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Clear Channel & Big Machine Records Enter Rev-Share Agreement

CC Chairman/CEO John Hogan says “Today, 98% of our listening is terrestrial broadcasting and 2% digital, with record labels and artists only paid for the 2%.” He says “this new agreement expands label and artist participation from just digital to terrestrial, in one comprehensive framework that will give all of us a great incentive to drive the growth of the digital radio industry.” Nashville-based Big Machine has artists such as Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw and Rascal Flatts. Currently in the U.S., radio stations don’t pay a performance royalty to performing artists, although the industry does pay copyright holders through ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. This morning’s TRI Newsletter suggested that a breakthrough deal was immiment between America’s largest radio group and a record label – with an important House hearing on “The Future of Audio” scheduled tomorrow. About the Big Machine deal, Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman says “This is a big step, but we think this investment is an opportunity worth taking.”

Read More here.

Steve Rivers Fund Established

Steve Rivers was one of the best programmers to grace our industry.  Although I never had the pleasure to work for him, he was certainly an inspiration throughout my career … in so much as I would follow his stations for guidance on music decisions, promotional ideas, and great air talent.

March 6, we lost Steve far too soon.  His family has now established a memorial fund in his name with the National Stroke Association.

His wife, Maureen, says, “We are raising money for The National Stroke Association in order to educate people at an earlier age of the signs of strokes and the damage that high blood pressure can do to your body.

Click here to donate.

I can relate to their efforts, too.  My father, Jim Sands, also in radio (mornings at WKSJ – WUNI – WKRG et al in Mobile AL) passed away from a heart attack related to his weight and high blood pressure, at age 35.  Please join me in keeping Riv and his family in our thoughts and prayers.

Connoisseur Media debuts “HITS 100.7” in Bloomington

It was a privilege to be part of Connoisseur Media‘s launch of CHR “Hits 100.7WWHX-FM in the Bloomington-Normal, IL market on April Fool’s Day.  The station replaces former AC “Magic” WVMG and challenges Townsquare Media‘s heritage Top40 WBNQ-FM, who currently sits atop the Arbitron ratings pile with a 16-share!

Connoisseur COO David Bevins and Vallie/Richards/Donovan consultant Harv Blain asked me to help build the station’s formatics, be on site for the launch, and schedule music for a few weeks until their new Program Director was in the building.  I had a blast, and I’m very thankful to have the chance to work – even just briefly – for Connoisseur and Mr. Bevins, as well as to once again partner with Vallie/Richards and Harv Blain.

Hits 100.7 sounds great and will only get better now that PD Chris Ryan has arrived and has air talent waiting in the wings ready to go.  I wish them all the best of success in this new Top40 battle!  Listen to “Hits 100.7” online here.

For the record, I’m still in search of my next great programming/management challenge.  Meanwhile, Sands Media is available for short-term radio management projects, off site music scheduling services, digital/social media strategies and content, and more.  You can reach me at 317-496-7268 or by email for more information.

Goodbye, WABB. Thanks For The Memories.

As I’m writing this, the legendary WABB-FM is playing it’s final songs as a Top40 radio station in my hometown of Mobile, Alabama.  WABB has a special place in my heart for several reasons, not the least of which is that I was actually named after one of their deejays.  I’ll explain in a minute. [Listen to WABB’s last hour on the air here]

WABB is one of the last privately-owned, local radio stations in the country.  It’s also been the Gulf Coast’s #1 Hit Music Station for about 52 years since owner Bernie Dittman first bought WABB-AM.  Bernie passed away a few years ago, leaving his family with the tough decision to sell their station after operating for the six years following his death.  Educational Media Foundation, the station’s new owners, will switch to its K-Love contemporary Christian brand in minutes, at midnight 3/1.  [Read the Story of WABB here]

I was born in Mobile to a radio family.  My father, Jim Sands, was a broadcast journalist for legendary AM stations like WUNI & WMOB before joining Wayne Gardner for mornings on WKSJ-FM around 1972.  Both of my uncles, Fred Sands and Les Coleman, worked in Mobile radio.  Uncle Fred was a deejay for WABB when I was born in 1969, using the air name “Fred Scott” — for whom I was named, Fred Scott Sands.

WABB was the station I listened to for most of my youth; their formatics and personalities were a major influence when I landed my first radio job with WZKX/Gulfport-Biloxi at age 15.  I wanted to be Scott Shannon.  I wanted to be The Hound Dog.  I wanted to be a Goofy White Guy.  I wanted to be “Fred Scott,” a flame-throwin’ hot rockin’ night jock like my uncle and “SuperShan.”  About six years after my career began, in 1990, I had the chance to work for Bernie as Operations Manager; ironically, not as a Top40 jock but to flip WABB-AM1480 from music to a news/talk format.  Luckily, I did have the chance to pull a few airshifts on the “Gulf Coast’s 100,000-Watt Blowtorch” both solo and as part of bits on the Scott Innes morning show.

Although my period at Bernie’s School of Broadcasting lasted just a year, it was still a wonderful year … the Giant Boom Box, Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo, High Striker at the Fair, Community Club Awards, big contests, working with Leslie Fram, and so many more.  At least once a month while in Bernie’s “office” (really a museum or shrine to the history of WABB), he would point to a picture hanging on his wall of him and several old WABB jocks from the 60’s.  He would point and tell me how much he enjoyed working with my brother.  Every time, I would tell him that was my Uncle Fred.  I’d love to have that picture today.  Actually, as I think about it, I wonder who in the world has the job to clean Bernie’s office and all the old storage areas.  As recently as last year, you could find old Boss 30 Countdown lists and cardboard cutouts of the Beatles randomly around the building.  There are so many great memories of WABB, and so many great people I know who have also walked those halls (and eaten greasy food next door at the Freeman House) that I can’t list them all here.

Actually, I was just reminded of good times competing against WABB, too.  For some reason, in 1998, Wayne Coy & Darrin Stone decided to pick a fight with my morning show on LIVE95 Biloxi (Scott, Darren Kies, & Virginia McGrane) … sending their van and stunt boy over to the Waffle House in Gulfport MS next to our studio.  I seem to recall winning that battle and going on to become friends with Wayne & Darrin.

So, ever since the announcement of WABB’s sale, I’ve been looking for the two WABB aircheck cassettes I have of my time there … to no avail.  I did find one business card, though.  At least I will always have those memories, and the experience of being part of WABB, a Mobile institution and broadcasting cornerstone that served as a launching pad for so many careers.

Bernie, the radio industry misses you.  And now, the city of Mobile will miss you, the community service, and great radio of WABB.  To all the current air staff, the many great deejays and programmers who inspired my career for the last 20+ years, thank you and best of continued successes.

Reminiscing … Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again.

UPDATE:  Former PD Jo Valentine (2000-2004) is working on a WABB Tribute site.  I look forward to its launch.

UPDATE:  Cumulus launches Top40 “104.1 WABD” replacing its previous JACK-fm format in Mobile.

Radio Ads Are Coming Back, and the Presidential Run Will Help

Radio advertising, badly hit by the recession, is bouncing back. According to a report released Friday by the Radio Advertising Bureau, revenue from radio advertising last year was $17.4 billion, up 1 percent from the year before. Automotive companies, the largest category of sponsors, made up 26 percent of spending. It was the second year of growth for the industry, after three down years. Spending in 2010 was $17.3 billion, up 6 percent from the year before. But the market is still down 18 percent from 2007, when ad revenue was $21.3 billion, according to the advertising bureau, whose data is collected by the accounting firm Miller, Kaplan, Arase & Company.

First to Extinction, radio deejay or print journalist?

Scary news for our already shrinking industry.   It may come as no surprise that the job of newspaper reporter is going the way of the buggy whip maker — but the forces of modernity have placed some unexpected occupations on the endangered species list as well. Using statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook 2010-2011, we identified 10 of the most surprising job categories whose numbers are projected to shrink in the coming years, plus a few that will grow so slowly that you might as well be sending your resume to Greece for a civil service job.

Read full story here, via CBS News.


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