Brian Hatfield Joins MacDonald Broadcasting as Operations Director

Brian Hatfield

Veteran radio programmer and Michigan native Brian Hatfield has been appointed Operations Director for MacDonald Broadcasting in Saginaw effective immediately. He also becomes Program Director for Country WKCQ-FM, while overseeing operations of Adult Hits WMJO-FM and AC simulcast partners WSAM-AM and WSAG-FM. Most recently, he headed Hatfield Media and was National Sales Director for the Radiomax mobile app.

Hatfield previously served as Assistant PD/MD and afternoon talent at Country KYGO-FM (Denver, CO). Prior to that, Hatfield was Music Director and afternoon host at KCYY-FM (San Antonio, TX).  He also spent nine years with Clear Channel’s Country WKSF-FM (Asheville, NC). Hatfield has also worked for WKKT and WSOC (Charlotte, NC), WYCD-FM (Detroit), KKAT-FM (Salt Lake City, UT) and WTQR (Greenboro, NC).

During his career, Hatfield has won CMA Station of the Year 2009 and Country Radio Broadcasters/Country Aircheck Music Director of the Year 2010 and 2011.

Former WBCK Owner Nat Sibbold Dies at 94

Nat Sibbold

Former WBCK (Battle Creek) owner Nestor A. “Nat” Sibbold passed away July 18 at age 94. In 1977, Sibbold and a group of investors, formed Wolverine Broadcasting and purchased WBCK, the dominant AM Station in Battle Creek.  He ran the radio station successfully until a 1987, when he sold WBCK to Liggett Broadcast Group.

The WBCK call letters are now on the FM dial.  The AM station, under separate ownership, now has the WTOU call letters.

In a post on the WBCK website, the station notes that Sibbold took that station to new heights in terms of professionalism, community involvement, cooperation and service. He was very involved in the consolidation of Battle Creek township into the city in 1983.

Prior to owning WBCK, Sibbold spent 20 years with WWJ-AM-FM-TV in sales and as station manager.  His family called it the most rewarding experience of his life, where he met and interacted with many notable people. Sibbold, who lived in Canton, began working for WWJ as an account executive in 1956, when the station was owned by The Evening News Association, which also owned The Detroit News. Sibbold became sales manager in 1961 and station manager in 1968, serving in that capacity until 1976.  He served as manager when NBC relinquished ownership of the station, CBS bought it, and WWJ switched to its current, all-news format in 1971.

Sibbold passed peacefully surrounded by his children.

WCRZ Roof Sit 2019 Nets $48,000

(L-R) WCRZ’s Pat and AJ

Townsquare Media’s Cars 108 WCRZ-FM (Flint) held its 4th annual three-day “Roof Sit” for the Whaley Children’s Center July 17-19 at a Grand Blanc McDonald’s restaurant.  Despite temperatures in the low to mid 90s, morning personalities Pat and A.J., along with Mindy Williams, CEO of the Whaley Children’s Center were on the roof from 6 a.m. Wednesday through 10 a.m. on Friday.  The goal for the 2019 Roofsit was $35,000, but by the end of the event, a total of $48,000 was raised!

The station was taking donations both on-site as well as online.  On the final day of the fundraiser, Congressman Dan Kildee (D-5), who worked at Whaley for ten years, made an appearance on the roof to talk on air.

Whaley is a residential home in Flint that is part of the Michigan foster care system. Kids who have been taken from abusive homes live (and sometimes go to school) at Whaley.

WKHM Raises Nearly $7K for Jackson Area Charities

(L-R) WKHM’s Scott Clow and J-Rod.

(L-R) WKHM’s Greg O’Connor, Jenny Lewis and Scott Clow.

Jackson Radio Works’ WKHM-FM (K-105.3) and WKHM-AM (NewsTalk 970AM/101.5FM) held their annual Live Radio Charity Auction on this past Tuesday, July 23 from 7 to 10 a.m.  Forty-one area businesses and individuals participated by donating items for listeners to place bids on by calling in to the radio stations. Sixty-eight total auction items included both fun and practical items like gift baskets, goods and services, furniture, artwork and more.

Radio co-hosts Scott Clow & Jenny Lewis of the K-105.3 Morning Show were joined in the studio by Greg O’Connor, host of “AM Jackson” on sister station NewsTalk 970AM/101.5FM, describing items on-air and taking bids from callers. The auction was simulcast on both stations. Email bids were also being taken during the auction by K-105.3 “Drive at 5” host Jared Hammond, a.k.a. J-Rod.

The grand total raised was $6,990 and will be split between three local charities: American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life of Jackson County, the Salvation Army, and the JDRF One Walk in Jackson.

WILX Collects School Supplies with Operation Backpack

Once again this year, Gray Television’s WILX-TV (Lansing), along with its community partners, is collecting backpacks and other school supplies for children in need. The program has been going on since 2004 with St. Vincent Catholic Charities.

The station is asking viewers to donate new backpacks, spiral notebooks, pocket folders, binds, pens and pencils, crayons, markets, rulers, planners and other supplies students in elementary and secondary level students may need.

Collection points include the station, Two Men and a Truck, St. Vincent Catholic Charities and Capital Area District Library (CADL) locations in Okemos, South Lansing, Haslett, and Mason.  CADL is including a library card in each backpack.

The drive continues through August 2.

Congressman Paul Mitchell to Retire at End of Term

Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-MI 10th)

Republican Congressman Paul Mitchell, who represents the 10th District of Michigan, has announced that he will not seek a third term in 2020.  He announced his retirement in a speech on the House floor on Wednesday.

“It is an honor to stand on this floor, debate issues, and represent the people of Michigan’s 10th Congressional District,” Mitchell said. “I am proud to be among the 12,500 or so Americans that have had the privilege of serving in Congress.”

Mitchell has held his current office since 2017. He said he plans to spend more time with his family.

“A career in Washington has never been my objective. My objective has always been simply to work to address significant challenges this nation faces: health care, immigration, and infrastructure for example. However, it appears to me that rhetoric overwhelms policy, and politics consumes much of the oxygen in this city.”

Mitchell’s district includes Huron, Sanilac, Tuscola, Lapeer, St. Clair and Macomb counties.

MAB TV Members Go to DC

On Tuesday and Wednesday, MAB television members met with lawmakers in Washington D.C. as part of the NAB STELAR Fly-In:

(L-R) WDIV-TV (Detroit) VP/GM Marla Drutz; Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-12); WJBK-TV (Detroit) VP/GM Greg Easterly; WSYM-TV (Lansing) VP/GM Gary Baxter; WLNS-TV (Lansing) VP/GM Scot Chastain; MAB President/CEO Karole White.

(L-R) MAB President/CEO Karole White; Rep. Tim Walberg (R-7); WJBK-TV (Detroit) VP/GM Greg Easterly.

(L-R) WDIV-TV (Detroit) VP/GM Marla Drutz; WSYM-TV (Lansing) VP/GM and MAB Chairman Gary Baxter; MAB President/CEO Karole White; Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-8) ; WLNS-TV (Lansing) VP/GM Scot Chastain; WJBK-TV (Detroit) VP/GM Greg Easterly.

Looking at Equal Opportunities – When Does the Appearance of a Political Candidate on a Broadcast Program Trigger Equal Time Obligations?

David Oxenford - Color

David Oxenford

By: David Oxenford, Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP

In the last few days, much has been written about the decision of a national radio broadcaster to prohibit the host of a country music radio program from airing an interview of a Democratic Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg on a nationally syndicated program. This decision has prompted many questions as to when the FCC’s equal opportunities (sometimes referred to as “equal time”) rules apply to appearances of a candidate on a broadcast station.

Two years ago, we wrote about a Declaratory Ruling issued by the FCC’s Media Bureau which addressed many of these issues. In that decision, the FCC determined that a syndicated television program, “Matter of Fact with Fernando Espuelas,” was an “exempt program” which would not give rise to equal opportunities. The FCC rules state that bona fide news interview programs are exempt programs, meaning that appearances on the program by legally qualified candidates for public office would not give rise to equal opportunities for other candidates to get free time on the stations which aired the program. In reviewing that request for declaratory ruling, or in considering whether any program would be exempt, what does the FCC consider?

In the case two years ago, the FCC looked at various factors to determine if the program was an “exempt program” where an appearance by the candidate did not trigger equal opportunities. Those factors include the following: (1) was the program regularly scheduled, (2) was the program content controlled by the station or program supplier, and (3) were the decisions as to the inclusion of candidates based on judgments as to the newsworthiness of the appearance and not for political purposes. Other decisions, in the past, have also required that the program be one where issues of importance to the community are regularly discussed, or candidates and other political figures are regularly featured. These factors have allowed the FCC to take an expansive view, and determine that programs that hardly seem like the typical Sunday morning talking heads news interview program can be considered bona fide news interview programs that are exempt from equal opportunities. For example, FCC staff have found programs as diverse as the Howard Stern radio show and Entertainment Tonight to be news interview programs that regularly – though not necessarily every day or even a majority of the time, but regularly – featured newsmakers. If these factors are met, the program is considered a bona fide news interview program, and candidates can appear without competitors having the right to claim equal opportunities, and without a candidate’s appearance being considered a “use” that needs to be noted in the public files of stations that carry the program.

In addition to news interview programs, newscasts and on-the-spot coverage of a news event are also “exempt programs” where candidate appearances do not constitute “uses” giving rise to equal opportunities or public file obligations. Over the years, as we wrote here and here, the FCC has been more and more liberal in its interpretations of what constitutes a news or news interview program. It is no longer just the evening newscast on a station and the boring Sunday morning talking heads news interview program that qualify. Instead, the FCC has recognized that people get their “news” from all sorts of different kinds of broadcast programs, and the FCC has determined that any program that regularly features newsmakers, where the program content is in the hands of the producers and where the program’s guests are selected for newsworthiness, and not to promote a particular political agenda, can be an exempt news or news interview program. So the FCC has ruled that a host of programs that may not look like hard news, from the Today Show to the Phil Donahue program to the late-night talk shows, could be exempt news interview programs where a candidate’s appearance did not trigger equal time. If the program covers some aspect of the news, and regularly features newsmakers, it is likely to be determined to be an exempt program.

A station need not get a declaratory ruling from the FCC to rely on this exemption. However, many stations and syndicators do seek a ruling. Syndicated programmers in particular like to have the certainty of a ruling to reassure potential affiliated stations that, by picking up the program, they are not likely to subject themselves to equal time requests.

In the recent case, without knowing the full facts of the situation, we cannot evaluate whether or not the decision was justified. If the program in the past had confined itself to music and entertainment programming, without regularly tackling political or other topical issues, the concerns of the station owner may well have been justified.

In the case discussed so much this week, another issue is worth mentioning – the issue of who would get equal time if the program was not exempt. Only legally qualified candidates opposing the candidate who appeared on the air have the right to demand equal time. In these early days of the Presidential election season, there is a real question as to which candidates are in fact legally qualified candidate for the Democratic nomination and are thus entitled to equal opportunities at this point. In most elections, a candidate needs to either have qualified for a place on the ballot or, in the case of a write-in candidate, they need to make a substantial showing that they are a real candidate by demonstrating that they are doing everything that candidates do (e.g., making public appearances, passing out literature, advertising, taking policy positions, etc.).

However, there are special rules for Presidential candidates, in that once they become legally qualified in 10 states, they are considered legally qualified in all states. In addition, as Presidential campaigns often begin well before the deadlines for filing for a place on the ballot (or, for states with caucuses instead of primaries, there may be no ballot for which to qualify), a candidate for President can demonstrate legally qualified status by making a substantial showing that they are actively campaigning in at least 10 states (or nine states and DC). At this point, some of the major candidates may well have been sufficiently active in some of the early primary and caucus states (e.g., Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, etc.), but can they show that they really have been active in 10 states? That is an open question that broadcasters face with equal opportunities issues about candidate appearances on national programs, or appearances on local stations in states where the candidates have not been particularly active. Stations need to discuss these issues with their counsel and perhaps the FCC as they arise.

There are obviously many other issues at play in evaluating any political issue like this, so be prepared to talk to counsel about the particular facts of your case. My colleagues and I will be doing a number of political broadcasting webinars for state broadcasting associations in the coming months – including three in the next week and one for multiple states in November. I am sure that many other FCC attorneys will be doing the same. So listen in to these webinars, and study up to help to identify the issues about which you need to be concerned. And to help identify some of the issues that you need to consider, see our Guide to Political Broadcasting, here.

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.

Are You Set for August 7?

Although the MAB has advised its members in Michigan, FEMA and the FCC issued a joint release on July 24, regarding the nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on Wednesday, August 7, 2019 at 2:20 p.m. Eastern Time.  The nationwide test will be sent to radio and television stations through FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System and will originate through Primary Entry Point (PEP) stations.

This year’s test will evaluate the readiness of the national alerting capability in the absence of internet connectivity. The test will be approximately one minute long, have a limited impact on the public with only minor interruption of radio and television programs, and will be similar to regular monthly EAS tests. Both the audio message and text crawl should be accessible to people with disabilities.

The release notes that all other radio and television stations, cable, wireline service providers, and direct broadcast satellite service providers should subsequently receive and broadcast the test message.

The test will not include a message on cell phones via Wireless Emergency Alerts.

EAS participants should have already filled out the required Form One on the ERTS website.  Stations will be required to fill out the post-test Form Two before midnight the day of the test.  On or before September 23, 2019, EAS Participants must file the detailed post-test data sought by ETRS Form Three, though many participants fill out both Form Two and Three at the same time.

In the event the August 7 test is postponed, the secondary date is Wednesday, August 21, 2019.  If you have any questions, please contact Dan Kelley at the MAB: [email protected] or 800.968.7622.

Is Radio’s History Vulnerable?: Why Digital Archiving Should Be a Priority

Seth Resler

By: Seth Resler,
Jacobs Media Strategies

It is only in the last few weeks that the general public has learned the full extent of the music history that was destroyed in the Universal fire of 2008. We’re just now finding out that the world has been robbed of master recordings from a wide range of artists, including Louis Armstrong, Buddy Holly, Nine Inch Nails, and Eminem. “How could this have happened?!,” we ask.

Yet many radio stations house valuable collections of artist recordings that are just as vulnerable. When I was the Assistant Music Director at WBCN in Boston around the turn of the century, we had a closet full of DATs with recordings of interviews and live performances by artists like the Ramones, Aerosmith, and Linkin Park. But WBCN signed off the air in 2009 (though the call letters continued to be used for an HD radio station) and CBS, which owned WBCN, sold all of its radio stations to Entercom in 2017. I’ve often wondered what happened to that collection of recordings in the shuffle, and if anybody anywhere considers their preservation a priority.

Of course, WBCN isn’t alone. There are thousands of radio stations in the U.S., many of them with decades of heritage. How many more have closets full of historical recordings? And what is happening with all of those?

Digital technology has made it cheaper and easier than ever to preserve these types of recordings, but it takes time and effort. As the radio industry has increasingly consolidated, there’s scarce resources for archivists. Many stations are fortunate if they’re properly recording, cataloguing, and filing today’s recordings, let alone sifting through decades of past material.

Thankfully, there are exceptions. KSHE in St. Louis, a rock station that’s barreling towards its seventh decade in existence, has built a virtual museum to showcase its heritage, and even repackaged old recordings into a new podcast called “The KSHE Tapes.”

While there may be stations that are minding their archives, that doesn’t mean they’re not vulnerable to the same type of calamity that Universal Music suffered. Radio station recordings aren’t as precious as master tapes from an album recording session, but digital backups should still be made. To properly safeguard these materials, they need to be backed up with copies in the cloud (in case of a local disaster like a fire) and locally (in case the cloud storage fails).

As we reflect on the tragic loss of the Universal fire, we should ask ourselves if our radio stations and broadcasting companies are also at risk: Does your radio station have an archive of valuable recordings? Has that archive been backed up digitally? Do those digital archives live both on and off-site? And — most importantly — is somebody responsible for preserving the station’s history?

Let’s not just mourn the loss of the material from the Universal fire. Let’s learn from it — and take steps to prevent something similar from happening to us.

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.