It seems the old is now new again. WPMI radio, 710 AM officially switches its call letters back to WNTM as of Aug. 1, and has renewed an old news partnership to boot.
Part of the fallout from Clear Channel’s sale of its television stations, including WPMI-TV 15 locally, is the partnership that station had with its sister radio station. Now that WPMI TV is being sold off, the folks at Clear Channel radio have gone shopping for another news partner – and found them in the same building.
As Clear Channel’s radio operations and WKRG-TV 5’s news operations are located in the same building on Broadcast Drive, it made all the sense in the world for the two to work together, says Clear Channel’s market manager David Coppock.
"Being physically located in the same building does make it much easier," Coppock said. "Plus, the basic demographics with their station and ours lines up well. But the physical location was very appealing."
Coppock said WKRG will provide news breaks for Clear Channel’s local stations, as well as sports and weather coverage. The two will also join forces for hurricane coverage, he said.
WPMI 710’s former call letters were WNTM until a switch a couple of years ago. Coppock said WNTM was once WKRG’s local radio station, so the two working together again is fitting.
Coppock said the changes with Clear Channel shouldn’t affect their radio ownership in Mobile, as the stations here have been defined by the company as "core stations," he said.
If you haven’t noticed, there’s another curmudgeonly hour every weekday morning, as the "Uncle Henry Show" has expanded to two hours. The local satirical public events and commentary show now runs from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. on WNTM.
Coppock said the show’s popularity led management to ask its host if he would consider another hour, and he jumped at the chance. Now from 8 to 9, Uncle Henry is joined by longtime morning personality Scott O’Brien, then hosts the show solo from 9 to 10.
"We needed something to fill in between the morning show and ‘Rush,’ and Uncle Henry was willing to do it. His show is just so popular," Coppock said.
The world of local corporate radio – is that an oxymoron? – is changing a bit as Cumulus Media Inc., announced July 23 it has reached an agreement to sell its radio operation to a group led by Lewis Dickey Jr., the company’s chairman and CEO.
Atlanta-based Cumulus currently owns four Mobile radio stations, including market leaders WBLX and WDLT. They also own WGOK and WYOK.
The change is not expected to affect the 60-plus employees in the Mobile/Pensacola market.
Curran on leave
Public officials around the state may be breathing a sigh of relief as Press-Register bloodhound/reporter Eddie Curran has taken a leave of absence to finish up his book on – what else – the scandals of former-governor-current-jailbird Don Siegelman.
Curran tells us he asked the paper for the time to complete his book, and that he should be gone about six months.
"The paper has been good enough to give me lots of time off in the past two years to work on the book, but I just felt like I needed to focus on just the book or I’d never get it finished," Curran said. "I’ll probably do some part-time work for the paper but mostly am going to work on this book until I get it finished. I will tell you that writing a book is a whole lot harder than I anticipated it would be."
Curran started with the Press-Register in 1988 as a sports reporter and has been listed as a general assignment reporter since then.
Better Newspaper Awards
Speaking of newspapers, awards for the Alabama Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest were presented at Perdido Beach Resort in Orange Beach July 21. The Press-Register picked up 16 of the awards, including four first-place, four second-place and eight third-place.
The P-R landed in third place in the Division A "General Excellence" category. Division A includes Alabama’s largest newspapers. The Huntsville Times and Birmingham News placed ahead of the Press-Register in the awards.
Press Register reporter George Talbot was a one-man wrecking crew, gathering four awards, including first, second and third in the "Best Business Story or Column" category. The P-R’s Thomas Murphy also picked up a first-place award for "Best Sports Feature Story." And the local daily also won first-place awards for "Best Special Section" and "Best Local Education Coverage."
The Better Newspaper Contest includes newspapers from around the state, and this year’s contest was judged by the Louisiana Press Association.
Press Club awards
Locally, the Mobile Press Club Awards will be announced Aug. 4 at 7 p.m. at the Gulf Coast Exploreum in downtown Mobile. This is the first year the awards ceremony will be a nighttime event, which will feature an opportunity for local media types to get together and hobnob, drink a cold one and gyrate rhythmically to live music.
The cost to attend is $30 per person. It should be a great time, and hopefully an opportunity to see Alan Sealls do the electric slide again. He’s the master.
Most of the awards are veiled in secrecy this year, but one cat is out of the bag. WKRG’s Kellie Jones is the 2007 recipient of the John Harris Award, which honors a person who has made a significant contribution to the profession and community. Jones has been both an anchor and assistant news director at the station.