30 APR 09: Clear-Out Channel
I should have smelled trouble when I turned on the radio Wednesday morning. The newscaster on WDAK's "Morning Show" was Wes Carroll - as in the Editor-in Chief of The Edge Magazine. The most traditional news outlet in Columbus had stooped to using the man behind "C-Town Hotties."
For all I knew, usual WDAK news anchor Chris Weber might have been sick. But as the day went on, I learned otherwise. A radio news web site revealed Weber had been dismissed, in another large nationwide job cut by Clear Channel Radio. Yet for some odd reason, a Columbus TV newscast reported on the layoffs first.
Chris Weber used to be the weather anchor and "third voice" on WDAK's Morning Show, with Scott Miller and Val McGuinness. But then McGuinness was fired in February 2008, and Weber became the news anchor. Now he's also been fired -- and Miller is trying as hard as he can to avoid reading news headlines.
People who dial around the radio know Chris Weber was more than a news anchor on WDAK. He co-hosted the "High Noon Sports" talk show on WSHE with retired baseball coach B.R. Johnson. I found out about the firing too late in the day to check that program. And the WSHE web site doesn't even admit that station carries Duke and the Doctor.
(The ironic thing is that Val McGuiness's voice still can be heard throughout the day on WSHE, promoting "Southern Gospel" music.. Moving to the PMB stations apparently does NOT prove you're a backsliding sinner.)
Chris Weber's face was quickly removed from the WDAK web site. But things were different with another big-name Clear Channel layoff. The blog of "Incognito" remained at the web site of WBFA-FM "98.3 The Beat" Wednesday night. I guess it's like his blog says -- loyalty is everything.
Incognito reportedly lost his night shift at The Beat - but I suspect he'll be able to find work somewhere else. After all, if you're REALLY "incognito" no one will ever know you worked in radio.
Clear Channel wasn't the only business which announced local job cuts Wednesday. The Columbus Cessna plant will lose about 90 employees at the end of June -- and production of the Columbus jet is being suspended. Maybe if it was being made in Columbus and not Wichita, Kansas, more local companies would order it.
But not all the economic news was bleak Wednesday. Mike Gaymon with the Columbus Chamber of Commerce rejoiced as.... hey, wait a minute! Why not have Gaymon read the morning news on WDAK? He already hosts a weekly talk show. Let's hear him promote some projects in President Obama's stimulus plan.
But anyway: Mike Gaymon announced a telemarketing firm called Prosperity America is opening a call center near Fort Benning. The company plans to hire 300 people -- but will do it by hiring about 25 workers every three months. Prosperity America calls it a "start-up." Skeptical consumer groups might call it multi-level marketing.
Prosperity America Chief Executive Fred Landrum he wants to give telemarketing jobs to local disabled veterans and military spouses. He suggested the alternative is moving those jobs to Pakistan - where the big bad Taliban wants to create even more disabled U.S. veterans in the months ahead.
(Come to think of it, Chris Weber might want to take a resume at this weekend's Prosperity America job fair. Telemarketing is a bit like radio, you know. Employees take calls from the public, sometimes give away prizes - and they can show up for work in T-shirts and shorts during the summer.)
Now a few other quick items from a day when the news didn't inspire us much....
+ Columbus city officials told the Ledger-Enquirer last week's tornado destroyed more than 250 trees. But that's not all bad news. If those trees are handled properly, natural gas bills across the city could drop sharply next winter.
+ The American Lung Association issued a report on air pollution, and gave Muscogee County an "F" for high ozone levels. From 2005-2007, Columbus had 17 "orange alert" days. Now hold on a minute - are they sure those weren't simply Auburn University alumni meetings?
+ WRBL showed highlights from the first day of a college baseball tournament at Golden Park. The Southern States Athletic Conference wanted to hold its tournament at a neutral site. Columbus seems like a good choice - since I doubt most residents even can name half the teams in the conference.
+ The Atlanta Hawks humbled Miami 106-91 in Game 5 of their pro basketball playoff series. When Miami star Dwyane Wade injured his head in the first quarter, the Hawks radio announcers declared he likes to "go Hollywood" from time to time. So much for those guys ever appearing in Wade's T-Mobile commercials....
SCHEDULED FRIDAY: We catch up on some mail we've overlooked for a few days....
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