Larry Elliott Retires After 39 Years at WJRT

Larry Elliott (center left), surrounded by coworkers as his says goodbye.

On October 19, after 39 years at WJRT-TV (Flint), News Anchor Larry Elliott signed off for the final time on Friday and entered a new chapter of life in retirement.

Larry started his career in Alpena at WATZ Radio and WBKB-TV before moving south to WJRT in 1979.

During that time, he worked as Saginaw bureau chief, general assignment reporter and automotive editor — getting to share stories about life in Mid-Michigan during very consequential times.

He ended his career as anchor of WJRT (ABC12) News This Morning and ABC12 News at Noon alongside co-anchor Christine Winter.

Larry was joined on the set by his beloved family members and some of his coworkers Friday as he ended his final show at noon.

In as message for viewers, Elliott said: “After 43 years, it’s time to close out the last newscast of my career and I couldn’t be prouder than to have spent the last nearly 39 of those years here at ABC12.

I was born in Flint 65 years ago and it’s amazing the path our life can take. The fact that I started my working life at age 13 delivering the news as a paper boy, bringing the Flint Journal to doorsteps in my Flushing neighborhood, and I end the working part of my life still delivering the news.

It has been an honor serving all of you for the majority of my life and I thank each of you for being faithful viewers. I have been blessed to have worked with and learned from some of the best in the business, many of whom have become such good friends.

I have been blessed to have been given the opportunity to do so many incredible things and go to so many awesome places as part of covering the news, and to share my love of diving and exploring Michigan’s shipwrecks with all of you.

And I have been so blessed to have had a career where I can honestly say I have always loved my job. Well, OK, except maybe for the part that’s involved getting up at 2:00 in the morning for so many years.

I won’t miss that part but I will miss my ABC12 family and I will miss all of you.

My sincere thank you for allowing me into your home all these years and for trusting me to help keep you informed about the world around you.

May God bless each of you.”

10 Tactics Diary Markets Can Steal From PPM Markets

Gary Berkowitz

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Gary Berkowitz
Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting

There are many lessons diary markets can learn from PPM markets, which measure actual listening versus perceived (diary) listening. With that in mind, please consider these key points that, if implemented properly, could be the key to higher ratings this fall.

Music in the morning counts. There are only a handful of personalities who can do content that is better than an extra song. For many years, we believed that “bits” in the morning were more important than music. PPM has quickly taught us this is not the case. If you are a music station, make sure you are playing at least eight to 10 songs an hour in the morning.

8 a.m. – 4 p.m. is the “sweet spot” for adult-driven stations. In PPM markets, if you do not get the major share of listening here, you will not get it at all. This means your morning show should be winding down non-music elements by 8 a.m. as you get into a more music mode. Many ACs (in PPM markets) have dropped the 8 a.m. information package.

TSL is all about adding “occasions of listening.” Sure, song to song is important, but not nearly as critical as increasing occasions of listening. This has always been the case (in diary markets), but we see it’s more so in PPM markets. How do you increase occasions? Read the next few points.

Tactical contesting is back, and not surprisingly, cash is king! In most PPM markets, cash is proving to be a very strong tactic for increasing occasions. If it works with PPM, why wouldn’t it in diary-based markets? How much moves the meter? Call me and I’ll share the answer with you.

Commercial-free hours work. Again, it’s a great way to increase the occasions of listening.

No surprise here: too much DJ banter is a tuneout. Yes, DJs are important. They need to be warm, friendly, and inviting, but on a music station, listeners are coming for the music, so keep the DJs tight and to the point. Your jocks need to be “companions” to your listeners.

When the music starts, keep it going with very little interruption. ID and image, yes, but do it quickly, and always let the listener know the music is not stopping.

There is substantial tuneout when spots come on. In addition, PPM is teaching us that listeners appear to have a “second sense” for when we are about to stop for spots. I refer to it as the “Pavlov’s dog theory.” When they hear the jock doing a typical back-sell and station or sales promo, they know you are about to stop the music, and tuneout comes even quicker.

Get back to the music as soon as possible. Once the stopset is over, get back to the music quickly.

Listener availability is not always there 7 p.m. – midnight. Many PPM-market ACs are struggling with this, as they were used to huge night numbers in diary. PPM is showing us that AC listeners don’t listen from 7-12 in the evening. Take advantage of that in diary markets.

In conclusion: Yes, there are differences between PPM and diary measurement, but there is a lot to be learned from a system that measures actual listening and behavior. PPM is clearly illustrating that listeners want a music-heavy radio station that does not interrupt too much. When it comes to non-music elements, use moderation. Jocks, yes, but keep them tight and moving. Contesting, yes, but make sure you are offering something that interests listeners. Information, yes, but keep it short and to the point.

Gary Berkowitz is President of Detroit based Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting, specializing in ratings improvement for AC radio stations.

Opposition Campaign to Redistricting Measures Finally Takes to the Airwaves

With over two weeks left before the November general election, opponents of the redistricting Proposal 18-2 put out the first radio ad in opposition to the measure. The ad calls Proposal 2 a “complicated confusing mess” that “will cost you an insane amount of money.”

Proposal 2 would create a citizen’s commission to draw district lines for the Legislature and the Congress. The one minute ad was released to go statewide on radio stations.

A recent analysis from the Senate Fiscal Agency (SFA) estimated the cost for the commission to complete its tasks at $4 million. The proposal also says the commissioners will be paid at least 25 percent of the governor’s salary, which the SFA estimated to be slightly less than $40,000. The proposal also requires that once a districting map is completed the commission expires.

Charlie LeDuff Joins WFDF

Charlie LeDuff

Longtime Detroit media personality Charlie LeDuff has joined WFDF-AM (Detroit) with a new hour-long weekly program on the station titled “No BS News Hour.”  The program, which airs Mondays from 4 to 5 p.m. began airing this week.  No BS News Hour will deal with current issues, politicians, and man-on-the-street interviews. His first guest was Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.

“I couldn’t have Charlie on in the mornings, it’s like drinking straight turpentine,” said WFDF CEO Kevin Adell to RadioInk.

“If you suffer from insomnia, I recommend you watch the news. If you want the news, I recommend you tune into the No BS News Hour,” said LeDuff. “Original reporting, nowhere else.”

Help Impact a Student’s Life with a Scholarship!

The MAB Foundation Station Scholarship Program is designed to allow individual member stations an opportunity to support one qualified college student interested in broadcasting as a career through an educational scholarship. The MAB Foundation will coordinate and collect all applications and stations will choose the scholarship winner among the pre-qualified candidates.

Participation in this station scholarship program may qualify stations for EEO credit. This is an easy and affordable avenue to gain possible option A points and encourage the future of the broadcast work force at the same time!

Interested stations must complete one registration form for each scholarship and agree to assist in broad outreach by airing PSAs about the scholarship opportunity. Scholarships will be presented at the 2019 Great Lakes Media Show in Lansing.

We hope you will take advantage of this program offered by the MAB Foundation. It is available to you to assist your station in EEO requirements as well as to help preserve and advance the broadcast industry in Michigan. Please Rachel Krause, [email protected] or 517-484-7444 with any questions.

Michigan Radio News: 1A Partnership and New Podcast Series

Michigan Radio Partners with 1A to Bring More Michigan Voices to National NPR Audiences

Michigan Radio will begin bringing more stories from across Michigan to the national audience of the daily weekday public radio program 1A through 1A Across America, a two-year collaborative effort. Leading up to the 2020 general elections, 1A Across America introduces a fresh model for strong community-based coverage of critical issues.

Supported by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the 1A Across America project will be spearheaded by WAMU 88.5, Washington’s NPR station and the station that produces 1A. Over the course of two years, Michigan Radio will be an editorial partner to WAMU. Michigan Radio and five other public media stations will work closely with 1A’s production team to source stories, conduct live broadcasts and events, produce collaborative content and elevate local journalism.

“Michigan Radio is thrilled to partner with 1A as one of the flagship stations for the 1A Across America project,” said Zoe Clark, Michigan Radio Program Director. “We look forward to bringing more Michigan voices to the national dialogue.”

Zoe Clark will be a special guest on 1A this coming Monday, October 29 to discuss the 1A Across America project and the station’s involvement in more detail.

WAMU selected the six partner public media stations including Michigan Radio because of their deep community ties. Additionally, the participating stations represent a geographical and political cross-section of America. Through 1A Across America, the nuanced, diverse issues and concerns of the communities that Michigan Radio covers across the state will be brought to 1A’s 3.63 million weekly listeners on 335 NPR stations.

Other NPR stations participating in the project are WBHM in Birmingham, Alabama; KUNC in Northern Colorado; Houston Public Media in Houston, Texas; KMUW in Wichita, Kansas; and Minnesota Public Radio in Minneapolis.

“To host a truly national conversation, we must leverage our connections to the powerful grassroots network of public media stations around the country,” said Andi McDaniel, senior director of content and news, WAMU. “1A Across America gives 1A the opportunity to uncover critical local conversations, tap into the original journalism taking place at partner public media stations like Michigan Radio, and bring it forth to national audiences.”

Believed Podcast From Michigan Radio and NPR Tells The Story Of Survivors Who Won Justice Against Larry Nassar

On October 22, Michigan Radio and NPR debuted a new podcast called Believed. It’s an in-depth exploration of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse case. This podcast mini-series is not only an intimate look at how a team of female survivors, detectives, and prosecutors won justice, but also an unnerving exploration of how well-meaning adults can fail to believe. This timely coverage documents the survivors of one of the largest serial sexual abuse cases in U.S. history finding their power during an important cultural moment, when sexual abuse victims are still fighting to be believed, respected, and to get justice.

Believed is hosted by award-winning Michigan Radio reporters Kate Wells, who has exhaustively covered the Larry Nassar story since 2016, and Lindsey Smith, who led Michigan Radio’s Flint water crisis investigative team.

The Believed podcast is being distributed by NPR, and it’s worth noting this is the first time that NPR is distributing a station-produced podcast. NPR is the leading publisher of podcasts in America, and has held Podtrac’s #1 spot since Podtrac began counting podcast audiences in May 2016.

For more information on the Believed podcast, click here.


A Cut Above: ‘Wicked Awesome’ Idea Puts Beasley Media Stations in Hair Studio

A hair salon for men in Birmingham has made a two-year commitment with Beasley Media Group and has built a first-class radio studio inside its building.  Lady Jane’s Haircuts for Men built the facility in the building that houses its corporate headquarters, a salon and adjacent.

In an article in Hometown Life, Lady Jane CEO Chad Johnson says he had a “wicked awesome” light bulb moment eight months ago.

Johnson wanted to build a broadcast studio at his Birmingham headquarters and hair salon, where customers could watch live radio shows while getting trimmed and styled.  The company inked a two-year contract with Beasley Media Group, allowing its radio stations — WRIF-FM (101.1), WCSX-FM (94.7) and WMGC-FM (105.1) — to use the location on a rotating basis for remote broadcasts.

“I looked over there and the thought popped into my head. I said, ‘I’m going to make this area there into the most amazing broadcast studio ever,’” said Johnson, who had mentioned the idea during a corporate staff meeting. “Everybody looked at me and said what are you talking about? Eight months later, they’re seeing it come to fruition.”

Lady Jane’s, which has more than 100 locations nationwide, forged a two-year contract with Beasley Media Group, allowing its radio stations — WRIF-FM (101.1), WCSX-FM (94.7) and WMGC-FM (105.1) — to use the location on a rotating basis for remote broadcasts.

Lady Jane President McCollum pegged the cost of the studio build-out, the advertising investment and “everything else” it took to bring Johnson’s idea to fruition at $525,000.

“We’ve had over a decade relationship with Beasley radio, so this is a culmination of all that hard work coming together,” McCollum said. “We have big plans for this studio. Now that we have it, we’re going to open this up to all kinds of opportunity.”

The company has over 100 locations nationwide.

Meet your MAB Board Member of the week: Mike Murri

Mike Murri

Mike Murri began his broadcasting career as an account executive at WJBK-TV. He was hired by WXYZ as an account executive in 1982 and was promoted to local sales manager in 1996, director of sales in 2001, and station manager in 2012.

In 2015, he was promoted to vice president and general manager of WXYZ and the newly acquired My Network affiliate WMYD, TV20. In 2015, Murri lead the team effort to create a new street-side studio in the heart of downtown Detroit. The studio is home to 7 Action News at noon, and connects viewers to the vibrant rebirth of the city.

Under Murri’s leadership, WXYZ has continued to build on its rich history of public service and local programming. The station has syndicated its coverage of the Woodward Dream Cruise to stations across the country; advanced the multi-platform approach to storytelling with a series of ground-breaking news stories; and launched a Detroit 2020 town hall initiative.

WXYZ has been named “Station of the Year” by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters, top station in the Detroit market by the Michigan chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and honored as a finalist in the National Association of Broadcasters Service to America Awards

Murri is a board member of the Michigan Association of Broadcasters, Forgotten Harvest, the Woodward Dream Cruise, and the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau. He lives in Rochester Hills with his wife Mary and has three children; Lauren, Katie and Michael.

WION Advertisers Invest in Student Leaders

via Jim Carlyle, WION:

Surrounded by “Link Crew” students, WION co-owner/General Manager Jim Carlyle presents a $500 check to Ionia High School Crew Link advisor Jennifer Jockheck.

On October 12 at the Ionia Bulldog Homecoming game, WION Radio (Ionia) once again teamed-up with the “Link Crew” of Ionia High School to broadcast from their fundraising tailgate. The Link Crew is a national organization with chapters in many schools that welcomes freshmen and helps with the transition to high school. The group’s members also promote school spirit activities and leadership.

As in past years, WION secured sponsors for this broadcast which aired the week ahead of the fun, and for each sponsor, WION donated $25 to the organization. A $500 check was presented to Mrs. Jockeck, one of the advisors to Ionia’s Link Crew during the tailgate broadcast.

WION and it’s sponsors were thanked for this donation, and told “We will use (the funds) to go to the leadership conference again.” In past years this donation has helped students to attend leadership training, which WION believes is money well spent, often on the air calling it an “investment in our shared future.”

The station, now in it’s 14th year as “I-1430” with current owners Jim Carlyle and Jim Aaron, while small in staff, is deeply dedicated to local involvement, the betterment of community and it’s excellent AM stereo sound, heard worldwide on the web.

Michigan’s ‘Chrysler Guy’ Kevin Yon, voice actor, dies at 67

Kevin Yon

WOOD-TV (Grand Rapids) reported that Rockford-Michigan based voice over artist Kevin Yon passed away in his sleep this past Sunday morning.

Yon had been a voice-artist for 30 years before hitting it big in 2011 as the voice of the now-legendary Chrysler 2-minute “Imported from Detroit” ad that aired during the Super Bowl.  Stuart Poltrock, of Sound Post Studios, where he and Yon would work, said, “His words: he became a ’30-year overnight success.’ That’s how Kevin described himself,” Poltrock said. “Cause he was there the whole time, everybody knew his voice. They didn’t know who he was. And pretty soon we were getting auditions that would say, ‘We want someone that sounds like Morgan Freeman or Jeff Bridges, or the ‘Chrysler Guy.’ It’s his own brand.”

The Chrysler spot led to voice-work for Jim Beam, Major League Baseball and broadcasts for the National Football League.

Yon’s 30-year voice over career included a promotional spot for WOOD-TV.  Yon also was a writer and an actor in both film and on the theater stage.