Tag Archives: Issue 4

Michigan Radio’s Coverage of Flint Water Emergency

By: Kristen Loszewski, Michigan Radio Marketing

Over the past few weeks, Flint’s water crisis has exploded as a huge national news story. Michigan Radio (91.7 FM Ann Arbor/Detroit, 91.1 Flint, 104.1 West Michigan) has been covering the story from the very beginning, including the April 2014 water supply switch to the Flint River, the first citizen complaints about the smell and taste of the city’s tap water, and the first reports of lead in the drinking water last July.

Michigan Radio reporters have also been explaining the story to listeners nationwide on shows like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, The Rachel Maddow Show, Here & Now, The Diane Rehm ShowOn Point, and many local public radio station shows around the country. Lindsey Smith’s documentary about the crisis, “Not Safe to Drink”, was distributed nationally by The Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal to public radio stations all over the country. And, last week, Michigan Radio’s Steve Carmody and Tracy Samilton provided NPR’s newscasts and newsmagazines with reports on the investigation into who knew what and when they knew it.

Michigan Radio continues to report on the latest developments in this ongoing news story.

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of the above article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

Engineering Spotlight: Geary S. Morrill, Digity Great Lakes Region

We’re pleased to begin a new spotlight series featuring the hardworking engineers at our stations.
To nominate an engineer for a spotlight, please email Alisha Clack at [email protected].

Geary MorrillGeary S. Morrill, CPBE-CBNT
Technical Manager at Digity Great Lakes Region for the past three years.

Brief Engineering Resume:
WLCC (Closed Circuit) Station Manager – LCC ’72-73 / Communication Electronics R.E.T.S. Flint, MI ‘77

Broadcast Engineering at local and or corporate level since ’77 / Pres & GM WIXC-FM Essexville, MI 92-98

Charter member – former Chair/Vice Chair SBE Chapter 91 / MAB and IBA Engineering Committee member

Q: How did you get started in broadcast engineering?

Geary: Since my days at LCC, when we were making technical upgrades, I would be involved. I was mentored by Steve Church while at WHNN-FM AM Drive. Bob Liggett picked up tuition for my R.E.T.S. schooling, which was at night some 50 miles from Bay City. Upon graduation, I took over as Chief Engineer and, shortly after, built the 3 tower DA and power upgrade for co-owned WBCM-AM.

Tell us something about yourself that very few people know…

Geary: I’m one of few broadcast engineers who is a Certified Radio Marketing Consultant (CRMC), and has experience in station ownership, sales, programming, and engineering, which allows me to evaluate situations from multiple perspectives.

What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

Geary: “The man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can’t are both right.” – Henry Ford

Fire Chiefs Support Linking WEA to FM Smartphones

According to the report in Radio Business Report (RBR), The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) is urging the FCC to explore activated FM chips in cellphones because of radio’s importance during a crisis. The FCC wants to raise the 90-character limit of current Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) messages to 360 characters. The smartphone alerts began in 2012 with the goal of directing consumers to their local radio and television stations for more information.

IAFC President Rhoda Mae Kerr stated that the group supports that expansion, calling the current limit “wholly inefficient.” The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) told the fire chiefs’ lobby that the industry would like to add automatic URL links to WEA messages so users could access over-the-air messages on their smartphones via an FM chip in the device. According to the NAB, FM radio-linked WEA messages would also allow consumers to avoid exhausting their data plans and battery life during emergencies. IAFC also urged the FCC to work with wireless service providers to develop standard approaches for accessing FM tuners in smartphones for WEA messages.

FCC Adopts Online Public File for Radio

At its open meeting on January 28, the FCC adopted rules requiring radio to have an online public file.  The new rule will:

  • Require entities to upload to the online file only public file documents that are not already on file with the FCC or maintained by the Commission in its own database. The Commission will include in the online file documents already on file with the FCC;
  • Exempt existing political file material from the online file requirement and require that political file documents be uploaded only on a going-forward basis, consistent with the approach taken in the TV transition;
  • With respect to radio broadcasters, impose the online file requirement initially only on commercial stations in the top 50 Nielsen Audio markets with five (5) or more full-time employees, while delaying for two (2) years all mandatory online public file requirements for other radio stations;
  • Permit entities that are temporarily exempt from part or all online public file requirements to upload material to the online file voluntarily before the delayed effective date of their online file requirement;
  • Permit entities that have fully transitioned to the online public file to cease maintaining a local public file, as long as they provide online access to back-up political file material via the entity’s own website if the FCC’s online file database becomes temporarily unavailable.

Senate Panel Reinstates Some Tax Credits

The Michigan Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved a four-bill package to reinstate some of the tax credits that were eliminated in 2011 when Governor Snyder’s (R) tax reform was enacted. The bills would:

  • Allow a taxpayer to claim an income tax credit of up to 50 percent of charitable contributions he or she made to public art or an art institution; a public library; a public broadcast station; a college, university, or institution of higher education located in Michigan; and the State Museum (SB 461);
  • Allow an income tax credit for donations of cash and food to a homeless shelter, food bank, or food kitchen and for contributions to a community foundation meeting certain criteria  (SB 462);
  • Allow a tax credit equal to the taxpayer’s qualified adoption expenses in excess of the amount of credit for qualified adoption expenses the taxpayer claimed under state law, or $1,200 per child, whichever was less (SB 463); and
  • Allow a credit in the amount equal to 50 percent of the fair market value of an automobile donated by the taxpayer to a qualified organization that intended to provide it to a qualified recipient (SB 464).

Editorial: Create Support Documents to Get Your Blog Off the Ground

Seth ReslerBy: Seth Resler, Jacobs Media

As I’ve discussed before, the way to pull all of your different digital tools together is to use a content marketing strategy. To do this, of course, you’re going to need to implement a system to consistently create online content. When I say “online content,” what I’m talking about is called a blog. But unlike the blog that we write here at Jacobs Media, this is a stream of stories on your website that can be the engine for your content marketing strategy.

As I work with stations across the country to get their blogs up and off the ground, the biggest challenge they run into is usually not technical; it’s human. Let’s face it, many on-air talent didn’t get into the broadcasting business because they wanted to write. Often, we’re asking them to learn a new skill set.

Blogging is not a one-shot deal. It’s something that you have to work at week in and week out. You must develop new habits. This requires patience and discipline. Too often, we show our on-air talent how to write a blog post once and then expect them to be experts at it. Inevitably, they grow frustrated and the blog suffers.

One of the ways you can help your staff become better bloggers is to create support documents that show them what they need to do. I recommend two types:

1. Written Instructions

Create a document with clear, step-by-step instructions for creating a blog post. When you write these, make no assumptions about what people already know. You should be able to hand this document to a stranger off the street and they should be able to create a blog post.

Here are some tips:

  • Write in outline form. Number each step individually to make it easy for people to follow. Be sure not to combine two steps into a single number in your outline.
  • Use the exact same words that are on the site. Don’t write “Click the button;” write “Click the ‘Publish’ button.”
  • Include screenshots. A picture speaks a thousand words. Sometimes, it’s best to show people what they need to do. When I create support docs, I use Skitch to take screenshots and annotate them.
  • Be careful about the sequence. Don’t write “Click the ‘Activation’ link at the bottom of the page.” This sentence is out of order. After all, people have to scroll to the bottom of the page before they can click the link. It will be easier for people to follow if you write, “At the bottom of the page, click the ‘Activation’ link.”
  • Make this document easy to find. Upload it to a shared server. Leave a printed copy in the air studio and the jock lounge. Post a note in the air studio and jock lounge telling people where they can find this guide.

Here are some of the instructions I wrote for configuring the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin on the Jacobs Media site:

    1. In the Yoast SEO window:
      1. Main Window (3 Dots):
        1. In the Snippet Editor, enter your focus keyword to see how well optimized your post is.
        2. Enter a post title to appear in search engines; the same title as the blog post should work if you have included keywords.
        3. Enter a post description that will appear in search engine results. Include keywords.
        4. Look at the Content Analysis. Try to fix any issues marked with red or orange dots.
      2. In the left corner of the Yoast SEO window, click the Share icon (3 dots connected by two lines):
        1. On the Facebook tab:
          1. Enter the title of this post that should appear when it is shared on Facebook; usually the blog post title will work.
          2. Enter the Facebook description; usually the same description that you used for search engines will work.
          3. Select a Facebook image.
        2. Click on the Twitter bird to bring you to the Twitter tab:
          1. Enter the Twitter title; usually the blog post title will work.
          2. Enter the Twitter description; usually the same description that you used for search engines will work.
          3. Select a Twitter image.


2. Video Tutorial

Some people are visual learners, so it’s also helpful to create a screenshot video with narration to explain how to create a blog post. There are a number of programs that will enable you to record a video of your computer screen. (I use Telestream’s ScreenFlow or QuickTime.) Use a mic to record yourself as you explain the process.

Once you have created the video, you will need to put it in a place where your staff can find it. If you save it on a shared server, post notes in the air studio and jock lounge so people know where to find it. You can also upload it to YouTube and set the video to ‘Unlisted’ (only people with the link can watch it) or ‘Private’ (you can share it with specific individuals who will need to log into see it; make sure you share it with people using their Gmail addresses, not their company email address, as their YouTube account is likely to use their Google email address).

For example, here is a sample video I created that shows people how to share their podcast episode on social media.

Creating the proper support documentation for your blog can remove a lot of frustration from the process and solve problems before they begin. With these tools, you dramatically increase the chance of your station’s blog becoming successful.

As always, please feel free to reach out to me.

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of the above article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

Traffic Director Spotlight: Rebecca Bogin, WCFX-FM

Rebecca BoginRebecca Bogin
WCFX-FM (Mt. Pleasant)

Rebecca Bogin is the Traffic Director and Business Manager for WCFX-FM in Mt. Pleasant. She has been in that position for seven of her eight years there.

Q1: What is your favorite comfort food?
Rebecca: My favorite comfort food would have to be my grandmother’s persimmon cookies.

Q2: Which Superhero would you be, and why?
Rebecca: I would pick Kitty Pryde, a.k.a. Shadowcat from X-Men, because she’s smart, can walk through walls, and she has a purple alien dragon for a pet.

Q3: When I’m not working, I’d rather be…
Rebecca: I’d rather be home playing either video games or board games with my best friend and husband, Daniel.

Q4: If I had the chance, I’d really like to have lunch with…
Rebecca: I would love to have lunch with Nathan Fillion! He’s such a fun actor, and he seems so nice.

Q5: Best advice you have ever gotten?
Rebecca: Just be yourself, the rest will come naturally.

Q6: Tell us something about yourself that very few people know…
Rebecca: I play disc golf! My husband introduced me to disc golf a couple of years ago, and now I have my own discs and bag. We rotate between the two disc golf courses in our town.

MAB Teams Up With SBE at Great Lakes Broadcasting Conference & Expo

The Great Lakes Broadcasting Conference and Expo on May 2-3 will feature a training session and test for broadcasting engineers.  The session is being presented by Wayne Pecena on Monday, May 2. On Tuesday, May 3 broadcast engineers may sit for the SBE certification exam.

Important:  if you are sitting for this exam on Tuesday, you MUST fill out this form and submit it to SBE with payment prior to April 1, 2016.

The workshop will focus on understanding and applying IP based networking technology in an Ethernet environment. Tutorial topics will include an understanding of the OSI Model, Ethernet physical standards, Ethernet switching, IP routing, TCP & UDP use, and best practice security implementation techniques. A practical network design will be utilized to illustrate theoretical concepts by developing a best practice segmented network reference design suitable for the broadcast IP network. Considerations in the development will include physical architecture considerations, network infrastructure equipment selection, Ethernet switching & VLAN implementation, IP addressing approaches, IP routing choices, and security feature implementation. Practical design solutions will utilize popular industry networking devices. Bonus topics (based upon time) will include an introduction to IPv6 and steps to structured IP network troubleshooting.

At the conclusion of this workshop, attendees will have:

• An awareness of IP networking technology topics (broadcast focused)

• An understanding of applying fundamentals and principles in real-world practice

• An extensive IP networking reference document (pdf)

• Resources for further study & knowledge

If you have any questions regarding this session or SBE certification exam, please contact Jennifer Preslar at [email protected] or 517-484-7444.  Find out more about GLBC by clicking here.

Bill Restricts Advertising for Healthy Michigan Fund

MAB opposed Senate Bill 542, introduced by State Senator Tonya Schuitmaker (R-26), which prohibits the use of state funds to advertise or encourage enrollment in the Healthy Michigan Fund, a Medicaid extension program authorized through the Affordable Care Act. MAB opposes any legislation that restricts advertising and the free flow of information from government to the citizens.

MAB met with Senator Schuitmaker (R-26) to explain our opposition to the legislation prior to the committee hearing. The bill has been referred to the Senate Health Policy committee, chaired by State Senator Mike Shirkey (R-16), and passed the committee on a party-line vote. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) testified against SB 542, stating that many citizens who signed up for the Healthy Michigan Fund are new to the benefits and have never been on government assistance programs before. MDHHS also testified to the success of their agency’s public education campaign in collaboration with the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.

Status: The bill has been referred to the Senate Health Policy Committee.