|Canada lets the air out of Voltair
Canada’s ratings consortium orders all stations to unplug the Voltair processor.
Like immediately. The logic doesn’t get any more “Canadian” than this – the not-for-profit Numeris consortium says “Canada’s level measurement playing field must be maintained.” It believes “the result of the use of” the Voltair audio processor produced by Telos Alliance-associated 25-Seven is “an increase in [PPM] code density that may be differentially impacting data.” That’s serious stuff in the research world. While there’s talk in the U.S. about a level playing field, Canada’s consortium of radio/TV broadcasters, agencies and advertisers has the power to actually make it happen. Numeris was founded in 1944 as BBM (Bureau of Broadcast Measurement), and it would be something like the equivalent of the NAB, the 4As and the ANA administering the radio and TV ratings in the U.S. Instead the U.S. has the for-profit/publicly-traded Nielsen and the privately-held Eastlan Ratings. Nielsen predecessor Arbitron created the PPM electronic measurement system and sold the Canadian rights to Numeris, which uses it under its own set of rules. Okay, that’s a thumbnail history about how different Canada is from the U.S. – now more about the subject of yesterday’s midday “Just in” email alert from this Tom Taylor NOW Newsletter –
All Canadian stations in PPM markets were told to pull Voltair by last Sunday evening.
There were two communiqués late last week from Numeris. On Thursday was a milder release that said “this technology has not been tested by Numeris and we do not have a full understanding of the effect it may have on station encoding.” Also – “We do note that stations we believe employed the technology have experienced mixed results.” Yesterday’s NOW Newsletter told you that “This is the first time since Canada moved to PPM that CHFI has not led the Toronto market.” The drop by Rogers-owned AC CHFI was dramatic, from a 13.6 share with age 2+ AQH to a 9.4. Ratings historian Chris Huff also says that’s also the first time CHFI hasn’t been in double digits. So is the Voltair part of what’s going on with CHFI? Numeris doesn’t say. But Thursday’s note “requested” that Voltair-using stations drop it during an expected 60-day analysis. By Friday, Numeris took a much harder line. Bolded, underlined and in a separate box is this message – “Numeris requires that any Voltair unit be physically disconnected from the Numeris encoder, and the output of the Numeris encoder be routed for transmission without further processing or manipulation.” Also – “We ask that this task be completed no later than” Sunday night at midnight.
Encoding for PPM is “one area that has not been carefully examined,” says Numeris.
Canada may well take the lead on the Voltair processing question, and it’s uniquely positioned to do that, because of Numeris. Here’s more from Friday’s strict turn-it-off notice – “It has been ten years since PPM was deployed in Canada, and during that time constant innovation by Numeris and Nielsen has transformed PPM. Numeris has added out-of-home measurement, wireless communication from PPM, messaging ability, new form factors and more. One area that has not been carefully examined” is the encoding itself – those inaudible tones sent out by each station’s encoder about every five seconds. Voltair says it can help those tones be more reliably detected by a meter. Numeris will “undertake a review of encoding advancements that may be available in 2015, and review potential improvements with Numeris members so a decision can by made on deployment in the PPM system.” In other words, Canada will either be all-in or all-out with Voltair.
Next question – what happens with Voltair in the U.S.?
Very different circumstances here in the 48 PPM markets measured by Nielsen. We know the NAB COLRAM committee’s been meeting about the challenge presented by the 25-Seven-produced Voltair. Also that the matter has the full attention of the Media Rating Council. 25-Seven insists that its customers are not getting credit for listening that isn’t occurring. Just that the PPM technology itself was developed in the 1990s and isn’t perfect. The June 5 NOW had the FAQ from Telos Alliance with this Q&A – “Can an audio processor be illegal? Who would police that? And what about stations who only use Voltair as a monitor?” It also says “Last we looked, your on-air chain, methods and programming choices belong to your station.” That’s the free-market approach, and Telos says “Some stations have high-priced morning talent, and some don’t. Some stations have 100,000 watts, and some have only 250 watts.” And some use the $15,000 Voltair. If Toronto’s CHFI – which lost over 4 shares with age 2+ AQH in the just-released PPMs – was one of those users, there really are questions about what’s happening. 25-Seven says it’s shipped 500 units to the U.S. and Canada, but doesn’t break out how many went across the border. You’ve been reading about the black-box Voltair unit here since December 17. More to come.
Sure enough, Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity and other talkers roost in Boston on a converted Spanish music station.
Yesterday’s speculation by Radio Insight about the intriguing domain registration for “Talk1430.com” is borne out by an iHeart press release – “Mia 1430” WKOX goes English-language talk on June 29. Rush Limbaugh’s being dropped by Entercom’s 50,000-watt WRKO (680) due to cost and perhaps other factors, and there wasn’t a good alternative for iHeart-owned syndicator Premiere Networks. Ironically, 1430 (then WXKS-AM) was Air America-based progressive talk from late 2006 to 2008, when it went to a Spanish tropical format named “Rumba” and then in 2009 to “Mia.” Its power is 5,000 watts day/1,000 watts at night. Here’s the new talk lineup, which begins with t“Fox Sports Daybreak,” 6-9am. Then there’s Glenn Beck, Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, America Now, Mark Levin, Ground Zero (at midnight), Jason Smith (1am) and Ben Maller (starting at 2am and leading into Fox Sports Daybreak). “Talk 1430” debuts on Monday, June 29 at noon – with the format’s leading light, Limbaugh. There’s also news out of Boston about a station that declined to accept Limbaugh and his contract –
Boston’s WMEX/1510 has talent trouble in two dayparts.
You learned last week that new afternoon host Michele McPhee was arrested on charges of driving under the influence and assaulting a cop, following a messy late-night traffic stop. Now Scott Fybush at Fybush.com says that noon-3pm is a problem for WMEX, too – “Utica’s Bill Keeler failed to emerge as WMEX’s midday star,” apparently choosing to remain at Townsquare’s news/talk WIBX/950 in Utica. WMEX LMA operator Daly XXL had said they’d prefer to go with a local host (Keeler) instead of the syndicated Limbaugh. Now what? Fybush says “WMEX is now carrying the hastily-assembled ‘Renegade Radio’ at noon, with station manager Brian Berner hosting.” Going back to McPhee, her new employer Daly XXL says the author, newspaper columnist and talkshow veteran is “a respected member of the WMEX family, and the management stands behind her in this difficult time, as we would any friend or family member.” McPhee insists on-air that the true version of that night’s events will become known, and she’s out on her own recognizance, pending an August 4 pre-trial hearing.
From the Rumor Mill – Larry Wilson’s Alpha Media is performing due diligence on Digity stations.
If Dean Goodman and his backers at Florida-based Digity need an exit strategy – and his backers want one – then the neatest solution is to cut a global deal with Wilson. That’s because Larry could potentially take the entire group. If he wanted to then do spins and/or swaps, he’d have the ability to do that. But upfront, he’s able to swallow the entire group. That would mean Digity, its backer Garrison Investment Group and Digity’s deal-rep RBC would be palavering with just a single party, instead of multiple buyers. This NOW Newsletter hears that folks representing Alpha are performing due diligence at the local cluster level. Lots of potential transactions falter at this level or the Letter of Intent stage. But the rumors you’ve been reading here for months about Digity and Alpha appear to be solidifying.
SiriusXM ends its pursuit of the “John Does” behind an 800-number “misdial trap.”
Papers were filed in federal court last Friday dismissing the suit that SiriusXM brought against alleged scammers who squatted on 800-539-SIRIUS – a close cousin of the authentic 888-539-SIRIUS customer service number. The February 20 NOW reported the original suit, at a time when Sirius XM filed against unknown John Does. By April 6, the company amended the suit with the names of principals of something called National Sales Partners. SiriusXM alleged that callers were asked to hand over Social Security numbers and credit card info, and that several of its own people had called undercover and been the subject of fishing expeditions by folks claiming to be company reps. As usual with out-of-court settlements, we don’t know the terms. Just that SiriusXM law firm Davis Wright Tremaine “voluntarily dismisses its complaint in its entirety, with prejudice [can’t be re-filed] and without fees or costs to any party.” Looks like the misdial trap has been closed.
“Here’s what happens to your $10 after you pay for a month of Apple Music.”
That’s Re/code writer Peter Kafka’s investigation of the economics behind the just-announced service. First, nobody in the music industry gets any dough during the initial three-month free trial period. Kafka says that was “a bone of contention with music labels during negotiations.” But how about after Apple Music starts drawing on your credit card? Re/code says “In the U.S., Apple will pay music owners 71.5% of Apple Music’s subscription revenue.” That’s “a fairly standard ratio,” says Kafka – who notes that the 70% figure covers both the owners of the sound recordings and the parties who own the publishing rights to the songs themselves. We’re still in the early innings of the digital-music game, and Re/code is yet another source pointing out that “Apple has campaigned against Spotify’s freemium model.” That’s where consumers put up with some ads in exchange for free access to on-demand songs. Kafka says “top label executives have pushed Spotify to pull back on free, as well.” In that mission, the labels are lined up with Apple, even though they remember what happened with iTunes a decade ago and how they gave up much of their control of downloads to Apple. But now downloads are slacking off, and streaming (both interactive like Spotify and non-interactive like Pandora) is the shiny new object.
Entravision creates a new sales czar gig for Jose Villafane.
Jose’s new title of “President of Entravision National Sales” encompasses his enlarged role at the radio stations, national radio/TV spot sales, and the Entravision Solutions multi-platform shop. He’d most recently been EVP of Entravision Solutions, which leads national sales for Entravision’s own stations plus other stations handled by the former LER (Lotus Entravision Reps). Mario Carrera remains the Chief Revenue Officer at Entravision, and he says Villafane will be based in New York - where the company doesn’t own any stations, but has many chances to tell the Hispanic radio/TV/digital story. Entravision also happily shares the news of a credit rating upgrade from Standard & Poor’s, from B+ to BB-. Among the positive factors cited by S&P – the reduction in debt-to-EBITDA (cash flow) ration from 4.4-times a year ago to 4.1-times. That’s due to growth in EBITDA and also debt reduction.
Sillerman-connected “Viggle” rewards-plan ncludes radio in its marketing mix, based on the 14,127 national spots detected last week by Media Monitors. Two weeks ago (June 9 NOW Newsletter) Viggle bought 12,400 ads to rank at #25 on the Media Monitors list of radio’s national advertisers, and now it’s moved up to #17. Robert F.X. Sillerman, who’s cutting costs at his SFX Entertainment EDM and live event company as he bids to take it private, has combined parts of SFXE with Viggle. They now share a sales organization. Viggle calls itself “an award-winning mobile- and web-based entertainment marketing and rewards platform providing incentives for content consumption.” It’s privately-held. At the top of last week’s Media Monitors list are Home Depot (59,066 spots), GEICO (39,411) and at “the corner of Happy and Healthy,” Walgreens (31,816). You wonder – why isn’t Walgreens national rival CVS taking advantage of radio?
Michael Bolton should be a crowd-pleaser, entertaining at tonight’s NAB Education Foundation’s 17th annual “Celebration of Service to America” awards program in D.C. Bolton started as a rocker and then became famous as a soulful balladeer, winning two Grammys and six American Music Awards. As a songwriter, Bolton’s got a tune in the new Russell Crowe film titled “Fathers & Daughters,” and he’s recently appeared on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.” This year’s NABEF event honors actor Gary Sinise for his “ongoing commitment to raising awareness and support for veterans.” Deborah Norville of “Inside Edition” will emcee, with attendance expected from House and Senate members and two FCC Commissioners.
“The first totally Shazamable broadcaster conference in the world” starts tomorrow, presented from Atlantic City by the New Jersey Broadcasters Association. This year’s slogan is “Broadcast has a new attitude,” and Humanitarian of the Year honoree Judge Andrew Napolitano of Fox News certainly brings some attitude. NJBA President/CEO Paul Rotella lists his sponsors for the 68th annual conference, including Sun Broadcast Group, Army National Guard, Nielsen, BMI, Compass Media, Broadcast General Store and Withum Brown. More about what the 400 attendees will be seeing and doing here.
30 years of programming experience go into Gary Begin’s new “Radio Programming and Branding: The Ultimate Podcasting and Radio Branding Guide.” He calls it “a book for broadcasters by a broadcaster” and he designed it to cover both digital and terrestrial radio – and personal brand-building. Gary Begin’s book is on Amazon now.
Northeast, east and southeast of Tulsa, three contemporary Christian FMs sell for $800,000. Seller ABS Communications bought them in 2013 for $500,000, so this looks like a profitable venture for principal Roger Chasteen and his cohorts at ABS. Their buyer is Keyplus Broadcasting, and it’s paying the $800,000 purchase price in cash. The stations are all Class A’s starting with northeast-of-Tulsa KTFR Chelsea at 100.7. Its sisters are KEMX Locust Grove at 94.5 and Taft-licensed KTFR at 100.3. Broker for seller ABS - Doug Ferber of DEFcom Advisors.
“At 70, Art Bell is coming back, has ditched his corporate gig and is going to do it on his own terms, his way.” That’s attorney and entrepreneurial expert Steve Strauss writing in USA Today about Art’s July 20 return as an model for other entrepreneurs. Art’s using his own “Dark Matter Digital Network” as a vehicle, and he tells Strauss that “I had the most fun in my life before my old show [Coast to Coast] was purchased by Clear Channel…Winging it, trying new things, it was a blast.” Art’s new frontier for all things unlikely, oddball and even alien is streaming. We’ve been writing about Art’s return, but there’s a different take from USA Today here.
The Bacchanalian history of “Atlanta’s Ramblin’ Raft Race” is told with vintage pictures from its start in 1969 (“the fraternity years”) to 1980, by which time the event regularly drew 400,000 onlookers and many fun-loving, hard-partying rafters. Atlanta Magazine tells the story of how Jerry Blum-run WQXI/790 became a larger and larger part of it. (Blum’s station was the model of much of “WKRP in Cincinnati.”) And how at the very end, rival WZGC elbowed its way into the sponsorship before WQXI wrested it back in court. Highly entertaining reading and pictorial from Atlanta Magazine here.
“Bob Pittman’s career has been built around math and magic,” says none other than Rance Crain. Rance is the President of Crain Communications and editor-in-chief of AdAge. iHeart leader Bob Pittman is well-known to Rance, and in this Q&A, Rance admires the way Pittman helped conceptualize and build MTV and AOL. More about Pittman’s business thought process with Rance Crain here.
“Distinguish pirates from Part 15 operators,” is the suggestion from Westport-based engineer Bill DeFelice, who says he’s been writing various FCC Commissioners about the important difference. Unlicensed pirates with the intention of covering miles and miles of territory often blast hundreds or thousands of times more power than they’re allowed to under the FCC’s “Part 15” limit. And sometimes FCC inspectors can deal harshly with legal Part 15 operators who are merely engaging in super low-power and legal “yardcasting.” Read Bill’s column in Radio World here.
Randy Bush has managed elsewhere in the Little Rock market, but this is his first time there with Salem. He was most recently the GM at Nashville’s classic country-and-more WSM/650, and he returns to Little Rock to succeed Gary Vaile. His new charges are Christian teaching “Faith Talk 99.5” KDIS (recently acquired from Disney), conservative talk “96.5 the Answer” KHTE and contemporary Christian “93.3 the Fish” KSSP. Dallas-based John Peroyea is Salem’s regional VP/Operations, overseeing Little Rock.
LeAnder Cooper is the newest general manager inside Beasley Media Group, taking over from another Cooper – no relation to LeAnder – at the Atlanta cluster. Predecessor Greg Cooper is headed to Broadway. Beasley says he’s “left the company to follow a lifetime dream…He is the executive producer of ‘A Cappella The Musical,’ which debuts in New York City in early July.” That leaves the GM office open for LeAnder at Christian talk “Love 860” WAEC and brokered-talk “Sports and Entertainment” daytimer WWWE Hapeville (1100). New GM LeAnder Cooper has a master of science in accounting degree and joined the Beasley cluster as assistant business manager in 2013. She’s at LeAnder.Cooper@bbgi.com.
Jim MacMullin caps a 14-year career at New Brunswick, Canada-based Acadia Broadcasting with an ascent from VP to President. He’s helped the Irving family-owned Acadia grow to about a dozen stations in Atlanta Canada and northwestern Ontario. Those include “Country 100.7” CJHK in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia and AC “Border 93.1” CFOB in Fort Frances, Ontario.
Not in on the joke - Tim Johnson, now Associate Director at the Houston-based Alexander Group, reports with sadness that "Longtime Indy programmer Gary Hoffman passed over the weekend. Gary was a creative marketing maniac who built WZPL into one of the most respected CHR stations in the 80s and 90s. In 1987, I followed a special girl from Rockford to Indy, and Gary gave me a chance at WZPL as the overnight guy. Each day we would go over my aircheck and he would assign me a different air name to use. Some were just horrible. He explained that he didn't want me to tarnish my own name, so these aliases were to be used until I was good. About seven weeks later, Gary moved me into nights as 'Tim Foxx.' Later, I found out he had given me the names of the other GMs and PDs in the market - which explains why I was 'Jeff Smulyan' for a week!" Pictured at a back-in-the-day promotion (third from the left) is Gary Hoffman, Tim’s PD at “Indy’s Apple.” Got your own true story about radio? Email “You Can’t Make This Up” – Tom@RTK-Media.com.
“I read stories I didn’t even know I was interested in,” is the comment from one NOW reader, and that’s a compliment for any publication. Thanks for investing some of your precious time in this daily Tom Taylor NOW Newsletter. Want to invest some of your marketing budget, if you’re a vendor or service provider to the radio industry? To explore advertising here, contact Kristy Scott - Kristy@RTK-media.com or phone 818-591-6815. See you back first thing tomorrow - Tom