Category Archives: Broadcasting Industry News

Brian Abel Joins WXYZ

Brian Abel

WXYZ-TV (Detroit) announced that Brian Abel has joined the station as a reporter for “7 Action News This Morning.”

Abel comes to the station from E. W. Scripps’ sister station KSHB-TV in Kansas City.  There, Brian was the lead reporter during the station’s coverage of the 2016 election.

He also was assigned to stories picked up nationally, including the tragic death of a young boy on the nation’s tallest waterslide, the death of two firefighters battling an arson fire, a triple shooting in an Olathe bar investigated as a hate crime, a massive construction fire forcing the evacuation of an Overland Park neighborhood, devastating tornadoes and a Missouri bill to consider sex between legislators and lobbyists as a “gift.”

Prior to Kansas City, Abel was primary anchor for WDAZ-TV in Grand Forks, N.D.

Abel was born and raised in the Grand Rapids suburb of Lowell. He graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in journalism.

GMR Extends Interim Music Licenses

On August 8, The Radio Music Licensing Committee (RMLC) announced that music licensing firm Global Music Rights (GMR) has extended its interim licensing extension through March 31, 2018.

The original interim agreement was set to expire September 30,  2017.

RMLC’s antitrust litigation against GMR in Philadelphia remains ongoing and the RMLC asked GMR to offer extensions of its interim licenses.  Initially, GMR stated that it was willing to offer interim license extensions to all radio stations, except those that are “owned by companies headquartered or based in Pennsylvania.” As for these Pennsylvania-based entities, GMR stated (including on its website) that it would not do business with those entities after their current licenses expire.

After legal filings and discussions with GMR and the court, GMR has committed to the court that it would offer license extensions to all stations, including those “owned by companies headquartered or based in Pennsylvania” through March 31, 2018.

That means, despite anything to the contrary on GMR’s website, GMR has agreed to offer all U.S. commercial radio stations, including stations “owned by companies headquartered or based in Pennsylvania,” the opportunity to extend their existing interim licenses until March 31, 2018. GMR will offer these interim license extensions on the same terms (including price) as each station’s existing interim license, except for the new end date. If you wish to negotiate an extension of your interim license with GMR please contact GMR directly before your current license expires on September 30, 2017.

If GMR refuses to offer you an interim license extension on the same terms as your existing license, please let Bill Velez at the RMLC know so that we can address it with the Philadelphia court.

Velez can be reached at [email protected] or (615) 844-6260.

In the meantime, RMLC intends to continue to pursue its litigation against GMR.

WPHM’S Gilmer Retires

Bill Gilmer

Bill Gilmer, veteran broadcaster and News Director of Radio First’s WPHM-AM (Port Huron) has retired. His last day on the job was this past Friday, August 4 and that included a morning on-air retirement party hosted by WPHM Morning Host Paul Miller at Freighters Eatery & Taproom in Port Huron.  Gilmer was working right up to the end — he spent part of Thursday covering an event celebrating progress in restoring the St. Clair River.

Gilmer began his radio career in Port Huron in 1979 when he was hired by John Wismer at WHLS. He has been the director of the Blue Water Festival, former board president of Main Street Port Huron, a Port Huron City Council member and vice president of the Michigan Waterways Council of the the Girl Scouts of America.

“I got to go from records and chart machines to all digital equipment.  A lot of new knowledge in those years as far as the traditions of doing news and doing broadcasts on the radio,” Gilmer said in an interview with Port Huron’s “The Times-Herald.”

Gilmer said he will stay busy on the 10-acre farm in Wales Township he shares with Dr. Annette Mercatante, a medical health officer for St. Clair County.

WDIV Detroit’s Paul Gross named Fellow of American Meteorological Society

By Dave Bartkowiak Jr.,

WDIV-TV (Detroit) Meteorologist Paul Gross is being recognized with high honors from the American Meteorological Society.

Paul has been named a Fellow of the Society and has won an Emmy from the Michigan Chapter of the National Association of Television Arts and Sciences.

The University of Michigan’s atmospheric science department will be releasing this in the department’s next newsletter:

Paul Gross, AOS class of 1983, received two high honors this summer. American Meteorological Society President Roger Wakimoto recently informed Paul that he has been named a Fellow of the Society. Only a handful of broadcast meteorologists have been honored with Fellow status in the AMS. Paul is a former chair of the AMS Board of Broadcast Meteorology and the AMS Committee on the Station Scientist, and has worked as a meteorologist at Detroit’s NBC affiliated television station, WDIV-TV, since 1983. He is also one of very few broadcast meteorologists who not only has earned the AMS’ Certified Broadcast Meteorologist designation, but also the Certified Consulting Meteorologist designation. Paul is highly regarded internationally for his work, and is also considered one of the leaders in communicating the truth about climate change. Being named AMS Fellow comes just one month after Paul was honored with an Emmy from the Michigan Chapter of the National Association of Television Arts and Sciences. He was recognized for all of the extra science and environmental information he puts into his weathercasts. This is Paul’s eighth career Emmy, among fourteen total Emmy nominations.

“This was a real stunner,” Paul said about the honors. “A total surprise. I had no idea I had even been considered until I received the e-mail from the President of the American Meteorological Society. It still hasn’t sunk in yet. When looking at the list of AMS Fellows, I can’t even begin to describe the feeling of being mentioned in the same sentence as the meteorologists on that list. Some of those men and women are people I have looked up to my entire career, while others are people I only know through their work and contributions to the advancement of our science. This is such a significant, and yet humbling, honor.”

Follow Paul on Twitter here.


Fentzke Named as New GSM at WWMT

Brian Fentzke

WWMT-TV (Kalamazoo) has announced that Brian Fentzke has been promoted from Local Sales Manager to the station’s General Sales Manager.

Fentzke has an extensive marketing background which began at Michigan State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and Advertising. His first job landed him in Detroit as an Assistant Media Planner at Doner Advertising. In 2001 he became a National Sales Rep with Adam Young Television.

After two years, he was recruited to come work for Blair Television where he was a National Sales Rep and represented over 75 stations nationwide which included WOOD-TV, WOTV, and WXSP. His business relationship with WOOD-TV allowed him to move to Grand Rapids and work the local side of the business. He quickly became a successful Local Account Executive during his 11 years at WOOD-TV. Brian joined WWMT-TV (Newschannel 3 and CW7)  in February 2016 where he led the sales team in this ever changing industry.

“Brian has a solid understanding of the business and more importantly understands how new technology will drive ad revenue across all our platforms.” said Fred Corbus, General Manager for WWMT-TV and CW7.

WXYZ Partners on ‘Detroit 67: Perspectives’ Exhibit

WXYZ-TV (Detroit) has announced that they have partnered with the Detroit Historical Society on the exhibit, “Detroit 67: Perspectives,” a ground-breaking exhibition that explores 50 years of the region’s social, cultural, economic and political climate leading up the civil uprising in the summer of 1967.

The exhibit at the Detroit Historical Museum examines Detroit’s history over the past 50 years, focusing on the individuals and organizations dedicated to tackling the challenges that still exist today and embracing the opportunities for progress. “Detroit 67: Perspectives,” is part of a comprehensive community-wide effort that reflects on the past, engages in the present and works to create a shared vision for the future.

Incorporated in the exhibit are three WXYZ videos. One video depicts life in Detroit in the summer of 1967 and is included in a living room display that gives museum goers a chance to experience the civil unrest in July of 1967 through television reports from those days. A second video explores the events that shaped Detroit in the years after the 1967 rebellion.

A third video is embedded in the final phase of the exhibit that focuses on moving the region forward. The WXYZ Detroit 2020 video is presented by 7 Action News Anchor Carolyn Clifford, a native Detroiter. It includes outreach opportunities available to Metro Detroiters and encourages people to get involved in the effort to improve the region.

“We have an opportunity and an obligation to be a catalyst for positive change as we help move our region forward,” said Mike Murri, Vice-President and General Manager of WXYZ and WMYD. “We hope through this partnership, we can work to unify our region and inspire people to take action to keep our community strong and vibrant.”

“The Detroit Historical Society is pleased to partner with WXYZ to help our community look back to move forward,” said Bob Bury, Executive Director of the Detroit Historical Society. “Our partnership provided key historical coverage from 1967 that is part of our groundbreaking exhibit and WXYZ’s commitment to looking forward has helped Detroit 67 take this experience outside the museum walls and into the community as a catalyst for change.”

The exhibit is the centerpiece of “Detroit 67: Looking Back to Move Forward,” a five-year project engaging hundreds of thought leaders, scholars, community partners, businesses, the nonprofit and policy community, and residents of all backgrounds and perspectives.
The Detroit Historical Museum is located at 5401 Woodward and is open 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

(photograph courtesy of Morley Companies, Inc.)

Arbitrators Side With Radio and Reduce SESAC License Fees

The Radio Music License Committee (“RMLC”) has announced terms of a settlement agreement that brings an end to almost three years of antitrust litigation commenced by the RMLC against SESAC. This agreement is related to the public performance by radio stations of musical works in the SESAC repertory.

The settlement is historic insofar as it represents the first time in SESAC’s 85-year history with radio broadcasters that the performing right organization’s license fees will be subject to determination by a third-party arbitration panel. The highlights of the settlement include:

  • In the absence of a voluntary agreement on industry rates, the parties will participate in binding arbitration to set reasonable license fees to be offered the radio industry through the RMLC.  The binding arbitration period will encompass 22 years commencing 2016 and no historic SESAC rates may receive precedential value.
  • SESAC’s rates will be frozen at existing 2015 levels, with no further rate changes until the parties’ negotiations or arbitration are concluded covering rates for the license term 2016 through 2018.
  • SESAC will continue to offer its existing All-Talk Amendment discount of 75 percent.
  • SESAC will refrain from pursuing pending audit claims or instigating new audits.
  • The RMLC will be reimbursed by SESAC for the legal fees it incurred in prosecuting the antitrust case against SESAC.
  • The scope of rights to be covered under future SESAC licenses will mirror the coverage that traditional operators currently enjoy with SESAC’s competitors (ASCAP and BMI), and SESAC commits to consolidating (as of 2016) its current three separate license structure for over-the-air, HD radio and streaming into a single license.
  • SESAC’s writer and publisher affiliates will have greater ability to license works directly to radio station operators.
  • In terms of pressing copyright infringement claims against non-licensed stations, SESAC will honor more stringent notice requirements.
  • SESAC will enhance its online repertory search offerings in order to support more user-friendly identification of SESAC works.
  • SESAC will facilitate a process that will enable the RMLC to achieve funding to support the cost of future arbitrations.

The immediate impact of this settlement is that, pending resolution of license fees effective as of 2016, stations will not have exposure to further SESAC rate increases and the industry now has the opportunity to obtain sustained SESAC fee relief. Stations wishing to avail themselves of the benefits of the settlement will need to execute an authorization form [to be mailed out shortly.

In announcing the agreement, RMLC Chairman Ed Christian said, “Litigation is always a last resort, but the RMLC felt compelled to file this lawsuit in order to impose some rate setting parameters upon SESAC that would mirror the antitrust consent decree process that has been in place with ASCAP and BMI for decades and that has achieved equitable license fees for the industry.

Echoing this sentiment, the RMLC’s Vice-Chairman, John VerStandig, stated “This settlement effectively bars SESAC from arbitrarily seeking unreasonably high rates from a radio operator at the risk of copyright infringement exposure. The process of arriving at reasonable fees now agreed to eliminates that exposure.”

Christian further noted that “the RMLC received excellent representation in its antitrust action from lead counsel Margaret Zwisler and her team at the Washington, DC firm of Latham & Watkins. The RMLC’s longstanding music licensing counsel, Bruce Rich, of the New York City firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, acted as settlement agent to negotiate the final terms of the settlement.”

Blarney Stone Broadcasting Announces New Line Up on WQON

Following the retirement of Dave “Big Dog” Sherbert, from WQON-FM (Grayling), Blarney Stone Broadcasting has announced a new on-air line-up for the station.

The new schedule, effective this week, moves station co-owner Jerry Coyne from afternoons to the midday slot formerly occupied by Sherbert.  Coyne’s new show title will be “J.C.’s Midday Mind Trip” and will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Coyne follows morning personality J.J.

Jomarie “Jomama” Leone

Replacing Coyne in the 3 to 7 p.m. afternoon slot is “Jomama’s Joy Ride” with former weekend air personality Jomarie Leone.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to be able to move Jomama from weekends to our weekday afternoon time slot, and I’m sure her listeners are just as excited,” said Sheryl Coyne, president of Blarney Stone Broadcasting, which owns WQON-FM and several other stations in Northern Michigan. “She is a unique and interesting voice and as I know, people loved Jerry’s show. I know Jomama will develop develop her own faithful following.”

A successful voice actor, Leone holds a master’s degree in theatre arts and produces and directs shows for the Kirtland Center for the Performing Arts. She was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and spent her high school years in the Rocky Mountain town of St. Maries, Idaho. She has two children, both actors, and spends her free time on the golf course.

J.C., meantime, looks forward to his new time slot, though it pains him to leave the friends who listened to his show every morning.

“But this move is for the good of the station,” he said. “I’m confident that Jomama will continue to grow what we’ve built over the years here. And honestly, my on-air time represented just a fraction of my duties with the company. This will afford me more time to commit to helping Sheryl with the business end of things here.”

The station is also introducing Weekend Request Fest with Roadrunner, Randy Long, on Saturday’s from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and Sunday’s from noon-6 p.m.


Dave & Chuck The Freak Expand to Boston

Top L-R: WRIF-FM Morning Personalities Dave Hunter, Chuck “the Freak,” Lisa Way, and Andy Green. Bottom L-R: Jason Watson (phone screener and video editor) and James Campbell (show producer)

Beasley Media Group, Inc.,
has announced that the company’s Detroit-based WRIF-FM Dave & Chuck the Freak Morning Show will now be simulcast on the company’s WBOS-FM (ALT 92.9) in Boston, effective July 24.

The consistently rated #1 award-winning morning show will be heard in both markets from 5:30 to 10:30 a.m. Monday through Friday.

The Dave & Chuck the Freak Morning Show, known for its unique style of humor and banter, along with heavy social media interaction with fans, will provide wicked laughs and entertainment weekday mornings for Boston listeners.

Dave Hunter and Charles Urquhart (along with show member Lisa Way) began working together in April of 2001 on Windsor, Canada’s 89X (CIMX 88.7 FM) until November of 2012. The show officially debuted on the WRIF-FM airwaves in May of 2013. Since then, they’ve added Cohost Andy Green, Producer James Campbell and Video Editor Jason Watson.

“We have been eager to expand Dave and Chuck’s content beyond Detroit and I couldn’t be more thrilled that it all starts in Boston,” said Beasley Media Group Executive Vice President of Programming Justin Chase. “This is a market where their genre of show has been very successful in the past and I’m certain Boston will love D&C!”

“We are continually amazed at how far the show has progressed over the years and are so excited to take it to the next level on ALT 92.9 in Boston,” said Dave Hunter. “We love the city and can’t wait to get some Boston folks on the air with us every morning.”

“The Dave & Chuck the Freak show is both funny and relatable, and its cast is made up of masterful storytellers with an eye for the extraordinary,” said Beasley Media Boston Director of Programming Cadillac Jack. “When you combine their natural talent, great chemistry and impeccable work ethic, the results are unparalleled and we’re especially excited to welcome them to ALT 92.9!”

Detroit Air Personality Bob Bauer Passes

Radio and Records Newspaper – January 19, 1990.

radio personality Bob Bauer passed away July 21 at his home in Pinckney.  He was 63 years old.

Bauer was a 1979 graduate of Specs Howard School of Media Arts.

WCSX-FM Program Director Doug Podell, who hired Bauer for afternoons when he was PD at WLLZ, remembers Bauer hosting annual food drives by living in a rented house trailer on a prominent metro Detroit street corner for several weeks during the holiday season. Podell told the Detroit Free Press that Bauer “donated his time energy and effort to do that and it turned out to be a lifetime thing for him.”