Radio News ®

Robert Eatman Enterprises picks up "John & Jeff Show" from NBG

Mancow syndicator Robert Eatman Enterprises has picked up the "John & Jeff Show" from NBG Radio Networks 11/1. The shop currently airs on 18 affiliates The 1AM-4AM/5AM ET live show was originally a Fisher Entertainment product, which NBG subsequently purchased for $5.3M. Says Robert Eatman: "The agreement was up and NBG chose to let someone else syndicate it. We've already transferred the satellite, the phone lines. It was a very smooth transition. I really believe in them, and at that time of night, it's hard to find shows of that quality in syndication. I think there's a great need for stations to find programming with substance."

NABO/NAN protests to move to Circuit City

The National Association of Black Organizations and the National Action Network continue their protests against DC's XM Satellite Radio. According to All Access: "Thursday's demonstration at XM headquarters repeated the organizations' demand that the satellite service carry 'The Word Network' religious programming. The groups are now threatening to 'take direct action' against retailer Circuit City for selling XM equipment." The two groups have been staging protests at XM (and near the Chevy Chase home of CEO Hugh Panero) for the past few months.

Neil Rogers' song parodies of Condoleezza Rice getting media attention

Popular WQAM-AM Miami (Beasley Broadcast) Leftist Talker Neil Rogers has been getting the attention of MSNBC and Fox News for running a song parody on National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice. The parody, "Kiss a N----r Good Morning" is performed by "Boca Brian," a South Florida singer whose parodies are regular features on The Neil Rogers Radio Show, heard weekdays in Miami and Ft. Myers.

The CD featuring the song is being sold on Rogers' website, which links to an online store called "Radio Holes Audio Comedy Service." A spokesman for Radio Holes told NewsMax that the Boca Brian cut is a parody about "black people in general," not Ms. Rice in particular, despite the picture of Bush kissing Rice on the cover.

Rogers play the song - titled "Condoleezza" and sung to the music of Nat King Cole's "Mona Lisa" - on his show 11/6.

Performed in vocal mannerisms reminiscent of "Amos 'n' Andy," the lyrics expand the attack on Rice delivered recently by calypso singer Harry Belafonte, who painted the Bush national security chief as a "house slave" in an interview with CNN.

Some lyric excerpts:

"Condoleezza, Condoleezza, what you be doin'?

That neo-facist black-haired token schwartza dog.

"Is you there 'cause you a high-toned public Negro?

Is you their black-haired answer-mammy who be smart?

Does they like how you shine their shoes, Condoleezza?

Or the way you wash and park the whitey's cars.

"Georgie junior says he trusts you, Condoleezza. Who said our (unintelligible) off the greedy oil woes. But then he make you clean all the White House bathrooms. The public sink, the toilet and let's scrub the floors."

Rogers refused to do a regular interview, so Fox News Channel called into his show.

"She's the house Negro," he said. "It's a fact, it's my opinion. Am I entitled to my opinion?" Rogers, speaking to a reporter calling from New York, added that he doesn't have to answer to out-of-towners.

"Why do I have to--in Miami, Fla.--answer to some [expletive] in New York on Fox News how I do my show? What is it your business?"

Beasley Broadcasting did not return calls at deadline.

RBR Observation:

Neil, remember Opie and Anthony? They crossed the line too and look what happened to them.

Correction: Simmons still in SLC

We jumped the gun in Friday's 11/8 RBR Daily Epaper by saying that Simmons Media would be out of the Salt Lake City market with its 15-station sale to Bonneville International. In fact, it will still have one AM and two FMs in SLC, plus a pending FM move-in.

K-Earth celebrates 30 years

Infinity's Oldies KRTH-FM (K-Earth) LA announced 11/7 it is celebrating its 30th anniversary on the airwaves. The station, launched in 1972, draws over 1M listeners weekly and is one of the top stations in the market for 25+ listeners.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announces 2003 inductees

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced the artists who will be recognized in the 2003 induction into the Hall of Fame: AC/DC, The Clash, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, the Police and Righteous Brothers.

Dentist on trial for murder sues CCU over WSSR-FM hosts

A dentist being tried on a charge of second-degree murder has filed a slander suit against Clear Channel over comments made on the morning show of WSSR-FM Tampa. Randolph Puryear filed the suit 11/6. He alleged that remarks on the morning radio show "Carmen and Chris'' damaged his reputation and business.

According to the suit, on 11/6/00, the show's hosts, Carmen Connors and Chris White, and others on the air at the time called him a racist, bigot and a "rich white man who murdered a black man.'' Puryear is charged with killing Jemale Wells, on 9/9/00. The hosts are no longer with the station.

Sharon Osbourne looking at hosting afternoon TV Talk show

The Hollywood Reporter reports 11/8 Sharon Osbourne, wife of Rocker Ozzy and co-star of MTV hit "The Osbournes," has signed a deal with Telepictures Productions to host a syndicated daytime talk show that would debut in fall 2003, sources said.

Details were still being finalized, a source said, but it is expected that Osbourne will oversee a single-issue talk show with a studio audience, a format familiar from "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and other strips.

Telepictures, a syndication arm of Warner Bros. Television, will soon begin selling the show to individual stations.

Granite focusing on local programming for growth

Granite Broadcasting Corp. (O:GBTVK) CEO Don Cornwell told Wall Street analysts that the company is focusing on local programming - - primarily news - - wherever possible to cut program expenses and boost revenues. In Friday's (11/8) conference call, company officials also noted that the company is working to eliminate non-barter daytime syndicated programming, having concluded that it's just not profitable to pay syndicators for daytime shows.

Granite reported that its Q3 same station (sans KNTV-TV San Francisco) net revenues were up 14.2% to $26.1M. Broadcast cash flow ballooned 250% to $4.5M.

Granite's cash flow margin was held down to 17.2% (still up from 5.6% a year ago) by its big market WB affiliates in San Francisco and Detroit, which have been up for sale for some time.

Cornwell is hoping to get a boost from the FCC's current review of its ownership rules. "We believe there is a very strong case for elimination of the so-called eight-voices test, which would allow more consolidation in smaller markets. This would lead, we believe, to more economically viable local television stations and better ability to serve local communities," he said.

TVBR Observation:

The benefits that Granite could receive from being able to swap out of its San Francisco and Detroit WB stations to add duopoly stations in its six smaller markets, where it has three NBC, two ABC and one CBS affiliate, are clear from its Q3 numbers. Despite an 11% revenue gain to $8.3M, the two big city UHF standalones were the drag on Granite's results, with negative cash flow of $74K (after losing more than $1.2M a year earlier). But Granite's six stations in smaller markets increased cash flow by 79% to $4.6M as revenues increased 16% to $17.7M.

Granite can't afford to buy an ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox station to double up in Detroit or San Francisco (in fact, it had to sell KNTV to NBC a few months back to get its financial house in order). But Cornwell sees that he can supercharge cash flow growth if Granite is permitted to acquire duopoly stations in its smaller markets - - Buffalo, Syracuse, Fresno, Peoria, Duluth and Fort Wayne.

Despite critics' concerns that allowing TV duopolies everywhere would limit the number of independent "voices" in smaller markets, what we've observed from consolidation is that the weak station added into a duopoly typically ends up with more news programming after being teamed up with one of the market's powerhouses. After all, local news is where successful local broadcasters make their money. It's only the cash-starved fifth, sixth and seventh place competitors who can't afford to run a news operation.

Sinclair closes $125M bond sale

Sinclair Broadcast Group (O:SBGI) has closed on its sale of $125M in 8% Senior Subordinated Notes due 2012 (10/28 RBR Daily Epaper). As a result, the company is using the proceeds and other cash to redeem its $200M in 9% Senior Subordinated Notes due 2007. The redemption date is 12/9/02.

Ex-WWE official faces smackdown in court

Former World Wrestling Entertainment (N:WWE) official Kenton Jenkins has been arrested on charges of grand larceny - - accused of sealing $437K from the company.

WWE said in a statement Friday (11/8) that it brought law enforcement into the case after it's own internal investigation had discovered "suspicious transactions" relating to The World - - WWE's Times Square theme-restaurant/entertainment complex, which Jenkins had managed. WWE hired KPMG Forensic to investigate the accounting and turned its findings over to Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau.

Jenkins, who was arrested Friday, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted on the most serious of four counts. Prior to launching The World two years ago, Jenkins had managed the competing ESPN Sports Zone theme restaurant across the street.

Study finds local TV news in decline

Viewership is on the wane but profit pressure is as intense as ever - - the result is a continuing drop in the quality of local television news, according to study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, an adjunct of the Columbia University Graduate School for Journalism.

The writers of the study fear that the anticipated relaxation in broadcast ownership rules could erode quality even faster.

Staffing shortages were cited by news directors as the biggest obstacle to creating quality newscasts. 48% of NDs selected that, well more than runner up complaints "too little time" (11%) and "too little money" (8%) a distant second and third.

A majority of the 103 NDs in the study felt that TV news was headed in the wrong direction, against only a third who felt it was moving positively ahead.

Encouragingly, the study found positive and demonstrable links to news quality and ratings success. The two are clearly linked.

There are positive signs, however. Tom Rosenstiel and Marion Just wrote a segment of the report itemizing simple steps to improve local TV news quality. They include an increase in enterprise reporting (which the report claims is rapidly disappearing entirely), more community coverage, longer stories, better story sourcing and more reporters, who are given more time and more focus (the average daily story-load has increased to where reporters are receiving two assignments, which the study deems a quality killer).

A sign of decline was also noted in the change in local news content since 9/11 - - the problem? There's been no change. Despite 9/11, the war on terrorism, Afghanistan, Iraq, corporate accounting scandals, an economy in trouble and stock market travails, local newsrooms remained focused primarily on local crime and human interest stories.

The following chart shows the story type trend for the three years prior to 9/11, and the time after.

Story type 1998-2001 2002
Crime 24% 25%
Human interest 10% 10%
Defense/foreign policy 4% 9%
Politics 10% 9%
Social issues 9% 8%

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