Industry News

TALKERS News Notes

WPEN-FM “97.5 The Fanatic” afternoon co-host Hunter Brody and assistant program director Eric Camille have exited the Beasley Media Group Philadelphia sports talk outlet. Former Phillies relief pitcher Ricky Bottalico; Tyrone Johnson; and Jen Scordo remain in WPEN-FM’s afternoon slot. Commenting to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Beasley Media Group notes, “The post-COVID months have been a particularly challenging time in our industry. Like other media companies, our markets have been directly impacted due to these uncertain economic conditions. As a result, we have proactively adjusted our operations accordingly to reflect the current financial climate.” Via a social media post, Brody indicates he will continue streaming on YouTube.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and SiriusXM expand their relationship that will enhance connectivity of FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert & Warning System (IPAWS) National Public Warning System. SiriusXM will give FEMA access to secure bandwidth on SiriusXM’s proprietary satellite radio system to provide additional connectivity between FEMA and the National Public Warning System (NPWS) network. SiriusXM senior vice president/general manager, signal distribution engineering Bridget Neville states, “By supplying this satellite-based backup for FEMA’s backbone communications system, SiriusXM helps to strengthen FEMA’s ability to respond quickly and effectively to weather-related crises and other emergencies. SiriusXM has worked extensively with FEMA over the years and we are proud of our efforts that aid in delivering critical emergency messages to the public. We look forward to deepening and expanding upon our relationship with FEMA through this program and additional opportunities to leverage our satellite network in the future.” Director of FEMA IPAWS Antwane Johnson adds, “A secure, trusted, capable and reliable technology ecosystem is the foundation of the IPAWS NPWS capability. IPAWS embraces innovative technologies and platforms, and SiriusXM’s satellite network helps reinforce our capabilities.”

In a pair of newspaper-related items, The New York Times announces plans to close its sports desk, while The Los Angeles Times sells the San Diego Union-Tribune to Alden Global Capital-owned MediaNews Group. The New York Times will rely on coverage from the Athletic, the subscription sports website it purchased last year for $550 million. In a letter to staff yesterday (Monday, 7/10), New York Times Co. chair A.G. Sulzberger and chief executive officer Meredith Kopit Levien write, “Though we know this decision will be disappointing to some, we believe it is the right one for readers and will allow us to maximize respective strengths of the Times’ and the Athletic’s newsrooms.” The paper’s sports writers and editors will be moved to different roles in the newsroom and – reportedly – no layoffs are planned. The Athletic lost $7.8 million in the first quarter of 2023, although subscribers have grown from one million in January 2022 to three million as of March 2023. Meanwhile, Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong and his family spent $500 million in June 2018 to buy that paper and the Union-Tribune from Chicago-based Tribune Publishing. While Soon-Shiong’s primary interest was in the Times, he pledged support for both newsrooms. A memo to the Union-Tribune staff announcing the deal said the Union-Tribune will need to “make some difficult staffing decisions. Reductions will be necessary to offset the slowdown in revenues as economic headwinds continue to impact the media industry.”

Industry News

Future of AM Radio Front and Center in Washington, DC

Today and tomorrow (6/13-14), broadcasters from around the country are in Washington, DC for a conference hosted by the National Association of Broadcasters and the National Alliance of State Broadcasters Associations that will focus on broadcasters’ response to certain automakers removing AM radio from their newer model vehicles and a regulatory proceeding examining carriage of broadcast television programming onim streaming platforms. Attendees will discuss the latest radio and automotive trends and how AM operators can prepare their stations for the future. Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Deb Fischer (R-NE) will also offer insight into recently introduced legislation aimed at preserving AM radio in automobiles and representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will discuss AM radio’s critical role in the National Public Warning System. Following the conference, attendees will travel to Capitol Hill to speak with lawmakers about the importance of in-vehicle AM radio, especially during times of emergency and they will encourage congressional passage of the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act.

Industry News

Ford Reconsiders – Will Keep AM Radio in 2024 Cars and ’23 EVs

According to a report by the AP, Ford is changing its previously announced policy regarding AM radios. Ford CEO Jim Farley states, “We’ve decided to include it on all 2024 Ford and Lincoln vehicles. For any owners of Ford’s EVs without AM broadcast capability, we’ll offer a software update.” Reacting to Ford’s earlier decision, U.S. lawmakers rolled out a bi-partisan, bi-cameral bill that would authorize the National Highway Trafficim Safety Administration to require AM in new vehicles at no additional cost, citing safety for citizens, access to foreign language programming and more. While Ford’s change of heart takes some of the immediate heat off the industry, there’s no indication legislators won’t continue pushing the legislation. Reacting to the bill, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation called the bill unnecessary and said the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Integrated Public Alerts and Warning System sends public safety messages across numerous platforms including FM radio, streaming sites, satellite radios, and cellular networks. Read the AP story here.