The Seattle Times have come under fire after making the decision to prevent their sports writers from appearing on local radio station Sports Radio 950 KJR. According to local reports, the Times cites “competing forms of media” as the reason for instituting the ban. Times CEO Frank Blethen is said to be the driving force behind the decision, although sports editor Paul Barrett and executive editor Don Shelton will likely take most of the media hits.
KJR has previously served as an outlet for Times’ sportswriters to appear regularly. Seahawks reporter Bob Condotta, Mariners reporter Ryan Divish, and Washington Huskies football reporter Adam Jude all have consistent segments on the radio station, and columnists Matt Calkins and Larry Stone, Washington Huskies basketball reporter Percy Allen, and Sounders FC reporter Geoff Baker make occasional visits as well.
An issue which is at the center of the tension between the newspaper and radio station is the Seattle Arena situation. The Times have produced a number of pieces highlighting the Seattle Center’s Key Arena project and ignoring Chris Hansen’s Sodo arena pursuit, KJR hosts have been against the Key Arena suggestions and have called out the Times and Blethen for slanting their coverage.
No matter what the thinking is behind the decision, the move is unlikely to paint the Times in a positive light. If the goal of the newspaper is to gain readers, advertisers and promotion, choosing this strategy severely hampers it. They’ve also given additional credibility to KJR by showing that the opinions of the radio station’s hosts strike a chord inside their operation.
How the matter gets resolved is anyone’s guess, but for now, Times writers won’t be appearing on KJR, which may or may not turn out to be beneficial for their local competitor, 710 ESPN Seattle.