Talk of the Radio

Plus: a progressive blog is upgraded, a map plots a plot, and more tales of cops.

Media

Seattle public radio king KUOW-FM (94.9) announced last week that it will program KXOT-FM (91.7), the Tacoma station operated most recently—and to disastrous financial effect—by Seattle's other public radio station, KEXP-FM (90.3). KUOW twice before has passed on a chance to program KXOT. What gives? Public Radio Capital, the Denver-based nonprofit that owns KXOT, was having a hard time finding another public radio station to take it over, according to KUOW General Manager Wayne Roth. So the nonprofit was willing to enter into an unusual joint venture with KUOW that gives the station an escape hatch: If it doesn't work out, KXOT will be sold and KUOW will reap a share of the proceeds. KUOW also changed its mind because Roth came up with a new way of thinking about KXOT. While everybody had assumed KXOT would continue as a music station, Roth started envisioning another talk-radio format, one that would eventually develop new talent currently locked out of public radio's prime time by NPR blockbusters like Morning Edition. Meantime, the KXOT lineup will mostly feature shows not currently aired in the market, including Talk of the Nation, which KUOW dropped a few years back to the anger of many listeners. "The real question is how many NPR listeners are there in Pierce County," comments Joey Cohn, program manager at KUOW rival KPLU-FM (88.5), which features news and jazz. Though that public radio station is based in Tacoma, Cohn says the majority of listeners live in King County. NINA SHAPIRO

Blogger-activist wunderkind Andrew Villeneuve has had the best guide to local lefty blogs, Pacific Northwest Portal, (www.nwportal.org), but on Thursday, May 26, the 19-year-old Bellevue Community College student from Redmond upgraded his site. It looks prettier, works faster, and now features a list of 242 liberal blogs—up from 30 blogs—from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, and Montana. You'll also find news headlines from around the region and NOAA weather reports. Now if only Villeneuve can achieve his other goal in life: shutting down initiative king Tim Eyman. GEORGE HOWLAND JR.

Homelessness

The Downtown Emergency Service Center's proposed housing for the homeless in Hillman City has some neighbors livid, and one of their complaints is that the South End is a dumping ground for social services—and that they've already done their bit for the homeless. But according to a map created by the city of Seattle, there is far more housing for the homeless northof the Ship Canal than there is south of Interstate 90. The downtown, Belltown, First Hill, and Capitol Hill neighborhoods are home to the most units. There are five more homeless housing projects—part of the region's 10-year plan to end homelessness—that are chasing funds from the city's housing levy, and none of them would be in the South End. The city is expected to announce which projects it will fund next week. During the controversy around the Hillman City project, city officials and Mayor Greg Nickels have been mute, but not County Executive Ron Sims. "We need the project," says Sims, a longtime South Seattle resident. PHILIP DAWDY

Cops

In a 9-0 vote, the Seattle City Council on Tuesday, May 30, approved restoring the Office of Professional Accountability Review Board's right to inspect disciplinary investigations of Seattle police officers with officer names unredacted. The review board is three citizens who examine about 10 percent of investigations involving SPD cops' alleged misbehavior and issue reports to the council on how it feels the process is working. But officer names have always been redacted from files after the Seattle Police Officers Guild filed an unfair labor practice complaint against the city in 2000, arguing that it was a matter that should be worked out in contract negotiations, not by legislation. In a statement after the council vote, SPOG president Sgt. Richard O'Neill said the move, long sought by City Council member Nick Licata, might "negatively impact SPOG's ability to bargain in good faith" during upcoming contract talks with the city. It's unclear whether council's action would lead to SPOG filing another unfair labor practice complaint or to a lawsuit. PHILIP DAWDY

After five years and six on-the-job accidents, Washington State Patrol trooper Jason Crandall was finally kicked off the force last fall. But newly released WSP internal records show it wasn't because of his record of smashups, including one that led to a fatality, public uproar, or a change in state law. He was caught–or rather, couldn't be caught—speeding and following too close. Another trooper who saw him on the Seattle Interstate 5 freeway was unable to keep up with him, even though Crandall, who had undergone more than 80 hours of driving instruction and refresher courses, was typing out e-mail on his mobile computer as he aggressively accelerated in and out of traffic. He was, it turned out, just late for work (and, when questioned, lied about his reason). The patrol concluded it could no longer afford to keep Crandall on the force "from a risk management perspective." If nothing else, his record—which includes a 2002 accident that led to the death of a pedestrian—provoked state lawmakers to develop new standards for disciplining reckless officers. RICK ANDERSON

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