North East RadioWatch: April 2, 1999

The Eagle Has Crash-Landed

by Scott Fybush

Finally this week, we get ready to say farewell to one of the best-known names in radio, as well as some of the best-known voices in radio news. On April 17, Westwood One will offer the last newscast to bear the "Mutual" name, some 65 years after the network first went on the air. "Mutual" newscasts have been a pale shell of their old selves since last September, when the Westwood One newsroom in Virginia was practically shuttered and news operations for "Mutual" and "NBC Radio" moved to the CBS newsroom in New York.

While the disappearance of "Mutual News" is all but a formality, we're more concerned about late word that impending budget cuts at CBS Radio News will end the CBS careers of well-respected newspeople like Claudia Marshall, Bill Lynch, Paul James, David Jackson, Lisa Meyer, and Ed Crane. NERW has been watching with some concern as CBS has downsized its radio news division over the last few years (including the inexcusable closing of the Radio Stations News Service in Washington a few years back), and our sympathies go out to the hard-working, talented CBS Radio newspeople losing their jobs, as well as to the equally talented folks who'll have to work that much harder to fill the gap. We don't usually have a lot of nice things to say about the Mouse, but we have to hand it to them this time -- they've left ABC's sterling radio news division largely intact over the last few years. Still, we're hard pressed to see why anyone would get into the radio news business right now, with each week bringing news of another merger or cutback. If only a few of them were April Fools jokes...but the only joke right now seems to be the one being played on newsroom after newsroom -- and on the listeners who will eventually stop thinking of commercial radio for substantial news coverage of any sort. It doesn't have to be that way, though we admit the counter-examples are becoming harder to find.

And on that gloomy note, we'll close things out this week. See you next Friday!

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