Monthly Archives: May 2015

Spectrum shakeup for local TV

The Federal Communications Commission is getting ready to shuffle transmission bands in an effort to free up more space for mobile technologies.

And that could mean both a realignment of television broadcast channels and some tough choices for Las Vegas station owners who could pocket more than $100 million if they close down operations and sell their spectrum space.

Today, nearly two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone, and 19 percent of Americans, to some degree, rely on a smartphone for accessing online services and for staying connected to the world around them.

That increased useage is causing panic among the major cellphone providers — AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. The reason is simple; there is a limited amount of information that can be transmitted within the bandwidth allocated to cellphone use and every time you watch a YouTube video or stream a movie or sporting event to your smartphone, you are taking up space on the bandwidth.

The solution is to create more bandwidth for cellphone use. In the real estate business, the saying is: they are not making any more land. The same is true for bandwidth space.

So in order to solve the problem, the FCC has come up with a plan to take bandwidth from the television industry and transfer it to the cellphone industry. But not all television stations will be affected. Depending on the amount of bandwidth the FCC decides to clear, only those stations broadcasting in the UHF spectrum — channels 51 down to 14 – are likely to be effected.

To accomplish their goal, the FCC has announced an Incentive Auction to be held in early 2016. In this auction, broadcasters will be asked to sell their spectrum rights voluntarily.

In Las Vegas, an FCC-commissioned study by Greenhill &Co. LLC is projecting that a full power station could sell its rights for a maximum of $150 million with a median price of $84 million. For low-power stations, the maximum is estimated at $130 million and a median of $120 million.

The FCC’s proposed opening bid price per broadcaster is based on a complicated formula that involves the population of the designated market area, the interference of the signal to neighboring cities, whether or not the station is licensed as a “Full Power” or “Class A” lower-power station, and how much spectrum is needed in that market.

Stations that volunteer to go off the air entirely would receive the most money and stations that wish to stay on the air and move into the VHF spectrum would receive between 33 and 50 percent less for their station.

Many industry experts believe the numbers in that report to be on the low side based on previous spectrum auctions.

In a market like Los Angeles, a station’s rights are expected to go for more than a half-billion dollars.

In the Las Vegas market, it could mean a scrambling for space as broadcast stations move to lower numbers. It also could mean some stations with specialty audiences — from religious programming to reruns of ‘classic’ series — could go dark as owners choose to take the multimillion-dollar windfall.

In the case of a station like KMCC, the MundoFox affiliate, the owners have an interesting dilemma. The station broadcasts on channel 32, and its transmitter is located on a mountain in Arizona halfway between Las Vegas and Kingman both of which are covered by the signal along with Laughlin. If the owners wanted to sell the spectrum rights and go off the air, they might pocket something between $150 and $200 million.

But station president Chris Roman said the station will stay on the air. “We see Spanish language broadcasting to continue to thrive and we want to continue providing that service to Las Vegas. There is a lot of good that needs to be done, and we have the perfect vehicle to do something to ignite our people and inform them of what is happening in their community and the world today.” The station recently launched a local Monday – Friday newscast at 5 and 10 p.m. which moved KMCC up the ranks to become the #2 Spanish Language station, out of six in Las Vegas, between the hours of 7 and 10 p.m.

The spectrum auction is unlike most auctions in that, the FCC is the only bidder and will be bidding in four different phases. In this “reverse auction” format, after each bidding phase, the price goes down significantly until the FCC collects the amount of spectrum needed in each market area. Broadcasters can exit the auction without penalty if prices fall too low.

In Las Vegas terms, everything about this auction is weighted in favor of the house — in this case, the FCC — at perhaps 10 times the odds of roulette. Stations that voluntarily participate and are selected will receive cash proceeds for relinquishment of their spectrum usage rights based on final bids. Stations that participate and are not selected will retain their spectrum usage rights but will be subject to repacking or shifting of their channel to a different frequency. Likewise, stations that choose not to participate will also retain spectrum usage rights and be subject to repacking.

Those stations that wish to remain on the air and are moved to a lower channel will receive money from the FCC as reimbursement of expenses. In preparation for the expense to the FCC, Congress established a $1.75 billion TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund to pay reasonable relocation costs such as the new transmitter, antenna, and other associated equipment tuned to the new frequency. However, it is estimated that the fund is $1 billion or more short of the actual costs that will be incurred.

After the FCC clears the needed spectrum, there will be what is called a forward auction, whereby the FCC will sell that spectrum to the wireless carriers. In addition to AT&T, Verizon and the other cellphone companies, Dish Network and Direct TV has also entered the playing field. Dish Network spent $13 billion in a previous wireless spectrum auction and is planning to take on Verizon and AT&T by creating a wireless video and data bundle called Sling TV.

In January 2014, T-Mobile and Verizon paid a combined $3.3 billion for 700 MHz of bandwidth. And in January 2015, the auction of advanced wireless services generated $41.3 billion in total net bids.

Expectations are that this spectrum auction will greatly exceed the money bid in both auctions combined. And when the process is complete, the FCC expects to have turned a profit for the Treasury.

– See more at: http://businesspress.vegas/technology/spectrum-shakeup-local-tv#sthash.JNpzkTs4.dpuf

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Jan Jones Blackhurst

Jan Jones

If there is one thing that you will not find Jan Jones Blackhurst doing, it would be sitting idle.

Jones, as she is most widely known, is a whirlwind of perpetual motion, serving on the boards and committees of seven state and national organizations in addition to her corporate duties at Caesars Entertainment. She also volunteers and contributes to local and national charities and advocates on behalf of several causes including LGBT rights issues, environmental stewardship, and women’s rights to equal pay for equal work.

At Stanford University, she studied English and psychology. “I believe that if you can speak properly and understand people, there is no limit as to what you can do, and those two course subjects have been pivotal to my success.”

Jones’ grandfather was the founder of the California-based Thriftimart/Smart and Final grocery chain. As the brand expanded into Nevada, Jones’ father sent her and brother Rocky to Las Vegas to head up the Nevada operations. Both Jones and her brother began appearing on local television as spokespersons for the family business. She eventually appeared in automobile commercials for former husband Fletcher Jones Jr.

Building upon her television notoriety and the many community organization activities, Jones successfully campaigned to become the first woman to be elected mayor of Las Vegas, serving two terms from 1991 to 1999. “I remember growing up that my father used to say, you can be a sheep and follow, or you can be a goat and lead. The night I was first elected as mayor, my father was on stage behind me and kept saying… I raised a goat… I raised a goat. The people around him probably thought he was crazy, but I could hear him and knew how proud he was.”

“What drives me each day,” Jones said, “is that I love what I do. I love the game of politics; I love working with government and giving back to the community. I think that I learned more about business by being in government because you need to build consensus. I brought that knowledge to my current position where I get to do everything I love from a business perspective. I enjoy waking up each morning and figuring out solutions to complex problems.”

Of her many accomplishments — including her induction into the Gaming Hall of Fame — Jones is most proud of her children: “Getting them raised and into productive living is the greatest accomplishment one could have.”

Jones’ daughter Katie passed the Nevada Bar exam on May 6.

When Jones does relax, you will probably find her on the ski slopes, watching “happy” movies or listening to rock ’n’ roll. Her pleasure reading is mostly mindless books, but she said, “My all-time favorite book is ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.’ That book is more about psychology than motorcycle repair and talks about the perspective of two types of people, those who just want to go out and ride with the wind in their hair and the tinkerer that needs to know how things work. I made everyone that I ever dated read that book before developing a serious relationship.”

Jones is married to Dana Blackhurst, a nationally recognized educator and authority on students with dyslexia.

Jones had been known in political and business circles for most of her career as Jan Jones, but in August 2013, after 10 years of marriage to Blackhurst, she officially added his name to hers to honor their love.

— By Craig Ruark

– See more at: http://businesspress.vegas/special-sections/jan-jones-blackhurst#sthash.0E7jznjS.dpuf


Johanna Blake

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Longevity is a theme in Johanna Blake’s world.

Twenty-six years with one company is a rare achievement in this day and age, but that is how long Blake has been with U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management.

And longevity is nothing new for U.S. Trust, the oldest trust company in America, founded in 1853.

Blake is also a second-generation Nevadan.

Her grandfather had established several taverns in New York but came to Las Vegas in 1949 as one of the original workers at what would become the Castaways hotel-casino on the Strip. The hotel was demolished and replaced by The Mirage in 1989. Among the keepsakes of her family’s past is the classic blue Nevada license plate, “C 3,” the third in the earliest issued series of license plates in Clark County.

The Blakes have a history of groundbreaking in this community. Her mother, Edith, was one of the first women to receive a real estate license and one of the first women to receive a mortgage in her own name in Nevada.

“It makes me proud that my mother led the way for me and so many others in business,” she said.

Although Blake was taught how to count using a deck of cards, she was strongly encouraged by her father and grandfather to not enter the gaming industry. Blake’s older brother went into banking on the operations side, which seemed to her like a good business.

She started as a part-time teller at the age of 17. At UNLV, she was a student of finance and marketing. And now she leads teams of private client advisers, private client managers, portfolio managers, trust officers, and various specialists who provide customized solutions to address the complex needs of ultra-high net worth clients. The group collectively offers a suite of services including wealth structuring, asset management, capital markets, trust and estate services, customized credit, philanthropic solutions and portfolio consulting to clientele with a minimum of $3 million in marketable securities.

However, professional success does not lessen the effects of personal sorrow. Five years ago, Blake lost her husband, mother, father, all within a short span of time. Despite those losses, she has chosen to turn that sorrow into activity for a variety of nonprofit community organizations, and she volunteers her time to many groups, including Habitat for Humanity and United Way.

Blake has identical twin sons, Grayson and Steele, who keep her busy with their world of basketball, karate and art. Grayson and Steele, nearing age 7, frequently join her in community projects as well.

When Blake is not working, she cherishes the time she spends with her children, shopping and traveling to new places and countries. Her goal is to visit every continent. Blake has a very diverse music collection ranging from Michael Bublé to U2, and she also cooks to relax.

— By Craig A. Ruark

– See more at: http://businesspress.vegas/special-sections/johanna-blake#sthash.ireymKe3.dpuf


Nancy E. Brune

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Nancy Brune is a global thinker in every sense of the word.

Growing up in Austin, Texas, Brune always knew her life would be dedicated to bettering the world. Her mother was born in England and immigrated to the United States when she was 27. Her father, while born in the United States, is the son of Mexican immigrants. Both of her parents were the first in their family to receive college educations.

“Growing up, we were not poor in the sense that we struggled for food and clothing, but we were certainly a low-income family during my teenage years.”

After high school, Brune traveled to Nicaragua, where she lived for three years teaching the women how to turn their sewing, baking, and farming skills into income for their family. “It was my own personal Peace Corps trip and I wish that I could have stayed longer.” Instead, she returned and enrolled in graduate school and spent the next 12 years working in Asia and Latin America on health and development issues.

Brune holds a Bachelor of Arts and master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University and a doctorate from Yale University. She was also awarded research fellowships at Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania.

Brune worked for three years at Sandia National Laboratories and served as an adjunct senior fellow at the bipartisan think tank Center for A New American Security in Washington. She has published more than 45 peer-reviewed journal articles, blogs, and policy briefs on national security, energy security, homeland security, climate and security, public sector reforms, and trade and globalization.

In early 2014, Brune accepted the offer to become the executive director of the Kenny Guinn Center for Policy Priorities. a bipartisan think-tank committed to working on economic and political issues in Nevada.

“If you asked me what I am most proud of it would be the startup of the Guinn Center as a bipartisan, independent, data-driven, analytical resource for the state of Nevada. I am driven by the desire to help our community and move the state move forward.”

Since arriving in Nevada, Brune has been deeply involved with efforts to increase Latino participation in environmental issues. She has also worked on issues affecting women and children’s health and has pushed to strengthen science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. She is an adjunct professor at Nevada State College and the College of Southern Nevada, and serves on 17 local, state, national and international boards and committees.

Brune and husband Richard Boulware met through a friendship with Boulware’s brother 25 years ago while they all attended Harvard. She came to Las Vegas 10 years ago for the brother’s wedding and the relationship with her soon to be husband developed. “He caught the garter and I caught the bouquet and the rest is history.” They’ve been married nearly nine years and have three children.

— By Craig A. Ruark

– See more at: http://businesspress.vegas/special-sections/nancy-e-brune#sthash.74iY6Vi6.dpuf


Shannon Petersen

SHANNON  Petersen

Even as a child growing up in a small Northern California town of 5,000 people, Shannon Petersen knew that she would one day work in financing. But it was her participation in sports and other extracurricular activities that formed the foundation of who she is today.

“I played volleyball, basketball, softball and also raised pigs and sheep for the Future Farmers of America and 4-H group,” she recalled. “Those activities taught me social skills, how to accept defeat and move forward, and made me into a more productive person. I used the money that I earned from the sale of my pigs and sheep to buy my first car, a 1990 Honda Civic.”

Petersen worked as a lifeguard to help pay for college at University of California, Santa Cruz. Because she had such focus on her future ambitions, she was able to earn both a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in finance in a five-year period. After graduation, she spent four years working at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

After meeting and marrying her husband, Trevor, who grew up in Las Vegas, the two moved from the California beach community to the Nevada desert 13 years ago. It was both an exciting but solemn day on Sept. 11, 2001, when Petersen reported for her first day of work as an underwriter at Nevada State Bank. Petersen worked her way up to relationship manager, corporate sales manager and then to her current position of executive vice president and corporate banking manager.

“I am very loyal to Nevada State Bank and lucky to work for a company who has treated me fairly by recognizing the importance of a well-rounded management team,” she said. “I am most proud of being named the first female executive vice president of NSB.”

Petersen’s colleagues praised her skills as “an experienced tightrope walker, balancing regulatory restrictions and the bank’s risk tolerance with the multi-million dollar lending needs of her team’s business clients.”

Petersen reciprocates with mutual admiration: “My colleagues play a crucial role in accomplishing our objectives. They give 100 percent and truly value our mission.”

When not giving her all at the bank, Petersen is busy being a mom. “My biggest fear in life is missing out on my children’s growing years. Family time is extremely important to me, and I go the extra mile to ensure none of the school performances, field trips and sporting events are missed.”

Like their mother, Hayden, 11, and Trinity, 9, are active, with the children participating in Little League baseball, cheerleading and academics. The Petersens’ oldest son, 21-year-old Carson, is attending Northern Arizona University.

— By Craig A. Ruark


Dr. Renee E. Coffman

Renee CoffmanA passion for what she does is what drives Dr. Renee Coffman to go to work each day.

She is the co-founder of Roseman University, along with her husband Dr. Harry Rosenberg (he is the “Rose” and she is the “man”). Coffman is most proud of the university’s positive impact upon the students and the community.

“It’s easy to be motivated when you know you are making a difference by educating highly competent health care professionals who improve the quality of health care for the patients they serve,” she said.

Coffman grew up in Bucyrus, Ohio, where her mother was an elementary school teacher and her father a security guard. Her uncle was a pharmacist who owned an old-fashioned corner drugstore complete with a soda fountain. She earned a doctor of pharmacy from Ohio Northern University in 1987 and after graduation worked as a pharmacist in her hometown and in a neighboring community.

In 1995, Dr. Coffman earned a doctorate in industrial and physical pharmacy from Purdue University, where she received the Kienle Award for excellence in teaching, the Jenkins-Knevel Award for outstanding graduate research and an AAPE-AFPE Association Fellowship in pharmaceutical sciences.

“Growing up, I thought I would be a teacher, but wound up also loving pharmacy, so I ended up going to Purdue to get a Ph.D. so that I could enter academia and actually teach future pharmacists.”

Coffman has worked to support pharmacy, education, and improve health care through her association with the Southern Nevada Medical Industry Coalition, iDO (Improving Diabetes and Obesity in Southern Nevada), the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy Medication Error Discussion Group, and the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy Committee on Standards for Approval of Pharmacy Technician Training Programs. She is also active in a number of medical and academic organizations. Additionally, Dr. Coffman was instrumental in the successful legislative efforts permitting pharmacists to perform finger-stick blood glucose testing.

At home, Dr. Coffman is just as busy, “I’m a soccer mom with a 14-year-old daughter who plays competitive soccer on a club team in Henderson. So outside of work, I’m driving her to practice three times a week and attending her games here and when her team travels.

“Watching my daughter play, I have become a huge soccer fanatic. I wake up at 4:30 am on the weekends just to catch English Premier League games live on TV.”

Coffman’s daughter, Leili Rosenberg, will be attending Coronado High School in the fall.

Besides watching soccer, Coffman is an avid reader of history. “I love biographies and autobiographies as well as historical fiction.”

— By Craig A. Ruark

– See more at: http://businesspress.vegas/special-sections/dr-renee-e-coffman#sthash.8jTxvLaI.dpuf


Kassi Belz

The Belz family relaxes in Huntington Beach, Calif. Kassi’s husband Tommy Belz keeps a tight hold on their son Eli while mom keeps an eye on their son TJ.

The Belz family relaxes in Huntington Beach, Calif. Kassi’s husband Tommy Belz keeps a tight hold on their son Eli while mom keeps an eye on their son TJ.

To say that Kassi Belz is driven might be an understatement.

Belz was born in Gainesville, Fla. Her mother just 17 when she was born, and both parents were just scraping by to provide food and shelter. New clothes were out of the question; Belz wore hand-me-downs, mostly threadbare with a few holes by the time she received them. Belz reflects, “I think that my career in PR started at age 5 when my parents divorced, trying to keep the peace between the two of them and organizing who would pick me up or take me someplace and planning events around their schedules.”

In school, Belz was a member of the student government and other extracurricular organizations, but it was her planning and organizational skills that set her apart from the crowd.

She attended the University of Florida — the first person in her family to attend college — and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and a minor in journalism.

“I was always surrounded by strong women including my mother, aunts, and cousins who encouraged me and told me that I could be anything that I wanted.”

After college, Belz met her husband-to-be, a chef by trade, and after marriage realized that employment and growth opportunities in Gainesville weren’t great.

Hearing about the economic boom in Las Vegas, the two made a four-day trip to search and interview for jobs. That was 10 years ago and the two of them have never looked back.

Belz began her career with MassMedia as an account executive in 2005 and worked her way up the agency ranks to the director of client services and vice president of corporate communications. Recognizing her accomplishments within the industry, the Las Vegas chapter of the Public Relations Society of America named Belz “Public Relations Practitioner of the Year” in 2013.

“One of the things that I am most proud of is the success of MassMedia, not just about the growth and profits, but the quality of work as well,” Belz said. “In 2008, the firm was heavy with real estate development clients and that was the Industry hardest hit by the recession. I had already begun work to diversify our clientele into the health care industry, and it was because we were able to continue to build that client segment that we were able to survive as a business.” Under Belz’s leadership, the staff at MassMedia grew from eight to 32 employees and revenue grew from $2.7 million in 2009 to $6.4 million in 2014. In 2015, Belz was made a partner in the firm and named as its president.

Belz and her husband both believe in quality family time. He’s now a stay-at-home dad after working at Caesars; she describes herself as the quintessential soccer mom. When asked what drives her, Belz replied, “The desire to make my clients’ successful and to give my children a better start than I had growing up.”

— By Craig A. Ruark

– See more at: http://businesspress.vegas/special-sections/kassi-belz#sthash.jROH1xJ7.dpuf