So What IS ‘Fake News’?

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By Don Riggs

In the last year or so, we’ve become used to hearing about “fake news.” Near as I can tell, that’s defined as any news that doesn’t agree with whoever’s calling it fake. And it’s pretty much political on a national level, and mainly through online sources.

Many local radio and television reporters don’t like being tarred with the same brush, and apparently they aren’t. InsideRadio.com reports on a study that showed many folks actually consider their local radio and TV stations their most trusted news source. The most likely place to find “fake news”… survey says, Facebook.

Porter house. KUOW’s Gregg Porter has gone big time, as the new host of public radio’s Says You! (the “!” is part of the title.) It’s a nationally syndicated show heard here Saturdays at 6pm. It’s been on the air for 21 years. Porter replaces the show’s creator, the late Richard Sher. Porter wisely will not forsake his roots, keeping his weekend shift at KUOW.

Strachan

On—and off—the job. Jennifer Strachan is the new and first chief content officer at KUOW. The Emmy winner has 25 years in the business, most recently

Walsh

at KQED/San Francisco…. Kevin Walsh is Bruno Cohen’s replacement as general manager at KSTW-TV, owned by CBS. He, like Cohen, will manage from afar, while also running two stations in San Francisco, KPIX and KBCW. Walsh spent the last nine years running  CBS stations in Sacramento. He’s a UW graduate… David Solano is now doing

Solano

weekend sports on KIRO-TV. He’s had plenty of practice…and it shows… coming from KOIN in Portland and other weekend sports duties in Detroit and Houston…  John Clayton got swept out after 23 years at ESPN as part of the big downsizing there. He’ll continue hosting on KIRO-AM—still its call letters, although it sells itself as 710 ESPN. As for his time at the network, Clayton—who has to be the world’s leading authority on the NFL— says, “Thank you. My bosses and co-workers are

Clayton

the best.” Are those the same bosses who just booted your butt out the door? But what else are you going to say, if you ever want to go back?… “The Outlaw” Pat Garrett, former afternoon jock at KMPS, is now PD and afternoons at KFLY-FM in Corvallis, OR, which has changed its format from Rock to Country… Joe Bryant, who shepherds the students at KMIH, Mercer Island High School’s radio station, says his superiors must know something about him that even he doesn’t know—because they’ve

Karlinski

decided he’ll also teach marketing next year… Don’t be calling Neil Karlinsky a sellout. You should sell out so well. The former KIRO-TV reporter, who spent the last seven years as an ABC network correspondent, has been lured by those so-called Bezos Balls at South Lake Union and given the amazing title of senior manager and content creator.

Delilah

HOFer. Next time you see Delilah (Delilah Rene), congratulate her on being inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame—the first woman to be so honored in 35 years. She’s been doing her Seattle-based music-and-comfort show for more than 30 years.

More room. KISW’s popular afternoon show, The Men’s Room, has gone bigger time. Entercom and Westwood One have been syndicating the show nationwide since early June. Mike Montgomery, Steve Hill and Ted Smith are the hosts. The Rock Girls on the website are just there for the ogling (with apologies to the author of the story on Page 11!).

Not quite best. Radio Ink magazine is out with its list of the 66 nominees for Best Radio Program Director in the country. It’s a little disheartening that nobody from Seattle made the list. Nearest one is Mojoe Roberts at KUPL in Portland.

Breaking into news. An unwelcome early morning visitor came calling at KCPQ-TV in early June. The man punched a security guard and broke into the newsroom. Nobody was hurt, and he was later arrested. He was armed with a knife—and (gasp!) wirecutters.

Trophy case adds. The RTDNA (Radio-Television-Digital News Association, formerly RTNDA…News Directors…) has handed out annual Edward R. Murrow awards for excellence in several categories. Local winners included KING’s series on Hanford trouble, the KCTS documentary on sharks, and KOMO TV’s feature on an all-girls baseball team. To those in the business, this is a major big-deal award. Congratulate them.

And, Bob Rondeau, retiring after this season of broadcasting UW football, has won his 11th Washington State Sportscaster of the Year award. Going out on top.

Mixing it up. Entercom is bringing in some big guns to power up KHTP Hot 103.7. Anthony Ray takes over mornings. All together, now: Who? You might know the famous hip-hop artist by his other name, Sir Mix-A-Lot. He started a record label in Seattle back in 1983 called Nastymix. Mix, which I’m wildly guessing is what all his homies and bros call him, put out several records (records? Not quite. Tunes? Almost) over the years, including his 1993 Grammy winner, “Baby Got Back.” To help avoid being forgotten, he hipped and hopped with the Seattle Symphony in 2014. Now he’s Seattle radio’s newest morning man, promising, if nothing else, interesting traffic reports. The other big gun is Eric Powers, the new PD and afternoon jock. He spent 24 years doing mornings at KUBE 93 before a big shakeup sent him out the door.

Taking flight. Many of us choose to stay at a career in broadcasting for the fame and fortune. Others of us find cushy PR-related jobs in big business, offering more money, better hours, and no more standing in the rain to do a story. Add Adam Mertz to that list. The former KCPQ reporter is now at Boeing. His wife, Liz Duweke, remains as anchor of Q13’s outstanding morning newscast.

Smaller gets bigger. Bustos Media, a group of small radio stations, is growing. The company, founded by the Bustos brothers John and Amados, is adding to the nine it already owns in this State, buying KMNA in Mabton and two in Prosser, KLES and KZXR. Their stations here are mainly Spanish language, along with a talk/country AM/FM duo in Ephrata. It also owns other stations around the country, including the only Russian-language stations in Portland. (There’s a soft spot in my heart for KULE, Ephrata, pronounced “Coulee,” after a nearby Grand water feature, not “cool,” which it was, as the only station in town. It’s where I had my first full-time job.)

The Road Less Spoken. It was noted earlier that the FCC has decided it’s okay for stations to put their messages about public files on line instead of on the air. Now, some other folks are looking at that. Inside Radio reports the New Jersey Broadcasters Association is pushing for allowing car dealers to put some of their mandatory disclosures on line, thus costing the jobs of those announcers who can talk three times the normal speed on radio, or those words that flash by in mini-seconds on TV. Actually, it’s the Federal Trade Commission that requires those disclosures, but the broadcasters are hoping to get a little support from the FCC, pointing out the regs are from a time before the internet. That would give the car dealer spots that much more time to scream about their wheels. And if this comes to pass, you can bet other advertisers, especially pharmaceuticals, will be lining up.

Incomplete. It’s easy to wonder how many English teachers watch ABC’s David Muir and crew and throw stuff at the TV. They probably ask: what’s wrong with speaking in complete sentences?

Choose your appliance. Way back when, we’d say “yeah, I’m on the radio. Or maybe on the toaster. Or could be on the stove.” That was pretty funny stuff, back then. Now, no joke, we may be in the fridge. Samsung says its newest Family Hub refrigerator has a touchscreen on the door with which you can stream NPR programming right there on the appliance. They figure a lot of family time is spent together in the kitchen, and, since food apparently isn’t enough, that we should be entertained, too. (We already know our microwaves are listening to us, right?)

Why they fail. It’s no secret the print news media is having a tough time. But, they’re not helping themselves. After the Issaquah Press went out of business, I decided, since I like the feel of a newspaper in my hands, that I’d subscribe to the Issaquah Reporter. Got a return message on line that they don’t deliver to my area. I confirmed that with Amy in Customer Service…The Issaquah Reporter does not deliver to my Issaquah address. She didn’t understand it, either.

UPDATE: The above item was written several weeks ago. The day I submitted it, near the end of June, you’ll never guess what appeared on my doorstep. Okay, maybe you will. Another example of the incredible power of the press.

Where did they go? If I could understand what makes a radio station’s ratings rise or fall, you couldn’t afford me. Inside Radio reports on blogger Ken Mills’ research into NPR stations, still living on increased ratings thanks to our current political situation. Example: KUOW’s strong numbers, currently number two in the market. But I don’t understand what happened with KNKX, the former KPLU, currently ninth. Except for the call letters, there’s nothing different to hear. Still the same personalities, the same jazz, the same NPR and local news, but a 19% drop in listeners in the five months following the elections. That’s the second-largest drop of any NPR station. And it follows a bad trend. Over the last five years, Mills says KNKX and WNYC-AM, New York, were the biggest audience-losers.

Meanwhile, KNKX picks up more honors, from the Public Radio News Directors’ Conference in June. Awards were handed out for five segments of its Saturday morning magazine show, Sound Effects. The program promises a weekly “tour of ideas” around the Northwest.

Vic-tory. I know we don’t care much about radio in Victoria, B.C., and it’s a much smaller market than Seattle, but CBCV has topped the latest ratings there with a 19.7. I pass that along only to make ‘em  crazy at Hubbard’s KQMV, number one in Seattle with a 7.4 rating.

That sort of thing, of course, is so last week. Now we’re seeing ratings numbers for social media contacts. A company called Share Rocket tells us that KING got the most responses in their latest “book,” followed by KCPQ, then KIRO, then KOMO. Individual rankings had KOMO’s Eric Johnson getting the most action on Facebook, with KCPQ’s Aaron Levine topping the Twitter market, and KING’s Susannah Frame making the biggest increase there. Tweetercrease?

Some of this could change, with Sinclair, owner of KOMO and soon more TV stations than anybody, reaching 70% of the country, is planning to quit using the Neilsen ratings. They’ve signed an exclusive deal with comScore (yes, spelled that way, with the capital letter in the middle so you’ll know how clever they are and never forget the name) and will live or die by those numbers. The 18-year-old company—what was that name, again?—is based in Reston, Virginia, with over 1,200 employees.

And here’s how smart some of us in my rapidly-declining age group were. We used to think that this FM radio thing, if it even survived, would be merely a nice backup for our AM stations. Now, in the last ratings I looked at, it’s worth noting the highest-rated AM station, KIRO, came in at 15th…virtually tied with KOMO, but still with 14 FMers in front of it. Don’t ask us about this flash-in-the-pan called internet.

It’s true. Apparently whatever day it was that “verify” was the word of the day, some high-up at Tegna noticed. Their station in Phoenix that I watch when I’m there is all over that word, promising to “verify” anything and everything, “we’ll verify that the sun came up today….” and that sort of stuff. The word is overused and not always the right word for the story. And now it looks like that’s creeping in here at home. I noticed KING using “verify” on many on-line stories. I’m not looking forward to them hitting us over the head with the word on air. And that’s the truth.

While we’re on the subject, KING, how about doing a better of job verifying who you’re talking to. Way too often, I see no ID on people being interviewed or commenting on stories.

And please, somebody at KING, work with anchor David Espinosa Hall to improve his announcing techniques. He’s no Thurl Ravenscroft or Richard Sterban, but he’s proud of his deep bass voice, which, to me, is better suited to late-night FM soft jazz disc jockey than big-city newscaster. I want him to be better.

Way out. A benefit of retirement is plenty of time to watch local TV newscasts and get nit-picky over little speed bumps on our road to perfection. When you hear a reporter or anchor in Washington, D.C., or New York talking about, for instance, national monuments, “most of them out west,” that’s fine. They’re talking about this place where we live. But when a highly-respected local anchor uses the same words, “most of them out west,” it just doesn’t sound right. What’s “out west” from Broadcast House? Humptulips? Pysht? Kalaloch? It’s OK to edit that to “here in the west.”