Category Archives: January 2018

Michigan Senate Passes Tax Cut Legislation

According to a report in Gongwer, Senate Republicans unanimously passed legislation to increase the personal exemption for taxpayers.  SB 748 increases the personal exemption to $5,000 by 2021. The legislation is designed to avoid an unintended $1.5 billion windfall for the state in response to the new federal tax law, which would eliminate the current $4,000 Michigan income tax personal exemption for taxpayers and dependents, an exemption tied to the federal personal exemption, which will end under the new law. The estimated cost of the tax cut is $210 million, with the average cut for a family of four being about $125.

The Michigan House Tax Policy Committee also has their version of the tax cut, which raises the personal exemption to $4,800 and create a $100 tax credit for seniors 62 and older. Both plans provide deeper tax cuts than the increase to a $4,500 personal exemption by 2021 Governor Rick Snyder has proposed.

WEMU Hosts State of the Station Breakfast

Vocalist Sarah Casello

WEMU hosted its sixth annual State of the Station breakfast  Thursday, January 25, at Weber’s Inn in Ann Arbor.  Vocalist Sarah Casello sang with the Paul Keller ensemble and Jacobs Media VP/General Manager Paul Jacobs delivered the keynote address to WEMU’s key stakeholders that included elected officials, EMU administrators, arts leaders, and WEMU major donors.

WEMU Manager Molly Motherwell gave an update on WEMU’s highlights and accomplishments from 2017, which included a yearlong celebration of WEMU’s 40 years of jazz broadcasting, a $133,000 increase in donations from the previous year, new content partnerships with the Civ City initiative, the Arts Alliance of Washtenaw County and Concentrate Media, and the retirement of WEMU’s award-winning music director Linda Yohn.

WEMU’s goals and challenges for 2018 are to strengthen and expand its major donor program, address its aging infrastructure and equipment, and maintain its strong presence as part of the local civic and cultural community through more content partnerships, more local news coverage, and an ongoing commitment to presenting jazz and blues from live and local hosts.

New “Blue Alert” EAS Warning Order Published in the Federal Register

David Oxenford - Color
David Oxenford

By: David Oxenford, Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP,
BroadcastLawBlog.com

As we wrote here, the FCC recently adopted a new Blue Alert code to be added to the warning codes in the EAS system. This code is to be used for warnings about imminent danger to law enforcement authorities. The FCC’s Order (available in full here) has now been published in the Federal Register, making the rule changes effective. However, the FCC has provided one year for new equipment or upgrades to existing equipment to be rolled out, meaning that broadcasters will need to implement these new EAS codes and be prepared to use them by January 18, 2019. Start your preparations to implement these new codes now.

David Oxenford is MAB’s Washington Legal Counsel and provides members with answers to their legal questions with the MAB Legal Hotline. Access information here. (Members only access).

There are no additional costs for the call; the advice is free as part of your MAB membership.

The Power of the Human Voice

dicktaylor
Dick Taylor

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Dick Taylor,  CRMC/CDMC
DickTaylorBlog.com

I recently saw the latest Star Wars movie “The Last Jedi.” It was powerful in many ways, not the least of which was because it was the final film for actress Carrie Fisher, who was excellent.

In film, the way to connect with the theater goer is with close-ups of the faces of the actors. It’s powerful and we respond, as human beings, to another person’s face.

When radio was born, people could not see faces, and the connection radio listeners would make would be with people’s voices.

Radio People’s Memories

I belong to a bunch of radio groups on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. One of the things these groups have in common is a desire to have things be the way they used to be, like they were when they were growing up. (Spoiler Alert: Ain’t gonna happen)

The other thing that they share, is that the memories everyone has that are the most vivid about radio, are about the people’s voices they listened to.

What made their favorite radio station(s) so loved, were the personalities.

What Makes a Voice Attractive?

In the early days of radio, microphones and everything they were connected up to, to transmit the human voice, were by today’s standards, pretty crude. Men with deep, strong, resonating voices were preferred for traveling through the ether.

As technology improved, other voices entered.

Listeners would now find themselves attracted to people who sounded more like they sounded. Research shows that the reason apparently is because it makes us feel like we’re part of a certain social group.

“The voice is an amazingly flexible tool that we use to construct our identity,” says Dr. Molly Babel, a linguistics professor at the University of British Columbia.

Is a Pleasing Voice More Attractive than a Pleasing Face?

When we hear an appealing voice, our feelings of attraction are heightened. Attractive voices cause us to perceive those individuals with more pleasing personalities.

So, while the real emotion in movies is transmitted via close-ups of the face, on the radio it is the human voice.

So, which is more dominate? A face or a voice?

Turns out, researchers tell us, that “the effects of vocal attractiveness can actually be stronger than the effects of physical attractiveness when each dimension appears alone” (Zuckerman et al., 1991).

Alexa, Siri, Cortana

I’m sure the power of the human voice was not lost on Amazon, Apple or Microsoft as they developed their AI digital voice assistants.

My fiancé Susan gifted me an Echo Dot for Christmas. (I already have been using Siri on my iPhone.) The ease with which it sets up and you begin using it, is remarkable. It quickly becomes a member of the family.

When going to bed our first evening with Alexa in our home, Sue said “Alexa, Good Night.” And Alexa responded with “Good Night, Sweet Dreams.”

Sue came into the bed room walking a cloud beaming how real, how sweet, how comforting it made her feel.

And I knew exactly what she meant.

Anyone who has one of the devices will too.

Radio Voices

The power of the personalities on your airwaves are critical to your station’s future success in 2018. How do their voices make your listeners feel?

It can happen in many different ways.

Let me offer a couple of examples: It can be via stationality like the JACK format, (done very well in Nashville) or it can be like the voices and style cultivated by NPR.

It just doesn’t happen by accident.

It takes planning and continuous execution of the plan.

The Battle for Attention

In the end, every form of media is battling for attention.

And to paraphrase the lesson taught in “The Last Jedi,” radio needs to stop trying to defeat what it hates about the competition and save what it loves about radio.

Reprinted by permission.

Dick Taylor has been “Radio Guy” all his life and is a former professor of broadcasting at the School of Journalism & Broadcasting at Western Kentucky University (WKU) in Bowling Green, Kentucky and he’s currently seeking his next adventure.  Dick shares his thoughts on radio and media frequently at https://dicktaylorblog.com.

How a Content Calendar Can Improve Your Radio Station’s Blog

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

When I was the Music Director at 107.7 The End in Seattle, I spent every minute of my workday trying to achieve the right mix of on-air content. Like most radio stations, we had expensive software that enabled me to a balance of new and old, hard and soft, fast and slow. The goal was to create an on-air product that appealed to a wide swath of listeners.

The goal of your radio station’s website is the same. But do you invest as much energy into getting the mix of content right?

Just like the music scheduling software you use for your on-air content, it’s helpful to have a tool to get the right mix of online content. Fortunately, it’s not going to cost you anything.

The Weekly Web Meeting and the Content Calendar

Radio stations should carve out time with the appropriate staff members for a weekly meeting to plan out the upcoming week’s blogposts. Spend the first half of the meeting on old business: review your website, social media, and email analytics, much like you would review callout research in a music meeting.

Next, turn to new business: The analytics you just reviewed can help you decide what new blogposts to write. In place of music scheduling software, use a spreadsheet to schedule the week’s blogposts. I recommend posting this spreadsheet as a shareable document in the cloud — as a Google Spreadsheet, for example — so everybody can log in at any time and see the latest version. This way, you don’t have to email back and forth about every blogpost.

Download a Content Calendar Template

In your weekly web meeting, decide what topics you want to cover in the blog during the upcoming week. For example:

  • What events are happening in town?
  • What concerts are coming up?
  • What new albums will be released?
  • What holidays are around the corner?

More Blogpost Ideas

Once you’ve decided what blogposts to write, assign the posts to your staff members with the appropriate due dates.

Encourage your staff to check the Content Calendar regularly throughout the week. This way, not only will your blog writers will know what’s due when, but your on-air staff will know when there’s new blogposts that they can talk about on the air.

In short, it’s time that your radio station put the same amount of careful planning into your online content as you do your on-air content. A Content Calendar can help you do that.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

WPHM Revamps Lineup

Caleb Gordon, News and Program Director of Radio First’s WPHM-AM (Port Huron), has announced a new lineup for the talk radio station.  The station has added Hugh Hewitt, Bloomberg Radio and  Tom Sullivan to their lineup, plus has returned Dave Ramsey to Blue Water Area airwaves.

“We surveyed our listeners and found they wanted more news and talk programs on WPHM,” Gordon said. The new programming will take effect January 22 following the Paul Miller morning show.

The Hugh Hewitt Show is an interview heavy talk show about the biggest stories of the day. Author of five books, Hewitt continues to write widely on diverse topics from politics to religion to culture for magazines and newspapers across the United States. He is a frequent contributor on television’s most watched programs including CNN, Fox News, Nightline and Meet the Press. The Hugh Hewitt Show airs weekdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on WPHM.

Amy Morris and Peter Barns anchor Bloomberg Radio’s Politics, Policy and Power show from their Washington, D.C. Bureau. Amy Morris, an Edward R. Murrow award winning radio journalist, discusses how decisions made in Washington and on Wall Street affect your daily life. She is joined by Peter Barns who was an anchor on the Fox Business Network and CNBC before joining Bloomberg. Politics, Policy and Power will air on WPHM from 1 to 3 p.m.

The Tom Sullivan Show is a caller-driven, topical talk show for the drive home. He’s well known for the near-decade he spent pulling double duty on TV and radio with FOX Business Channel and KFBK Radio in Sacramento, California. Sullivan has been the top-rated talk host in Sacramento since July 1988. Tom got his first taste of network radio as a regular fill-in for the most listened to talk show in the world, The Rush Limbaugh Program, for a number of years. The Tom Sullivan Show airs Weekday afternoons from 3 to 5 p.m.

Dennis Stuckey will continue to host his local sports talk show weekday evenings, which will move to 5 p.m. Stuckey also will continue coverage of local high school and SC4 sports, which will air on wphm.net and select games will also be on AM 1380. He will be followed by national sports talker Mark Malone at 7 p.m. Dave Ramsey returns to WPHM weeknights at 10 p.m., dishing out his common sense financial advice.

Radio First’s Caleb Gordon joined WPHM as News and Program Director in October. Gordon says the station will feature hourly updates from ABC, the Michigan News Network, Bloomberg Radio, and more local news reports throughout the day. “We will continue to air sports programming nights and weekends,” says Gordon, which includes play-by-play teams such as the Red Wings, Tigers, Lions, Pistons and Spartans. WPHM also streams live at www.wphm.net and on the station’s mobile application

A complete schedule of WPHM’s new programs and biographies of new personalities can be found at http://www.wphm.net/wphm-schedule

Julie Zoumbaris Named VP/GM at WNEM-TV

Julie Zoumbaris

Meredith Corporation has announced that Julie Zoumbaris has been named Vice President and General Manager of WNEM TV (Saginaw), effective Monday, January 22.

Zoumbaris replaces Al Blinke, who recently retired after a career in local broadcasting spanning more than 40-years.

“Julie was an instrumental member of the TV5 sales team for more than a decade,” said, Patrick McCreery, Meredith Local Media Group Executive Vice President of Operations. “She is an exceptional leader with a strong record of growing market share and increasing revenue. We are excited to welcome Julie back to the Meredith family.”

Most recently, Zoumbaris served as the Director of Sales for WRTV in Indianapolis where she led her team to the best Indy 500 sales in station history. Additionally, Zoumbaris worked as the Director of Sales at WISH-TV in Indianapolis, where she helped launch the market’s first live and local style show with more $1 million in TV and digital revenue.

In addition to her roles at WRTV and WISH-TV, Zoumbaris held sales management positions at WDTN-TV in Dayton, Ohio, and WEYI-TV in Flint. She worked in various sales roles for 14 years at WNEM.

Zoumbaris earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

2018 Update on Super Bowl Advertising and Promotions

Mitchell Stabbe
Mitchell Stabbe

By: Mitchell Stabbe, Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP via the Broadcast Law Blog

For many years, we have posted guidelines about engaging in or accepting advertising or promotions that directly or indirectly allude to the Super Bowl without a license from the NFL. We are at that time of year again, so here is an updated version of our prior posts.

The Super Bowl means big bucks. It is estimated that each of the three television networks that broadcast the Super Bowl pay the NFL in excess of $1 billion per year for the right to broadcast NFL games through 2022, including the right to broadcast the big game on a rotating basis once every three years. Of course, the game generates hundreds of millions of dollars for the networks from advertisers. In addition to the sums paid to have their commercials seen (approximately $5 million for a 30-second spot), many advertisers spend more than $1 million to produce each ad. In addition, the NFL receives hundreds of millions of dollars in income from licensing the use of the SUPER BOWL trademark and logo.

Not surprisingly, the NFL is extremely aggressive in protecting its golden goose from anything it views as unauthorized efforts to trade off the goodwill associated with the game. Accordingly, with the coin toss almost upon us, advertisers need to take special care before publishing ads or engaging in promotional activities that refer to the Super Bowl. Broadcasters and news publishers have greater latitude than other businesses, but still need to be wary of engaging in activities that the NFL may view as trademark or copyright infringement. (These risks also apply to the use of “Final Four” or “March Madness” in connection with the upcoming NCAA Basketball Tournament.)

Simply put, the NFL views any commercial activity that uses or refers to the Super Bowl to draw attention as a violation of its trademark rights. Many of the activities challenged by the league undoubtedly deserve a yellow flag. However, the NFL’s rule book defines trademark violations very broadly. If anyone were willing to throw the red flag to challenge the league’s position, a review from the booth might reverse some of those calls.

Advertising that Refers to the Super Bowl: Under trademark law, use of a third party’s trademark is considered to be permissible “nominative fair use” if the use does not suggest a relationship between the advertiser and the trademark owner and the trademarked goods or services cannot be readily identified without using the trademark. Nevertheless, the NFL objects to any unauthorized advertising that refers to the Super Bowl. For example, the use in advertising of taglines such as “Stock Up for the Super Bowl” for beer or snacks or “Get the Best View of the Super Bowl” for big-screen TVs has routinely led to the prompt issuance of cease-and-desist letters. The claim may be made directly against the advertiser, as well as against a broadcaster or other news organization that publishes the ad. As a result, many broadcasters should not accept advertising that specifically refers to the Super Bowl unless the advertiser first shows that it has NFL approval.

Other Marks: To overcome these problems, many advertisers now replace any reference to the “Super Bowl” with “The Big Game.” When advertisers commonly began using this tactic, NFL Properties tried to register THE BIG GAME as a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. (The NFL also has federal trademark protection for “Super Sunday,” “Gameday,” “Back to Football,” “1st and GOAL” and over a hundred other marks.) Over twenty different parties threatened to oppose the application for THE BIG GAME and the NFL voluntarily abandoned the application. We are not aware of any reported claims by the NFL against advertisers based upon the use of “The Big Game.”

Following are some examples of other activities that create a significant risk of an objection by the NFL:

“Super Bowl” Events or Parties: A bar or restaurant that has a public performance license to show television programs on their premises has the right to show the Super Bowl broadcast to its patrons, but if it uses the words “Super Bowl” in its advertising to attract customers, the league will object. Similarly, a company should not be listed as the sponsor of a “Super Bowl” event or party. And, under copyright law, a fee should not be charged to watch the game.

Famously, in 2007, the NFL sent a cease and desist letter to an Indiana church group that had used “Super Bowl” to describe a viewing party for the game and would charge $3.00 per person to cover the cost of snacks. The NFL, however, will not object to a church viewing party for the Super Bowl if it is held in the church’s usual place of worship and no fee is charged for attending. Churches can, however, request donations to help cover the cost of the event. In addition, the League will not object to religious organizations that refer to their events as a Super Bowl party, provided that no NFL logos are used.

Sweepstakes or Giveaways (Naming or Prizes): Any sweepstakes or giveaway that incorporates “Super Bowl” in its name or as a prominent feature of its advertising should be avoided. Further, the NFL takes the position that game tickets cannot be offered as a prize or award. In most situations, the “first sale” doctrine under trademark law provides that the buyer of goods may do whatever it wants with its purchase, including reselling it or giving it away. Faced with this argument some years ago, the NFL (as well as the other sports leagues) now includes language on the back of tickets, prohibiting their use as part of a sweepstakes, giveaway or other promotion. While some might argue that the purchaser of a ticket will not even see this language until after the purchase is completed and therefore the terms have not been agreed to and are not binding, this argument has not precluded sports leagues from bringing claims when broadcasters have tried to do unauthorized giveaways with tickets bought on the open market. Tickets to an event are legally considered a license to attend the event, rather than a good that is sold, and therefore entry can be conditioned on any basis that does not violate public policy. Given the actions we have seen taken by sports leagues in the past, we would caution against contests involving ticket giveaways unless authorized by the NFL.

Names of Programs: Even if a broadcaster is not with the network that carries the Super Bowl (this year, NBC), it may want to produce a television program about the game. In years past, the NFL has repeatedly challenged local broadcasters that include the name of a team in a weekly program dedicated to discussions about the team. Thus, it would not be surprising if the NFL similarly objected to naming a pre-Super Bowl television program about the game if it incorporated “Super Bowl” in the title. (As discussed above, there is a strong argument that such naming constitutes permissible “nominative fair use.”)

Special Advertising: Newspapers and online news providers frequently have a special “section” that is devoted to coverage of the Super Bowl. The organization should be able to solicit advertising to accompany its stories, just as it does for any of its news reporting. It would be risky, however, to have an advertiser “sponsor” the coverage, particularly if “Super Bowl” is part of the name of the section.

Disclaimers: A disclaimer such as, “Not an Official Sponsor of the Super Bowl” or “This Advertisement (or Event) Has Not Been Licensed or Authorized by the NFL” will not ward off a cease-and-desist letter. Moreover, in the event of litigation, it is unlikely to provide a defense to a claim of infringement. And, even if the defense were ultimately successful, the defendant would still incur significant attorneys’ fees and other costs of litigation.

Masked Advertisements: A broadcaster who accepts an advertisement that wishes good luck to the players or congratulates the winning team, without expressly promoting the business’s goods or services, still runs a substantial risk. In recent years, some businesses that have run “congratulatory” pieces in honor of some achievement by an individual athlete have been sued. In one case, a jury rejected the defense that the business was engaged in protected non-commercial speech and awarded $8.9 million in damages. Although this verdict was based on a violation of the athlete’s right of publicity, it does not take much imagination to see a similar claim being made by a sports league based on its trademark rights.

Risk Analysis: The policy underlying protection of trademarks is to protect consumers against consumer confusion. That said, is there a meaningful difference between, for example, an ad that invites consumers to “Stock up for the Super Bowl” as opposed to one that says, “Stock up for the Big Game”? Do they convey different messages? Is one more likely than the other to confuse consumers into believing that the product being advertised is sponsored by, endorsed by, or otherwise affiliated with the NFL? Probably not.

So, why is the NFL so aggressive? The answer almost certainly lies in the fact that “official sponsors” of the Super Bowl and other trademark licensees would not be willing to pony up the huge sums they pay if a competitor could freely use the “Super Bowl” trademark or the game to promote itself without also paying a license fee. This risk is particularly high for those who have been promised exclusivity in a given category and the right to promote themselves as “The Official ——– of the Super Bowl.” Thus, the NFL has a huge incentive to prevent any advertising that may cross the line. Aggressive enforcement also has a significant deterrent effect on businesses who might be tempted to engage in Super Bowl-related advertising or promotions.

News organizations, however, have the right to use “Super Bowl” or other NFL marks in reporting on the game. (If they could not, viewers, listeners or readers would find themselves very confused!) That said, a news organization that wants press credentials for the game faces an additional risk if it accepts unauthorized Super Bowl-related advertising. Although news organizations are not required to have permission to report on an event, as a practical matter, their ability to do so from inside the stadium will be hampered by a refusal by the NFL to issue press credentials. (And, yes, we have seen professional sports leagues make such a threat.)

For these reasons, for most broadcasters and other news organizations, the better course is to be aware of and avoid any possible pitfalls, rather than run the risk of litigation.

FCC Chairman Looks to Eliminate Paper Filing Requirements

According to a report in InsideRadio, Federal Communications Commission Chair Ajit Pai has scheduled a vote this month on scaling back paper filing requirements for broadcasters. The FCC is proposing that both commercial and noncommercial radio and television stations no longer be required to file an array of documents including those that relate to ownership or control of a station, such as time brokerage and joint sales agreements—and in the case of TV stations any network affiliation agreements. “While paper filings may have previously been the most efficient mechanism for ensuring that the Commission and the public had ready access to these materials, we believe that is no longer the case,” stated Pai. If approved, the proposal would launch a formal rulemaking to scale back the station filing demands.

FCC Announces New Email Address to Contact Enforcement Bureau

On January 9, the FCC Enforcement Bureau announced, that in order to streamline the operation of the Enforcement Bureau’s Field Offices, the Bureau’s Office of the Field Director has established a new email address, field@fcc.gov, for the public to use when responding to an enforcement action originating from one of the Bureau’s Field Offices.

New enforcement actions will instruct recipients to send responses to field@fcc.gov rather than to email addresses that are associated
with the Bureau’s three Regions.

For purposes of this Public Notice, an “enforcement action” is any Commission or Bureau action identified by a case number beginning with “EB-FIELD.” For further information, please contact field@fcc.gov.