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FCC Seeks Comment on Geo-Targeting with FM Boosters

In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC is seeking comment on whether to modify the Commission's rules governing the operation of FM booster stations by FM radio broadcasters in certain limited circumstances. Consistent with the petition for rulemaking submitted by GeoBroadcast Solutions, the NPRM seeks input regarding changes that could allow FM broadcasters to use these booster stations to air geo-targeted content, such as news, weather and advertisements, independent of the signals of its primary station for a limited period of time during the broadcast hour.

The Commission's current rules authorize FM booster stations to retransmit only the signal of their primary station. The booster station must operate on the same frequency as the primary station within the primary station's protected service contour. As a technical matter, however, GeoBroadcast Solutions asserts that an FM booster station can air different content for limited periods of time within the primary station's protected service contour without causing any adjacent-channel interference, and that any resulting co-channel interference would be manageable and not detrimental to listeners.

The FCC found that the petition presents novel technical and public interest issues that would benefit from additional consideration, provided that the technical operation would not degrade the FM service. The agency feels the use of FM booster stations to air geo-targeted content could potentially help FM broadcasters, including small and independent broadcast stations owned by women, minorities, and small businesses, to provide important and more locally relevant information and to better compete for advertising revenue in the media marketplace.

"We welcome today's vote by the FCC and thank the Chairman and Commissioners for starting the process that will allow geo-targeting to come to broadcast radio," said Robert Udowitz, a spokesperson for GeoBroadcast Solutions. "The prospect of hyper-localizing over-the-air radio content has great potential for the industry in reaching underserved audiences, as well as providing news and alerts on a regional basis, and improving the advertising revenue for the stations.

"Industry groups, media and advertising companies, broadcasting companies, minority coalitions, and individual stations have all supported and seen the prospects for this technology. We are encouraged and optimistic that the NPRM will continue its course and be enacted in 2021."

WFUV/New York PD Houston Steps Away from Daily Duties

Rita Houston
Rita Houston

WFUV-FM/New York has announced that Rita Houston will hand off her program, "The Whole Wide World," to a new weekly host, Delphine Blue, in the coming weeks. A member of WFUV's air staff and a longtime favorite for New York music fans, Blue will officially take the Friday night microphone in January. Houston will also step away from her daily responsibilities as WFUV's Program Director to tend to her health and spend time with her family. In the weeks ahead, WFUV APD Eric Gottlieb will step in as interim Program Director.

"Delphine has the heart and soul of a true DJ," said Houston. "Her instincts make her the perfect host for The Whole Wide World, a show that has pushed radio's traditional boundaries and been a home for fun segues and musical curveballs."

"Our colleagues and audience alike will be sorry to lose Rita's leadership and musical ear in our daily program development," said WFUV General Manager Chuck Singleton. "Given her legacy at WFUV and the scope of her accomplishments, it doesn't seem adequate to say that she will be sorely missed. I know Rita will stay close with all of us at WFUV, and we won't be shy about asking for her guidance. She is very dear to our FUV family and the community of music lovers everywhere."

Houston is a two-time NonCommercial Program Director of the Year from FMQB and JBE, three-time designate of Gavin's Music Director of the Year and recipient of the ASCAP Foundation's Deems Taylor Award for Broadcast Excellence.

iHM Reveals iHeartRadio Communities Spotlight Media Grant


iHeartMedia has announced the launch of iHeartRadio Communities Spotlight Media Grant Program, an all-new initiative to support organizations that are making a positive impact within the communities iHeart serves and to use its multi-platform media network to deliver messaging that is timely, relevant and hyper-targeted to most effectively serve impacted communities.

The inaugural spotlight grants will provide a national platform for Black-focused community organizations to inspire, educate and empower listeners to take a stand against systemic racism and promote social justice; celebrate Black excellence, achievement and culture; help members of the Black community express themselves and address the unique needs of their communities; and invest in educational programs and individuals that are inspiring the next generation of Black journalists and leaders.

To mark the launch of the grant program, long-time partner UNCF, an organization that helps fund 37 private historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), has been named the first partner and will receive a minimum media grant of $350,000 to be used through the end of the year.

The all-new PSA will begin airing Tuesday through the end of the year across all iHeartMedia stations and will bring attention to the many social, financial, educational and mental health challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has caused to communities of color and the threat to America's progress for a more equitable society. UNCF is asking listeners to donate $10 online at UNCF.org/donate to help HBCU students who had to withdraw from school because of COVID-19 challenges get back to college in the spring. Additionally, iHeart will again host UNCF President and CEO Dr. Michael L. Lomax as a guest on the iHeartRadio Communities public affairs show in the coming weeks.

"iHeart strongly believes in the mission of UNCF and the importance of investing in an equitable and just society and we will continue to work with them into the future," said iHeartMedia Chairman and CEO Bob Pittman. "The iHeartRadio Communities Spotlight Media Grant Program is an opportunity at a critical moment in history to share the work and messages of organizations like UNCF and bring them to the largest possible audience."

"We thank iHeart for this investment in a vital component of better futures for us all-our institutions and students," added UNCF President and CEO Dr. Michael L. Lomax. "Getting our message out and making people aware of how we work tirelessly to support HBCUs and the Black community is vital. Partners like iHeart make our work at UNCF possible, and we are grateful for this support. As UNCF enters its 76th year, our mission is critical now, more than ever, as we work to ensure that students get back to college and that their futures - as leaders, professionals, and responders to the next pandemic - are secured."


Williams Named United Stations Digital Services Specialist

RC Williams
RC Williams

United Stations adds RC Williams to its affiliate sales and marketing staff. The move comes on the heels of the company's long-term partnership extension with SoCast to provide support for its product suite. United Stations Media Networks (USMN) will also be coming to market with new digital products in both contesting and weather. In his new role, Williams will market all USMN digital assets and oversee an upcoming three-part webinar series, "The Speed to Revenue," that begins this week on December 3.

Williams arrives at United Stations with over two decades in the media industry. He has contributed to the revenue and customer growth of numerous companies, including Rakuten Japan, TuneIn and Spreaker. Williams has a strong background in radio with much of his career spent monitoring the various digital reach categories for the radio industry. He's also the co-creator of LiAison Labs and Sherloc, a proprietary AI system that provides market research and market intelligence to the middle market.

United Stations SVP/Content and Affiliation Stefan Jones commented, "Radio is truly an omnichannel experience, and with that comes new opportunities. USMN needed a strategist and specialist to represent our expanding portfolio of digital services and advise stations on how these emerging opportunities can lead to real revenue. RC is a perfect fit, and I am thrilled to have him on the team."

Williams added, "USRN is the gold standard for our industry. As someone who understands where the puck is going, I'm excited to be able to share services that will provide stations a competitive edge and make them money."

Saratoga Radio Acquires WJRV and WTNQ/Knoxville

Media Services Group
Media Services Group

Saratoga Radio LLC has closed its acquisition of Tennessee stations WJRV-FM, licensed to Oliver Springs, and WTNQ-FM, licensed to La Follette, both serving the Knoxville market, from Momentum Broadcasting, LLC.

The buyer is headed by Aaron Ishmael and Ricki Lee, who have interests in other Knoxville-area stations. The seller, Momentum Broadcasting, have no other broadcast interests.

Eddie Esserman of the St. Simons Island, GA office of Media Services Group served as the exclusive broker for this transaction.

''An American Country Christmas'' Airs For 14th Year

Kix Brooks
Kix Brooks

Westwood One continues a holiday tradition with its 14th annual broadcast of "An American Country Christmas" with Kix Brooks. Country superstars including Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, Tim McGraw and Kelsea Ballerini will share their holiday music, favorite traditions, and memories with Kix in this special program from Westwood One Nashville.

Stations can air the special programming any time between Monday, December 21 and Friday, December 25 between 6am and 12 midnight. "An American Country Christmas" will provide 24 hours of unique content with an eight-hour minimum for stations.

Delivery is via XDS receiver or web download.

KWSX/Stockton Extends Deal with University of The Pacific


iHeartMedia Sports KWSX-AM (FOX Sports AM1280)/Stockton, CA, inks an extension of its broadcast agreement with the University of the Pacific. The station will continue to broadcast the university's men's and women's Pacific Tiger basketball games through the 2020-2021 basketball season.

During the 2020-2021 collegiate season, all Pacific Tiger men's basketball games and now select women's basketball games will air on FOX Sports AM1280. Also, longtime Pacific Tigers broadcaster Zack Bayrouty will continue to be the sports commentator for all men's basketball games. Additionally, their coach, former NBA standout Damon Stoudamire was named the West Coast Conference Coach of the Year.

"We're excited to extend our broadcast agreement with the University of the Pacific. Fox Sports AM1280 will continue to be the flagship station for the Pacific Tigers, allowing listeners and fans in the community to never miss a beat," said iHeartMedia Central California Area President Steve Darnell.

"We are thrilled to continue our partnership with iHeartMedia and Fox Sports for the upcoming basketball seasons," added Senior Associate Director of athletics for internal affairs Wes Yourth. "With setups looking different across the board this year, the delivery of a smooth broadcast to our fans is essential, so having the iHeart team onboard will allow us to guarantee a stimulating experience for all who tune in."

EMF to Acquire Minnesota Duo from The Pohlad Companies

Educational Media Foundation
Educational Media Foundation

Educational Media Foundation has agreed to acquire 0.9kW KZGO-FM (95.3)/St. Paul and 19kW KQGO-FM (96.3)/Edina, both in Minnesota, from The Pohlad Companies. The buyer, Educational Media Foundation, is a California-based non-profit that runs the K-Love and Air1 radio networks. The seller, The Pohlad Companies, is a Minnesota-based company. Kalil & Co. brokered the transaction for both parties.


WTOP's "Women-Owned Wednesday" By Elly Jane Podcast

WTOP has partnered with local entrepreneur and founder of Elly Jane Collective, Elly Rowe, on her new podcast, "Women-Owned Wednesday By Elly Jane." For as long as she can remember, Rowe has been on an insatiable quest to find and create something she felt was sorely lacking - a community crafted around the extraordinary skills and awesome talents of women. As an entrepreneur and founder of the virtual lifestyle brand, Elly Jane Collective, whose sole mission is focused on supporting and empowering female business owners - "Women-Owned Wednesday by Elly Jane" is a podcast focused on just that.

"I've always been passionate about supporting small business and, specifically, female-founded brands and the incredible women behind them," said Rowe. "My podcast provides a platform where I can talk to those women about their journey and what motivates them to continue pursuing their dreams. My hope is that it inspires other women to do the same."

In the podcast, Rowe talks about entrepreneurship - its challenges and successes, happiness, inspiration and authenticity with female entrepreneurs, founders, artists, and creatives who are forging their own path.

"I have been a fan of Elly Jane Collective and everything the brand stands for since its launch earlier this year," said Julia Ziegler, WTOP's Director of News & Programming. "When Elly approached WTOP about partnering with her on this podcast, it was an easy decision. WTOP is proud to work with an exceptionally gifted local entrepreneur like Elly."

Subscribe for your weekly dose of the Women-Owned Wednesday By Elly Jane podcast today on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. You can also find the podcast on PodcastOne and WTOP.com.

Cox Media Group EVP/Radio Bill Hendrich to Retire

Bill Hendrich
Bill Hendrich

Cox Media Group Executive VP/Radio Bill Hendrich has announced his retirement, effective December 31. He will remain in an advisory capacity in 2021. Throughout his career with CMG, spanning three decades, Hendrich has served as EVP/Radio, overseeing programming, operations and sales for the company's radio stations. He also has oversight of CMG's Radio Revenue team and Radio Digital team.

"Bill's retirement comes with a wealth of gratitude and mixed emotions," said CMG President & CEO Dan York. "In the time I have known him, he has shared his exceptional passion, focus and leadership from which our company, and our industry, has immeasurably benefited. Bill's legacy of decisive leadership, his personal style and his deep experiences in radio and beyond will inform our work well into the future."

"Although I'm retiring from CMG, I will remain an active and passionate supporter of this great company," added Hendrich. "For the past 31 years, I have been able to work with the best and most talented team in the radio industry. With NewCity Communications, Cox Enterprises and Apollo, I have been a part of three outstanding companies-each bringing valuable and innovative ideas to keep radio viable in today's media landscape. I look forward to continuing our work together in an advisory capacity to help the team at CMG serve their audiences, customers and communities with best-in-class services. I joined a great company in 1989 and I get to leave that same great company with pride 31 years later. I am a lucky man."

Prior to his current role, Hendrich led integrated Radio and TV in multiple major media markets for CMG. He also previously served as the VP and Market Manager of CMG's six-station radio group in Jacksonville, FL. In that position, he oversaw all sales, programming, digital and business operations for the group. Hendrich has also served as VP and General Manager of CMG's WDBO-AM and WWKA-FM in Orlando for 10 years and oversaw the Internet sales and operations for CMG Orlando.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to Step Down on Inauguration Day

Ajit Pai
Ajit Pai

Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced Monday that he'll depart the agency on President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration day, January 20, ending his four-year run as Chairman. "It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve at the Federal Communications Commission, including as Chairman of the FCC over the past four years. I am grateful to President Trump for giving me the opportunity to lead the agency in 2017, to President Obama for appointing me as a Commissioner in 2012, and to Senate Majority Leader McConnell and the Senate for twice confirming me," said Pai.

"To be the first Asian-American to chair the FCC has been a particular privilege. As I often say: only in America. I also deeply appreciate the chance to have worked alongside the FCC's talented staff. They are the agency's best assets, and they have performed heroically, especially during the pandemic. It's also been an honor to work with my fellow Commissioners to execute a strong and broad agenda," he added.

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel stated, "While we did not always agree on policy matters, I always valued our shared commitment to public service. Serving the American people is a tremendous honor and I wish him the best in the future."

Commissioner Mike O'Rielly said, "Congratulations to my friend and colleague, Ajit Pai, for his distinguished run as FCC Chairman. His Commission ushered in many policy advancements and made strides updating communications regulations, from restoring the Commission's successful light-touch regulatory framework for Internet service providers to modernizing media rules, opening up more spectrum bands for commercial use, and expanding broadband access to unserved Americans. I wish him all the best in the next stage of his career and thank him for his great service to our nation."

NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith said, "Chairman Pai has been a champion of free and local broadcasting since he joined the FCC. His fair, thoughtful approach to regulation led to many common-sense reforms that were long overdue. Most notably, Chairman Pai modernized the Commission's media ownership rules, authorized and promoted the transition to the Next Gen TV transmission standard, helped revitalize the AM radio band and cleared out some significant regulatory underbrush that was no longer in the public interest.

"Apart from his many policy advances, Chairman Pai also demonstrated great leadership, creativity, a sense of humor and always had an open door. America's broadcasters thank Chairman Pai for his public service to the benefit of the millions of viewers and listeners who tune in to their local radio and TV stations every day."

Rosenworcel, the senior Democrat on the commission, is widely considered to be one of the leading candidates to succeed Pai in the powerful regulatory post. She has been vetted twice and would likely have a smooth path to confirmation, which would be a key consideration assuming the Senate remains in Republican hands, reported Variety.

Marketers, Agencies Underestimate U.S. Worker Commutes

Westwood One
Westwood One

Westwood One's Insights team looked at the differences in perception and reality among marketers and agencies on its latest blog when it comes to the American workforce. It found that marketers and agencies dramatically underestimate the state of U.S. worker commutes. Also highlighted are the latest November data from Nielsen for Portable People Meter markets and October data in diary markets.

  • Perception: According to Advertiser Perceptions, marketers and agencies with media budget responsibilities perceive that 43% of U.S. workers are working from their homes. They believe only 33% are commuting every day.

  • Reality: Recently, the U.S. Federal Reserve released the latest results of their ongoing tracking study of American worker commutes. Marketers and agencies dramatically underestimate the number of Americans that are commuting to work each day and dramatically overestimate the number of Americans who are working from home.

  • Marketers and agencies need to take the "me out of media": Marketers and agencies believe that since they are all working from home, so must the rest of the country. According to marketing experts, media industry professionals need to be careful about projecting their own lifestyles and habits on the rest of America.

  • Federal Reserve: In October 2020, 71% of U.S. workers commuted to work and 19% worked from home: The commuting workforce continues to recover to pre-pandemic levels.

  • Nielsen: November PPM reveals nearly complete reach recovery: Nielsen reveals that AM/FM's weekly reach is now 97% of March as the Fall 2020 audience recovery continues.

  • Nielsen: November PPM total day average quarter-hour persons is 94% of March.

  • Nielsen: Morning drive audience recovery continues in PPM markets.

  • Nielsen: Continuous diary markets retain 100% of the March cume and average quarter-hour persons.


NAB, RJI Partner on COVID-19 Vaccine Education Messaging

National Association of Broadcasters
National Association of Broadcasters

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute have announced a nationwide research project to identify effective COVID-19 vaccine education messaging. The research findings will be used to develop tools and resources for local radio and television broadcasters and other journalists to craft public health messages and educational programming that will best resonate with their communities.

The research project will be conducted by consulting firm SmithGeiger and will survey Americans nationwide in a first of its kind study of the challenges and opportunities facing local and national media presented by the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. This survey will examine the informational needs of news consumers in the context of the current cultural, political and pandemic environment to understand how media coverage influences attitudes towards and actions taken regarding COVID-19 vaccines.

This timely research will equip local and national media with insights that can help them better serve their communities regarding the top local public health issue of 2021. NAB and RJI will use the findings to produce a toolkit for local broadcasters and other journalists that provides messaging guidance focused on a local and regional approach rather than relying solely on a national message.

"At the core of the mission at the Reynolds Journalism Institute is a commitment to empower journalists to better serve their communities and their nation. This project comes at a time when journalists will be in a position to be the primary way in which the public receives its information about this vaccine, said RJI Executive Director Randy Picht. "RJI is excited to team with the NAB to assist its members and journalists around the country in helping citizens make informed decisions that will impact public health across the country."

"Since the beginning of the pandemic, America's hometown radio and TV stations have been on the front lines in providing accurate and trusted information to keep communities informed, educated and safe," added NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith. "Now, with the promise of vaccines on the horizon, broadcasters will once again be a critical partner to government and health communities. We are dedicated to using our platforms to encourage the public to protect themselves, their families and their neighbors by getting inoculated."

The messaging toolkit will include regional research findings, sample messaging and suggested tactics to help local stations craft vaccine education messages that will best resonate with their listeners and viewers. These resources will be available in English and Spanish and shared with all local radio and television stations, as well as partner groups that represent broadcasters serving culturally diverse communities.

The toolkit is anticipated to be available in early 2021.

FSR Launches ''Up On Game'' Weekend Show and Podcast

FOX Sports Radio
FOX Sports Radio

FOX Sports Radio (FSR) has announced the launch of a new national weekend show and podcast "Up On Game," hosted by LaVar Arrington, TJ Houshmandzadeh and Plaxico Burress -- three former professional football players whose combined experience totals 29 NFL seasons, four Pro Bowl appearances, a Super Bowl title and 118 touchdowns scored.

Each week on "Up On Game," Arrington, Houshmandzadeh and Burress will take on the latest hard-hitting sports topics for athletes, while welcoming guests from the world of sports and entertainment. Utilizing their knowledge of football, the hosts aim to educate, inspire and entertain listeners and athletes of all ages, sharing their real-life experiences and stories, teachable moments and candid discussions that will help players improve their game and performance.

Launching Saturday, December 5, the show will broadcast live from 1-3pm ET on 400 radio stations around the country, in addition to streaming live on the FOX Sports Radio channel on iHeartRadio, and being available weekly as a podcast on iHeartRadio and other platforms. The "Up On Game" podcast is distributed by The iHeartPodcast Network.

"I'm super excited to team up with my brothers to host this new show," said Arrington. "TJ and Plaxico are sports cultural icons and legends. Not only do they have incredible knowledge and experience as former pro athletes, but they also understand how to mentor players. This show will break the mold and create a new way of thinking about athletes and sports topics."

"LaVar, TJ and Plaxico have such unique perspectives, which will make for a truly refreshing and entertaining listen," added FOX Sports Radio Vice President of Sports Programming Scott Shapiro. "This is not going to sound like any other sports-talk show. When these three star football players take the mic, all with strong points of view, watch out."

Sun Broadcast Group Welcomes i-News to Programming Roster


Sun Broadcast Group has announced the addition of i-News to its latest offerings for radio station programming. i-News brings listeners "unbiased" news updates at the top and bottom of each hour every day of the week. The news network features national journalists including John Hunt, Jessie Paniagua, Chris Barnes and Wendy King.

"i-News Network has been specifically designed to help radio stations stay relevant in the news cycle," said Sun Broadcast Group COO Danno Wolkoff. "The network news service delivers content that your listener's want and need every hour with a fresh new sound from experienced journalists. Plus, sales departments can still sell local advertising and sponsorships for each newscast delivered."

i-News President John Hunt added, "It has been an exciting journey building i-News to bring listeners the entire story in an unbiased way. We look forward to our sales and distribution partnership with the talented team at Sun Broadcast Group."

Podtrac Issues Weekly Podcast Data Through November 29


Podtrac has released its weekly podcast data for the week of November 23-29 (Thanksgiving week). Downloads were down 17% over the previous week and up 35% over the corresponding period last year for Podtrac measured shows. The Science category showed the strongest week-over-week download performance at 2% growth. The News and Sports categories showed the weakest growth week-over-week at -24% and -23%, respectively.

Download growth for the 52-week period from November 25, 2019 to November 29, 2020 was up 36% across all Podtrac measured podcasts. Week-over-week download growth for the week of November 23-29 was down 17% across all Podtrac measured podcasts.

Download growth for the 52-week period from November 25, 2019 to November 29, 2020 was +19% for Arts, +33% for Business, +37% for Comedy, +15% for Education, +2% for History, +70% for News, +25% for Science, +16% for Society and Culture, +16% for Sports, and +45% for True Crime.

Week-over-week download growth for the week of November 23-29 was -6% for Arts, -13% for Business, -15% for Comedy, -5% for Education, -4% for History, -24% for News, +2% for Science, -13% for Society & Culture, -23% for Sports, and -6% for True Crime.

WMGK Turkey Drop Collects Recording Breaking 12,509 Turkeys

John DeBella and Iron Chef Joes Garces
John DeBella and Iron Chef Joes Garces

Beasley Media Group's Classic Rock WMGK-FM/Philadelphia's legendary morning personality John DeBella has announced a recording breaking grand total for this year's John DeBella Turkey Drop: 12,509 turkeys. The annual event is the largest one-day food gathering event in Philadelphia. On Tuesday, November 24, DeBella aired live from The Kimmel Center. In addition, the entire WMGK air staff lent a helping hand from 12 additional sites across the tri-state area. The turkeys will be given out to needy individuals and families throughout the holiday season.

"11,000 turkeys in 2019 was the biggest year we ever had," said DeBella. "12,509 turkeys truly proves that ‘The City of Brotherly Love' is not just a saying...it's a fact."

The Turkey Drop benefits Cityteam Philadelphia, a local non-profit organization that provides holiday meals as well as other important services for individuals and families in need. Cityteam has seen a record number of sign-ups for holiday meals in 2020, including a large percentage of families seeking assistance for the very first time.


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