By Alex Wukman
I’ll admit it, I’m a news junkie. I’m so much of a news junkie that I watch the BBC while reading the AP on my phone. My love of news has put me at odds with people in the past, I was one of the few people who supported UH buying KTRU because I’m selfish and wanted more NPR. And I especially love news radio, both the format and the brilliant sitcom. Listening to KTRH’s headline recap while riding around with my father during hot Houston summers is one of the few good memories I have of him from my childhood. So it saddened me to read today that a station I grew up listening to and relying on, a station that once promised “give us 30 minutes and we’ll give you the world,” has completed it’s transformation into a right wing mouthpiece. This morning Clear Channel announced that J.P. Pritchard and Lana Hughes, who have anchored KTRH’s drive time newscast for 27 years, have been terminated.
Pritchard and Hughes who kept readers informed of local and national matters in an even handed non sensational manner during the hellish morning commutes will be replaced by former Ohio talk jock and Tea Party darling Matt Patrick. Patrick, who has been in radio since 1979, came to national attention last fall after he claimed that Michigan State head football Mark Dantonio suffered a divinity induced heart attack after using a fake field goal to beat Notre Dame in overtime last fall. Patrick is not shy about his conservative leanings, even stating in his resume that it’s his job to “engage, entertain and discuss local and national events from a conservative viewpoint.”
To their credit Hughes and Pritchard recognize that their termination is not personal and that they are just the latest casualty as old media tries to adapt. Sadly, the case can’t be said for KTRH’s AM operations manager Bryan Erickson who told Fox 26, KRIV, that his station has “serve our listeners by being informative and entertaining.” And to accomplish the task of creating drive time infotainment KTRH’s parent company Clear Channel has decided to embrace the always insightful and informative model of Fox Friends.
According Michael Harrison publisher of Talkers magazine, who was quoted in the Chronicle, this new Steve Doocey-esque morning show will be “a more philosophical, conservative approach to morning conversation.” There are a lot of words I’d use to describe Fox and Friends but “philsophical” isn’t one of them. While it is true that Gretchen Carlson did graduate Stanford with honors, attend Oxford and could be considered a violin virtuoso she sure seems to enjoy playing the role of someone who is recovering from a frontal lobotomy.
The one saving grace out of this asinine decision to take a once good news organization and turn it into a wall-to-wall bastion of right wing talk that’s only interrupted by Astros games is that, for once, we can’t blame Michael Berry for fucking up Houston radio news. Although I’m sure we could if we try hard enough.