WPMI’s Darwin Singleton is certainly one of the Port City’s best-known media stars. As a morning show host, reporter, anchor and emcee, the man wears many hats. But lately his favorite hat seems to be made out of newspaper.
Specifically it’s made out of the paper being thrown in yards across Mobile and Baldwin Counties by the Mobile Press-Register. The thrice-weekly, owned by Alabama Media Group, a Newhouse Corp. subsidiary, has earned a place in Singleton’s sights for its continued insistence on throwing advertising circulars — Yes and Bargain Finder — all over town, despite requests by citizens and even the mayor’s office that they stop.
When the Stimpson Administration announced stepped up efforts to clean up litter in a city where people seem to consider it a God-given right to throw trash in the streets, the mayor specifically pegged the Press-Register’s zealous throwing of these circulars as a major cause of litter and waterway trash. Alabama Media Group’s public response was that throwing the circulars is an exercise of their First Amendment rights and they would cease throwing to anyone who requests it.
As Singleton has been vigorously covering the litter issue for the past year, the Press-Register’s trash has become a point upon which he has reported a few times. Last week though, the veteran newsman says it really hit him hard after his neighbors gathered on a Saturday to clean their neighborhood of trash and debris, then the following day the streets were littered with deposits from the Press-Register.
“I expect it from litterbugs, but from a community business it’s frustrating,” he said.
Singleton says he has personally requested the P-R stop throwing in his yard, to no avail. Every time he posts anything about the issue on his Facebook page, Singleton says the comments he gets are dominated by people who claim they too have asked for the P-R to stop only to have the throwing continue.
“I called again, the second or third time and asked them not to throw in my yard. It doesn’t seem to do any good,” he explained. “If I say I don’t want it, my wishes should be respected.”
Singleton says any time he reports on the P-R’s advertising circulars, the reactions are strong.
“I usually get a good response on Facebook, but when I do this, it goes bonkers. What does that tell you?” he said.
The veteran reporter said he even started driving down to the P-R’s new headquarters on Royal Street last week to throw back one of the circulars that landed in his yard, but police had blocked the road for a marathon.
“I just got in the car and was driving down there,” he said.
While the Stimpson Administration has asked the P-R to stop throwing newspapers and circulars in places where they haven’t been requested, pushing the issue further seems unlikely. In other cities newspapers have been able to effectively claim the First Amendment gives them the right to throw such products, even though they contain little to no news. Singleton said the shooting at the Parisian satirical publication Charlie Hebdo last week that took the lives of 12 of its employees offers a more compelling defense of freedom of speech.
“They’re dying for the freedom to speak on issues that matter. This (throwing circulars) seems like a condescending use of that right,” he said.
Singleton said one of the things that has been difficult in trying to report on the issue is the refusal of Alabama Media Group or the Press-Register to offer any comment. He feels as a news organization they should be the last ones hiding behind a “no comment.” Lagniappe has also tried numerous times — including for this story — to ask for AMG’s side of the story, but we have never received a response.
Local 15 goes big for Mardi Gras
Darwin may have to hang up his litter fighting hat for a bit soon as WPMI has announced plans to vastly increase their Mardi Gras parade coverage this year.
“Beginning with the Order of Polka Dots, LOCAL 15 will broadcast live coverage of each weeknight parade on our sister station, UTV44, WJTC. Coverage will begin at 6:30 p.m. on UTV44 and continue through the conclusion of the parade,” the station announced in a press release.
Singleton will be hosting the broadcasts each evening along with iHeart Radio’s Colton Bradford, and will welcome a variety of special guests. The broadcasts will take place from a balcony near the corner of Government and Conception Streets.
Weeknight parades will be streamed online at local15tv.com. Currently weekend coverage is not planned, but that may change, station management said.
Uncle Henry to do it five hours every morning
Those who’ve missed getting to hear the entire Uncle Henry Show weekday mornings on Newsradio 710 WNTM-AM will like changes to the lineup coming Jan. 19.
Uncle Henry, who tackles local and national issues in a one-of-a-kind way, says his program will run in its entirety on-air for the first time since 2010, going from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m.
“The biggest change is that the ‘Uncle Henry Show’ will be heard from 5 until 9, and ‘Ask the Expert’ will be moved to 9 a.m. This will provide a five-hour block of Uncle Henry that can be heard every weekday morning on AM radio, iHeartRadio and on HD radio 96.1-2. The 8 o’clock hour, which was only heard on iHeartRadio, will now be heard on all of our platforms, including am radio,” Uncle Henry said. “One hour of ‘Glenn Beck’ will be heard at 10, and his other two hours will run from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.”
The full lineup will be as follows: Uncle Henry 5 a.m. – 9 a.m.; Ask the Expert 9 a.m. – 10 a.m.; Glenn Beck 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.; Rush Limbaugh 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.; Sean Hannity 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.; Glenn Beck 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.; America Now 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.; Clyde Lewis 10 p.m. – 12 a.m.; Coast to Coast AM 12 a.m. – 5 a.m.
In response to some of the changes Uncle Henry has a tricked-out new van he says will allow him to take the show on the road, so to speak.
“The Uncle Henry van is a response to my desire to do more shows outside of the studio. I love taking the show on the road. In 2015, I want to broadcast my show in as many different locations as often as I can. The van has a bold design and will let people know I am in their neighborhood,” he said.