After a little more than a year as the morning show host and program director for WZEW, Mike “Hurricane Shane” Schoenher has left the station.
His departure, however, has made room for the return of Gene Murrell, who has done two previous stints with Mobile’s most eclectic station.
Schoenher is headed back to his home town of Birmingham, according to a press release put out by ZEW Director of Operations and Programming Tim Camp Aug. 3. Schoener’s departure was rather sudden, but neither Camp nor Schoenher had much to say about the reasons for the split.
“Shane was in my opinion the best Morning show host the Zew has had,” Camp said.
Schoenher declined comment.
Camp’s press release also said he would be taking over the reins as program director, and that Murrell would be returning to the airwaves and also working as assistant program director. Murrell is scheduled to return Aug. 19. He will take over as midday host, which includes the ZEW’s popular “Gumbo Shop” at noon.
In February of last year, it was Murrell who left to make way for Schoenher. Schoenher previously worked with Birmingham Mountain Radio, an Internet station that has recently gone terrestrial.
The moves also mean current midday host Pablo Foster moved back to mornings Aug. 5 and Camp began hosting middays until Murrell’s arrival. Camp’s release focused on the positives of Murrell’s return.
“Everyone at 92 ZEW is excited and thrilled about Gene Murrell’s return to the station. Gene has great love for the ZEW, its format, its listeners and the Mobile music scene. Gene’s passion for the ZEW will complete a team of broadcasters who all share that same passion,” he wrote.
The changes behind the mic come on the heels of the recent departure of Emily Hayes, who has gone on to help start Mod Mobilian radio, an Internet station affiliated with the arts & entertainment website she works with and patterned after Birmingham Mountain Radio.
That move led to former ZEW jock Tony Ploscynksi coming back to take over the evening/nighttime slot.
The station is marking its 30th year on the air.
“Repurposing” for hits
Recently there was a rather lively debate on the electronic pages of al.com concerning whether content providers for the site were using other media’s work to simply fill their space and attract web hits. Some readers took al.com officials to task for writers not doing their own work in some cases.
Some even waved around the dreaded “P word” (That’s plagiarism. Get your minds out of the gutter.) so things were pretty tense. Naturally al.com leadership defended their reporting practices, and one even claimed media in Mobile are routinely chasing after stories broken on their site.
Now to be perfectly honest, there are certainly stories al.com is breaking that others of us in the market are not. Of course the same could be said of any of us, newspaper, television, radio and web alike. Despite their considerable reduction in man/womanpower over the past year, al.com still has more flip-flops on the street than most other organizations.
That said, I did take a look at some of the “repurposing” of other media’s stories at al.com and wasn’t too impressed by what I found. It appears that often the site is simply reworking other agencies’ entire stories, magnanimously giving them credit at the beginning and a link to the original at the end.
Back in the stale old pre-Internet days this kind of think would have earned a quick rebuke from the bosses, if not a quick pink slip. Now it’s encouraged.
Examples of what’s happening are plentiful and it’s a nifty trick. Rewrite a competitor’s entire story — giving them credit and a link, of course — place it under your own byline and post it. What reason would someone have to go to WALA’s website to read about a bank robbery they covered when you’ve already rewritten the whole thing?
These days it’s just about grabbing those precious web hits.
But some al.com readers brought up an even more questionable example. One reader thoughts a June 24 New York Times story about sweeter new whiskey offerings looked suspiciously similar to a July 21 al.com story on the same subject. And this one offered no nod to the Times.
I have to admit there were some strange similarities. For instance, the Times article contained the sentence: “Whiskey, once the most tradition-bound and austere of spirits, has developed a sweet tooth of its own.”
The al.com story read: “Flavored variations of the typically austere drink have been introduced to cater to those who want a sweeter experience.” Same meaning, mostly different words, but “austere” kind of jumps out.
The stories ring almost exactly the same bells throughout, citing the same statistics, mentioning the same brands and products and making the same observations. Perhaps it is pure coincidence the stories covered all the same information and even used the same statistics and some of the same language.
The site has also taken to having content providers who are repurposing other people’s work slap datelines on those stories. This provides the strange reading experience in which you might read a story from Berlin, Germany with a particular writer’s name on it, then click on another from the same writer on the same day and see a dateline from San Francisco or Tokyo, all while that writer is sitting in Mobile.
Traditionally in journalism the dateline has been used to denote to readers that the reporter was actually at that location when he/she gathered the information and wrote the story. On al.com it seems to be used as a method of making it seem like they have reporters crawling across the globe.
The issues presented by this kind of reposting or repurposing of others’ work are many. First it seems to be an attempt to grab web hits al.com doesn’t deserve. It also seems like an attempt to trick readers. But perhaps the worst part of it is that it can also serve to perpetuate an inaccurate report that comes from the original media agency.
Maybe it’s time al.com takes a look at the way it’s re-reporting the news.