|PPM test surprise
Stations in the D.C.-Baltimore PPM test won’t have to turn off their Voltairs.
You read here first thing yesterday about Nielsen using Washington, DC and Baltimore as a laboratory for its PPM “enhancements” - the updated algorithm for electronic ratings. Nielsen informed stations about the test last Friday, but despite speculation, it doesn’t seem to be asking them to pull their Voltair units out of the audio chain. That could be for legal reasons. This is a tip-toe exercise between Nielsen, its client stations who pay the bills, and the Telos Alliance-25-Seven group that manufactures the Voltair audio processor. The Media Rating Council is in the mix, too. To re-cap the latest development – Nielsen’s “Dear Client” letter said it would be “conducting live tests of the enhanced Critical Band Encoding Technology (CBET) used in our Portable People Meter measurement, during the month of August,” in those two mid-Atlantic markets. Besides the legalities, there’s a second possible reason for Nielsen keeping hands-off with existing Voltairs – It could install a second encoder at participating stations. That could inject a signal into the “second layer” of the audio chain, the one normally reserved for TV network ID. (Yes, Arbitron built that in, years ago.) Nielsen is committed to making these enhancements universally available in fourth quarter, and to issuing new encoders in the first part of 2016. It hopes those two steps will make the controversy about Voltair melt away - but it probably won’t.
Due soon – Canada’s report on Voltair.
It was June 14 when Canadian users of the Voltair audio processor were ordered to yank the power cord and stop using them, pending a “60-day study” by the Numeris consortium. We’re just about at that point now, though it’s not clear whether the 60 days were all field work, or whether they included time for analysis by Numeris, the former BBM. But things will be different in Canada, no matter what. It uses the PPM to produce minute-by-minute ratings, and it’s possible that Voltair may show more of an effect in the Canadian system than in the Lower 48 States. A critical thing to watch in both countries’ testing is what Voltair does in situations where a PPM meter is assaulted by high ambient noise. Does Voltair help the station’s every-five-second encoded tone get picked up by the meter, especially if it’s a talk-based station?
Entercom dedicates HD2 channels in a half-dozen markets to Metal music.
Yesterday started with a tweet from Robert Corbin’s VARTV.com about the appearance of The Metal Channel on the HD2 signal of Entercom’s hot AC “94.9 the Point” WPTE Virginia Beach. Then came word from RadioInsight about the same hard-rocking service on the HD2 signal of Seattle’s rock KISW/99.9. By the afternoon, Radio Insight supplied additional cases of a Metal outbreak. It’s on the HD2 signals in Portland, Oregon (KGON/92.3), Kansas City (KQRC/98.9), New Orleans (WKBU/95.7) and Denver (“Mountain” KQMT/99.5). Expect the party to grow from there, knowing Entercom. As for the choice of metal, here’s how Ryan Chase at KISW explains it - “We have a brand new source for the metal you need 24 hours a day! Introducing The Metal Channel on KISW HD2. 100% interruption free metal 24/7. From the early years of Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, through Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer to new music from Lamb of God and Slipknot.” Then it gets to the hardware – “Don’t have an HD Radio? That is a drag. You can pick one up pretty inexpensively for your home, office or car.” Entercom then directs you to the Get-a-Radio section of the HDRadio site here - so “you can start enjoying great free stations like The Metal Channel.” We haven’t seen much of that kind of enthusiasm about unique channels at the local level since the introductory days of HD Radio.
Google to create a new parent for itself, named Alphabet.
It’s an unusual move, but co-founder Larry Page says “we think we can make the company cleaner and more accountable.” It certainly should make its business more transparent, as Google expands beyond its traditional reliance on revenue from search. As USA Today says, “Alphabet will be a collection of companies, the largest of which is Google.” But some of Google’s current non-core ventures (glucose-sensing contact lenses?) will be shorn away from that company and put into other companies, under the umbrella of Alphabet. Bay Area-based Google has always encouraged its engineers to devote a percentage of their time to more speculative ideas, and perhaps Larry Page and Sergey Brin want Google to be more concentrated on the technology it’s made famous. Current Google executive Sundar Pichai will run Google, while Page and Brin will manage Alphabet.
Glynn Walden retires as Senior VP/Engineering at CBS Radio.
He’s 71 and had “a tremendous 34-year run with Westinghouse, Group W. USA Digital Radio, iBiquity, Infinity and CBS.” That’s from his goodbye memo. He’ll continue to consult for CBS, whose stations he knows so intimately. While Radio World says Glynn has “voiced an interest in other special industry projects.” Walden was a key player in the development of America’s In-Band, On-Channel digital radio technology that came to be embodied in iBiquity. Glynn was among the engineers tinkering with the idea in the late 1980s, when Europe was exploring the out-of-band Eureka 147 DAB system. “Out of band” means migrating radio from the traditional AM/FM bands to a higher part of the spectrum. At first the NAB backed Eureka, but a few innovators thought the U.S. could innovate its own solution without asking the government for new spectrum. Walden was a founder of USA Digital Radio, which was folded into iBiquity, where he was VP of Broadcast Engineering from 1996 to 2003. Then he returned to CBS. For much of that time his base was all-news KYW Philadelphia (1060), which he calls “one of the truly great radio stations.” Walden was honored with the NAB Radio Engineering Achievement Award in 2004. No word from CBS about how it will handle the vacancy at SVP Engineering.
There’s an extra grace month for full-power AM/FM stations to file the Biennial Ownership report at the FCC, because the Commission “on its own motion” is extending the deadline from November 2 out to December 2. The data still should be current as of October 1, but the FCC realizes that “some licensees and parent entities of multiple stations may be required to file numerous forms.” So as it’s sometimes done in prior years, it pushes back the deadline for filing Form 323. Read the Order here.
Listeners can vote on favorite songs, but there’s no outside hijacking possible, in Futuri Media’s new version of its LDR1 technology. CEO Daniel Anstandig says they worked with former iHeartRadio designer Jordan Cooperman and former iHeartRadio exec Zena Burns (on the research), and consulted with station PDs. One of their guiding stars was what’s happening with mobile – usage is growing incredibly fast. Among the new features are Instant Alert technology, to text, tweet and/or email listeners when a favorite song’s due up (“a proven occasion-driver”). Data about listener interaction with the playlist is available to the PD, with more customization and more “automation around social capabilities”, conserving staff time. The update is coming to all LDR1 stations in the next few weeks.
The good times continue for Verizon Wireless and radio, with the country’s largest carrier staying in the top ten of national advertisers as tabulated by Media Monitors. Two weeks ago, Verizon bought nearly 24,700 spots to jump from the #48 position all the way up to #8. Now we learn that Verizon bought even more spots last week (25,479), placing it at #7. The other Big 2 carrier is Verizon, and it’s also up, from #29 to #27, with 11,372 spots. Smaller wireless player MetroPCS (owned by T-Mobile) also placed stronger orders, up from #9 to #6, while Boost Mobile (owned by Sprint) ranks #12 and T-Mobile’s at #20. Radio’s new #1 national advertiser is Geico, at 44,307 spots. Home Depot backed off from the previous 57,782 spots to 40,123, dropping into second place.
Milwaukee’s WTMJ/620) objects to a plan by St. Paul’s 630 AM to improve its night signal. WTMJ tells the FCC that would interfere with its own protected contour in Green Bay. That’s important territory since Scripps-owned news/talk WTMJ is the flagship of the NFL Packers. ’TMJ runs 50,000 watts daytime/10,000 watts nighttime, and NorthPine reports its objection to the minor-change proposal by Greg Borgen’s 630 Radio Inc. It owns regional Mexican/Spanish tropical “Radio Rey” WREY, licensed to St. Paul. WREY seeks approval to hike daytime power from 2,300 watts to 5,000 watts, and nighttime power from 2,300 watts to 2,800 watts. Northpine recalls that in 2002, WTMJ raised similar objections to a proposal to upgrade WREY (then known as WDGY), “which prompted changes to that application." The station’s been on the move since 1994, when it sold its six-tower site (for what used to be top 40 KDWB) and went dark for a while. Borgen also owns the current WDGY, which is Hudson, Wisconsin-licensed “Oldies Radio” at 740.
More Spring-book Nielsen diary markets –
Wheeling – This new Spring book makes 42 straight wins, going back to 1992, for iHeart’s country WOVK. A year ago, its Spring-book age 12+ AQH share was a 16.7, then there was a 15.4 share last Fall, and this time it’s a 17.8. Second is FM Radio Licensee (Kerby Confer)-owned classic hits “Kool 105.5” WUKL, 8.3-9.8-11.6. Believe it or not, there’s a third station in double digits, iHeart’s top 40 “Kiss” WVKF (7.1-11.2-10.3). Sister rock “Eagle 107.5” WEGW is fourth among the stations we can see (and not far away from double digits, 8.3-9.1-9.6). Confer’s country “Biggie 100.5” WBGI improves 7.1-4.2-6.2.
Panama City – iHeart’s country WPAP (9.9-9.0-9.9) hasn’t lost in five years, achieving its tenth straight win. Tied for #2 you’ve got Powell’s “Bob at the Beach” variety hits WASJ (2.9-4.5-6.6) and Magic Broadcasting’s CHR “Island 106” WILN (8.7-7.7-6.6). Tied in fourth place are iHeart’s urban “Beat” WEBZ (8.1-7.1-5.9) and its AC “Sunny 98.5” WFSY (7.6-7.1-5.9).
Monroe, Louisiana is where Holladay’s urban “Beat” KRVV extends its winning string to 34 books (18.5-20.4-22.2). Of the nine subscribing stations, Holladay has the top four, while Mapleton has the next five. #2 with its best share since Spring 1991 is Holladay’s urban AC KMVX (11.5-11.1-12.7), and third is co-owned country KJLO (10.2-13.0-12.0). The first Mapleton station is AC “Sunny” KZRZ (7.0-4.9-4.4).
Eau Claire – Seven #1’s in a row for Mid-West’s country WAXX, 11.9-11.2-11.9. The market’s other subscriber is iHeart, which owns the main rival for WAXX. That’s “Hot Country B95” WQRB, 10.1-10.0-9.7, followed by top 40 “Z100” WBIZ, 8.3-8.8-9.1. Fourth is Mid-West’s “92.9 the X,” rock WECL (7.1-6.5-6.8). To find a talk-based station, you’ve got to search a long way down to iHeart’s talk WMEQ (1.8-1.8-1.7).
iHeart-L.A. puts two AMs on HD2 channels – though interestingly, they’re not giving the same treatment to the talk AM that carries Rush Limbaugh, KEIB/1150. But talk KFI/640 just began airing on the HD2 channel of AC KOST/103.5, and all-sports KLAC/570 will clear on the HD2 channel of “Alt 98.7” KYSR. Cluster Senior VP/Programming Andrew Jeffries announces the additions on the websites of both KFI and KLAC. KOST had previously run “Big Classic hits” on HD2 and KYSR aired the Premium Choice “Rock Nation” service.
Danbury’s “New Rock Alternative 103.7” debuts via HD-fed translator, and Berkshire Broadcasting CEO Irv Goldstein doesn’t mind explaining the format choice. He says Townsquare’s heritage “I95” WRKI “has been playing the same Cream, Zeppelin and Pink Floyd records since 1975 - enough already.” The target of Berkshire’s new signal is “rock listeners under the age of 45” who can find “a real rock choice.” The new-to-the-market signal is W279CI, a move-in from Georgetown, Connecticut. Berkshire paid Dennis Jackson $250,000 for the construction permit (April 3 NOW). It runs 250 watts, fed by the HD3 signal of AC WDAQ/98.3, and its antenna is mounted on the stick of Berkshire’s talk WLAD/800. For now, Berkshire is running “New Rock Alternative” commercial-free and jock-free. Nate Mumford is programming the station, which streams on TuneIn and on its own 1037Rock site here.
New in Natchez is classic hits “Fun 101,” according to Radio Insight. Owner First Natchez Radio Group is migrating WWUU, Washington, Mississippi from 103.9 down to 101.1. It remains a Class A at 328 feet, but will jump dramatically in power, from 255 watts to 6,000 watts. The frequency change is the culmination of a process that began with the station’s sign-on in Fall 2012 and the $55,000 sale to First Natchez in early 2013. Other First Natchez properties include “95 Country” WQNZ.
In the Shakespeare Festival town of Stratford, Ontario, oldies CJCS is being allowed to move from 1240 AM over to 107.1 on the FM dial – and also to change formats. The current “Stratford’s greatest hits” oldies format will morph to “rock music for male listeners 25 years and older,” says its new license from the CRTC regulator. The signal will be 900 watts at 107 feet, and owner Vista Radio (backed by Westerkirk Capital/Thompson Investments) has three years to build it out. See the conditions of license, including the allowance for a three-month simulcasting period, here.
This Albany translator at 105.3 will keep carrying Family Radio programming after it’s sold – but at some point “Talk 1300” WGDJ will become the feed station. Paul Vandenburgh of Capital Broadcasting is paying $50,000 – or perhaps more – for the translator. It’s currently just a 10-watter at 105.3. The sale contract with Family specifies that if the signal can be upgraded in the next three years “to serve a significant increase of the population in the new 60 dBu contour,” there will be an additional payment. That could raise the eventual price of translator W287AB high as $75,000, instead of $50,000. But there are issues, like a new Low Power FM licensed to nearby Troy, also at 105.3. For the “foreseeable future” – that’s in the FCC filing – the translator will continue airing the Family Radio Christian teaching and music format begun by founder Harold Camping. He’s the same Harold Camping who predicted the end of the world, multiple times.
“Mizzou” and Stephens College finally get around to filing their deal for KWWC Columbia, Missouri (90.5). KYTV News had the story last Fall (November 3 NOW), about the University of Missouri paying Stephens $50,000 for the Class A KWWC, currently doing 80s music as “Sweet 90.5.” Mizzou also agrees to give Stephens underwriting announcements worth up to $50,000 on its non-com news/talk KBIA (91.3), over the next five years. The University of Missouri will re-purpose 90.5 as all-classical, shifting the current blocks of classical programming on its KBIA there. That lets KBIA take the same path as many other non-coms and concentrate on news/talk/information. Stephens College will retain the KWWC calls and continue programming online. Buyer University of Missouri has student-programmed variety KCOU (88.1) in Columbia, plus non-commercial KOMU-TV – plus six other non-com FMs in Missouri and Illinois.
K-Love grows stronger in Austin, thanks to the $26,000 acquisition of a translator CP (construction permit) from Lisa Lopez. The 30-watter at 92.1 has been on and off, but according to the K-Love station map, it’s back on doing EMF’s non-com contemporary Christian format. K221GC is northeast of Austin and will rebroadcast EMF’s KVLR Sunset Valley, a Class A at 92.5.
Manhattan, Kansas may be seeing a new AM/translator hookup, though that’s just a guess. Rich Wartell’s Manhattan Broadcasting Company is paying $22,000 cash for the construction permit named K227CX – a future 140-watter at 93.3. The FCC filing indicates it will be rebroadcasting Wartell’s top 40 KACZ Riley at 96.3. But let’s jump to a conclusion and speculate that the real beneficiary will be news/talk AM KMAN at 1350 – “the Kansas Association of Broadcasters 2014 Station of the Year,” says the website. Seller of the translator is Great Plains Christian Radio, and the new signal joins a Manhattan station group that includes rock KMKF/101.5 and “Hot Country B104.7” KXBZ.
Chris Harrison was a bit of a lightning rod at Pandora, where he was the VP of Legal Business Affairs when Pandora was working on its relationships with artists. (Not always kum-ba-yah.) Fortune’s Jeff John Roberts hears that Harrison’s leaving Pandora for SiriusXM satellite radio. Pandora says Harrison’s been “a valued team member” and that it’s “confident our music licensing activities won’t skip a beat as we move ahead.”
Mark Remillard hires on at ABC News Radio as a staff reporter, beginning this week. He previously worked in Phoenix at Bonneville’s news/talk KTAR/92.3, and and reported on President Obama’s recent visit to the market, back in January. For KTAR, Mark covered the waterfront (so to speak) - local government, transportation, business and crime reporting. Before Phoenix, He was part of the team at iHeart’s talk KFI Los Angeles/640, working with morning host Bill Handel. Remillard is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Media at Arizona State University.
Skip Tash loved radio, loved sales and combined those (plus a love of golf, which didn’t hurt) to build quite a career at several trade publications, associations and media companies. Sorry to report his death of pancreatic cancer. Paul McLane at Radio World writes that Skip “worked for six years as VP of ad sales for Broadcasting & Cable, then took a similar position at the NAB before coming to Radio World” and its then-owner IMAS. He became associate publisher at Radio World and its sister publications. Later he’d become EVP at BuyBidSell.com, EVP of FMi/TV Networks, national interactive sales manager at Comcast Spotlight, and President of interactive media sales for Norstar Media Networks. Tash was active in D.C.-area charity and Chamber of Commerce activities. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer three years ago and McLane says that through that fight, Skip kept “showing his trademark humor and grace.”
Crashing the competition’s promotion – Dave Schmidt recalls “When I was doing some work for a country station in Dover, Delaware. One day they called me and asked if I could help them with something ‘and we'll explain it when you come in.’ When I got there, they asked if I wanted to 'invade' another station’s event in Wilmington. I thought it'd be fun and agreed. So they gave me a vehicle and arranged to get me in. The whole idea was for me to go into the event, and the first person who came up and asked me if I was from the Dover station would win tickets to a concert. After I was there about 10 minutes. a lady came up and asked if I was from the country station. I said I was, she got the tickets, and I got some audio. When I was on my way out, the program director from the station sponsoring the event storms out of the place, beet-red in the face, saying 'how dare you do this.’ But before I got out, his staff invited me into their trailer, and everyone there thought it was a scream that I did what I did.” These days, Dave doesn’t have to sneak into anybody else’s station – he runs the online oldiesradio1620.com.
Take 2 – Thanks to the many alert readers who caught my dyslexic use of “Dandy Don” when referring to Frank Gifford, in yesterday’s story about Frank’s death at 84. “Dandy Don” was “Monday Night Football” anchor Howard Cosell’s somewhat sarcastic nickname for Don Meredith. Whereas “Faultless Frank” was the sobriquet given to Gifford, the Hall of Fame New York Giant. As Ed Levine of Galaxy Broadcasting said, “As a football legends biographer, as I'm sure you have heard, you are a great radio analyst.” Also in Monday’s issue, the correct calls for the translator Emmis is buying and moving into Indianapolis to rebroadcast all-sports “1070 the Fan” WFNI are W228CX.
Got a news tip or other communication to this NOW Newsletter? They’re welcome at this address – Tom@RTK-Media.com. In other words, don’t just hit “reply” to this newsletter, because that’s our sending address, and not my email. See you back first thing tomorrow morning - Tom