Controversial Host Tarsha Jones Fired by Clear Channel; Legal Tangle Ensues. Clear Channel terminated controversial urban radio host Tarsha Jones – known as Jonesy on the air – after a Philadelphia businesswoman accused Jones’ program of misidentifying her and accusing her of criminal acts that she says adversely affected her businesses. Jonesy hosted the AM drive show on WUSL-FM – Power 99. In the aftermath of an October incident during which young women from different neighborhoods in Philadelphia had gotten into fights, at least one caller to Jones’ program identified Tracey Parson as having beaten up young girls. Parson – who runs a group of child care facilities – has filed a suit in Common Pleas Court claiming Jones repeatedly defamed her and her Kiddie Kare businesses and that action led to death threats to her and loss of business. Police have said Parson was never a suspect and Parson’s suit alleges Jones’ program purposely devised a campaign to “destroy people’s lives, reputations and livelihoods.” Jones is no stranger to controversy. She was suspended from WQHT-FM, New York over the “Tsunami Song” that parodied Asians in the wake of the Sri Lanka tsunami. TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman says the rights of stations and hosts to publicly comment are very strong, “The legal threshold for Parson’s claim is challenging. Her legal team would have to prove Jones acted maliciously or with wanton disregard for the truth and that is harder to do than many people think.” From the station’s perspective, depending on the language in Jones’ contract, she may be able to collect on any monies due her by Clear Channel even though she’s been let go. Weisman says a good example of the talent being protected in this regard is that of Don Imus back in 2007. Although Citadel fired him for the “nappy-headed hos” incident, his contract contained language that forced the company to pay the remainder of this deal.
Talk Host Bill Manders Let Go from KKOH, Reno. Cumulus-owned KKOH, Reno – known to most without the extra “K” as KOH – drops PM drive host Bill Manders and program director Dan Mason takes over the 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm slot. Manders, who’s been with KOH since 1994, tells KOLO-TV, “It’s part of the business. It certainly wasn’t shocking, and it wasn’t a surprise. But it’s caught me a little off guard.” KOH general manager Andrew Perini declined to comment to the Reno Gazette-Journal calling the situation, “Too complicated.”
WBAL, Baltimore’s Ron Smith Retires Due to Cancer. A little more than a month after announcing to his listeners that he’s been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, Ron Smith does his last radio program and retires to home hospice care. Despite the grave diagnosis, Smith said he would go ahead with treatment and continue doing his radio program as long as he was well enough. The 69-year-old Smith recently announced he was ceasing chemotherapy and would continue with palliative care. He has been a talk host at Hearst’s WBAL since 1984. He also worked as a columnist for the Baltimore Sun since 2008 and penned his final column on November 17.
Fox News Radio Names Emily Wither Jerusalem Correspondent. Fox News Radio announces it brings former freelance multi-media journalist Emily Wither aboard as Jerusalem correspondent. Wither has worked for numerous news organizations including ABC, NBC, Sky News, CNN, ITN and the BBC. In her new position, Wither will file daily reports on the Middle East region for Fox News Radio. She takes over for Courtney Kealy who moved to Fox News’ New York headquarters as a national correspondent for Fox News Radio.
KPAM, Portland’s Bob Miller Begins “Operation Santa Claus.” For the 9th year in a row, KPAM, Portland morning drive host Bob Miller is spending this week raising funds for military families hurt by loss of income due to deployment. The station notes “Operation Santa Claus” has raised more than $1 million over the past nine years and is setting a goal of $135,000 for this year to aid the market’s military families in need. Working with the Salvation Army, Miller says 100% of the proceeds go to area families. “The need for ‘Operation Santa Claus’ funds for families of our troops has increased exponentially. I am thrilled and gratified every year to see how generous our listeners are, no matter what the economy is doing.”
KNX, Los Angeles Begins Remote Series. Following on the lead of former sister news/talk KFWB (now in a trust and for sale), CBS Radio’s KNX debuts “KNX on Your Corner” – a series of remote, daylong broadcasts designed to take an in-depth look at different communities throughout Southern California. The first stop is Ventura Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley on December 9. The station states, “From Studio City to Woodland Hills, the day’s programming will focus on the rich history and variety of businesses along Ventura Boulevard. Community leaders and local residents will be featured guests and KNX will broadcast live much of the day from Jerry’s Restaurant & Deli (16650 Ventura Boulevard) in Encino, a longtime favorite on the boulevard.” KNX will broadcast live from 5:00 am to 7:00 pm.
Rep. Barney Frank to Retire, NATO’s Deadly Pakistan Strike, Holiday Shopping Figures, European Debt Crisis and 2012 Presidential Race Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (11/28). Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank’s announcement of retirement from Congress, the NATO friendly fire strike that killed Pakistani troops, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales reports, the building tension over the Euro Zone debt crisis and the GOP field for president in 2012 were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.