📻 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell jumped on the radio with me to talk about chicken chomping Democrats, why he is proudly called The Grim Reaper, defining socialism in 2019, if investigating the investigators is overkill, Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling AG William Barr a criminal, Sen. Mazie Hirono lobbing 🔥 at Trump, just WHO IS REALLY IN CHARGE!, and Liberals’ favorite Kentucky Derby horse 🎙️ 🏇🏽 840WHAS #USpolitics
I’m stepping aside from Great Day Live on WHAS11. I will continue to do limited on air appearances on WHAS11 going forward but the daily grind of GDL ends now. Angie Fenton will take over as sole anchor of the show.
My daily WHAS Radio show will continue every weekday from 3-6 PM. I plan to continue my radio and TV work for another three years or so before I call it a career.
Thanks to all for your continuing support. You are greatly appreciated.
My WHAS family means the world to me. That never changes.
— Rachel Platt (@rplattfrazier) April 5, 2019
#tbt One of my favorite WHAS11 live shots (1995)
WAVE3 would like for you to have a kitty. My teammates at WHAS11 are rating snacks.
Over on WLKY, it’s breaking news about dog faces on St. Patrick’s Day shirts.
And WDRB is squabbling with service providers to get reinstated. All local stations go through these rate negotiations from time to time.
WDRB’s typically news heavy website does occasionally throw in some fluff.
— FOX Sports Wisconsin (@fswisconsin) January 30, 2019
Our Louisville superstar athlete-turned-NBA-broadcast-star Katie George got an ample dose of Wisconsin wise-assery after she referenced the “windshield factor” for tonight’s polar vortex.
The saddest part is that she believed she was using the correct term to describe wind chill.
Oops. We thought we prepared Katie for every possible broadcast scenario but this gaffe now fully completes her windshield of reporter knowledge.
Give the Milwaukee Bucks reporter Katie extra credit. Her self-deprecation skills are anything but below zero. A+ Katie!
Proofreaders? We don’t need no stinkin’ proofreaders!
Nor do most American newspapers. Two more editors were among the newly RIF’d at The Courier-Journal in Gannett’s slash-and-burn strategy.
A few weeks ago, a Courier-Journal employee told me that the scant few remaining employees were shuddering at the prospect of a hedge fund takeover of CJ parent company Gannett. Sure enough, Gannett made another massive reduction in force across America this week as if to prepare for its unholy marriage with Alden Capital.
The Courier-Journal losses were light this time but it could be just a preview of more consolidation that leaves local news customers clueless about anything that happens after 6 PM.
READ: THE WASHINGTON POST ON GANNETT’S CONSOLIDATION OF TENNESSEE NEWS
Ever notice how the final score of a UK game that ended at 9 PM isn’t reported in the next morning’s newspaper? All we get are early crowd photos and a partial score, e.g. “At the time of publication, UK was leading Kansas 31-29 early in the second half.” What?
That’s because Gannett forces the Courier-Journal to print its final edition early each evening so that it can print other papers later. The Lexington Herald Leader, owned by a Gannett competitor, pays to have its final edition printed in Louisville AFTER the Courier.
Gannett makes money printing competitors’ papers but the later press run gives those competitors more precious time to include fresher news.
Nearly all of America’s newspapers put up paywalls, limiting non-subscribers to scanning only headlines. Most of them beg for subscribers but by far the #1 problem for news publishers is runaway advertisers. Newspapers are no longer effective in cost-per-thousand metrics. Ad money is much more effectively spent online, embedded in Facebook and Google ads. Even broadcast and podcast radio delivers far more effectively than do newspapers.
And, it’s OK to say “ass” on the radio. One year ago, the Courier Journal was trying to be edgier by using words like “dick” and “shit” in online copy. The public never noticed the CJ’s feeble attempt to be Howard Stern lite. Sales and readership continued to slide.
DICK-TIONARY 👀 Is mom editing @courierjournal again? Today the word "ass" is redacted but last year "dick" and "shit" got the green light. 📻 Meanwhile, @840WHAS continues broadcasting highbrow topics. 🤣 #loumedia #standards pic.twitter.com/TNkSV851Jt
— Terry Meiners (@terrymeiners) January 28, 2019
How did the industry get here? College professor and journalist Jeremy Littau walks us through the timeline of news publisher greed and arrogance that led us to empty newsrooms and unchecked power in cities and small towns nationwide.
For those who aren’t quite sure why these media layoffs keep happening, or think “it’s the internet!” or “people don’t pay to subscribe,” there’s a lot more going on. Though that is part of that. Here’s a cliffs notes version – not exhaustive but it hits the highlights:
— Jeremy Littau (@JeremyLittau) January 24, 2019
BOTTOM LINE: There is no longer investment in local reporters, feature writers, and investigative reporters who hold public officials accountable for their use of public money.
I’ve been lucky enough to be featured in lots of newspapers and magazines over the years. Former Courier-Journal writer C. Ray Hall spent parts of three days with me and photojournalist Pam Spalding shot photos of me during two of those days.
All of that for ONE feature article in the Saturday Scene in 1990. The snippet pictured above involved multiple conversations with writer Mary Dieter and a photo shoot where items were glued to the wall to make it appear that Ron Clay and I were 90 degrees askew.
This required an enormous amount of work in the pre-Photoshop era to properly illustrate a story about local radio personalities. The refrigerator is on its side and the table, clock, dish towels, radio, and broom were glued or bolted to the sidewall to create the image.
Today writers are expected to do profiles of people in a few hours by collecting quotes and photos from Google and then getting one fresh comment from the subject. There’s no time for creative photography or long form interviewing. It’s cut and paste and then move on to the three other tasks that involve advertisers and reader complaints.
Here’s a small segment of a 1990 Lexington Herald Leader profile of me at work. Writer Glenn Rutherford (father of Ramsey & Rutherford co-host Mike Rutherford) spent half a day with me, did several follow up phone inquiries, and sent a photographer to shoot pictures of me with voice actor Randy Davidson.
That was for a page and a half profile on a random day 30 years ago. Newspapers today have aggregated staff in remote cities that compose much of the next day’s paper in all of their markets. These are people that don’t know anything about the local characters in the towns they serve. They are tasked with churning out something generic to accompany their few remaining display ads.
The hometown paper is no longer from home. The Alden Capital hedge fund is about to make that situation even less personal.
Former WHAS11 and WDRB meteorologist Jeremy Kappell was fired at a Rochester, New York station after the internet mob determined that his on air phrasing of Martin Luther King Junior’s name was a deliberate racist shoutout.
In what reasonable people would consider spoonerism, Kappell mashed up “King” and “Junior” and said “coon” and quickly corrected himself. It’s the exact same verbal mashup that ESPN’s Mike Greenwell tripped through a few years back without repercussion.
Wait, what? That’s right. The ESPN guy said “oops” and went on with his life back then.
Today it’s all about the WOKE factor. It doesn’t matter what a person says in their own defense. The WOKE crowd is allowed to determine what is in another person’s heart, even if that person has NEVER done a thing to validate the WOKE crowd’s instant vilification.
Some of Kappell’s detractors are other media people, none of whom who know him or have worked with him. Here is Kappell responding to white small town newspaper writer in New York state. Of course, a newspaper writer does not ad lib anything to a live audience. They write words that are that are then pored over by editors or other news colleagues before they’re posted.
Jason, for the record, my most weathercasts are 100% unscripted. No teleprompter. Just words and about 450 of them on average per main weathers. Get your facts straight and please stop trolling. https://t.co/gqqRSWimog
— Jeremy Kappell (@JeremyKappell) January 9, 2019
Kappell’s description of live TV ad lib delivery is correct. That’s a challenge that no newspaper or prerecorded media person could possibly understand.
New York Times bestselling author Kurt Eichenwald tweeted support for Kappell through a series of posts explaining spoonerism. Eichenwald even suggests that Kappell should sue his former employers who failed to back him against SJW pressure.
1. This may seem a minor issue, but I hate people wrecked unjustifiably. So, I am coming to the defense of @JeremyKappell, meteorologist at WHEC in Rochester. As someone who frequently flubs speech through word transposition, I recognize Kappell was fired for a spoonerism….
— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) January 8, 2019
Some of Kappell’s online media detractors are people that I know connected to Louisville companies but are not associated with Kappell. I am surprised at their agreement with the Facebook post “It came out so naturally.”
Social justice warriors can make the Salem with trials seem like child’s play.
Grown people like the mayor of Rochester and a former TV meteorologist speaking on behalf of the Black Journalists Association are convinced that Kappell intentionally used a racial slur. And that’s apparently enough for a TV station manager to terminate the meterologist’s job.
Here is the BREATHLESS report from Rochester station WHAM, a direct competitor to Kappell’s WHEC, a weird bit of schadenfreude (enjoyment of someone else’s misery). WHAM wants everyone to know they are WOKE.
— Terry Meiners (@terrymeiners) January 8, 2019
My experience with Kappell, mirrored by many other supportive Louisville media people, is the memory of a hard working, thoughtful, quiet person who never uttered an unkind word.
Now could he have fallen, bumped his head, endured brain damage and suddenly decide to become a Klansman? Not likely, Sherlock Holmes.
The notion that any longtime professional broadcaster in their right mind would blurt a racial epithet on the air is beyond ridiculous. Kappell has been on the air for a thousand hours over his career, and then suddenly decides to ruin his life by rolling out an offensive word?
Mayor Lovely is anything but. Leaders are supposed to exercise caution, thoughtfulness, and avoid hair trigger reactions before all sides are heard. She simply had Kappell crushed over a ridiculously baseless race hustling stunt for herself. Same goes for the former meteorologist who knows the commonality of mangled words for any broadcaster who spills hundreds of thousands of ad libbed words every week.
The accusing “journalist” (meteorologist) wants to know what WHEC-TV will do to guarantee that nothing like this will ever happen again.
As long as people speak words, some will be mangled. If it happens on live TV, grow a brain and realize that embarrassing mistakes are commonplace.
Louisville news viewers lost two pillars of the local media on Friday, December 21, 2018. WHAS-11’s Rachel Platt, above, had long planned for her smooth departure.
WAVE-3’s Scott Reynolds had no chance to make his own plan. He was informed in October that his contract would not be renewed at year’s end. It’s a money squeeze induced by the merger of WAVE owner Raycom and Gray Television. This blending of Gray’s 93 stations and Raycom’s 63 stations would only happen if Raycom reduced the payroll at certain outlets.
Raycom operators had hoped to keep the RIFs (reduction in force) quiet but former WAVE news anchor Cheryl Case broke the Reynolds story on Facebook in a December 19 post.
Affable Scott Reynolds, a 61-year-old sitting at the top of the payroll chart when the company is trying to tighten its operating costs, becomes the bullseye. WAVE told Reynolds that his position was being eliminated by RIF. That strategy makes an age discrimination lawsuit nearly pointless. Age was no factor, they’ll say. It was simply a body count issue.
Reynolds was crying on the phone one day before his departure, unable to piece together his farewell message for viewers. His first draft was edited by WAVE management, purging a veiled reference to the fact that the company was forcing his ouster. Raycom hoped to make it sound as though Reynolds was leaving by his own choice.
Platt’s 29 years of solid journalism and community service were celebrated with multiple parties, on air celebrations, and loving support from WHAS-11 management.
Rachel loved her co-hosting role with the WHAS Crusade for Children, generating stories about children with physical and mental challenges to heighten awareness to their needs.
Reynolds earned the same respect over 22+ years of great field reporting, anchoring, and community service. He was given a WAVE-3 newsroom celebration that was seemingly cut short after a few co-workers spoke of their love and concern for Reynolds.
Raycom execs have sidestepped inquiries about merger metrics or why many anchors were being released. In a business that demands transparency from newsmakers, media companies rarely offer answers to questions arising from their own business practices.
The merger received its official FCC blessing a few days ago.
Here are the official statements of the WAVE-3 general manager and news director:
OLD NEWS = TODAY’S NEWS
In 2009, WAVE-3 management essentially forced the departure of Jackie Hays, a Louisville favorite, by downsizing her salary. That move provided short-term help in accounting but the station’s prestige and ratings glory soon slid away.
The entire terrestrial broadcasting business is under pressure from a new universe of digital news competition. Nonetheless, local news and analysis of community issues gives hometown media its raison d’être.
It’s yet to be seen if Gray/Raycom’s current dismissal of popular news talent in at least 7 other markets will hinder ratings or local impact. We shall see.
Platt is celebrating the holidays with her husband, sons, and other family and begins her new job as director of community engagement for Frazier History Museum on January 14.
Reynolds does not know where he will eventually work but he is hoping to stay in broadcasting. He has a nine month non-competition clause that evaporates next September.
As for his immediate future, Reynolds texted that he will “focus on the kiddos with all my heart and the birth of our Savior.”
Here are the full results from this year’s Readers Poll. Some choice selections:
Bisig Impact Group co-owner Larry Bisig invited me to his advertising/marketing company for a chat on camera. Cool.
We talked about my radio history, growing up with discipline, the last days of Ron Clay, my evolving tolerance, how to interview big ego people, dealing with violent students, and drunk college buddies trying to ruin my job.
Good talk, L Man. Thanks for having me.