FCC Announces Experimental NextGen TV License for WKAR at MSU

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly speaks at June 20 press conference. Photos courtesy of WKAR Public Media.

On June 20, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly announced the granting of a special license allowing MSU and WKAR Public Media (East Lansing) to launch an experimental Next Generation TV broadcasting station. Based on the ATSC 3.0 digital TV standards, NextGen TV adds internet-style information and interactivity, plus advanced technologies such as 4k ultra high-definition video and multichannel, immersive audio, to over-the-air television broadcasts.

The announcement was held at a press conference at the WKAR studios in East Lansing.

(L-R) WKAR Director of Broadcasting Susi Elkins, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly and Dean of MSU College of Communication Arts & Sciences, Dr. Prabu David.

WKAR will be the first public broadcasting station in the U.S. to receive FCC authorization to begin experimental ATSC 3.0 broadcasts.

With the experimental ATSC 3.0 station as a testbed, MSU will open the NextGen Media Innovation Lab, a new research facility alongside WKAR studios in the Communication Arts and Sciences building on the MSU campus.

The lab will serve as a collaborative research hub exploring the potential of ATSC 3.0, with an emphasis on outcomes related to traditional public media content, such as education, health, local news and emergency alerting, plus new areas such as connected vehicles.

Goldsen Elected NAB Radio Board Second Vice Chairman

Bruce Goldsen

At the National Association of Broadcasters’ Board of Directors meeting, held June 12-13, the NAB Executive Committee elections took place and Michigan’s own Bruce Goldsen, President of Jackson Radio Works, was elected Radio Board Second vice chairman.

Goldsen, who is a Past MAB Chairman and Board member (and still on the board as a honorary member) has been an elected NAB Board Representative as well as a longtime trustee with the MAB PAC.

Other appointments at the meeting included:

Caroline Beasley, CEO, Beasley Media Group, was unanimously re-elected as NAB Joint Board chair by the NAB Joint Board of Directors.

Jordan Wertlieb, president of Hearst Television, was re-elected as NAB Television Board chairman. Emily Barr, president and CEO, Graham Media Group, was re-elected first vice chair of the Television Board, and Ralph M. Oakley, president and CEO, Quincy Media, Inc., was re-elected as second vice chair.

It was announced that John Orlando, CBS executive vice president, Government Affairs, will assume the designated TV network seat on the executive committee.

Randy D. Gravley, president and CEO, Tri State Communications Inc., was re-elected Radio Board chair by the NAB Radio Board. David Santrella, president, Broadcast Media, Salem Media Group, was elected Radio Board first vice chair.

Kim Guthrie, president of Cox Media Group, was re-elected to the Radio Board’s major group representative seat.

MAB Members Help OK2SAY Save Lives

OK2SAY is a MAB partner; MAB member stations have been airing OK2SAY public service announcements.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has released the OK2SAY student safety program’s 2017 Annual Report.

OK2SAY is an effective prevention-based reporting mechanism tool, logging in more than 14,000 tips from students across Michigan since September 2014.

“Since the programs’ inception, I’ve been a firm believer in the power of OK2SAY,” said Schuette. “OK2SAY has done more than save lives, its stopped violence and ensured that Michigan students have a safe place to learn and grow. We have come very far since this program started, but it is apparent that students and schools continue to need the program.”

To date, OK2SAY presentations have been presented to 500k students across Michigan and has reached 230 new Michigan new schools.

OK2SAY received 4,605 tips in 2017 which is an increase of 72% compared to 2016. Tips were received in 30 categories, the top five are as follows:

1,205 tips on suicide threats
961 tips on bullying
456 tips related to “other”
390 tips on self-harm
311 tips on drugs

2017 was the most successful year yet and 2018 is already on track to beat the record numbers.

“OK2SAY continues to be a valuable, even life-saving, resource for our students and the Michigan State Police is proud to support this important program,” stated Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the Michigan State Police. “No information or tip is ever too small to report because you never know when your tip could be the one that prevents a tragedy.”

See the report here.

Blarney Stone Broadcasting To Bring Lick The Plate To Northern Michigan Radio

Northern Michigan’s Blarney Stone Broadcasting has announced a joint marketing and distribution agreement with MyNorth.com and Traverse Magazine that brings Lick the Plate to Blarney Stone stations WKLZ-FM, WQON-FM, WFCX-FM and WFDX-FM.  The program will air weekdays during afternoon drive and be repeated in evenings along with its current distribution on MyNorth.com.

Hosted by David Boylan, Lick the Plate is an original culinary food and music show, telling the stories of culinary personalities since 2015.

In addition to airing on the Blarney Stone stations, the show will be distributed in podcast format via digital and social media channels on all 3-station brands. The 5 episodes that air Monday – Friday will be complemented by longer format bonus content in podcast format on MyNorth.com. The expanded distribution will give Lick the Plate coverage throughout Northern Michigan in addition to it’s Southeast Michigan and Ontario footprint on 93.9 The River (CIDR-FM).

Blarney Stone Broadcasting President/CEO Sheryl Coyne had been looking to source new content that features the exploding Northern Michigan culinary scene when Christopher Hunt, Director of Sales at MyNorth & Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine approached her about a joint marketing and distribution agreement to spread Lick the Plate across multiple platforms.

She had this to say about the collaboration: “We were big fans of Lick the Plate and when Chris approached us with this we jumped at the opportunity. With our multi-platform distribution and our combined audiences, the show is going to be a dominant force and go-to resource for Northern Michigan foodies and the advertisers that want to reach them.” Christopher Hunt added, “This is definitely one of those win-win scenarios for all of our brands. Combined, we will have a fully integrated distribution strategy for Lick the Plate that covers digital, print and broadcast and our advertisers are going to eat up that mix, so to speak. It will enable them to reach the highly desirable audience that Lick the Plate attracts through multiple channels and that is the value I sought to provide when I approached Sheryl with this idea.”

Lick the Plate host David Boylan was equally enthusiastic: “This is an incredible opportunity for me to expand the reach of the show in Northern Michigan. The culinary scene extends throughout the Northern half of the state and the talent driving it is incredible. This is also going to be a huge bonus for my guests who will now have a much larger audience listening in on their story.”

FCC Rejects LPFM Objections against Pending FM Translator Applications

According to the Broadcast Law Blog, the FCC’s Media Bureau released a decision letter rejecting an objection filed by three groups advocating on behalf of LPFM stations against almost 1000 FM translator applications.

The grounds for the objections included claims that Section 5 of the Local Community Radio Act (LCRA), an act setting some ground rules for the relationship between LPFM stations and translators, mandated that the FCC evaluate each of these applications for its individual impact on LPFM opportunities in the future. Once the objection was rejected, the FCC resumed processing of pending applications.

The Audio Division noted that the Section 5 of the LCRA, which says that translators and LPFMs are equal in status and that the FCC needed to provide opportunities for each of those classes of stations, did not apply to evaluations of modifications of existing translators, but instead only to applications for new translators.

WOOD-TV to Host Democratic Gubernatorial Debate

WOOD-TV (Grand Rapids)
will host a debate among the candidates seeking the Democratic seat in the Michigan Governor’s race on June 20.

This will be the first televised debate for the gubernatorial contenders. It will air live at 7 p.m. on WOOD-TV and woodtv.com.

All three democratic candidates will take part: Gretchen Whitmer, Shri Thanedar and Dr. Abdul El-Sayed.

WOOD-TV hosted a debate for the Republican gubernatorial candidates on May 9.


Skip Essick Shares Stories in new Blog

Skip Essick

Longtime Michigan broadcaster Skip Essick, who’s programming and management career in our state includes stops in Detroit and Grand Rapids, has started writing about his career highlights in a blog titled “This is Skip Essick, signing off.”

Essick, who is a past Chairman of the Michigan Association of Broadcasters is currently semi retired and living in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico.

With his blog, Essick shares stories from his days with J.P. McCarthy, the story of how Dick Purtan didn’t wind up at WJR and his work in Grand Rapids with WOOD, WGRD and WZZM Radio.

Read “This is Skip Essick, signing off” here.

Jack Lessenberry Joins WFDF-AM

All Access reports former Michigan Radio Senior Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry  has joined Adell News-Talk WFDF-AM (Detroit) for a 9-11 a.m.  weekday show starting July 9.

CEO Kevin Adell said, “I’m excited to have Jack, the father of journalism, who taught many of my staff here at my media companies, join the 910AM SUPERSTATION family. Jack will bring a wealth of in-depth knowledge and expertise to the station.”

“For my part, I am excited to be part of the exciting future that Kevin and his team are building at 910,” added Lessenberry.  “We’re going to be doing some things you might never expect, shake people up and make them think, and the goal is never to be boring.”

MAB Holds ABIP Inspector Workshop

ABIP workshop attendees at inspection of WKAR-TV (East Lansing)

On June 14, the MAB held  a workshop  for prospective Alternate Broadcast Inspection Program inspectors, as well as for station engineers who were interested in the process.

The workshop was conducted by Dennis Baldridge, an SBE certified broadcast engineer who has been a contract engineer, consultant, and ABIP inspector since the 1980s.

Over the course of the day, the first half of the workshop was held at a local hotel meeting room.  Following lunch, Baldridge and the attendees moved to the studios of WKAR-TV in East Lansing to begin an actual inspection.  Following the studio visit, attendees then went to the WKAR transmitter site.

Our thanks to Gary Blievernicht of WKAR for allowing the MAB to conduct an ABIP inspection of his facility for this workshop.

WDZH to Launch New Morning Show

Chris Cruise and Julia Lepidi

On Monday, June 18, Entercom’s WDZH-FM (Detroit) will launch a new morning program to be hosted by Chris Cruise and Julia Lepidi. The Morning Show with Cruise and Julia will air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m.

Chris Cruise is a Detroit native and comes to WDZH having previously worked at WOW 104.3 in Boise, ID. Lepidi has been a night show host at WDZH since 2015.

“As the leaders in live, local, original audio content, we are excited to bring our community a new show to tune in to while getting their day started,” said Debbie Kenyon, Senior Vice President and Market Manager, Entercom Detroit. “I’m looking forward to hearing Chris and Julia on air together. They have a chemistry that will have listeners laughing out loud and are sure to make for a great morning tandem. I look forward to their success in Detroit.”

“Ever since I started in radio, my endgame has always been to land in my hometown of Detroit,” said Cruise. “It means the world to me that I get to come back to the “Comeback City” and do what I love. Can’t wait for coney dogs.”

“Hearing mornings in Detroit as a kid is what sparked my fire for radio,” Lepidi said. “WDZH has been my home since the beginning of my career, and I’m thrilled to be working with Chris to create something unique and special in Detroit.”