Category Archives: Broadcasting Industry News

Scripps Brings Local News to Amazon Alexa

Amazon Echo and Echo Dot

The E.W. Scripps Company has launched its local television news brands on Alexa, Amazon’s voice-activated virtual assistant. News from 23 Scripps local TV markets is just a voice command away for users of Amazon Echo and all Alexa-enabled devices.

In many of its markets, Scripps is the only local news provider available on Alexa. It joins other top news outlets in offering news updates on the platform, including CNN, NPR and the Scripps-owned national news network Newsy. In each Flash Briefing, Scripps stations deliver top local news headlines, updated throughout the day.

Amazon’s website indicates that the service is available for both Scripps Michigan stations: WXYZ-TV (Detroit) and WSYM-TV (Lansing).

“Through our broadcast, web and mobile products, and now through virtual assistants, our local TV stations are committed to delivering news in all the places where consumers are engaged,” said Brian Lawlor, senior vice president of broadcast for Scripps. “As connected devices surge in popularity, our stations are tailoring their news and information to those platforms in order to deliver it into the home.”

The expansion to Alexa continues Scripps’ commitment to building its brands across over-the-top video and audio platforms. Several months ago, the company launched Roku channels for each of its TV brands, which are receiving high engagement times on that platform.

Local news headlines in Flash Briefing from Scripps stations can be enabled in the Skill Store of the Alexa app or on amazon.com. Once enabled, users can ask, “Alexa, what’s the news?” or “Alexa, what’s my flash briefing?” and Alexa will deliver audio of the latest headline news from the selected Scripps market.

CBS Radio Detroit to Construct Studio Inside Hockeytown Cafe

Photo courtesy of Olympia Entertainment.


CBS Radio Detroit
, in association with Olympia Entertainment, is constructing MusicTown, a venue designed to host and celebrate music, culture and entertainment in the city of Detroit. The venue will be located inside Hockeytown Café, within the 50-block, mixed-use sports and entertainment development known as The District Detroit.

From the company’s press release:

MusicTown consists of a new broadcast studio, recording studio and performance space, in addition to national and local artist performances inside the intimate City Theatre adjacent to Hockeytown Café.

MusicTown will support artists, educate children of all ages and celebrate the Detroit community and its visitors through lifestyle, collaboration and entertainment.

The MusicTown broadcast studios will serve as the radio stations’ downtown studios (for 99.5 WYCD, 98.7 AMP Radio WDZH, 104.3 WOMC, 97.1 The Ticket WXYT, and WWJ Newsradio 950 WWJ-AM) when broadcasting from major events in the city, keeping them directly involved and in touch with the local community.

“We are strongly committed to continuing Detroit’s tradition as a great ‘Music City,’” said Debbie Kenyon, Senior Vice President/Market Manager, CBS Radio Detroit. “By identifying new talent and sharing the many music stories that Detroit has inspired, this initiative will help celebrate a once booming industry in our great city, stimulating significant economic growth in the region along the way.”

CBS Radio Detroit is also committed to bringing national and local acts to MusicTown, which in turn will bring many new visitors to The District Detroit and to Hockeytown Café.

“Detroit’s connection to music has a rich and varied history,” said Tom Wilson, President and CEO of Olympia Entertainment. “Motown changed the sound of music forever; techno was founded in Detroit; some of the greatest rock musicians are from Detroit; and gospel, hip hop and jazz have strong roots here. We couldn’t be happier to support this wonderful initiative.”

Through a partnership between CBS Radio Detroit and Michigan State University, MusicTown will also provide a significant educational component. It will host educational workshops, musical performances and lectures by MSU professors and musicians – much of which will be free to the community. In addition, MusicTown will include a state-of-the-art recording studio that will be used by local talent, choirs and schools at no charge.

James Forger, Dean, MSU College of Music, said, “Michigan State University’s College of Music and MSU Community Music School – Detroit are proud to partner with CBS’s MusicTown to empower, inspire and encourage the growth of a musical community of excellence. The partnership with CBS Radio represents an extraordinary way MSU can continue to contribute to the resurgence of Detroit’s creative economy throughout Southeast Michigan.”

Beasley Media Group Extends Contract for Dave & Chuck

(L-R) Dave Hunter, Lisa Way and Chuck “The Freak” Urquhart.


Beasley Media Group
has announced that it has signed a four-year contract extension for WRIF-FM (Detroit) morning show Dave & Chuck “The Freak”.  The deal includes Dave Hunter and Chuck Urquhart along with co-host Lisa Way.

From the station’s press release:

Both Dave and Chuck each bring more than two decades of radio experience to their morning microphones. Dave started his radio career as a news writer and reporter. But, Dave quickly joined Chuck, who began as a board operator, to form the on-air partnership of Dave & Chuck the Freak. The duo expanded to a trio when they added co-host Lisa Way and joined WRIF in 2013. The Detroit Market responded tremendously, which required the team to expand again quickly, adding Co-Host Andy Green, Producer James Campbell and Video Editor Jason Watson.

The show was reaching new heights by 2017, when their contracts had two years remaining. A four-year extension was offered by the station’s new owners, Beasley Media Group.

“Of course, we extended their contracts!” commented Beasley Detroit Market Manager Mac Edwards. “Dave and Chuck have crushed the competition and dominated Detroit’s morning radio for men and women, ranking #1 in every key demo including 18 to 34, 18 to 49 and 25 to 54! We value their amazing talent and are fortunate to work with them.”

“It’s a huge compliment to know Beasley is so enthusiastic about continuing our show,” said Dave Hunter. “We are not only radio morning co-hosts. We are friends, with families who are enjoying being part of this community.”

“Beasley has not asked us to change our show. They want us to thrive, so they’ve been beyond supportive. We enjoy working as professional partners with our Detroit Market Manager Mac Edwards, WRIF Program Director Mark Pennington, Beasley Media Group Chief Operating Officer Brian Beasley, as well as Beasley Media Group Chief Executive Officer Caroline Beasley. It just doesn’t get better than that!”

Sinclair Broadcast Group to Acquire Tribune Media

On May 8, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. and Tribune Media Company announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Sinclair will acquire 100% of the issued and outstanding shares of Tribune for $43.50 per share, for an aggregate purchase price of approximately $3.9 billion, plus the assumption of approximately $2.7 billion in net debt.

Tribune owns or operates 42 television stations in 33 markets, cable network WGN America, digital multicast network Antenna TV, minority stakes in the TV Food Network and CareerBuilder and a variety of real estate assets. Tribune’s stations consist of 14 FOX, 12 CW, 6 CBS, 3 ABC, 2 NBC, 3 MyNetworkTV affiliates and 2 independent stations. The group includes stations in the top three DMAs in the country, seven in the top 10 and 34 in the top 50 DMAs.

In Michigan, Tribune owns FOX affiliate WXMI-TV (Grand Rapids).

“This is a transformational acquisition for Sinclair that will open up a myriad of opportunities for the company,” commented Chris Ripley, President and CEO of Sinclair. “The Tribune stations are highly complementary to Sinclair’s existing footprint and will create a leading nationwide media platform that includes our country’s largest markets. The acquisition will enable Sinclair to build ATSC 3.0 (Next Generation Broadcast Platform) advanced services, scale emerging networks and national sales and integrate content verticals. The acquisition will also create substantial synergistic value through operating efficiencies, revenue streams, programming strategies and digital platforms.”

“This will be the largest acquisition in our company’s history and I want to thank everyone from the Sinclair team, as well as our advisors and bankers who made this possible,” commented David Smith, Executive Chairman of Sinclair. “Television broadcasting is even more relevant today, especially when it comes to serving our local communities. Tribune’s stations allow Sinclair to strengthen our commitment to serving local communities and to advance the Next Generation Broadcast Platform. This acquisition will be a turning point for Sinclair, allowing us to better serve our viewers and advertisers while creating value for our shareholders.”

“Today’s announcement is the culmination of an extensive strategic review, which has delivered significant value to our stockholders,” said Peter Kern, Tribune’s Chief Executive Officer. “Since we announced the strategic review 15 months ago, we have streamlined the business, monetized non-core assets, strengthened our balance sheet and returned more than $800 million to stockholders — all of which has resulted in a 50% increase in stockholder value. We are extremely proud to join Sinclair and we’re excited that Tribune stockholders and employees will have the opportunity to participate in the long-term growth of the combined company.”

The transaction has been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies and is anticipated to close and fund in the fourth quarter of 2017. Completion of the transaction is subject to approval by Tribune’s stockholders, as well as customary closing conditions, including approval by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) and antitrust clearance.

WWMT’s Lutton To Retire; Corbus Promoted to GM

(L-R) WWMT’s Jim Lutton and Fred Corbus

Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. has announced that WWMT-TV (and CW7) (Kalamazoo) General Manager Jim Lutton will be retiring from television on July 14, 2017. Lutton has served as the General Manager of WWMT-TV (and CW7) for more than 10 years. He is the longest serving General Manager in the stations’ long history of serving Western Michigan.

Lutton will be succeeded by Fred Corbus, who is the current Director of Sales for the stations. Previously, Corbus had worked at WWMT-TV earlier in his career before leaving in 2007. Corbus worked at both WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids and WXYZ-TV in Detroit before returning to WWMT-TV in 2015 as Director of Sales.

“Jim has been a strong and tremendous leader over the last 10 years here in West Michigan. He has truly taken both WWMT and CW7 to the next level. I wish him and his family the very best as he moves on to the next chapter of his life.” said James Killen, Group Manager at Sinclair Broadcast Group. “I’m thrilled that Fred is taking the helm of the station that gave him his start and groomed him for this critical leadership role. Fred is a proven leader with unparalleled competitive knowledge of the market with 25 years of successful sales and management experience”.

“I’m honored and excited to help build upon the station’s tremendous momentum created during Jim Lutton’s tenure,” said Corbus. “It is a privilege to work with such a talented and dedicated team of people who have made WWMT-TV the most watched station in West Michigan.”

Jim Lutton has spent the last 21 years running WWMT-TV, WLAJ-TV, WSTM-TV/WSTQ-TV and WACH-TV. Lutton has been a strong advocate of local news wherever he went. In West Michigan he added a Monday through Friday 5:00 – 6:00 a.m. newscast, a 10:00 p.m. newscast on the CW7 and was the first in the market to add a 4:30 a.m. Monday through Friday newscast. Jim also relaunched a Saturday and Sunday 2-hour morning newscast.

Lutton won the NAB Service to Children Award in 2010 for the station’s ‘Caring for Kids’ campaign that helped area children get much needed healthcare. Lutton was also recently honored with being named to the Silver Circle by the Michigan Chapter of National Arts and Sciences.

Bill Lake Joins Wiley Rein

William Lake

On April 19, Washington law firm Wiley Rein announced that former FCC Media Bureau Chief William Lake, a veteran communications lawyer, has joined the firm’s Telecom, Media & Technology practice as consulting counsel.  In his new postion, Lake advises clients on media and telecommunications issues, with special attention to navigating the federal regulatory regimes.

Mr. Lake served as head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Media Bureau from 2009 to 2017, advising companies in the U.S. and international communications industries on regulatory, competition, intellectual property and trade issues. Mr. Lake was named to that leadership role following his service as FCC coordinator for the digital television transition in 2009.

“Bill’s intellectual rigor, unique insight and deep experience make him a valuable addition to our TMT Practice and we’re delighted that he is joining the team,” said Kathleen A. Kirby, co-chair of the Practice. “He is an exceptional lawyer, widely regarded for his work at the FCC and his government perspective and private sector experience on critical issues impacting companies in the telecommunications and media industries will be of immense value to our clients.”

Prior to joining the FCC, Mr. Lake was a partner at a large Washington, D.C. law firm, where he led the communications and electronic commerce practice. He also has served as Principal Deputy Legal Advisor to the U.S. Department of State, Counsel to the Council on Environmental Quality and Counselor to the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Wiley Rein has an unparalleled regulatory team with outstanding expertise in transactional and policy issues in the media and telecom sector,” said Mr. Lake. “Their preeminent TMT Group is one that combines regulatory prowess with public policy, international advocacy, trade, intellectual property, government contracts and litigation experience. I am proud to join this team of consummate professionals.”

Mr. Lake served as a law clerk to the Honorable John M. Harlan of the Supreme Court of the United States and the Honorable Henry J. Friendly of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York. He received his LL.B. degree from Stanford Law School and his B.A., summa cum laude, from Yale University.

 

Michigan FCC Watch

The MAB keeps watch on FCC filings in our state.   Here’s the latest filings we’ve seen.

May 2, 2017

An application for license for cover construction permit of WNUC-LP (Detroit) was filed by North End Woodward Community Coaliation.

May 1, 2017

The FCC approved the previously-filed application of Impact Radio, LLC to increase the power of FM translator W246BW (Three Rivers). The translator rebroadcasts the company’s WRCI-AM, also licensed to Three Rivers.

Smile FM has filed an application for license to cover construction permit for noncommercial WAIR-FM (Lake City).

April 21, 2017

The FCC approved the previously-filed sale of WMKG-CD (Muskegon) from Kelley Enterprises of Muskegon, Inc. has sold low-power/class A television station WMKG-CD (Muskegon) to WMKG-TV, LLC.

The previously-filed assignment of license of WDWO-CD (Detroit) from Locuspoint WDWO Licensee, Inc. to TCT of Michigan, Inc. was approved by the FCC.

April 19, 2017

The FCC accepted for filing the application by Radio One to sell its Detroit AM station, WCHB-AM, to Crawford Broadcasting.

Family Life Broadcasting System has made application to modify the construction permit of FM translator W231CV (Holly).  Family Life intends to use the translator to rebroadcast WUFL-AM (Sterling Heights).  Also filed was an application by Family Life to make changes to FM translator W232CA (Detroit).  This translator also rebroadcasts WUFL-AM.

WOOD-TV Opens Kalamazoo Studio

New WOOD-TV Kalamazoo Studio

WOOD-TV (Grand Rapids), which recently announced a new streetside studio in downtown Grand Rapids, has opened a second streetside studio, this time in Kalamazoo, to be home base for a dedicated crew that will live and work in the community.

Brad Gillum

The new Kalamazoo studio is in the Comerica Building at 151 S. Rose Streeet and features floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Bronson Park. It’s equipped with cameras inside and on the roof, giving a bird’s-eye perspective of downtown.

As part of the expansion, the station has announced that Bradly Gillum has joined the station to work out of the Kalamazoo facility.

Gillum was most recently an anchor and reporter at KCWY-TV in Casper, Wyoming.  Before that, Gillum spent nearly a decade as a prosecutor and defense attorney near Denver, Colorado. Gillum will work with photojournalist Nick Ponton, a 15-year veteran of the industry who has been with WOOD-TV for seven years.

In Grand Rapids, WOOD-TV also partnered with the Grand Rapids Art Museum to create the GRAM WOOD TV8 Media Arts Center, which includes a studio overlooking Rosa Parks Circle.

“This new partnership allows 24 Hour News 8, eightWest and Maranda Where You Live to be in the heart of the city throughout the year for big events in Rosa Parks Circle,” said WOOD-TV Director of Operations Kevin Ferrara. “We’ll continue to use our market-leading, technology-driven studio in Heritage Hill as our primary home, but will broadcast the noon newscast daily from downtown.”

The GRAM WOOD TV8 Media Arts Center at the Grand Rapids Art Museum

“24 Hour News 8 is committed to providing breaking news, weather and investigative coverage to all of West Michigan” said Dan Boers, News Director for WOOD-TV. “Our news team is expanding and we’re excited that it’ll give us a greater ability to be connected to issues that are important to the community.”

Last week the station did live broadcasts from both its new Grand Rapids downtown studio (located at the  Grand Rapids Art Museum) and the new Kalamazoo studio.

As part of the opening of its new downtown studio, the station recently looked back on 7 decades of service to Grand Rapids.  See video report here.

Michigan Recipients of 2017 Regional Murrow Awards

The Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) has announced its 2017 Edward R. Murrow Regional Award Winners, honoring outstanding achievements in electronic journalism.

Award recipients demonstrate the spirit of excellence that Murrow set as a standard for the profession of electronic journalism.

Among the winners in Region 7 are numerous Michigan broadcasters, both radio and television, commercial and noncommercial:

Small Market Radio

Hard News
Slashed Budgets Mean Less Independence for the Developmentally Disabled
Interlochen Public Radio
Interlochen, MI

News Documentary
Grandmother’s Letter from the Holocaust
Interlochen Public Radio
Interlochen, MI

News Series
Faces of Flint
WKAR-AM/FM
East Lansing, MI

Sports Reporting
Polo is Bliss in Northern Michigan
Interlochen Public Radio
Interlochen, MI

Large Market Radio

Continuing Coverage
The Flint Water Crisis
Michigan Radio
Ann Arbor, MI

Excellence in Social Media
7th District Road Trip
Michigan Radio
Ann Arbor, MI

Excellence in Sound
Students Recreate the “Golden Age” of Radio – Live on Stage
Michigan Radio
Ann Arbor, MI

Feature Reporting
New Life for Neglected Jewish cemetery in Detroit
Michigan Radio
Ann Arbor, MI

News Documentary
Out from the Shadows: Living Undocumented
Michigan Radio
Ann Arbor, MI

Small Market Television

Continuing Coverage
Flint Water Crisis
WEYI/WSMH-TV
Flint, MI

Excellence in Sound
Drumline: Heartbeat of the Band
WLNS-TV
Lansing, MI

Feature Reporting
The Fan
WLNS-TV
Lansing, MI

Newscast
Flint Water Crisis Criminal Charges
WJRT-TV
Flint, MI

Large Market Television

Continuing Coverage
Flint Water Crisis
WDIV-TV
Detroit, MI

Excellence in Social Media
The Doppelganger Killings
WWMT-TV
Kalamazoo, MI

Excellence in Sound
Moving the Chapel
WDIV-TV
Detroit, MI

Newscast
WDIV 5pm News – Bashara Bombshell & Flint Emails
WDIV-TV
Detroit, MI

Michigan AP Media Editors Awards Announced

Winners of the 2016 Michigan Associated Press Media Editors annual contest were announced  at ceremonies this past Sunday, April 30 in East Lansing.

Among the individual winners in various categories were public radio stations Michigan Radio (Ann Arbor), WDET-FM (Detroit), WGVU-FM (Grand Rapids) and WKAR-FM (East Lansing).

Commercial radio winners were WGHN-FM (Grand Haven), WHMI-FM (Howell) and WSGW-AM (Saginaw).

Commercial television winners included WLNS-TV (Lansing), WWTV/WWUP-TV (Cadillac), WJRT-TV(Flint), WEYI-TV (Flint), WOOD-TV (Grand Rapids), WWMT-TV (Kalamazoo), WZZM-TV (Grand Rapids) and WNEM-TV (Saginaw).

In addition, three stations were honored with the award for 2016 Outstanding News Operation:

Television II category – WLNS-TV (Lansing)
Radio I category – WDET-FM (Detroit)
Radio II category – WGVU-FM (Grand Rapids)

A complete list of individual awards is available here.