Thin blue line

Newspapers take what’s variously called the “flag,” “nameplate,” or “masthead”—the way their names appear atop the front page—very seriously, and none more so than The Seattle Times. On September 19, Times executive editor Michael Fancher devoted a whole column to explaining the thinking, values, and international branding consultants that lay behind the masthead that debuted the next day. But he didn’t mention this new flag’s most striking quality: how much it looks like the Post-Intelligencer‘s old flag. Gone are the oversized eagle, fussy small text, and elaborately shaded and outlined letters of the “centennial” nameplate that the Times adopted in 1997. In their place, a simpler layout with bigger teasers on top and plain black old-English letters—all much closer to the P-I‘s logo and to what the Times had pre-1997—and a smaller eagle, set in a blue band matching the one that underlines the P-I flag.

“My newsroom has a saying for the Times masthead,” says P-I editor/publisher J.D. Alexander. “‘Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.'”

It’s probably just coincidence. Maybe it’s unconscious emulation. But you gotta wonder. . . . Next spring, the Times will switch from afternoon delivery, challenge the P-I‘s hold on morning, and, many newspaper mavens expect, drive the P-I out of publication (which would reduce total expenses and leave the publishers of the two papers more profits to share under their joint operating arrangement). Is the new flag a ploy to confuse the two papers’ identities and make it easier for longtime P-I readers to pick up the soon-to-be morning Times?

“There’s no hidden motive there, beyond what Mike talked about in his column,” says Times president Mason Sizemore. He notes that typography in the two logos is not identical and that both fall in the widespread, century-old newspaper-gothic tradition. Sizemore also says that the Times will adopt a new slogan to replace “Washington’s Largest Newspaper,” which it eliminated last week.

Yes, but—intentionally or not, the new look prepares us for a day when the Times is the only newspaper around here.

Host with the most

How much is the tax-supported Port of Seattle charging the private Washington Council on International Trade for temporary office space in the new World Trade Center, from which WCIT will manage the World Trade Organization conference in November? Nada, zilch, gratis. The lease specifies that the Port will even pay for utilities, right down to the light bulbs.

Port spokesman Imbert Mathee says providing the WTO project free space was both convenient and a smart move. The 1,500-square-foot office was originally part of a larger space leased to the Columbia Resource Group, till CRG decided it didn’t need it all. (CRG is not paying for the extra space either.) Helping host the WTO conference “fits squarely into our mission of promoting trade and economic development,” contends Mathee. “We see it as enormous leverage to getting the kind of international exposure that money can’t buy.” He notes that the Port has also provided free office space for the Youth Hall of Fame and Office of Port Jobs (two projects for disadvantaged youth), free warehouse space for Second Harvest and the Ronald McDonald House, and, in winter, an emergency shelter on Harbor Island. “We’re not just about helping corporations,” says Mathee. “We have a community outreach element.”

The Washington State Convention and Trade Center, where the mega-conference will actually be held, might also benefit from the exposure. But Convention Center sales director Michael McQuade says WCIT and the WTO will receive no rental discount; they’ll pay the standard nonprofit rate of $15.50 a square foot, which “could run anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000” for the duration.

Radio static

No, Paul Allen isn’t “buying KCMU for $30 million”; for that kind of money, he could buy a 100,000-watt commercial station rather than a 400-watt notch in the noncommercial band. And, contrary to another rumor provoked by the UW’s plan to make its eclectic rootsy music station a techie testbed (see Quick & Dirty, “Station break,” 9/23), KCMU did not go off the air last Friday. As the fog starts to clear, the scheme’s looking less alarming to some KCMU workers and fans, and maybe even promising on some points. The little station has sometimes chafed under the lead of its big sister KUOW. When KUOW and KCMU management asserted control six years ago, volunteers who’d had free rein launched the raging (and futile) CURSE rebellion. Three years ago, that management nixed KCMU’s news programming on grounds that it should do music and leave news to KUOW. And now new jitters have risen over a plan to install a single program director over both stations (after Ross Reynolds steps down as KUOW’s program director to return to the newsroom). Wayne Roth, station manager of KUOW and KCMU, says any such dual director would take a broad “managerial/budget/personnel” role and leave the hands-on programming to the KCMU staff who now do it. He adds that this week the radio folks will for the first time hear Ron Johnson, UW’s vice president for computers and communications, explain why he wants to take over KCMU.

Good night, Ilene

A belated farewell (belated is better than premature) to Ilene Marckx, Federal Way’s feisty grande dame of conservation and patron saint of bogs, who died four weeks ago at the age of 88. In 1971 Ilene and her husband, Francis, donated 26 wild, wet acres along West Hylebos Creek for a park. Through all the 28 years since, she fought vandals, polluters, pokey bureaucrats, and skinflint legislators to protect her cherished bog and share it with the public. Today West Hylebos State Park is a rare surviving habitat, a rare refuge amidst noisy sprawl, and a rare personal legacy.