The Media Notepad: Big 95.5 downsizes

Over and out: Mason and Remy can now join Jamie Allman selling concessions at St. Louis Cardinals games.

Also: Jamie Allman out at St. Louis’ KDNL; Chicago Tribune unionizes; quick thought on Apu gate and “Roseanne” jokes

According to All Access Big changes are coming to Big 95.5 FM, known as WEBG-FM.

In a complete housecleaning, the iHeartMedia station fired morning personalities Mason Schreader and Zach Hoesly (“Remy”) and midday personality Steve Stewart, who was also the program director. Assistant program director Emily Bermann, who split midday duties with Stewart, is also out.

Coming in from iHeartMedia Boston is Lance Houston as the new program director and also the new midday host. For the time being, morning co-host Amber Cole (known on-air as “Alabama”, her native state) takes over the morning daypart solo.

After starting out with strong ratings and becoming the first to mount a serious challenge to WUSN-FM in years, Big 95.5 FMs has fizzled, with Mason and Remy – two former radio personalities from St. Louis as the centerpiece of the station. But the duo never caught on with Chicago audiences.

With iHeartMedia in bankruptcy, cuts to the station were expected. The country format is staying in place…but for how long?

Speaking of unemployed St. Louis media personalities, arch city native Jamie Allman just lost big at the poker table: the former KMOV reporter was cut from his radio and TV gigs after threatening someone on social media. On March 26, Allman mentioned Parkland school shooting survivor Davis Hogg in a tweet using the word “poker” as a verb, interpreted as a threat of sexual assault. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Allman “resigned” from his TV show at ABC affiliate KDNL in St. Louis Monday night and Tuesday was cut from his morning drive position at conservative talk KFTK-FM in the same market, owned by Entercom. The moves came after several clients pulled their advertising from the TV show.

Twitter locked Allman’s account after he made the comments. Despite the firing, his show page is still up on KDNL’s website as of this writing, but much of its recent content was stripped.

Allman fronted a Fox News-like half-hour news and information show called The Allman Report weeknights at 5 and 10 p.m. on KDNL, owned by Sinclair Broadcasting – a group already in the news for a “anti-fake news” statement they made anchors read and was complied by Deadspin. KDNL has aired Allman in lieu of a local newscast, absent from the schedule since crosstown rival KSDK produced one for KDNL several years ago. . Despite a large number of Illinois households in the St. Louis market (known as MetroEast), Allman rarely talked about issues pertaining to the Land of Lincoln, at least on his TV show.

The 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. editions of Allman have been replaced by syndicated reruns of Family Feud and Modern Family, respectively. The move comes as Sinclair is purchasing Tribune Media, who owns Fox affiliate KTVI and CW affiliate KPLR,where as one of the stations must be spun-off to satisfy regulators. KDNL has been an ABC affiliate since 1995 when it and KTVI switched networks, due to the Fox-New World deal in 1994 to switch most of its stations to Fox, including then-New World owned KTVI. KDNL has been a ratings doormat for years, as it is the one of the weakest ABC affiliates in the country.

For the first time in its 171-year history, the Chicago Tribune is becoming a pro-union shop – forming a group called Chicago Tribune Guild – a shock to some as founder Colonel Robert McCormick had always voiced his displeasure for unions. Workers at the paper said the move would give them better pay and benefits. 46 employees signed the letter, including four Pulitzer Prize winners.

For owner Tronc, the unionization gives the company yet another headache. After the Los Angeles Times unionized, the paper was sold.

This is the latest in changes for the paper; recently, operations moved into the Prudential -Building, away from the Tribune tower which the paper called it self home for over 100 years.

Editor and publisher Bob Dold said in a statement: “We believe in transparency, open dialogue and fairness. That’s who we are as journalists and what guides the Tribune, The letter raises concerns about compensation, the cost of healthcare benefits, development opportunities, staff diversity, job security and other issues. We take all of these to heart.”

Recently, Tronc laid off fifteen employees, including beat writers for the Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago White Sox. Many blame Tronc executives for the woeful state of affairs at the paper, which has been through two rough ownership periods in the last decade under Sam Zell and Michael Ferro.

Already, the Chicago Sun-Times is owned by a union consortium led by former alderman Edwin Eisendrath and is a union shop.

Finally, a quick thought on the recent controversies regarding a joke on last week’s Roseanne and the Hindu character of Apu on The Simpsons. At one time, I wanted to become a television writer – but these days, I am so glad I never pursued the career path. I was surprised a joke about two TV shows on Roseanne generated so much negative reaction – many TV sitcoms have always done these type of “throwaway jokes”, including Family Guy.

As for the matter of Apu, the way The Simpsons addressed the controversy was absolutely pathetic. I won’t go into another rant why the show isn’t as good as it used to be; I wrote that piece ten years ago. But I’m not surprised the producers’ reaction to the Apu controversy was dismissive – Simpsons writers and producers have a reputation for being the most arrogant people in the business.

But while everyone is quick to jump on these two shows – and they have every right to do so, this blog and others have complained about racial stereotyping for YEARS in many African-American reality shows such as Love and Hip-Hop, Basketball Wives, Flavor Of Love, and The Real Housewives Of Atlanta and these same people say NOTHING. IS it because if they say something, they might be branded as “racist”? Only when VH1 aired Sorority Sisters and a proposed reality show titled All My Babies’ Mamas with rapper Shawty Lo was circulating the issue even received attention – sparse as it was.

Since this blog started, I’ve written many pieces on racism and the media business. As an African-American male, I see things a bit differently. So tell me why a man with the financial means films a documentary about some third-string Simpsons character while no one goes into why we have so many Angry Black Women characters on TV. Thankfully, progress has been made with the arrival of Luke Cage, The Chi, Black Lightning, and of course Black Panther – all well-written TV shows and movies with realistic depictions of African-Americans, but there’s still too much stereotypical programming around. We’re not there yet.