Conference Highlight: Marijuana Regulatory Agency Director to Speak at #MABsummer

Andrew Brisbo

Michigan’s New Marijuana Regulatory Agency Director An drew Brisbo will be on hand for the MAB’s Advocacy Conference & Annual Business Meeting on August 5-6 at the JW Marriott in Grand Rapids.

#MABsummer registration is now open. Hotel block room rates expire July 8. Learn more, register for the conference and reserve your room at

Andrew was recently appointed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to lead the newly-created Marijuana Regulatory Agency, the successor to the Bureau of Marijuana Regulation (BMR). BMR was created in 2017 to implement the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act and Marihuana Tracking Act and oversee Michigan’s existing medical marihuana registry card program under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act.

The agency is also responsible for implementing the regulatory program enacted under the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act. BMR’s mission is to establish Michigan as the national model for a regulatory program that stimulates business growth while preserving safe consumer access to marijuana.

Andrew is the director of BMR and has been in licensing and regulation with the State of Michigan since 2004, including experience with the Michigan Gaming Control Board, Department of State and occupational and health professional licensing in LARA.

Michigan Supreme Court Calls For Comments On Electronics In Court Rules

Proposed rules to make use of cellphones and other portable electronics more consistent through state courthouses were released May 15 by the Michigan Supreme Court, and while the rules would allow for cellphones in the courthouse, making a phone call in a courtroom during a proceeding as well as using it for photographs, recording or broadcasting will be prohibited.

The proposed rules are open for public comment and the Supreme Court will take comments on them through September 1. The proposed rules would strike current rules that allow a local court’s chief judge to create a policy using cellphones, laptops, tablets and other portable electronic devices.

Under the proposed rules litigants, their attorneys, witnesses (specifically those called to testify), onlookers and jurors will be governed by the rules on using cellphones and other electronics.
Essentially, cellphones currently cannot be used in a courtroom in any way, especially to photograph, record or broadcast unless the judge presiding permits such activities. The rules also prohibit photographing, recording or broadcasting any person outside the courtroom without that person’s permission.

The rules also require both jurors and witnesses to have their electronic devices turned off while in the courtroom. Lawyers as well as members of the public will be permitted to use electronic devices in a courtroom to retrieve information, store information, access the Internet and send texts or emails. However, they must
silence those devices and cannot use them to make calls or other engage in audible functions. Also, no communication is allowed between attorneys and onlookers with anyone participating in a
proceeding, including a witness or juror. If any of the rules are violated, the judge can seize the device for the rest of the day, or at least order it turned off and put away. Multiple violations can result in a person being charged with contempt.

Emails on the proposed rules can sent to  [email protected] and mail regarding the rules can
be sent to the Supreme Court Clerk at P.O. Box 30052, Lansing, MI, 48909.

Meet Your MABF Board Member of the Week: Marla Drutz

Marla Drutz

Marla Drutz is Vice President and General Manager of WDIV in Detroit. Prior to joining Graham Media Group (formerly Post-Newsweek Stations) in July 2008, Drutz had been with E.W. Scripps Company. In January 2002, she was named director of programming and special projects, responsible for the programming purchased, production and scheduling of five Scripps TV stations across the country, including WXYZ, the ABC affiliate in Detroit. She also oversaw a series of Scripps Television Productions.

Drutz joined E.W. Scripps Company in January 1988 as research director at WXYZ. She was named program director in 1994. Previously, Drutz worked at WJBK in Detroit and at WJW in Cleveland.

A graduate of Leadership Detroit XIII, Drutz serves on the board of the NBC Affiliates Association, the Southeast Michigan United Way, New Detroit, the Detroit Convention and Visitors Bureau and Oakland Family Services.

Drutz holds a BA in journalism and communication from Ohio University . A native of Louisville, KY, Drutz lives in Bloomfield Hills with her husband, Ron, and their son.

Scotty Gunther Joins Up North Radio’s WCDY

Scotty Gunther

Up North Radio’s WCDY-FM (Cadillac) has teamed up with Comedian, Author, and Speaker Scotty Gunther to create a very different PM Drive show on the station.  Gunther, simply known as “Scotty” will host the show weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m.

“We are experimenting to find a completely different style of radio content,” says Up North Radio owner Dom Theodore. “I’ve been very vocal about the need for radio to recapture its experimental roots, and Scotty and I have talked for years about the opportunity to completely change how radio content is done. Think of this as a laboratory for personality radio.”

“It was worth it for me to come out of the woods and upend the notion that radio personalities can’t be true performers,” said Scotty, “This industry needs a dose of actual entertainment, and this is the best place to do it without rules.”

Scotty’s previous work includes hosting the #1 rated PM Drive show on WKST/Pittsburgh, and Morning Host on WIOG and WTCF in Saginaw, MI, as well as many other stations across the country.

Nessel Declares Major Components Of Petition Changes Unconstitutional

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel

On May 22, Michigan Attorney General announced that the key portion of the 2018 law establishing new requirements for groups wanting to put referendums, initiative petitions and constitutional amendments before voters are unconstitutional.

Gongwer reports that Nessel said the most contentious part of the bill, that no more than 15 percent of a group’s signatures come from a single U.S. House district, is unconstitutional.  The language is tantamount to cutting voters out of the process by saying no more than 15 percent of a group’s signatures can come from one district.

Ms. Nessel also held that the requirement for paid signature-gatherers to file an affidavit with the state indicating they are being paid before circulating petitions is unconstitutional. It could lead to circulator harassment and impinge on free-speech rights, she said.

However, Ms. Nessel said some portions of PA 608 of 2018 are constitutional, such as having challenges of Board of State Canvassers decisions go straight to the Supreme court as well as false or fraudulent information provided by a circulator on a petition sheet leading to invalidation of all signatures on a petition sheet. Additionally, any form or content mistakes invalidate all signatures on the sheet, an addition by the law that also meets constitutional muster, Ms. Nessel said.

“Several senior staff contributed to the research, analysis and preparation of this opinion,” Ms. Nessel said in a statement. “Based on our review, this new law clearly violates the Constitution on several – but not all – fronts. With these issues resolved, Secretary Benson and her team can now go forward in the work they need to do in managing Michigan’s election process.”

WLNS Continues its Partnership with Habitat For Humanity

Nexstar Broadcasting’s WLNS-TV (Lansing) this week partnered again with Habitat for Humanity Capitol Region’s “Women Build” program to renovate a home on Lansing’s north side.

Women Build is a program that celebrates women eliminating inadequate housing by building or repairing homes and improving communities.

This year’s project is working on a home rehab for Congolese refugees Suliman & Najat’s family.

They look forward to seeing their children grow up in their new home, graduate from school, and fulfill dreams of their own.

Also this week, the station reflected upon its efforts over the past five years.  In 2017, Habitat took a trip to Africa in order to help a family in need there and WLNS-TV anchor Sheri Jones went along as a volunteer.

One woman and her four grandchildren lived in a small house made of mud in Kenya and it only had two rooms.

There was no ventilation, a leaky roof and dirt floors. Hamilton-Allen remembers stepping inside the home for the first time with tears.

“Investing one week of what habitat for humanity calls, “sweat equity” to help improve the lives of future generations,” Jones said back in 2017.


NAB Demands Answers from FCC for 20% Higher Annual Fees

NABAccording to a report in Inside Radio, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has issued a letter to the FCC stating that because it has offered no explanation for the “remarkable” increase for its size, it’s nearly impossible for the industry’s trade group to offer any feedback on the proposed assessment.

Under the FCC’s proposed menu of fees, most stations would see a double-digit increase in what they’d have to pay to the FCC, according the Inside Radio report. For the biggest FMs in the largest markets, the annual fee would jump to $22,650 compared to $18,880 last year. On the AM dial the FCC has taken a similar approach, proposing the biggest AMs see their annual fee go up to $17,950 from last year’s $15,050. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking approved by the Commission two weeks ago offered no explanation for why radio’s annual fees would suddenly increase just a year after they were reduced by an average 13% in 2018.

In a letter to the Commission, the NAB said the notice made no attempt to explain or justify the increase and will bring “an unexpected and substantial burden” for many broadcasters.

The FCC is giving broadcasters until June 7 to file their first round of comments on its proposal. Reply comments will then be due by June 24. It’s likely to adopt the final order later this summer and the new fees will be due on or before October 1.

Government Relations Director Elena Palombo to leave the MAB on May 31

Elena Palombo

After eight years serving the MAB and its members, Government Relations Director Elena Palombo has resigned her position, effective May 31.

During her time with the MAB, Elena served as an advocate for the broadcast industry in Lansing and on Capitol Hill, working on issues involving the spectrum auction and repack, performance tax, drone regulation, pirate radio, tax on advertising and other telecommunication related regulations.

We are thankful to Elena for her passion and dedication in her work on behalf of Michigan Broadcasters and wish her the best of luck 
in her future endeavors
Government Relations will continue to be monitored by MAB President Karole L. White, along with Rob Elhenicky and the Kelley-Cawthorne team of government relations experts. Any questions you may have on broadcasting legislation or issues should be addressed to Karole L. White at  [email protected].

NAB Files Comments Supporting Voluntary All-Digital AM

NABOn May 11, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) filed comments with the FCC supporting a petition to allow AM stations to broadcast an all-digital AM signal on a voluntary basis.

In late March, Texas-based Bryan Broadcasting filed a Petition for Rulemaking asking the commission to initiate a proceeding to authorize the MA3 all-digital mode of HD Radio for any AM station that chooses to do so.

Permitting such modernization would “give AM broadcasters a needed innovative tool with which to compete” without harming others in the spectrum ecosystem, it wrote.

In its comments, the NAB said that “we agree with the Petitioner that all-digital AM service will allow broadcasters to provide substantially improved sound quality that could help AM stations to retain and attract listeners in the increasingly competitive audio marketplace. Experimental testing and real-world implementation of all-digital AM, and industry interest in launching all-digital AM
services all support further consideration of rules to facilitate broadcasters’ voluntary transition to all-digital AM service.

Radio World notes that “All HD Radio receivers in the market that have AM functionality would be able to receive such all-digital signals. But legacy AM receivers would not, which has long been a barrier to serious discussion of all-digital. Now, some observers say, the availability of FM translators for AM licensees has made something that once seemed unthinkable at least worth discussing.”

Currently there is one station in the country that has been experimenting with an all-digital AM signal, under FCC experimental authority. Hubbard Radio’s WWFD-AM (Frederick, MD) has turned off its analog signal while remaining in all-digital mode.  NAB says that it understands that WWFD’s digital signal is robust and far more listenable than analog service. Hubbard has said it received encouraging feedback from listeners and informed NAB that it would consider transitioning additional AM stations to all-digital broadcasting, if permitted.

Date of Next National EAS Test Announced

FEMA has submitted a filing to the FCC indicating that the next national EAS test will be on Wednesday, August 7, at 2:20 p.m. Eastern.

As in the past, the test will use the NPT (National Periodic Test) code and will be issued through the Primary Entry Point network. Note that there is a typo in the filing, 2016 instead of 2019. Here is the filing: