WSGW-AM ‘Listen To The Mrs.’ Becomes A Podcast

Alpha Media’s WSGW-AM (Saginaw) has announced that its long-running Listen to the Mrs. Show, on the air for 66 years, is becoming a podcast. Station News Director Ann Williams and Talk Host Art Lewis will continue to host the show, which focuses on food, including recipes and cooking tips and lifestyle topics.

Operations Manager Dave Maurer said, “While we still like to hear from people raving about a great dish they had and sharing the recipe, the days of listeners calling to ask if we have a meatloaf recipe have given way to the internet browser. Our new approach is sharing food trends, new cooking methods, and lifestyle information.”

Maurer said that Lewis has wanted to take the show national but, “The cost of satellite time and finding affiliates was a daunting task. Now, through podcasting, we can go beyond a local and national audience and reach all over the world through the Internet.”

Freelancer Television/NewsNet Breaks Ground on New Studios

(L-R) Dylan Rodenbaugh, Eric Wotila, Morris Langworthy and Wyatt VanDuinen break ground on NewsNet’s new facility.

On Wednesday, Cadillac-based Freelancer Television, licensee of two LPTV stations and NewsNet, broke ground  on an expansion to it studios in Michigan.

The 3,500 square foot addition will consist of three studios, each with their own control rooms, as well as a new, state-of-the-art master control room overseeing the operations of both NewsNet and Freelancer Television Broadcasting’s local stations, WMNN and WXII-LP. NewsNet promotes itself as the 24-hour news network focused on delivering headlines without talk and opinion-based programming.

Since launching on January 1, NewsNet has operated out of those stations’ existing studios. A combination of factors led to the decision to add additional studio space to the company’s 2,200 square foot building.

“When we launched NewsNet, we wanted to operate ‘lean and mean’ from the existing facilities of our local TV stations with the idea that we would add additional space once the network was on-air,” explained Eric Wotila, President of NewsNet. “Now that we’re up and running, we’re thrilled to be moving forward with this new addition, which will benefit NewsNet as well as our local stations.”

Staff at NewsNet are excited about the construction of the new studios.  “I think it will really benefit our ability to gather news and present it in an efficient manner,” said NewsNet Anchor/Producer Remington Hernandez. “Space has always been an issue but with more space we’ll be able to efficiently produce more content.”

“It’s amazing how much we’ve grown over this short time,” explained NewsNet Chief Meteorologist Morris Langworthy. “I’m very excited that we’re more than doubling the size of our workspace, and I’m eager to explore the potential the new space holds.”

NewsNet’s new studios are expected to be completed and on-air this fall.

Alpha Media’s Geary Morrill Featured on This Week’s TWiRT Podcast

Alpha Media Regional Director of Engineering Geary Morrill, based in Saginaw, was the featured guest this week on Kirk Harnack’s TWiRT (This Week In Radio Tech) Podcast, discussing the rise of his career beginning in the ’70s and the process today of finding, hiring and training new engineers.

Special thanks to Kirk Harnack for sharing.  You can find the TWiRT podcast library here (it is a wealth of great tech information and ideas).

Watch below:

Show description:

How did we broadcast engineers learn our craft? What experiences, resources, and people helped become broadcast engineering professionals? Geary Morrill got started with the likes of Steve Church, Vern Post, and Dave Gorman. Now Geary joins us with ideas and solid advice for finding and encouraging the next generation of audio, video, RF, and IT engineers.

Show Links:

SBE Mentor Program – Developing Tomorrow’s Broadcast Engineers

Cleveland Institute of Electronics Broadcast Engineering

SBE MemberPlus (access to all broadcast engineering webinars)

Information about the late David C. Gorman – one of Geary’s mentors

Steve Church – tribute video

Detroit Public Television, Michigan Radio, WDET, WJR, WJBK, WXYZ All Receive Honors at Detroit Chapter SPJ Awards

At a banquet held May 2, the Detroit Chapter of Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ Detroit) announced winners of its 2019 Excellence in Journalism Awards.

Broadcast winners for various stories include Detroit Public Television, WDET-FM (Detroit), WJR-AM (Detroit), WJBK-TV (Detroit) and WXYZ-TV (Detroit).  A complete list of winning entries with comments from the judges is available for download here.

In addition, the chapter announced that Lindsey Smith and Kate Wells of Michigan Radio were 2018 Journalists of the Year.

In a release, SPJ Detroit said “Lindsey Smith and Kate Wells have continually demonstrated a strong commitment to quality journalism, attention to detail, energy and absolute enthusiasm about their work.  They also have the ability to develop sources on complicated stories, treat victims sensitively and tell difficult stories with a sensitive, yet compelling narrative style.  The talents of their partnership can he heard in the podcast series Believed.

Third Local Primary Station Coming to Northwest EAS Region

Following last week’s news regarding St. Clair County, EAS improvements continue in Michigan.  At this past January’s State Emergency Communications Committee Meeting (SECC), a longtime problem in the state’s lower-peninsula Northwest EAS region was addressed.

Over the years, some EAS participants reported difficulties in receiving the region’s LP-2 station, licensed to Indian River, Michigan.  WMKC-FM’s tower location is located in the far north portion of the EAS region.  Broadcasters from Cadillac south reported difficulties in reliably receiving WMKC, simply because of the distance.

The SECC elected to find another station to serve as an LP-3 to relay the LP-1, LP-2, National Weather Service and State Relay via WCMU to broadcast stations in the southern portion of the region.

With the assistance of Midwestern Broadcasting Chief Engineer Eric Send, several facilities were looked at.  WLJN-FM (Traverse CIty), 89.9 mHz was deemed a good candidate, with both a robust 100,000 watt signal, plus a forthcoming backup generator due for install in June.  MAB’s Dan Kelley spoke with the station this past Monday and WLJN agreed to become the LP-3 for the Northwest Region.

WLJN will become an LP-3 and the alternative for EAS participants who cannot receive the LP-2 effective August 1, 2019.

Many thanks to Brian Harcey (General Manager) and Don Parker (Chief Engineer) of Good News Media, licensee of WLJN.  Also again to Eric Send of Midwestern Broadcasting for his help and guidance on this issue.

Stations in the Northwest Region should receive notice of this change in the coming weeks.

When It Comes to Podcasting, Question These 3 Assumptions

Seth Resler

By: Seth Resler,
Jacobs Media Strategies

Though it’s been around for over a decade, podcasting is still a very young medium. If this were television, Serial would be “I Love Lucy.” Every time a new medium comes along, we tend to carry over assumptions about it from a previous medium. It’s no surprise that so many early television shows were radio shows retooled for the screen. Yet as time goes on, we inevitably learn that each medium is unique, and while we can look to the past for clues, we should also question the assumptions that we carry over. With that in mind, here are three assumption to avoid when it comes to podcasting:

1. Don’t assume that the revenue models that worked in the past will work in the future.
For the most part, radio is monetized through advertising. Advertising is what Seth Godin calls “interruption marketing.” You give an audience content that they want, then interrupt with ads. In his classic book Permission Marketing, Godin points out that the problem with interruption marketing is that people have a finite amount of attention, and they are bombarded with more marketing messages than ever before.

In an oversaturated media landscape, it’s harder to reach a splintered audience and harder to develop a marketing message that people remember. Interruption Marketing works really well in a media landscape with only three television networks, two local newspapers, and a handful of radio stations. But in a world of over 600,000 podcasts — not to mention websites, cable channels, video game titles, etc. — it’s harder than ever for advertisers to succeed with Interruption Marketing. Increasingly, companies are embracing permission-based strategies like Content Marketing or Search Engine Marketing.

Yet many podcast production companies are building a business on the old advertising model. Will this work? Maybe, maybe not. Interruption Marketing certainly isn’t dead, but companies will want to question how heavily their revenue streams rely upon it. There may be better ways to generate a profit.

2. Don’t assume that a bigger audience is better.
Traditional broadcasting relies on a simple principle: Get the biggest audience you can, then deliver that audience to advertisers. Of course, this principle was developed before we entered the Information Age. Now that we have digital tools to collect data about our audience members, we understand that size doesn’t always matter.

If I run a company that manufactures golf balls, I’d rather reach one hundred thousand golfers than a million people who may or may not golf. It’s not just about reaching lots of people — it’s also about reaching the right people. The most successful companies in the podcasting space may not be the ones with the largest audiences; they may be the ones with the most accurate information about their listeners. This is likely to translate into the most effective marketing for their clients.

3. Don’t assume that the right answer for large companies will also be the right answer for small companies.
When I talk to radio broadcasters about digital strategy, I inevitably hear them ask, “What are other radio companies doing?” I hate this question. It assumes that somebody out there already has the correct answer and all you need to do it copy it. Podcasting is such a new space that it’s not clear that anybody has all the right answers yet; and even if they did, those answers may not work for you.

What works for a large broadcasting company like iHeart Media, NPR, or EMF may not work for smaller broadcasting companies. If you have a national footprint with hundreds of radio stations, it may make sense to hire a top-tier Hollywood star to host a podcast; but if your company consists of a dozen stations in small markets, a similar course of action isn’t likely to produce profitable results. When it comes to podcasting, don’t assume that the same things are going to work for any two companies that happen to own radio transmitters. Find a solution that works for your company, and don’t worry about what the larger (or smaller) broadcasters are doing.

Podcasting is a thrilling space to be in at the moment because it’s uncharted territory. There are plenty of opportunities to try new things that have never been done before. But it’s precisely because it’s virgin terrain that we need to question the assumptions that we bring to the space. While some of the past principles will still apply, others will not. The key to success will lie in our ability to figure out which are which.

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.

Midwest Communications’ Terry Stevens to Lansing

Terry Stevens

Midwest Communications has announced that Terry Stevens has been transferred to the company’s Lansing cluster and assumes the role of Operations Manager.  He previously worked as Brand Manager at sister station WOZZ-FM in Wausau, Wisc. ,and has been with the company since 2001.

A Cincinnati, Ohio native, Stevens will oversee WWDK-FM, WJXQ-FM, WLMI-FM and WQTX-FM.

“The addition of Terry is a breath of fresh air,” said Lansing Market Manager Mark Jaycox.  “He is creative, passionate and offers a sincere drive to win.”

Added Stevens, ”The smartest decision I ever made was marrying my wife. The second smartest was coming to work for Midwest Communications.  I’m stoked about this new opportunity in Lansing, and can’t wait to take all four stations in this group to the next level.”

Bill Harris to Step Down from Anchor Desk

Bill Harris

Bill Harris, anchor at WEYI-TV and WSMH-TV (Flint) announced last week that he plans to step down from daily newscast anchoring at the end of May.

Harris has spent more than 50 years in broadcast journalism – including the last 40 years anchoring and reporting at various stations in the Flint-Saginaw television market. The nine-time Emmy award winning anchor isn’t completely stepping away from the anchor desk. He will occasionally anchor newscasts, report important news stories affecting mid-Michigan viewers and host specials like NBC25-FOX66’s annual “Classy Brassy Christmas & More” holiday broadcast.

In making his announcement, Harris said: “After considerable thought, I have made the difficult but correct decision that ‘it’s time’ for Bill Harris. After 47 years as a full-time news anchor, I will anchor my last, regularly scheduled, newscast on Friday, May 31 on FOX66 (WSMH-TV) News at 10. It has been an incredible and rewarding ride and I have you the viewers to thank. Your support, your trust, your viewership, your friendship is what has made this job so rewarding and memorable for me. I and my family are eternally grateful.

“With that said, I’m happy to say I am not entirely disappearing from the TV screen. On the first of June, I will be entering a “semi retirement” mode, responsible for some news stories, special projects such as ‘Classy Brassy Christmas & More’ and an occasional appearance back here on the anchor desk. So, for the moment, a brief, but sincere, thank you to all.”

NTCA asks FCC to Expand Ownership Ban

According to a report in TVNewsCheck, the Internet and Television Association (NTCA) urged the agency to tighten the rules barring a single company from owning multiple network affiliate stations in the same market. The group wants the FCC to extend the ban beyond the four major broadcast networks to include multicast streams and low-power stations.

The NAB commented on the ownership issue by calling for a lifting of the top-four ban in all markets. “Treating multicast streams, satellites and LPTVs as stations subject to the local TV rule generally, or the top-four stricture specifically, would be arbitrary and capricious because they are not equivalent to the full-service TV stations regulated under the FCC’s ownership rules. The current across-the-board rule is divorced from competitive reality in two important ways,” the NAB stated. “First, the restriction is based on the premise that TV stations only compete for audiences and advertisers against other TV stations in the same market…. Second, [it] fails to take account of actual competitive conditions in any local market.”

Alexa Won’t Help If Listeners Don’t Know Who To Ask For!

Gary Berkowitz

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.

By: Gary Berkowitz
Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting

Lately, you can’t pick up a trade without reading an article about Alexa and smart speakers. The consensus is that smart speakers (Amazon, Google, etc.) will bring radio back into homes where radios have been disappearing over the past decade. I support this theory 100%, but there are a few areas to carefully look at as we enter this new territory. If listeners don’t know you’re there and if they don’t know who to ask for, smart speakers will be just one more technology that we (radio) will compete with versus be a part of. With that in mind, please keep these ideas in mind.

Do more than run obligatory liners about Alexa skills. Saying, “Alexa, play Magic 106.5” may not be enough. We need to explain to listeners that we are available there and wherever they have a smart speaker, they have us. The same goes for smartphones. I have recommended to many stations the line “If you have a phone, you have a radio.” Campaigns should be developed that explain the smart speaker explosion (as well as phone apps) and how to listen to us. Be creative. Be fun. This is what radio does best. Making your station a “must listen” on smart speakers is crucial for our new found “in home” success.

I continue to hear stations (in all formats) do a poor job of on-air ID. Jocks more often than not, rush thru, mumble and do not SELL the call letters and dial position. This will have a very adverse effect on smart speakers, because, as the title of this article says, “Alexa won’t matter if they don’t know who to ask for.” Whether you’re a dairy or PPM market, it does not matter when it comes to Alexa. She is all about recall, so it’s back to the future! This all reminds me of “The Bob Morgan Mantra.” Bob was the market manager of CBS/Rochester for many years. In every meeting, Bob reminded us that we had to be “Brilliant with the Basics..” Alexa has brought that back into the forefront (not that it ever left).

Catchy, fun and memorable (sing along) jingles could have a rebirth. We have been in a very “drums and call letter” style of jingles for a while. I suggest that stations use catchy jingles to help listeners remember who they are listening to. Put aside cool and hip. Think “sing along” and “memorable” so when they say “Alexa, play … they say you because they remember you.

Talk content will need careful management to ensure that the Alexa message is clear and easy to remember. Do you want your jocks selling more listening opportunities (Alexa, Google Home) or some tertiary pop culture story (Ok, ok … take it easy on me for saying this!).

In summary. This new smart speaker technology is going to require us to go back to the basics of doing “memorable programming”, so listeners put us top of mind. So, remember, Alexa won’t matter, if listeners don’t remember who to ask for.

  • Call letters and dial position always first, last and in many cases, in-between.
  • Clever,creative promos that tell listeners that they can listen to us on their smart speaker. Go beyond the sweeper.
  • Acquire easy to remember Alexa skills.
  • Review imaging to ensure that it clearly addresses smart speaker technology.
  • Discovering jingles that are clever, memorable and excel in “sing along.”

Smart speakers are giving us the opportunity of a lifetime to be part of a technology that is exploding. Let’s not miss the train! I’m ready to get on-board. How about you?

Gary Berkowitz is President of Detroit based Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting, specializing in ratings improvement for AC radio stations.