A Tangled Web

Radio finds new life on the Web.

Fox 2 is so new that O'Connor cannot yet gauge its popularity, but he's confident that the audience will embrace it. Meanwhile, KTCL is aggressively promoting The Adventure 2, whose most popular songs are then moved to the mother station's playlist. Still, he doesn't want to create impossibly high expectations about the Internet venture. "In an ideal world, Adventure 2 would be a 24-7 station with its own DJs and an expanded playlist," O'Connor says. "The reality, though, is that it's a glorified mix tape." He adds, "It's been hard to convince the parent company [Dallas's Clear Channel] to do something like this when there's more expense than revenue. But if we're not careful, radio could get left in the background by these aggressive Internet upstarts."

That's the hope of Tom Grant, who with partner David Lampe runs one of Colorado's most entertaining dance-culture Web outlets, Localstation, at www.localstation.com. Unlike O'Connor's enterprises, Localstation isn't financed by a giant conglomerate; Grant and Lampe pay for it by designing Web sites for car dealers and other clients. But a lack of moolah hasn't prevented them from assembling a treasure trove for techno and electronica enthusiasts. "We have over sixty DJs helping us out," says Grant, once an employee of AOL's Digital City. "Most of them are from Denver, but we've also got DJs from all over the United States -- Florida, New York City, Arizona, Washington State -- and even from places like Scotland. You can listen to them by genre or DJ, and we also have a channel that randomly picks from all the music we have, so you can get a real variety."

Thanks to features like these, Localstation has been steadily building a following since its January debut; it's now racking up 20,000 unique visits a month. However, that's less than half the total that stops by the KTCL and Fox sites (both are now in the 50,000-visitors-per-month range), in large part because the stations are being hyped over the airwaves. Clearly, the big boys are moving in, making life infinitely more difficult for idealists like Grant. But he's not about to surrender. "I'll support Localstation until I'm totally out of time and money, because it's been so much fun," he says.

Fortunately for Stock, he's in a more financially secure position. "It's great to have a company like Lycos behind us," he says. "They're one of the biggest portholes out there, so you get a lot of hits every day, no matter what." But as a music lover, he wants to see Grant and other Internet pioneers succeed as well. "Let's all work together to bury traditional radio," he says. "It's time for the industry dinosaurs to step aside."

On September 1, the Denver Post published a front-page article filled with superlatives about its new editor, Glenn Guzzo, offered up by Post execs and pros who'd worked with Guzzo at the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Baltimore Sun. But there were no specific quotes from spokesmen at the Akron Beacon Journal, where Guzzo, who's set to take the Post helm this week, served as managing editor for the past six years. And that's too bad, because insiders tell some mighty interesting tales about incidents that occurred on his watch.

Knowledgeable sources peg Guzzo as smart and aggressive, yet they note that he was only marginally involved in "A Question of Color," a series of pieces that earned the Pulitzer Prize gold medal for public service in 1994; it had been under way for about six months before Guzzo arrived at the Beacon Journal. Moreover, an internal struggle dating roughly from the early 1998 arrival of a new editor, Janet Leach, resulted in Guzzo's power being severely curtailed. One interviewee said the managing editor position was "totally emasculated," leaving Guzzo on the outside looking in for the last year and a half. But this turned out to be a lucky break because of a scandal so egregious that it even made the Washington Post. In mid-October 1998, according to published reports, Akron's police chief, Edward Irvine, confided in two Beacon Journal staffers with whom he had a cozy relationship -- publisher John Dotson (formerly with the Boulder Daily Camera) and veteran reporter Robert Hoiles -- that a police report had been filed following an incident that had sent his wife to the hospital. He claimed she had fallen down the stairs drunk, even though she initially said he had pushed her. Yet despite having a great story fall into its lap, the paper never published anything about it. Dotson stated that he didn't realize it was a possible abuse case, and Hoiles said he thought that the information was given to him off the record. Another reporter, Bob Dyer, eventually heard about the incident and wrote about it in December, by which time Irvine had been exonerated (Irvine's wife denied he had hit her). But the silence of Dotson and Hoiles remained a secret until May 1999, when the Beacon Journal fessed up over the course of a marathon eight-part series about the gaffes that eventually led to the appointment of a special prosecutor, who also cleared the chief. Irvine subsequently sued the paper for allegedly harassing him and his wife -- and Guzzo was assigned to oversee the paper's defense. On September 24, Irvine withdrew his suit, but a Beacon Journal spokesman quoted in a September 25 article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer said he expects it to be refiled within ten days.

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