Thursday, October 13, 2022
Jones Must Pay Nearly $1 Billion In Sandy Hook Defamation Case. A Connecticut jury has ordered “Infowars” talk show host Alex Jones to pay $965 million in total damages to the families of eight victims of the Sandy Hook school shootings and an FBI agent. Additional damages covering attorneys’ fees will be determined next month. The verdict came after three weeks of testimony in a state court in Waterbury. Not sounding remorseful on yesterday’s radio show (Wednesday, 10/12), Jones railed against the jury’s decision, urging listeners to send money or buy supplements sold on his website. He stated, “They want to scare us away from questioning Uvalde or Parkland [but] we’re not going away, we’re not going to stop.” Jones actually cheered as the judge listed off millions in damages for each count. After one count was read, Jones said, “Get those numbers up.” At times he gave thumbs-up and raised his hand in the air. Jones and Free Speech Systems – parent of his Infowars content company – were held liable for defamation for spreading false stories that the Sandy Hook shootings were a hoax and the victims were actually “crisis actors,” who were following a script written by the government to build support for gun control. Fifteen plaintiffs were awarded damages in the case, one of three suits against Jones from his conspiracy theories about the shooting. The largest single award of $120 million went to Robbie Parker, whose six-year-old daughter, Emilie, was killed in the shooting. Jones spent years mocking Parker as an actor. The plaintiffs also included an FBI agent who responded to the shooting; he was awarded $90 million in damages. An earlier suit in Texas awarded one victim’s parents close to $50 million. Another case is going to the damages phase after Jones lost the suit.
Jim Bohannon is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast. Longtime talk radio superstar Jim Bohannon is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Yesterday (10/10), the radio industry was shocked and deeply saddened at the announcement by Cumulus Media’s Westwood One in TALKERS that one of its longest running, most successful and universally beloved syndicated talk show hosts would be hanging up his headphones on Friday October 14th due to health issues. It was a surprise to many – but industry insiders were already aware that this broadcasting legend was suffering from an advanced case of esophageal cancer… and the prognosis was increasingly grim. His career that spanned more than five decades including the past 30 as host of his solid late-night syndicated show is one of the greatest of all time. His achievements include induction into the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame, the Radio Hall of Fame, and the Missouri Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame. He has received the First Amendment Award from the Radio-Television Digital News Association and the Lifetime Achievement Award from TALKERS magazine; along with numerous other awards and honors. Michael Harrison interviewed Jim Bohannon this past Sunday (10/9) afternoon. It is candid, compelling and will no doubt be a historic audio document capturing a dramatic slice of radio history and culture – as well as deep insights into the human condition. After recording the interview and podcast, Michael Harrison stated, “It is with profound sadness and love that I have the honor of presenting this interview to the public.” Not to be missed! To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.
Gracie Awards Opens Call For Entries. For nearly 50 years, the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation-presented Gracie Awards have honored individual talent and exemplary programming created by women, for women, and about women in radio, television, and digital media in news and entertainment. AWMF president Becky Brooks comments, “We are more committed than ever to honor the remarkable work by so many in our creative community. As our most important fundraiser of the year, the Gracies enables the Foundation to deliver on its promise to further the connection, education and recognition of women in media.” The 2023 Gracie Awards co-chairs are: The Weiss Agency executive vice president Heather Cohen; McVay Media Consulting president Mike McVay; and Hallmark Media chief communications officer Annie Howell. Emmy winner Vicangelo Bulluck has produced the Gracie Awards since 2016 and will return in that capacity for the 2023 awards. Entry eligibility air dates are January 1, 2022 through December 31, 2022; deadline for all entries is January 12, 2023 at 11:59 pm (ET).
Live365, TuneIn Strike Distribution Deal. Through a distribution agreement between internet radio companies Live 365 and TuneIn, Live365 broadcasters can access TuneIn On Air distribution as part of Live365’s premium packages – or – as an add-on to any other package. TuneIn On Air allows internet radio broadcasters to expand their reach to TuneIn’s 30 million U.S.-based listeners via TuneIn’s app and 200+ connected devices. TuneIn chief executive officer Richard Stern remarks, “This partnership with Live365 fits perfectly within our mission to reinvent radio for a connected world and democratize access to radio for broadcasters large and small. We believe great conversations are driven by the power of the human voice and we know our listeners rely on us to stay connected to the issues that matter to them most via our content catalog. We’re thrilled to help more broadcasters reach TuneIn’s expansive audience.” Live365 chief executive officer Jon Stephenson notes, “We’re excited to strike up this historic distribution deal with TuneIn to offer our Live365 broadcaster community access to TuneIn on air’s unparalleled distribution reach. As internet radio pioneers, this is an extraordinary opportunity to combine forces and allow broadcasters to utilize Live365’s easy-to-use tools and licensing coverage while reaching TuneIn’s millions of listeners. We’re proud to offer this to our community as we focus on expanding our distribution offering.”
TALKERS News Notes. The 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, visits his former aides Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Dan Pfeiffer, and Tommy Vietor for an interview that airs tomorrow (Friday, 10/14) at 7:00 pm as an episode of Sirius XM’s “Crooked Radio” (SiriusXM Progress). It will then be issued Saturday as a podcast. The former President’s “Pod Save America” appearance will be replayed tomorrow night (Friday, 10/14) at 9:00 pm and throughout the weekend. It will be his first on the show in exactly two years (10/14/2020). … Following a 24-year tenure at Los Angeles’ KNX “News 97.1 FM,” morning co-anchor/senior political correspondent Dick Helton (pictured at right) will retire tomorrow (Friday, 10/14) from the Audacy facility. Prior to joining KNX, Helton spent 29 years anchoring in Chicago at co-owned/similarly-formatted WBBM-AM. … Per a report in The Lincoln Journal-Star, Damon Benning succeeds Matt Davison as analyst on University of Nebraska football radio broadcasts. Formerly a host on NRG Media Omaha sports talk KOZN “1620 The Zone,” Benning played for the Cornhuskers from 1992 – 1996. Davison had been a Nebraska analyst the past 19 years. … As part of an intra-Pennsylvania transaction, 34 full-power stations and 12 translators in five “Keystone State” markets are changing hands. Forever Media is the seller; Kristen Cantrell’s Southern Belle Media Family/Seven Mountains Media Family is the buyer. Among stations being sold include: sports talk WQWK, news/talk WRSC, W279DK, and W227DV (all in the State College market); Altoona market news/talk WFBG; news/talk WNTJ, W230BK, and W283CX, and news/talk WNTI (all in the Johnstown market); news/talk WMGW, W264DK, news-talk WTIV and W287DC, and news/talk WFRA and W251CL (all in the Meadville-Franklin market) news/talk WKST, W250CW, and W248DJ (all in the New Castle market); and Lebanon market news/talk WLBR. The complete transaction is for $17.375 million in assumption of promissory notes to Kerby E. Confer, the Judith M. Confer Irrevocable Trust, and Confermation, LLP. Kerby E. Confer is Kristen Cantrell father.
A Podcast With “More To It” Debuts Next Tuesday. Co-produced by syndicated sports talk host Dan Patrick; iHeartPodcasts; Workhouse Media; Dat Dude Entertainment; and Jam Street Media, “More To It With Marcellus Wiley” will drop next Tuesday (10/18) on The Dan Patrick Podcast Network. Former co-host of FS1’s “Speak For Yourself” and ESPN’s “SportsNation,” all-pro defensive end Wiley played ten seasons in the NFL for four different teams. Patrick opines, “Marcellus’ frequent appearances on my show always stood out because he never showed up with cliché comments. He’s never been boring and I love that he brings something new to every conversation. I’m looking forward to listening to his new show and thrilled that he’s officially part of our family.” Wiley notes, “I’m honored to work with the legendary trailblazer Dan Patrick, whose path of success perfectly embodies the title of this podcast. I’m so excited to share these amazing journeys of perseverance and success with the world to inspire the inner power we all possess.” Wiley’s podcast will feature conversations with athletes, entertainers, and people with surprising stories that prove there’s more to everyone’s reality than meets the eye. It kicks off with an interview with rapper Lil Wayne. Future scheduled guests include Anthony Anderson, Charles Barkley, Snoop Dogg, Andrew Yang, Deion Sanders and Ben Horowitz.
Confusion On FM Booster Geotargeting. Several Texas and Colorado broadcasters have filed letters with the FCC, requesting their names be removed as supporters of a GeoBroadcast Solutions petition that supports geo-targeting on FM boosters. Dan Balla and Andrew Devall, presidents of Texas entities Falls Media and Q-Media Group, respectively, wrote they “were entirely unaware of our participation in this proceeding and did not knowingly consent to having our name included on such filings. We are relatively small radio broadcast operators with enormous demands on our limited time and resources. In general, we do not have the bandwidth to personally monitor activities at the FCC. Given this highly unusual circumstance, [we] respectfully request that the Commission remove the prior filings indicating our support for GBS’s requested rule change from the record.” According to Colorado broadcasters Scott Poese (Ranchland Broadcasting) and Warren Epstein (Pikes Peak College), comments filed under their names “do not accurately reflect our views. Contrary to what the comments indicate, [we] do not support the GeoBroadcast Solutions petition or believe it would benefit our stations or the public.”