The Message

Military Matters

As such, WMAL's Berry, who took over his station's top spot last December, sees no reason that Lightbody should be excluded from the airwaves for sins he says he didn't commit. Unlike his counterparts at KNRC, he is quite familiar with the Times article, having been a CBS executive at the time of its original publication, but he has no doubts about Lightbody's competence. "With all the government and military personnel in Washington, I couldn't put somebody on here unless I believed they were totally buttoned-down and knew what they were talking about," he says. "It'd be suicide. And not only don't I hear complaints about Andy, but I get compliments from military people all the time." As proof, he provides three e-mails lauding Lightbody from listeners with connections to the armed forces.

Still, the impact of the Times article hasn't entirely dissipated. A source speaking on background doubts if Lightbody could get a gig discussing the military in Los Angeles because of enduring concerns initially raised by the Times. KFI's Bertolucci sees the wisdom of such caution.

"With an expert in any field, there's got to be so much credibility that there can be no question," she says. "And once there are questions, it becomes a little uncomfortable. You shouldn't have to defend the credentials of an expert; they should speak for themselves. When that became a problem with Andy Lightbody, it didn't bode well for the relationship." Since then, Bertolucci has gone out of her way not to make the same mistake again. After Bob Newman contacted Clear Channel post-9/11 to pitch his services as a military analyst, she and Bell laboriously investigated his records to make sure he was everything he claimed to be -- and he was.

Mark Andresen

The Los Angeles Times notwithstanding, Lightbody says the same can be said of him. "I'm an analyst, a commentator who's been able to line up great contacts. They've helped me do what I think I do best, which is work through a variety of military issues and military topics and explain them so that everybody has a better understanding. I'm not trying to hide anything."

Mark of the Beasties: In "Rally Time," a column that appeared in this space on April 3, the argument that Clear Channel had ordered its 1,200-plus stations to promote a pro-war message was undermined by the actions of KTCL, which had put "In a World Gone Mad," a lay-down-your-guns tune by the Beastie Boys, into regular rotation. The decision was made after Mike O'Connor, director of FM programming for Clear Channel Denver, saw the results of a pre-war Web survey in which 34 percent of the more than 2,000 respondents said the track's status as a "protest song" made them like the song more, 51 percent said it didn't change their mind one way or the other, and only 16 percent said the political stance caused them to like the song less. The positive figures were even more impressive given that, peace sentiments aside, "Mad" is pretty lame musically.

To put it mildly, the numbers didn't hold once the lead started flying. O'Connor conducted the poll again between April 7 and April 11, with 554 members of the station's "Music Mafia" weighing in. This time, just 24 percent said they liked the song better because it opposed the war (a ten-point drop), while 25 percent said they liked it less because of its theme (a nine-point increase). Out of 22 songs tested, O'Connor says the Beasties' offering "finished dead last," a ranking that led to it's being yanked from the playlist.

As O'Connor points out, "What a difference a war makes."

The race is on: Unlike its crosstown adversary, the Rocky Mountain News, the Denver Post didn't take home any Pulitzers this year -- but Post staffers are guaranteed to do better in a new forum. An April 18 memo announced a "Denver Post monthly writing contest" intended to "highlight the stellar reporting and writing that appears in each day's paper. Any newsroom staffer may enter the monthly writing competition. Two winners each month will receive awards of $75."

Earning this princely sum won't be easy. Entrants are required to "submit an original essay about their story, summarizing reporting/writing tips that colleagues might find useful"; moreover, they're asked to attach a "completed entry form to the front of the entry. Print entries must be NO LARGER than 8 and a half by 11 inches for ease in photocopying. Loose clippings are not acceptable." Oh, yeah: There's also an "ACCURACY REQUIREMENT" that states, "Any corrections, clarifications or retractions made after initial publishing should be submitted as part of the entry. Also, copies of any written challenges to the report's accuracy sent to the entrant or the news organizations by or on behalf of those mentioned -- including but not limited to letters, e-mails or legal papers -- must be included with the entry."

Winning this contest twice in a row could be a challenge -- because completing all of the requirements may take so long that writers won't have anything to enter the next month.

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