Miss Vero wrote to Max Newport:
RE: Russ Lemmon
Hey, now I know why he's been so quiet - It's that time of year when he feels particularly vulnerable. I bet he never thought his journalism would get him into the museum - of Hoaxes!http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/aprilframe7.html
Max Newport responded to Miss Vero:
When I did my LEMMON TREE NOT SO PRETTY article, the response was so defensive of poor Russ that I did not do my follow up on the April Fool's story. It might be good fodder for tomorrow. The article was mysteriously unavailable on the Toledo Blade website so I went to a pay site and whipped out some plastic.
Here is the article:
Blade, The (Toledo, OH)
April 1, 2002
WILL 'BROADCAST SUBSCRIPTIONS' LURE LISTENERS?
Author: Russ Lemmon Blade staff writer
Edition: CITY FINALSection: PEACH PLUSPage: D3
Estimated printed pages: 3
Given today's date, I feel compelled to make this disclaimer: What you're about to read is not - repeat, not - an April Fool's joke.
Clear Channel wants you to pay a monthly fee to listen to the WVKS-FM (92.5) morning show.
Yes, a monthly fee.
Clear Channel, the nation's largest radio company with more than 1,200 stations, is using Toledo to test a "broadcast subscription service." According to Clear Channel regional manager Andy Stuart, this is the future of radio.
"Listeners will now be able to subscribe, much like they do for newspapers, magazines, cable TV, and satellite radio," Stuart was quoted as saying on the WVKS web site. "The subscription will allow listeners at home, work, in the car, or on the Internet to hear all of the Breakfast Club broadcast. Those without the service will still receive the music, commercials, and incidentals that are broadcast during the show."
Clear Channel officials refused to answer questions about the service. Based on the description on the station's web site, one might assume that paying customers will be able to listen in during commercial breaks.
Oh, boy. For a fee, you might be able to hear even more potty humor. And if the two male members of the Breakfast Club get out of hand, you might hear the lone female member - the self-described "resident mother" - say, "Oh, stop!" one or two more times a day.
WVKS had Toledo's No. 2 morning show in 2001, according to Arbitron. Cumulus-owned WKKO-FM (99.9), which has a country-music format, was No. 1 with a 13.5 percent share among listeners age 12-plus, compared to 11.7 for the WVKS talk show.
When told of Clear Channel's monthly subscription plan, Cumulus executive John Dickey let out a hearty chuckle. "That's pretty funny stuff," he said. "I give them an 'A' for effort and for being bold, but I think that's crazy. ... Cumulus is going to continue to serve the public, free of charge."
The subscription fee during this test period "will be pennies a day," according to the WVKS web site. But it doesn't say how long the test period will last or how much the fee will be afterward.
This is the second time in six months that WVKS and Denny Schaffer have combined for a head-scratching venture. In October, the teen-oriented station tried charging $8 per ticket for Schaffer's 2,000th show at the Valentine Theatre. It ended up giving away tickets and, even then, the Valentine was only one-third full.
Perhaps it's no coincidence that Clear Channel is using WVKS as a laboratory for this first-of-its-kind experiment on terrestrial radio. After all, the Breakfast Club enthusiastically recites its motto - "people are stupid" - at the end of each show.
"Please join Clear Channel in embracing the future of radio," Stuart said in an on-air promo.
Hmmm. I wonder what Forrest Gump's momma would say about paying a monthly fee for local radio.
HARDWARE: WTVG-TV, Channel 13, and WTOL-TV, Channel 11, each received a regional Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio-Television News Directors Association. For the national award, they will compete against winners in similar-size markets from 12 other regions.
WTVG won for the overall excellence of its news operation (for the second time in three years), while WTOL won for Jerry Anderson's series "Families Coping."
RATINGS BUMP: The new morning show on WXKR-FM (94.5) - "Live with Mark and Micki" - is off to a good start. From March 11-15 (the show's first week), WXKR had a 7.5 percent share among vehicles driving past MobilTrak's counter on Reynolds Road, according to advertising executive Don Lea. That's up from a 6.6 during "Jeff and Mark's" final full week.
WHAT ARE THE ODDS?: It was 5:35 a.m. and I was driving to work. While flipping among stations, I heard "Let It Ride" - a 1973 song by Bachman-Turner Overdrive - simultaneously on WXKR and WJZE-FM (97.3). John Nash, are you up for a calculation?
Russ Lemmon is The Blade's local media critic. His column appears Mondays. E-mail him at email@example.com
Copyright, 2002, The BladeRecord Number: 0204010091
The next day, the paper published a red-faced retraction:
Good old Russ. You gotta love him.