Ross On RadioInsight: Fresh Listen: Chicago’s MeTV-FM

For those of us not in Chicago, WRME-LP (Me-TV-FM) arrived, literally, as an intriguing station. Me-TV-FM didn’t stream its programming, and still doesn’t. Local press reports were nebulous—I couldn’t really translate the station as I heard it described into understandable programming terms. Was it an older oldies station? A supersoft AC along the lines of those in Miami and (at the time) San Diego? AM-style MOR? It couldn’t really be all those things? When I finally heard Me-TV-FM, it was, of course, all of those things. There were the sort of ‘60s oldies that had disappeared from most of today’s Classic/Greatest Hits stations. There were ‘70s pop songs far softer than anything played in WFEZ (Easy 93) Miami or the former KIFM San Diego. The new station also had an “oh wow” factor that we...Read More

Looking At The Beasley/Greater Media Deal

For those following closely the writing on the wall for Greater Media was after their drastic layoffs a couple weeks ago along with the format change of “Detroit Sports 105.1” WMGC to the more cost-effective Classic Hip-Hop. Still while rumors were simmering for a few weeks prior to that about something potentially happening in Charlotte, nobody can say they saw Greater Media’s complete exit coming in one fell swoop ahead of time. And Beasley was the company that mostly exited its two largest markets a few years ago and now here they are returning to Philadelphia and entering Boston and Detroit’s FM band in a major way. CFO/Interim CEO Caroline Beasley is clearly seeking to lay her mark on the family-run company founded by her father George in 1961. But what could b...Read More

The Looming Engineering Age Crisis

Broadcast companies are standing on the train tracks, watching a train from a mile away making its way towards them. “Boy, that thing’s going to kill us! Should we jump? Should we run? Well, I’m pretty busy…I sure hope someone pushes us out of the way before the train hits us!” And that’s how the end will be. The surprise? The train isn’t “new media” or the internet. The train is our inability to act. There’s something we’ve been talking about in the industry for years – it’s the lack of new Engineering and Technical talent. We all know the problem is there. We know that it’s already a big problem. The issue is we keep waiting for someone to do something about it. We need to act. We need to do it now. I know of two small market stations that were off the air for an entire day. One of them ...Read More

A Movement Leading To A Revolution

Since I started traveling to radio conventions a few years ago never have I seen a group as energized for the audio medium as those here at the 2016 Podcast Movement in Chicago. The group of aspiring and established podcasters, marketers and network sales are all here for one thing. Their love of creating audio content regardless of format. That’s not to say they’re not looking to be commercial operations. The most packed rooms were those directed towards growing and monetizing your audience. The morning started with three keynote addresses. Two of the speakers came from the public radio podcasting space: Snap Judgment’s Glynn Washington and Death, Sex and Money’s Anna Sale. Washington’s first words were clear about his motives, “I don’t care about...Read More

June 1996: To Infinity And Beyond

In the first few months following deregulation many deals were made, but June 20, 1996 would be the date of the first major merger of the new era. After rumors persisted for weeks that it was pursuing a marriage with Evergreen Media, Westinghouse Electric, which had acquired CBS in 1995 to bring together two heritage groups who date back nearly to the formation of the radio medium (In Westinghouse’s case they were the first as the first commercial licensee with KDKA Pittsburgh), gobbled up Mel Karmazin’s Infinity Broadcasting for $3.9 billion in cash and stock and the assumption of another $1 billion in debt. The deal gave Westinghouse 83 stations (with 1 FM in Chicago and 3 FMs in Dallas needing to be divested). Mel Karmazin joined the buyer as Chairman/CEO of the radio operat...Read More

RossOnRadioInsight: If Currents Matter To AC, Where Are They?

At one time, it was just assumed that Top 40 wasn’t going to pass along much that Adult Contemporary radio could play, ever. For the first half of the ’00s, Top 40 was still in its “Terror Squad and Trapt” era of surprisingly aggressive hip-hop and active rock hits. AC found its currents in unlikely places, from Christian AC act Mercy Me’s “I Can Only Imagine” to “Live Like You Were Dying,” the song that finally made Tim McGraw a pop star. But AC was doing fine without a lot of current music at that point. Top 40’s adult resurgence would take a few years to develop from its early beginnings with Kelly Clarkson and Gwen Stefani. Hot AC would need a few years beyond that for PPM ratings measurement to help it create stories. AC was the market-dominant format that could skim the top lay...Read More

Random Ramblings On Social Audio, Lack Of Quality Control, & Dan Daniel

How can radio put itself on equal footing with this? With television stations able to put their live feed directly on Facebook and other social media platforms during major events, where is the ability for easy embedding of audio? Facebook removed its embeddable audio function in 2012 and has yet to come up with a new solution. Two public media tests have been made this year as NPR worked with Facebook on a player, while WNYC used the video player with a static image to create a way to share recorded audio. But there still is nothing being done to get live audio to the masses as it is being broadcast. How much more reach could a station’s morning show have if their celebrity guest and the show publish the live stream? Between the growth of the podcasting industry and social audio pla...Read More

RossOnRadioInsight: First Listen KLIV “Country Gold 1590” San Jose

I’ve always liked “Country 95.3” KRTY San Jose. For the last 25 years, they’ve cheerfully done their own thing, often impervious to bad times elsewhere in the Country format, and regardless of whether there’s a country station in nearby San Francisco. Musically, they’ve always been assertively current, and they’ve always been unapologetically country. KRTY is one of a half-dozen stations where Eric Paslay’s “She Don’t Love You,” not a big enough hit elsewhere, is still in recurrent. And why shouldn’t it be? So I was excited when KRTY owner Empire Broadcasting announced that it was planning to switch News/Talk AM KLIV to classic country after the California Primary. I understood the dismay of some listeners over losing a low-rated outlet for local news and information, but I per...Read More

Ross On RadioInsight: From Kelly To Justin, And Gwen

Are The Acts Who Saved Top 40 Getting A Fair Shot? In the early ‘00s, when Mainstream Top 40 was waiting out its last format doldrums, upstaged by Hip-Hop and Linkin Park, any act with a legitimate uptempo pop hit could grab the format spotlight pretty quickly. It was a big deal if more than one of these artists had hits simultaneously–CHR lived from hit to hit, the indigent friend trying to figure out whose couch or cash they hadn’t tapped out yet. There was Kelly Clarkson, reluctantly acknowledged for “A Moment Like This,” but embraced for “Miss Independent.” And when Clarkson returned on the next project with “Since U Been Gone,” she supplied not just a steady flow of hits, but a format turning point. There was Justin Timberlake, defying expectations with one surprisingly strong s...Read More

Ross On RadioInsight: A New, National Look at Formats

The national share of listening to Country radio is nearly 15% and more than 6-1/2 shares ahead of the next music format, Mainstream Top 40. Classic Hits, the format that took possession of acts such as Fleetwood Mac and Billy Joel from Adult Contemporary, has become a bigger format than AC. News/Talk radio, despite a seeming free-fall in recent years, continues to command double-digit listening, even ahead of this year’s election. Those are just a few headlines from a special look at national format ratings from the fall 2015 Nielsen survey. Nielsen releases its own format headlines based on its monthly PPM data in top 50 markets as well as through its “Audio Today” reports, some of which we analyzed last fall. Those are based on self-reported formats from stations’ info packets (occasion...Read More

May 1996: Changes From A Management Perspective

As the radio industry has evolved in the past two decades since the Telecommunications Act, many working in the radio industry have no idea on how different things were before 1996. To help describe the changes to the industry since then I asked Dick Taylor to explain how the role of management has changed. Now Assistant Professor for Western Kentucky University’s School of Journalism & Broadcasting, in 1996 Taylor was General Manager for Spring Communications in Atlantic City NJ overseeing News/Talk 1450 WFPG, AC “Lite Rock 96.9” WFPG-FM and “Country 106.3” WKOE as part of a career as GM or Market Manager that stretched from 1982 until 2010. To understand how the Telecom Act of 1996 was the finale of a process that began back in the 1980s, you need to un...Read More

Behind The Launch: The 330

Last month Akron Public Schools AAA “The Summit” 91.3 WAPS Akron/90.7 WKTL Struthers/Youngstown OH launched a brand extension focused on local artists and musicians with a connection to the station’s Northeast Ohio base. Available on streaming platforms and WAPS-HD2, “The 330” named after the area code of the market is the perfect example of the types of ancillary products radio can launch to expand its digital reach. We discussed the debut with WAPS Program Director Brad Savage. Savage joined WAPS/WKTL last Fall following an over two decade career in commercial radio. He’s worked on-air at defunct Alternative “Rev 105” and AAA “Cities 97” KTCZ Minneapolis and programmed in Columbia MO at Rock “100.1 The Buzz” KBBM, Alternative &#...Read More

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