KOIT Accuses Entercom of Unfair Labor Practices

Categories: Media

KOIT FM, the station you may recognize for wall-to-wall holiday music, mellifluous canned DJ voices, and the inimitable, irrefutable jingle, "Lite rock, less talk," is ready to speak truth to power.

So say allies at Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. (SAG-AFTRA), who are circulating a petition to support the station's 5-member bargaining unit as it negotiates a new contract with Philadelphia overlord, Entercom Communications.

Since Entercom took over in 2007, KOIT staff say they've endured massive pay and severance cuts, personnel supplanted by computerized voice-tracking and pre-recorded programs, and union protections worn down. They've accused the company of eroding creativity and talent at the station, whose staff members embrace the old-fashioned ideal of terrestrial radio.

It turns out that even the skinny-vanilla-latte of FM stations saw itself as a portal to a broad community of listeners.

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Mickey Rooney: Chronicle's Odd, Appropriate Obituary Photo

Categories: Media
Mickey Rooney was an actor famous for being young before he was famous for being old. He was famous for epitomizing an era when it was perfectly acceptable to cast a Caucasian actor to portray a fiendish Asian stereotype. And he was certainly famous for keeping pace with Elizabeth Taylor in the marriage department (eight betrothals but, unlike Liz, who wed Richard Burton twice, Rooney enjoyed the full eight spouses). 

Through it all, Rooney -- who died yesterday at age 93 -- was famous for his diminutive stature. For generations, Rooney was converted into an adjective to describe a man of short stature. 

So, the obit photo featured this morning on SFGate may be odd. But it's hardly inappropriate. 

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Ousted Pacifica Radio Executive Director Barricades Herself in KPFA, Staffers Say (Update)

Update, 5:30 p.m.: Summer Reese responds.

The Berkeley-based Pacifica Foundation's decision to oust its executive director, Summer Reese, was only the latest in a series of interstitial battles that have rattled the community radio network, the local affiliate of which is Berkeley's KPFA.

And it was supposed to go off without a hitch.

But Reese, who was expelled two weeks ago by a majority vote of the foundation's board, has doggedly refused to leave. Multiple KPFA sources say that shortly after her ouster Reese set up camp in her office adjacent to KPFA Radio in Berkeley. She's purportedly been there ever since.

That's spawned unrest at a station already bedeviled by fractious internal politics. According to this week's feature in LA Weekly, the rifts are only deepening. (There are, it appears, two rival station-bolstering factions, "Save KPFA" and "Support KPFA.")

Reese, who was conferred her position in November after serving in an interim role for a year, has threatened to sue Pacifica many times, according to sources familiar with the matter.

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"Handshake Deal": Ed Reiskin, Muni, Fight Losing Battle With Dictionary

Blake Ritterman
Coach No. 8706 cruises through Wyoming on Oct. 17, weeks before the contract for it to be built is signed
For years, it turns out Muni officials were fighting a losing battle with Merriam-Webster with regards to the term "on time." Through a series of Kafkaesque tweaks deviating significantly from any sense of time, space, transit, or reality, the agency devised a malleable definition of timeliness that allowed it to, for a decade, inflate its performance by up to 25 percent.

This worked out well for Muni. It did not work out so well for its riders. That's how applying semantic solutions to real problems tends to go. 

And so, today, Muni boss Ed Reiskin took to the pages of the Examiner to claim it's just not so that the transit agency has been engaging in "handshake deals" -- and, whatever it did, it did it for your benefit. 

This is, once again, a semantic dodge -- and a dubious one at that. Your humble narrator in January wrote an SF Weekly cover story exposing that Muni and the bus manufacturer New Flyer came to some manner of agreement for 50 hybrid buses worth $38.3 million to be manufactured, transported to the Bay Area, and squirreled away in clandestine locations. This was done without the Board of Supervisors approving a contract or -- most importantly -- approving the expense. It was, per Muni, understood that 100 percent of the risks of this undertaking were assumed by the manufacturer. And, when we requested, repeatedly, for the paperwork underpinning this deal, we were told there wasn't any -- and there was no "deal." 

But, per Reiskin, characterizing this as a handshake agreement "simply is not true."  

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The First Marijuana-Related Ad Airs On Major Television Network

Categories: Marijuana, Media

Here's your guy
With over $1 billion worth of sales in California alone, marijuana has been a big business for some time.

Yet, legal weed isn't quite Big Business in the made-it-in-America sense: The stock market has no marijuana-fueled heavy hitters and whatever "big marijuana" is -- beyond fears of an evil corporate specter that will take over when and if pot finally goes legit -- it hasn't quite yet appeared.

But there's a milestone for America's legitimate cannabis industry today just the same: a marijuana-related television ad, believed to be the first of its kind, airing on Comcast-fueled cable boxes in New Jersey this week.

The ad features no marijuana, but it does have raw fish.

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Patch Lays Off Hundreds of Reporters Via Conference Call. Listen to the Audio

Categories: Media, WTF?

The media world is in mourning again after mass layoffs over at Patch.com, the hyperlocal online news site in 23 states, after it closed down 300 of its websites.

Jim Romenesko reported the news after getting tips that two-thirds of the reporting staff was canned in a 60-second conference call. The call came just a month after the 900 formerly AOL-owned sites were bought by Hale Global, and six months after about 400 Patch staffers were let go in another round of layoffs.

Here's audio of Wednesday morning's dreaded call:

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Tom Stienstra, Chronicle Outdoor Writer, Loses Defamation Suit Following Pot Bust

Categories: Marijuana, Media
A legal setback for the outdoorsman
Update: Tom Stienstra responds, outlines his complaints. 

In a development that inspired many uninspired puns, Chronicle outdoor columnist Tom Stienstra was in 2010 arrested for purportedly growing weed in the town of Weed

Vile puns are no crime, nor is reporting on a public figure's arrest for alleged marijuana cultivation (No charges were ever filed against Stienstra following the marijuana arrest, incidentally). Hell, we covered it. So did Stienstra's own Chronicle, Fox News, ABC 10, the Sacramento Bee, and the Redding Record-Searchlight

So did a fly-fishing blog called The Trout Underground. And, in August of last year, Stienstra filed suit against fly-fisherman and blogger Tom Chandler in small-claims court, alleging defamation based on this snarky but rather straightforward 2010 article

Following a courtroom clash between the outdoorsman and the fly-fisherman, a Siskiyou County commissioner meted out justice on Nov. 19 of last year -- and the fly-fisherman won. Like an undersized catch, Stienstra's lawsuit was tossed out. 

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Ellis Act: So There Isn't an "Eviction Crisis." So What?

If you want to distinguish yourself and earn a bit of notoriety with a story about this city's "eviction crisis," there are two ready ways to proceed: A. Claim you're in favor of it, or; B. Claim it doesn't exist. 

Today, San Francisco Magazine took the latter tack. In a story titled "The Eviction Crisis That Wasn't," Scott Lucas argues, rather convincingly, that "carping about the Ellis Act won't solve San Francisco's housing problem." 

Well, that's certainly correct. In fact, this entire article is an example of how you can be "correct," without being "right." 

"The Ellis Act" is a 1985 state law pitched as a means for aging mom 'n' pop landlords to get out of the rental business by evicting all their tenants. A relocation fee Lucas deems "sizable" is mandated. 

Let it be known that the mandatory relocation fee is currently $5,000. 

Also, in a development lawmakers either didn't anticipate or didn't care to divulge 30 years back, the Ellis Act enables corporations to buy up buildings, empty out the long-term tenants, and profit handsomely by converting the units into ownership properties.  

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Chicago Sun-Times to Beta Test a Bitcoin Paywall

Categories: Media, Tech

Let's see if Bitcoin can place a value on journalism
At a time when newspapers are still debating the merits of conventional credit card paywalls, the Chicago Sun-Times has an even more audacious plan: It's asking readers to pay for articles in digital currency.

The paper is partnering with San Francisco-based start-up Bitwall to build its new Bitcoin paywall, which launches February 1st. As the Chron reported Tuesday, readers will confront the paywall every time they visit the Sun-Times' website.

They'll be asked to make a cryptocurrency donation, which the Sun-Times will convert into legal tender and donate to a pro-bono service nonprofit called the Taproot Foundation.

Readers can also clear the paywall by tweeting about Taproot.

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News Crew Pepper-Sprayed, Robbed While Filming in the Mission

Categories: Media

Flickr/\/\ichael Patric|{
Reporter job description: Low pay, long hours, and easy target
A San Francisco news crew was reportedly attacked and robbed while on the job in the city's Mission District yesterday evening.

According to police reports, at about 6:30 p.m., the two-person crew was on the 1100 block of Valencia Street breaking down their equipment after filming a story when two teens ran up behind them, doused them with pepper spray and snatched the television camera.

The robbers ran westbound on San Jose Avenue, and two witnesses ran after them, getting hit by the pepper spray as well, said Officer Albie Esparza.

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