Category Archives: August 2018

Hackers set off Sirens in Genesee County

Genesee County 911 Board Director Mark Emmendorfer has told WEYI-TV (Flint) that the county has been having problems with their emergency warning sirens being set off–and that they are now searching for the culprit or culprits behind the incidents.

The warning sirens in Genesee County have been activated a handful of times over the span of a month and a half, including Tuesday night (7/31), but there was no imminent weather or safety threat at the time.

After the sirens would be turned off, they would somehow be reactivated again. Genesee County 911 contacted West Shore Services, the company that made Genesee County’s warning sirens to investigate.  Engineers and the 911 board are 90% certain that the sirens were deliberately being set off by hackers.  Its reported at the FBI and the FCC is involved in the investigation.

Appeals Court Upholds FCC’s UHF Discount

A three-judge panel of the federal court of appeals in Washington dismissed a challenge to the FCC vote last fall to restore the UHF discount. As a result, the UHF discount remains in place while the FCC continues its review of the national cap. The court did not set a deadline for the FCC’s cap review. The National Association of Broadcasters was an intervenor in the litigation supporting the FCC.

In its decision, the Court did not reach the merits of the FCC’s reinstatement order, but instead dismissed the appeal because the public advocacy groups had not established “standing.” That is, they did not show, as required, that at least one of their members stood to be injured as a result of the FCC’s order. Therefore, the UHF discount will remain in effect until such time as the FCC decides to eliminate or alter it.


House Passes Bill to Raise Pirate Radio Fines

The House of Representatives has unanimously passed the “PIRATE” Act (H.R. 5709) – legislation introduced by Representatives Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Paul Tonko (D-NY) to combat illegal radio operations.

Specifically, the bill would:

  • Increase fines for illegal pirate radio operation as much as $2 million for ignoring warnings to shut down a pirate station as a means for greater to deterrence and to ensure greater attention to the issue from federal law enforcement;
  • Require enforcement sweeps in radio markets with the highest concentration of illegal pirate operations;
  • Create liability for those who “knowingly” facilitate pirate operators, including property owners and businesses providing ‘physical goods or services’ to the unlicensed station; and
  • Expedite the process for shutting down an illegal station.

Court Rules to Uphold Straight-Ticket Voting Stays

A federal court struck down this week a 2015 Michigan law removing the straight-ticket voting option from the ballot. This means that Michigan voters will continue to have the option to select a party’s slate of candidates by making a single selection on their ballot.

U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain ruled that Public Act 268 of 2015 would impose “disparate impact” on African-Americans, who use the straight-ticket option far more than other demographics, leading to “drastically longer lines” at the polls. The judge held that the law violates both the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Voting Rights Act.

Beasley Media Group Detroit’s Mac Edwards Radio Ink Finalist

Mac Edwards

Beasley Media Group has announced that eight of its managers and sales executives have been named among the finalists for the 2018 Radio Wayne Awards, presented by Radio Ink magazine.  Included in this list of eight is Mac Edwards, Beasley Detroit VP/Market Manager.

Edwards is a finalist in the Market or General Manager of the Year Category.  Edwards is the only finalist from Michigan.

The awards will be presented at this year’s Radio Show Advertiser Breakfast in Orlando on September 27. Named for Wayne Cornils, who championed excellence and integrity in the radio industry, the awards recognize the best in radio sales and management.

“The talent and dedication represented by these Radio Wayne finalists are qualities in which the radio industry can take great pride. Every one of them demonstrates professional excellence and deserves our admiration and respect for making radio an important product mover that touches the lives and livelihoods of communities and businesses across the country,” said Deborah Parenti, Publisher of Radio Ink in making the announcement.

Read the Beasley press release here.  For a full list of Radio Wayne finalists, click here.

WKAR’s Susi Elkins, Gary Blievernicht Talk ATSC 3.0

By: Russ White, MSU Today

Michigan State University and WKAR-TV (East Lansing) have received a license from the Federal Communications Commission to launch an experimental next generation TV broadcasting station to focus on digital advancement and internet based connectivity.

Listen to Russ White’s interview with WKAR Public Media’s Susi Elkins and Gary Blievernicht:

Based on a new set of digital TV standards called ATSC 3.0, Next Gen TV adds internet-style information and interactivity, plus advanced technologies, such as 4K ultra high-definition video and multichannel, immersive audio, to over-the-air television broadcasts.

“Well, ATSC 3.0 is an exciting new way to broadcast that allows for a much more connected, interactive experience for the user,” says Susi Elkins, director of broadcasting for MSU and general manager of WKAR Public Media. “And there are other benefits that relate to revenue generation, a prettier picture, and more audio options. We’re interested in the education component and the public service component. So I think there will be a lot of broadcasters who are interested in how to generate revenue and how to serve the general public. And public broadcasters like WKAR are interested in how to utilize it for education and public service purposes.”

“ATSC 3.0 enhances the ability to transmit multiple things at the same time,” adds Gary Blievernicht, WKAR’s manager of technical services. “You can do data, you can do video, and you can do additional audio channels all at once. So it’s much more robust. The signal will be much stronger and much easier to decode once we’ve made this transition.”

So what’s ATSC 3.0 for viewers?

“I think what’s exciting for viewers is the ability for increased mobility,” says Elkins. “People will be able to watch live television on their phones, or pads, wherever they are. We’ll see how that really plays out, but we know that there will be increased mobility, for sure. And also, it’s just a much better viewing experience, and the audio experience is robust, too, with so many more channels and options. The most unique part about the standard may be its hybrid nature. So it’s a hybrid of broadcasting and IP delivery. And so when you think about integrating what you use the internet for and your broadcast experience and put that together, you can imagine what the possibilities are. And well, we’re trying to imagine that right now.

“So there are a lot of ways that I think this will benefit viewers and users. But it’s really up to us to try to figure out what those are, and offer opportunities, and then the consumers will decide what they like and what they really want to use.”

MSU will open the Next Gen Media Innovation Lab, a new research facility within WKAR, and the College of Communication Arts and Sciences on the MSU campus. The lab will have an emphasis on outcomes related to education, and public media content.

“One of the things we need to do as broadcasters is to figure out how to utilize this new standard and all the benefits that it could potentially bring,” Elkins says. “In the lab we’ll study what the standard can offer so we can create applications. Our interest in particular is in early childhood education. There are some stations interested in warning systems and alert systems. We’ve talked about automated vehicles and agricultural applications. We’re here at Michigan State University where there are all kinds of researchers who are interested in how they could use this hybrid application, or this ability, to benefit their life’s work. So we’re creating a space where researchers and broadcasters from around the country who have ideas on how they would like to serve their local communities have a place where they can come and research and test ideas.”

WKAR is the first public broadcasting station in the United States to receive FCC authorization to begin experimental ATSC 3.0 broadcasts.

“Well, when we first started hearing about the possibilities of ATSC 3, MSU was really interested because they saw benefits for research, business and public service. And thinking about our land grant mission, it just made a lot of sense for us to learn a little bit more about it,” says Elkins. “And MSU has been interested from the start in terms of building research relationships around ATSC 3.0. And so we’ll see potentially how to use the data, how to use the applications. And it is quite an honor to have been granted the experimental license, we’re the first public broadcaster to get it. A lot of people across the country are intrigued by what we will study in the lab, and that’s why we want to have it open. We want people to be able to apply to come and do testing on ideas that they have. And I think that’s really what MSU does best, and WKAR is perfectly positioned through the work that Gary and his engineers have done to build out the transmitter site. All of the stars aligned to allow us to be ready to build it at our site and apply for the license. Now that it’s been granted we have a lot of work to do in the next few months.”

WKAR expects to begin ATSC 3.0 experimental broadcasting in September. WKAR’s experimental ATSC 3.0 station will broadcast in mid-Michigan on digital frequency 35, with a broadcast reach of approximately 40 miles. Consumer products that can receive ATSC 3.0 signals are not expected to be widely available in the U.S. before 2020.

“I believe this new technology could really have a very strong impact, particularly in the world of education,” adds Elkins. “Right now you can use a second screen and you can somewhat interact with what you see on your television, or certainly you can interact if you’re streaming. But imagine putting that all together in a really robust way that doesn’t go down when a cell tower goes down. There’s just so much possibility with the robustness of the actual transmitter site and using the broadcast piece of it. So as technology changes and people increasingly expect mobility, I think that it will be really exciting for all of us. Those who are creating content and trying to meet the needs of the users, and then also just the people who are looking for a new, unique, very tailored experience can benefit from this. I think that’s what this can bring is even more localization, more experiences. I think stations will be able to super serve their communities because we can localize even more than we ever have. And public broadcasters have been great at localization since day one. But this really potentially could increase that tenfold.”

Reprinted by permission.

Radio One Detroit Names Mildred Gaddis Community Affairs Director

Mildred Gaddis

Radio One Detroit has announced that Mildred Gaddis, host of the “Mildred Gaddis Show,” has been named Community Affairs Director for all of its Detroit radio stations, including the newly launched Detroit Praise Network.

Gaddis, who just commemorated 40 years in radio, is looking forward to her new role.

Market VP/GM Kathy Steinhour said “Mildred Gaddis has played a critical role in community matters in Detroit for many years. The company wants to tap further into the unique perspective she brings to our listeners by having her lead all our Community Affairs efforts both on and off the air.”

Added Gaddis: “I am thrilled by this opportunity which will allow me to work closer with Radio One Detroit listeners in such a meaningful way. Radio One has been an integral institution in this community and we will continue to build upon that.”

WLEN Raises $11k for Neighbors of Hope

On July 13-14. Lenawee Broadcasting’s WLEN-FM (Adrian) hosted “Hoping for a Home,” a 24-hour event that raised funds and awareness for the new Neighbors of Hope Women and Children’s Center. The center is being formed to assist homeless women in Lenawee County with housing and transition while keeping their families together. Over $11,000 was raised in 24 hours.

WLEN staff, Neighbors of Hope board members, NOH men’s mission residents and area business people stood curbside and collected funds. The funds will support the renovation of the center which is located in Tecumseh, Mich., as well as on-going center expenses. County National Bank supported the effort as the title sponsor. Neighbors of Hope is a Lenawee County non-profit organization that supports the community through the Men’s Ministry Fresh Start and Life Change Programs, Blessings and More Resale Store, Fishes and Loaves Food Pantry, the Third Day Farming Program and Word Made Flesh Radio Ministry which airs Sunday mornings at on the station.

More information on the organization can be found at