Fame Announces 2017 Nominees

The National Radio Hall of Fame has announced the nominees for its Class of 2017, with 24 nominations in six categories. Winners in four categories will be chosen by voting among a panel of almost 1,000 industry figures (currently in-progress) with two additional categories voted upon by the public starting on June 5.

Inductees will be announced on June 26.  Induction ceremony to be held at the Museum of Broadcast and Communications in Chicago on November 2.

Chairman Kraig Kitchen said, “As an industry, we should all be proud of our incredibly diverse community of talent who have made, and continue to make radio great. This year’s class of nominees is a fine representation of why millions of people connect to our medium on a daily basis.”

The nominees to be voted upon by industry professionals:

Longstanding Local/Regional (20 years or more)

Johnny Holliday, Washington
John Records Landecker, Chicago
Paul Schneider, Boise
Donnie Simpson, Washington

Active Local/Regional (10 years or more)

Tom Barnard, Minneapolis
Jack Harris & Tedd Webb, Tampa
Charles Laquidara, Boston
Preston Elliot and Steve Morrison, Philadelphia

Active Network/Syndication (10 years or more)

Nanci Donnellan, The Fabulous Sports Babe
Sean Hannity, The Sean Hannity Show
Diane Rehm, The Diane Rehm Show
Bert Weiss, The Bert Show

Longstanding Network/Syndication (20 years or more)

Denny Matthews, Kansas City Royals
Robin Quivers, The Howard Stern Show
Jim Rome, The Jim Rome Show

The nominees to be voted upon by the public:

Music Format On-Air Personality

Bobby Bones
Sean “Hollywood” Hamilton
Guy Phillips
Ryan Seacrest

Spoken Word On-Air Personality

Mike Greenberg & Mike Golic
Bill Handel
Joe Madison
Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!

WSGW’s Ann Williams Named President of Michigan AP Media Editors

Ann Williams

Alpha Media, Saginaw has announced that WSGW News Director, Ann Williams was named President of Michigan Associated Press Media Editors (APME). She was installed at the APME banquet in Lansing on April 30. Williams has served on the APME board for the past seven years.

In addition to Williams’ honor, WSGW News received three 1st place awards at the banquet for Best Sportscast, Best Digital Presence, and Best Use of Photography.

Alpha Media, Saginaw Operations Manager and WSGW Program Director, Dave Maurer commented on the announcement, “We are so proud of Ann. She has done an outstanding job with her great attention to detail and her mentoring skills in our news department and now she will share her talents on a statewide basis in this top leadership position.”

Beasley Names Heidi Raphael As Communications VP

Heidi Raphael

Beasley Media Group has appointed Heidi Raphael as VP/Corporate Communications.

Raphael most recently served as Senior VP/Corporate Communications at Greater Media, where she spent 20 years working in several capacities, including as Marketing Director of WRIF-FM, Group Marketing Director of Greater Media Detroit and New Business Development Director of WMGC-FM in the Motor City.

She was promoted to Director of Corporate Communications in 2006. Raphael was subsequently elevated to the positions of VP in February 2008 and Senior VP in March 2016.

“I am very excited to have the opportunity to work at Beasley Media Group,” said Raphael. “The Beasley family has an amazing and well-respected reputation in the radio industry. I look forward to working with the incredible management team and people within the organization.”

“We are thrilled to have Heidi join the Beasley Media family,” said CEO Caroline Beasley. “Her vast experience and knowledge of the radio industry, combined with Heidi’s outstanding reputation, make her the perfect fit for our company as we continue to expand our footprint across many platforms within the organization and the industry.”

Heidi has been a leading voice in national radio and media issues. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Library of American Broadcasting. In addition, the radio veteran is a past elected member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the national Alliance for Women in Media (AWM), both based in Washington, D.C. She is also a past official spokesperson of the national Mentoring & Inspiring Women in Radio Group.

WZZM-TV Wins Eclipse Award for Best Documentary

WZZM-TV (Grand Rapids) has won an Eclipse Award for its September 2016 documentary “New Heights: Restoring a City.”  The special took viewers inside Muskegon Heights and the city’s efforts to rebuild.

The special won “Best Documentary” at the award ceremonies, May 18, in Grand Rapids.  The awards are presented by WKTV (Wyoming-Kentwood) Community Access Channel 25/26, honor content creators for Excellence in Craft in the disciplines of film, television, video, acting, sound, music and writing.

To watch the documentary, click here.

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.”

Holly Hutton Appointed Music Director at WYCD

Holly Hutton

CBS Radio’s WYCD-FM (Detroit) has appointed afternoon co-host Holly Hutton Music Director of the country station.   Hutton will retain her current on-air duties with Rob Stone from 3:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Hutton is a 20-year veteran of Detroit Radio and spent 10 years as midday host on CIMX-FM (Windsor) before becoming afternoon host on WGPR-FM (Detroit) as well as Program Director of WGPR-HD3 and The Oasis HD2. Hutton joined CBS Radio Detroit in 2012, co-hosting afternoons on WOMC. In August, 2016, she succeeded the late Linda Lee in afternoons with Stone.

CBS Radio Detroit VP/Country Programming Tim Roberts said, “Holly’s in-depth experience dealing with the music industry, as well as her understanding of programming has been evident from the beginning. She lives, eats and breathes the country lifestyle. Holly will be a great asset to the music and programming efforts of WYCD.”

“I am thrilled to broaden my responsibilities and continue to work alongside Tim Roberts, Rob Stone and the WYCD family. It is an honor to be a part of a station with such an incredible, longstanding reputation in country music,” added Hutton.

Jacobs Media Releases Techsurvey Results: Listening Locations Are Changing

“Navigating The Digital Landscape”

In Jacobs Media’s new web study of radio listeners, a big story is how radio’s traditional listening locations – the home, the car and the workplace – are undergoing change. From content consumed to new distribution outlets, to emerging gadgetry, the traditional pattern of media usage and radio listening are changing – in some cases, rapidly.

The media habits of 14 format core audiences, along with five generations, are examined in this mega-survey of radio listeners. From Boomers to Millennials, different patterns of consumption are emerging, providing radio broadcasters with information from which they can map out game plans and strategies.

Techsurvey13 (TS13) was conducted from January 16 – February 27 of this year. Stakeholder stations participated in a recent webinar and the results of the study will be released over the next few months.

As Jacobs Media President Fred Jacobs points out, “We’ve been focused on the car for several years in Techsurvey – and for good reason. But as time goes on, radios are disappearing from the home front and being replaced in many cases by smart TVs, wireless audio systems and ‘smart speakers’ like Amazon Echo and Google Home. The ‘Alexa Factor’ is a big finding in this year’s study of radio listeners.”

TS13 provides two different “pyramids” for stakeholder stations. The “Media Pyramid” contains broad categories, including smartphone and tablet ownership, audio and video streaming and this year, devices like the Amazon Echo. The “Brand Platform Pyramid” unveiled in 2015 continues to provide fascinating usage information about big brands that include Snapchat, Netflix, TuneIn and Shazam.

Jacobs continues, “Devices like the Echo and Google Home are in 11% of our respondents’ homes. While smartwatch ownership has doubled from 2016, these devices are still trying to discover their true value proposition. In the meantime, most other categories are showing growth, including podcasting, mobile devices and audio and video streaming.”

This year’s Media Pyramid is below:

More than nine of ten respondents spend at least one hour a day with radio and/or television, the foundation of this pyramid.

Other highlights include:

  • The home is the new car – While 88% of homes have a working radio, that’s not the case with Millennials, where only three-fourths (76%) have a radio at their residence. Techsurvey13 shows wireless speaker systems, smart TVs and now devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home showing up in homes.
  • Oh, Alexa! – In its debut year, 11% of the entire sample own “smart speakers.” And they are increasingly using voice commands on their devices. Overall, nearly half (45%) frequently or occasionally use their voice, especially owners of gadgets like the Echo and Google Home.
  • It’s free – Consumers love broadcast radio for the music, personalities and emotional drivers such as companionship and mood elevation. But in a new response option in TS13, nearly six in ten (57%) say a main reason they enjoy listening to the radio is that it’s a free service.
  • The mobile revolution marches on – Nearly nine of ten respondents (87%) now own a smartphone and two-thirds (68%) now have a tablet – mobile continues to grow year after year. And more consumers wake up with a mobile phone than a clock radio.
  • Radio’s digital platforms are growing – While 74% of consumption to the average station in TS13 take place on “regular radios,” 22% of usage is now occurring via computer streams, mobile apps and podcasts. The shift is more pronounced with each passing year.
  • Who’s using headphones? – Overall, 15% of respondents in TS13 use headphones half the time or more often while listening to radio. These consumers are most likely to be members of Gen Z, Hispanics, African-Americans and especially fans of the Rhythmic CHR and Urban AC formats.
  • Podcasting is growing, but ever so slowly – More than one-fifth (21%) listen to podcasts weekly or more often. And the preferred device for podcast listening is the smartphone, chosen by a majority (51%) of regular podcast users.
  • Smartwatches are growing…but slowly – Ownership of connected watches doubled from last year, but only 8% of respondents own one, a gadget that is in search of a market.
  • Privacy issues – For the first time since it’s been included in our Techsurveys, fewer streamers of our stakeholder stations express a willingness to register to access the stream. Yet, nearly two-thirds (65%) say they’d provide basic information – name, email address and zip code.

This year’s Brand/Platform Pyramid provides data points that help broadcasters get more granular with their audiences, identifying the key media brands they use. For each of the brands and platforms, this pyramid shows weekly usage (with the exception of broadcast radio which is one hour/day or more and SiriusXM which is based on subscribership/free trial).

Here are some of the highlights from this year’s Brand Platform pyramid:

  • Three-fourths (75%) are on Facebook weekly or more, making it the dominant social media platform. One-fourth spend time on Instagram (25%), showing solid growth from TS12.
  • Nearly half (48%) watch YouTube videos weekly or more, while more than four in ten (41%) connect with Netflix during a 7-day period, up sharply from last year.
  • One-fourth (25%) listen to Pandora on a weekly basis, a drop for the second year in a row. While Spotify (12%) is up incrementally.
  • Of the social media brands on this pyramid, Snapchat (14%) is showing the strong year-to-year growth.

Both pyramids are available by format, gender and generation, making them useful tools in better understanding how radio listeners are expanding their horizons.

This year’s survey covers key areas of interest to all media brands, including actionable information about connected and autonomous cars, social media usage, mobile devices and apps, audio and video streaming and other key topics.

Techsurvey13 was powered by NuVoodoo who provided analytical and platform support.

Download the TS13 Slide Deck here.