One of the things I remembered as a child living in New Orleans was the unusual Times-Picayune building on Howard Avenue that sat in plain view of I-10. I’ve never quite figured out why it had a strange turret shooting up out of one side, but it’s certainly one of the Crescent City’s iconic buildings.
But that building is about to be empty as it was announced this week the Times-Picayune would be moving all of its printing operations to Mobile. The move means the last of the once-renowned newspaper’s staff is gone from the building, with the printing staff being laid off and the work moved to the Press-Register’s former building on Water Street in Mobile, according to a report on NOLA.com, the paper’s website. Approximately 100 jobs will be lost in New Orleans.
The printing and packaging operations of the paper will move within the next 12 to 15 months and is aimed at reducing costs and efficiency, according to ACS Louisiana General Manager Ray Massett. ASC Louisiana is the company spun off of the T-P to print the paper.
“This is a sad day, as our colleagues who are losing their jobs have been loyal and hard-working, courageously seeing us through some difficult times,” Massett said in the story on NOLA.com. “But the challenging economic realities of our business and the age of our plant means we must respond.”
The company may donate their now-empty building to a non-profit organization.
There’s no word yet as to whether the move means increased hiring at the Mobile press operation, which continues to print the Pensacola News-Journal and part of USA Today, among others.
Meanwhile, the T-P has announced it is bringing back Saturday and Monday broadsheet papers for subscribers through football season because readers are interested in Saints and LSU coverage.
One can also guess pressure from the rival daily, The Advocate, spun off from the Baton Rouge Advocate to take advantage of the T-P going to three days a week, may have had something to do with that decision. At this point, it looks like competition and reader demand is pushing the Times-Picayune back towards being daily.
More on WHEX
So after we went to press last week I was able to get a bit more information about the new low-power terrestrial radio station we can expect to go on the air early next year.
Put together by a group calling itself Radio Free Mauvilla, the station will carry the call letters WHEX and broadcast at 104.7 FM.
Trey Lane, who is one of the organizers, and who also has been part of ModMobilian’s Internet radio efforts, shed a little more light on what can be expected from WHEX.
As of now the station is still looking for a physical address, but Lane says they know where they want to go in terms of what listeners can expect.
“Overall the emphasis will be on diversity. It will be like hanging out with your cool uncle who plays you classic and weird records you may have otherwise never heard, while also hanging out with your cool cousin who lets you hear great new music you may have otherwise never heard,” Lane said.
The station aims to be commercial-free, which presents obvious funding challenges, but Lane says they believe the community will come through to support this eclectic radio sound.
“We’re speaking now with several potential underwriters in the local business community; that part of it basically works the same as an NPR-type station,” he said. “Of course we’d love to build more relationships with local businesses. If that turns out to not be enough we may explore pledge drives and memberships and what-not.”
One of the challenges for a low-power station is signal strength, but Lane says it should cover the majority of the Mobile area, including the Eastern Shore.
“That’s all still a bit up-in-the-air, since there is a range in what we’re capable of doing, but I can say it looks as if the signal will at least spread from WeMo to Fairhope, as I understand it,” he said.
Lane said the station is not affiliated with ModMobilian and was a bit cagey about who might land on the air, but did say some of the names would we well-known.
“Count on hearing some familiar voices and meeting a few new ones,” he said. “We’re excited to serve the community and free radio in Mobile from the cage of commercial interests, and hope to broaden the dynamic of what our community is aware of. On the musical front, this will make it easier to support a wider variety of all types of music coming through town. Free-Range, Cage-Free Community Radio — It should be a wild time!
The group is looking for people interested as volunteers or underwriters and can be contacted at [email protected].