Robert David’s career in the radio broadcasting industry spans four decades, all of them in Michigan. He is currently the President / General Manager of Handyman Productions, a radio program syndication and marketing firm working with various radio talk programs around the country. The company had previously produced and distributed the award-winning ‘Handyman Show with Glenn Haege’ in Michigan and across the country. This followed an extensive radio broadcasting sales and management career as a Radio Account Executive in Flint; followed by positions in broadcast sales, management and station ownership in the Detroit market. His involvement with MAB includes serving as a current MAB board member, former chairperson of the MAB Foundation Board, as well as, former chair of the annual Great Lakes Broadcasting Conference (GLBC) [now Great Lakes Media Show]. He has traveled to Washington, DC, on several occasions as part of the MAB “Call on Congress,” and is presently a member of the MAB-Political Action Committee board.
Rob was the inaugural recipient of the “MAB Associate of the Year” award in 2006 and inducted into the Michigan Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame in 2017. Rob is a proud graduate of Michigan State University and was named an ‘Outstanding Alumnus’ by the Eli Broad College of Business and was presented with the prestigious ‘MSU Alumni Service Award’ for his service and support of the University. Outside of broadcasting, he is a recent graduate of the FBI Citizen’s Academy, and the Novi Ambassador Academy. Lastly, Mr. David is a member of the Consular Corps of Michigan having been appointed as the Honorary Consul for Grenada. The Honorable Robert David and his wife, Marcia, reside in Novi.
With the new year came a new source for news for cord-cutters in markets including Chicago, Houston, San Francisco and Detroit. It’s a new, 24-hour news network known as NewsNet, and while it’s seen in cities across the country, it’s broadcasting to the entire nation from right here in Michigan.
“We’ve been broadcasting 24-hour local news to northern Michigan since 2011, so when we decided to launch a national news network, it only made sense to broadcast from our existing facilities,” explained Eric Wotila, President of NewsNet and General Manager of MI News 26 and MI TV 12, both based in Cadillac, “We’re very excited to be both keeping jobs local and creating new positions right here in northern Michigan through the launch of NewsNet.”
NewsNet aims to break away from the opinion-based programming that’s become prominent on 24-hour news channels in recent years. Instead, the network follows a traditional “news wheel” format, with headlines at the top of each half hour, followed by a national weather overview, sports, and feature stories from across America – which are preempted in some markets by a local news update.
“Over the past few years, we heard constant complaints about the state of existing 24-hour news channels – particularly their focus on opinion-based programming,” explained Wotila, “We’re thrilled to have brought back a news channel with a straight-to-the-facts, headline-driven format, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.”
NewsNet is currently distributed over-the-air by a network of affiliates. It also streams to mobile apps available for iPhone and Android, and will be launching streaming apps for Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV later this month.
With affiliates in 18 markets across the country, NewsNet’s signal already reaches approximately 30 million potential viewers via antenna – just under 10% of the nation’s population, but Wotila says they’re just getting started.
“Throughout 2019, we want to work with additional stations to expand the reach of NewsNet,” he explained, “We’re actively talking to potential affiliates on a daily basis. Ultimately, we’d love to see NewsNet available over-the-air to the entire country.”
Much of NewsNet’s national news coverage can be seen in northern Michigan during the second half of each hour on MI News 26 – antenna channel 26.1 and Spectrum cable channel 13. The version of NewsNet’s programming seen across the country can be viewed locally using the network’s apps, which can be downloaded at yournewsnet.com.
Cumulus Media Has flipped Sports WBBL-FM (Grand Rapids) to Country, using the “Thunder” moniker as part of a simulcast with WTNR-FM (Holland).
WTNR was known as “Thunder” from 2004 to 2014, which it switched to the national Cumulus “Nash-FM” branding.
Related to this format shift for WBBL, Michigan Media Network has acquired and has begun distributing WBBL’s “Huge Show,” hosted by Bill Simonson. As part of the agreement, Cumulus has switched WJRW-AM (Grand Rapids) and WKLQ-AM (Whitehall) both to Sports as “The Ticket.” Both stations are now airing the Simonson program.
“Sports Marketing in America has always been a top priority ‘buy’ for America’s most popular advertisers,” Cumulus Radio Grand Rapids Vice-President/General Manager Bruce Law said. “Sports Fans pay close attention to what’s being presented on sports talk radio. We are excited to add a new morning show with Michigan centric content hosted by Matt Shepard; ‘Shep, Shower ‘N’ Shave’ in mornings and continue the popular HUGE Show from 3 p.m to 6 p.m, plus offer two most popular national shows, Dan Patrick and Jim Rome.”
Longtime Michigan Broadcaster Todd Mohr’s newly-formed Aurora Media, LLC has reached an agreement to acquireWDBC-AM and WYKX-FM (Escanaba) from KMB Broadcasting, Inc. The purchase price was announced at $400,000. The price also includes FM translator W233CT, which rebroadcasts WDBC.
KMB Broadcasting, owned principally by James and Betty Cooke, has has owned the stations since 1988. Aurora Media is owned by Todd and wife Janine Gregorski-Mohr. Todd Mohr also owns WMTE-FM (Manistee), which is currently under an LMA with 45 North Media, Inc.
An application with the FCC to approve the transfer was filed on December 31. Aurora Media began operating the stations under an LMA this past Monday, January 7.
WDBC operates on 680kHz with 10kw days (directional) and 1kw nights (directional). WYKX operates on 104.7mHz with 100kw at 105 meters HAAT.
The A.V. Club has named the “Believed” podcast from Michigan Radio and NPR as the “Best Coverage of a News Story” podcast on its annual “Podmass Superlatives” list, 2018. The entertainment webzine gives this nod to the investigative reporting podcast just as the series wraps up with its Epilogue episode, “No Pretty Bows,” to be released this week.
Each year, The A.V. Club puts out their recommendations of the must-listen podcasts of the year, hand-picked by media junkies out of hundreds of new releases and individual episodes of the ever-growing medium.
An episode highlighted in the “Podmass” pick is, Believed’s Episode 6: “The Parents.” In this installment, reporters Kate Wells and Lindsey Smith talk to the parents of girls and women who were sexually assaulted by former-USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar and answer the question, how did this even happen?
The A.V. Club describes the Michigan Radio reporters’ work as “unflinching” and applauds their examination of the question of believing women in the era of the #MeToo movement. The webzine’s staff proclaim, “Believed is a gutting listen but, by working from that seemingly simple presumption of believing women, is also the best, and maybe most important, news coverage of 2018.”
We typically publish our article about upcoming regulatory dates before the beginning of each month, but this month, the looming FCC shutdown and determining its effect on filing deadlines pushed back our schedule. As we wrote on Friday, the effect of the shutdown is now becoming clear – and it has the potential to put on hold a number of the FCC deadlines, including the filing of Quarterly Children’s Television Reports due on January 10 and the uploading of Quarterly Issues Programs lists, due to be added to station’s public inspection files on January 10. The FCC-hosted public inspection file database is offline, so those Quarterly Issues Programs lists can’t be uploaded unless the budget impasse is resolved this week. Certifications as to the compliance of TV stations with the commercial limits in children’s television programs would also be added to the public file by January 10 – if it is available for use by then. While these and other dates mentioned below may be put on hold, there are deadlines that broadcasters need to pay attention to that are unaffected by the Washington budget debate.
We note that the FCC’s CDBS and LMS databases are up and operating, though most filings will be considered to be submitted the day that the FCC reopens. As the databases are up and operating, many applications can be electronically filed – so TV stations might as well timely upload their Children’s Television Reports on schedule by January 10, to avoid any slow uploading that may result from overloading of the FCC’s system as the FCC reopens. Other FCC deadlines are unaffected by the shutdown – most notably, as we wrote on Friday, those that related to the repacking of the TV band following the TV incentive auction. The FCC has money to keep its auction activities operating so staff are working to keep the repacking on track. Deadlines coming up for the repacking include a January 10th deadline for stations affected by the repacking to file their Form 387 Transition Progress Report. Auction deadlines proceed whether or not the FCC is otherwise open for business.
FCC filing deadlines in certain rulemaking proceedings may well also be on hold if the shutdown continues. Deadlines for pleadings will be pushed back to the day after the day the FCC resumes its normal operations. Comments are due in the FCC’s proceeding to determine what to do with Class A “clear channel” AM stations on January 22 (see our summary here), but these could be affected if the shutdown persists.
Even the FCC meeting scheduled for January 30 could be in jeopardy if the shutdown runs through the end of the month. That meeting is scheduled to feature the adoption of the FCC’s order abolishing the FCC Form 397 Mid-Term EEO Report (see the draft order here, released last week) and the start of a rulemaking proceeding to make some changes in the FCC’s standards for deciding between mutually exclusive applications for new noncommercial broadcast stations, including LPFM facilities (see the draft order here).
Early February brings the obligation for EEO Public Inspection File Reports to be uploaded to the public file of Commercial and Noncommercial Full-Power and Class A Television Stations and AM and FM Radio Stations in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, and Oklahoma that are part of an Employment Unit with 5 or more full-time employees. Stations with those due dates should be prepared to upload their Public File Reports by February 1 if the FCC’s Public Inspection File database is up and operating by then.
Deadlines not affected by the shutdown include ones imposed by other government agencies. For instance, the Copyright Office and Copyright Royalty Boardare not affected by the shutdown. We would expect that the CRB will this month be issuing its invitation for interested parties to file Petitions to Participate in the next proceeding to determine the royalty rates to be paid to SoundExchange for the digital performance of music by webcasters (see our article here). As we wrote here, with the increase in digital performances of broadcast stations through Alexa and other smart speakers, it is more important than ever for broadcasters to secure a reasonable royalty rate for the streaming of their signals. This proceeding will determine the royalty rates for Internet radio for 2021-2026.
Upfront minimum fee payments will also be due under various music license agreements by the end of the month. This would include the royalties to be paid to SoundExchange under most of the current royalty deals. For most webcasters, a payment of $500 per each channel streamed is due by the end of the month.
No doubt, other deadlines will arise this month, particularly if the government shutdown is resolved. As always, we have highlighted here just some of the more notable regulatory deadlines. Check with your own station’s counsel for more information about deadlines that may apply to your own stations.
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.
Since the FCC shutdown on January 3, the FCC’s online public file system has been offline and stations have not been able to upload public file documents to the site. The MAB and our FCC Washington Counsel David Oxenford has posted about this here.
The MAB has learned, however, that some stations around the country have been uploading documents to an FCC “Demo” site that remains online despite the shutdown. This Demo site is not a substitute for the official public file site and should not be used by broadcasters.
If you look at the link carefully, however, it is has the word “demo” in the link address. This is not the correct email link for your station’s on-line public file. Rather it was a demonstration website for stations to use when the on-line system was first opened. It was designed for stations to learn how to upload documents without affecting the actual on-line public file system. The real public file system remains closed until the government re-opens.
Update: The FCC has just shut down the “demo link.” If you have uploaded files onto this “demo” website, it is not clear whether the FCC will accept the filing. You may have to re-file once the FCC opens.
Read more from NASBA FCC attorney Scott Flick here.
The Senate has confirmed FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr to a full, five-year term and has confirmed Democrat Geoffrey Starks to the open seat. The House does not need to confirm the commissioners, so once they are sworn in, the FCC will be operating at full strength with three Republicans and two Democrats.
Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-27) announced the Senate Democratic Caucus’ leadership positions with eight new members serving in the leadership positions below him.
Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-1) of Detroit will serve as a minority floor leader. The minority whip for the Democrats will be Sen. Winnie Brinks (D-29) of Grand Rapids and the minority caucus chair will be Sen. Erika Geiss (D-6) of Taylor.
The remaining positions are Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-11) of Southfield as assistant minority leader, Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-13) of Royal Oak as assistant minority floor leader, Sen. Rosemary Bayer (D-12) of Beverly Hills as assistant minority whip, Sen. Paul Wojno (D-9) of Warren as assistant minority caucus chairperson and Sen. Marshall Bullock (D-4) of Detroit as associate President Pro Tempore.