Monday, July 30, 2007

Radio Reporter Involved in Helicopter Crash

Updated Friday, August 10 in bold face

There is now a radio connection to the rash of news helicopter crashes, killing four and injuring three others, which have occurred over the past two and one half days.

This morning, Julie Deharty, traffic reporter for KRLD-AM and KVIL-FM in Dallas, was one of three people aboard a news helicopter that lost power, after covering a traffic accident, and crashed near a lake in Grand Prairie Texas.

According to the Dallas Morning News Deharty received a received a severe gash in her head.

It appears that DeHarty's injuries were more severe than the ones described in the intial reports, The traffic reporter underwent surgery on Saturday, Aug 4th for head and neck injuries is recovering and in stable condition.

She told WFFA that she would have to wear a halo screwed into her skull for at least three months. DeHarty also said she suffered a gash on her head that required seven staples. E-mail wishes can be sent to Julie at

The other reporters, Chip Waggoner with KDFW-TV and the pilot Curtis Crump sustained minor injuries. All three were transported by ambulance to a local hospital.

Go here to view a video of this morning's crash.

On Friday, the results of a crash involving two news helicopters in Phoenix, that were covering a high speed car chase, were much more catastrophic. According to AP,two pilots and two news photographers were killed when the helicopters they were flying collided, crashing in flames on the ground.

The helicopters involved in the crash were from two Phoenix TV stations -- KTVK and KNXV.

Killed on board the KTVK helicopter were pilot Scott Bowerbank and photographer Jim Cox. On board the KNXV aircraft were reporter-pilot Craig Smith and photographer Rick Krolak. No one on the ground was injured.

Meanwhile, the man suspected of starting the chase was booked into jail on three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of theft and one count of resisting arrest.

Christopher Jermaine Jones, 23, also may be held responsible for the helicopter crash, police said.

According to court documents, Jones told officers that he didn't remember stealing two trucks, ramming a police cruiser and leading officers on a chase through Phoenix. He said he woke up as officers were trying to arrest him at his friend's house.

Though the mid-air collision in Phoenix and the close call in Dallas are cautionary examples of the dangers of helicopter journalism, don’t expect to see fewer news choppers hovering over whatever the next big story of the moment is.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Texas is Not Big Enough for Liberal Talk

Houston’s two largest talk stations – KPRC/950 and KTRH/740 are doing a major programming makeover that will take effect on July 30. However, don’t expect an emergence of liberal talk radio in Texas’ largest radio market. The Clear Channel programming execs are just moving around the furniture for the mostly right-wing and a few apolitical talkers who they will be offering.

Yes, the state that brought us $3 per gallon gas and two of three worst presidents in the past 50 years – Lyndon Johnson and George W. Bush -- is the only major state where liberal talk radio is not welcome. Remember it was Johnson and Bush that started the only two wars that the U.S. has lost -- Vietnam and Iraq, (including over 60,000 American lives)

It is also the state that contains two of the four top ten markets that don’t offer liberal talk --Dallas and Houston. (Philadelphia and Atlanta are the other two.) In fact, the only city in Texas that offers liberal talk is Austin, which some people feel is not really part of Texas. In any case, only 1 out of 20 people in Texas are able to receive a liberal talk station over the air.

There are three political talk stations in Houston. You will not find a liberal on even one of these stations – Clear Channel stations KTRC and KTRH and Salem station KNTH/1070. According to the new line-ups, KTRC will be known as “Mojo Radio.” While the daytime programming will be anchored by local hosts and non-political syndicated talkers like Erich “Mancow” Muller and satirist Phil Hendrie, the night time and late night slots will feature five conservative talkers from the second tier – Michael Savage, Mark Levin, Bill O’Reilly, Jerry Doyle and Glenn Beck.

Meanwhile on CC’s other talker -- KTHH -- it will be wall to wall conservative yakking. The line-up will feature the first tier of right-wing talkers – Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Dennis Miller for comic relief. The rest of the daytime slots will be filled by conservative local talkers – Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo, Chris Baker, and Michael Berry, who is also CC’s Houston Operations Manager.

And rounding out the Houston right-wing trifecta is KNTH. This is a station for conservatives with a Texas sized appetite for right wing politics – for those talk radio listeners who need more than Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage, O’Reilly, Beck, Levin, Doyle, and Miller to get through the day.

Don’t look for a liberal on any of the other 120 talk radio stations in Texas. Those stations offer 20,160 hours per week of mostly conservative talk. In fact, conservatives fill 90% of slots on these stations, 9% are non-political talkers and 1% are those crazy libs on KOKE/1600 in Austin.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Suspect Arrested in Slaying of Talk Radio Host

The mystery surrounding the murder of former Seattle talk show host, Mike Webb, appears to be solved with the arrest yesterday of a homeless man, who used to be a room-mate of the troubled liberal talker.

According to the Seattle Post Intellingencer, Scott Brian White, 28 has apparently confessed to police that he committed the crime and is being held on $1 million bail for investigation of second-degree murder.

Evidence found at Webb's house "unequivocally tied White to the murder scene," court records said. White's friends told investigators that he admitted killing Webb, 52, and described details of how the slaying was committed that only the killer or someone present at the death would know.

Ironically, White’s arrest occurred on the same day that a memorial service was being held for Webb at St. Mark’s Cathedral. Seattle based blogger Michael Hood AKA Blatherwatch was attending the memorial service. Today, he attended the court hearing where White was charged with Webb’s murder.

Since Webb went missing in April, suspicions were circulated that the former KIRO/710 talk host had met with foul play. The sad saga was carefully reported in Blatherwatch, which covered the conviction of Webb for insurance fraud, followed by his dismissal by KIRO, and a 30-day stay in a psychiatric facility.

Despite the fact that his Seattle home was searched by police and family members, Webb’s body was not found until June 28 when a property manager made the grim discovery while cleaning out a crawl space.

Evidence found at Webb's house unequivocally tied White to the murder scene, according to court records. White had been a person of interest to police because he was using Webb's debit cards after his death.

Apparently, he lived with Webb until November, 2006. At that time, he was told to leave by Webb who had made an unsuccessful attempt to get White off drugs.

Webb is the second the liberal talk show host to be murdered. In 1984, Denver talk show host Alan Berg was gunned down by two right wing extremists. Berg’s tragic murder was memorialized in a chilling movie – Talk Radio.

Savage: "Free Speech for Me, Death for You"

At their annual gabfest in New York last month, Talkers Magazine bestowed their coveted Freedom of Speech Award to Michael Savage, whose syndicated talk show is carried on over 350 stations.

Savage enjoys speaking freely on his show and dishing out the red meat that his 3.75 million radio listeners love to hear. He has amassed a lavish record of on-air bigotry -- dismissing child victims of gunfire as "ghetto slime," referring to non-white countries as "turd world nations," calling homosexuality "perversion" and remarking that Latinos "breed like rabbits."

However, Savage doesn’t think some people deserve to have free speech. In fact, he apparently doesn’t think that some people even have the right to live. Like when he a told a gay caller to his short lived TV show on MSNBC "to get AIDs and die."

Well, the host of The Savage Nation has done it again. He was so angered by the behavior of a group of Hispanic students, who were conducting a hunger strike at San Jose State University that he told his listeners that they too should die. (not of AIDs but of starvation.)

According to Media Matters, on the July 5 broadcast of his radio show Savage discussed a recent hunger strike organized by students in the San Francisco area to show their support for The DREAM Act, a provision of the 2007 Comprehensive Immigration bill. The DREAM (or Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act would provide a pathway to citizenship and other benefits for certain illegal immigrants who entered the United States before the age of 16 if they graduate from high school and enroll in either college or the military. In discussing the students, Savage stated:

"I would say, let them fast until they starve to death then that solves the problem. Because then we won't have a problem about giving them green cards because they're illegal aliens, they don't belong here to begin with."

So let me understand, it’s okay for Savage to say all kinds of hateful things, on his radio show, for three hours a day and five days a week, but if someone else -- like the gay caller or this group of Hipanic students want to express their opinion they should just die. And this clown gets a "Freedom of Speech" award.

Could you imagine what would happen if a liberal talker expressed a similar sentiment. Randi Rhodes was pretty upset when Randall Terry held a sit-in at Terri Schiavo’s hospice. What would have happened if Rhodes said that Terry should be given a fatal dose of barbituates by Schiavo's nurses?

Or Stephanie Miller was outraged when a group of anti-gay Christians wanted to protest at the funerals of some of the Virginia Tech victims. Imagine if Stephanie said "too bad there isn’t someone around who would shoot them."

According to the San Jose Mercury News the two dozen Hispanic students, who were conducting the hunger strike are asking Savage’s syndicator, Talk Radio Network to fire him and are also asking for apologies from the radio stations that carry "The Savage Nation."

They have also posted a letter on the activist website articulating their outrage over Savage's death wish.

Little do they know that TRN, which specializes in right talk, is probably delighted with Savage’s comments. Also, they will not get any apologies from Savage or the managers of affiliated stations. In fact, Savage will probably string out this controversy as far as he can.

Afterall, he holds the Talkers Magazine Freedom of Speech Award.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Glenn Beck Stinks up CNN's Ratings

One of the arguments put forth by defenders of status quo in political talk radio, where there are 10 hours of conservative talk for every one hour of liberal talk, is the so-called liberal bias of the cable news channels.

The allegation, which has been made in numerous published comments on blogs over the past few weeks, was made by Paul Weyrich, CEO of the Free Congress Foundation in the National Ledger.

"In addition to dominating the network news, cable news (with the exception of Fox News) and much of the social agenda we see in television programming, the liberals want equal radio time – free equal radio time – to take on the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity."

Liberals dominate cable news!

Let’s not even talk about Fox Noise. However, is that why liberals get one hour of Keith Olbermann on MSNBC, offset by six hours of Joe Scarborough, Tucker Carlson, and Chris Matthews?

It sure isn’t because of the ratings. Olbermann’s show is the highest rated opinion show on MSNBC (it reaches 28% more homes than the number two show which is hosted by Scarborough)

Remember it was MSNBC that cancelled Phil Donahue’s show, which at the time was the news nets number one show and replaced it with Carlson’s show which is now in last place.

CNN isn’t any better. Liberals get no shows and right wingers like Nancy Grace and Glenn Beck get regular slots on Headline News and special appearances on CNN.

And what is this thing that CNN has for Beck? Despite the fact that his show on Headline News is the lowest rated political opinion show on network television, he was given the opportunity to replace the low-rated Paul Zahn on CNN last week. Well, the results are in and Beck has even done worse than Zahn!

"According to New Corpse, Beck’s HLN program averaged 139,400 viewers in the 25-54 demo the week prior to his CNN stint. Moving to the much more widely viewed CNN, he was only able to increase his audience by 1.7%. Even worse, he under-performed the teetering Paula Zahn by over 23%. Zahn, it should be noted, is rumored to be on the way out because of her lackluster ratings."

Beck’s performance stunk up CNN’s ratings so badly that the news net wound up in third place – behind MSNBC -- for the first time in over three months. The last time MSNBC won a week against CNN was in April, when it hosted the presidential debates in South Carolina.

Maybe the suits at CNN like Beck’s provocative style.Like when he said of the 9/11 widows:

"This is horrible to say, and I wonder if I'm alone in this—you know, it took me about a year to start hating the 9-11 victims' families? Took me about a year."

Or maybe it was the uncompassionate comment he said about some of the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

"All we're hearing about, are the people in New Orleans. Those are the only ones that we're seeing on television are the scumbags...It's just a small percentage of those who were left in New Orleans, or who decided to stay in New Orleans, and they're getting all the attention."

But then again, these comments were made on the radio, and we all know that talk radio is liberal free zone.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Right-Wing is Apoplectic About Radio Re-Regulation

Two weeks ago the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank and Free Press, a media reform group, issued a report called "The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio" confirming what we already knew – that conservative talk dominates political talk radio.

Since then, after the bi-partisan Immigration Bill went down to defeat in the Senate, several Senators attributed part of blame to right-wing talk radio and hinted that it may be time to consider the re-enactment of the Fairness Doctrine.

Ironically, this cabal of Senators included two Republicans:

Trent Lott (R-MS) told the New York Times on June 19th that "talk radio is running America. We have to deal with that problem," and George Voinovich (R-OH) said this about the Fairness Doctrine on Sean Hannity’s talk radio show.

"The Fairness Doctrine – I'm all for it, whatever it is. I think everyone should be open to show the other side. That's what you do every night on Fox. That's great!"

Then he hung up on Hannity

But it was comments by three leading Democrats that made the right-wing apoplectic.

First, Diane Feinstein (D-CA), when pressed by Chris Wallace of Fox Noise said, "talk radio tends to be one-sided. It also tends to be dwelling in hyperbole. It's explosive. It pushes people to, I think, extreme views without a lot of information."

Feinstein went on to say that she was reviewing the Fairness Doctrine because "talk radio is overwhelmingly one way."

Then Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) told The Hill, a political journal, "It’s time to re-institute the Fairness Doctrine."

"I have this old-fashioned attitude that when Americans hear both sides of the story, they’re in a better position to make a decision," Durban said.

Finally, one of the right-wing's least favorite Democratic Senators, John Kerry (D-MA) weighed in.

Kerry said he thought the doctrine should return. Calling it one of the "most profound changes in the balance of the media." He said "conservatives have been able to "squeeze down and squeeze out opinion of opposing views. I think it has been a very important transition in the imbalance of our public dialog."

Now the right-wing is fighting back. Fearful that the virtual monopoly that they enjoy on talk radio is being challenged, they have put together a fierce counter-attack.

First, they devoted considerable time on Fox Noise to the subject. The same Fox Noise that devotes less than 10% of its time to coverage of the war in Iraq found lots of time to cover the Fairness Doctrine flap.

In addition to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, it was a hot topic on Hannity and Colmes and the O’Reilly Factor.

The right wing blogosphere was inundated with posts about the liberal attacks on conservative talk radio. They compared the rumored return of Fairness Doctrine to the re-emergence of Communism. For a sampling of some of the hyperbole you can look here, here, and here.

Of course, it was also a hot topic on conservative talk radio. Rush blamed it on a campaign by "Stalinist-type people."

"These are people who are openly saying we are going to use the power of the federal government to silence you," Rush said "High government officials are trying to stifle speech, and it's not the first time."

Next to bashing the Immigration Bill, discussion about the Fairness Doctrine and liberal efforts to undermine the talk radio format have been the hottest topics on right-wing talk radio over the past two weeks.

But the highlight of their counter-attack occurred in the House of Representatives when Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN) attached an amendment to a spending bill that would prevented any future president or the Federal Communications Commission from reinstating the Fairness Doctrine.

Legislation similar to that proposed by Pence, (not surprisingly a former talk show host) is now being offered in the Senate.

The Democrats were not too concerned about Pence’s bill. If an effort to re-enact the Fairness Doctrine or stiffen radio regulations takes place, it won’t come unless a Democratic President is elected in 2008.

If that occurs, we would expect a Democratic led FCC to follow the recommendations of the CAP/FP report. The report does not call for re-enactment of the Fairness Doctrine, but rather revised ownership caps and tighter licensing requirements for radio stations owners. In an effort to moderate an FCC led by Democrats, the radio industry will magically find ways to offer more balance in scheduling political talk radio.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Who will be WFAN's New Morning Host -- Imus or Scarborough?

Depending on which "Post" writer you believe the new morning host on WFAN/660 in New York will either be Don Imus or Joe Scarborough.

Writing in their respective newspapers on Monday, Don Kaplan of the New York Post says it will be Imus and Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post suggests it might be Joe Scarborough.

In his article, Kaplan reported that Imus’ return to WFAN could be "just around the corner."

While celebrating the sports station's 20th anniversary last Friday, Imus pals Mike Francesa and Chris Russo, of "Mike and the Mad Dog," hinted that a deal to bring the crusty talk-radio cowboy back is in the works.

"When we return to our regular schedule this September, I hope the team will once again be complete," Francesa said.

A few minutes before that, longtime Imus co-host Charles McCord also made a cryptic comment about having "looked into the rearview mirror . . . and some objects were closer than they appear."

Meanwhile, Imus' lawyer, Martin Garbus, has reportedly been trying to use his client's threatened multimillion-dollar lawsuit against CBS Radio as leverage for reinstatement.

However,in article in Washington Post, Kurtz hints that not has Scarborough locked up the morning gig on MSNBC, but he might also have the inside track for morning slots on CBS Radio stations.
According to Kurtz' story MSNBC producers are finalizing the details for the launch of "Morning Joe" to permanently take over the 6 am – 9 am slot formerly occupied by the I-Man.

It’s ironic that MSNBC would pick Scarborough as the permanent replacement for Imus. Remember it was the shock jock’s racist and sexist remark about the Rutgers women’s basketball team (he called them "nappy headed hos") that resulted in the cancellation of both his syndicated radio show and cable TV simulcast.

After all, wasn't it Scarborough who joked about former senator Fred Thompson’s wife Jeri --asking whether the attractive Mrs. Thompson "works the pole" to stay in shape.

In any case, it appears that Scarborough's nightly show on MSNBC has been cancelled. The cable news network’s general manager, Dan Abrams, has been sitting in for Scarborough for the past two weeks and MSNBC will soon stop calling the show "Scarborough Country".

It appears that there might also be a radio strategy for Scarborough’s new show. According to Kurtz, CBS radio is considering carrying the "Morning Joe" show on some its talk radio stations.

So who gets on WFAN -- Imus or Scarborough?

Has Lib Talk Stopped the Bleeding?

Ten months ago the a small AM station in Palm Springs, CA became the 76th station on the air with a full-time liberal talk radio format.

Lib talk was on a roll. When KPTR/1340 flipped to lib talk on August 7, 2006 these stations were reaching more than 85 million potential radio listeners. From the introduction of Air America Radio in April, 2004 each month an average of 3.7 new stations switched to the lib talk format.

However, from that day onward, it has been all down hill for the format. In the past ten months 24 radio stations reaching 16 million potential radio listeners dropped lib talk. This represented an 18.8% decline in coverage. Most of the stations dropping lib talk offered weak signals and poor coverage.

The strange thing is that the vast majority of these stations have experienced a decline in ratings since flipping. So, it is with some optimism that we report the first new station to add lib talk in over ten months. Two weeks ago, KTAA/1490 went on the air with a format featuring mostly AAR talk hosts. It is the first of a rumored six or seven new stations that may be launching lib talk in the next few weeks.

June is the first month since last September where the format did not lose ground. (The gain in Atlantic City was offset by the loss of AAR affiliate WLVP/870 in Portland, ME.)

Actually, you could say that lib talk actually gained ground since there are 75,000 more radio listeners in the Atlantic City market.