The latest data from Radio Television Digital News Association’s annual newsroom survey reports that while television news staffs are growing — with some 300 new positions added in TV newsrooms this past year — radio news staffs have remained mostly unchanged year-to-year. The survey found that the typical radio news operation has a full-time news staff of just one, with the typical radio News Director overseeing the news on an average of 2.4 stations. Nearly 80% of multi-station local groups use a centralized newsroom, and almost 30% of stations say their News Director is not a full-time employee. When it comes to web staffers, once again television newsroom positions have increased, while overall web staffing in radio newsrooms is down. To see more, check out the RTDNA’s latest analysis from its annual newsroom survey HERE.
From our “Not Exactly Talk Media News” Department: Chicago radio legend (and current WLS-FM host), John “Records” Landecker will retire at the end of the month, after more than 40 years in radio. His final WLS show will air this coming Friday night (7/31) from 8-11pm (CT). Fans outside the Windy City can stream it HERE (that’s Landecker pictured, in his original publicity shot from his first run at then Top 40 powerhouse WLS-AM) … Doug Schoen pens some positive ink for radio in Forbes. Read Radio: The All But Forgotten Medium With The Biggest Reach HERE … Tim Benz leaves WEEI/Boston for a ‘TBA’ new gig in Pittsburgh … Broadcast Company of the Americas’ San Diego Sports/Talker The Mighty 1090 (XEPRS) and the new San Diego Gulls minor league hockey franchise have signed a multi-year radio rights deal that will have Gulls’ games airing on either ‘Mighty 1090′ or sister Sports outlet ESPN 1700 … Sports writer Bernie Miklasz leaves the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to re-join Hubbard FM Sports/Talker 101 ESPN (WXOS) to host weekdays 7-10am starting in late August. Miklasz previously had a four year run in middays on the station … Angela Hill exits middays at WWL/New Orleans. Market veteran and current 8-midnight host ‘Scoot’ has moved up to fill Hill’s 1-4pm hours, while Kristian Garic and T-Bob Hebert move over from sister station 3WL to take Scoot’s previous nighttime hours.
Legendary sports announcer Dick Enberg, who was honored over the weekend with Major League Baseball’s Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence, had some special words of admiration for all for those voices — past and present — who call baseball games over America’s radio airwaves. “Radio’s had the best announcers,” Enberg (right) told the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Nick Canepa in a weekend interview from Cooperstown with his hometown newspaper. “Call baseball well and you can call anything. You have to fill in the voids. On radio, you are required to paint the whole picture. Radio is an art form.” Enberg, now the TV play-by-play announcer for the San Diego Padres, began his full-time broadcasting career in 1965 in Los Angeles as the radio and television voice of the California Angels, UCLA basketball and the Los Angeles Rams. His face and voice are also familiar to millions around the world from his decades of covering many of the biggest sporting events in history for both NBC Sports and CBS Sports.
We wrap up this week’s news from the world of Talk radio pretty much the same way it began, as feedback and comments from broadcasters on the PPM/Voltair controversy continue to pour into our email box. Late yesterday (7/23) Orban — the folks behind the Optimod audio processor (and a competitor of Telos Alliance affiliate 25-Seven, the company behind the Voltair processor) — issued a press release saying in part: “Some have argued that Voltair is ‘just another form of audio processing.’ However, we believe that there is an essential and fundamental difference between audio processing (like that done by our Optimods) that increases the opportunity of the Nielsen encoder to insert audibly undetectable watermark tones, and processing that directly manipulates the level of the watermark, potentially breaking Nielsen’s psychoacoustic masking model and allowing the tones to become audible. Based on their testing, Nielsen concluded that Voltair can degrade perceptual quality. In an environment where traditional radio is suffering ever-increasing competition from new media, we believe that it is unwise for radio to degrade its audio in an internecine battle whose ultimate winner could be non-broadcast providers.” Showing support for Nielsen’s position on the issue, Orban’s release continues, “Because Nielsen is a large, global business that depends on producing credible audience measurements, we expect that it will soon solve any problem (if it actually exists) by making improvements to its encoder. Accordingly, we have decided not to add processing to Optimods that directly manipulates the Nielsen watermark signal because we expect that any such effort would degrade audio quality and would soon be rendered obsolete by Nielsen’s encoder improvements.” Orban notes that while it’s Optimod processor is compatible with Voltair, the company is urging “caution” on the use of its competitor’s product by stations.
Meanwhile FiveThirtyEight.com’s Carl Bialik writes that this week’s Nielsen webinar didn’t come close to resolving the Voltair controversy for broadcasters. “The ratings giant’s message — based on a recording I heard and slides I saw — was (I’m paraphrasing): ‘We’ve tested Voltair. It doesn’t seem to affect ratings much. Our ratings are fair and accurate. We’ll improve our technology later this year.'” According to Bialik, Nielsen’s tests did reveal at least one format that might be drawing the short straw from PPM. “Voltair made it more likely for one particular type of radio Nielsen tested to be counted: TALK Radio, played at a hushed volume (roughly one-fourth the volume of an ordinary conversation) with background noise of about the same volume. Nielsen said that doesn’t necessarily mean PPMs aren’t doing their job, noting those conditions might make Talk radio inaudible for many listeners, in which case it shouldn’t always be counted.” Read more HERE.
Longtime SoCal radio personality Doug Steckler (left) reports he’s stepping away from his weekly Friday night gig as co-host of KFI/Los Angeles’ Tim Conway Jr. Show after a four-year run. “We had more fun than should be legal,” said Steckler, who previously co-hosted the popular Conway & Steckler Show with Tim Conway, Jr. from 1996-2005 on now defunct L.A. FM talker KLSX. “All good things must come to their finish and it’s always better — if still difficult — to get out while you can still hear the laughter.” Doug can be reached through his rep Jason Insalaco HERE … WBAL/Baltimore re-enlists with the Naval Academy Athletic Association, inking a four-year contract extension that will keep the News/Talker as the flagship radio outlet for Navy Football … Red Zebra Broadcasting hires Craig Hoffman as the new Redskins Beat Reporter for ESPN 980/Washington. Craig most recently served as a host/update anchor for 103.3 FM ESPN/Dallas.
In the aftermath of Nielsen’s webinar earlier this week to address questions about its PPM technology and the controversy surrounding the Voltair audio processor, many NTS MediaOnline Today readers have been emailing us feedback. Here are just a few samples of some of the comments we’ve received:
Gabe Hobbs — longtime radio programming executive and Gabe Hobbs Media founder writes, “OK, maybe I’m being a little dense here but I find it highly amusing that Nielsen is just now trying to determine what ‘true listening’ really is. Almost as funny is the fact they plan to address that very issue with the MRC and COLRAM. This goes back to the ‘listened to’ versus ‘hear’ question, or ‘active listening’ versus ‘passive listening.’ There isn’t a device in this world that can measure that. You would need to either give the respondent a follow-up pop quiz to see if they can recall enough of what they heard to be validated, or have someone actually watch them — and even that would have a fair amount of subjectivity. It’s just a ridiculous notion. Hopefully they can at least tell us what media a person is exposed to, but trying to determine ‘true listening’ is something entirely different. Under at least one definition of true listening I suspect AC stations (you know, the one everyone can agree on at work) would have a precipitous drop in the ratings.
This is all somewhat reminiscent of Arbitron’s dalliance with ‘aided recall’ versus ‘unaided recall’ in the diary.”
Dave Mason, APD at BCA/San Diego’s 105.7 MAX-FM, checks in to say, “There have always been issues with ratings’ samples, and there probably always will be. But slimming down the sample size and changing the technology — Diary to PPM — certainly didn’t help. Voltair doesn’t add those PPM codes, it (theoretically) just makes them a little more audible to the PPM receiver. Wouldn’t that point out a flaw in the original PPM coding?”
Finally, Glenda Schrader Bos, Managing Director at Harker Research, has posted insights and observations on Nielsen’s recent webinar to the company’s Radio InSights blog saying in part, “The industry needs to demand an open audit with all the data available for clients to read and question. Since the discovery of codes, audibility and detection of these codes is the business that keeps everyone employed, Nielsen needs to do much more than promise it will be better in the 4th quarter. Secrecy up to this point has potentially lost the industry billions of dollars. It is time to insist that Nielsen agree to an audit open to all broadcasters.”
NTS MediaOnline Today will continue to follow this important industry story as new information develops. Meanwhile, your comments continue to be welcomed, on-the-record or anonymously on request, HERE.
CBS Radio has made management moves and changes in several of it’s markets. In a memo to staffers, newly minted company COO Scott Herman reports that KYW/Philadelphia VP/GSM David Yadgaroff has been upped to SVP/Market Manager in the City of Brotherly Love, succeeding Marc Rayfield, who was recently named to replace Herman as SVP/Market Manager for CBS Radio/New York. Veteran manager Steve Carver returns to the company as SVP/Market Manager for its Miami and Orlando clusters, as Joe Bell and Dave Robbins exit, respectively. In Las Vegas, SVP/Market Manager Jerry McKenna exits, replaced in that role by current VP/DOS Tony Perlongo. Meanwhile, CBS Radio/Boston SVP/Market Manager Mark Hannon will add management oversight of the company’s Hartford, CT stations, as current Market Manager Suzanne McDonald retires; and Mike Valenzuela is upped to SVP/Market Manager and DOS for CBS’ Riverside, CA stations, with current manager and longtime broadcast management veteran Harvey Wells headed back home to Chicago to be closer to family.
On his way out the door at ESPN Radio, Colin Cowherd gave major props to the network he’s called home for the past ten years and also gave a shout-out to former ABC Radio Network exec John McConnell during the Wednesday edition of The Herd. Cowherd (right), who replaced Tony Kornheiser on ESPN Radio a decade ago, said he still marvels that out of all the big league hosts in Sports radio the network could have picked for the job, “They chose me — a guy from a small market — nobody had heard of me. A guy flew into Portland, we got a rare snowstorm, and he was stuck there for four days. John McConnell listened to me and he recommended me. And it’s been the best 10 years of my life.” Cowherd is reportedly headed to FOX Sports … Tim McCarthy, most recently National Sales Manager for San Diego’s KUSI-TV, is joining crosstown Broadcast Company of the Americas (BCA) as Director of Sales. In his new gig McCarthy will oversee sales for BCA Sports/Talkers The Mighty 1090 AM and ESPN 1700, and Classic Hits 105.7 Max FM, reporting to President/Market Manager Mike Glickenhaus … Red Zebra Broadcasting Sports/Talker WTEM (ESPN 980)/Washington, DC signs former Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis as an analyst for the upcoming NFL season. Portis will appear every Monday on the station’s afternoon show, The Drive with Cooley Czabi and Galdi, and will also co-host a monthly one-hour Redskins’ talk show during the pro-football season.
After hearing from Nielsen execs that the ratings company will offer “no support” for the Telos Alliance Voltair audio processor, now in use at hundreds of stations nationwide, the big question from broadcasters a day after Nielsen’s much ballyhooed webinar seems to be, “OK, What’s next?” While Nielsen criticized the Voltair unit, they also announced the company has decided to make enhancements to its PPM service in the near future to improve it, saying the upgrades will make Voltair unnecessary. So … does that mean Voltair actually works, forcing Nielsen to upgrade PPM’s technology, or that the unit is totally unnecessary as Nielsen execs said? In short, in many ways Nielsen’s response to the debate has left broadcasters with more questions than answers.
Sabo Media CEO Walter Sabo (right) — who reports he first saw for himself the shortcomings of PPM over five years ago — thinks the industry isn’t keeping the focus in the debate where it should be. “Instead of the focus being on the the radio industry trying to perform a work around with Voltair,” he said, “Let’s keep the focus where it needs to be: Demand that Nielsen perfect the PPM in exchange for the exorbitant fees they collect from media companies and ad agencies. Keep that fire up high. If the Telos Alliance has invested in technology that compensates for the vast shortcomings of the PPM, Nielsen should say ‘thank you.’ It will save them a lot of money in R&D if the PPM is field-fixed by its clients.” Meanwhile Paragon strategist Larry Johnson (left) also weighs-in saying that while he thinks Nielsen’s webinar was a good first step in resolving this issue, “Ultimately, only a quantifiable study of known stations with Voltair in use will prove or disprove its validity. Lab tests are good. Real world tests are better. Paragon encourages Nielsen to provide amnesty to all stations who are willing to pull back the sheets and allow for a verifiable study of Voltair’s impact. Anything less will keep the guessing game in play, and undermine the reliability of radio ratings.”
SOUND OFF! We want to hear your take on this story that NTS MediaOnline Today has been covering for you for the better part of the past year. Email your comments — on the record or anonymously on request — with your thoughts on the PPM/Voltair debate HERE.
Janet Mefferd (left) will launch her new one-hour daily talk show, Janet Mefferd Today, to Christian radio (and News/Talk stations) nationwide on September 14th. Ambassador Advertising will syndicate the former Salem Radio Network host’s new talk show, handling station affiliations and satellite distribution … KLBJ/Austin morning co-host Sergeant Sam Cox is retiring on July 31st, following nearly three decades on the air at the Emmis-owned News/Talker. ‘Sgt. Sam’ retired from the Austin Police Department back in 1995 after more than 30 years in local law enforcement … The 2015 NAB/RAB Radio Show will feature BMI songwriters/artists Paul McDonald, Bonnie Bishop, Shawn Mullins and Michael Tolcher, as part of the first-ever Radio Show Artist Spotlight Series. The performances will be free for registered attendees and will take place during select general sessions and networking opportunities throughout the show.