Sunday, September 7, 2014

DirecTV, Raycom agree on a price, dispute ends

Raycom Media and DirecTV reached an agreement over the weekend on the rates the satellite provider will pay to carry the company’s local stations, restoring the signal of WBTV (Channel 3) Sunday to thousands of viewers in the Charlotte area.

Neither side revealed the terms of the agreement, expected to be signed this week.

DirecTV viewers had been without the Charlotte CBS affiliate since Sept. 1 when the satellite provider pulled the plug on Channel 3 because its contract with Raycom had expired. Each side blamed the other in the dispute – Raycom saying that fees for network programming increase every year and DirecTV saying that it was working to keep the cost to its subscribers in check.

Such disputes have become common in recent years as stations try to raise ever more revenue from retransmission fees, or the money charged to cable and satellite services to carry their signal. 

This dispute, coming at the beginning of fall programming and with the resumption of the NFL season – traditionally the most-watched programming on television – brought frustration to viewers and broadcasters. 

One of DirecTV’s biggest competitors, Dish, took advantage of the dispute for market gain. It took out a full-page ad in Sunday’s Charlotte Observer reminding readers that it still carried WBTV and offered same-day installation. About a third of households in the 22-county Charlotte market are believed to be served by satellite services.

“We appreciate our viewer’s patience,” Paul McTear, Raycom’s president, said in a statement Sunday. “We apologize for the inconvenience and thank them for their loyalty to their local stations throughout this process.”

Raycom, based in Montgomery, Ala., operates 53 TV stations in 18 states as well as Raycom Sports based in Charlotte. In the Carolinas, Raycom also operates stations in Wilmington, Columbia, Myrtle Beach and Charleston.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Paul Schadt double-nominated for CMA honor

Paul Schadt, longtime morning host on WKKT-FM ("Kat" 96.9), has been nominated again for Country Music Association honors, only this time he's been nominated twice, a rare feat.

Paul Schadt

When the CMA announced its finalists for this year's broadcast awards Wednesday morning, Schadt was a nominee on two lists: Broadcast Personality of the Year and Major Market Personality.

In the first category, for syndicated personalities, Schadt is nominated with partner Cathy Martindale for their work on "ZMAX Racing Country," which is carried by the Concord-based Performance Racing Network.

In the second category, he is nominated for his "Kat Country" morning show, "Paul Schadt & Meg In the Morning" with partners Meg Butterly and Geof Knight

Winners will be announced when ABC broadcasts the 48th Annual CMA Awards on Nov. 5.

In other Carolina connections, Raleigh powerhouse country station WQDR-FM is one of five nominees as Large Market Station of the Year and Asheville's WKSF-FM is one of five nominees for Small Market Station of the Year. WQDR's Lisa McKay is nominated for Large Market Personality of the Year.

Schadt had a harvest of industry honors in February. In a single day, he was inducted into the Country Radio Hall of Fame and his morning show won the Academy of Country Music's national radio award.

He's been nominated before -- repeatedly, in fact -- for the CMA's top market personality award.

"I am 0-for-6 with the CMAs," Shadt said Wednesday, though maybe getting nominated for two will change his luck.

Schadt has been WKKT's morning host since he joined the station in 1998. He has been a country mainstay in Charlotte radio for decades, marking his 33rd year last month.

I've profiled Schadt a few times over the years. Here's the most recent story, from August 27, 2011:

This month,  WKKT-FM ("Kat" 96.9) is celebrating a milestone in Charlotte broadcasting -- the 30 years of Paul Schadt  being on the air.

In a town where a decade on the air is considered a long run,  Schadt has been at it for three decades,  longer than WKKT -- 14 years old next week -- has existed.

"It comes from being somewhat successful from time to time,  being nice to people and being a little bit lucky," says Schadt,  51. 

WKKT is replaying some classic Schadt bits this month and a website,,  has been created with pictures from over the years and video from recording artists wishing him a happy anniversary.

Schadt took a right turn into radio. In the late 1970s,  he was taking law enforcement courses at CPCC,  hoping for a spot on the Charlotte police force.

One day,  driving up Independence Boulevard and listening to Jeff Wicker on the old WBCY-FM,  he was struck by an odd thought - it'd be cool to be in radio.

He pulled into a shopping center and called the station from a pay phone. He got Wicker and asked for advice for breaking into the business.

Wicker said he had gotten into radio by working at the station at UNC Charlotte,  then got a job at a Salisbury station,  then got a gig in Charlotte. Schadt figured that was a good blueprint and followed it,  step by step.

He volunteered at WFAE-FM (90.7),  which the university ran at that time,  doing a jazz show. Then he got a weekend job at WSTP-AM (1140) in Salisbury. Then he landed a part-time job at WSOC-FM (103.7) in Charlotte.

A year later,  at age 21,  he got a full-time job on the overnight shift. By late 1997,  Schadt had the morning show at WSOC and was in negotiations for a new contract. Talks with the station didn't seem to be going anywhere,  and the newborn WKKT began wooing him aggressively on the side.

On Christmas Eve 1997,  Schadt told his bosses at WSOC he made a difficult decision: After 16 years with the station,  he wouldn't be returning after the new year. He had accepted a job at rival WKKT.

It immediately gave WKKT a boost and kicked off the long-running battle for country radio in Charlotte,  now the No. 1 music format in town,  with 16 percent of the audience. WKKT currently leads over WSOC,  the city's No. 2 station.

Among those Schadt has been paired with over the years are Bill Dollar,  Cindy O'Day,  Claire B. Lang,  Sarah Waters and most recently Meg Butterly and Geof Knight.

Does he ever regret not going into police work? "Not at all," says Schadt. "I'm having too good a time."

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

'Mork & Mindy' makes a comeback

Antenna TV, an oldies channel dedicated to classic comedies, will add the 1970s Robin Williams  series "Mork & Mindy" to its lineup next year, the network said Wednesday.

In the comedy, Williams played an alien from Ork who was adopted by a woman played by Pam Dawber. It ran on ABC for four years beginning in 1978.

Antenna TV, which is carried on WCCB's auxiliary digital channel 18.2 in Charlotte, said it will also be adding "Newhart," "The Jeffersons," "One Day at a Time," "Family Ties," "Doogie Howser MD" and other classics to its 2015 lineup.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Greensboro publisher takes over Creative Loafing

For the second time in three years, Charlotte’s most prominent alternative weekly has been sold.

Creative Loafing, launched in 1987 and aimed at a young adult audience, was acquired from SouthComm Inc. by Womack Newspapers, which owns Greensboro’s alternative weekly, Yes! Weekly, and other weekly newspapers in North Carolina.

Terms of the sale, which is expected to close this week, were not disclosed. Charles Womack, who launched Yes! Weekly in 2005, said Tuesday he plans to take over as publisher of Creative Loafing on Sept. 1. 

“An apartment there is included in the deal,” said Womack, 49. “I bought my Panther PSLs about six months ago.”

Creative Loading distributes about 47,000 papers weekly. Womack’s Greensboro weekly, Yes!, distributes about 43,000 in the Triad.

Chris Sexson, who joined Creative Loafing as publisher about six months ago, will remain with SouthComm Inc., which will continue to own Creative Loafing papers in Atlanta and Tampa. 

Womack said he plans no other changes in the staff, led by editor Kimberly Lawson and sales manager Amy Mularski.  “My philosophy is to hire good people and get out of the way,” said Womack, whose father published a chain of community newspapers based in Virginia.

Womack operates Womack Newspapers Inc. that publishes Yes!, the Jamestown News, and the Outer Banks Sentinel in Nags Head and is a subsidiary of Womack Publishing Co. of Danville, Va.

Womack said he has long been interested in acquiring Creative Loafing because of its size and because of Charlotte’s growing music and entertainment scene.

SouthComm, based in Nashville, Tenn., bought Creative Loafing in October 2011 and added it to its portfolio of alternative weeklies that included Nashville Scene, The Pitch of Kansas City and LEO Weekly of Louisville, Ky.

SouthComm also launched a Charlotte society magazine NFocus, which folded last summer after 13 issues. SouthComm bought Creative Loafing from the private equity company Atalaya Capital Management LP, which took over when the paper’s parent company entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2008. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

WSOC morning anchor heading to L.A.

Peter Daut, morning co-anchor on "Channel 9 Eyewitness News Daybreak," will be leaving WSOC in September to return to his native California. Daut will join the CBS affiliate in Los Angeles in an anchor role.

Peter Daut
Daut, who grew up in Orange County, Calif., graduated from the University of Southern California and still has family on the West Coast.

He started at WSOC in 2012 on the morning show beside co-anchor Allison Latos. In addition to his anchoring role, Daut has been active in reporting enterprise stories at WSOC.

"It has always been my dream to cover the news in my hometown, and I look forward to returning to Los Angeles," Daut said Tuesday. "I'm grateful to Charlotte, WSOC and news director Julie Szulczewski for a fantastic few years."

Friday, August 8, 2014

WSOC adds to its sports department

WSOC (Channel 9) said Friday that Lawrence Gilligan would be joining its sports team. He arrives just before the busy high school sports season begins.

Lawrence Gilligan

Gilligan's appointment, effective Sept. 2, represents the first expansion of the Channel 9 sports department in three years. Phil Orban has been the department's sole anchor since arriving this spring. He replaced Tiffany Wright, who handled the sports beat alone after the departure of Bill Voth in 2011. 

Gilligan, a graduate of the University of New Mexico, has spent the last four years at the CBS affiliate in Albuquerque, N.M.  

"He excels in covering local sports and will help us dominate coverage with the professional teams," Julie Szulczewski, WSOC news director, said in a statement. 


At 10 p.m., WAXN continues to dominate

Charlotte newscasts
Estimated number of viewers reached by key weekday newscasts during the July sweeps and percentage change from last July as measured by Nielsen.
6 A.M.
WSOC 71,700 +13%
WBTV 41,700 +10%
WCNC 17,700 -16%
WCCB 8,000 +16%
WBTV 71,600 -4%
WSOC 59,500 +3%
WCNC 14,300 +73%
6 P.M.
WSOC 119,900 +7%
WBTV 79,900 +10%
WCNC 37,400 -2%
WJZY 1,700 -68%*
ABC 115,000 +6%
CBS 80,600 +9%
NBC 68,600 +21%
10 P.M.
WAXN 49,900 +22%
WCCB 30,300 +40%
WJZY 10,900 -52%
11 P.M.
WSOC 70,800 +1%
WBTV 69,500 -3%
WCNC 26,700 -5%
*In July 2013, WJZY aired reruns of “Rules of Engagement” in this time period. It launched a newscast June 30, 2014.

WASHBURN’S ANALYSIS: July sweeps are the least important of the year because networks are on reruns or summer programming and viewers are on vacation or otherwise taking advantage of the summer. But this year in Charlotte they are important for what they show at 10 p.m. in news viewing. We have the first full year of CW network programming on WCCB (Channel 18) and Fox programming on WJZY (Channel 46) after the affiliation swap last July and can examine news viewing exclusive of the change in lead-in shows. Overall, there is a 7% increase in the number of news viewers at 10 p.m. and again WAXN (Channel 64) far outpaces its rivals. But WCCB, which has lost about a third of its news audience after the affiliation switch, shows a 40% surge over last year, while the Fox-owned station, WJZY, lost half its news viewers over last year in the time slot, when it aired a newscast supplied by WBTV (Channel 3). In January, WJZY began producing its own 10 p.m. newscast, an experimental show that challenged the traditional news structure. So far it hasn’t found traction in the ratings. A key to judging its effectiveness will come after January 2015 when year-to-year results on the Fox newscast are available. In the advertiser-preferred age demographic of 25-54, WAXN dominates, followed by WCCB, then WJZY. At 10 p.m., WCCB doubles its audience from the CW prime-time lead-in for its newscast; WJZY loses two-thirds of its audience from the Fox prime-time. WAXN’s audience increases its audience by nearly three-fourths at 10 p.m.