Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Radio Waves Podcast #162

Radio: Feb 24, 2017
Entercom and The Sound have agreed to a “multi-year” contract extension for legendary mid-day personality “Uncle” Joe Benson, meaning that Benson -- and for that matter The Sound itself -- will hopefully be around for a long time to come.
Benson “is the best known and most loved classic rock DJ in Los Angeles, said Sound programmer Dave Beasing. “He’s literally written the book on classic rock and he’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.”
He really has written the book ... Uncle Joe’s Record Guides are a series of informative books covering everything from The Beatles to The Who, and more. He is also an avid amateur race car driver and as the voice of NASCAR at the Auto Club Speedway in Pomona is an announcer for every motorsports event in Southern California.
With Entercom merging with CBS Radio in the near future and the combined company being one over the local FM station ownership limit, The Sound is potentially vulnerable to be sold off once the merger is complete. I asked Beasing if this agreement means he and The Sound will be hanging around. “Probably a good sign,” he quipped, though in reality I am sure no one really knows yet. Heck, with the new FCC the chances are ownership limits will be repealed.
Regardless, it’s nice to know that a good guy is getting treated well. Since he arrived in town back in 1980, Benson has indeed proven himself an expert on music and really is one of the nicest guys in radio.
Moore March Madness
Kip Moore has been chosen as the guest host of Go Country (KKGO, 105.1 FM) mid-days for the month of March. His on-air gig starts Monday and runs through March 24th.
The MCA Nashville and multi-platinum recording artist will share personal stories and give his perspective on country music as he plays the hits weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Don’t live locally? Go Country has you covered. Just go to or use the Go Country 105 mobile phone app; the station streams its on-air signal live.
Little Bit of Heaven
It was 30 years ago this month -- Valentine’s Day -- when the legendary KMET (now KTWV, 94.7 FM) ceased to exist, becoming at the time the radio equivalent of a lava lamp ... also known as The Wave. And while Valentine’s Day was the day of the change, the air staff had been fired the week prior.
What went wrong? Success. KMET became a force when programmer Sam Bellamy put together a staff of great jocks ... and supported them in their craft. Success led to management feeling they could do it even better, forcing Bellamy out and leading to a revolving door of programmers who didn’t understand the magic of the station. Some DJs will also admit that they missed the boat on some new music just as KROQ (106.7 FM) was gaining traction.
The Mighty Met has been remembered recently in numerous Facebook postings; I still believe the format -- playing current music -- would work today. There are so many good local band not being played on the radio that could drive a resurgence of rock radio ... if only given the chance.
Waggy Nominations
In preparation for the upcoming radio achievement awards, also known as The Waggies, I am accepting nominations for anything in any category ... once all are in, I’ll compile the list based upon my opinion and your input. So far, open nominations include:
• Best AM station: KNX
• Best FM station: KOST
• Best morning show: Kevin and Bean, KROQ
• Best morning show: The Woody Show, Alt 98.7
• Best morning show: McIntyre in the Morning, KABC
• Best afternoon show: The Drive Home, KABC
• Best newscaster: Terri-Rae Elmer
What are your thoughts? Send them in today. Email and traditional US Mail are equally accepted!
CBS Trademarks and Entercom
A side-effect of the merger of CBS’ radio division with Entercom, reported here last week, is licensing, considering that CBS plans to keep it’s television division in-house. Namely: what happens to the CBS Radio name and the stations once owned by CBS that carried the CBS name in some way?
Turns out its already been settled. According to Inside Radio (InsideRadio.Com), the terms of the deal spell out “in explicit detail” what will happen with the “CBS Brands,” meaning everything related to the famous eye to the names of stations and programming suppliers themselves. Anything related to trademarks and CBS-centric broadcasting as a whole.
Considering the detail involved, it would appear that this deal has been in the making longer than one would realize.
Here are the basics: The merged company will be called Entercom. Entercom can continue to use some of the CBS brands for a limited time after the date of the merger. CBS Radio, Inc is good for one year, upon which the division that launched CBS as a broadcast company will cease to exist. CBS Sports Radio can be used for the sports radio network until December 31, 2020.
Stations that use the CBS letters in the callsigns – KCBS-FM here in Los Angeles, KCBS in San Francisco and WCBS and WCBS-FM in New York can keep using the identities for the next 20 years.
Radio stations that share common call letters with CBS television stations in various markets will be allowed to keep the calls “perpetually,” according to Inside Radio and other sources. This would include legendary call letters such as KDKA/Pittsburgh, WBBM/Chicago, KYW/Philadelphia, WWJ/Detroit, WBZ/Boston, WCCO/Minneapolis, and WJZ/Baltimore; these stations harken back to the earliest days of radio broadcasting.
Interestingly, the KCBS-FM calls are considered “storied” by some reports; I would argue that longtime Angelenos would more likely consider KNX and KNX-FM to be the storied calls. No one outside of the CBS executive tower ever gave a hoot about using CBS in the call-signs here. Now KNX? There you have something. KNX, by the way, will be allowed to stay forever since it is not tied with any CBS branding or common television call letters. In fact, if I were involved with Entercom, due to the fact that I live in the past I would change KCBS-FM back to KNX-FM.
Now on to the Eye … there is no way CBS will allow that to stay with stations not owned by the remaining CBS corporation. That iconic graphic is so associated with CBS that it may be among the most recognized logos ever produced. Entercom thus has 12 months from the closing of the merger to totally remove the famous eye “from all goods, services, and materials in the Licensee’s possession or control.”
Truly the end of a broadcasting era.
Tweeden Joins McIntyre
Don Barret reports on LARadio.Com (retired? Sure…) that Leeann Tweeden is joining Doug McIntyre on KABC(790 AM) as news anchor, replacing Terri Rae Elmer who was recently let go. Her local experience includes co-hosting LA Today with Fred Roggin on KLAC (570 AM) and co-anchoring Good Day L.A.; national experience includes co-hosting duties on UFC Tonight and being a part of  FSN’s The Best Damn Sports Show Period. She also does social and political commentating on various television and cable programs.
Accepting Nominations
Awards shows are all over television right now; let’s take some time to recognize radio. I am now accepting nominations for your favorite stations and shows; send a note via email or US Mail and let me know what you consider the best of local radio. I’ll compile and we’ll set up time for a future awards column, The Waggies.
Radio: February 10, 2017
Just when you thought things were looking up -- Cumulus Media stock price sinking like the Titanic, both Cumulus and iHeart laden with so much debt that bankruptcy is all but inevitable, and CBS unable to figure out a way to sell its group of stations -- the bottom fell out.
Instead of getting closer to breaking up radio monopolies and returning radio to smaller owners who want to compete and create, we are getting another mega-group.
CBS announced last week that it will merge its 117 radio station group with Entercom’s 127 in a special tax-free deal, creating another huge group of 244 stations, far less than iHeart’s 850 or Cumulus’ 460 but still another too-large effective monopoly. This can’t be good.
The problem is that as the companies have gotten larger, they have been far less successful financially as the lack of innovation has driven active listeners away in droves. While CBS was once known as a well-run company, that descriptor was lost over the past two years as it, like its competitors did prior, cut costs instead of innovating programming. I can see little positive with combining it with Entercom, at least at the outset.
Radio needs smaller ownership limits and smaller companies, not larger. The current model never brought promised efficiencies, so instead of trying to grow revenue, managers cut costs. Promotions, programming, anything that would attract listeners and make them active, loyal participants in the station’s identity was lost. Today over much of the FM band, stale formatting has led to radio becoming a background entertainment service. Much like the Muzak service once heard in department stores years ago. Ad revenue has declined as much as 40 percent over the past decade.
And AM is even worse, with so little reason to listen, one ownership group is actively investigating the idea shutting the entire band down for good.
The one thing that the deal has going for it is that many consider Entercom a decent company that may -- if it still allows its local managers to actually do their jobs -- continue to be well-run. Entercom will control the operations of the merged company, and the deal doesn’t encumber the company with the huge debt load that is facing iHeart and Cumulus. Perhaps now that CBS station group isn’t trying to look good to a potential buyer, constant cuts as seen at the company over the past two years can cease. I don’t believe it, but it is a possibility.
Local Effect
The merger will put a few markets where the companies overlap in a position of being over the current ownership limits. In Los Angeles, Entercom owns only once station: KSWD The Sound (100.3 FM), but CBS owns KROQ (106.7 FM), KRTH (101.1 FM), KAMP (98.7 FM), KTWV (94.7 FM), KCBS-FM (Jack, 93.1), and KNX (1070 AM) along with television stations KCBS-TV Channel 2 and KCAL-TV Channel 9.
This puts the new Entercom one over the local ownership limit of five total FMs. Which one would go? Tough call, as the company has to consider revenue, costs, signal strength and more. KROQ has the worst signal even if it brings in tons of revenue. One thought has KROQ moving to another frequency.
But your favorite station may be in jeopardy not only due to the required selloff, Entercom may actually be stupid enough to put an all-sports format such as the horrible CBS-Sports once heard on KFWB (980 AM) on a local FM. They’ve done similar moves in other cities.
All sports is bad enough: sports talk in Los Angeles has never even come close to earning what one might consider respectable ratings ... and it is one reason for the mass exodus of AM radio listeners to FM. But CBS Sportsradio is the bottom of the barrel, and the idea of putting it on an L.A. FM is being thrown around by industry observers. Yet even just carrying Rams football lowered ratings on The Sound, so perhaps common sense will prevail.
Even so, up to two of your favorite stations may be in jeopardy as this moves forward. RadioInsight.Com mentioned a possible swap involving The Sound to Cumulus, owner of KLOS (95.5 FM) ... effectively removing KLOS’ main (and usually higher-rated) competitor. Other observers say that The Wave is vulnerable, as it is reportedly the lowest revenue-generating station of  the CBS cluster. In the end, anything can happen as the company balances revenue, costs, and sale profits.
As I said from the start of this column, this merger can’t be good, at least for listeners
I’ll reverse myself if Bonneville takes back ownership of The Sound. One of the best companies in the industry, Bonneville owned The Sound until a swap two years ago put it under the Entercom brand.

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