WXMI-TV (Grand Rapids) Chief Meteorologist Joe Kopecek is leaving West Michigan TV next month.
His decision to leave the station comes after the recent launch of Platinum Property Solutions, a new exterior cleaning business he co-owns with a neighbor. His final day will be March 23.
Kopecek joined WXMI in November 2014. He has been forecasting Michigan weather on TV for a total of 27 years.
Before WXMI, he worked at WZZM-TV (Grand Rapids) and WILX -TV (Lansing). Prior to working in television, Joe worked for the National Weather Service in Ann Arbor, Mich., Fort Worth, Texas, and Anchorage, Alaska.
“Joe has been forecasting weather for more than three decades in Michigan, which I am pretty sure automatically qualifies him as an icon in television and meteorology,” said WXMI news director Brooks Blanton. “We are very proud that he is wrapping up his career at FOX 17. I want to thank Joe for his time at FOX 17 and all of those years keeping Michiganders informed about the weather and how it impacted their daily lives.”
Originally from Lake Orion, Mich., Joe attended Central Michigan University, where he earned a bachelors degree in meteorology.
Long-time WZZM-TV (Grand Rapids) anchor, Lauren Stanton has announced that she is leaving the station after 18 years as co-anchor of the morning news.
She is stepping away from the camera in May to join her husband John with their business Retro Boat Rentals in Saugatuck. The couple started the business last summer.”
It’s been a wonderful 18 years at WZZM. I met my best friends here, and loved working with my friends and amazing coworkers, and I’m so thankful to the viewers for their friendship and support over the years,” Stanton said.
Stanton graduated from Central Michigan University and worked two stints in Lansing, where she was an award-winning reporter, before coming to Grand Rapids in 2000. “Viewers have come to love Lauren’s distinctive laugh, her genuine love for people, and her ability to ‘keep it real,’” said Janet Mason, WZZM 13 President & General Manager. “We will all miss Lauren, but understand her desire to not wake-up at 2:30 a.m. any longer, and the excitement of starting a new chapter in her life.”
WKAR-FM local “Morning Edition” host Brooke Allen has announced that she is leaving the East Lansing NPR affiliate and rejoining WWJ-AM (Detroit). Allen’s last appearance on WKAR was March 12.
Allen joined WKAR in July of 2016 after serving as an anchor and reporter at WWJ-AM. At WWJ, her projects included “Second Chance,” a broadcast series that sought to provide those serving time an opportunity to turn their lives around; and stories revealing the tragic plight of victims of alcohol-related crashes, something that has also personally affected her family.
Before her first stint at WWJ, Allen served as a news and traffic reporter at a number of stations in Michigan and California, including KFI-AM, KOST-FM and JILL-FM.
Allen studied theatre and communications at Eastern Michigan University, and is a graduate of the Academy of Radio and Television Broadcasting in Huntington Beach, California.
A longtime Northern Michigan radio personality has decided to hang up his headphones and run for the state House in northern Michigan. WTCM-FM morning host Jack O’Malley has announced that he’s running as a Republican for the 101st District.
The seat, which spans from Ludington to Northport, is open this fall. Current Rep. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington) announced last month he’s running for the state Senate instead of re-election.
O’Malley says he feels called to serve northern Michigan after being on the radio for more than 30 years.
“This might sound corny but I never served in the military,” O’Malley told Interlochen Public Radio. “And I am a loyal traditionalist, and I just feel that this is a way for me to serve.”
O’Malley is the only Republican in the race so far.
Democrat Kathy Wiejaczka, a registered nurse from Empire, is also a candidate for the 101st District.
O’Malley has announced that his last day at WTCM will be April 24. O’Malley was also the station’s Operations Manager and Program Director.
Black Diamond Broadcast Holdings has announced that it has agreed to enter into an agreement with David L. Smith to swap the facilities of its WCHY-FM (Cheboygan) and Smith’s WWSS-FM (Tuscarora Township). As part of the agreement, Black Diamond will move its programming and call letters to the WWSS facility and Smith will move WWSS programming and call letters to the WCHY facility.
Both parties entered into respective Local Marketing Agreements to enable the frequency swap to go into effect this past Monday, March 12.
Black Diamond’s WCHY-FM is a class C3 facility on 97.7 with an ERP of 3.4kw at 152 meters. Smith’s WWSS-FM is a class C2 facility on 95.3 with an effective radiated power of 17kw at 299 meters.
Applications for the exchange of facilities were filed with the FCC on March 7.
iHeartMedia has named Nate Bell Program Director for its two Urban-formatted radio stations in Detroit: WJLB-FM and WMXD-FM. Bell most recently was OM/PD for Radio One’s WGPR, WDMK and WPZR, all in Detroit. He left that position in September of 2017.
“We are so excited to have Nate back in our Urban programming brain trust,” iHeartMedia National Programming Group EVP Urban/Hip-Hop Programming Strategy Doc Wynter said. “He was missed, but it was destiny for him to come back to iHeartMedia.
“Nate is awesome,” iHeartMedia/Detroit Regional SVP/Programming Tony Travatto said. “He is one of the top Urban programming minds in the business and has unique knowledge of the Detroit market. Adding him to our team will undoubtedly help our listenership and advertisers.”
“I’m really excited to return to iHeartMedia,” said Bell. “Being able to work with these two iconic Detroit brands is something I look forward to.”
By: Jane Briggs-Bunting, President, Michigan Coalition for Open Government (MiCOG) Reprinted by permission
As citizens around the country celebrate the 13th annual national Sunshine Week from March 11-17, Michigan residents have nothing to cheer.
A series of open records bills that would put Michigan in sync with the rest of the country are buried, once again, in the state Senate Government Operations Committee through the actions of Senate Majority Leader Meekhof, R-Grand Haven.
Despite unanimous bipartisan support in the House for the Legislative Open Records Act spelled out in House Bills 4148-4157, Sen. Meekhof will not move the bills out of the committee that he chairs, or even allow a vote within the committee.
Michigan is the only state in the nation in which state law exempts the governor and lieutenant governor from the requirements of Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act. In 1986, then-Attorney General Frank Kelley issued an opinion that the Michigan Legislature also is exempt from FOIA. Current Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office recently reconfirmed that opinion.
This makes Michigan a FOIA outlier among the states. It means the citizens here have no right to request and obtain records from their governor and lieutenant governor (a critical issue as the Flint water debacle unfolded) or their elected representatives.
City councils, township and school boards, local and county governments are all required under FOIA to provide public records — except in the case of a limited number of exemptions — to people who request them. But what is required of local public officials is not required of Michigan’s state elected officials.
The Michigan Supreme Court summarily exempted itself from FOIA’s requirements when the law was passed in 1976. The high court ruled that FOIA’s mandates violated the separation of powers of the three branches of government, and that the legislative and executive branches could not compel the judicial branch to be covered by FOIA. So now Michigan citizens have no way of making the governor, lieutenant governor, legislators or justices respond to FOIA requests.
Meekhof told a group of journalists last year that only they care about FOIA. Journalists do file many FOIA requests as part of their job to watchdog government at all levels. But everyday citizens also file FOIAs and plenty of them, as we at the Michigan Coalition for Open Government know well.
Our FOIA is not perfect. Improvements are needed. High fees are still an issue for citizens seeking public records.
Another major loophole is in delivering records sought from public bodies. By statute, public officials are required to respond to a FOIA request within a maximum of 15 business days. Within that time period, they must respond by granting or denying the request all or in part. However, there is no deadline for when those records must actually be provided.
This is a loophole that some public bodies already have used to slow down turning over records. Michigan State University played this game initially with FOIA requests by media over the Larry Nassar case. Flint requesters also met, at times, with similar delays.
The bills making up the Legislative Open Records Act would be a major step forward toward making state elected officials more accountable. The current lack of accountability and transparency earned Michigan an F grade in 2015 in the Center for Public Integrity’s survey of all 50 states. Michigan should earn another F in the next survey if lawmakers don’t pass the Legislative Open Records Act.
This is Sen. Meekhof’s last term due to limits. The hope is that, in the next session, senators will join their House colleagues and make themselves, the governor and his lieutenant subject to FOIA — and that the new governor signs the bills into law.
Jane Briggs-Bunting is a former reporter, editor, journalism teacher and ardent FOIA advocate. She is a board member and founding president of the Michigan Coalition for Open Government (MiCOG).
MiCOG is a nonprofit corporation founded to promote and protect transparency and accountability in government at the local, state and federal levels. For more information or to join, visit www.miopengov.org.
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
“Search Engine Optimization,” which is the art of getting your website content to show up in the results of search engines like Google when people search for specific terms, is often overlooked by radio stations. SEO is a critical component of any digital strategy. I would argue that it is as important to pay attention to your radio station’s SEO strategy as it is to pay attention to your radio station’s Facebook strategy.
Why do you invest time and energy into making sure that your website content can be found on Facebook? Because lots of your listeners use it.
Why should you invest time and energy into making sure that your website content can be found on Google? Because lots of your listeners use it.
Yet SEO can be intimidating. An entire cottage industry has popped up around search engine optimization. You can hire a company to go through all of your website content and optimize it for you. But if you can’t convince your GM to make this expenditure — or if your station is not producing enough website content yet to justify the cost — there is a WordPress plugin that can help you with the basics.
The Yoast SEO Plugin Yoast SEO is a popular WordPress plugin, which means that your station’s website will need to be built on the WordPress platform to take advantage of it. Yoast actually offers a handful of plugins, including ones to optimize videos, commerce websites, and local businesses. They also offer a premium version of their plugin. I recommend that you start with the free version of the regular plugin and, once you get the hang of it, decide if you want to upgrade.
What exactly does the Yoast plugin do? It does a lot — it’s quite powerful! — but in this column, I am going to focus on its ability to control what people see when your content is shared on social media or found in search engine results. Here are the basic steps:
1. Install the Yoast Plugin and Configure the Sitewide Settings
Your web developer can quickly install the Yoast plugin just like they would install any other website plugin. Once they do, they can navigate to the plugin’s settings page by clicking on ‘SEO’ in the dark left-hand column in the WordPress backend. Your webmaster can go through each tab one at a time. Most of these settings are intuitive, but there is a Configuration Wizard and plenty of support documentation if you need it.
2. On Individual Pages and Posts, Get in the Habit of Configuring Your SEO Settings
Now that the plugin has been installed, you will see a new box in the WordPress backend of your posts labeled “Yoast SEO”:
Here, you can control what shows up in Google, Facebook, and Twitter when this particular webpage is found there. Note the three icons to the left: Three vertical dots, the ‘Share’ symbol (three dots connects by lines), and a gear.
When you click on the three vertical dots, you can control how your page will appear in Google search results. The ‘Snippet Preview’ shows you how your page will appear in Google. By default, the plugin will pull the first several words from your post. However, you’ll want to write a concise summary of the post to be used instead. Click the ‘Edit Snippet’ button, and you can type in the summary you want Google to use. A colored bar will turn red to show you if your summary is too long.
You can also control the headline that Google uses here. By default, the plugin uses the title of the blogpost. However, there are circumstances in which you may want to use a different headline. For example, you want “keywords” — the words people are likely to type into Google when looking for content like yours — to appear in the headline. This increases the chances that your content will show up in Google’s search results. If they are not already in the post or page’s title, you’ll want to include them here.
In fact, if you enter “Focus Keywords” in the ‘Analysis’ section below, the plugin will tell you how you can improve the likelihood that your content will appear in Google’s search results. It will identify ‘Problems,’ suggest ‘Improvements,’ and tell you what’s ‘Good’ about the post.
On our blog, Fred often uses artistic titles. For example, he might write a blogpost about The Beatles called “Remembering the Fab Four.” This title makes sense when you see it within the context of our website, but it is unlikely to show up in Google’s search results because most people will search for “Beatles,” not “Fab Four.” So we want to use the Yoast plugin to change the headline that appears in Google to “Remembering The Beatles” without changing the headline that appears at the top of our webpage. We can do that here.
Social Media Settings
When you click on the ‘Share’ icon, you get to the social media settings for your post or page. Here, you can control what appears when this webpage is shared to Facebook or Twitter. In addition to the headline and the excerpt, you can also control the image that is used. By default, the Featured Image is used for social media. However, for really important pages — such as a page about your radio station’s big annual concert — you may want to use images that are the ideal sizes for each social network (1200 by 630 pixels for Facebook and 1024 by 512 pixels for Twitter).
Finally, if you click on the gear icon, you’ll find the ‘Advanced Settings.’ The ‘Meta Robots Index’ allows you to decide if this particular page should be indexed by Google. I often set pages that I don’t want to be seen by the general public to “No Index.” For example, you may want to do this with any pages that are only meant to be seen by clients.
There’s a lot more that the Yoast SEO plugin can do, but by taking an extra minute to configure these settings every time you publish new content on your website, you increase the likelihood that your content will appear in search engines, and the likelihood that people will click through to your content when they see it on social media.
For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at [email protected] or 1-800-968-7622.
The Michigan Association of Broadcasters (MAB) presented its most prestigious engineering award during the Great Lakes Media Show on March 7 at the Lansing Center. The 2108 Carl E. Lee Broadcast Engineering Excellence Award was presented to Tom Bosscher, Chief Engineer at WSCG-FM (Grand Rapids Christian Radio).
Tom Bosscher started his career in broadcasting at an early age. He received his first amateur radio license when he was in grade school, and took the test to obtain his FCC Radiotelephone 1st class license on a dare while still in high school. Tom started his official broadcast career at WION-AM in Ionia and found himself at the WOOD-AM/FM stations in Grand Rapids at the age of 18.
He later went on to WLAV-AM/FM in Grand Rapids and installed a Pirod 400-foot tower, FM antenna and transmitter for the Class B upgrade.
In June 1995, he went to work for WCSG-FM. Among his first projects was the installation of a 25kw Continental transmitter and FM DA antenna and installing the first of many Broadcast Electronics AudioVault systems. Tom has helped WCSG expand to four on-air stations.
Tom is credited for designing the Grand Rapids Area Information Line (GRAIL), a “one phone call” school closing system that served the Grand Rapids local schools for 12 years. He also developed a significant mobile remote setup using three receiver sites, three vehicular repeaters, two communication grade repeaters and ran 300 to 400 remotes a year for newly built studios for the Federated Media Grand Rapids stations, WCUZ and WCUZ-FM.
Tom has served the local SBE chapter in many fronts, including serving as the SBE West Michigan frequency coordinator for 1 GHz and down. He is a member of the MAB’s Engineering Board and serves on the LEPC for Ottawa County. He is also the host for a mission driven forum for Christian Radio Technical forum on crtech.org