Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Midweek roundup: Elliott on the phone, Ward in court, Newsom not on the air and WZNZ gets religious

As a deadly cyclone ripped through Myanmar, the media ripped through Miley Cyrus for (gasp!) showing some of her bare upper back and Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign has virtually been ripped to shreds, it's time to rip through a few other headlines, LTR-style. Here goes:

The fastest three hours on your cell phone

Didn't stay up late enough to hear Jon Elliott last night? Well, you can let your fingers do the listening, as his show is now available via your phone. Cellecast, an audio content provider catering to mobile phone users, is putting Elliott's Air America Radio show in the palm of your hand.

"Now listeners all over America will be able to listen for free to This Is America with Jon Elliott any time they want over their cell phone just by dialing a phone number," said the host in All Access. "I was very impressed with the unique, proprietary technology developed by Cellecast and the potential for enormous growth. Cellecast presents us with a great new platform to expand and extend our listenership."

"We’re pleased to have Jon Elliott on board with Cellecast," said Cellecast founder and CEO Andrew Deal. "He speaks intelligently to a growing audience that deserves to have unlimited access to him, and to be able to interact and share the show easily with others. We look forward to seeing a wide range of programs from all corners of the political spectrum represented on the unlimited Cellecast dial." Cellecast also offers cranky radio shrink Dr. Laura Schlessinger, conservative Lars Larson and tech geek Dave Graveline.

Signup and listening is free for all, and commercial-free programming and other features are available for a monthly fee. While the service is geared toward cell phones, their website does offer online listening as well, for those that listen to shows the 'semi-old fashioned way.' But, the obvious question concerns all that airtime usage. Wouldn't a 2-3 hour show burn that up pretty quick? Cellecast is currently working with wireless providers on a way around this obvious obstacle.

WZNZ/Jacksonville sold

The days of the progressive talk format in Jacksonville, FL could be numbered. Nancy Epperson, owner of WZNZ (1460AM), is selling the station to Queen of Peace Radio for $1.6 million.

Queen of Peace currently owns local station WQOP (1600AM), which airs a Catholic-based religious format. That station has very limited signal reach, and powers down to a mere 89 watts after sunset. The move to 1460AM, which currently has a construction permit to boost power from 5,000 to 15,000 watts, will give them greater reach than WQOP's. It is highly likely that they'll change WZNZ's format, but nothing has been confirmed.

Epperson’s Chesapeake-Portsmouth Broadcasting has had a lease agreement with Florida Democratic politician Andy Johnson, who has been programming a progressive talk format consisting of shows by himself and other local hosts, in addition to syndicated talkers such as Ed Schultz, Thom Hartmann, Jim Bohannon and Lou Dobbs.

Newsom a no-show for now

San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom, who was set to start his radio show this past weekend, wasn't able to make it for the debut, which was to be aired on KKGN (960AM).

Newsom's day job got in the way of his show. He was scheduled to make trips to Israel and New York. As a result, KKGN had to pull back on its ads promoting the show, instead running a bunch of "Whoops, we're sorry" spots.

"I guess it just wasn't the best time for him to start," said Green 960 program director John Scott. "Hopefully, we'll regroup in a couple of weeks."

Ward changes plea

Elsewhere in San Francisco, embattled former radio host Bernie Ward, who pleaded not guilty in December to distributing and receiving child pornography via the Internet, plans to change his plea Thursday, federal court records show.

Ward, 57, a former personality with KGO (810AM), is scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco to change his plea. He is a month away from going on trial. The case against Ward began when he engaged in sex chats with an online dominatrix and allegedly sent her pictures of children engaged in sexual activity, according to a police report.

Ward pleaded not guilty to the charges in December and had insisted that he was innocent of any wrongdoing. Weinberg has said the conversations Ward had with the woman consisted only of role-playing as part of a book he was researching on hypocrisy.


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