Tag Archives: Issue 143

WCEN’s Moose New Country Ale Hits Retailers This Year

Moose New Country Ale CansLast summer, your MAB newsletter reported that Alpha Media’s WCEN-FM (Saginaw) teamed up with Mountain Town Brewing in Mt. Pleasant to offer its own brand of beer, Moose New Country Ale, which was available at restaurants and bars in the station’s service area.  After much success last year, the station and brewer have expanded distribution, making it available for purchase in 16-ounce cans for listeners to enjoy at home.

“We have the best fans in radio,” said WCEN Program Director Joby Phillips. “In addition to making our own beer popular at establishments throughout the region and at our local concerts and festivals, our listeners wanted more. So, beginning this month, convenience, grocery and party stores throughout the vast Mid-Michigan region are now offering our listeners the opportunity to take Moose New Country Ale home to enjoy whenever they want it. It’s been a great way to expand our brand beyond the radio. I never thought when I began my career in this exciting industry that it would lead me to have a foot in the adult beverage industry too!”

FCC approves $150M in Repack Funds for LPTVs, Radio

FCC Commissioners unanimously voted to approve $150 million in funding for low-power TV and FM radio stations that are disrupted by the post-spectrum auction repack. Congress directed the agency to add LPTVs and FMs to the funding list and set a deadline of March 23 to do it. The funding was included in the Ray Baum Act FCC Reauthorization legislation that passed last year, which set aside additional repack funding for full power TV as well as the LPTVs, translators and FMs.

FCC chair Ajit Pai said the ongoing repack “has imposed and will continue to impose” a “financial hardship” on many FM stations. But he credited Congress giving the FCC the expanded authority to reimburse radio stations, FM translators and low-power TV stations for their expenses.

“This made it much less likely that these classes of broadcasters will have to pay out of their own pockets after being forced through no fault of their own to relocate or modify their facilities,” Pai said.

WGVU Presents Kids Day at Air Zoo

WGVU Public Media (Grand Rapids) is hosting “Kids Day at the Air Zoo” this Sunday, March 24.

The fundraiser for WGVU PBS Kids programming will allow families to  visit the Kalamazoo Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Museum for a discounted price of just five dollars a person.

PBS Kids character Daniel Tiger will be on hand along with performances by family favorites Benjammin, and Joe Reilly.

See the event web page here for more information.

E.W. Scripps to Acquire WXMI-TV

The E.W. Scripps Company is acquiring eight television stations in seven markets from the Nexstar Media Group, Inc. transaction with Tribune Media as it continues executing its plan to enhance the strength and operating performance of its Local Media portfolio.

The acquisition grows the Scripps local television station footprint to 59 stations in 42 markets with a reach of nearly 30 percent of U.S. TV households. It also diversifies Scripps’ network affiliations, adding two CBS stations, two Fox stations and four CWs.

Included in the acquisition is WXMI-TV (Grand Rapids).  This will be Scripps’ third television station in Michigan.  Scripps presently owns WXYZ-TV/WMYD-TV (Detroit) and WSYM-TV (Lansing).

From a March 20 Press Release from the E.W. Scripps Company:

“This acquisition represents another step in our plan to improve the depth, reach and durability of our broadcast television station portfolio while adding nicely to the company’s free cash flow generation,” said Adam Symson, president and CEO of Scripps. “These stations allow us to rebalance our portfolio with meaningful assets – at an efficient price ahead of a robust political advertising season.”

The acquired stations’ blended 2017-18 revenue was $263 million, and EBITDA was $56 million.

Transaction highlights:

  • The purchase price is $505 million for six markets and $75 million for WPIX, the CW affiliate in New York City.
  • The buyer’s multiple for the six markets excluding New York is 8.1x, net of tax benefits.
  • This is an asset purchase, and Scripps will receive a full step up in the tax basis of the assets acquired.
  • Scripps expects to finance the transaction with a mix of term loans and unsecured debt.
  • The company anticipates its total leverage ratio, net of cash, would be approximately 5x at closing.
  • Scripps has granted Nexstar the option to buy back WPIX in New York City. The option is exercisable from March 31, 2020, through the end of 2021.

A more durable Scripps television portfolio
The eight stations deepen Scripps’ presence in Arizona, Florida, Michigan and New York. Scripps will add its first stations in the No. 1-ranked DMA of New York City and the states of Virginia and Utah. It will now operate nine markets with more than one station, compared to four a year ago.

Scripps is acquiring:

  • WPIX, the No.5-ranked CW affiliate in New York City
  • KASW, the CW affiliate in Phoenix (which joins the Scripps ABC affiliate there)
  • WSFL, the CW affiliate in Miami–Fort Lauderdale (adjacent to the Scripps NBC affiliate in West Palm Beach, Florida)
  • KSTU, the No. 2-ranked Fox affiliate in Salt Lake City
  • WTKR, the No. 2-ranked CBS affiliate, and WGNT, the CW affiliate, in Norfolk, Virginia
  • WTVR, the No. 2-ranked CBS affiliate in Richmond, Virginia
  • WXMI, the Fox affiliate in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Ahead of the 2020 election cycle, Scripps will be even better positioned as an important platform for political advertisers, with an expanded presence in key political battleground states, including:

  • Five stations in Florida reaching approximately 67 percent of its households;
  • Four stations in Michigan reaching approximately 78 percent of its households;
  • Three stations in the two largest TV markets in Virginia – including the two stations in Norfolk and one in the state capital of Richmond.

“With these acquisitions, Scripps will reach 30 percent of U.S. television households, entering Virginia and Utah for the first time,” said Brian Lawlor, president of Local Media. “We look forward to sharing with all of these new communities Scripps’ unwavering commitment to impartial and impactful journalism.”

The stations have a combined 769 employees.

Scripps recently closed on the acquisition of the ABC television stations in Tallahassee, Florida, and Waco, Texas, owned by Raycom Media and is awaiting consent from the Federal Communications Commission on its acquisition of 15 television stations in 10 markets from Cordillera Communications.

The Scripps acquisition of the Nexstar-Tribune stations is expected to close at the same time as the Nexstar-Tribune merger.

The transaction is expected to be financed through a mix of term loans and unsecured debt and will bring the company’s total debt to $1.85 billion. Financing is being led by Morgan Stanley Senior Funding Inc. and Wells Fargo.

Methuselah Advisors and Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC acted as financial advisors and BakerHostetler acted as legal counsel for Scripps.

Graham Media Group, WDIV-TV Announce New Season of “Shattered” Podcast

Graham Media Group and WDIV-TV (Detroit) has announced the new, eight-episode season of “Shattered,” an original true-crime podcast series. Season 3, hosted by Jeremy Allen, takes listeners through the heartbreaking and riveting story about Michigan’s Oakland County Child Killer case that is still unsolved 40 years later.

Between February 1976 and March 1977, four children were abducted and murdered with their bodies left in various locations within or just outside Oakland County, Michigan. The ensuing murder investigation was the largest of its kind in U.S. history at the time.

“WDIV-Local 4 has covered this case since 12-year-old Mark Stebbins first went missing in February of 1976,” says Allen. “When we opened our archives, there was raw footage of our original reporting with interviews of the parents and key people in the investigation. We’re telling this story because we hope someone has information that can finally solve these cases.”

A five-part docuseries called “Child Killer” is also available to stream on ClickOnDetroit.com and the WDIV-Local 4 app on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire and most smart TVs.

“These murders put Oakland County and the whole metro Detroit region on high alert in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was a defining moment for a whole generation of children who grew up with great fear of stranger danger,” says Marla Drutz, WDIV’s Vice President and General Manager. “We hope that reopening the vault of video and investigating every angle will help investigators solve these cases.”

From a suspected cover-up by a local millionaire to a father’s undying love, ”Shattered: Child Killer” spotlights relatives of the murdered children, investigators who worked the case, and the journalists who covered, and are still covering, the story. In the search for truth and justice, egos and confusion take over in a seemingly endless pursuit for answers.

Shattered: Child Killer” premieres on March 19, 2019. The eight episode season will release a new episode every Tuesday. The entire series will be available for free on Apple Podcasts, or your preferred podcast listening platform.

The first two seasons of “Shattered” have garnered 2.1 million downloads. Season 1 investigates the 2010 disappearance of three brothers in Morenci, Michigan. Their father said he gave the brothers to an underground organization. Seven years later, the boys’ whereabouts is not known. Season 2 takes listeners through the life of Richard Wershe, Jr., aka “White Boy Rick,” the youngest ever FBI informant turned drug dealer.

For more information, visit shatteredpodcast.com.

Memorial Service for Patti McGettigan This Saturday

Patti McGettigan

A memorial service will take place this Saturday, March 23, in Grand Rapids to celebrate the life of Patti McGettigan, a tenacious trailblazer who guided winning newsrooms from Michigan to Memphis.

The former WOOD-TV News Director passed away from cancer February 16 in Memphis at age 53.  See our original post here.

The service will take place at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Grand Rapids noon Saturday. Father Mark Przybysz will preside. Then on Sunday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., there will be a celebration of life with music and memories at Kosciusko Hall, 935 Park St. SW in Grand Rapids.

Greg Smith Named WXYZ-TV Local Sales Manager

Greg Smith

Greg Smith has been named local sales manager of E.W. Scripps’ WXYZ_TV (Detroit).  Smith is an accomplished sales executive in Metro Detroit with traditional and digital media sales and marketing experience.

Most recently, he was vice president and general manager of Cumulus Media Detroit, where he managed WDVD-FM and WDRQ-FM. He has also served as the general sales manager of Greater Media Detroit and held multiple management positions with CBS Radio Detroit.

“Greg is a results driven leader in the community with proven success in generating local media revenue,” said Tony Lamerato, WXYZ and WMYD director of sales. “We are excited to have him lead the team and we know he’ll make an immediate impact in the

“I greatly appreciate the opportunity to work with the seasoned sales professionals and valued clients at WXYZ,” said Smith. “It has always been my professional goal to work with the best news, sports and entertainment products in Metro Detroit, and at WXYZ, I
know I’ll have that chance.”

Smith graduated from Western Michigan University with a marketing degree. He started with WXYZ on March 11.

WWJ’s Mike Campbell Honored By Shelby Township Police

Mike Campbell

This past Monday night, WWJ-AM (Detroit) reporter Mike Campbell was honored for finding a missing woman with dementia.

Campbell was covering a story back in January about a missing 89-year-old woman with dementia who had wandered away from her home at 2:30 a.m.  The woman was wearing only pajamas and slippers when she disappeared.

Mike not only covered the story, he found the woman and called police.

“This is a case of being in the right place at the right time,” a modest Campbell said. “That being said, it’s very cool to be a part of that, it feels good, and it’s nice to be recognized by the Shelby Township Police Department.”


Brian Holmes to join Up North Radio

Brian Holmes

Up North Radio has announced that Brian Holmes will join its WBZX-FM (Big Rapids) as afternoon host, starting in April.  He will also serve as an account executive from the station as well as sister stations WCKC-FM and WCDY-FM, both based in Cadillac.

“Over 20 years ago, (WBZX co-owner) Dom (Theodore) talked of his dreams of owning his own stations. Watching him and General Manager Jen Theodore build their dream has been incredible,” Holmes said. “They have built three incredible sounding radio stations and even better, a live and local staff that feels just like family. I am honored to come on board and be a part of it all playing the ’80s and More on B103.9!”

“Brian is the rare combination of talent and true passion for great radio, and after 20-plus years of friendship and lots of great history, I’m thrilled that we get to reunite at our very own company,” said Dom Theodore.  “This is going to be some of the most fun we’ve had in years!”

Holmes worked with Theodore at WFLZ-FM (Tampa, FL) and WILN-WYYX (Panama City, FL).  Holmes had a long run as APD/night talent at WSNX-FM (Grand Rapids) from 2005-2015.

“Brian is a high impact personality who will be a great addition to the Up North Radio family,” General Manager Jen Theodore said.  “He understands the creative culture and commitment to true local radio that we are building here, and I’m thrilled that he’s teaming up with us.”

The 5 Things Every Format Must Do For Better Ratings

Gary Berkowitz

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: Gary Berkowitz
Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting

Yes, this is a newsletter that is mostly focused on AC radio. But with the spring book just around the corner (March 28), I would like to review 5 things that EVERY station, regardless of format, needs to look at to give you the best shot at a good outcome when spring results are released. If you play music and have on-air personalities, this information is for you.

1. Identify your station properly and frequently. I sometimes get tired of hearing myself say this, but you cannot give your call letters and frequency enough. 85% of diary keepers report listening by entering (in the diary) the EXACT FREQUENCY. Say it slow. Say it often and sell it effectively. Have you noticed that when you ask a listener what station they listen to, they almost always say 100 POINT 3. They usually do not say “100-3…makes me wonder why some stations drop the point. Just sayin!

2. Focus your music. It’s easier than ever to find out the most important songs for your format. Discover them and play them often. Bigger is not better. It astounds me that some smaller market programmers feel that having a large playlist is important because they are in a smaller market. This makes no sense. Think about it this way. The McDonalds in Rapid City, South Dakota (market #251) is no different than the McDonalds in New York City (Market #1). Same menu. Same look. Listeners want the hits, not secondary or mediocre songs.

3. Promote your benefits. If you have a killer morning show, promote it. If you have a two hour at work kick off, focus on it. If you play the most music in your market, let the market know. Promoting the benefits of listening to your station far outweigh the benefit of promoting what is going on in the world of say pop culture.

4. “Companionship is more important than content”. If your personalities are not companions to your listeners, it won’t work. Its not what they say as much as it is “how they say it.” Radio is all about that friendly voice coming out of the speaker. Yes, people listen on many different types of devices, but the one thing that still wins out are personalities that are inviting, welcoming and friendly to the listener.

5. Use your contesting to create additional “occurrences of listening.” Look at it the way retail does. Just ahead of big weekends or holidays, supermarkets offer, for example, Coke products for .50 for a two-liter bottle. Why so cheap? Cause they want to get you into the store. They figure they can sell the product at cost, and hopefully, you will spend additional dollars while you are there. Your contesting should do the same thing. Use it to “get them to turn you on.” Then it’s up to you to get them to spend additional time. One more thing on contesting. Forget about “forced listening.” in today’s world. It does not work.

Please think about these 5 points as they apply to all formats that play music. Put them into practice and you’ll be happy this summer when spring results are released!

Gary Berkowitz is President of Detroit based Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting, specializing in ratings improvement for AC radio stations. www.garyberk.com