Category Archives: January 2019

Two Promoted at WDIV

Ro Coppola

WDIV-TV, the Graham Media Group owned NBC affiliate in Detroit, has promoted Ro Coppola to the role of Director of Digital and Enterprise Content. She will supervise the station’s multiplatform expansion of content and distribution across broadcast, desktop, mobile and over-the-top.

Coppola has spent her career in television news with WDIV-Local 4/ClickOnDetroit, starting as a Production Assistant before moving to Sports Producer and then becoming Executive Producer of Special Projects in 2005. She also spearheads news special programming. During her tenure as part of the news leadership team, she has led her team to both ratings and journalistic success.

“We want a talented creator to lead and manage our digital properties and expand our digital footprint. This includes supervising the ClickOnDetroit staff, social media staff and special projects team,” said Vice President and General Manager Marla Drutz. “Ro is the most get it done person I know and what a great story. She started as an intern and now she is part of the leadership team at the station where she got her start.”

The Director of Digital and Enterprise Content will work with the station’s editorial, marketing and sales staff to achieve ambitious goals for the company’s properties.

Coppola is a graduate of Wayne State University.

Also promoted is Jennifer Wallace to the role of Assistant News Director. She is the current Dayside Executive Producer and will be maintaining her role as the newsroom’s watchdog and point person for the team of producers, writers, reporters, anchors and photojournalists. Her new responsibilities will include an elevated role in managing daily news content and coverage, in addition to overseeing special news coverage. She will also work on long term strategic planning initiatives as the current news media landscape evolves.

Wallace earned a B.A. from University of California – Santa Barbara and a J.D. from Boston University. She came to WDIV-Local 4 in 1997 as an Associate Producer and worked her way up the newsroom ladder by becoming a Producer, Nightside Executive Producer and most recently Dayside Executive Producer.

“Jen has done a tremendous job strengthening our news content and being a strong leader for every person who walks into our newsroom,” said News Director Kim Voet. “She is whip smart and has that enviable blend of a likable personality and amazingly strong news judgment.”

Drutz continues, “Our leadership team is dedicated to a relentless pursuit of innovation. The promotions of Ro and Jen further validates our commitment to advancing both the content and the role of local media in the lives of our community and beyond.”

Coppola and Wallace assume their positions immediately.

Lansing’s Deb Hart Leaves Radio for New Challenges

Deb Hart

After 36 years in radio, longtime Lansing radio personality Deb Hart has decided to leave the business to pursue her love of teaching yoga full-time, along with writing books, fiction, non-fiction and even poetry.

In a story in the Lansing State Journal published January 17, Hart said, “While it’s been a wonderful career and wonderful adventure, it’s time to step out of my comfort zone and take on some new challenges.”

For the last seven and a half years, Hart has been co-hosting mornings with Joey Pants on WMMQ-FM.   Prior to that, she was teamed with Tim Barron for many years both on WMMQ and WJXQ-FM.

Hart is a graduate of Specs Howard School of Media Arts.  Her last shift was January 24.

Michigan Broadcaster Tony Flynn Passes

Tony Flynn

The MAB has learned that broadcast legend, Anthony F. “Tony” Flynn, 92, of Hillsdale passed away on January 21.

Flynn is best known for owning and operating WCSR-AM/FM in Hillsdale.

Flynn was born November 15, 1926 in Escanaba, Michigan to William and Loretta Flynn. On July 17, 1947, he married Marian M. Menard and they had five children: Mike (Denise) Flynn of Hillsdale, Pat (Mary) Flynn of Hillsdale, Dan (Dr. Ann Henelt) Flynn of Allegan, Michigan, Tony (Erica) Flynn of Montpelier, Ohio and James “Kelly” (Susan) Flynn of Hillsdale. He was a loving grandfather to eight grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren.

Flynn’s broadcasting career spanned decades. His first break in broadcasting came as an announcing job with WDBC-AM (Escanaba).  He continued work at WDBC through high school and the summer following graduation. He entered Marquette University, Milwaukee to study History, English and Speech from 1945-1946. While attending Marquette, he worked the night shift at WEMP-AM (now WSSP) as an announcer.

Leaving Milwaukee to enter the service, Flynn served a brief stint in the U.S. Air Force. Upon discharge in 1947, he returned to Escanaba to be married and to return to his “alma mater” WDBC, handling everything from news and sports announcing, commercials, selling, writing programs and a “bit of engineering”.

In 1951, Flynn moved to WJPG-AM (now WNFL), Green Bay, Wisconsin to fill the chair vacated by Earl Gillespie when he went to Milwaukee. For six years, he broadcast the Green Bay Packer games on the state network. Coupled with this duty, Flynn also did Wisconsin State League Baseball for three seasons including all play-by-play and spring training interviews from the team’s Florida training base. While with WJPG, he also did news and sportscasts plus commercial announcing throughout his six years stay with the station.

Flynn’s first experience in television consisted of live commercials for a Milwaukee brewery on WBAY-TV (Green Bay).

Leaving Green Bay in July 1957, he came to Milwaukee to handle a series of five-minute news and sportscasts that aired coast-to-coast seventeen times per week on the American Broadcasting Network. Flynn also did the complete coverage of the Miller Open Golf tourney heard nationally over the American Broadcasting Network.

In October 1957, he joined WISN Radio and Television, Milwaukee. As Sports Director, he enjoyed three news and sportscasts daily on the radio and three on television. He also did play-by-play for all Marquette University football and basketball games plus on-the-spot commentary on WISN-TV’s live bowling show.

1961 brought yet another move for Tony and family as his brother, Fahey Flynn (WLS Channel 7 Chicago Newscaster) purchased WBSE, which was later moved to West Street at its current location, becoming WCSR (Community Service Radio); beginning another chapter in Tony’s broadcasting career. Although he was involved in the broadcasting of several sports, his true passion was football. His ability to talk fast led him to play-by-play for the Green Bay Packers as well as the Hillsdale College Chargers.  Flynn (WCSR, Inc.) purchased the station and continued managing, selling, broadcasting and road games which kept Flynn busy, but not too busy to get involved in service clubs and other improvements across Hillsdale County.

An active member of the United Way and the “Yes we can Committee,” Flynn and several other dedicated committee members completed the Marian Flynn Critical Care Unit as well as two other projects to advance the care of compassion at the Hillsdale Community Health Center. He enjoyed several sports, one being golf. He has been an active member at the Hillsdale Golf and Country Club since 1962.

Flynn was inducted into the Hillsdale College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999 for 38 years of broadcasting excellence of Charger Football. He was presented the Book of Golden Deeds from the Exchange Club. He was also a 50 year member of the Kiwanis Club and was also involved with the United Way.

He retired from WCSR Radio in 1999 and spent summers in Hillsdale and winters in Spring Lake, Sun City and most recently St. Petersburg, Florida. His passion was always Hillsdale and Baw Beese Lake where he spent most of his summers.

Flynn was married three times in his life; his high school sweetheart Marian Flynn for 46 years until she passed in 1992, Loretta Smith for five years until she passed and to Marilyn Jacobus from 2008 until 2018.

He was preceded in death by his parents, William and Loretta Flynn; his wives, Marian Flynn and Loretta Smith; son, Daniel Flynn; brothers, Fahey Flynn of Chicago and William Flynn of California and sister, Sr. Joellen Flynn of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.

A special thank you to his amazing aide, Ashley and Grace Hospice of Maumee, Ohio for assisting the family with his care.

A Mass of Christian Burial for Tony Flynn will be held Thursday, January 31, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Hillsdale with Fr. David Reamsnyder officiating. Private interment will take place at St. Anthony Cemetery. The family will receive friends for visitation on Wednesday from 4:00-8:00 p.m. at VanHorn-Eagle Funeral Home in Hillsdale.

Memorial contributions are suggested to the Hillsdale County Community Foundation in memory of Tony or St. Anthony Catholic Church. Please visit www.eaglefuneralhomes.com to leave online condolences.

2019 Update on Super Bowl Advertising and Promotions

Mitchell Stabbe
Mitchell Stabbe

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

For several 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. It’s 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 broadcasts the Super Bowl pays the NFL over $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. The investment seems to pay off for the networks. The Super Bowl broadcast alone generates hundreds of millions of dollars for the networks from advertisers. In addition to the sums paid to have their commercials aired (reported to be 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 from licensing the use of the SUPER BOWL trademark and logo.

Given the value of the Super Bowl franchise, it is not surprising that 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 must 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 other named sporting events, for example, making use of the terms “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, but seeking review of the NFL’s play may be risky, time-consuming and expensive.

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 unlicensed 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 NFL may make a claim directly against the advertiser, as well as against a broadcaster or other news organization that publishes the ad. As a result, many broadcasters may not wish to 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.”

Below 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 may have a public performance license to show television programs on their premises that would give it the right to show the Super Bowl broadcast to its patrons (when no admission is charged), 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 Super Bowl parties, provided that no NFL logos are used.

Sweepstakes or Giveaways (Naming or Prizes): Promoters should avoid incorporating “Super Bowl” in the name of any sweepstakes or giveaway or as a prominent feature of their advertising. 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, CBS), it may want to produce a television program about the game. In years past, the NFL or a local team has 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 objects to naming a pre-Super Bowl television program about the game if the program incorporates “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 outlets 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 or used in the special advertising.

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 litigation expenses.

Masked Advertisements: A broadcaster who accepts an advertisement wishing good luck to the players or congratulating the winning team, but does not expressly promote the advertiser’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 would not be surprising to see a similar claim made by a sports league based on its trademark rights.

Risk Analysis: The policy underlying protection of trademarks is to protect consumers from deception and prevent customer 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.

When Disaster Strikes Your Station? Learn from Real World Experiences at the #MABshow

Learn how some local stations handled unfortunate disasters, how they recovered and the lessons they learned during the 2019 Great Lakes Media Show.

Join Don Backus of Rohde & Schwarz, Kevin Dunaway and Pete Ludviksen of Heritage Broadcasting, Brad Lanser and Bob VanProyen of Lanser Broadcasting and Ed Trombley of Munn and Reese for this informative and interactive panel discussion: “Lessons Learned Through Disasters.”

The 2019 Great Lakes Media Show will take place March 5 and 6 at the Lansing Center in downtown Lansing.  Register to attend today!

Benson to Ask for AG Opinion on Petition Signature Changes

Jocelyn Benson

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson will ask Attorney General Dana Nessel to issue an opinion on the constitutionality of a new law that changed the rules on how organizations must gather petition signatures for proposed constitutional amendments and initiatives.

The new law puts limits on how many signatures gathered in a congressional district count towards the final total needed to place either an initiated act or constitutional amendment on the ballot. No congressional district can contribute more than 15 percent of the total number of signatures needed for a proposal, even if far more signatures are gathered in that district.

Opponents of the law argue that it would be difficult to implement as it would change how signatures are collected from by county to by congressional district. Supporters of the bill argue that the measure helps prevent financial interests coming into the state to put their priorities on the ballot.

Pirate Act Reintroduced

According to a report in Radio Ink, Congressmen Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Guss Bilirakis (R-FL) reintroduced the Pirate Act legislation this Congress. The  bill increases penalties for anyone caught engaging in unlawful radio broadcasting.

In a statement about the bill, Congressman Tonko stated, “Protecting our public airwaves is critical for preserving community safety, whether for first responders or for working parents who don’t want to expose their children to uncontrolled hate and obscenity. Whether a frequency is being used in emergencies to coordinate community response and save lives or by parents who just want to tune their car radios with their kids in the car, our communities are better served when broadcasting is governed by the rule of law. I am hopeful that my new House colleagues will join in support of the PIRATE Act and we can pass this commonsense legislation without delay.”

The Pirate Act was referred to the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

MAB, AMA Will Mix in Royal Oak

The MAB is partnering up with The American Marketing Association for a fun night out in Royal Oak! Join us for an opportunity to socialize and connect with professionals within all areas of marketing and broadcasting. Meet board members, expand your network, hear about upcoming events and learn how you can get involved.

Stop by after work and feel free to bring a colleague! Light appetizers will be provided and a cash bar will be available.

There is no charge for MAB members to attend.

Click here to register.  

10 Ways to Promote Your Radio Station’s Mobile App

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

Our sister company, jācapps, has been building mobile apps for radio stations for over ten years. After working with hundreds of radio stations on their mobile app strategies, one thing has become abundantly clear: the radio stations with the most mobile app downloads are the ones who promote their apps the most. It’s not enough to simply build an app and hope that your listeners will find it in the app store; you have to tell them it’s there. The mantra, “If you build it, they will come,” may work in baseball, but it doesn’t work with apps.

With that in mind, here are ten ways your station can promote its mobile app.

1. Create a Vanity URL: Create an easy-to-remember URL that redirects people to your station’s mobile app, such as wkrp.com/app. You will want to create this as a “technology redirect,” meaning a link that detects what operating system the visitor is using and redirects them to the iOS or Android app store accordingly. You will use this vanity URL in both your online and offline promotion of the app.

2. On  Your Airwaves: Your DJs should frequently plug the station’s mobile app in live on-air mentions. Also, create production elements, such as promos or sweepers, that promote the app. These should all direct people to the app’s vanity URL: “W-K-R-P-dot-com-slash-app.”

2. Email Database: Send an email blast out to your database with the link.

3. Mobile Version of the Website: When people come to your website on a mobile browser, you know they’re on their phones. This is an ideal time to serve them up a link to your station’s mobile app. Use ads that only appear on the mobile version of the site.

4. Street Team Appearance Contests: When your street team members are out and about, have them require people install the station’s app and show their phones before allowing listeners to enter contests or play games.

5. Station Vehicle: The words, “Download our app!” should appear on the exterior of your station vehicle…

6. Banners: …and on the banners that your street team hangs at station events…

7. Pop-Up Tents: …and on the tent.

8. Wristbands, Tickets and Hand Stamps: If your station hosts events such as concerts, use entry as opportunity to promote your mobile app.

9. Stickers: Promote your station’s mobile app on the sticker itself or on the peel-off backing.

10. Email Signature: Create a standardized email signature for everybody in your station to use. Include the vanity URL to your station’s mobile app.

The success of your radio station’s mobile app will depend on how much you promote it. Take advantage of every opportunity that you can find.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at [email protected] or 1-800-968-7622.