Category Archives: Broadcasting Industry News

NAB Asks FCC To Act on Nexstar/Media General Merger

Nexstar_300Broadcasting and Cable reports (10/5/16) that the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has asked the FCC to act on the pending Nexstar/Media General merger, rather than wait until the current spectrum auction is finished.

On September 19, the MAB reported that the FCC has declined to approve any TV station transactions during the spectrum incentive auction involving stations potentially implicated in that auction.  Media General had indicated it would be participating in the auction and FCC action on the transfer could provide more specific information about the auction, which is potentially in violation of the FCC’s rule against public disclosures.

The FCC deadline for filing transactions involving auction-eligible stations was back in January and the auction could conceivably extend into January of 2017, though it could also wrap up by next month if the FCC does not have to go to a third stage.

Nexstar currently owns one television station in Michigan, WJMN-TV (Marquette). Media General owns WOOD-TV/WOTV-TV/WXSP-CD (Grand Rapids) and WLNS-TV (Lansing). In addition, it has a joint sales and shared services agreement with WLAJ-TV (Lansing).

Midwest Family Flips WHFB-FM to Top 40

live999_300Midwest Family Broadcasting announced that it has flipped WHFB-FM (Benton Harbor/South Bend) to a new top 40 music format, effective at noon on October 11.

RadioInsight covered the debut of the new format here.

The company will change the station call letters to WQLQ-FM and be known on the air as “Live 99.9.”

As part of the format change, a new live morning show,
“Brooke & Jubal” will air from 5 to 9am, with an all music format to follow.  A live DJ, Shady Live, takes over from 6 to 11pm.

“This is the first true format change we’ve done with any of our stations since we first started working with WHFB in 1999.” “That’s over 17 years!” said Jim Roberts, General Manager of the Midwest Family South Bend stations. “We’re extremely excited about this new, young station and encourage people to tune in.”

Murrow Awards Presented to Michigan Stations

Murrow_logo_2016_300On October 10, the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) honored news operations nationwide with the 2016 Edward R. Murrow Awards.  Seven Michigan radio and television stations were recipents of 15 2016 Murrow Awards.

Among the national winners were two Michigan broadcasters (by category/award):

Large Market Radio – News Documentary
Not Safe to Drink
Michigan Radio
Ann Arbor

Large Market Television – Reporting: Sports
Big Ann
WZZM-TV
Grand Rapids

The (regional) Region 7 Awards (by category/award):

Large Market Radio – Continuing Coverage
Lead in Flint Water
Michigan Radio
Ann Arbor

Large Market Radio – Investigative Reporting
Sexual Assault Investigations at MSU: A Broken System; and the Efforts to Fix It
Michigan Radio
Ann Arbor

Large Market Radio – News Documentary
Not Safe To Drink
Michigan Radio
Ann Arbor

Large Market Radio – Reporting: Sports
The Community Finally Got What People Have Been Asking For All Season: A Home Football Game
Michigan Radio
Ann Arbor

Small Market Television – Newscast
Funeral For A Fallen Firefighter
WLNS-TV
Lansing

Small Market Television – Continuing Coverage
Flint Water Emergency
WJRT-TV
Flint

Small Market Television – News Series
Friends For Life: Men’s Health
WLNS-TV
Lansing

Small Market Television – Website
WLNS.com
WLNS-TV
Lansing

Large Market Television – Breaking News
Portland Tornado
WOOD-TV
Grand Rapids

Large Market Television – Continuing Coverage
It’s A Hard Thing To Watch A Man Die
WDIV-TV
Detroit

Large Market Television – Investigative Reporting
Delayed Firefighter Death Benefit
WZZM-TV
Grand Rapids

Large Market Television – Reporting: Sports
Big Ann
WZZM-TV
Grand Rapids

Large Market Television – Writing
Brent Ashcroft
WZZM-TV
Grand Rapids

A complete list of winners is available here.

The award presenters for the gala included Lester Holt, anchor of “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” and “Dateline NBC,” ABC News “Nightline” co-anchor Byron Pitts, ABC News Radio correspondent Aaron Katersky, CBSN anchor Elaine Quijano, RTDNA Chairman Vincent Duffy, and NPR Senior Vice President of News / Editorial Director Michael Oreskes.

Black Diamond Closes on Northern Star Stations

blackdiamond_300Black Diamond Broadcast Group has closed on its previously announced acquisition of seven stations and a FM translator from Northern Michigan-based Northern Star Broadcasting for $1.95 million. The transaction encompasses multiple signals in Traverse City/Petoskey, and includes WCBY-AM (1240), WGFM-FM (105.1) and WCHY-FM (97.7)/Cheboygan, along with WGFN-FM (98.1) and WQEZ-FM (95.5)/Glen Arbor, WMKC-FM (102.9)/Indian River, WOEZ-FM (106.3)/Onaway and W264CF (100.7)/St. Ignace.

Black Diamond, owned by long-time broadcast executives and life-long Michigan residents, Mike Chires and Norm McKee, currently own WUPS-FM/Harrison and WTWS-FM/Houghton Lake, both purchased in 2015.

Northern Star Broadcasting’s President Del Reynolds said, “These radio stations are huge technical facilities reaching from Cadillac to Canada and Traverse City to Alpena. I believe that Black Diamond is the radio group to continue the tradition of being committed local broadcasters and will be honorable trustees of these FCC licenses. Our staff and our clients are the best in the country and we know that they are in good hands with Black Diamond.”

Black Diamond Partner/CEO Mike Chires stated, “Del and Mary have done a tremendous job of building powerhouse stations that serve their communities extremely well. They have strong relationships with their clients and the respect of broadcasters throughout the industry, especially in Michigan, which is the ultimate compliment. We look forward to continuing the legacy and the relationships they’ve built with their clients and communities these great stations serve.”

Jason James of Patrick Communications was the broker on the transaction.

Related:  Up North Radio, LLC has closed on its purchase of former Northern Star station WCKC-FM (Cadillac) and began programming it on September 29.  See that story here.

Baraga Radio Network acquires WSRT-FM

baragaBaraga Broadcasting, Inc. and Blarney Stone Broadcasting, Inc. have entered into a purchase agreement that will enable Baraga Radio to significantly increase reach and coverage in northern Michigan.

Blarney Stone Broadcasting, Inc. has agreed to sell WSRT (106.7 FM) licensed to Gaylord, to Baraga Broadcasting, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)(3) listener-funded Catholic ministry dedicated to serving the people of the Diocese of Gaylord and the Diocese of Marquette.

Tom Hornacek, president of Baraga Broadcasting said, “On behalf of our Board of Directors, we are extremely thankful and excited for the opportunity to expand our coverage throughout northern lower Michigan with this acquisition.”

The addition of 106.7 FM to the Baraga Radio Network, makes it only the seventh 100,000-watt station providing Catholic radio programming in existence. Traverse City-Petoskey-Cadillac is the 160th largest radio market in the country with a Metro 12+ population of 297,300, according to Nielsen Media Research. The region is a destination to more than one million visitors each year.

Founded in 2006, Baraga Radio has grown into a network of six stations, WTCK (90.9 FM) Charlevoix, WTCY (88.3 FM) Traverse City, WGJU (91.3 FM) East Tawas, WGZR (88.9 FM) Alpena, WIDG (940 AM) St. Ignace and WMQU (1230 AM) Grayling.

On November 1, Baraga Radio will begin broadcasting on 106.7 FM through an LMA agreement, pending the approval by the FCC of the sale and transfer of the license. Programming features shows from EWTN and Ave Maria Radio, and recently Baraga began producing two of their own local programs, “The Cross Walk” and “Called to Freedom” with plans for more local shows to come.

“Baraga Broadcasting will celebrate our 10th anniversary this November,“ Hornacek added. “As The Catholic Light of Northern Michigan, we strive to bring hope, peace and joy to a troubled world through the light of Christ. The purchase of this station is going to help us reach areas that have never had access to Catholic radio before. To have it take place at this special time in our history – well, it’s quite a blessing,” he concluded.

Baraga Broadcasting proclaims the truth and beauty of the Roman Catholic faith by offering educational and inspirational programming that aims to engage its listeners and encourage them to live out their faith in Jesus Christ.

Up North Adds WCKC-FM

wckc_300Up North Radio, LLC has closed on their purchase of WCKC-FM (Cadillac) and has relaunched the classic rock station as “107.1 The Drive.“

Under the previous ownership of Northern Star Broadcasting, the station had been part of a regional trimulcast with WGFN-FM (Glen Arbor) and WCHY-FM (Cheboygan) as “The Bear.”  Those stations were sold to Black Diamond Broadcasting, which closed on those and the other Northern Star stations on September 29.

Jason James of Patrick Communications was the broker on the transaction.

Up North Radio, owned and operated by Jennifer Theodore, already owns WCDY-FM in the Cadillac market. It also is in the process of purchasing WBZX-FM in Big Rapids, pending FCC approval.

NAB Show New York Announced

nabsny_350The National Association of Broadcasters has announced NAB Show New York, scheduled for November 9-10 in New York City.
Formerly Content and Communications World, NAB Show New York delivers compelling content, exciting speakers, and all the latest in broadcast technology close to home.

NAB Show New York leverages the strength and reach of NAB Show (Las Vegas), while adding a content focus unique to the thriving Northeast media and entertainment market.

The exhibit floor will feature 300 exhibiting companies and 60+ sessions. NAB Show New York represents a chance to dive more deeply into the major issues shaping our industry, including:

– 4K: hands-on workshops
– ATSC 3.0: impact on your business
– Advertising: next-gen technologies
– Business and Investment: choosing what’s best for you
– Drones: exploring what’s next
– Live Productions: case study out of NYC
– News: live distribution
– Production and Post: building the bridge
– VR: understand the practical use

The MAB, in partnership with NAB, is pleased to extend to its members a Core Package Pass discounted to $25. The Core Package includes access to all NAB Show New York and InfoComm Connections Sessions within the Inspiration Stages, Exhibits and Exhibitor Info sessions. To register and auto-add the discount code, click here.

To learn more about NAB Show New York, including other available registration packages, visit NABShowNY.com.

Blarney Stone Acquires Northern Broadcast

Jerry and Sheryl Coyne
Jerry and Sheryl Coyne

Blarney Stone Broadcasting, Inc. and Northern Broadcast, Inc. have entered into a purchase agreement that will enable Blarney Stone to significantly increase reach and coverage throughout Northern Michigan.

Founded in 2012 by Jerry and Sheryl Coyne, residents of Gaylord, Blarney Stone Broadcasting owns and operates WQON (FM), licensed to Grayling; WGRY (FM), licensed to Roscommon and WMQU (AM), licensed to Grayling.

Northern Broadcast has agreed to sell assets including WKLT (FM), licensed to Kalkaska; WKLZ (FM), licensed to Petoskey; WFCX (FM), licensed to Leland; WFDX (FM), licensed to Atlanta; WSRT (FM), licensed to Gaylord and WSRJ (FM), licensed to Honor. The agreement also includes FM translator station W263CD, licensed to Boyne City; FM translator station W252DA, licensed to Petoskey and all broadcast assets of Northern Broadcast, including its six dominant transmitting towers.

“We are thrilled beyond words for the opportunity to expand our coverage throughout Northern Michigan with the acquisition of these heritage properties,” said Sheryl Coyne, President and Co-Owner of Blarney Stone Broadcasting. “It has always been our commitment and privilege to improve the lives of our listeners and the communities we serve by offering engaging music, sports and entertainment content with an emphasis on support for the local communities. We now look forward to expanding that commitment to all of Northern Michigan from Traverse City to Alpena and Saint Ignace to Clare.”

“We are proud of our contribution to economic growth in the region including the creation of jobs by adding 12 full-time and 16 part-time employees since opening our doors in October 2012. We are committed to hiring home-grown talent with a focus on local programming.” said Coyne. “Through the support of our incredible sponsors, we’ve been able to spend our dollars locally and provide a platform and voice for local issues. We look forward to expanding our contribution to the social, economic and educational development of all the communities in Northern Michigan.”

Traverse City-Petoskey-Cadillac is the 160th largest radio market in the country with a Metro 12+ Population of 297,300 according to Nielsen Media Research. The region is a destination to more than one million visitors each year.

In a separate move, Baraga Broadcasting will purchase WSRT (FM), licensed to Gaylord, from Blarney Stone. (see separate article here).

All transactions scheduled to close pending approval from the Federal Communications Commission.

Lori Bennett Appointed Operations Manager at Cumulus/Grand Rapids

loribennett_275Cumulus Media has announced that Lori Bennett has been appointed Operations Manager for the company’s 5-station cluster in Grand Rapids.  This includes WLAV-FM, WBBL-FM, WHTS-FM, WTNR-FM and WJRW-AM.  Bennett will also program WTNR and host the afternoon drive show from 3-7pm.

Bennett joins the Grand Rapids group from Cumulus Media in Detroit, where she most recently was Program Director and Afternoon Drive Host for Hot A/C WDVD-FM.  She previously was Promotions Director/Feature Anchor at WJR-AM and air talent for WDRQ-FM.  In Detroit, Bennett also served in various capacities including Operations Manager, Program and Marketing Director and Morning Show Host for various stations such as WNIC-FM, WMGC-FM and WVMV-FM.

“We are thrilled to have Lori join our Grand Rapids team” says Vice-President/Market Manager Jeff Cartwright. She is a true broadcast professional who brings a positive energy along with new programming ideas to our cluster. I am excited to see what the future holds for our 5 stations with Lori here.”

Bennett says “I’m honored to join the remarkable family of broadcasters at Cumulus Grand Rapids! The talent and energy within the cluster extends beyond the norm, with legendary market personalities that know how to truly connect and super serve the West Michigan audience. I am grateful to Mary Berner, Mike McVay, Doug Hamand, Bob Walker and of course, the dynamic Jeff Cartwright, for the opportunity to captain such an incredible team!”

Students Design WZZM-TV (Grand Rapids) ArtPrize News Desk

wzzm-1_532Students from the Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD) at Ferris State University teamed up with local office environment company Custer to design and create a newsdesk for WZZM-TV for use during the 19-day ArtPrize event in Grand Rapids.

ArtPrize is an international art competition spread over three square miles of Grand Rapids, with art on display everywhere, including museums, galleries, bars, restaurants, theaters, hotels, public parks, lobbies, buildings, walls, bridges, etc.  About 400,000 people attend the free event each year.

WZZM President/General Manager Janet Mason told TV NewsCheck “The collaboration between Custer, KCAD design students and WZZM 13 has resulted in a news desk unlike any other.”

Constructed out of reclaimed ash wood, from within 25 miles of downtown Grand Rapids, the desk is detailed with donated items repurposed from Goodwill Industries and bottles representing various West Michigan craft breweries — arranged in a wave formation in homage to the area’s Grand River.

The desk is installed on the second floor of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and will serve as the studio for WZZM’s newscasts throughout ArtPrize, which runs now through October 9.

See WZZM’s story on the desk construction below: