Saturday, March 12, 2011

Radio Broadcaster Talks About Japan Earthquake

The Saturday Aircheck

Scoped airchecks of 98 WCAU-FM from February 23 - 27, 1982 featuring Glenn Kalina, Terry "Motor Mouth" Young, Bob Garrett, Todd Parker.

This was the top station in Philly back then and this crew had a hold on
teenagers with a huge following.

Today the station is Classic Hits WOGL.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Obama: No Sense Defunding Public Broadcasting

"These aren't really budget items; these are political statements"

President Obama defended public broadcasting from cuts on Friday, emphasizing that defunding networks like NPR and PBS would do little to rein in spending, according to a story by Michael O'Brien at

As Republicans in Congress hope to defund government assistance to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which in turn supports NPR and PBS stations, Obama said the cuts make little sense.

"I think it's going to be important for us to have a conversation after we get the short-term budget done, about how do we really tackle the problem in a comprehensive way," Obama said at a press conference on Friday.

"And that means not just going after Head Start or Corporation for Public Broadcasting. That's not where the money is," he added.

Republicans included in their continuing resolution to fund government the rest of this year provisions that would severely cut support for public broadcasting. Calls to defund those networks have only intensified after a conservative activist's video emerged this week showing a former NPR executive referring to the Tea Party movement in harsh terms.

Democrats, in turn, have accused Republicans of trying to defund "Sesame Street," the popular children's program on PBS.

Obama, commenting earlier in his press conference on the spending fight in Congress, urged lawmakers to steer clear of including political statements — like defunding CPB — as part of their measure to fund government the rest of this fiscal year.

"These aren't really budget items; these are political statements," Obama said.
Read more here. Adds Recommendations Feature has added another layer of personalization with its Recommendations feature, which creates a customized list of recommended reading, pointing users to additional Times content of interest based on what the user has recently read on

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For additional information about NYTimes Recommendations, read the FAQ.

Memphis Personality 'Bad Dog' Passes

Loses battle with leukemia
Longtime Rock 103, 102.7 FM WEGR radio personality John "Bad Dog" McCormack died shortly after 4 p.m. Thursday at Methodist University Hospital after he was admitted to the hospital's intensive care unit in critical condition earlier in the day, according to Michael Lollar at the Commercial Appeal in Memphis.

McCormack, 55, was diagnosed with leukemia in 2009 and underwent a bone marrow transplant. He had relapsed and had been re-admitted to the hospital before his condition worsened Thursday.

His WEGR-FM radio partner Tim Spencer posted a message from McCormack on the station's website. He said the words were written by McCormack to be published in the event of his death:
"I have gone to be with God, and he is holding me tightly and I am surrounded by many of the Ronald McDonald House kids. Do not say you have lost a friend. One is only lost when you don't know where they are. You know where I am.

"I thank each and every one of you for your support and prayers. I love all of you and that will never go away . . . None of us is guaranteed tomorrow, make every day great, be the spiritual leader of your family. May peace be with you. Your friend, Bad Dog."
McCormack had been on the air with Spencer Wednesday as part of their new afternoon program, "Bad Dog and Tim."

Read more here.

Another NPR Sting Video Released

Senior Director of NPR Betsy Liley says she may be able to shield from a govt audit $5m donation from a reporter posing as a donor from Muslim Brotherhood front group.

Liley was placed on administrative leave, along with Ron Schiller, on Tuesday, after the first video was released.

RI Governor Breaks Talk Radio Silence

Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee ended his talk radio silence appearing on the Dan Yorke Show Thursday afternoon on 630 AM WPRO, Providence.

The appearance marked his first visit to WPRO since the Governor declared a talk radio ban at the inception of his administration.

"I was driving on the Wampanoag Trail and I thought I'd come in and get my chops busted", the Governor joked upon his arrival.

Mr. Chafee insists the ban, that drew national attention, was meant to allow his administration time to get its feet on the ground in preparing this year's budget. He called the characterization of his administration's silence a miscommunication which he took responsibility for.

The Governor also said his comments calling for advertisers to pull their ads from talk radio were not directed at WPRO, but rather at national programs.

Read more here.

NPR Funding Feud Is Talk of The Nation

Ron Schiller may have done more harm to NPR than the tea party ever could, according to Aaron Barnhart of The Kansas City Star.

Schiller, the NPR executive caught speaking all too freely in a hidden-camera sting, not only lost his current job but the one at the Aspen Institute he’d lined up for later this year. That was his punishment for saying that members of the tea party were “white, Middle America, gun-toting” and “pretty scary.”

But Schiller also let slip that, in his view, NPR would be better off without federal funds.

Was he right?

As the reverberations from the undercover operation continued Wednesday with the resignation of NPR’s chief executive, Vivian Schiller, those comments by Ron Schiller (no relation) restarted the debate over whether the government should be in the media business.

“This disturbing video makes clear that taxpayer dollars should no longer be appropriated to NPR,” Rep. Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, declared in an e-mail to the online site Daily Caller.

If Cantor gets his way, and the odds are long, taxpayer dollars would be cut off from not only NPR but all other public media, including radio and TV stations. The cuts are part of the continuing budget resolution that Cantor and other Republican leaders have authored.

In response, stations such as Kansas City’s KCUR-FM have for weeks been barraging listeners with on-air announcements about the possible imminent demise of public broadcasting. The announcements urge people to visit a website that highlights the benefits of nonprofit journalism, arts programming and other content that are the specialty of public media.

Read more here.

Also Must Read:

TIME:  The NPR-Elitist-Funding Battle: Mostly, Not About NPR or Elites

AOL Confirms Layoffs

Changes in editorial focus
Just days after closing its deal with the Huffington Post, AOL has confirmed that it will lay off hundreds of staffers.

A company spokesperson told Don Reisinger of CNET in a phone interview today that 200 people will be laid off in the U.S. The majority of those employees will come from the editorial side of AOL's operation, while the remaining employees are in other divisions. In addition, AOL will layoff 700 people in India. Approximately 300 of those people, however, will move to other companies and continue working on AOL support functions, like finance and operations.

The layoffs at AOL were prompted by the company's recent acquisition of the Huffington Post for $315 million. Earlier this week, AOL closed the deal and officially integrated the publication with AOL Media and AOL Local to create the Huffington Post Media Group. Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington heads up that division as president and editor in chief.

In the acquisition, AOL took on the publication's staffers, leading AOL to make room by laying off some of its employees.

Looking ahead, AOL plans on expanding its editorial staff, the spokesperson said. However, in doing so, it will start moving away from a reliance on freelance journalists and hire more in-house editorial employees.
Read more here.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Goodbye Jack, Hello Eddie and Bobo

Chicago radio personalities Ed Volkman and Joe Bohannon are returning to WJMK-FM (104.3), which is switching its format, according to Lewis Lazare Media & Marketing Columnist at

At 1:04 p.m. Monday, CBS Radio Chicago’s WJMK-FM (104.3) will switch to a new format featuring classic hits from the 1960s, ‘70’s and ‘80s that management believes will improve the station’s ratings. The well-known radio duo are returning to the CBS Radio Chicago fold to anchor WJMK’s new morning show from 5:30 to 10 a.m.

Eddie and Jobo, as they are more familiarly known, were famously dumped from CBS Radio Chicago’s Top 40 WBBM-FM (96.3) three years ago to cut costs when the economic downturn hit the radio industry hard. The duo also had outgrown B-96’s core 18- to 34-year-old audience demo.

At the time of their exit from WBBM-FM Volkman and Bohannon were part of the city’s elite corps of so-called “million dollar mouths” — on-air talent that earned a million dollars or more a year for their services.

CBS Radio Chicago market manager Rod Zimmerman wouldn’t discuss terms of WJMK’s deal with Volkman and Bohannon, but their new salaries are believed to be considerably less than a million dollars a year.

Joining Eddie and Jobo at WJMK will be Bo Reynolds, another former WBBM-FM jock who had a show there from 1987 to 1990. Reynolds will anchor afternoon drive from 3 p.m to 8 p.m.

Another WBBM-FM alumnus, Gary Spears will host mid-days on the WJMK from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. starting March 21. Broadway Bill Lee, a talent from New York, will fill in until Spears starts. Spears was on air at B96 from 1982 to 1984 and again from 1990 to 1994. Zimmerman said another host will be named soon to anchor WJMK’s evening show starting at 8 p.m.

Read more here.

Orlando Murder Trial Big Event For HLN

When it comes to Casey Anthony trial coverage, Scot Safon will be one of the most important figures determining what viewers see, according to  Hal 'The TV Guy' Boedeker at

Safon is executive vice president of HLN. He oversees the channel whose Nancy Grace and Jane Velez-Mitchell have devoted many hours to the case of the Orlando mother accused of first-degree murder in the death of her daughter Caylee.

Safon also oversees “In Session,” which will provide pool coverage of the trial and airs on truTV.

“We oversee the cameras in the courtroom,” Safon said. “When there’s a major trial that has cameras in the courtroom it becomes a big initiative for us. In mid-May, two trials that we’re very focused on, Casey Anthony and Conrad Murray, will be happening simultaneously. We didn’t expect that.”

Viewers can expect expanded daily coverage from HLN when the Anthony trial starts in May, although Safon wasn’t ready to share details. But he did say HLN will move between the Anthony case and the trial of Murray, who is charged with involuntary manslaughter in singer Michael Jackson’s death.

Boedeker talked to Safon Wednesday.

Read more here.

Cumulus Strikes Deal for Citadel

Cumulus Media agreed on Thursday to buy the Citadel Broadcasting Corporation in a cash-and-stock deal that values Citadel at about $2.5 billion, including debt, according to Dealbook at

 The agreement ends months of stalking by Cumulus, which had made several bids for its larger rival that were rejected. In February, however, the two radio station operators began negotiating after Cumulus raised its offer to $37 a share.

“We believe this transaction appropriately reflects the value of the company’s assets and is in the best interests of Citadel stockholders,” Farid Suleman, Citadel’s chief executive, said in a statement.

Together, the two companies would own 572 stations across the country, representing eight of the top 10 markets. Cumulus said it expected to achieve cost savings of $1.50 to $2 a share by combining the two companies.

“We’ll have the national scope and financial strength necessary to make critical investments in content and technology necessary to compete in today’s rapidly evolving media landscape,” Lew Dickey, chairman and chief executive of Cumulus, said in a statement. “I look forward to working together with our 4,000 new team members to build Cumulus into a dynamic and nationwide local media company.”

Under the terms of the deal, Citadel shareholders can choose to receive up to $30 a share in cash, with the rest paid out in stock. Depending on how much stock Citadel’s shareholders opt to take, they could end up owning between 30 percent and 51 percent of the combined company.

Cumulus plans to refinance the debt of the two companies, drawing on as much as $500 million in investments from Crestview Partners and Macquarie Capital and about $3 billion in debt financing.

The deal is expected to close by the end of the year, pending approval by regulators and Citadel shareholders.

Read more here.

Also Must Read:


MN Gov. Says 'No Thanks' To WCCO

No radio show for Dayton; Gov. nixes offers

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said Tuesday he has rejected all five proposals for a weekly radio show like his predecessors had, the Business Journal reports.

Well, the offers weren't exactly like the ones his predecessors got. 830 AM WCCO hosted hour-long shows at 9 a.m. Fridays with Minnesota governors for Jesse Ventura and Tim Pawlenty.

For Dayton, the station offered 7 a.m. on Saturdays and four minutes at 6:20 a.m. on Fridays — "the radio equivalent of garbage time," as MinnPost media blogger David Brauer put it. WCCO execs disputed that assessment and said they were surprised that Dayton turned them down.

Dayton also rejected proposals from Minnesota News Network, KFAI-FM and JR Broadcasting.

Radio Talker Ed Schultz Admits Using Phony Phoners

‘Fake Callers’ Coached by Congressional Dems

Schultz’s shocking admissions comes as a George Soros-funded publication baselessly accuses conservative radio titans Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck of the same practice.  All three hosts flatly deny the accusations.

Report: Katie Couric Pursuing Syndicated Talk Show

Zucker, Couric
With Katie Couric's contract set to expire in early June, the anchor is closing in on a decision about whether to stay at CBS News at a reduced salary or try to stake a claim in daytime TV, according to Thursday's issue of The Hollywood Reporter.

Couric has entered the window in which she can entertain offers. While no decision regarding her future has been made, the anchor is working on a potential syndicated show, which could involve her friend and former NBC boss Jeff Zucker, according to two sources familiar with Couric's plans. She is believed to have already begun conversations with Time Warner, NBCUniversal and her current employer, CBS, about the potential next act.

Each of these entities offers a powerful syndication arm as well as a news outlet, which is said to be a particularly appealing, if not necessary, combination for Couric. (Time Warner is home to CNN and Telepictures; CBS has CBS Sunday Morning and 60 Minutes as well as a syndication division; NBCUniversal owns MSNBC and a syndie arm.) NBC, Telepictures and CBS declined comment; Zucker did not respond.

If Couric were to move forward with a syndie show -- which is a "strong likelihood," according to one source -- it would premiere in fall 2012. That would make staying with the news through the next election, as many had predicted, impossible. Couric would have a news presence of some sort, be it on CBS or elsewhere, in the interim.

While a syndicated show wouldn't guarantee Couric an upfront $15 million the way her CBS News contract does, it would have the potential to be as lucrative -- if not more -- in success, given that she would be a profit participant.

Read more here.

Kansas City Radio Legend Mike Murphy Dies

Kansas City radio broadcaster Mike Murphy died in his home Wednesday evening, according to KMBC-TV.

KMBC-TV's Larry Moore and Micheal Mahoney confirmed Murphy's death at about 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Murphy died from an undisclosed illness. Friends told KMBC he had been in poor health.

He retired in 2004 from radio station KCMO 710 AM.

A fixture on the radio waves of Kansas City, Murphy was a well-known broadcaster who worked for several stations.

He was known for his radio talk program that featured local celebrities, entertainers touring Kansas City and oddball guests. Murphy delighted audiences with his frequent programs dealing with one of his obsessions: unidentified flying objects.

He had some of the nation's leading experts in the field on his radio programs many times.

Murphy made a mark on Kansas City by helping establish the modern Kansas City St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Murphy and a good friend, Danny Hogarty, complained to themselves and on the radio that Kansas City needed a St. Pat's Parade. As a publicity stunt in 1974, Murphy, Hogarty and some other friends marched around the downtown block where Hogarty's bar was located. Hogarty wore a homemade sandwich sign that said on the front "Parade Starts Here." On the back it read, "Parade Ends Here."

The publicity from the event eventually led to the creation of a permanent St. Patrick's Day Parade that is the largest single day celebration in Kansas City.

Read more here.

Video Kills the Radio Chief

CEO Is Second NPR Exec to Resign Following Sting Operation

The head of National Public Radio quit under fire as the organization became ensnared in a fresh scandal at a time when Congress is debating whether to pull its government funding.

Vivian Schiller, president and chief executive of NPR since January 2009, stepped down just hours after a video showed the head of NPR's fund-raising arm making disparaging remarks about the Republican Party and tea-party activists to men posing as prospective donors, and suggesting NPR would be better off without government funding. That executive quit Tuesday.

According to a story by Russell Adams and Danny Yadron at, the pressure on NPR intensified Wednesday as the conservative activist behind the video, James O'Keefe, said he planned to release additional damaging materials about the radio network on Thursday.

NPR Chairman Dave Edwards said the scandal had become such a distraction that "it hindered Vivian Schiller's ability to lead the organization going forward." That opinion was not shared by Ms. Schiller, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The board ultimately decided she needed to resign.

Read more here.

Also Must Read:

NPR ombudsman - Ron Schiller fired for being ‘unprofessional,’ NPR staff ‘angry’ at top management

Breitbart On NPR Sting

Andrew Breitbart discusses the latest NPR scandal, and whether the tactics used were over the line.

Also Must Read:

RUSH LIMBAUGH: O'Keefe Hits NPR Grand Slam

Juan Williams: NPR An "All White Operation"

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Buffalo TV Exec Sentenced Over Beheading

Erie County, New York Court Judge Thomas Franczyk sentenced Muzzammil "Mo" Hassan this morning to the maximum sentence of 25 years to life for the brutal murder of his wife, Aasiya, in the couple's Orchard Park television studio two years ago, according to

"Justice demands that you receive nothing less than the maximum possible sentence," the judge said.

The sentence was not unexpected by lawyers following the case, given the brutal nature of the killing and Hassan's lack of remorse throughout his often bizarre 14-day trial.

Hassan, 46, was convicted of luring his wife to the couple's Orchard Park television studio on Feb. 12, 2009, then coming upon her from behind in a darkened hallway, stabbing her more than 40 times with two hunting knives, then cutting her head off.

Since Hassan's conviction, he has continued to write letters from jail expressing his ongoing belief that he -- not his wife -- suffered from battered spouse syndrome and that on the night of the murder he "broke down under years of abuse."

Though police, child protection agencies and medical professionals were aware of the family's domestic troubles and abuse suffered by Aasiya, Hassan was never previously arrested and Aasiya refused to press charges against him.

She did, however, seek orders of protection and filed for divorce the week before she was killed.

Read more here.

NPR CEO Vivian Schiller Resigns Over Video Sting

WSJ Photo
NPR President and CEO Vivian Schiller has resigned.

This follows yesterday's news that then-NPR fundraiser Ron Schiller (no relation) was videotapped slamming conservatives and questioning whether NPR needs federal funding during a lunch with men posing as members of a Muslim organization (they were working with political activist James O'Keefe on a "sting.") is reporting Vivian Schiller quickly condemned Ron Schiller's comments, and he moved up an already-announced decision to leave NPR and resigned effectively immediately.

But Ron Schiller's gaffe followed last fall's dismissal of NPR political analyst Juan Williams, for which Vivian Schiller came under harsh criticism.

NPR sent this statement from NPR Board of Directors Chairman Dave Edwards to its staff and member stations:

"It is with deep regret that I tell you that the NPR Board of Directors has accepted the resignation of Vivian Schiller as President and CEO of NPR, effective immediately.

"The Board accepted her resignation with understanding, genuine regret, and great respect for her leadership of NPR these past two years.

"Vivian brought vision and energy to this organization. She led NPR back from the enormous economic challenges of the previous two years. She was passionately committed to NPR's mission, and to stations and NPR working collaboratively as a local-national news network.

"According to a CEO succession plan adopted by the Board in 2009, Joyce Slocum, SVP of Legal Affairs and General Counsel, has been appointed to the position of Interim CEO. The Board will immediately establish an Executive Transition Committee that will develop a timeframe and process for the recruitment and selection of new leadership.

"I recognize the magnitude of this news – and that it comes on top of what has been a traumatic period for NPR and the larger public radio community. The Board is committed to supporting NPR through this interim period and has confidence in NPR's leadership team."

Also See:

MC:  Juan Williams Fired Up Over NPR Sting

MC: NPR "Apalled" At Fundraiser's Comments

MC: Caught On Video NPR Exec Bashes Conservatives, 'Tea Party'

MC: NPR's Schiller Asks 'What Liberal Bias'?

'Golden-voiced' Ted Williams: 'It was too much, too fast'

UPDATE: Ted Williams said Wednesday that the pressures of his overnight ascent from homelessness to fame caused him to lose his fragile sobriety, but now he’s staying sober with the help of a rehab community.

Learning To Love New Media

Everyone from President Obama to Ted Koppel is bemoaning a decline in journalistic substance, seriousness, and sense of proportion. But the author James Fallows, a longtime advocate of these values, takes a journey through the digital-media world and concludes there isn’t any point in defending the old ways.

Consumer-obsessed, sensationalist, and passionate about their work, digital upstarts are undermining the old media—and they may also be pointing the way to a brighter future.

Read more here.

Challenges Of Covering A Changing China

There's a revolution quietly struggling to find roots in China, and a legion of foreign journalists quietly struggling to tell the rest of the world about it. Covering public discontent on the Chinese mainland -- just like covering any other story which could possibly be construed in a negative light by the ruling Communist Party -- is difficult, at best.

Chinese police explicitly warned foreign media not to show up at spots anonymously designated for weekly protests, threatening to take away their work permits and dole out other, unspecified punishments if they ignored the order.

But CBS News, like many other Western news outlets, has tried to bring the news from China to our audience at home.

In a special report for, correspondent Celia Hatton details the daily challenges of reporting news from a country where the flow of information is still far from free:

Juan Williams Fired Up Over NPR Sting

Former NPR commentator Juan Williams spoke exclusively to about the NPR sting video, which captured NPR senior executive Ron Schiller in a bigoted and revealing rant about conservatives, Jews and the American taxpayer. “This was an act of incredible condescension,” said Williams. “The rank hypocrisy of his remarks was telling for me. They will say things to your face about how there’s no liberal orthodoxy at NPR, how they play it straight, but now you see it for what it is. They prostitute themselves for money.”

Williams said Schiller’s remarks about the Jews dominating the newspaper industry was “outright anti-Semitism,” and labeling Tea Party members “gun-toting” “racists” reveals “their real feelings.” This is how they talk in boardrooms and editorial meetings, explained Williams. “This is how they really feel.”

Ex-AP Reporter Nears Profit After Starting a Paper

Former Associated Press reporter Dan Robrish learned many valuable lessons when he started a newspaper from scratch in a small south central Pennsylvania borough one year ago.

According to writer Deena Higgs Neand at Editor&Publisher, the most critical: Wrap up personal stuff before you print that first issue because after that, the newspaper will consume your life.

Robrish, the fedora-wearing, jovial publisher of The Elizabethtown Advocate who would rather walk around the 2.6-square-mile town than drive, said he's close to profitability. That's welcome news to the 39-year-old single guy who sunk his life savings ($25,000), drained his retirement account, and reluctantly borrowed from Mom and Dad to start the 600-circulation, six-page broadsheet last February.

His biggest issue has been getting a periodicals mailing permit that will slash distribution costs and allow him to print profitable legal notices. Because he didn't understand the intricacies of applying for the permit (and neither did Elizabethtown post office officials), Robrish spent months gaining paid subscribers for the application when he could have just applied under a "new launch" procedure.

"I ended up going through trial and error with a lot of error," Robrish said. "I think I'm going to be turning a profit finally."

Just 14 months ago, Robrish was living in downtown Philadelphia, covering the night breaking-news beat for the AP. That usually meant running out to murders, robberies, and accidents until the wee hours of the night. After 11 years, he'd had it.

"When you're 25 (years old), it's really exciting to be dealing with this big breaking news, but after a while, it's this unrelenting drumbeat of blood and gore," said Robrish, who now lives behind his Elizabethtown office in a converted beauty parlor. "I don't miss it at all."

Friends and family thought Robrish was nuts to start a paid circulation newspaper in such uncertain times. But he had always wanted to be his own boss. He chose the 12,000-population Elizabethtown in part because it had a stop on Amtrak (he didn't have a car and neither did his friends), and the area had recession-proof businesses (a college, a retirement community, and a chocolate factory). More importantly, the area was hungry for a local newspaper. It hadn't had one since The Elizabethtown Chronicle closed in late February 2009, a result of the Journal Register Co.'s bankruptcy filing.

Read more here.

Facebook A Top Cause Of Relationship Trouble

Lawyers: site becoming source of evidence

When Facebook gets involved, relationships can quickly fall apart – as Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Gaddafi have discovered. But dictatorships are not the only ties being dissolved by social networking sites: now Facebook is increasingly being blamed for undermining American marriages, according to a story by Richard Adams, Washington DC reporter for

Even though the rate of divorce in the US has remained largely stable in recent years, American divorce lawyers and academics have joined Middle East analysts in picking out Facebook as a leading cause of relationship trouble, with American lawyers now demanding to see their clients' Facebook pages as a matter of course before the start of proceedings.

"We're coming across it more and more. One spouse connects online with someone they knew from school. The person is emotionally available and they start communicating through Facebook," said Dr Steven Kimmons, a clinical psychologist and marriage counsellor at Loyola University Medical Centre near Chicago.

Yet while the US media has been quick to trumpet any evidence of Facebook as the country's leading marriage-wrecker, the truth is "It's complicated," as the site's relationship status would have it.

Read more here.

Report: The Mob Is Turning on Crowdsourcing

"Crowdsourcing" powers sites like The Huffington Post and Wikipedia. But not for much longer, according to John R. Quain in a posting at

Quain writes readers are becoming skeptical, web searches are starting to block them, and now the mob of unpaid folks responsible for much of the work is turning on the hand that fails to feed it, demanding  -- shock, horror! -- to be paid.

Imagine that.

Originally hyped using marketing buzzwords like "user generated content" and "crowdsourcing," the basic idea was simple: Convince people online to submit free information (reviews, song listings, citizen journalism reports, etc.), and then collect it all and sell it to advertisers and gullible investors. It was catnip to website developers: virtually no capital investment and pure profit.

But there are flies buzzing in the crowdsourcing pool.

Readers increasingly regard such sites as notoriously inaccurate, irrelevant and generally suspect. Restaurant reviews in Yelp may be posted by relatives of restaurateurs -- or competitors. Company profiles in Wikipedia may be written by the business' own PR department. And so-called citizen journalists at The Huffington Post may be publishing material that's actually written by marketing pros spinning "news" stories.

Indeed, HuffPo founder Arianna Huffington recently admitted as much, saying that her contributing authors are like those who appear on talk shows simply to promote their own books and movies.

The problem has also caught the attention of the world's search engine, Google. It launched a counterattack last week, changing its algorithm to kill listings from what it determines are content farms or "low-quality" sites.

Bad news indeed for crowdsourced news.

An even more threatening groundswell may be underway. Some of the unpaid, unappreciated volunteers supplying all this free content are going on strike. Many have become disillusioned with others taking credit for their work. Some have simply become bored (witness the decline in the number of volunteer editors working on Wikipedia). Still others have begun to resent the fact that their gratis work is lining the pockets of the owners of sites like The Huffington Post.

Read more here.

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell Is TV’s Iron Woman

At a time in her life when many of her contemporaries are trading in their press passes for a ticket to retirement’s easy street, NBC’s ageless whirlwind, Andrea Mitchell, is stepping it up, accordinh to Paul Bedard's Washington Whispers blog at

The network’s chief foreign affairs correspondent, who also hosts the hour-long Andrea Mitchell Reports daily on MSNBC, has been in her element during the Middle East crisis, starting many mornings at 7 on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and NBC’s Today, and signing off after 9 p.m. following her NBC Nightly News hit and perhaps an appearance on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show. “These are ridiculous hours,” she says, “but I guess I just love what I do.”

But the question is: How, at 64, does she outrun competitors and look like she’s just arrived for her Oscar red carpet glamor walk? Mostly it’s the rush of adrenaline—and Starbucks. “You never stop . . . it’s now absolutely really 24-7,” says Mitchell, who received the National Press Foundation’s Sol Taishoff Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism this week.

There are tricks, and physical fitness is key, says the stylish Mitchell. Like many gym rats, she’s a fan of the results, not what it takes to get them. When she’s not on the air, she hits the free weights and treadmill with her trainer at 7 a.m. But asked her favorite exercise, she concedes, “I hate it all.”
Read more here.

Sarah Ferguson Took Money From Sex Offender

Dutchess of York apologizes for accepting money from Jeffrey Epstein

No stranger to scandal, Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson has landed herself in some hot water – again.

AFP/Rex photo
According to a story by Cristina Everett at, Ferguson, who is the ex-wife of Prince Andrew, has apologized for taking money from U.S. businessman Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender and pedophile who spent 18 months in jail for soliciting an underage prostitute in 2008.

The disgraced Duchess, who received a loan of about $24,500 from Epstein, says she was unaware of the man's criminal history. She claims she wasn't directly involved with the transaction as the payment was made through her ex's office.

"I personally, on behalf of myself, deeply regret that Jeffrey Epstein became involved in any way with me," Ferguson, 51, told the Evening Standard. "I abhor pedophilia and any sexual abuse of children and know that this was a gigantic error of judgment on my behalf."

"I am just so contrite I cannot say," she added. "Whenever I can I will repay the money and will have nothing ever to do with Jeffrey Epstein ever again."

Read more here.

Also Must Read

Katie Couric, George Stephanopoulos Party at Home of Convicted Pedophile, Pimp

Television's Senior Moment

As Audiences Get Older, So Do the Characters

In CBS's new cop show "Blue Bloods," Tom Selleck, at the age of 66, plays a New York police commissioner. Kathy Bates, at 62, snagged the lead role in NBC's legal series "Harry's Law." And 62-year-old rocker Steven Tyler is fast becoming the crowd's favorite judge on his first season on Fox's "American Idol."

Television is starting to act its age, reports Amy Chozick at

For decades the TV industry has operated on a currency of youth, creating shows that appeal to 18- to 49-year-olds, the age group advertisers traditionally consider most likely to buy new products, switch brands and spend on everything from cars to soft drinks. But as the nearly 80 million baby boomers continue to age out of the coveted demographic—the oldest boomers are turning 65 this year, the youngest 47—networks want to charge advertisers more to reach them. After all, these viewers still watch a disproportionate amount of TV, and they control half of all U.S. consumer spending.

From Ed O'Neill's patriarch on ABC's "Modern Family" to 51-year-old Hugh Laurie on Fox's "House," boomers' influence can be seen in programming. On "NCIS," TV's No. 1 drama with an average viewer age of 57, strapping young naval investigators turn to wise 59-year-old Mark Harmon for advice.

Network executives' pitch to advertisers is that the current crop of aging viewers isn't like previous generations, who were winding down their spending at 55. This group buys iPads, redecorates, splurges on vacations and postpones retirement. "People still think of their grandparents when they were 60 wearing comfort shoes and baggy chinos," says Alan Wurtzel, NBC Universal's president of research. "These guys are just fundamentally different."

Read more here.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

NPR "Appalled" By Fundraiser Exec's Comments

NPR was jolted Tuesday by the release of a videotape that showed one of the organization’s fund-raising executives repeatedly criticizing Republicans and Tea Party supporters, acrroding to a story by Brian Stetler at

The executive, Ronald Schiller, was recorded secretly by the Republican filmmaker and mischief-maker James O’Keefe. On the videotape, Mr. Schiller tells people posing as Muslim philanthropists that the Republican party has been “hijacked” by the Tea Party and that Tea Party supporters are “seriously racist, racist people.” Mr. Schiller indicates that he is sharing his personal point of view, not NPR’s.

Dana Davis Rehm, a spokeswoman for NPR, said in a statement Tuesday:
“We are appalled by the comments made by Ron Schiller in the video, which are contrary to what NPR stands for.”
The release of the video comes at a sensitive time for NPR. Republicans in Congress who view NPR as biased are trying to cut federal funding for its local stations across the country. Some quickly seized on the video as further evidence of their views and further reason to reduce funding for the stations. Doug Lamborn, Republican of Colorado, told the Washington Examiner that the video showed “condescension and arrogance.”

On the secretly recorded video, Mr. Schiller, whose job is to solicit non-federal funding for NPR, says it is “very clear” that the organization would be “better off in the long-run without federal funding.” He adds, “The challenge right now is that if we lost it all together, we would have a lot of stations go dark.”

For an edited version of the video, see earlier posting by clicking here.

Schiller announced last week that he has accepted a job at the Aspen Institute. The nonprofit announced in an internal memo obtained by the Times: "There is no connection between the video and his decision to leave NPR," adding that the position is closer to his home in Colorado.

Read more here.

Also Must Read:

In Video: NPR Exec Slams Tea Party, Questions Need For Federal Funds

Sheen Shown Waving Machete

Now officially fired from Two and a Half Men as of Monday, Charlie Sheen is gearing up for his confrontation with Warner Bros.

In a text to PEOPLE, Sheen writes: "Put yourself in my shoes for one warlock nanosecond. At some point there is nothing to say. Only war to wage … The winds are howling tonight. The gods are hungry. The beast is alive. And awake. And deadly."

He's also reaching for a new weapon – a machete.

After encountering paparazzi after a business meeting to discuss merchandising with Live Nation in Beverly Hills Monday, Sheen – accompanied by one of his so-called "Goddesses," Natalie Kenley – made his way to the roof of the building, reached into his suit jacket, whipped out his large, shiny blade and frantically waved it in the air.

Read more here.

Meanwhile, in page after page of damning language, the producers of Two of and Half Men justify firing Charlie Sheen by painting the actor as a self-destructive, sick addict who's deteriorating mentally and physically while scorning those who have tried to help him.

In an unusually personal appeal, an attorney for Warner Bros. Television tells the actor's lawyer in a letter that those close to the star should "focus your energies on what no one so far has been able to do: get your client the sustained, rigorous and effective treatment he so urgently needs.

"It is clear that [Sheen] has no intention of agreeing to the intensive evaluation and treatment that his condition requires," says the letter. "It is also clear he does not believe he has a problem and that he will continue to conduct himself in a destructive manner."

Read more here.

Also Must Read:

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: Networks Defend Coverage of Charlie Sheen

Caught On Tape: NPR Execs Bash Conservatives

A new undercover video was released today showing two people believed to be a National Public Radio executives.  The video was released by filmaker James O'Keefe and shows NPR's Ron Schiller and Betsy Lily.  Schiller is an NPR Senior Executive and Lily is NPR's director of institutional giving.

The two are seen meeting with two men posing as members of a Muslim Brother fron Group.  At one point Schiller is heard saying,  “The current Republican Party, particularly the Tea Party, is fanatically involved in people’s personal lives and very fundamental Christian – I wouldn’t even call it Christian. It’s this weird evangelical kind of move.”

The NPR execs also discuss their federal funding, Fanatical Christians, Zionists in the media, Tea Partiers, Republicans, Uneducated Americans and Juan Williams.

Public TV Advocate: GOP Will Help Protect Funding

The chief executive of the Association of Public Television Stations (APTS) believes Republicans are likely to support federal funding for public media, according to Sara Jerome at

Patrick Butler said private discussions with GOP members have revealed that it's not just the Democrats who want to maintain taxpayer funding for radio and television stations.

"Republicans in both the House and the Senate want to stand with us and give us a good result in the end," Butler said in an interview with The Hill, declining to name specific lawmakers.

"It's not going to be a unanimous vote, but I do think if there ever comes an up-or-down vote on public broadcasting itself, we'll wind up with a bipartisan majority in favor of continuing our funding," he said.
He added: "I'm not sure at what level."

Though Butler says he is "optimistic," spending taxpayer money on NPR and PBS has not exactly attracted a lineup of vocal Republican advocates in the 112th.

Read more here.

Rush: "We Don't Hire Actors to Call This Program"

RUSH LIMBAUGH on Monday's show:
"Let me take care of some housecleaning here.  Inside Baseball stuff.  There was this story that's now attaching itself in depth to the blogosphere that Premiere Radio Networks hires actors to call radio talk shows essentially defrauding you, the unsuspecting duped audience.  So I read this over the weekend and said, "What the heck is this now?"  We don't have actors on this program.  We don't take enough calls on this program, and certainly are not gonna pay anybody to call this program.  You talk about economics, we're certainly not gonna do that...

....In fact, one of the cardinal rules here from the get-go, nothing is staged on this program, ever.  People have come to me over the years with ideas.  Everybody wants to get in the act, and I have routinely shot it down.  It just doesn't happen.  No way.  Plus, pay for it?  We've got the best universe of potential callers in the country here, the largest audience ever. I mean to pay for this?  By the way, I don't care, some of the best calls we ever had, these wacko, looped-out liberals, I don't care how good an actor, I don't think we could duplicate this if we script it.  Some of this is beyond being scripted.  But I still can't figure out why Premiere did not specify -- they let it stand out there that this is all happening as part of their talk radio division, which it's not, at least not here.  And I can't believe that it's happening anywhere else.  You may not have seen this yet.  The story originally appeared in something called the Tablet magazine which calls itself "a new read on Jewish life."

Tablet magazine is a radical left-wing operation.  From Tablet magazine, here's one of the excerpts: "Michael Harrison, the editor of Talkers Magazine, the talk-radio world’s leading trade publication, said he knew nothing of this particular service but was not altogether surprised to hear that it was in place. There was, he said, a tradition of 'creating fake phone calls for the sake of entertainment on some of the funny shows, shock jocks shows.'"  That's exactly right, but not here, people doing pranks.  I would consider it an insult if somebody came to me and said, "Hey, we got a couple actors, we got a couple things that we want you to do here with people, actors pretending to be callers."  I mean that door would get slammed on somebody's nose and toes as fast as I've ever slammed a door.  For those of you who remember Rita X, why would we pay for that?  And I suggest to you that there's not an actor in the world that could pull that off.  This whole thing was originally published on the 11th of February.  I debated whether or not to even mention this today, you know, whether to even bring it up.  There's a lot of stuff going on out there, folks."
Read more here.

Sheen, Fired, Moves from TV to Twitter

Commentary: Warner Bros. has had enough of his antics

Charlie Sheen was fired Monday by Warner Bros., but isn’t going away — yet.

According to Jon Friedman's Media Web at, Warner Bros. Television said it fired Sheen after “careful consideration.”

Meanwhile, the embattled star of CBS' “Two and a Half Men” has snared his first Twitter sponsorship, the online site, The Wall Street Journal reported. The Journal noted that Sheen has had a powerful and conspicuous presence on Twitter since he introduced his account on March 1 with help from Los Angeles-based, a start-up that arranges social-media endorsements for prominent brands.

Sheen has attracted a great deal of attention from the media over his actions. “Saturday Night Live” opened the most recent show with a hilarious spoof of Sheen repeatedly reciting the catch phrase, “Winning!”

At the same time, he has caused observers to question his stability and recognition of his demons. Sheen has insisted that he has his life under control, despite a wild and crazy lifestyle.

It remains open to speculation whether the actor can ever rebuild his career in front of the camera. Sheen has remained a charismatic figure, and America loves a comeback. So, he still has a shot at redemption in Hollywood. He wouldn’t be the first troubled star who has turned it around.

Sheen has wooed more than 2 million followers, “setting a record for the fastest-growing Twitter account in history,” according to The Journal. Sheen tweeted on Monday: “I’m looking for hire a #Winning INTERN with #TigerBlood.”

Sheen, whose antics prompted CBS to pull the plug on the production of the remaining 2010-11 episodes of the popular comedy, has given television interview after interview in the hope of showing America that he is still relevant.

Read more here.

Monday, March 7, 2011

NPR's Schiller Asks Critics: What liberal bias?

NPR Chief Executive Vivian Schiller defended taxpayer funding for public broadcasting Monday and challenged critics to find any evidence of liberal bias in NPR's coverage.

According to a story by Sara Jerome at The Hill, Schiller said the accusation that public broadcasting has a liberal bias is just a "perception problem" that doesn't accurately reflect NPR's journalism.

"We are urban and rural ... red state and blue state," she said.

But Schiller also said the effort to cut public media dollars is linked to concern about the deficit and not being driven by the perception that NPR has a liberal tilt.

"I believe this is driven mostly by an attempt to find cuts to the deficit, and that is certainly understandable," she said.

Schiller's speech at the National Press Club comes amid a Republican push to slash public media from the federal budget.

House and Senate Republicans are working to defund public media this year. Democrats have been vocal about defending public broadcasting, and President Obama did not make any cuts to public media in his fiscal year 2012 budget request.

Read more here.

Price Of Gas Is SiriusXM's Real Pandora's Box

Sirius XM is keeping an eye on prices at the pump

There's a grim reality at the pump. Gasoline prices are climbing with little relief in sight.
Oil closed at a 29-month high last week, and this is something that Sirius XM Radio shareholders can't ignore, writes Rick Aristotle Munarriz, The Motley Fool column at

It's not just about the obvious hit on disposable income. Higher gas prices encourage drivers to spend less time on the road. That's bad news for satellite radio, Garmin's GPS systems, General Motors OnStar subscriptions, or any other company relying on heavy auto usage to justify the expenditures.

If you're not driving as much as you used to, shelling out $15 a month for satellite radio becomes a less compelling value proposition.

Americans logged 3 trillion miles on the road last year, according to the U.S. Transportation Department. This is the highest tally since 2007, which capped off an impressive two-decade streak of increases. The recession obviously tripped up the auto industry after that, but it's hard to dismiss the spike in gasoline prices in 2008 as an important contributor.

The satellite radio industry suffered its only two quarters of sequential declines in subscribers during the first half of 2009. Is Sirius XM doomed if oil prices keep climbing given the unrest in the Middle East?

Let's get one thing out of the way: Sirius XM's stock isn't returning to its pocket-change prices. There are no bankruptcy concerns, and even a lull in subscriber growth is unlikely to derail Sirius XM's profitability.

Pain at the pump may also be a good thing for satellite radio. There are no more Cash for Clunkers rebates, but skyrocketing prices should drive owners of older gas guzzlers without satellite receivers to trade in their jalopies for fuel-efficient hybrids that have factory-installed Sirius or XM receivers.

Read more here.

Bristol Palin, Inc.: From Book Deal To DWTS

So how much does abstinence promotion, a Dancing With the Stars stint, and her forthcoming autobiography really add up to?

Duff McDonald at pieces together the Palin scion's earnings.

There's a long political tradition of kids cashing in on a parent's name: Jenna Bush, Ron and Michael Reagan, the Roosevelts. But at least their dads were presidents, not half-term governors. Based on Newsweek's estimates of her revenue potential everywhere from publishing to consulting, Bristol's fueling a surprisingly sizable industry all her own.

Related story on The Daily Beast: Palin Kills It in Gun Country

  • $100,000-Arizona's Mix 96.9 FM wants to hire her. She can play her mom's rap song from Saturday Night Live.
  • $100,000-The Candie's Foundation pays her $15,000 to $30,000 for each speech she makes as an advocate for abstinence. (Estimate assumes a half dozen this year.)
  • $250,000-Hire the hot BSMP consulting firm for advice on lobbying, public relations, and politics. The star attraction of BSMP: 20-year-old Bristol Sheeran Marie Palin.
  • $2.5 million-That's not her take from Dancing With the Stars. That's the advertising boost we estimate ABC enjoyed thanks to all the Palin pals who kept voting and voting and voting for her to stay on the show.
  • $3.25 million-Mama Bear's memoir, Going Rogue, sold more than 2.6 million copies. If Bristol's autobiography moves only 5 percent of that when it comes out in June, she'll still gross a tidy sum for Morrow (which just so happens to be her mother's publisher, too).
  • Negligible-Last year she applied to trademark her name, so soon we may need to refer to her as Bristol Palin®.
Read more here.

Does Deep Voice Indicate A Cheatin' Heart?

Dan Vergano at USA Today wonders: Do people look to vocal pitch as a pointer to cheatin' hearts?

The researchers asked 49 men and 55 women, all college-age, to assess to audio clips of vowel sounds read by nine male and nine female voices, tuned to both a high-pitched and low-pitched tone. Among other questions, the volunteers were asked, "which person do you think is more likely to cheat on their partner?" and "which is more attractive?"

Because the male and female voices were just reading vowel sounds, "it wasn't about the content of what they said," O'Connor says in an interview. "It's not about how smooth they were."

Both men and women equally saw the women with the higher-pitched voices as more attractive and more likely to be cheaters. But women saw men with deep voices as more likely to be cheaters, at "significantly higher rates," than men did, offering some support for the idea of an evolutionary warning sign of infidelity in vocal pitch.

Read more here.

The Fading Power of Beck’s Alarms

From The Media Equation David Carr, NY Times:
A funny thing happened on the way from the revolution.

Since last August, when [Glenn Beck] summoned more than 100,000 followers to the Washington mall for the “Restoring Honor” rally, Beck has lost over a third of his audience on Fox — a greater percentage drop than other hosts at Fox. True, he fell from the great heights of the health care debate in January 2010, but there has been worrisome erosion — more than one million viewers — especially in the younger demographic.

He still has numbers that just about any cable news host would envy and, with about two million viewers a night, outdraws all his competition combined. But the erosion is significant enough that Fox News officials are willing to say — anonymously, of course; they don’t want to be identified as criticizing the talent — that they are looking at the end of his contract in December and contemplating life without Mr. Beck.

On the other side, people who work for Mr. Beck point out that he could live without Fox News. Unlike some other cable hosts, Mr. Beck has a huge multiplatform presence: he has sold around four million books, is near the top of talk-radio ratings, has a growing Web site called The Blaze, along with a stage performance that still packs houses. Forbes estimated that his company, Mercury Radio Arts, had more than $30 million in revenue.

How could a breakup between Mr. Beck and Fox News — a bond that seemed made in pre-Apocalyptic heaven — come to pass?
Read more here.

Must Read:

Beck's newssite "The Blaze" gives the story a spin.