By Steven J.J. Weisman
BOSTON — There has been much discussion in recent years about the use of the name “Redskins” for the NFL’s Washington franchise and I believe that such discussion is a healthy exercise of free speech. The propriety of the name “Redskins” was even determined last June to be inappropriate for continued trademark protection because the name disparages a group. That decision is presently under appeal.
However, one place that the discussion of the propriety of the name had absolutely no business being discussed was at the FCC during the course of an objection to the radio station license renewal application of Washington, DC radio station WWXX-FM. This radio station is owned by Dan Snyder, the owner of the NFL’s Redskins, and is part of the team’s radio network. An objection was filed by a law professor and others to the license renewal, as was his or anyone else’s right. However his reasoning was totally spurious as recognized by the FCC which showed a little political testosterone and rightfully rejected all of the professor’s objections and renewed the application of WWXX-FM.
The FCC and You – Part 2: An Explanation of Obscenity. TALKERS legal editor Steven J.J. Weisman writes the second in a series of exclusive articles covering crucial regulatory information of which all license holders must be aware. Here Weisman outlines the three-pronged guidelines to defining obscenity and discusses some of the court cases that have helped codify the FCC regulations as they stand today. Read more here.
Rivers Radio Launches Progressive News/Talk Station in Atlanta. WGUN, Atlanta debuted as a progressive news/talk outlet yesterday featuring a lineup that includes: Syndication One’s Warren Ballentine, The Ed Schultz Show, Premiere Networks’ Randi Rhodes, WYD Media’s Thom Hartmann, and The Mike Malloy Show. Rivers Radio EVP and general manager Kevin Hemmings states, “Atlanta’s 1010 is excited to be able to offer this incredible lineup to our rapidly growing audience. For the first time in a very long while, the listeners of Atlanta now have a diverse choice of viewpoints and opinions.” WGUN had been airing an oldies/standards format.
Syracuse Talk Personality Jim Reith Joins Pubcasters for New Shows. Longtime WSYR, Syracuse talk show host Jim Reith – a 27-year employee of the station who was downsized in October of 2011 – begins a new career in the public media world when he debuts a 30-minute TV talk show on WCNY-TV, Syracuse in May and a radio talk show on WCNY-FM, Syracuse in the fall. Reith tells the Syracuse Post Standard, “I want to be a local guy doing local topics with local people. I want to inform people about local issues in a more developed way than you can do with a sound bite. And I want to entertain people and have some fun.” Reith’s TV talk show will air daily from 6:30 pm to 7:00 pm starting May 14 and in the fall he’ll begin a daily three-hour radio talk show on classical WCNY-FM’s HD 3 channel.
Cumulus-Finebaum Suits May Reach Settlement Out of Court. If Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Robert Vance has his way, the lawsuits between WJOX-FM, Birmingham-based sports talk host Paul Finebaum and employer Cumulus Media will be settled out of court. According to the Birmingham News, Vance has ordered the two sides to get back to the negotiating table in order to settle the contract dispute. The two sides were in court last week for a hearing before Vance and they appear closer to a settlement. Finebaum is suing over contractual issues that took place when Citadel owned the station and Cumulus is countersuing claiming breach of contract.
Leland Conway Moves to WRVA, Richmond for PM Drive. Lexington, Kentucky talk show host Leland Conway leaves his afternoon drive show at Clear Channel’s WLAP after six years to take over the same time slot at the company’s WRVA, Richmond. Conway fills the slot at WRVA that opened when the station parted ways with Doc Thompson. Back at WLAP, the station will get assistance from WHAS, Louisville talk host Mandy Connell and others filling in Conway’s afternoon show until a permanent replacement can be found.
WTMA, Charleston Morning Host Richard Todd Resigns. Citing the difficulty of being a single parent after the passing of his wife from cancer back in January, WTMA, Charleston, South Carolina morning drive host Richard Todd has resigned from the station. Todd returned to the radio in February after taking some time off subsequent to the death of his wife Mary Todd on January 3. Todd told his audience he would not be leaving his position had it not been for his wife’s passing. He said he isn’t able to focus and prepare the way he needs to in order to execute the show the way he’d like.
Former NFL Players Greg Koch and N.D. Kalu Exit KILT, Houston. The two had been contributors to CBS Radio’s sports talk KILT, Houston where they worked on both its coverage of Houston Texans football and with some of the station’s sports talk shows. Now, the Houston Chronicle reports the two have resigned from the station and the scuttlebutt is that they will resurface at Clear Channel’s crosstown sports talk KBME. KILT program director Gavin Spittle tells the paper, “We appreciated the time they were here. We have been fortunate to build a large staff, and with that will come departures. And with departures comes rebuilding, and we are excited about our future.” Greg Koch is an attorney and N.D. Kalu works in the real estate business in the Houston area.
Former Senator Arlen Specter Hangs Up on GCN’s Jason Lewis. Former Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter grew tired of his time on Genesis Communications Network’s Jason Lewis show – especially of having to sit through commercial breaks – and hung up on Lewis, but not after admonishing him for how the interview was being conducted. Specter was on the program to promote his latest book, Life Among the Cannibals (Thomas Dunne Books 2012). GCN reports Specter was upset Lewis didn’t spend enough time with the Republican-turned-Democrat discussing his book. After the second commercial break he told Lewis, “I gave you 10 minutes. You’ve been over every subject except for my book. I’ve listened to two rounds of your commercials. I think it’s insulting. I’ve been in a lot of interviews in the course of the past 30 years and you are absolutely insulting! I told you the last time around I wasn’t looking to sit around and listen to your commercials, and I didn’t want to hang up on you. But I want to tell you this is no way for anybody to run an interview. I’m as experienced as you are, if not more so. And that’s all I have to tell you, so goodbye!”
WFED, Washington PM Drive Host Francis Rose Available to Comment on Latest Government Waste Scandal. A new report from the Inspector General at the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), the agency that buys goods and services for the Federal government, says leadership spent over $822,000 on a conference attended by about 300 people in October 2010 (over $2700 per attendee). The report says “many of the expenditures on this conference were excessive and wasteful and that in many instances GSA followed neither federal procurement laws nor its own policy on conference spending.” This story has been gaining traction among government waste watchers and is already huge in the nation’s capital. Hubbard Broadcasting’s WFED (sister station to WTOP) uniquely targets its programming to Federal employees – particularly the bureaucracy’s movers and shakers – and is all over this breaking scandal. (See http://www.federalnewsradio.com/445/2812012/GSA-head-Johnson-resigns-two-others-fired.) Afternoon drive host Francis Rose tells TALKERS he is available for live and taped interviews via telephone on talk shows around the country to provide insight into its outrageous details. Rose can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by cell at 202-657-9907.
Jim Rome’s New CBS Sports Network Show Airs Tonight. Sports talk icon Jim Rome begins a new chapter in the TV side of his sports talk career as CBS Sports Network – CBS’ new sports cable channel – broadcasts the first edition of his TV show since Rome parted company with ESPN. Rome appeared on the “Late Show with David Letterman” last week to promote the new show and talk sports. Rome’s new TV program airs nightly at 6:00 ET.
GOP Primary/2012 Presidential Campaign, Syrian Violence, ObamaCare Status, Iran Nukes, Gas Prices and NCAA Finals Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/2). The Republican primary race and the 2012 presidential campaign; the drive to end the violence in Syria, the politics surrounding the legal status of President Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act, Iran’s nuclear ambitions; the rising price of gas and the NCAA basketball finals were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
By Steven J. J. Weisman
BOSTON — “At the heart of the First Amendment is the recognition of the fundamental importance of the free flow of ideas and opinions on matters of public interest and concern. The freedom to speak one’s mind is not only an aspect of individual liberty – and thus a good unto itself – but also is essential to the common quest for truth and the vitality of society as a whole.” It is interesting to note that this lofty statement of the principle of free speech came out of a case involving Hustler Magazine. Hustler Magazine v. Falwell 485 U.S. 46, 50-51.
However, although free speech is exalted under our Constitution, it is not unlimited. Title 18 U.S.C. Section 1464 prohibits “obscene, indecent or profane language by means of radio communication.” The duty to enforce this regulation is given by Congress to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The consequences of violation of this law are potentially quite severe, ranging from the imposition of monetary fines, referred to by the FCC as “forfeitures” to even the revocation of the broadcasting station’s license to broadcast. The amount of the fine or forfeiture is determined by consideration of the “nature, circumstances, extent and gravity of the violation and with respect to the violator, the degree of culpability, any history of prior offenses, ability to pay and such other matters as justice may require” according to the FCC’s Forfeiture Policy Statement.