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Tom Taylor Now
Wednesday, July 22, 2015 Volume 4   |   Issue 141
Nielsen stays hands-off with Voltair
VoltairSure enough – Nielsen punts on Voltair.

True, it tells yesterday’s webinar that Voltair “interferes with the encoding process” for PPM and “introduces audible artifacts, like pops, static and echoes.” But when you get right down to it – it’s pretty much what we predicted here yesterday. Nielsen will not “support or endorse” the Voltair audio processor. But it’s also not ordering stations to yank the cords out and it’s not suing anybody. And if another outfit like the Media Rating Council or the NAB’s COLRAM wants to investigate whether using the Voltair constitutes rating distortion, well...that’s up to them. As one webinar attendee tells NOW, “Nielsen walked right up to that line about Voltair producing ‘audible artifacts,’ but they didn’t cross it by calling it ‘rating distortion.’” Yes, Nielsen tells the clients-only webinar that that the meter carried by a survey participant will pick up more codes from a Voltair-supported signal. But once you run that through the attribution and editing process, that doesn’t result in more quarter hours. Here’s The Dummies’ Guide to PPM - You only need credit for one of those every-five-second tones to get credit for a particular minute. Getting ten tones in the minute doesn’t do you any more good than one. Nielsen discloses that Voltair might make a difference in particularly noisy audio environments where the background noise is at a higher level than a station. And as you could foretell from the title of the webinar, about Voltair and its own PPM “enhancements” - it has some news –

Nielsen to upgrade the PPM algorithm to increase code density.

It says that’s been in the works for “more than a year,” and you can overlay that with what this NOW Newsletter has reported - the first (undisclosed) major-market test of a Telos Alliance/25-Seven Voltair unit was on a small station in March 2014 and then on a more significant station in May 2014. Nielsen may not have known about it at the time. But in fact Arbitron had been cooking up a better algorithm for watermarking (encoding) audio signals as far back as 2008. Nielsen promises a new enhanced algorithm soon, available to all stations. Its virtues include “hiding the watermark better in formats with more silence.” (Hello, talk radio.) And everybody will have it, instead of just Voltair customers at $15,000 apiece. That enhancement is due in fourth quarter. Another big piece of news - Coming in early 2016 will be the new encoding monitor for the station rack, adding a visual meter of signal texture. (Much like the mesmerizing one offered by Voltair.) It will monitor the level of PPM encoding (hello, Voltair) and communicate with Nielsen via cell technology. That immediately got some folks suspicious about just how much Nielsen’s going to know abouthow they’re set up. Big-picture, one group head tells NOW that he logged off the webinar feeling unsatisfied, saying “It was a big whiff.” For him, the Nielsen presentation “raised more questions than it answered.” Larry Johnson at Paragon Media Strategies agrees on his blog that “big questions remain.”

Nielsen’s ongoing job – selling agencies and advertisers on the legitimacy of PPM.

On yesterday’s webinar, EVP Local Media Client Solutions Matt O’Grady kept talking about respecting the currency of PPM. It’s a critical issue for Nielsen, which must #1, have a ratings product the agencies and advertisers have confidence in, and #2, have a PPM product that radio stations will pay for. (Agencies and clients pay a tiny fraction of what stations shell out.) And that “respect” isn’t just for the PPM in the U.S. As consultant Randy Kabrich points out on his blog, Nielsen has a global market for its PPM meter, beyond the U.S. and Canada. (More about Canada in a moment.) Kabrich (“KAY-brick”) acknowledges Nielsen for pointing out the “Emperor’s New Clothes” that he says Voltair is retailing. He says “I find myself in a strange situation – defending PPM in this specific case.” Randy’s been telling clients that “Voltair does not turn the radio rating world upside down,” and he offers his own account of how PPM and Voltair interact on his blog here. He also says “the saddest part of this” is the folks who work hard for ratings, and then have their work discounted because “It was the Voltair.” As for Canada – The June 17 NOW said “Theoretically, Voltair may have greater impact on stations in Canada than the U.S., because of how Canada’s Numeris consortium” calculates minute-by-minute ratings. Not the quarter-hour ratings used in the U.S., a vestige of “Fibber McGee & Molly”-type network radio shows that ran 15 minutes.

Ready for a Voltair joke?

It’s from Ken Lee, who emails this quip to NOW – “I started to use Voltair, myself. Now my wife is convinced that I’m listening to her more often.”

iPhone6iPhone 6 sales didn’t quite match expectations, but Apple still earned $10.7 billion.

The Apple Watch is slow to catch up and it wasn’t expected to be a significant driver of revenue – but iPhones are. Most analysts thought Apple would sell about 50 million iPhones in the second quarter, and the actual number was 47.5 million. Even so, that’s up more than a third from last year. Canaccord Genuity Managing Director Michael Walkley tells the International Business Times that unlike in previous calendar Q2s, “there just wasn’t the high-end demand for Android,” because of “the very strong sales that continue for the iPhone 6 models.” The IBT says China “is becoming an increasingly strong #2 market,” with revenue there more than doubling to $13.2 billion. Apple continues to sell more Mac computers, 9% more than last year. That’s counter to the prevailing trend of declining PC sales. iPad sales were down 18%. Overall, Apple did earnings of $10.7 billion on revenue of $49.6 billion – ahead of its most recent guidance.

NAB spends a bit less on lobbying in second quarter.

Though $4,170,000 isn’t exactly pocket change (unless you’re Bill Gates). Katy On The Hill says the D.C.-based association spent $4,720,000 in the first quarter of this year, and now $4,170,000 for the latest quarter. For the previous 12 months, the outlay was $17.4 million – about $400,000 less than Google and $280,000 less than Comcast. AT&T spent $15 million and Facebook was in for about $9.6 million. Coming up shortly – some good news from Washington for AT&T.

NABThe NAB’s fighting to keep advertising tax-deductible.

That issue hasn’t gotten as much attention as the “Fair Play/Fair Pay” performance right bill. (No rock star’s going to shake hands with politicians over tax policy). But one of the GOP’s commitments in this Congress is to try to reform the tax code, and not allowing companies to deduct the cost of their advertising as a business expense (at least not 100% of it) is a recurring theme. Think it couldn’t happen? At one time, entertaining business clients was completely deductible, and Congress whacked that down to 50% in many cases. D.C.-based NAB says its other lobbying themes include copyright issues, the FCC’s 2016 TV spectrum auction, media ownership, radio streaming and (says Katy On The Hill) “drones for news-gathering.” You can do your own search for lobbying expenditures by any company that files such quarterly reports with the feds at, It’s also possible to see how the NAB (for example) spent its first-quarter lobbying budget of $4,720,000. The firm of Squire Patton Boggs was the largest single recipient, at $90,000. Wiley Rein LLP (the law firm headed by former FCC Chair Dick Wiley) and QGA Public Affairs each got $80,000. The NAB was far from Squire Patton Boggs’ largest client in Q1 – that honor went to Takata Corp., the maker of the automobile airbags that you’ve been reading about, subject to many recalls.

Luke Nugent & MomGrieving parents of a bullied teen use lawsuit award to buy a station.

Luke Nugent was bullied in school to the point where he took his own life at age 14 – and his parents recently won a $300,000 award from the local school district. The Joplin Globe says they’re using the money to “buy a radio station and promote the anti-bullying movement.” The station they chose is “Fox Sports Radio 1340” KSEK in Pittsburg, Kansas. It’s a one-kilowatt fulltimer that runs Dan Patrick, Rich Eisen and others – and presumably will be airing some programming about the psychological and physical damage from bullying. It’s quite an emotional story, and as it happens, the seller is also spinning off its other station, classic rock KSEK-FM, a Class A at 99.1 licensed to Girard, Kansas That’s going to Triple T Plus Inc. (Jerry Tibbetts). And the seller? That’s another interesting community story. It’s SKIL, the Southeast Kansas Independent Living Resource Center. Has a radio station sale ever resulted from a situation like that of Luke Nugent? Here’s what his parents say on his Facebook memorial page – “This is not a political movement, and it's not a fundraiser. We're not trying to pass legislation or grow a non-profit. This is just a great community offering real world solutions to actual bullying situations.” The Facebook page is here.

Doing Business

DOJ won’t block the marriage of AT&T and DirecTV, and FCC Chair Tom Wheeler favors approval. That deal seemed on much more solid ground than Comcast’s proposed gobble-up of Time Warner Cable, which died. Chairman Wheeler is circulating a recommendation to the other four Commissioners, carrying “a number of conditions that will directly benefit consumers by bringing more competition to the broadband marketplace.” And if there’s one thing this Chairman believes in and cares about, it’s broadband. One solid piece of news about AT&T is that it’s picking up the “Revolt” cable music channel for its U-verse broadband service. Revolt is the brainchild of Sean “Diddy” Combs.

Mike & The Mad DogA “Mike & The Mad Dog” reunion isn’t so far-fetched, say both Mike Francesa (still at CBS Radio’s all-sports “Fan” WFAN-AM/FM New York) and Chris Russo. In 2008 Chris took his act to satellite radio as the star of the “Mad Dog Radio” channel, and for many listeners, that busted up a 19-year act that worked better than either of them later did as solos. asked reports that Russo told Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay he’d consider putting the act back together – “Yeah, I would, definitely…Why not? I miss the camaraderie.” That’s a radically different tone from when he split for the freedom and bigger paycheck of SiriusXM. Then Newsday asked Francesa about his feelings, and he said “Yes, I would listen.” His deal with CBS isn’t up until 2017, but Russo’s available in 2016.

Michael Tearson says that after 12 years, he’s just hosted his last weekly show for SiriusXM’s “Deep Tracks” channel, and for once it was the employer who was surprised, and not the jock. The Philadelphia-based talent says “I got to be unhappy with the way they were evolving the channel.” Over nearly five decades, Tearson’s worked with Philly’s WMMR, WMGK and WXPN and says in the situation with SiriusXM, “I did the last show knowing it was the last show, but they didn’t know.” More about Tearson and his ongoing podcasts (at iRadioPhilly and “Radio That Doesn’t Suck”) from here.


Joe Pagliarulo stays super-busy, working from his base at iHeart’s talk WOAI San Antonio/1200 and hosting “The Weekend with Joe Pags” for iHeart-owned Premiere. He’s been in various syndication situations over the years, and now he signs with Compass Media Networks to distribute his weekday show, heard from 5-8pm Central Time. Affiliates include iHeart’s talk KPRC Houston/950 and Portland, Oregon’s talk KEX/1190. The new association with Compass begins this week. Joe had been guest-hosting for Premiere’s weekday “America Now” since last August, but Meghan McCain recently took over that gig on a permanent basis (July 15 NOW).

Nielsen Ratings

The latest Spring-book Nielsen diary markets –

Omaha – A lead-change between two iHeart stations puts “Kat Country” KXKT on top this time. Over the last three quarterly books, it’s moved from a Fall-book 9.4 to a Winter 9.2 and now a market-leading 9.9 share, with full-week age 12+ AQH share. Second this time is news/talk KFAB (8.8-9.9-8.3), and third is another iHeart station, classic hits KGOR (7.5-8.0-7.6). Scripps has top 40 KQCH in fourth place, 6.2-5.7-6.1, followed by sibling rocker KEZO (5.1-5.1-5.0). NRG Media’s “Next generation of classic rock/The KEG” KOOO improves 1.8-1.7-2.4. The sports race here is NRG’s “Zone” KOZN (3.1-2.1-1.9) and Scripps-owned “ESPN Omaha” KXSP (1.6-1.9-1.5). This time there’s a fourth subscribing owner in Omaha, Flood Communications. Its regional Mexican “Lobo 97.7” KBBX moves 1.3-1.2-0.9.

KUZZBakersfield – The #1 and #2 stations repeat in order, and those are Owens family-owned country KUZZ-AM/FM (10.0-9.4-9.6) and American General Media’s “Hot” KISV (8.2-7.0-8.0). New in third place is Alpha’s rhythmic oldies “Old School Groove 99.3” KKBB, 5.5-3.8-5.1. That bumps Lotus regional Mexican KIWI (5.7-7.0-4.8) into a tie for fourth place with Alpha’s talk KNZR-AM/FM (3.8-5.2-4.8). AGM’s regional Mexican “La Caliente” KEBT doubles its share over the last six months, 2.0-3.1-4.0. It’s tied with Lotus Spanish variety hits KPSL (4.3-3.9-4.0). Nice gain for another station that Alpha bought from Buckley, the former top 40 “Kelly” KLLY. It’s now imaged as “Energy 95.3” and rises 3.4-3.0-3.9. Also a gain for iHeart’s alternative KRAB, 2.6-1.7-3.6.


Charleston, SC – The March 26-June 17 timeframe of this book misses the killings of nine African-American church members in Charleston, which occurred on June 17. The Summer book may show how that tragedy was reflected in radio listening. For now, there’s a new #1 and it’s Cumulus urban “Z93” WWWZ (8.0-8.2-8.8). Second is Apex-owned urban AC “Star” WXST (8.0-8.8-8.0), and third is Cumulus urban AC “Magic” WMGL, 5.1-6.0-5.8. Top 40 sister “95SX” WSSX holds, 3.9-5.4-5.4. Fifth is iHeart’s country WEZL (5.4-5.0-5.2). How about the other country stations? Apex’s “New Country Kickin’ 92.5” WCKN dips 3.9-3.6-3.1 and Cumulus country “Nash” WIWF rebounds 4.1-1.9-3.1. The Low Country’s leading talk-based station is iHeart’s talk WSCC (3.9-4.3-3.7) – and it’s one of the stations to watch in the Summer book, along with the urban stations.

Akron – Just three subscribers, up from the Winter-book two subscribers, and the standings begin with a couple of stations owned by Rubber City Radio. Those are country WQMX (7.4-7.7-7.5) and classic rock WONE-FM (5.1-5.9-7.1). Third is Media-Com’s talk WNIR-FM with a bad number (5.7-7.4-4.7), and then fourth is iHeart’s top 40 “Kiss” WKDD (3.0-3.7-3.0).

Harrisburg – Just two subscribing owners here, Cumulus and iHeart. Cumulus hot AC “Wink 104” WNNK scores the usual win (7.7-9.2-7.4) but iHeart’s talk WHP makes it close (6.8-6.8-7.1). Third is iHeart’s classic hits “The River 97.3” WRVV (6.3-7.7-6.6) and fourth is country sister “Bob” WRBT (5.4-6.7-6.3). Further down but rising is Cumulus country “Nash” WZCY, 2.0-2.3-3.9.

Syndication network

El Paso – Townsquare’s rock KLAQ produces its first #1 since Summer 2009 and its largest share since Winter 2011. Here’s KLAQ’s three-book trend – 7.1-7.1-7.8. Dropping back to second is iHeart’s top 40 rhythmic “Power” KPRR (6.7-9.0-7.1), and third is Entravision’s classic rock “Fox” KOFX (7.3-6.7-6.6). Not the best book for iHeart’s fourth-place AC “Sunny 99.9” KTSM, 9.1-7.7-6.3. Nielsen figures this market is 79% Hispanic, and the first Spanish-language station to appear is Entravision’s seventh-place Spanish variety hits “Jose 93.9” KINT, 5.2-6.0-5.0.

Johnson City – This marks 84 straight #1 books for Bristol’s country WXBQ, but its lowest 12+ share since Fall 2012. (That’s if you can call a 19.6 share “low.”) Since last Fall WXBQ’s moved 20.0-21.9-19.6. Cumulus is second with classic rock WQUT (10.8-7.9-9.3) and Holston Valley’s AC WTFM runs third (9.4-7.5-7.9). Bristol’s “Super Talk 92.9” WFHG pulls the best share in station’s history, 2.2-2.2-3.7. Cumulus recently repositioned country WKOS (0.8-0.6-0.9) from “Nash” to “Nash Icon,” based on the Westwood feed.

York, PA – 47 straight #1 finishes for country WGTY, owned by the local Times News (12.3-10.9-11.8). Then literally the next seven stations (and the only other stations shown) belong to Cumulus. #2 in the public rankings is classic hits WSOX (5.6-6.9-8.1), third is rock “105.7 the X” WQXA (7.1-6.0-4.5) and fourth is AC “Warm” WARM-FM (3.6-4.1-4.3).

Tom Kent
Formats & Branding

Fox Sports 1340Knoxville’s WKGN/1340 is flipping from regional Mexican to all-sports, under buyer Nathan Hodges. His Hodges Media paid $225,000 for “La Raza 1340” WKGN (April 24 NOW) and WATE-TV has his format plan – to “broadcast Fox Sports Radio Knoxville with a full lineup of local and national programming centered on University of Tennessee sports, the SEC and current events in the sports world.” The UT Vols are located in Knoxville and WATE says WKGN “will serve as an extension of GoVols247, part of the 247 Sports Network.” There’s a local 7-10am morning show and Tom Poisal will handle 5-7pm. Local sportswriter Wes Rucker is on the team, and former Tennessee assistant basketball coach Ryan Cahak will host a weekly ”Orange Splash” show. The syndicated clearances include Dan Patrick (10am-noon), Rich Eisen (noon-3pm) and two hours of Jay Mohr leading into Tom Poisal. The splash page for Fox Sports Radio Knoxville is here. WKGN becomes the fourth all-sports station in Knoxville, known as “Vols Country.”

Syracuse classic hits AM 1490 drops the music for all-sports, and the syndicator tells NOW that Wolf Radio just did the flip at WOLF. They’re carrying the full Fox Sports Radio lineup, including Fox Sports Daybreak, Dan Patrick and Rich Eisen. Until last year WOLF (inheritor of a long-ago top 40 brand) carried Radio Disney programming, then went into a simulcast with classic hits sibling WNDR/103.9 earlier this year.

The laughs die along with the all-comedy format on two Vermont AMs owned by Steve Silberberg. Scott Fybush at Northeast Radio Watch says there’s “a surprise format flip in Burlington, Vermont – after running comedy on WCAT Burlington/1390 and WRSA St. Albans/1420, the newly re-named ‘Burlington Big Cat’” was let out of the bag – doing a combination of oldies and classic country.

Sun & Fun

iHeart likes to “Kiss,” so to speak, and it’s converting its Pensacola CHR WRGV to “107.3 Kiss FM,” says Radio Insight. (It spotted spotted the new domain registration just last week). WRGV’s a big Class C0 (C-zero) signal that plays in both Pensacola markets (Nielsen ranked #127 by population) and Mobile (#96). Its format competition in both markets is WABD Mobile at 97.5, the Cumulus effort to channel the market’s longtime “WABB” once run (on a different frequency) by Bernie Dittman. iHeart’s Kiss keeps the jock lineup including the syndicated Elvis Duran in mornings.

Worth Reading

Matt Sammon“Remember when we trained and encouraged new talent on overnights and weekends?”Now, says Matt Sammon, that’s happening in online radio and podcasting. Matt’s the Director of Broadcasting for the NHL Tampa Bay Lightning and in Chapter 2 of his “Stream Team” series, he gives you more of the inside story about building a 24/7 channel for the team. He’s found that “people love listening to new and different things, and if they are entertained, they will come back for more.” Read Episode 2 – about the critical importance of entertaining talent and content - here.

“Apple Music is attracting first-time streamers,” says the RAIN Newsletter’s Anna Washenko, summing up a new 17,400-person survey from 9to5Mac. She says “although the responses are naturally skewed with a strong predilection for Apple, the breakdown of where new customers are coming from is insightful.” The answer? 33% said they switched to the month-old Apple Music service from Spotify. That was far more than switched away from Pandora, Rdio, Google Play Music and other existing services. But Apple Music’s biggest role to date may be as a gateway – about 19% “said that Apple music was their first streaming service.” More from RAIN here.

You Can't Make This Up

Fire Axe“You had to be there” – A NOW Reader says “At a record-company event, I bumped into a nationally-famous rock radio personality and thought to ask him about a prominent local rumor. Glass in hand, I said ‘So in the early days of your station, management didn’t like people making an unholy mess out of the lunchroom on weekends, and one weekend they locked it. But I’ve heard that you broke the glass on the emergency fire-ax and smashed the door. Is that true?’ He looked at me with the utmost seriousness, didn’t flinch, and said ‘Yes, but you have to understand, it was a political act.’ Back in those days, I guess a lot of things were ‘political.’ I don’t know what disciplinary action was taken against this guy, but he didn’t lose his job.” Remind you of a favorite true radio story? Share it with the industry – Email “You Can’t Make This Up” –

What are you thinking about Voltair in PPM markets? Should Nielsen be handling things differently, or is approaching things the right way? Drop an email to, and let me know if you’re on the record (name, company) or not. Either way is okay, as we keep figuring out what lies ahead with Nielsen’s PPM measurement. Want to reach the highly-engaged readership of this NOW Newsletter with your company’s marketing message? Talk to Kristy Scott - or phone 818-591-6815. See you back first thing tomorrow - Tom

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