Category Archives: Broadcasting Industry News

Gen Z—A Group That Loves AM/FM—Is Next Great Radio Demo.

Reprinted by permission of insideradio.com.

While marketers and media expend massive energy and resources courting Millennials, their younger counterparts known as Generation Z shouldn’t be ignored. These young Americans (born after 1996) represent 23% of the U.S. population and are a diverse and influential demographic with rising spending power. And, in good news for broadcast radio, they also listen to significant amounts of AM/FM.

“It is critical that brands learn to understand and honor Gen Z’s defining attributes and values if they want to connect with and better activate against a demographic that is already changing the face of media and our culture,” says Radha Subramanyam, iHeartMedia’s president of Insights, Research and Analytics.

There are 74 million Generation Zers, about equal to the number of U.S. Millennials and Baby Boomers. According to a new report by iHeartRadio, radio is hugely popular with teens, with 81% saying it will always be part of their lives. And, in a key finding for brands, radio connects with 9 in 10 teens, the report said and is key for discovery. Three-quarters of Generation Zers said they use radio to find new music and two-thirds rely on radio to uncover new products, movies and events.

“Gen Z is an exclusive group that can be exceptionally hard to reach, but advertisers can connect to them in a big way with radio,” Subramanyam notes.

Generation Zers are also a diverse group, with 55% identifying as non-Caucasian and many were raised in non-traditional households, including one-third living with a single parent. They are active on social media and raised with digital technology as an integral part of their lives.

However, just because Gen Z is a diverse, socially conscious and tech-savvy group doesn’t mean they are replicas of the slightly older Millennials demo. In fact, “it would be a huge mistake to apply the same marketing strategies to both groups,” Subramanyam says.

For one, Generation Zers are more financially conservative, largely due to growing up during the most recent recession. They are also loyal customers, but thanks to their diversity and non-traditional upbringings, many reject labels, making it difficult for brands to win their business. That’s where radio can be a powerful tool, Subramanyam contends, as it fits with both Generation Z’s habits and sensibilities.

“It is interactive thanks to call-ins and social media; it is inherently mobile because it is available on everything from phones to cars; and radio DJs fill the desire of Gen Zers for authentic heroes by being funny, passionate, local and relatable,” Subramanyam says.

Amplifi Media and Jācapps Align To Form SonicAi


New company to develop “skills” for emerging Amazon Echo and Google Home Devices

Two of radio’s leading visionaries, Steve Goldstein and Fred Jacobs, and their companies, Amplifi Media and jācapps, have teamed together to form SonicAi, a joint venture dedicated to strategizing and creating voice command solutions for the radio and podcasting industries. Initial development will focus on the Amazon Echo and Google Home devices.

Joining the partnership, as co-founder, is industry executive Lee Davis. Goldstein’s Amplifi Media and Davis will focus on sales, marketing and “skills” architecture. The jācapps team will handle product development and customer service. Together, based on their decades of combined research, programming and marketing experience, they have created the smartest solution for content creators to expand in-home listening with creative strategies.

The introduction of these devices into homes creates a significant opportunity for the radio industry and podcasters. Research has shown that in-home radio listening has been declining, but now with the ability to access a radio station’s stream or programming (such as podcasts), using voice commands, these devices are a breakthrough for audio content creators.

According to Jacobs Media’s Techsurvey13 (to be released in May), 11% of homes already have one of these devices, with brisk sales underscoring the opportunity for the audio industry.

“This partnership is designed to maximize the in-home opportunity for radio stations and podcasters. We think this is a seismic change that needs to be seized upon and mastered,” says Steve Goldstein. “That’s why we have developed solutions to make it easy for consumers to find and access a brand’s audio content. We also think audio content creators will be more successful with enhanced choices beyond basic streams. We call these ‘smart skills,’ and we plan to have a full suite of offerings.”

“Teaming up with Steve and Lee, while turning the jācapps team loose, is where SAi is headed,” says Fred Jacobs. “We’ve been ahead of the curve with jācapps, radio’s leading developer of mobile solutions since our launch in 2008. Our team specializes in great customer service and outstanding development and we’ll work with stations and audio content creators to unleash the potential of these devices as they are rapidly showing up in kitchens, dens and on nightstands. They are the new radios for the home.”

For more information, contact Lee Davis at 888-776-6422.

Visit www.sonicai.com to learn more and to see a video of how it works.

About jācapps – jācapps is the leading developer of mobile applications for the radio industry. With over 1,000 apps developed, jācapps focuses on creating strategic mobile solutions. The product from SonicAi fits into the company’s App Everywhere™ strategy, providing mobile connectivity on smartphones, in cars via Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Ford’s Smart Device Link, and now, in the home.

About Amplifi Media – Amplifi Media works with companies and podcasters in the strategy and development of innovative content, marketing, branding and monetization for the fast-growing on-demand audio/podcast sector.

About Lee Davis – Davis is a media executive who has held senior leadership positions with some of the top media companies in the United States, including CBS and Univision. During his career, Davis has run some of radio’s top brands including sports powerhouse WFAN, news leader 1010 WINS and Spanish Language giant, Univision Radio.

Former FCC Mass Media Bureau Chief Roy Stewart Passes

Roy Stewart

Former FCC official Roy Stewart passed away on Monday, April 10 at age 78.  Stewart joined the FCC in 1965, became head of the Mass Media Bureau in 1989, then moved to the license policy office before retiring in 2009.

Stewart appeared at many MAB summer conferences over the years.

In an piece appearing online via Broadcasting and Cable, former FCC chairman Dick Wiley called Stewart “the finest regulatory official I ever worked with,” both inside and outside the FCC. Wiley became partner in mega-communications firm Wiley Rein after leaving the commission, so dealt with Stewart in that capacity as well.

Wiley called Stewart “tremendously knowledgeable and very responsive.” Wiley said when, as chairman, he faced a “huge backlog” of petitions to deny, he promoted Stewart to what was then the Transfer Branch to try and clean them up. “And he did it,” said Wiley. “He was highly regarded by everyone who dealt with him and was a terrific government official and public servant.”

His obituary can be found here.  Services were held April 17.

Radio One Sells WCHB-AM to Crawford

Radio One has announced that is has sold its Detroit AM station, WCHB, to Crawford Broadcasting.  The announced sale price was $2 million and is subject to FCC approval.

Radio One will continue to operate three stations in the Motor City, WPZR-FM, WDMK-FM and WGPR-FM.  WGPR is operated under a local marketing agreement.  Crawford is adding WCHB to its Detroit cluster that includes WMUZ-FM, WEXL-AM and WRDT-AM.

According to published reports, Radio One intends to move some of its programming from WCHB to one of its existing FM stations in the market.  Crawford has not announced its plans for the station.

WDIV-TV Receives NABEF Service to America Award

The National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation (NABEF) has announced that Graham Media Group’s WDIV-TV (Detroit) is the recipient of its 2017 Service to America Television Award.  This award recognizes a television station for the totality of its efforts and its commitment to excellence in serving its community.

In a press release, the NABEF writes “Through news coverage, philanthropy and community service, WDIV puts the needs of viewers first. When the city of Flint found itself in crisis, WDIV hosted a telethon, raising more than $1.13 million. WDIV also provided extensive coverage of the Flint water crisis, airing a primetime special and traveling to Washington, D.C., to cover developments on Capitol Hill. To address the opioid epidemic, WDIV ran numerous PSAs and provided significant news coverage to keep the conversation on drug addiction front and center. With Detroit having the largest concentration of Arab Americans in the U.S., WDIV created the “Arab in America” news series, which showed viewers personal stories of Arab Americans in their local community. In partnership with Bookstock, WDIV raised over $1.4 million for literacy and education programs in its community. The station’s commitment to education continued with its renovations of a school in the Detroit Public School Community District. This is just a small sampling of the work WDIV does to serve the local community.”

There were a total of six winners, in various categories, announced for the 2017 Service to America Awards.  Winners will be honored at the Celebration of Service to America dinner, June 20 in Washington.  For a complete list of winners and finalists, click here.

Michigan Spectrum Auction Summary

Last week, the FCC announced the results of its broadcast incentive auction and it appears that three Michigan television stations were successful bidders in the reverse auction.

As previously announced, both WCMZ-TV (Flint) and WHTV-TV (Jackson-Lansing) accepted bids to relinquish their spectrum.

WCMZ-TV, owned by Central Michigan University, has not yet announced a date in which they will discontinue operations.  The university received $14 million from the auction for the WCMZ spectrum.

WHTV-TV, owned by Spartan-TV, LLC announced via their website that they will be signing-off at midnight on April 30, 2017.  Spartan-TV sold their spectrum for just under $14 million.

The third Michigan station accepting an auction bid was WLNS-TV (Lansing), owned by Nexstar Media Group.  While the existing WLNS spectrum was sold for $13.6 million, the company has told the MAB that it will be entering a channel-sharing arrangement with WLAJ-TV (Lansing).  WLNS will retain its license, call letters, virtual channel assignment (6.1) and present programming.

On the mind of many Michigan television broadcasters is channel reassignments under the television band repack.  Out of 60 affected full-power and class A television stations in the state, 32 will be changing channels.  A complete list of stations and their new channel assignments, sorted by state and city is available here.

According to the CommLawBlog, LPTV stations also will be impacted by the channel reassignment and will need to prepare for displacements starting this fall.   Eric Wolita, who operates LPTV station WMNN-LD (Cadillac) told the MAB that he is “cautiously optimistic” that his station will be able to avoid displacement or otherwise suffer any significant impact as a result of the repack.

Wolita recently wrote an article on the spectrum auction and its impact on LPTV stations in TV Technology.  Read here.

FCC Watch: KMB Broadcasting Sale Approved

On April 4, Sovereign Communications received approval from the Federal Communications Commission to purchase Escanaba radio stations WDBC-AM and WYKX-FM from KMB Broadcasting.

With this acquisition, Sovereign will own a total of 17 stations in the U.P. region, which includes stations in Sault Ste. Marie, Newberry, Marquette and Iron Mountain.   According to the asset purchase agreement filed with the application, the price paid for the two stations was $866,000.

In other applications filed with the FCC:

Impact Radio, LLC applies to increase the power of FM translator  W246BW (Three Rivers).  The translator rebroadcasts the company’s WRCI-AM, also licensed to Three Rivers.  Filed April 10.

Larry Langford, Jr. seeks to increase the power of FM translator W242CN (Cassopolis).  The translator rebroadcasts his WGTO-AM, also licensed to Cassopolis.  Filed April 10.

Caron Broadcasting, Inc. has filed an application to increase the power of FM translator W224CC (Detroit).  The translator rebroadcasts co-owned WLQV-AM (Detroit).  Filed April 10.

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.