G. Michael Donovan, the sharp-tongued president of Philadelphia-based Entercom's Seattle operation, has been toppled from his throne atop Seattle's largest radio empire. According to Media>"/>
G. Michael Donovan, the sharp-tongued president of Philadelphia-based Entercom's Seattle operation, has been toppled from his throne atop Seattle's largest radio empire. According to Media Inc., Entercom—which owns eight Puget Soundarea stations including KBSG, KIRO, KISW, KMTT, and KNDD—told Donovan that his job was too big for one person to manage. Indeed, top-rated KIRO-AM saw its Arbitron numbers fall 25 percent in the past year; third-rated KBSG's numbers dropped nearly 10 percent. When told he'd have to share duties with another Entercom executive, Donovan walked. He says he's still "part of" Entercom but wouldn't comment further.
Donovan was freer with his words in January, when, in a letter to this paper's editor, he defended his industry's use of "Virtual Radio Programming"—a prefab, satellite-based system pioneered by Seattle's Research Group that allows music and DJ banter to be recorded in one city and replayed in another. A canned show by KBSG's Fastlane Phillips, for instance, airs on a station in Huntsville, Alabama, owned by Austin, Texasbased Capstar, the nation's largest radio conglomerate. "Fastlane Phillips," Donovan wrote in his January letter, "is infinitely more talented than whoever might be available in Huntsville, Alabama." Folks living in that city of 160,000 near the Tennessee border aren't so quick to agree; the Huntsville Times may hold a contest to find a local replacement. "It's slick-sounding, very professional, but it's not local radio," a program director from a competing Huntsville station told the Times. "We're proud to be a part of this community. There's a face and a human being behind it."
Still a free press
When I started the Washington Free Press with my friends Alex Mayer and Amy Tullis five years ago, any hopes of publishing a second issue were far-fetched. Today—32 issues, three major journalism awards, and zero libel lawsuits later—the Free Press remains Seattle's largest independent publication solely committed to progressive political and social coverage. It will celebrate its fifth anniversary next Thursday night, April 9, at the Speakeasy, 2304 Second Avenue. Guest speakers will include Seattle City Council member Peter Steinbrueck; food and live music come with the suggested $5 admission.
The Free Press, published bimonthly out of bedrooms and basements, continues to draw national attention without the benefit of a single paid staffer. For the second consecutive year, a WFP article has made Project Censored's top 10 list of underreported news stories. Rebecca Kavoussi's "Norplant and the Dark Side of the Law," published in WFP's March/April 1997 edition, exposed a state bill that would have made drug-using mothers receive Norplant birth-control implants. (Get Censored 1998: The News That Didn't Make the News at better bookstores or from Project Censored at 707-664-2500. The Free Press is on the street, and on the Web at speakeasy.org/wfp.)
On January 23, ABC News' Jackie Judd told millions of viewers that Monica Lewinsky reportedly had saved a "navy blue dress with the president's semen stain on it." If what essayist Lance Morrow writes in the current edition of the Columbia Journalism Review is true—that "a scandal must keep surpassing itself or lose its audience"—I retch to think what the major media will have to unearth to keep the nation's attention: "Did Monica swallow? Details tonight at 6 and 11!"
With a major award from Advertising Age magazine already under his belt (see "News for Sale," SW, 2/19), Seattle Times executive editor Mike Fancher has been named to the "1997 Marketing & Media Hall of Fame" by Media Inc. and the American Marketing Association. Pictured beneath Marketer of the Year Les "Free Beef" Schwab, will Fancher ask himself, "Is this why I got into journalism in the first place?"
Widows and orphans
The Bellevue-based noncommercial station KBCS (91.3 FM) celebrates its 25th anniversary by tripling its power output to 7,900 watts, beginning midmonth. Phone in your requests: 425-641-2424.... School of the Assassins, a disturbing documentary about the School of Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia, shows for free tonight, April 2, at 6 at the St. James Cathedral rectory (Ninth & Columbia).... The KOMO 4news department has taken crime coverage to absurd new extremes by publishing a "Registered Sex Offenders List," complete with the names and addresses of some 13,000 convicted sex abusers.... State education officials have won a Public Relations Society of America "Totem Award" for their "crisis communication" following last September's release of fourth-grade test scores.... Seattle Times writer Paula Bockand photographer Tom Reese have won a human-rights award from the United Nations Association for their September 1997 package about life—and death—in Burma.... Deputy Seattle fire chief Kem Hunter has put in for early retirement, a decision he made the morning after a highly critical report on the Pang fire by NBC's Dateline.
Two important documentaries on the life and legacy of Jesus air this month on KCTS 9. Frontline's "From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians" runs April 6-7, 9-11pm. And the BBC's four-part Lives of Jesus airs Thursdays, April 2-23, at 10pm. Both rely on recently discovered evidence to demystify and, in the process, humanize one of history's most misinterpreted figures. Learn more at www.pbs.org/frontline.