Thursday, May 28, 2015

Boston Radio: Talk WMEX Passes On Rush Limbaugh

The incoming owners of Talk WMEX 1510 AM said they will pass on Rush Limbaugh and go instead with a new programming lineup meant to bring more humor and local coverage to conservative talk radio in Boston.

The Boston Globe calls it a surprise move by a station that radio industry analysts pegged as the presumptive landing spot for Limbaugh’s nationally syndicated show after his distributor, Premiere Networks, and WRKO 680 AM said last week that it had failed to reach an extension.

“He’s been offered to us four times, and we’ve said no,” said Mary Catherine Remmer, co-owner of Daly XXL Communications, which has been operating WMEX under a lease management agreement since March and plans to close on a purchase from Blackstrap Broadcasting later this summer.

Meanwhile the new WMEX lineup debuts June 2. The morning drive slot, from 6-10 a.m., will be anchored by Joe Ligotti, the YouTube sensation better known as “The Guy From Boston.” Ligotti built an online following by posting video rants on topics such as illegal immigration and gay marriage — often with an American flag in the background and a cigar in his mouth, and always in a heavy Boston accent.

Bill Keeler, currently a morning show host at WIBX 950 AM in Utica, N.Y., will take the noon to 3 p.m. shift that otherwise might have been Limbaugh’s. Michele McPhee, a former Boston Herald columnist, will anchor the afternoon drive from 3-6 p.m.

Providence Radio: Cumulus Names John Sutherland VP/MM

John Sutherland
Cumulus Media announces that longtime broadcasting and marketing professional John Sutherland has been promoted to Vice President/Market Manager for Cumulus’ five-station cluster in Providence, RI.

Sutherland previously served the company as Vice President, Sales for Cumulus in Worcester, MA, a position he has held since 2013. Prior to that, he was Chief Visual Officer for Sutherland Marketing Group. He was also Vice President for Clear Channel Radio (iHeart Media). A dedicated community servant, Sutherland served on the Board of Directors for the ALS Therapy Development Institute for many years. He holds a B.S. degree in Communications from Ithaca College.

Gary Pizzati, Senior Vice President for Cumulus said: “Placing John at the helm of Cumulus Providence is a perfect fit for that dynamic group of stations and will maximize our position in the market. John has many years of broadcast history in the northeast and his tremendous track record speaks for itself. This is another example of the opportunities for advancement and growth Cumulus offers to our employees. We congratulate John and are pleased to present him with this well-deserved battlefield promotion.”

Sutherland said: “Working with Gary Pizzati and Lew Dickey and leading one of the best radio clusters in America for Cumulus is an incredibly exciting opportunity. There is an extraordinarily talented team of people in Providence who are ready to grow to new heights at a time of accelerating change in our industry. I’m thrilled to begin this next chapter of my career at home in New England.”

He succeeds Barbara Haynes, who departed last week. Click Here for posting.

Judge Allows Class Action Suit Against SiriusXM

A U.S. judge in California allowed a class action lawsuit to proceed on Wednesday against satellite-radio company Sirius XM Holdings Inc over the payment of royalties for songs produced before 1972, in a case that is being closely watched for its implications for digital media.

Reuters reports the ruling by U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez marks another win for members of the 1960s band the Turtles, known for the hit "Happy Together," and means the company could face claims from a broader group of artists.

"Sirius XM treats every single owner of a pre-1972 song the same, namely it doesn't pay them, so it was appropriate for this court to grant class certification," said Henry Gradstein, attorney for Flo & Eddie Inc, a company controlled by founding Turtles members Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman.

Gutierrez ruled last September that, under California state law, New York-based Sirius XM was liable for copyright infringement by airing the band's pre-1972 songs without paying royalties.

Flo & Eddie also sought to certify a class action against the company to bring in other artists in a similar situation. Sirius XM argued against certification because it said damages would be difficult to calculate accurately for different members of the class.

Gutierrez rejected that argument on Wednesday.

Read More Now

Hitch Radio Aims To Turn-Up The Dial

A new start-up aims to turn the dial on the radio industry.

Hitch Radio founder Ayinde O. Alakoye said, "Radio's heard by 94 percent of the U.S., but its live nature makes it really hard to share, so we've created Hitch Radio, the world's first instant messaging app for live broadcast radio."

Alakoye's goal is to capitalize on what he calls radio's flawed distribution model. And he says he has the chops to pull it off. He's a former radio ad sales executive and one of the original creators of the iHeartRadio.

In his latest venture, Hitch Radio, listeners get access to 20,000 stations around the world via their smartphones. Users can search by song, artist or genre. But unlike other music apps, Hitch Radio users can instant-message their friends about what they're listening to. If the message goes unopened within 3 minutes, which happens to be the average length of a song, the message disappears.

Hitch Radio is available on both iOS and Android and is free to use.

Alakoye told CNBC he expects to nab more users by giving them access to celebrity playlists. His plan is to pair "the sexiness of the stars, with the sexiness of the music." He would not disclose any artists' names.



Jessica Peltz, a venture capitalist with KBS Ventures, said the music industry's notorious legal challenges could pose a threat to the start-up.

But the founder said he's not concerned. "Our business model is that we pay radio stations 75 percent of our revenue and they actually pay 100 percent of the royalties to the artist for every song that's played, so there's no royalty challenge for us," Alakoye told CNBC.

According to Alakoye, since launching in March, the Hitch Radio app has hit over 15,000 downloads. "We anticipate being profitable within the next 12 months," Alakoye said.

ASRP: AM Radio Is Done Sez Colin Cowherd

Colin Cowherd the  guest on the latest About Sports Radio podcast with Zach McCrite this week.

During the podcast, Cowherd is bearish on the prospects of terrestrial radio. “In the next five to ten years, I don’t even think they will have radios in cars,” he said.  “You’ll have your television set in your car.  So I think podcasts and digital (and) Sirius is the future. I think terrestrial (radio), AM especially, is done in five years.”



 Inside the episode:
  • Colin talks about how he got the bug for doing sports talk, via play-by-play and television. [2:55]
  • Colin remembers the first time he thought sports radio might be a viable career. [4:21]
  • Was Colin always confident in his ability or did it develop over time? [6:31]
  • Colin gives some great advice to aspiring sports talk hosts. [7:55]
  • “Don’t worry about being perfect.” [9:17]
  • Colin goes through his show prep process. [10:23]
  • The dynamic of topic development between Colin and his staff before air. [12:30]
  • How often does management talk to Colin about his content? [14:17]
  • Does Colin get paralyzed by market-specific ratings? [15:38]
  • Where will sports radio be in five to ten years? [18:10]
  • The biggest differences between Colin’s show when he began at ESPN Radio in 2003 and now. [21:19]
  • How does Colin conform to the new “bite-size” world of topic delivery and consumption? [22:31]
  • The sports radio version of nails on a chalkboard to Colin. [24:23]
  • “There’s no money in being right.  A lot of guys are more right than me and they’re doing overnights.” [25:45]
  • The thing that Colin does that annoys the people around him the most. [28:58]

Moonves Douses Speculation on CBS Purchase, Merger

Les Moonves
“I would like to buy CBS. I’m not going to,” media mogul says onstage at ReCode Code Conference.

CBS CEO Leslie Moonves once again downplayed rumors that he would buy the company he runs, during a conversation at ReCode’s Code Conference on Wednesday.

“The board of directors will decide the fate of this company,” he said on stage, according to The Wrap. “I would like to buy CBS. I’m not going to.”

Moonves also reiterated that there are no plans for CBS to merge with Viacom, despite continued rumors.

The exec also said talks are ongoing for CBS to be included in an unnamed Apple TV service, though he doesn’t know when it will happen, and money is the main negotiation sticking point.

“Apple TV is trying to change the universe, as did Sling, as is Sony,” he said of the tech giant planning to offer smaller bundles of channels over the web.

“I think the age of the 200 channel universe is slowly dying,” he continued. “The good news for us, is any one of those groups will need CBS. We have the NFL, which is must have television. Any of those bundles we will be a part of that and we should get a better proportion of the share of that universe than we currently do on cable.”

CT Radio: Zac David New iHM PD At WKSS, WKCI

Zac Davis
iHeartMedia/Connecticut has named Zac Davis Program Director for Top40s WKSS KISS 95.7 FM Hartford and WKCI KC101 FM New Haven.

"We heard from some of the best CHR programmers in the country, and Zac's successes in the format, coaching top-tier personalities and his highly strategic thinking separated him from the pack," said Dave Symonds, SVP/ Programming, iHeartMedia Hartford.

"We are thrilled and eager for him to start."

Davis most recently served as iHeartMedia Myrtle Beach's SVP/Programming.  Other stops along his career have included Program Director of WDCG G105 in Raleigh; Operations Manager of Max Media's KDHT & KJHM in Denver; with stops at WRDU in Raleigh; WABB in Mobile; WGBT in Greensboro; KOSO Modesto and WBVD Melbourne.

WKSS 95.7 FM (16.5 Kw) Red=Local Coverage Area
"I'd like to thank Rod Phillips, LJ Smith, Jimmy Feuger and WGTR morning co-host Adam Dellinger for everything they've done for me in Myrtle Beach. I've loved working with the whole team keeping our Myrtle Beach brands on their winning records," said Davis.

"Now I'll get to continue my path in CHR, and work for Dave Symonda, someone I've respected for years. I'm excited to join such a talented group of people – these are stellar brands and I look forward to continued success."

WKCI 101.3 FM (12 Kw) Red=Local Coverage Area

Martina McBride Stands Up for Female Artists

Martina McBride
Martina McBride isn't taking Country un-consultant Keith Hill's talk of lettuce and tomatoes with a grain of salt.

"Trust me, I play great female records and we've got some right now; they're just not the lettuce in our salad," said radio consultant Hill in an interview with Country Aircheck.

"The lettuce is Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton, Keith Urban and artists like that. The tomatoes of our salad are the females."

Keith Hill
The answer to how to get more listeners? "If you want to make ratings in Country radio, take females out," Hill advised.

According to eonline.com,  that didn't sit too well with McBride, who's sold more than 14 million albums in the U.S.

McBride took to Facebook to address Hill's comments:


Wow.....just wow. Just read this from a major country radio publication. How do you feel about this statement? I...
Posted by Martina McBride on Tuesday, May 26, 2015


And she wasn't afraid to pass on what Hill was claiming, including the following excerpt from the Country Aircheck interview in her post:
"If you want to make ratings in Country radio, take females out," Hill was quoted as saying. "The reason is mainstream Country radio generates more quarter hours from female listeners at the rate of 70 to 75%, and women like male artists. I'm basing that not only on music tests from over the years, but more than 300 client radio stations. The expectation is we're principally a male format with a smaller female component. I've got about 40 music databases in front of me and the percentage of females in the one with the most is 19%."

As you might imagine, the dust-up is causing some women on Music Row to give voice to their anger, according to The Tennessean.

For many, this is proof that female artists are being discriminated against in country radio. Only 20 percent — 10 of the Top 50 hits — are sung by female leads (whether solo or groups). Of the Top 50 songs that are 18 months or older, only 12 are sung by women — and nine of the 12 songs are by only three women.

Radio consultant Jaye Albright posted on Facebook, "…He is simply wrong. You could make a case that males sometimes don't relate to specific songs put out by women and that does cause more releases by men to do better on average what the typical female hit does but I have never seen any evidence that women do not like songs by females!"

CMT senior vice president Leslie Fram says, "I can tell you that working and programming radio for over 20 years, this is simply not true. Top 40 is primarily a female format and the majority of artists on their chart are women. This posting is taking us 20 steps backwards. It's an insult to every female artist in the format."

Chicago Radio: Ramonski Luv OUT At WSRB

Ramonski Luv
Crawford Broadcasting's Urban WSRB 106.3 FM and nightime personality Ramonski Luv have parted company.  It's the second time in a year that he's been dismissed.

The 52-year-old Luv, whose real name is Raymond Wade, joined WSRB last December are being let go by iHM's WVAZ 102.7 FM V103 in July 2014.

Luv was fired by WVAZ one day after ratings for “The Real Show” he hosted with Joe Soto had returned to No. 1 in the market.

CRM sources insiders as saying WSRB dismissed Luv over missed station appearances and managerial frustration over broken company rules (off-air).

A Chicago native and 30-year veteran of urban radio, he created and hosted Chicago's first all-rap show "Rap Down" in the '80s.

NBC Sports Radio Adds Kate Delaney To Lineup

Kate Delaney
NBC Sports Radio makes it official!  The 24/7 sports network has added seasoned sports talker Kate Delaney to its weekend lineup.  The Kate Delaney Show airs Saturdays and Sundays from 12 noon-3 pm ET, replacing The Anita Marks Show.

The Kate Delaney Show features Delaney with players, coaches, experts and analysts.  From the locker room to the playing fields and beyond, Delaney serves up the real scoop on what’s happening in the world of sports.

Delaney, a regular fill-in on NBC Sports Radio, is an Emmy award-winning broadcaster who has interviewed more than 12,000 people in her 20-year radio and television career.  She is one of the first women to ever host a solo sports radio talk show on WFAN in New York City and KRLD in Dallas. She’s covered 15 Super Bowls, 10 U.S. Opens, and 15 Final Fours.  She has also been to the Kentucky Derby 10 times along with the other two Triple Crown races, the Preakness and the Belmont.

Delaney’s not just a face on the tube or a voice on the radio. As a businesswoman she ran The Golden Broadcasters radio network as Chief Operating Officer. She negotiated contracts for millions of dollars with show hosts, advertisers, and network personnel and helped to negotiate the rights for the Texas Rangers for CBS. Delaney has worked with the Las Vegas Thunder, Golden State Warriors, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Radio Shack, McDonald’s, Southern Methodist University, and many more organizations. Her book, Level the Playing Field, Balls, Brats & Other B.S., is a best seller on Amazon.


 “It’s a major coup for us to have Kate with us on the weekends,” said Jack Silver, NBC Sports Radio’s Program Director.  “She connects really well with sports fans.  She’s smart, funny, and she knows her way around the world of sports. Kate brings great energy, insight, and opinion to our weekend lineup.”

Delaney adds, “I've always had a great passion for sports and its many personalities, and it has allowed me to work in markets across the country.  I feel so fortunate to now bring my experience to NBC Sports Radio, where I join an incredibly talented and dedicated team of professionals.”

FCC To Clamp Down Even Further On Robo Calls

There is nothing consumers hate more than robocalls, spam text messages and unwanted telemarketing calls. But even though more than 200 million people are on the federal government’s Do Not Call list, robocalls still manage to get through to cell phones.

Hoping to plug the regulatory loopholes, the Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler is proposing new rules that will allow carriers to offer consumers call-blocking technologies and give consumers more control over who gets to call their phone numbers, reports kathyonthehill.com.

The proposal, which the FCC will vote on in its June 18 monthly meeting, is intended to clarify some of the provisions of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, a 1991 law managed by the FCC.

Over the last couple of years, the FCC has faced increasing pressure from consumer groups, lawmakers and 39 State Attorneys General to do something to plug the loopholes in the law. It’s the top complaint at the FCC, which last year alone, received more than 215,000 TCPA complaints. The proposal is intended to resolve more than 20 pending petitions at the agency.

“At the FCC, we see consumer protection as one of our most fundamental missions,” Wheeler said in a blog post Wednesday explaining his proposal.

Report: The Web Is Huge Video Pipeline

In five years, 80 percent of the entire world's Internet consumption will be dominated by video. That number will be even higher in the United States, approaching 85 percent.

The Washington Post reports the figures come from Cisco, which publishes an annual study peering into the near future of the Web. The newest report, out Wednesday, predicts that by 2019, the Internet will have become more or less a big video pipe. Part of the growth will come from adding new people to the Internet — for the first time, over half the world's population will be digitally connected. But individual Internet users are also expected to consume more video over time, and at a higher quality, which will put tremendous new burdens on the world's Internet infrastructure.

"The cord-cutting household [consumes] more than twice as much data per month as non-cord-cutters," said Robert Pepper, Cisco's vice president of global technology policy.
 Five years ago, Americans were spending less than an hour a day on mobile devices. Today, it's more like three hours a day, accounting for more than half of the time we spend consuming digital media in general, according to the latest in an annual report released Wednesday by Kleiner Perkins partner Mary Meeker.


"The Voice" Propels NBC To Ratings Win

With “The Voice” delivering the #1 and 2 ratings of the week among primetime programs on the Big 4 networks, NBC has tied for #1 for the week of May 18-24 in adults 18-49 and won the week outright among the Big 4 networks in adults 25-54 and other key measures. According to “live plus same day” viewing figures from Nielsen Media Research, NBC averaged a 1.2 rating, 5 share in adults 18-49 and 5.6 million viewers overall for the week.

Tuesday’s “Voice” season finale ranked #1 among primetime telecasts on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox last week and Monday’s final competition episode finished #2.

Joining those two “Voice” telecasts in the week’s top 30 primetime Big 4 programs were Tuesday’s encore “Voice” recap (tied for #12), Wednesday’s “Chicago P.D.” (tied for #16), Wednesday’s “Law & Order: SVU” (tied for #16), Monday’s “The Night Shift” (tied for #24) and Wednesday’s “The Mysteries of Laura” (#30). Rankings exclude sports pre- and post-game shows.

Tuesday’s “Voice” finale also ranked #1 among primetime shows on the Big 4 last week in adults, men and women 25-54; men and women 18-49; and men 18-34.

For the 52-week 2014-15 season to date, NBC ranks #1 among the Big 4 networks in adults 18-49 as well as men 18-49 and adults and men 18-34.

NBC Nightly News Scores Ratings Win

“NBC Nightly News” was #1 in total viewers and both demos A25-54 and A18-49 for the week of May 18-22, 2015, according to Nielsen Media Research data. The NBC broadcast has been #1 in total viewers for 3 of the past 4 weeks.

Season-to-date, Nightly is the #1 evening news broadcast in total viewers and all key demographics.

Weekly Highlights:
  • Nightly averaged 7.594 million total viewers, +53,000 (+1%) more than ABC World News Tonight and +696,000 (+10%) ahead of CBS Evening News.
  • Nightly averaged 1.758 million A25-54 viewers, leading ABC by +11,000 (1%) and CBS by +218,000 (+14%).
  • Nightly delivered a 1.5 A25-54 rating, tied with ABC and +2 tenths more than CBS.
  • Nightly averaged 1.256 million A18-49 viewers, leading ABC by +53,000 (+4%) and CBS by +169,000 (+16%).
  • Nightly delivered a 1.0 A18-49 rating, tied with ABC and +1 tenth more than CBS.

Why We Mishear Lyrics

If you think the lyrics to Creedance Clearwater Revivals's song "Bad Moon Rising" include "there's a bathroom on the right," you’re not the only one.

Scientists say mistakes like this one are actually fueled by our prior knowledge.

It's a phenomenon called "mondegreens," and German researchers confirm that it happens all the time. Dr. Mark Liberman, professor of linguistics and director of the Linguistic Data Consortium at the University of Pennsylvania explains that when you hear a song, you're getting an input signal that is muddled with background music, rhythms, and syllabification, making it hard for your brain to interpret everything at once.

He tells Yahoo Health, "When the signal is more ambiguous... then more of our perceptions are likely to be invented." The bad news is once you experience a modegreen you're likely to hear the wrong lyrics every time you hear the song. Dr. Andrew Nevins, a linguistics professor at Britain's University College London adds that consonants are typically more confused than vowels, and unstressed syllables are more easily confused than stressed syllables.

This explains why so many people hear the lyric "got a long list of ex-lovers" from the Taylor Swift song "Blank Space" as "all the lonely Starbucks lovers."

Steven Tyler Goes Country

Elaina Smith, Steven Tyler and Shawn Parr
Steven Tyler-- who is in the middle of recording a country album-- paid a visit to NASH Nights Live with Shawn Parr and Elaina Smith Tuesday to talk about his new country single, "Love is Your Name".

Senate Bill Introduced To Grandfather TV Station JSAs

A bipartisan group of Senators introduced a bill earlier this month that would grandfather current joint sales agreements between TV stations, overturning an FCC rule that makes it harder for a TV station to sell advertising for another in the same market, according to KatyOnTheHill.com.

The FCC’s rule, passed in March last year in a party line vote, disallowed any TV joint sales agreements where the station sold more than 15 percent of the advertising time on a competing station.

The bill was introduced by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and co-sponsored by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Tim Scott (R-N.C.).

“Joint sales agreements in Missouri and across the country have helped save TV stations from going dark, increased program diversity, and enabled local news programming for many TV broadcasters,” Blunt said in a statement. “For instance, a JSA enabled a Joplin, Missouri station to upgrade its Doppler radar system, which helped save lives during the devastating tornado of 2011.”

The FCC has approved more than 50 such agreements, but decided to change its rules in March. In the FCC ruled stations had two years to unwind any joint sales agreements that exceed the newly imposed limits.  The STELA Reauthorization Act of 2014  delayed the FCC’s amendments to joint sales agreement (JSA) rules, giving  JSA parties an additional six months to comply with the amended rules.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has defended the rule, arguing they were an end-run around media ownership rules and hurt smaller companies trying to enter the business.

The rule has already led to stations having to go off the air, said GOP commissioner Ajit Pai who opposed the rule. “And that disturbing trend will only accelerate if scores of existing JSAs are terminated next year. For the sake of television viewers across the country, I agree with Sens. Blunt, Mikulski, Schumer and Scott that we should not let that happen.”

R.I.P.: Longtime ND Broadcaster Jim Bollman

Jim Bollman
Longtime Grand Forks area personality Jim Bollman died Wednesday at 79-years-of-age

Bollman's daughter Lana Beaton said he "passed peacefully, surrounded by love" just after 6 p.m.

The news of Bollman's passing Wednesday evening came less than a day after his family announced cancer treatments had stopped and that he had started hospice care.

Bollman retired in 2012 after working for 55 years in radio, the last 45 in Grand Forks. At the time, he was working a morning shift at KNOX 1310 AM.

May 28 Radio History


In 1955…Elvis Presley made his first appearance on the "Big D Jamboree" radio program, broadcast from the Dallas Sportatorium by local radio station KRLD.


In 1957....The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) is established, leading to the creation of the annual Grammy Awards.


In 1958….Top40 1010 WINS pranked rival  WMGM with a Charles DeGaulle phone call..

Before the era of radio shock jocks and tv prank-yankers, there was the infamous Charles de Gaulle Hoax of 1958, when DeGaulle was President of France.

It was the first truly great prank call in the history of radio--a doozy of a sting. Broadcast live throughout the Northeast, the faux phone call left one station supremely humiliated, leaving the other--the perpetrator of this mad hoax--basking in smug glory.

According to an aerticle Ken Brooks which appeared in Plus! magazine, in the spring of 1958, New York City radio stations were waging a fierce war for listeners. The combination of rock-and-roll and the transistor radio had made Elvis the King, and AM radio stations--at least those with their ears to the asphalt--were hastily switching formats.

One of the first stations to make the switch--in 1956, in fact--was WINS. By 1958, WINS had assembled a legendary line-up of disc jockeys that including Alan Freed, the former Cleveland jock credited with coining the term "rock and roll."

WINS's large news department was impressive as well; indeed, station call letters stood for International News Service, a division of the powerful Hearst Corporation.

Struggling in the shadow of WINS was low-rated WMGM. The station had once been the proud home of Brooklyn Dodger broadcasts, but the team was gone now, transplanted to Los Angeles that very spring. WMGM's tepid music format combined a bit of rock with easy-listening.

The station was not exactly a strong news-gathering force, either. Without a large news staff, WMGM execs outfitted an old panel truck and assigned two reporters to cruise the streets looking for "scoops." The reporters were dubbed the Minute Men; presumably they would be on the scene of a breaking story in a matter of minutes.

Headlines on the morning of Tuesday, May 28, 1958, concerned big news overseas: The imminent collapse of the French government, and the possibility that Gen. Charles De Gaulle--the popular World War II hero--would seize control of the republic.In the WMGM newsroom, executives decided on a bold move that would prove to New Yorkers that WMGM could be taken seriously as a news-gathering operation.

At 10:30 am, newscaster Bill Edmunds interrupted with this announcement: 
"French President Coty is conferring with political leaders after receiving the resignation of Premier Pflimlin. A new government may be created today with General de Gaulle at the helm. WMGM has a call in, long-distance, overseas to General De Gaulle to bring you a direct interview...As soon as that call is completed, we'll put that call right on the air."
 Monitoring rival stations' broadcasts is standard practice in the radio business. WMGM's plan to call de Gaulle caused no panic in the WINS newsroom, where it was seen as a desperate act on the part of WMGM. The idea that General de Gaulle would actually return a call to a local New York City radio station was outlandish.

Unless...

At noon the phone rang at WMGM studios. On the line was an overseas operator--or so she claimed. "Your trans- atlantic call is ready, sir," she said.

Bill Edmunds hustled to a mic."General? General de Gaulle?"

"Yas?" The response sounded static-y and far-away.

"General de Gaulle, this is WMGM in New York City." One could feel the adrenaline in Edmund's voice; they gave out awards for scoops like this. "I would like to know if you would care to make a statement to the American people at this time."

"Yas, I certainly would," said de Gaulle in a heavily French-accented English. "Are we on zee air now?" he asked.

"No sir, we are making a tape to play later, throughout the day and on our newscasts," Edmunds said.

"Well..." There was a pause as the General mulled this over. "No," he said finally, "I would not like to be recorded, as I have not yet granted the French press any of thees informay-shee-own. But I will agree to be broadcast."

"Will you hold, please, and we'll put you directly on the air? Can you do that?" Edmunds was practically begging.

"Yas, but make it very fast as I must go to ze Na-shee-a-nal Assem-blee."

"Just as soon as they give me the go-ahead, General..." In the thirteen seconds of dead-air that followed--an eternity in radio-time--one could hear the engineers scrambling to punch the right buttons.

Then, live, in stentorian tones, Edmunds announced: "I am on the phone with General Charles De Gaulle in France. General de Gaulle, would you care to make a statement about the crisis in France?"

"Thank you Mr. Edmunds," the General began. "I would like to make clear that when I assume pow-air I weel not do so by any dictatorial means. I am too much of an old soldier...and I weel give to the pee-pull of France the government they should have had ever since the war."

Edmunds wasn't about to let the General go just yet. A few more questions. Then de Gaulle broke in: "...Monseuir, can you tell me again whom I am speaking to?"

"Bill Edmunds, General. I'm one of the WMGM Minute Men." Surprisingly, de Gaulle sounded not the least bit impressed.

"WMGM?" the General repeated. "Why, everybody knows the best radio station in New York is WINS." Then he screamed: "Viva la France!"

In the second-and-a-half before the line went dead, in the background, one could hear the unmistakable sounds of hysterical laughter.

Poor Bill Edmunds: Totally nonplussed, unsure what had transpired, unwilling to let go of that award he'd surely have received.

Here's what he said next: "Uh...ladies and gentlemen...we've, uh, been talking to, uh..."--Edmunds drew a blank..."General Charles de Gaulle!"

Mercifully, someone at the studio had the presence to kill Edmunds' mike.

By the time New York's afternoon newspapers hit the streets, the incident was front page news. The World-Telegram headline read: "WHO HAD DE GALL TO CALL WMGM?"

"Switchboards at WMGM and WINS were as hot as the French crisis today," the paper declared, " and General Charles de Gaulle was at least partially responsible..." Executives at WMGM, the paper reported, are demanding an immediate investigation by the Federal Communications Commission.

When asked by the World-Telegram for comment, WINS general manager Herb Fearnhead responded blankly, "I don't know a thing about it." Not that WINS was adverse to rubbing it in: The rest of Tuesday afternoon their announcers broadcast the time in French.

Then, on Wednesday morning, a final insult. A telegram arrived at WMGM. Sent from Paris, it read: "I was cut off. What happened? --Charles de Gaulle."

Twenty-six years would pass before anyone fessed up. That's when an assistant program director for WINS admitted that the entire episode, complete with pre-recorded "transatlantic static," was the brainchild of WINS news director Tom O'Brien. And it was O'Brien's fiancee--a stewardess for British Overseas Airlines, stationed in Paris--who authored the bogus telegram.


In 1962…"Wide World of Sports with Chris Schenkel" debuted on the CBS Radio Network.


In 1998…actor/comedian, Phil Hartman, was shot to death while asleep by his wife. He was 49. Hartman starred in the TV sitcom, "NewsRadio"