MAB-PAC: Help Us Help You!

It’s early January and an election year. Many lawmakers will be running for another term. There will also be a large group of first timers who will run and win a coveted seat in the Michigan House or Senate.

The MAB Political Action Committee (MABPAC) needs to reach these candidates for political office. We need to make them aware of the tremendous economic and social impact local broadcasters have on their community. This requires a financially strong Political Action Committee.

The MABPAC is an important and easy way you can help to support candidates who promulgate laws that impact your business.

We are at the end of a political cycle. The MABPAC coffers are close to being depleted. We need your help! The MABPAC uses these funds to support Representatives and Senators on both sides of the aisle who sit on committees important to our industry.

Only Personal Donations are allowed. We are not allowed to use your dues dollars on any corporate funds by law. The MABPAC is a state PAC not a national PAC so funds must go to local or state elected officers and candidates only.

Please consider making a personal donation to the MABPAC. “Help Us to Help You!”

Thanks You. Donate here

Free MAB Political Dollars Webinar February 2


Mark your calendars to attend your MAB’s FREE “From Influence to Impact: Putting More Political Ad Dollars on Your Books” webinar on Wednesday, February 2nd at 12:10 Eastern, 11:10 Central, hosted by Revenue Development Resources President Mark Levy. While he has to speak about them briefly, know that this is NOT a rules and regulations webinar: it is about writing more political ad dollars now. So please join us as he covers:

  • An understanding of what the past few months is likely to mean to 2022 political advertising
  • Where political ad dollars are likely to go
  • Digital ad changes and how that affects potential broadcast sales
  • Where digital suggests some of their previously earmarked money go
  • Why local political dollars may be more important than national dollars
  • Common-sensical things we forget about that cost us political buys
  • The value of some lesser known websites and The Edmonds Political Database
  • A key question to ask a candidate that can justify a bigger schedule
  • Knowing how to better tell your story sans “broadcast-ease”
  • The value of database qualitative
  • An intro letter template designed to get candidates to meet with you
  • A Lowest Unit Rate Template tool that actually works
  • The often overlooked danger of social media, political advertising and low rates
  • Ideas for upsells and new non-political business because of 2022 being an election year
  • Political ad copy help, including a source for thousands of political ads
  • And this is broadcasting, so of course, “and more”

This link will get you all set up…looking forward to having you join your MAB’s for “From Influence to Impact: Putting More Political Ad Dollars on Your Books” Wednesday, February 2nd at 12:10 Eastern, 11:10 Central.

Great Lakes Media Show to go Digital in 2022!

From MAB President/CEO Sam Klemet:

The Michigan Association of Broadcasters’ primary mission is to support our members and provide opportunities to learn and grow. And no event gives Michigan broadcasters a greater opportunity to collaborate and learn as an industry like the annual Great Lakes Media Show.

This year’s event is slated for March 2-3 and we were excited to celebrate with all of you in-person after nearly two years apart.

Unfortunately, with the recent rise in COVID cases in Michigan and across the country, it is the decision of the MAB and our Board of Directors to pivot to a digital Media Show, Broadcast Excellence Awards (BEA), Student Awards, and Career Fair.

We are heartbroken that we will not be able to get together as an industry. One of the great benefits of the GLMS is the relationships built and connections made, but we also do not want to do anything to put you, your colleagues, or your families in harm’s way.

It’s evident that no matter how cautious or how many protocols are put in place, there are still many unknowns and risks of getting together in large groups at this time and the last thing we want is to jeopardize your health and safety.

So, as we have all become accustomed over the past 24 months, we will adjust.

And I know there is a certain level of fatigue with virtual meetings and conferences, but I can assure you, the experience of the digital GLMS 2022 will be one that is engaging, informative, inspiring, and most importantly safe.

While the setting will change, the Digital #MABshow on March 2nd and 3rd will still have an excellent slate of speakers. We are thrilled to have Rece Davis – who got his start in Flint – as our keynote speaker who will be joined by WZZM Sports Director Jamal Spencer for a candid conversation. We also will have two days of industry leaders providing insight into the future of broadcasting including engineering, sales, management and on-air tracks as well as panel conversation with state leaders to discuss the Michigan economy and health care.  Click here to see the schedule, speakers and registration information for the Digital #MABshow.

On March 10, the MAB will celebrate the incredible achievements of state broadcasters during the Broadcast Excellence Awards and, we will honor the work of student broadcasters – who represent the hope and innovation of our industry’s future – during the student awards and career fair later this spring.

We look forward to connecting with you all from a distance at the digital Great Lakes Media Show and hope to gather in-person, again, soon. Continue to stay safe and thank you for all the work you do informing and entertaining Michigan viewers and listeners.

Sam Klemet
President & CEO
Michigan Association of Broadcasters

WDET Teams Up with MSU with new Podcast

WDET-FM (Detroit) has teamed up with Michigan State University’s Science Gallery to present a 10-episode podcast series titled “Tracked and Traced.”  The series is named after the science gallery’s 10 week exhibit, which also explored themes of surveillance.  New episodes released every other week, starting early 2022.

Hosted by Natasha T Miller and Antajuan Scott and featuring original reporting from WDET, this 10-episode series will explore the ways surveillance technology are integrated into our everyday lives, and the price we pay for safety, security and convenience.

Episode topics will include:

  • The creation of the Patriot Act and Terrorist Watch List after the 9/11 attacks
  • Project Greenlight in Detroit
  • ShotSpotter audio surveillance
  • Police intelligence infrastructure
  • Video surveillance in schools
  • The risks of going viral
  • Profits and privacy
  • Drones and wildfire surveillance
  • Foster system databases in the U.S.
  • Street-level video surveillance

Tracked and Traced is the second podcast collaboration between WDET and MSU’s Science Gallery. The 10-episode series Science of Grief invited young adults to share their own stories of grief, and invited mental health professionals to offer tips and takeaways for listeners. Science of Grief is available wherever you get your podcasts.

Support for Tracked and Traced comes from the Pulitzer Center, MSU Federal Credit Union and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (CFSEM).

FCC Plans to Adopt Two Minor Changes to its Political Broadcasting Rules – What is Being Changed?

David Oxenford

By: David Oxenford,
Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP

The FCC, at its January 27 monthly open meeting, will be voting on the adoption of two relatively minor changes to its political broadcasting rules.  While some press reports suggested that the changes would expand the FCC’s jurisdiction into online political advertising, in fact the draft of the FCC’s Report and Order released last week shows that the two rules at issue deal exclusively with over-the-air political advertising.  Moreover, as we wrote here when the proposals were first advanced for public comment, the changes to be adopted are almost ministerial clean-ups of FCC rules, having little substantive effect on the current political sales practices of most broadcasters.

These two rule changes are likely to be adopted at the end of the month by a 4-member FCC that is still evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans.  The first one deals with the showing that needs to be made by a write-in candidate to show that the candidate is “legally qualified” and thus entitled to take advantage of the FCC’s political broadcasting rules. The second change would conform the FCC’s rules to the already existing statutory provisions that require broadcasters to include, in their online public files, information about the sale of advertising time to non-candidate buyers who convey a message on a matter of national importance, i.e., a federal issue ad.

The first change, if adopted on January 27, will add to the factors a broadcaster is required to consider when determining if a write-in candidate has satisfied his/her obligation to make a “substantial showing” of a bona fide campaign for office so that they can be considered a “legally qualified candidate.”  Legally qualified candidates, even write-ins who have made this substantial showing, are entitled to all the protections of the Commission’s political rules, including equal opportunities, lowest unit rates and, for candidates for federal office, reasonable access to buy advertising time on commercial broadcast stations.  A substantial showing is required to demonstrate that the write-in candidate is conducting a serious campaign for office, thus entitling them to the protections of the political rules.  Just saying that you are a write-in candidate is not enough to qualify for protections under the FCC rules – a substantial showing is also required (see our article here).  The facts set forth in that showing determine how serious the campaign is.

Under the current rules, the FCC lists factors a station can look at to determine if a substantial showing has been made.  These include whether the candidate is actively campaigning by making speeches and hosting rallies, if they are passing out literature and putting up yard signs, and whether they have a campaign headquarters.  The new rules would add social media activity and a campaign website to the factors to be considered.  The FCC would not regulate candidate use of social media or websites, but instead simply require that broadcasters take into account any social media or website presence in assessing if a purported candidate should be considered “legally qualified” for purposes of the FCC’s political rules that apply to broadcast political ads (and to cable).  The FCC is simply recognizing that online media is an important factor in determining if a candidate is a serious candidate who should receive the benefit of FCC protections, so it should be considered in deciding if the candidate is legally qualified.  But, as the FCC’s list of activities in its rules is illustrative and not exhaustive, and since online activities already are indicative of how serious a candidate is, stations were likely already reviewing these activities when assessing substantial showings.  The FCC’s change would just make clear that these factors should be considered by specifically requiring it in the rules.

The draft Report and Order would make a few helpful clarifications.  First, the draft notes that these online activities do not, in and of themselves, constitute a “substantial showing.”  In other words, to be considered a legally qualified candidate, the campaign could not be totally virtual.  Some real-world activity is necessary for a write-in candidate to be considered legally qualified.  Also, the draft decision makes clear that the write-in candidate has the burden to demonstrate that they should be considered legally qualified, and that the broadcaster’s good faith evaluation of whether the candidate has made an adequate showing is entitled to deference by the FCC if ever challenged by a purported write-in candidate.

The second change would update the political file recordkeeping rules to require that stations upload to their political files any request for advertising time that “communicates a message relating to any political matter of national importance” (i.e., federal issue ads).  This requirement was imposed by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act 20 years ago but was never formally carried over into the FCC rules.   The FCC has enforced these requirements, as evidenced by recent FCC actions issuing admonitions to TV stations for perceived violations of these public file requirements. See our article here on the FCC’s admonitions, our articles here and here on some of the follow-on controversy, and our article here about the FCC’s limited reconsideration decision.  So formally adding these obligations to the rules just reiterates what is already required of broadcasters dealing with federal issue ads.

Thus, the changes to the rules that are likely to be adopted at the FCC’s January 27 meeting do not dramatically affect the existing political broadcasting practices of broadcasters.  But they do highlight the importance of these rules – and the details that must be observed.  So, with an incredibly active political season ahead of us in 2022, be sure that you are on top of all of the requirements and that you discuss these matters with counsel as they arise.  See our article that we published late last year for some of the political broadcasting issues you should be reviewing now to make sure that you are ready for the 2022 political season.

David Oxenford is MAB’s Washington Legal Counsel and provides members with answers to their legal questions with the MAB Legal Hotline. Access information here. (Members only access). There are no additional costs for the call; the advice is free as part of your MAB membership. 

Townsquare’s WLHT Welcomes Laura Hardy

Laura Hardy

Townsquare Media has announced that Laura Hardy joined its WLHT-FM (Grand Rapids) as co-host of the “Big Joe Show.” The Big Joe Show is helmed by Michigan native Joe Pesh, and Hardy joins the show after a nationwide search for a co-host that was epitomized by the idea of ‘Local First.’ Hardy, known as “Regular Laura” to her longtime fans at WSFR-FM (1077 The Eagle)/Louisville, is a Kentucky native that has recently been splitting her time between the Bluegrass state and metro Grand Rapids.

Hardy said she’s excited to finally settle down in West Michigan. “After spending my summers and weekends in Grand Rapids, I fell in love with the area and had to make it my new home. I’m ready to start a Grand new chapter of my career joining Big Joe and Mix 95.7.”

Hardy’s previous stops include KICT-FM in Wichita and KEZO-FM in Omaha. In her seven years at 107.7 The Eagle, where she hosted Louisville’s only all-female morning show, she helped bring ratings success to the station while connecting with the audience on a personal level.

Director of Content Ken Evans is excited for Hardy’s arrival, “Laura’s connection to her local community is unmatched by most talents and her addition to Mix 95.7 will elevate our on-air and digital platforms in West Michigan. She is a perfect fit to join our ‘Local Creators Making Local Connections’ mantra for 2022.”

Traffic Director Spotlight: Patty Vandenberg (Midwest Communications/Southeast Michigan)

Patty Vandenberg

Patty Vandenberg is the Traffic Specialist for WHTC/WYVN and WTVB, Midwest Communications

MAB: If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?
Patty: Contact my financial planner

MAB: If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
Patty: A foreign language

MAB: What is your favorite comfort food?
Patty: Mashed potatoes

MAB: If you could be an animal, what would you be?
Patty: A cat

MAB: If you could visit any time in history, where would you go?
Patty: Rome

MAB: Do you have any tips or tricks you’d like to share with other traffic directors?
Patty: Just be yourself, be kind, thoughtful and above all treat others the way you’d want to be treated.

If you would like to participate in our Traffic Director Spotlight, please fill out the survey here-

WSGW Announces “Behind the Mitten”

John Gonzalez and Amy Sherman

Alpha Media’s WSGW-AM/FM has announced the addition of “Behind the Mitten,” airing Sundays from 1 to 2 p.m. The show is hosted by Amy Sherman and John Gonzalez and is a radio show about food, festivals, beer and more!  The show brings incredible stories from all over Michigan, including the stories of the amazing people that make Michigan great.

Amy Sherman is an accomplished chef who has managed restaurants and is an expert on craft beer. John Gonzalez has background in journalism, sports and entertainment reporting. He finds his way to the best food dishes all over Michigan and shares the culinary leads with the audience.

Check out the show’s Facebook page here.

The Difference Between an Audience and a Community — And What It Means For Broadcasters

Seth Resler

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

For more than six years, I have taught radio stations how to implement a digital strategy known as Content Marketing. The concept is simple: create content — blogposts, videos, podcasts, etc. — to attract an audience. The strategy is not a new one. In fact, it pre-dates the internet. One of my favorite examples is the Michelin Guide, which Édouard and André Michelin first introduced in 1904 back when there were fewer than 3,000 cars on the road in their home country of France. Their hope was to increase the demand for cars and, by extension, Michelin tires.

Not only is Content Marketing not a new strategy, it’s not even new to broadcasters. The basic premise of a station is to put content on the air to attract an audience. My role is simply to help them do this online as well.

A few decades ago, creating and publishing content was a difficult task that required specialized equipment and skills. To reach a massive audience, you needed a printing press, a radio tower, or a television studio, along with the appropriate staff to operate them. Only a handful of organizations had the resources and the expertise.

However, that changed with the explosion of the internet. One of the most important technological trends of the last 30 years has been the increased access to digital publishing tools. Today, anybody can easily and inexpensively create and distribute content around the world using their smartphone and online platforms like YouTube, WordPress or Anchor.

This easy access to content creation tools has had both positive and negative effects. On the one hand, it has empowered a diverse range of voices that did not previously have access to publishing platforms. On the other hand, it has also ushered in a glut of content of dubious quality. At best, consuming this content is simply a waste of time; at worst, it harms the audience members and those around them.

Watching all of this, I began to wonder, “What comes after Content Marketing?” Once upon a time, the limiting factor in a Content Marketing strategy was the ability to produce content. Now, the limiting factor is the audience’s attention. There’s too many of us competing for eyes and ears.

Interactive Digital Tools

If the last 30 years is the story of increased access to digital publishing tools, the COVID-19 pandemic has started a new story: the mass adoption of a new class of digital tools. These new tools — including Zoom, Slack, Discord and Facebook Groups — enable people to interact with one another, often in real time. Unlike publishing tools, these platforms were not designed for the one-way, one-to-many dissemination of content; they were created for back-and-forth communication.

In short, they’re designed to build a community, not attract an audience. Community members interact with each other; audience members don’t.


We are all familiar with “audiences.” They are groups of people who consume content or a channel distributing content. (I am using the word “channel” to describe any media outlet that distributes multiple different pieces of content; Netflix, HBO, Z100 and the New York Times are all channels.) But what is a “community?”

In their 2020 book Building Brand Communities: How Organizations Succeed By Creating Belonging, Carrie Melissa Jones and Chales H. Vogl define a community as “a group of people who share mutual concern for one another. Communities convene around at least one shared value, usually more.”

The authors contrast this with what they call “mirage communities”:

“When building any community, mutual concern among members remains both fundamental and critical. Without it, there is no authentic community to support an organization. This is why mutual concern is often missing in what we call ‘mirage communities.’

“For example, if you have a newsletter reading list, subscribers may respond back and forth to your emails. That’s great. But if those subscribers don’t yet care about one another’s welfare, there isn’t community (yet).”

“What you have is a list of readers or followers, and there’s nothing wrong with this. Community building takes different and far more investment toward creating something richer and more powerful, and offering different possibilities.”

The authors never explicitly use the word “audience,” but they do contrast “communities” with “groups” and “mirage communities.” While some content has given rise to communities — such as Harry Potter’s Potterheads, Firefly‘s Browncoats or Star Trek‘s Trekkers — most audiences are not communities. Content can have a huge audience — think Two and a Half Men — and not give rise to a community; in fact, an audience’s large size may be a barrier to creating community.

Vogl identifies seven principles for bringing a community together:

  1. Boundary: the line between members and outsiders
  2. Initiation: the activities that mark a new member
  3. Rituals: the things that we do that have meaning
  4. Temple: a place set aside to find our community
  5. Stories: what we share that allows others and ourselves to know our values
  6. Symbols: the things that represent ideas that are important to us
  7. Inner Rings: subgroups in a community that together present a path to growth as we participate

Content plays a role in communities — it’s crucial for its Stories (#5) — but content alone is not sufficient for creating community.

The interactive digital tools that have emerged recently enable people to create Temples (#4) a space for communities to gather. Coupled with the right strategies, these tools can be used to implement all seven principles.

Communities vs. Audiences

Communities are usually smaller than audiences. This is, in part, because people can make up the audience of a particular piece of content and the channel that distributes that content at the same time. For example, if I watch Ted Lasso, I am part of both the Ted Lasso audience and the Apple TV+ audience. That doesn’t mean that I am equally predisposed to joining a community for either. My affinity for Ted Lasso is far greater than my affinity for Apple TV+.

This is a lesson that many radio stations learned when Howard Stern departed terrestrial radio for satellite radio. The audience was attracted by the specific piece of content, and without it they had little loyalty for the channel carrying the content.

That’s why, as publishing tools became less expensive, the trend in the media industry has been to focus channels on particular niches. We see this most clearly in cable television, with channels devoted to science fiction, home improvement and food. In audio, we see a similar phenomenon occurring with podcast networks that focus on a specific interests. In essence, these channels have become narrower but deeper.

A channel with a narrower, more focused audience is still not a community, but it is in a better position to build a community because there is a greater chance that its audience shares one or more values, and are therefore predisposed to share mutual concern for each other.

The Revenue Opportunity

When publishing tools were expensive, brands focused on the size of an audience when deciding which channels to use to attract customers — more was better. As publishing tools became more accessible and the general population was carved into niche audiences, many brands have focused on reaching the “right” people, not just the most people. At first, brands used demographic characteristics, such as age, gender and location to target potential customers. The rise of digital platforms like Google and Facebook soon enabled them to use psychographics, such as their activities, interests, and opinions to focus their efforts.

There will always be companies, such as Coca-Cola, that want to reach as many people as possible. There are also lots of companies that want to reach specific audiences, such as John Deere, who wants to focus on farmers. But increasingly, we are seeing companies that don’t just want to reach a specific group of people; they want to interact with them. Interactions trump impressions.

That’s where communities come in.

Recently, a number of my client projects have involved developing digital strategies not for the station or broadcasting company as a whole, but for a particular piece on content on the channel, such as a single show or specialty feature. These shows or features usually revolve around a niche interest: personal finance, children and classical music, local musicians, etc. This makes them fertile ground for building communities using the new set of digital tools that has emerged.

Broadcasters tend to develop their digital strategies at the channel level — designing something that promotes the station as a whole. Given the new set of interactive digital tools that has become mainstream, they now have new opportunities. These opportunities will revolve around specific shows or features. So it’s time to take a fresh look at your station’s shows and features and ask, “Can we build a community around one of these?”

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at [email protected] or 1-800-968-7622.

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

Grand Valley Says Goodbye to Real Oldies

Last Friday (1/7) at 2:00 p.m.. after 12 years of operation and service to the community, Grand Valley State University said goodbye to Real Oldies 1480 and 850 AM. Transmission and streaming came to an end.

The station, writing on its Facebook page, said “this difficult decision came out of many discussions about the station’s aging facilities and dependence on financial support from WGVU and Grand Valley State University. Grand Valley State University, the license holder of WGVU Public Media stations, will return the 1480 AM and 850 AM licenses to the FCC and has placed the properties in Muskegon and Kentwood up for sale.”

WGVU-AM 1480 was a 2kw-D, 5kw-N DA-N facility licensed to Kentwood.  Simulcast partner WGVS-AM 850 was a 1kw-DA facility licensed to Muskegon.

The station wrote, “the staff of Real Oldies and WGVU Public Media are extremely grateful for the support the listeners have shown over the years. Real Oldies was a one-of-a-kind station thanks to the listeners and the amazing group of DJs that have kept it on the air these past 12 years. Thank you for an amazing run!”