Monday, January 30, 2012

Helen Gurley Brown aims to boost news technology

Gurley Brown
Longtime Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown, 89, has donated $30 million to Stanford’s engineering school and Columbia’s j-school to start an institute to develop new media technology. Here’s a link to the release. Each school will get $12 million and Columbia will get an extra $6 million to build a high-tech newsroom on its New York City campus. Stanford engineering professor Bernd Girod will be the institute's founding director until Columbia appoints his east coast counterpart.

Six reporters arrested during Oakland protest

Among the 400 or so people arrested by Oakland Police on Saturday during the Occupy protest were six reporters — Vivian Ho of the Chronicle, Kristin Hanes of KGO Radio, John C. Osborn of East Bay Express, Yael Chanoff of the Bay Guardian, Gavin Aronsen of Mother Jones and freelancer Susie Cagle (a previous arrestee).

Aronsen, in his first hand account, points out that the arrests of reporters were a direct violation of the Oakland Police Department’s own media relations policy that states "media shall never be targeted for dispersal or enforcement action because of their status."

Aronsen writes:
    As soon as it became clear that I would be kettled with the protesters, I displayed my press credentials to a line of officers and asked where to stand to avoid arrest. In past protests, the technique always proved successful. But this time, no officer said a word. One pointed back in the direction of the protesters, refusing to let me leave. Another issued a notice that everyone in the area was under arrest. 
    I wound up in a back corner of the space between the YMCA and a neighboring building, where I met Vivian Ho of the San Francisco Chronicle and Kristin Hanes of KGO Radio. After it became clear that we would probably have to wait for hours there as police arrested hundreds of people packed tightly in front of us, we maneuvered our way to the front of the kettle to display our press credentials once more. 
    When Hanes displayed hers, an officer shook his head. "That's not an Oakland pass," he told her. "You're getting arrested." (She had a press pass issued by San Francisco, but not Oakland, police.) Another officer rejected my credentials, and I began interviewing soon-to-be-arrested protesters standing nearby. About five minutes later, an officer grabbed my arm and zip-tied me. Around the same time, Ho — who did have official OPD credentials — was also apprehended.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Channel 2 unveils new set, graphics

In the past few months, three Bay Area TV stations have introduced new sets and/or new graphic packages — CBS5, Univision 14 and NBC Bay Area. Tonight, KTVU Channel 2 unveiled its new set and graphics package that aims to modernize the station’s look while maintaining the top-rated station’s legacy.

“The set design features woods, brushed metals, Plexiglass and laminates that translate into a modern presentation that is warm and sophisticated,” said a news release from KTVU’s Jeff Holub. “The graphic package will use the same color palette and element package that KTVU viewers are familiar with but with more of a modern day look and feel.”

Here's a link to KTVU's story about the set.

The set will include three different staging areas – the main desk, weather center and a multipurpose area. The main anchor desk will feature a large Duratran mural and keeping with the tradition of the station will include the Golden Gate Bridge. The weather center is large enough for multiple meteorologists and features 60-inch flat screen monitors.

KTVU worked with Broadcast Design International (BDI) on the set and Hothaus Creative on the graphics.

Steve Fainaru to leave Bay Citizen

Steve Fainaru
Steve Fainaru, interim editor-in-chief of The Bay Citizen, announced Friday that he will be leaving the nonprofit news organization next month to pursue a book project with his brother, ESPN sportswriter Mark Fainaru-Wada. His departure follows the resignations of editor-in-chief Jonathan Weber in September and CEO Lisa Frazier in October. Last month, financeer Warren Helman, who launched Bay Citizen, died at age 77 of leukemia. The Bay Citizen, in its story about Fainaru’s departure, said it is currently hiring reporters and editors. Frazier, whose last day is Feb. 6, said Bay Citizen has raised $17.5 million since its inception including $6 million from Hellman. Replacements for Fainaru, Weber and Frazier have not been named. (Photo credit: Bay Citizen)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Enter the Greater Bay Area Journalism contest

The San Francisco Peninsula Press Club is now accepting entries for its annual Greater Bay Area Journalism Contest. Here's a link to the Call for Entries that has all the contest categories and rules.

All entries are to be submitted online, and the Call for Entries explains how that is done. The deadline is Wednesday, Feb. 29.

The contest is open to all print, broadcast and electronic media and public relations professionals working or residing in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano or
Sonoma counties.

Entries must have been originally published, broadcast or released on broadband between Jan. 1 and December 31, 2011, inclusive.

Entries will be judged by a press club or Society of Professional Journalists chapters outside the San Francisco Bay Area. No San Francisco Peninsula Press Club member will be involved in the judging.

The Press Club is trying to get more entries from public relations professionals. For the PR folks there are two new categories this year — annual reports and best use of Twitter.

The early days of KSFO 560

Before it was “Hot Talk” with Brian Sussman and Melanie Morgan, and before Don Sherwood was cracking people up in the 1960s, here’s what the staff of KSFO 560 looked like. This 1942 photo is from the current edition of Radio World and radio researcher John Schneider.

In 1942, radio was king (no TV yet) and KSFO was a big player even though it had lost its CBS affiliation a year earlier to San Jose’s KQW, which would later become KCBS. This group is gathered at the transmitter site near 3rd Street and Cesar Chavez Street in San Francisco.

What about the calls KWID? Those belonged to a shortwave station that KSFO’s owner, Wesley Dumm, had built at the request of President Franklin Roosevelt as part of the war effort. KWID blanketed the Pacific with its signal, which was important in the war against the Japanese.

Cable news show to originate from SF

If you watch cable news, you know that most of the shows originate from New York, Washington or Atlanta. But former two-term Michigan Democratic governor Jennifer Granholm, who moved to the Bay Area when she became a professor of law and public policy at UC-Berkeley, is launching a cable news show from San Francisco on Monday. The show will air on the Current channel, whose major shareholders include Al Gore. The Detroit News says Current has built a studio for her in San Francisco, and she will serve as both a moderator and interviewer.

Singleton out as AP chairman

Dean Singleton of Denver, who was replaced as head of MediaNews Group by John Paton earlier this year, is now leaving the chairmanship of the Associated Press board of directors. His five-year term has expired. The AP board has picked Mary Junck, chairman and CEO of Lee Enterprises, as the wire service’s new chairman. One of her first tasks will be to find a replacement for AP president and CEO Tom Curley, who announced earlier this week that he will step down once the board finds a replacement.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Cumulus to air 49ers game on 6 stations

In an unusual move, Cumulus Media announced today that it will air Sunday’s NFC Championship game between the 49ers and New York Giants on all six of its San Francisco stations.

On the AM dial, the game will be heard on KSFO 560, KNBR 680, KGO 810 and KTCT 1050. On the FM dial, Cumulus is putting the game on KFOG 104.5/97.7 and KSAN “The Bone” 107.7.

“This is the biggest 49ers game in 10 years, and to ensure that the broadcast will be heard by as many fans as possible, the Cumulus program directors got together and decided to air the game on all of our Bay Area stations,” KNBR’s operations director Lee Hammer said in a statement.

“We are unaware of any NFL team that has had this kind of support from its radio partner,” said 49ers Director of Broadcasting Bob Sargent.

All of the stations will begin SF 49ers presume coverage at 2:30 p.m. followed by the kickoff from Candlestick at 3:30.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Press Club to use Twitter and Facebook

It will now be easier than ever to follow or interact with the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club. The Press Club has begun posting its news items on Facebook. And we now have a Twitter account to keep you informed of our activities and items of interest. We invite your suggestions about how we can use social media in the future.

Oakland Tribune lands grant for news reporting

The California Endowment, a private health foundation that was created in 1996 after Blue Cross of California became a for-profit company, has given The Oakland Tribune and the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education a $340,000 grant.

According to the Trib, part of the grant will be used to renew a fellowship for reporter Scott Johnson.

Projects planned for the grant money include helping the Tribune “delve deeper into the impact of violence and trauma on Oakland residents.”

The newspaper and the Maynard Institute also plan to use some of the money to develop a website that helps news organizations in their reporting, as well as serving as a "clearing house" for therapists, counselors, activists, concerned citizens and elders to discuss issues and find services.

In addition, four community forums will be held in Oakland. The first, scheduled for April 2012, will focus on gun violence in Oakland.

"This grant will enable us to lead the way in developing a new, community-oriented strategy for the future on an international level," Bay Area News Group President Mac Tully said in the Trib story.

Here’s a link to more about the California Endowment. The Maynard Foundation is named after the former owner of the Tribune, the late Robert Maynard. The foundation and newspaper have collaborated on several projects in the past.

January 2012 Press Club board minutes

Jan. 11, 2012, San Mateo Daily Journal offices

PRESENT: Ed Remitz, Kristy Blackburn, Melissa McRobbie, Marshall Wilson, Antonia Ehlers, Laura Dudnick, Darryl Compton, Jon Mays, Dave Price. Absent: Peter Cleaveland.

The meeting was called to order at 6:40 p.m. by Marshall.

MINUTES: December minutes approved as submitted.

FINANCE AND MEMBERSHIPS: Darryl reported that we were in good shape for 2011. After paying our bills, we were still $1,600 in the black, compared to $13,000 in the red in 2010.

CONTEST CALL FOR ENTRIES: The deadline has been extended to Feb. 29, 2012. The board discussed reaching out to magazines, trade publications and radio stations to increase participation in those categories. Board members also discussed the how to handle the press release category. It was suggested that public relations officials will be asked to submit three entries. In addition, an annual report category might be added. After a lengthy discussion about the social media category, the board decided to add a new category, the best use of Twitter.

CONTEST BANQUET SPEAKERS: Antonia proposed two ideas – the husband/wife team of Manny and Michelle Fernandez, both of whom are reporters for The New York Times. Manny recently became The Times bureau chief of Texas and Oklahoma. Michelle did extensive coverage of the 911 aftermath.

Another idea was to invite Greg Vistica, author and former investigative journalist. He was a correspondent for Newsweek, a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, a staff writer for The Washington Post, a staff producer for "60 Minutes II" and a military affairs writer for The San Diego Union-Tribune. He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for exposing Senator Bob Kerrey’s role in a Vietnam massacre. In addition, he won a George Polk award for breaking the Tailhook scandal, which led to historic reforms in the military.

POSSIBLE SEMINAR ON PUBLIC SAFETY REALIGNMENT: Board members discussed upcoming seminiars, including public safety realignment, an investigative reporting workshop and a workshop specifically designed for public information officers working with the press.

MEETING DATES AND TIMES: It was decided that Press Club Board meetings will remain as they are, at 6:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month.

    • Marshall asked for support (reporters needed!) for a San Mateo County leadership forum on March 9. 
    • Ed also asked for reporters and editors to speak to his journalism class at CSM. 
    • The deadline for the High School Journalism Contest is March 31. 
    • Ideas for the newsletter were discussed with Laura. This issue will include the holiday party, the wake for The Times and a profile on Micki Carter. 
    • Kristi spoke about the JEA NSPA joint convention on Feb. 4. 
    • A seat is vacant on the board. Board members discussed possible candidates. 
    • They also brainstormed about possibly donating the old San Mateo Times sign to the San Mateo County Historical Museum.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:45 p.m.

Respectfully submitted, Antonia Ehlers, Secretary

December 2011 Press Club board minutes

Dec. 14, 2011, Janet Parker Beck Press Room, County of San Mateo Hall of Justice

PRESENT: Marshall Wilson, Melissa McRobbie, Micki Carter, Kristy Blackburn, Peter Cleaveland, Dave Price and Darryl Compton. Absent: Jon Mays, Laura Dudnick, Antonia Ehlers, Ed Remitz and Jack Russell

Marshall Wilson called the meeting to order at 7:40 p.m.

Marshall offered the board’s special thanks to retiring board member Micki Carter for her service as secretary, past president, awards contests, high school liaison, party host and much much more.

FINANCE REPORT: Darryl offered the following report:
    Income: $26,607.23 
    Expenses: $22,774.32 
    Net: $3,832.91 
    Checking: $16,075.89 
    Savings: $11,121.90 
    Total: $27,197.79 
    Scholarship Fund 501(c)(3) Total: $7,019.97 (Scholarships have been paid out of the General Fund for several years.)
MEMBERSHIP REPORT: Current 2011: 139, up seven from last year. Renewal notices were in the last newsletter. Several publications entered the contest at the flat rate, so entrants did not join the club.

ACTIVITIES OF THE YEAR: Marshall reviewed the club’s programs in the past year:
Active Board of Directors, meeting 2nd Wednesday of each month

34th Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards Entries Feb. 28, 2011
    523 Entries, up 32 percent from 394, previous year. We traded judging with several other Press Clubs.
High School Journalism Awards May 2, 2011
    221 students, 15 High Schools, 459 entries, 12 categories up 40 percent from 329, previous year.
34th Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards dinner May 29, 2011
    Herb Caen Scholarships $3,000 Keynote: Mike Sugerman, KPIX CBS 5/KCBC Radio
Summer Picnic Sept. 17, 2011 – Micki & Mike’s home

High School Journalism Boot Camp Oct. 21, 2011
    Keynote: R.B. Brenner, Stanford University 21 workshops, newspaper critiques, student editors’ panel
Holiday Party Dec. 14, 2011, with the County of San Mateo
On The Record (Newsletter) four issues
Web Site – Thanks to Dave Price
FeedBlitz – news e-mails

35th Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards — entry deadline Feb. 29, 2012
Online Entry – forms and submissions PDF, Links
High School Journalism Contest — entry deadline March 31, 2012. Will be online this year.
$1,500 Herb Caen Journalism Scholarship — entry deadline April 16, 2012
34th Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards dinner May 19, 2012, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Foster City
Aid to High School Newspapers project
Bench Bar Media
Professional Development Workshops
Town Hall Meeting

    President, Marshall Wilson; 
    Vice president, Kristy Blackburn; 
    Treasurer, Ed Remitz; 
    Secretary, Antonia Ehlers 
    2013 (two-year term) Peter Cleaveland, Dave Price 
    2012 (one-year term) Laura Dudnick (Jamie White's seat); Melissa McRobbie (Blackburn seat); one open position (Ehlers seat) 
    Ex-officio: Past President Jon Mays 
    Director Emeritus Jack Russell 
    Executive Director Darryl Compton 
MEMBERSHIPS: The board approved $100 donations to CFAC, CA Aware, Student Press Law Center.

Adjourned at 8 p.m.

Respectfully submitted, Micki Carter, secretary

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Merc’s Sean Webby jumps to DA’s office

When Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen was running for office in 2010, one of his criticisms of incumbent Delores Carr was that she had two full-time public information officers. It wasn’t the major issue in the DA’s race, Rosen but often pointed out that having two PIOs was a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Now, according to the Gilroy Dispatch, Rosen has hired Mercury News crime reporter Sean Webby as his new media coordinator, who will serve as the spokesman for the DA’s office to the news media.

Rosen broke the news to the Dispatch’s editorial board Tuesday morning. According to the Dispatch, Webby is expected to start in his new job in the next several weeks following a background check, said Lisa McCrary, the District Attorney's ombudsman who has handled press requests since former media coordinator Amy Cornell left for the Santa Clara County Public Health Department in July.

McCrary says she'll likely return focus to her regular duties, while Webby will take a "lead role" in responding to needs and questions from local media. Actual job duties, however, won't be delegated until Webby officially joins the office, she said.
"And then we'll get down to distributing the work load," McCrary told the Dispatch.

KGO-TV’s ND Keeshan quits, to join NBC

Media blogger Rich Lieberman reports that longtime KGO-TV ABC7 News Director Kevin Keeshan will become the ombudsman for NBC News. Keeshan, the nephew of "Captain Kangaroo" Bob Keeshan, will be joining former KGO-TV president and general manager Valari Dobson Staab at 30 Rock. She heads NBC's owned and operated stations. Lieberman says he was told by a Channel 7 insider that Keeshan literally had a bag packed when he gathered his staff and told them he was leaving.

Paton says comment about print was misinterpreted

John Paton
James Rainey, who covers the news media for the LA Times, has profiled John Paton, who replaced Dean Singleton as the head of the MediaNews Group chain. Paton is pushing digital media hard. Rainey says Paton’s goal is to have one-third of MNG’s content produced by staff members, one-third by the community and another third aggregated from other sources. Paton tells Rainey that the formula isn’t intended to reduce the need for paid staffers but instead will increase the net flow of information.

Paton also told Rainey that his remark that traditional print journalism has a value of “about zero” has been misinterpreted. He said he meant only that the ability to present stories immediately online "makes it very difficult to say that stories in the morning paper about, say, what the mayor said last night, have any real value." (Photo credit: Tim Thompson, The Oakland Press)

KGO-AM overnight slot goes conservative

With the exception of Bill Wattenburg, the KGO-AM’s hosts fired Dec. 1 could be described as “left of center” or liberal. And that included Ray Taliferro, who held down the overnight shift for decades. Now in the overnight slot is a national program, “Red Eye Radio,” hosted by Gary McNamara and Eric Harley out of Dallas. They’re unabashed conservatives. Their show is carried on other Cumulus stations including WABC New York. When KGO was owned by ABC, Disney and Citadel, the conservative hosts were carried by sister station KSFO 560. But in the overnight slot, KSFO airs George Noory’s popular “Coast to Coast,” which delves into topics such as UFOs, mind-readers, psychics and calls about chemtrails (airline exhausts laced with mind-controlling drugs). KSFO veered away from its “hot talk” conservative format last year when it added syndicated talker John Bachelor in the 6-8 p.m. time slot. While Bachelor might be a conservative, his show features phone interviews with journalists of all political persuasions discussing international events.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Contest details just days away

This year’s Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards will include new categories for online media and public relations professionals.

The “Call for Entries” will be posted on this page in the next couple of days, and those who wish to compete in the contest will have until Feb. 29 to submit entires for work done in the 2011 calendar year.

As always, the contest will have categories for entries by those in the TV, radio, newspaper, magazine and online industries.

But the Press Club’s board, at its meeting Wednesday, decided to create a new category for journalists who use Twitter.

The board has also added a new category for public relations professionals. PR professionals have been apart of the Press Club since it was founded in 1974, but the board wants more entries from them. Businesses, nonprofits and government agencies have spokespeople who provide information to the news media, and the new category of “best press release or press kit” is intended to increase their participation in the annual contest.

The entry fees will not change — $15 for members, $55 for non-members, and $30 for a company with 25 or more entries. Those who cannot afford the fees can apply for a scholarship with a letter stating need.

All entries can be submitted online.

Check back to this page for the “Call for Entries.”

Police scanners could go silent

In Pasadena, the police have switched from analog to digitally encrypted digital radios, which can’t be picked up by scanners used by reporters, editors and photographers. This could be the beginning of a trend because police and fire departments are under pressure from the federal government to upgrade their radio systems to digital. In the process of switching to digital scanners, police departments have the choice of encrypting their transmissions or keeping them public.

The pressure to upgrade police radio systems stems from problems during the World Trade Center collapse when fire and medical personnel from different agencies couldn’t talk to one another during that disaster. Congress, which wants to be seen as "doing something" in response to that tragedy, is pushing all public safety agencies to upgrade their equipment to digital. Equipment manufacturers, such as Motorola, are lobbying hard for the upgrade so they can sell more equipment.

In Pasadena, the city is promising to eventually lease receivers to news organizations so that they can continue to monitor encrypted police and fire calls, according to the Pasadena Star News. But until that happens, “newspapers will have to wait on press releases,” said Shawn West, head of West Information Systems, which monitors radio traffic there.

The Pasadena Star News story quotes that city’s telecommunications supervisor, Stephen Page, as saying that digital systems rolled out in the Bay Area have been crippled by cellphone jamming equipment. "If someone really wants to jam our system, they can," Page said.

In September, BANG reporters Josh Richman, Thomas Peele and John Woolfolk reported on the progress Bay Area police and fire agencies were making upgrading their radio systems.

Chron plans special section on 49ers

The San Francisco Chronicle will publish a special section, previewing the 49ers NFL Divisional playoff game against the New Orleans Saints. The section will appear in the print and electronic editions of The Chronicle on Saturday, Jan. 14. Copies of the section will also be available for sale at Candlestick Park on game day. Click here for more details.

Daily News looking for bloggers

MediaNews Group's Daily News, based in Menlo Park, is hoping to beef up its online presence with unpaid local bloggers. An editor’s note from Mario Dianda says, “We are looking for people who like to write about events in their community and aren't afraid to stir the pot a bit to get the dialogue flowing. Though bloggers won't be paid, they will be able to access the Community Media Lab we set up in our newsroom complete with Wi-Fi, desks and an always-brewing pot of coffee. All you have to do is blog about what matters most, whether it's peewee sports, school matters, dearth of bicycle lanes or political correctness run amok.” Here’s a link if you want to apply.

How Kreiger got the scoop on student visa scams describes how the Merc’s Lisa M. Krieger uncovered the story about unaccredited private colleges in the Bay Area “building lucrative businesses by assembling student bodies comprised almost entirely of student-visa holders.”

Monday, January 9, 2012

BANG sends Occupy protesters a cease and desist

The Occupy Oakland protesters have created a webpage called "Occupy Oakland Tribune" and the owner of the Tribune, instead of just ignoring it, has sent the protesters a cease and desist letter. The protesters have fired back with the following news release.
    Occupied Oakland Tribune refuses to be intimidated by the Bay Area News Group 
    Oakland, California - January 7, 2012 - The Bay Area News Group (BANG), publisher of the Oakland Tribune newspaper, sent a cease and desist letter yesterday to Scott Johnson of the Occupied Oakland Tribune which was met with an immediate rejection. 
    “There is no way we are going to be intimidated by the Bay Area News Group,” Johnson said. “This is just another effort by the 1% to push around the 99%. While Oakland City Hall continues arresting people on Oscar Grant Plaza for no reason, the Bay Area News Group is now attempting to quash our First Amendment rights. This has got to stop.” 
    In their cease and desist letter, BANG declared that the Occupied Oakland Tribune’s use of “the Oakland Tribune’s trademarks tarnishes and diminishes the value of these famous names.” But these arguments will hold no water in a court of law, much less in the court of public opinion.
    There is no possibility of consumer confusion between the Occupied Oakland Tribune (OOT) and the Oakland Tribune (OT). The OOT uses a different format, graphics, font and layout than the OT. The banner of the OOT clearly distinguishes itself as “Occupied,” referencing Occupy Oakland and the 99%. The OOT is not sold in the same locations that the OT is sold because it is not, in fact, sold at all, but given away for free at protests and events organized by Occupy Oakland. Oakland readers are sophisticated enough to tell the difference between these two extremely different publications. Additionally, since the OOT is not sold, trademark law does not apply. 
    The OOT is a commentary on the OT and mainstream media in general. It has social and cultural value and the name “Occupied Oakland Tribune” in this instance falls under fair use. BANG’s cease and desist letter is an absurd attack on First Amendment rights against the protected political speech of the OOT. 
    The Oakland-based civil rights law firm Siegel & Yee has agreed to represent Johnson and the Occupied Oakland Tribune on a pro bono basis. Mr. Johnson and his attorney, Michael Siegel, expect to submit a formal response to the cease and desist letter in the coming weeks. 
    “We are not afraid of a lawsuit,” Johnson said, “and we are confident that a court would issue sanctions against BANG if they attempted to sue.” 
    “The struggle of the 99% will not be stopped. We’re here and we aren’t going anywhere.”
    Contact: Scott Johnson, Occupied Oakland Tribune Michael Siegel, Siegel & Yee (510) 839-1200 x207, 
    DISCLAIMER: The contents of this press release only reflect those who issued it as lists in the contacts section. It does not reflect the official positions of Occupy Oakland unless specifically indicated.
Here is a link to BANG's C&D letter. If BANG (the Bay Area News Group, controlled by MediaNews Group of Denver) wishes to reply, the Press Club will be post that, too.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Bronstein leaving Hearst, Chronicle

After three decades with Hearst and 17 years as its editor in chief in San Francisco, Phil Bronstein is resigning to take on a larger role at the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) in Berkeley, where he is currently chairman of the board.

"I think after 31 years you ought to do something different," Bronstein told SF Weekly. "It's been an extraordinary run, and I saw the article the [SFGate] did about it -- it just barely captured how tumultuous and interesting the ride has been."

Bronstein, 61, started with Hearst in 1980 as a reporter for the Examiner, and he moved up through the ranks to editor. His coverage of the fall of Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He stepped down as editor four years ago and became editor-at-large.

Bronstein said in the Chronicle story about his departure that his new role at the Center for Investigative Reporting will be unpaid but is "critical for the ongoing importance of nonprofit journalism."

It's an effort that will require more time and energy than he could give with a full-time job at Hearst, Bronstein said. (Photo credit: Mike Kepka, Chronicle)

Luckoff can't find a station for his newstalk format

It doesn't look as if former KGO-AM president and gm Mickey Luckoff is going to find a station where he can bring back his station's former format with its recently fired hosts. Here's a letter Luckoff sent to those who have been working with him on this project (courtesy of RadioInk):
    As promised I have made every conceivable effort to accomplish the goal as we originally discussed. I have exhausted every conceivable opportunity to package and relocate our incredible newstalk team in its entirety. Much to my dismay there is not a single facility with a market wide signal available to purchase, lease (LMA) or to be made available by one of the multiple owners to adopt the format at this time. 
    We have dealt with brokers, owners, consultants, lawyers, local market managers and conglomerate owners in our quest to buy, lease, or if necessary to give the talent lineup and format to a wise owner/operator. Our P&L projection which was developed by a highly skilled industry financial expert was so good we were astounded that one of the corporate entities neglected to jump at the opportunity.
    What we learned was of the three remaining multiple owners one was interested in doing it 'on the cheap' on a limited AM facility. One major company literally said, "If we're interested we'll call you," and the best of the remaining groups with the ideal FM facility after 2 weeks said, "Not now, maybe next year." 
    In spite of the fact we had a major leak(er) among us (which at one point I feared would sink our ship) it ultimately is the total lack of courage and imagination among current day owners and operators which prevents us from returning as a (profitable) format which would also have dominated Bay Area newstalk audiences for the foreseeable future.
    I have turned over very possible rock I am aware of in my effort to make this happen. While I am flattered and honored with your trust, confidence and loyalty to the group it saddens me to realize this cannot be accomplished at this time. I do hope we are able to stay in touch with each other in the days ahead.
    Please accept my deepest and sincere good wishes for the future.
Meanwhile, two of his former stars, Len Tillem and Gene Burns, have landed jobs at Clear Channel's 910 AM (see below).

UPDATE, 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6: The Pacific Sun, a weekly newspaper in Marin County, has posted a lengthy interview with Luckoff in which he details his efforts to find a new station for his former hosts and discusses the state of the radio industry in general. A few quotes:
    • I don't think the public realizes how badly they're being fleeced by the radio industry. I think a story like KGO talk going away awakens people. 
    • [The fleecing of the public] started with the government deregulation of broadcast ownership about 20 years ago. There used to be limits on the number of stations companies could own. When the Federal Communications Commission removed the limits of the number of stations that these companies could own, that was the beginning of the end. Then Wall Street people started investing. They came in and pillaged the product. Run it cheap. Throw syndicated programming on the stations. To hell with the listeners. 
    • When KGO was owned by ABC, Cap Cities and even Disney, all of the managers would go to Washington at least once a year to meet with our congresspeople. We knew them all, because they were guests on KGO. On one trip, the company told us that we were pitching deregulation to our congresspeople. I said — I don't want deregulation. I think it's the worst thing that can happen. They told me that's what the company wants. ... Do you remember Jim Topping? He was the manager of KGO-TV. Very well spoken fellow. We were visiting Anna Eshoo (Democratic congresswoman representing parts of San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties). I'm sitting in the back of the room. Jim is spieling deregulation. Anna looks back at me and I'm shaking my head. She said, "Gentlemen, the day will never come when I'm going to vote for deregulating broadcasting."

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ex-congressman replaces Limbaugh on KSFO

The big switch in Bay Area talk radio went off this morning with a few hitches. First, KSFO announced that, beginning today, it was replacing Rush Limbaugh with a former Republican Arizona congressman, J.D. Hayworth. Hayworth was a talk show host at KFYI in Phoenix up until two years ago when he quit to run unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate against John McCain.

Hayworth repeatedly told listeners during his 9-noon time slot that he was “live and local” though it wasn’t clear if he was doing his show from here or Arizona. (Update at 2:35 p.m.: SFGate's Debra Saunders says Hayworth will do his shows from SF this week.) And there was a gaffe 30 minutes into the show when listeners heard two minutes of dead air.

Among other changes at KSFO, morningman Brian Sussman’s sidekick, Tom Benner (known on the air as OV or “Officer Vic”) is gone. Media blogger Rich Lieberman says Benner was fired on Friday, presumably as part of cost cutting by station owner Cumulus Media.

However, Melanie Morgan is back on the KSFO morning show after that station dumped her in 2008 in an earlier round of cost cutting.

Limbaugh started this morning at Clear Channel’s 910 a.m., which is changing its calls from KNEW to KKSF and branding itself “News Talk 910.” A month ago, KGO abandoned it’s longtime moniker “News Talk” when it fired most of its talk hosts and switched to all-news from noon to midnight.

Later today, two recently fired KGO staffers were to start their shows on News Talk 910 — attorney Len Tillem from 3 to 4, and Gene Burns from 4 to 7.

However, Lieberman reports that Burns suffered a mild stroke experienced a medical problem and will replaced this week with other former KGO personalities:
    Today (Jan. 3): Bill Wattenburg 
    Wednesday: Gil Gross 
    Thursday: John Rothmann 
    Friday: Rosie Allen
Meanwhile, Ben Fong-Torres, who covers radio for the Chronicle, described the meeting on Dec. 1 when KGO management fired its hosts.
    Ray Taliaferro, Gene Burns, Gil Gross and John Rothmann, who, along with Ronn Owens and Len Tillem, composed KGO's roster of weekday talk show hosts, were summoned to a meeting on Dec. 1 with news and program director Paul Hosley and new VP/market manager Bill Bungeroth — individually, they thought, to discuss their shows. 
    It was only after they arrived, and saw each other, that they learned they were attending the same meeting. 
    At the appointed hour, Bungeroth appeared, with Hosley by his side, and, without any pleasantries, informed the four veteran broadcasters, along with several producers, that KGO was changing formats and that their services were no longer needed. 
    He referred them to a human resources staffer holding envelopes for each of them, containing papers and final checks. 
    And then, after confirming to a puzzled Taliaferro that he would not be on the air that night, he left. 
    The four men, whose service ranged from Taliaferro's more than 35 years to Gross' four, may have been professional talkers, but they were speechless. One was in tears. 
    Finally, after a few handshakes and hugs, they cleared out their spaces, surrendered their keys and departed, leaving shocked fellow staffers behind. 
    And happy holidays to you, too. 
    "It was quite devastating," said Taliaferro. "The whole meeting took maybe 2 minutes and 45 seconds. When you think of who we are, and how we were big ratings grabbers for a number of years ..."