Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Chicago Radio: Wade Linder To Program WLS-FM

Wade Linder
Cumulus Media announces that it has appointed veteran radio programming professional Wade Linder as Program Director for Classic Hits station WLS 94.7 FM in Chicago.

Linder moves to WLS-FM from WLUP-FM, where he has served as Program Director since June 2014. Prior to that, Linder was Program Director for KXXR-FM in Minneapolis, MN, a station he programmed for nearly 20 years. Linder began his radio career in 1990 at KQRS-FM in Minneapolis, where he was Music Director/Assistant Program Director. He went on to launch Minneapolis station KEGE-FM in 1994, prior to signing on at KXXR-FM.       

Marv Nyren, Vice President and Market Manager, Cumulus Media-Chicago, said: “Having the luxury of replacing a premiere Program Director like Brian Thomas with Wade Linder doesn’t happen often. We are most fortunate to be able to move Wade from WLUP-FM to the Program Director’s role at WLS-FM. This allows us the opportunity to continue growing upon the heritage and recent success of 94.7 and to keep one of the country’s most talented PD’s in our cluster.”

Mike McVay, Executive Vice President, Content & Programming, Cumulus Media and Westwood One, said: “It is rare that a market has as many strong programmers in one building as does Cumulus Chicago. We’re excited to be able to take advantage of Wade’s skills and experience and use him as the growth of WLS-FM continues.”

WLS 94.7 FM (4.4 Kw) Red=Local Coverage Area
Linder said: “I am thankful for the opportunity to keep doing what I love – Radio, at another great Chicago brand, WLS-FM. There are a lot of talented and passionate people who want to win here! The future looks bright.”

NYC Radio: WEPN's Michael Kay Wins Men 25-45

WEPN 98.7 ESPN New York’s “Michael Kay Show” rallied in the month of February to beat Mike Francesa’s WFAN 660 AM / FM 101.9 replacements, “Carlin, Maggie and Bart,” according to The NYPost citing Nielsen figures.

At the end of March, one side will be able to claim the first real victory as the full three-month book will be completed. Right now, WFAN still holds the overall lead, but Kay and his partners, Don La Greca and Peter Rosenberg, have momentum, according to The Post

For Chris Carlin, Maggie Gray and Bart Scott, WFAN’s new team, the February book was unkind. After they beat Kay in January, Kay averaged a 4.5 for the key sports radio demographic of men 25-45, while WFAN had a 3.5. The takeaway could be that post-Francesa, listeners sampled WFAN’s new show, found they didn’t like it and turned to Kay.

Overall, WFAN is leading ESPN overall, 4.1 to 3.6.

If this holds and even with lesser ratings than it is accustomed to, WFAN may end up considering this a success, because it is paying the trio considerably less than Francesa, who had been at or near the top of the ratings for three decades.

In the absence of Francesa and major storylines, the whole sports radio genre is down, as Kay was eighth in the radio demo for February and WFAN was 12th.

Facebook Loses $40B In Market Value

With European and U.S. lawmakers calling for investigations into reports that Facebook user data was accessed by UK based consultancy Cambridge Analytica to help President Donald Trump win the 2016 election, investors are asking even more questions about the social media company’s operations.

Reuters reports an increasingly vocal base of investors who put their money where their values are had already started to sour on Facebook, one of the market’s tech darlings.

Facebook’s shares closed down nearly 7.0 percent on Monday, wiping nearly $40 billion off its market value as investors worried that potential legislation could damage the company’s advertising business.

Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg is facing calls from lawmakers to explain how the political consultancy gained improper access to data on 50 million Facebook users.

Cambridge Analytica said it strongly denies the media claims and said it deleted all Facebook data it obtained from a third-party application in 2014 after learning the information did not adhere to data protection rules.

“The lid is being opened on the black box of Facebook’s data practices, and the picture is not pretty,” said Frank Pasquale, a University of Maryland law professor who has written about Silicon Valley’s use of data.

The scrutiny presents a fresh threat to Facebook’s reputation, which is already under attack over Russia’s alleged use of Facebook tools to sway U.S. voters with divisive and false news posts before and after the 2016 election.

Facebook said on Monday it had hired digital forensics firm Stroz Friedberg to carry out a comprehensive audit of Cambridge Analytica and the company had agreed to comply and give the forensics firm complete access to their servers and systems.

WABC-7 NYC Manager Camille Edweards EXITS

WABC/Channel 7 boss Camille Edwards‘ temporary leave from WABC has turned into a permanent one, Page Six at The NYPost has learned.

In an email sent out Monday afternoon Edwards let her staff know of her decision to resign following deaths in her family.

“As most of you know, the last six months have been extremely hard for me. I lost two of the most important people in my life during a short period of time,” she wrote. “That kind of loss forces you to really look at your own life. I’ve spent the last few months on bereavement leave thinking about what’s next for me and opportunities I want to explore. I’ve made the really difficult decision to leave my post at WABC.”

ABC Owned Stations Group President Wendy McMahon told Page Six in a statement, “We thank Camille for the role she’s played in WABC’s success and the contributions she’s made to the larger ABC Owned Stations Group during her 15 years of service, and wish her well with her future endeavors.”

Both Edwards and other WABC boss Dave Davis reportedly left the company following a “reverse racism” scandal in which a sports reporter, Laura Behnke, filed a discrimination lawsuit against them, claiming she wasn’t promoted to the main sports reporter position because she is a white woman. Behnke later left WABC in New York when her contract expired.

Matthew Lamattina, another employee, filed a separate discrimination lawsuit against Edwards last October. The NY State Division of Human Rights dismissed the charges that he had claimed.

IN Radio: WEOA Evansville Flips To Hip-Hop

WEOA 1400 AM / W253BF 98.5 FM which previously had an urban adult contemporary format, has changed to hip-hop and R&B.

WEOA will have hip-hop and R&B music every day, around the clock, but its special programs such as Leadership Connection on Saturday mornings and church broadcasts on Sunday mornings will continue as normal.

“This opens up a broader listening audience,” said Darin Lander, general manager. “We just felt like Evansville is ready for that change.”

Hip-hop music has become highly influential in popular culture, and songs are even making their way into commercials, Lander said. The new format took effect Monday morning.

Other local stations have done some hip-hop programming, but the format “has never been here 24/7,” Lander said. “We’re the only ones doing it now and the first ones taking this step to go all the way.”

W253BF 98.5 FM (120 watts)
WEOA is locally owned by BLS Entertainment.

Tronc Boss Retired Just Before Harassment Allegations

Tronc Chairman Michael Ferro on Monday suddenly announced his retirement from the newspaper publisher — hours before a report surfaced that claimed two women had accused him of inappropriate behavior, according to The NYPost.

The women, executives who had business dealings with Ferro in 2013 and 2016 — before he worked at Tronc — claim they were victims of unwanted advances, according to Fortune, which published a story of their accounts.

One woman, Kathryn Minshew, claims Ferro tried to forcibly kiss her in September 2013 at a corporate apartment in downtown Chicago. They had met because Ferro agreed to invest $750,000 in her digital company.

The second woman, Hagan Kappler, then an executive with Ingersoll Rand, claims Ferro, in a hotel suite at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, put his arms around her from behind and grabbed her breast, Fortune reported.

The magazine said it has numerous secondary sources to back up the claims.

A spokeswoman for Tronc said the company has had no claims filed against Ferro — and that it is “aware of no claims filed against Ferro throughout his career.”

Syndicated Radio Host Arrested For Domestic Battery

Joe Gassman
Joe Gassmann, also known as Producer Joe, was arrested in DuPage County, Ill. over the weekend . He was arrested for two counts of domestic battery, which are Class A misdemeanors in Illinois.

The DuPage County Jail confirmed that Gassmann had been in custody. He was released Sunday morning.  He is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges on April 23.

The Free Beer & Hot Wings show originates from Grand Rapids and is heard on radio stations in 26 states, according to the information page on their website. Gassmann is a Chicago native, according to his online biography.

Townsquare Media, the parent company of Free Beer and Hot Wings responded to the arrest. "Joe has been suspended and will not be appearing on the show, pending resolution of the police investigation of the matter,” said Rick Sarata of Townsquare Media.

March 20 Radio History

➦In 1902...Nathan Stubblefield demonstrated ship-to-shore broadcast to multiple receivers in Washington, DC.

He made public demonstrations of voice and music transmission to five receiving locations on the courthouse square in Murray on January 1, 1902, witnessed by at least 1,000 people, apparently using voice frequency transmission through earth conduction, to a radius of one-half mile.

Stubblefield with wireless phone
Later he demonstrated wireless telephony in Washington, D.C. on March 20, 1902, where voice and music transmissions were made over a third of a mile from the steamer Bartholdi to shore. He demonstrated wireless telephony as well in Philadelphia on May 30, 1902 to a distance of a half mile.

He joined wireless inventor Archie Frederick Collins and stock promoters in the Collins Wireless Telephone Company. In December, 1909 Collins Wireless Telephone Company became a part of the Continental Wireless Tel. & Tel. Company, with A. Frederick Collins as Technical Director. Stubblefield resigned as a director in December 1911, because of what he described in a letter as their sometimes-fraudulent stock promotion practices. The other principals of the company were later convicted of fraud.

Back home in Murray, he continued to experiment with wireless telephony, using large circular conduction coils to transmit voice frequencies to receiving stations. In 1903, he could transmit 375 feet without earth connections, using induction. In 1904, he could transmit 423 yards.

The total wire required for the transmitting and receiving coils was of a greater length than what would be required to simply interconnect the transmitter and receiver, but the invention would allow mobility.

On May 12, 1908, he received U.S. patent 887,357 for his Wireless Telephone, using the voice frequency induction system. He said in the patent that it would be useful for "securing telephonic communications between moving vehicles and way stations". The diagram shows wireless telephony from trains, boats, and wagons. In foreign patents he showed wireless telephony with cars. However, there is no indication that he was using voice-modulated continuous high frequency waves, as used for radio today.

➦In 1906...actor/producer/bandleader Ozzie (Oswald George) Nelson was born in Jersey City NJ.

He & wife Harriet Nelson were regulars on the Red Skelton radio show, before he developed The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet for ABC radio from 1944 to ’54. It developed quite a following & moved to TV from 1952 to ’66.  As son Rick Nelson became a recording star in real life, the program focussed more on him, ending each show with a performance.

Ozzie died of cancer June 3, 1975 at age 69.

➦In 1908...the future president of CBS Dr. Frank Stanton was born in Muskegon Mich.

Instrumental in the development of television he served as chief executive at CBS for 25 years beginning in 1946.  With company founder William Paley he built Columbia into a communications powerhouse.

He died in his sleep Dec. 26 2006 at age 98.

➦In 1922...WIP-AM, Philadelphia, went on-the-air.

Founded by Gimbels department store, the station first went on the air on as Philadelphia's first commercial radio station with the call sign WIP, which people mistakenly think stands for "Wireless In Philadelphia," "We're In Philadelphia" or "Watch Its Progress." In fact, WIP was a call sign randomly issued by the federal government.

In 1938, the station began a full 24 hour a day broadcast schedule and used the slogan "Philadelphia's Pioneer Station." In 1940, the station was granted a power increase to 5,000 watts and the transmitter site was moved to Bellmawr, NJ. The previous tower at 21st and Hamilton was dismantled and the property sold.

Wayne Cody
From the begining, one of the most popular personalities on the station was children's show host "Uncle Wip." While Uncle Wip was portrayed by several people, one of the longest running was Wayne Cody. By 1933, Uncle Wip's "Kiddie Club" had over 500,000 names on its list, and over 750,000 by 1941. In addition to making numerous appearances, some of Uncle Wip's other activities included an Aviation Club, a "Toyland Parade" and a "Drum and Bugle Corps."

In 1958, WIP AM and FM were sold for $2,500,000 to WIP Broadcasting, Inc., a new syndicate headed by Benedict Gimbel, Jr., the station's former General Manager.

In 1960, the Metropolitan Broadcasting Division of Metromedia, Inc., owned by John W. Kluge, purchased WIP AM and FM for $2,700,000. This essentially ended any connection the station had with the Gimbel family or retail concern. On May 11, 1961, WIP's licensee name was changed to the parent company name, Metromedia, Inc.

Today the station call letters are WTEL, owned by Beasley Media Group and airs sports talk.

Bob and Ray
➦In 1922....radio comedian Ray Goulding of the broadcast team of Bob & Ray was born in Lowell Mass.   Their career spanned 5 decades, all the time satirizing radio & TV.  He said the billing “Bob and Ray” came from their first radio show “Matinee with Bob and Ray” which they thought sounded better than “Matinob with Ray and Bob”.  They had an NBC television show from 1971-1973.  Goulding died of kidney failure March 24, 1990, mere days after his 68th birthday.

➦In 1935...the Lucky Strike Hit Parade premiered on NBC, featuring the top 15 tunes of the week. The show would be a Saturday night radio staple for the next 24 years…second in longevity only to Grand Ole Opry.

➦In 1965...B. Mitchel Reed did last show at WMCA NYC.

He was known as "The Fastest Tongue in the West," for the speed in which he spoke to his audience. He left KFWB for WMCA in his home state of New York on February 7, 1963. He soon became part of a team of disc jockeys known as "The Good Guys," among them Jack Spector, a fellow alum from Boys High School in Brooklyn who had graduated two years ahead of him.

By 1965, Reed decided to return to Los Angeles. His last show at WMCA was on March 20. Thousands of his fans cheered him at the airport upon his departure. Many fans who were thrilled of his return greeted him when he arrived in LA. This ushered in his second stint at KFWB and The Wide Wide Weird World of BMR.

➦In 1972...actress/singer Marilyn Maxwell died after a heart attack at age 50.  She was a radio singer before signing a film contract with MGM, singing & being ogled on the Abbott & Costello radio show. She was most famous as the blonde bombshell (read “whistle bait”) on Bob Hope’s many USO tours around the world.

➦In 1974...newscaster Chet Huntley, a veteran of west coast radio before co-anchoring the nightly Huntley-Brinkley Report on NBC TV, died of lung cancer at age 62. He had started his radio career at KIRO Seattle after graduating from the University of Washington in 1934.

➦In 1989…After 37 years with the program, Dick Clark announced his intention to discontinue hosting "American Bandstand" on ABC-TV.

➦In 1989…Bandleader (for Arthur Godfrey's radio and TV shows)/arranger/record label founder (Cadence) Archie Bleyer died of the effects of Parkinson's disease at the age of 79.

➦In 2005...Ted Brown, Personality WOR, WMGM, WNBC, WNEW NYC, died.

In 1953, Ted Brown began working at WNEW 1130 as an air-personality. He worked there off and on and at one point he worked at WMGM playing rock and roll. He returned to WNEW and then worked at WNBC from the late 60s to the early 70s. At that point he went back to WNEW as afternoon drive air personality. He moved to mornings in 1978. When WNEW began evolvng in 1979 from Adult Contemporary to Adult Standards/Big Bands by 1981, Ted remained.

He continued working at WNEW until 1989 when he semi-retired. In the 1990s he helped host New York Giants football games on WNEW. From 1993 to 1995, Ted worked middays at WRIV, a standards station in Riverhead, New York and on WVNJ 1160 Oakland, New Jersey playing standards and big bands from early in 1996 to about 1998 when he suffered a stroke. He signed-off his show with the phrase "Put on the coffee Mama. I'm coming home."

Monday, March 19, 2018

WWO Adds Paul Joseph As VP/Program Ops&Content

Paul Joseph
Westwood One, the largest radio network in the U.S., announces the strategic hire of veteran media executive Paul Joseph in the newly created role of VP, Program Operations and Content, for its burgeoning Music and Entertainment division.

Joseph will leverage his vast industry experience to coach, consult, and train Westwood One/Cumulus hosts and producers to better engage listenership, build their brands, and drive revenue within the company’s pop music programming arena. He is based in Culver City, CA and reports to Susan Stephens, SVP/GM, Music and Entertainment.

Joseph joins Westwood One from Cumulus Media, Los Angeles. Before that, he was the creator and executive producer for IMG’s The Source, where he secured IMG’s 12,000-strong roster of stars with their own radio hour on satellite radio. Among his many other high-profile gigs, Joseph was the creator and executive producer of The Radio Music Awards on ABC-TV/NBC-TV; consultant and executive producer, On Air With Ryan Seacrest at KIIS-FM/LA; executive producer, American Top 40; executive producer, Rick Dees in the Morning, KIIS-FM/LA plus the national version; producer of KIIS-FM’s Unite, Wango Tango, and Jingle Ball events; and writer/producer of Into the Night for ABC Late Night Television. He also produced and directed commercials for Clear Channel personalities and was on-air at KIIS-FM.

“There is no doubt that Paul is a star and a mentor that makes magic happen,” says Stephens. “His expertise will be invaluable to our roster of talent and producers as he works one-on-one with our team to help each person and show achieve their personal best. Investment in talent and programming is priority at Westwood One, and this strategic hire is another example of our commitment to great content and employee growth.”

“I’m thrilled to be a part of the amazing Westwood One team,” says Joseph. “Our goal is to strengthen programming and content across the platforms by using all the tremendous assets of Westwood One and Cumulus Media, including Zach Sang, the brightest young star in radio. Many thanks to Suzanne Grimes, Charles Steinhauer, Kirk Stirland, Susan Stephens, and, of course, Mike McVay for their confidence and support. Let’s Rock!”

Michael Ferro EXITS Tronc

Michael Ferro is retiring from the board of Tronc ahead of the newspaper chain’s $500 million sale of the Los Angeles Times and other California assets.

The Chicago Tribune reports Ferro’s retirement is effective immediately, the company said. Justin Dearborn, chief executive officer of Tronc, was named to succeed Ferro as chairman of the company that also owns the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News and other major daily newspapers.

Michael Ferro
“I want to thank everyone who worked so hard over the last two years creating great journalism, strengthening the company’s financial position and delivering significant value for shareholders,” Ferro, 51, said in a news release Monday. “I am confident that under the leadership of Justin and the rest of the board and management team Tronc will continue to deliver value for investors while executing the plan for digital transformation.”

While Ferro is stepping down from the Tronc board, he will continue in his role as a paid management consultant to the company, a result of a three-year, $15 million deal struck in December. Ferro received his first $5 million annual fee, which was paid in advance on Jan. 1, according to financial statements filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Last month, Tronc agreed to sell the Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union-Tribune and other California-based assets to Los Angeles biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong for $500 million in cash. Soon-Shiong, Tronc’s second-largest shareholder, also will assume $90 million of pension liabilities tied to the California properties.

Ferro, a technology entrepreneur who previously led the investor group that owned the Chicago Sun-Times, became the largest shareholder and chairman of Tribune Publishing in February 2016, and the corporate name was changed to Tronc shortly thereafter.

Atlanta Radio: Cumulus Moves Brian Thomas To WKHX

Brian Thomas
Cumulus Media announces that it has appointed veteran programming professional Brian Thomas as Program Director of WKHX Kicks 101.5 FM.

Thomas heads to Atlanta from Cumulus Media-Chicago, where he was Program Director for Classic Hits WLS 94.7 FM. Thomas also serves Cumulus as a member of the Corporate Programming Team for the Country format, and is Vice President, Programming, Classic Hits.

Thomas was previously Program Director for Cumulus Media’s Country station in New York City, NASH FM 94.7/WNSH-FM. Prior to joining Cumulus, he was National Vice President of Classic Hits programming for CBS Radio. He was also Program Director of Country WQYK-FM and Classic Hits WRBQ-FM, and Vice President, Programming for CBS Radio in Tampa.

Sean Shannon, Vice President and Market Manager, Cumulus Media-Atlanta, said: “I am thrilled to have Brian join our team. His knowledge and his passion for Country is contagious. I can’t wait to see what he can do with this legendary brand.”

Louie Diaz, Operations Manager, Cumulus Media-Atlanta, said: “It’s an exciting time for us, and Kicks 101.5. Atlanta is ready for Brian. Time to turn it up!”

Thomas said: “It was always my dream to program WLS-FM in Chicago, but I started in Country and everyone knows I love it. And although I am Corporate Program Director for Country at Cumulus, it’s not the same as having a Country station down the hall. I’m beyond thrilled that Sean Shannon, Mike McVay and Charlie Cook have confidence in me to program KICKS, one of America’s leading Country stations. And looking forward to working with Louie Diaz and the team at Cumulus Atlanta!

WKHX 101.5 FM (100 Kw) Red=Local Coverage Area
Thomas replaces veteran programmer Scott Lindy, who departed last week.

Buffalo Radio: Cumulus Promotes James Kurd To RVP/Rock

James Kurd
Cumulus Media announces that it has promoted Rock programming professional Jim Kurdziel to Regional Vice President, Programming – Rock, overseeing the Rock and Alternative formats for Cumulus’ radio stations in the Northeastern U.S.

Kurdziel will continue to serve Cumulus Media-Buffalo, NY, as Program Director and Midday Personality for WEDG 103.3 The Edge FM in Buffalo. In his new role as Regional Vice President, Programming – Rock, for Cumulus, Kurdziel will support stations in markets including: Buffalo, NY; Syracuse, NY; Harrisburg, PA; Wilkes Barre, PA; Saginaw, MI; New Orleans, LA, and Appleton, WI.

Mike McVay, Executive Vice President, Content & Programming, Cumulus Media, said: “Jim has shown his ability to program successfully. His track record speaks for itself. We’re excited to expand his role and take advantage of his success and experience.”

Troy Hanson, Vice President, Programming, Rock, Cumulus Media, said: “We are incredibly proud of Jim for this well-deserved promotion. He is a natural leader. It is a true recognition of his skills, talents and commitment to excellence. And that’s just his hair.” 

Kurdziel said: “It’s hard for me to put into words how much this means to me. To have Mike McVay, John Dimick and Doug Hamand believe in me is humbling and I don’t know what I can say about Troy (that he won’t make fun of me for saying). He doesn’t like getting credit or attention, but to put it simply, he’s made a lot of lives and careers better, especially mine. To continue my career with Cumulus is my passion because Mike is leading us to new heights and it’s so much fun to follow him. Working with true mentors like Ralph Cipolla, Keith Cunningham, Derek Madden, Val Garris and so many others is a privilege. That I can continue in my hometown of Buffalo, NY, with Steve Bearance leading our amazing team is a really wonderful perk - a very cold perk, but a perk, nonetheless.”

SLC Radio: KUBL Taps Lexi And Banks For Wake-Up Duty

Lexi and Bank
Cumulus Media announces that it has named popular Salt Lake City radio personalities Lexi Papadopoulos and Jared Banks Danielson as Co-Hosts of an all-new Morning Show on KUBL K-Bull 93 FM.

They replace Tommy & Joe Johnson.

The show debuts on K-Bull 93 on Wednesday March 21st and will air weekdays from 5:30-10:00am. Lexi and Banks have been on-air in the Salt Lake City market since 2012.

Patrick Reedy, Regional Vice President and Market Manager, Cumulus Media-Salt Lake City, said: “With over five years of entertaining SLC under their belt we’re confident that Lexi and Banks will hit the ground running, with a fun, fast paced, entertaining show, that is sure to put a smile on listeners faces.’

Travis Moon, KUBL Program Director, said: “I am beyond pumped to have Lexi and Banks joining the Bull. They are fun, engaging, and exciting. I can’t wait for our listeners to experience their awesome chemistry, and make them a part of their everyday life. This is going to be fun.”

KUBL 93.3 FM (25 Kw) Red=Local Coverage Area
Lexi said: “I am super excited to be back on the air every morning with my best friend doing what I love - laughing and making you laugh.”

Banks said: “I feel incredibly blessed for this opportunity! K-Bull 93 is a fantastic station with great heritage. The SLC market really showed they liked what Lexi and I were doing on the radio and we are excited to continue that success on the Bull.  A massive thank you to Patrick, Chris and Travis for making it happen.”

Emmis CEO Looks To Diversify

Jeff Smulyan
The Emmis sale of four St. Louis radio stations for $60 million in February, coupled with a move this month to restructure Smulyan’s severance package, had some in the radio industry wondering if the soon-to-be-71-year-old is ready to cash in his chips.

When asked about the possibility, Smulyan let out a hearty laugh.

“No, that’s not me,” he told Indianapolis Business Journal from his roomy office overlooking Monument Circle. “We are who we are, and I like working. Working is not stress to me. I like problem solving.”

Smulyan said he’s readying to put that love for problem solving to work by diversifying the company in a whole new direction. Years steering a publicly traded company in a high-profile business—radio, television and publishing—have him prepared to face criticism.

“We’re looking at some new areas. I’d like to diversify and try another area where, if we do it, people will say, ‘What do they know about the widget business?’” Smulyan said. “And that will be a fair question, but … what I’ve learned is that, every time we diversified, we were smart enough to know what we didn’t know and we got the talent we needed.”

Just what direction Smulyan is planning to take Emmis he wouldn’t say. But the when? That appears to be soon.

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AT&T, Time Warner Merger Trial Gets Underway

The government and AT&T will square off in court this week to decide the fate of a massive media merger in a trial that will have far-reaching effects on the market and regulators.

The trial begins Monday in the Justice Department's (DOJ) lawsuit to block AT&T’s $85 billion proposed merger with Time Warner.

The Hill is reporting the case has been embroiled in controversy over whether President Trump had any influence in the decision to block the merger as retaliation against CNN. Trump has long accused the Time Warner-owned network of biased coverage.

The DOJ and White House have denied any political interference.

AT&T sought to make those questions a key to its case and requested communications between the DOJ and White House. A judge denied that request.

The trial will instead center on whether the deal could hurt competition or consumers. And the rest of the industry will be watching closely for cues on what types of deals they’ll be able to get away with in the future.

The Justice Department will make the case that combining AT&T’s control over distribution channels with Time Warner’s popular content — which includes HBO, TNT and TBS — will give the company the power to squeeze out competitors and drive up prices for customers, and could have far-reaching consequences for the entire entertainment industry.

USAToday reports revenues have stagnated in the saturated wireless industry, and so too has traditional pay-TV revenue from AT&T's DirecTV satellite service and U-verse fiber-delivered TV service. Adding Time Warner's immense and valuable library of movies, TV and live programming would expand AT&T's ability to offer new streaming video services to the growing mobile and non-traditional video audiences.

That could be all-important for consumers, because without the deal, AT&T and Time Warner separately could be left weaker, compared to competitors such as Comcast and Disney, and less willing to deploy new services or green-light new movies and TV series — an argument made by the companies and analysts covering the sector.

Conversely, the Justice Department contends the merger is anti-competitive and would raise costs for TV operators wanting to distribute Time Warner content, increases that would likely be passed on to consumers.

Ben Shapiro To Media: More Facts, Less Hyperbole

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro and CNN host Brian Stelter had a very candid conversation Sunday that was widely praised on social media. During the seven-minute interview, Shapiro exposed the mainstream media and explained why they are disconnected from mainstream America.

TheBlaze reports the highlight of the interview came during an exchange on media bias. Shapiro explained the biggest problem with the mainstream media is many outlets purport to be objective while being extremely partisan.

Shapiro’s comments came in response to critique from Stelter, who suggested Shapiro’s news website and other conservative outlets make journalism better instead of trying to “tear things down.” Shapiro said:

Shapiro also criticized CNN for its coverage of the firearm debate in the wake of the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, calling coverage in the mainstream media “absolutely egregious.”

Shapiro took issue with mainstream media outlets, like CNN, giving anti-gun, anti-NRA students a nearly unlimited platform to push their beliefs with little pushback from anchors when the students make factual mistakes or extreme statements, like blaming the NRA or Dana Loesch for mass shootings.

Univision Cost Reductions Hitting Digital

As Univision Communications Inc. explores extensive cost cuts after shelving its plans for an initial public offering, the company’s digital assets aren’t being spared.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Univision, which has been owned by private-equity firms since its massive leveraged buyout a decade ago, hired Boston Consulting Group to review the company’s business. As part of the firm’s preliminary recommendations, BCG proposed cutting the budget of Fusion Media Group by as much as 35%, according to people familiar with the matter.

The cuts threaten to significantly reduce staffing at Fusion Media Group, which includes Gizmodo Media Group, comprised of the Root and most of the websites formerly owned by Gawker Media; a stake in the Onion; and the cable channel Fusion, the people said.

An initial wave of job cuts have already started to filter through Fusion Media Group as the division is integrated with the parent company’s other digital operations, some of the people said. In the past week, Univision laid off Felipe Holguin, the president and chief executive at Fusion Media Group, and Daniel Eilemberg, the president and chief content officer for the Fusion cable network. Budget cuts have also been recommended for the Univision digital assets outside of Fusion.

It’s expected that a significant amount of the savings will come from streamlining of operations at the Fusion cable channel and from the changes implemented recently, according to a person familiar with the process.

Fusion Media Group has more than 600 employees with an annual budget of about $150 million, according to people familiar with the matter. The division was near break-even last year.

“This is cutting into muscle,” one of the people said. “These are not operations that are running with a lot of overhead.”

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