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Wait Wait WHAT?? Carl Kasell Retiring from Signature NPR Program

waitwaitNPR’s Carl Kasell announced today that he’s stepping down from “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” after a five-decade career in broadcasting. Kasell will record his final “Wait Wait” broadcast this spring and celebration shows are planned in Chicago and DC.

Kasell became an audience favorite as the Official Judge and Scorekeeper of “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” Among the program’s most popular quiz segments were those built around Kasell impersonating newsmakers and celebrities from the week’s headlines.

Fans of Kasell can leave him voice mails by calling 1-888-Wait-Wait.

In retirement, he’ll become Scorekeeper Emeritus of the program and will continue to record custom voice mail greetings for the show’s lucky winners and continue to occasionally appear on the program.

For 30 years, Kasell provided newscasts for NPR’s “Morning Edition.” He joined NPR in 1975 as a part-time newscaster for “Weekend All Things Considered.” Prior to that, he spent 10 years at WAVA, in Arlington, Va., first as morning anchor, then as news director. Before moving to DC in 1965, Kasell was morning deejay and newscaster at WGBR-AM in Goldsboro, NC. He also worked at a local radio station part time during high school and was an actor in local theater.

The Hammer, Tom DeLay, to Write and Talk for TWT

Tom DeLay, the powerful former Majority Leader and reality TV star, will contribute a weekly column to The Washington Times and also serve as an on-air personality for TWT‘s new radio venture. From the press release announcing the hire:

Starting this week, DeLay will appear on a weekly on-demand radio show with Andy Parks, who separately hosts “Live from The Washington Times” on WRC 1260 AM on weekdays. DeLay’s 30-minute program will be streamed on the Kaliki-based, on-demand radio network that was recently established in partnership with the Times.

DeLay will elaborate the themes he develops on air into a weekly column.

DeLay, of course, was the all-powerful majority leader of the Republican caucus in the House during the Bush years, before resigning his leadership position after being indicted in a campaign finance scandal. He was convicted on charges of violating election laws, but was later acquitted due to insufficient evidence.

Julie Rovner Leaving NPR for KFF

Kaiser Family Foundation announced last week that NPR  health correspondent Julie Rovner will be coming on board as a Robin Toner Distinguished Fellow.

While at NPR, Rovner has reported on health policy and politics in Washington and around the country.  Rovner has also served as NPR’s lead correspondent covering the passage and implementation of the Affordable Care Act. She is also the author of Health Care Policy and Politics A-Z, published by CQ Press.

Rovner will begin her fellowship in May and will also work as a Senior Correspondent with Kaiser Health News (KHN) and its news partners, covering health policy and politics and doing enterprise reporting for a variety of platforms.

Tea Party Talker Rusty Humphries To Be Key Part of TWT Expansion

Rusty Humphries, a spokesman for the Tea Party Leadership Fund and a former conservative radio show host from Arizona, has been hired by The Washington Times. Humphries will have a significant role at TWT. He will be a weekly columnist, a blogger and a daily video show host.

Humphries’ appointment is part of Editor John Solomon‘s plan to transform The Washington Times from a conservative relic into a multi-platform juggernaut. The paper has also hired two other contributors in recent weeks. Cliff May will write a foreign affairs column, and Iowa radio host Steve Deace will pen an opinion column, as well as produce radio content for the paper.

Until it ended last October, Humphries’ radio show was the 6th most listened to show in the country, according to Talkers Magazine. He is also a singer/songwriter and creator of the song “Do the Bart Simpson” -yes really. His albums include Bomb Iraq: Rusty Humphries Takes On the Terrorists, and Thank Allah I’m a Jihad Boy.

FBDC Tweeterboard: Local Broadcast News

Earlier this month we took a look at the social standing of the DC publications and Washington-based national anchors. Now it’s time to turn our attention to local broadcasters. FishbowlDC tallied the Twitter followers of DC’s TV and radio stations, as well as those of the top on-air talent. Here’s what we found:

Top 10 Local Television and Radio Stations

1. NBC 4 (WRC)  - 68,947
2. CBS 9 (WUSA) - 52,733
3. WTOP 103.5 FM  - 51,723
4. ABC 7 (WJLA) - 46,702
5. Fox 5 (WTTG) – 32,080
6. WAMU 88.5 FM – 10,630
7. WFED 1500 AM – 9,629
8. PBS 26 (WETA) – 4,666
9. Univision 14 (WFDC) – 3,160
10. NewsChannel 8* – 2,466

Top 15 Local Broadcast Personalities

1. Angie Goff (NBC 4) – 25,576
2. Nikki Burdine (CBS 9) – 21,108
3. Britt McHenry (ABC 7) – 18,342
4. Doug Kammerer (NBC 4) – 16,936
5. Bruce Johnson (CBS 9) – 13,554
6. Shomari Stone (NBC 4) – 10,961
7. Julie Wright (Fox 5) – 10,789
8. Danella Sealock (NBC 4/WPGC) – 9,010
9. Tom Sherwood (NBC 4/WAMU) – 8,859
10. Russ Ptacek (CBS 9) – 8,811
11. Eun Yang (NBC 4) – 8,561
12. Jacqui Jeras (ABC 7) – 8,129
13. Jim Handly  (NBC 4) – 7,744
14. Chuck Bell (NBC 4) – 6,906
15. Jim Vance (NBC 4) – 6,747

The takeaway: NBC 4 is the most socially engaged of the local stations overall. They claim the number one spot among broadcast stations and their staff accounts for 9 of the top 15 local personalities on Twitter. CBS 9 comes next, with a solid second place in the station rankings and 3 of the top 15 personalities. And ABC 7 comes in third place overall -the station has less followers than WTOP, but they do contribute 2 personalities in the top 15.

*NewsChannel 8 is DC’s local cable channel.

WTOP Expands Online Entertainment Coverage

Long-time WTOP web writer (and producer/director of awesome metal doc Welcome to DeathfestAlicia Lozano has been named the editor of a new entertainment section on the station’s webpage.  She will focus on managing the section and creating original digital content as well as on-air contributions.

The section is the latest in WTOP’s online expansion, following the launch of the Living and Technology sections in November of 2012 and August of 2013, respectively.

“As WTOP evolves into a Digital News Operation, we are continuing to dedicate resources to original digital content that will feed not only our website but also our radio and mobile platforms,” Director of Digital Media John Meyer said. “The Washington area is rife with local stories concerning the arts, music, movies and more. Our entertainment section will bring these stories to life online and on-air.”

With Fornicola Hire, Federal News Radio Invests in Sponsored Content

WFED 1500 AM, better known as Federal News Radio, announced yesterday the hiring of Jason Fornicola as the station’s first ever Director of Custom Media. In the new position, Fornicola will be tasked with creating sponsored content for advertisers and placing it on air, as well as on the WFED website. The hire is indicative of a trend among DC publications -Politico and The Washington Times, for example -who are moving towards using sponsored content, also called “native advertising” or “custom media,” as a source of revenue.

Fornicola is not exactly new to WFED. He was formerly the Communications Specialist for the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).  Since 2006, he has been the host and producer of “Inside Government,” AFGE’s award-winning weekly radio program on Federal News Radio.

Federal News Radio is targeted towards an audience of federal managers and contractors seeking news and information about the business of the federal government.  Its website,, features local and national federal news, original content, blogs and audio archives of all its programming. Federal News Radio and its sister station WTOP are owned and operated by Hubbard Radio.

Pres. Obama Calls on Texas Latinos to Pressure Republicans on Immigration Reform

Raul BrindisIn an call-in interview yesterday on the “Raul Brindis and Pepito Show” -a Spanish-language radio show broadcast out of Houston -President Obama called on Latinos to pressure their Congressmen and Senators to support immigration reform legislation.

“The main thing people can do right now is put pressure on Republicans who have refused so far to act,” Obama said.  “Obviously in the State of Texas, you got two Senators, Mr. Cruz and Mr. Cornyn.  So far they have not supported it.  But you also have many Congressmen, members of the House of Representatives on the Republican side that have not supported it yet.  And I think sending a strong message to them that this is the right thing to do.”

This comes as immigration activists across the country are beginning to switch tactics, according to a recent report on Politico. Previously, both politicians and activists who support immigration reform had been holding their fire against Republicans in an effort to give the fractious party space to put forward their own reform plan. However, with both John Boehner and Mitch McConnell making statements recently that seem to throw cold water on the idea of passing any legislation this year, a decision has been made to get more vocal.

The rest of the interview was very sympathetic to the President, as he and Brindis discussed why Latinos should sign up for the affordable care act and what Obama’s favorite Mexican food is. Obama said he and his daughter Malia decided that if they had to eat one kind of food every day for the rest of their lives, it would be Mexican.

Conservative Talkers Get Columns at TWT and The Hill

David Webb

David Webb

It’s a good day to be a conservative, syndicated radio show host. Both The Hill and The Washington Times announced today the addition of conservative radio personalities to their stable of opinion columnists.

David Webb‘s first column for The Hill starts running today and will alternate every Wednesday with a column from James Carville. Webb is a Fox News contributor, host of his own SiriusXM radio show, and a spokesman for the National Tea Party Federation.

And Steve Deace, a rising conservative voice in the Midwest, is joining TWT as a regular contributor to its opinion team. Deace, will contribute to a re-vamped Washington Times’ Communities portal, which is slated to launch later this month. Communities was temporarily shuttered last month following a spate of incidents involving inaccurate reporting. Deace will also provide TWT readers with regular updates about the early stages of the 2016 presidential caucuses in his home state of Iowa, and there are plans to distribute his nationally-syndicated program to TWT audience later this spring.

Steve Deace

Steve Deace

Both hires come as several DC pubs attempt to diversify the platforms across which they distribute content. The Hill has started producing web videos to accompany much of their online content, for example. And TWT Editor John Solomon recently initiated a re-org at that paper which, among other changes, replaced their traditional Copy Desk with a “platform agnostic” Universal Desk. Moreover, tapping into the large talk-radio audience is smart business for an industry that’s seeing print circulation drop year after year.

Spotted Around Town: WJLA’s Scott Thuman and 95.5′s Sunni

Last night was the one year anniversary of the opening of restaurant Mari Vanna, the DC home of authentic Russian cuisine and vodka (lots and lots of vodka). Managers Victor Star and Sergii Andriushchenko threw a big ole’ party to celebrate, but we, alas, were unable to go. Apparently some other local media celebs were in attendance, however.

WPGC 95.5′s midday host Sunni popped by.

WPGC 95.5 Host Sunni  (center) with Dannia Hakki (left) and Maha Hakki (right) from MoKi Media.

WPGC 95.5 Host Sunni (center) with Dannia Hakki (left) and Maha Hakki (right) from MoKi Media.

As did WJLA’s Senior Political Reporter Scott Thuman.

ABC 7's Scott Thuman (left), DC Shadow Senator Paul Strauss (center), and Rema Zadah (right)

ABC 7′s Scott Thuman (left), DC Shadow Senator Paul Strauss (center), and Rema Zadah (right).

Other notables at the big shindig: NBC News’ Danielle Leigh, DC Vote Executive Director Kimberly Perry, newly appointed DC Office of Motion Picture and TV Development Director Pierre Bagley, Echostage Owner Antonis Karagounis, and GILT CITY Senior Curator Marissa Schneider.

Photo credits – Joy Asico.