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FRESH AIR
WMTW-Radio makes a morning switch
BY CHRIS BARRY

They waited until the last possible minute to break the news to the audience, but Early Edition on WMTW-Radio has ceased to exist. The morning news-chat program, starring Portland Press Herald columnist Bill Nemitz and former TV anchor Neila Smith, went off the air on February 28. The hosts were allowed to say goodbye to their listener(s) and thank their producer during the last couple minutes of the show. No reason was given for the programming change.

The dismissal of the team after 18 months (plus Smithís earlier six months pairing with former Portland mayor George Campbell behind the microphone) is no surprise since the program never caught on with local radio consumers and didnít register in the ratings books or with advertisers. Apparently, Portlanders werenít receptive to the mix of local and national newscasts interrupted by Nemitz and Smithís tepid conversations about the interesting stories of the day.

Station management made the announcement two weeks prior to pulling the plug, but, in a move unusual to the radio industry, the hosts remained on the air until the final show aired last week. (Usually, station officials worry the fired staff will go out with a bang.)

" All-news " will replace the news-chat format, according to the stationís Web site, with updates by ABC, the Associated Press, and extended local coverage by the WMTW Radio news team. The Phoenix hasnít sampled the new product yet, but, according to the schedules posted on wmtw.com, reporters will conduct longer, detailed interviews with newsmakers.


Issue Date: March 6 - 13, 2003
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