Friday, May 29, 2020

John Labus leaves 740 KTRH

740 KTRH morning news editor John Labus joins the Harris County Appraisal District (HCAD)

John Labus has been a big presence on 740 KTRH for 15 years, but he's getting out of radio, and joining the communications department at the Harris County Appraisal District (HCAD) starting Monday, June 1.

Over the years, Labus has covered the President of the United States (twice), nine hurricanes (counting direct hits and near-misses), the 9/11 terrorist attacks, multiple elections, and finally the COVID-19 pandemic.

During his career, Labus won multiple Associated Press awards including Best Newscast, Breaking/Spot News, and News/Sports Enterprise.

The KTRH morning news editor earned an accounting degree from Georgia State University, but numbers would not consumer the rest of his career.

In 1996, just a few years out of college, Labus was managing a bar in Myrtle Beach, SC. He was told the locally-owned rock station, 101.7 WKZQ, needed a news director.

"With no experience, I walked in the door and was immediately hired," Labus told "I remained there until 1999, when I relocated back to Atlanta."

That led him to Salem Broadcasting's startup Contemporary Christian music station 104.7 WFSH in Atlanta from 2000 to 2001 where he worked as a board op and weekend disc jockey from 2000 to 2001.

It was at this time, he officially gave up accounting and went into radio full time.

"I landed at WHP-580 (Clear Channel), a news talk station in Harrisburg, PA in 2001, where I worked as a general assignment reporter and morning anchor," he told me. "I was also a stringer for Penn State football for five seasons."

Then it was time for Houston when legendary 740 KTRH came calling. Labus has anchored/reported on every shift on the clock, eventually moving to morning editor in 2011.

Now Labus will be on the other side of the microphone as the Houston journalists ask him the questions! Good luck John!

CW33 KDAF DFW launching Morning After with Ron Corning and Jenny Anchondo

Earlier in May I asked if CW33 KDAF Dallas getting TV morning news again? The answer is yes, but not a traditional morning newscast.

KDAF announced that it's launching Morning After Monday, June 1st at 10am on air and online. First the station produced Morning Dose, now it is the Morning After...I like it.

The show, which will be hosted by Ron Corning and Jenny Anchondo, promises to be, "equal parts informative and entertaining, engaging viewers as they go in-depth on topics that are top of mind locally and nationally."

“With the addition of Morning After, CW33 clearly recognized that in the last year Ron and Jenny have cultivated an audience and a following in the video podcast space,” KDAF Vice-President & General Manager John Trevino said on the station's website. "Bringing these two popular podcasts to broadcast made perfect sense, “This was an opportunity to build on a proven formula that brings hyper-local content to DFW viewers that audiences are craving on both our broadcast and digital platforms. This will also be the only local show at 10am, produced by the only locally owned TV station in the DFW market.”

As I posted a few weeks ago, in early April, KDAF started producing a web show called “Coronavirus: The Daily” with DFW TV personalities Corning and Anchondo along with producer Melissa Plaskoff. The station notes, that the two anchors were first paired to host the Dallas Holiday Parade.

In March 2019, Corning left WFAA 8's Daybreak where he anchored mornings for eight years. Before Dallas, he anchored nationally for World News Now, ABC World News This Morning and The Daily Buzz. Since channel 8, Corning has been helming the vodcast Morning After with Ron Corning, so the name continues on with his new project.

Anchondo returns to CW33 where she previously co-hosted the syndicated version of Morning Dose. Before KDAF, Anchondo anchored the FOX 4 KDFW weekend morning newscasts, “Good Day Saturday” and “Good Day Sunday” and reported for "Good Day" throughout the week. She also worked for WXIN Indianapolis, KOLD Tucson, AZ, KNDU/KNDO Kennewick, Washington and KQQQ-AM Pullman, Washington.

After Morning Dose, Anchondo hosted the Second Shot podcast.

Madd Hatta interviewed on "The Jimbo Podcast"

There have been lots of questions about what happened to the Madd Hatta Show on 97.9 The Box (2001 to 2019) at the end of 2019?

The show just disappeared followed by the premiere of "Good Morning H-Town" with Jerrel ‘Hardbody Kiotti’ Brown and Keisha Nicole in January.

Longtime Madd Hatta Morning Show player Jim Beazy, now going by Jim "Jimbo" Kovacik, is giving us a few more answers with his new "The Jimbo Podcast."

The first episode featured an interview with none other than Madd Hatta himself (partial transcript below) where the two talk about the last years of the show:

Jimbo: You know, I do miss these, these great conversations we used to have everyday we still talk and text but uh...

Madd Hatta: The conversations weren't really that good.

Jimbo: {Laughs}

Madd Hatta: Here's the truth, man. We just threw some stuff up against the wall and hoped we did out best and hoped it stuck. Sometimes it would stick, sometimes it didn't.

Jimbo: What do you miss about doing the everyday thing?

Madd Hatta: This is the sad part, Jim, and I don't know what I miss...I miss getting my check every month. But that's the way I was always anyway. I was on a spinning wheel, as we all were. And all these years, I had been on a spinning wheel of go to work, take care of your family, do your community and that's all I knew. I didn't ever even know...the decision was made...I made the decision to just walk away from it...I didn't even anticipate people really liked us. You know what I'm saying? I never thought about it until we were we were gone one day and then we took that picture and people were going, 'Oh, we miss ya'll.' Like, 'Oh they liked us.'

Jimbo: It's that don't know what they've got till it's gone thing, you know?

Madd Hatta: Well, no, it's not even that. I think we were so...I think as a crew...because some of the bad things that happened, we were so drawn to the negativity.

Jimbo: Yeah, yeah.

Madd Hatta: Several, several years we were only...we were only into the negative. So we didn't think about the love, so to speak. We only...we wrapped ourselves in this blanket of hate. So we could only see when somebody would say something negative, something bad was happening. And we really...well I'm going to speak for myself. So I didn't really enjoy the last two years. The last two years weren't a big joy for me. I wasn't getting joy out of it because the last 10 years were just miserable, worrying about people hating you and, you know, just this bad stuff. So the joy that I had once got in it for back in the 90s and the early 2000s, it just wasn't there no more. So to answer your question, what do I miss? I don't miss any of that. I really don't. I don't miss any of that. I's what I miss. And I said this on my Instagram page, and I know, you know, I miss us being there when things like the virus.

Jimbo: Yeah, that's the thing.

Madd Hatta: Or Kobe passing. Even what's my man, Curly Neal, passing away. That hurt. You know, we were the source of information that, you know, and I know there was some programmers that didn't believe that we needed to give that information, but I'd always fight to give certain information and we did that. And so during these times, I expect me and you and Mac to be at work while everybody else is taking care of their families. And we are sacrificing and being the voice of reason during...I mean...just the the truth of it, Jim, I would have been dumb enough to still probably still been at the station every day through this virus and probably never would have got home. Just make sure that my kids were OK.

Jimbo: I know. I know that's true.

--------end of partial transcript--------

Madd Hatta told Jimbo he has a new album ready to go but said he doesn't think during the pandemic is the right time to release music.

Other Jimbo Podcast interviews include actor and Howard Stern favorite Ike Barinholtz, musician/comedian/impressionist/legend and former co-worker Jay Lamont, Houston radio legend Shelley Wade and Texas Radio Hall of Famer Johnny Goyen.

Speaking of Goyen, Jimbo recently replaced the hall of famer during the morning shift on Houston Radio Platinum, an online radio station.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Cleverley Stone dies of cancer

Longtime Houston media personality and founder of Houston Restaurants Week, Cleverley Stone, 68, known as the "Diva of Dining," has died after battling stage-4 uterine cancer her TV home FOX 26 KRIV is reporting.

"Close to impossible to believe that this bright light is now shining down on us from Heaven," KRIV anchor Melissa Wilson wrote on Facebook. "Cleverley Stone was one of my first friends when I moved to Houston 20 years ago & it was so special when we became FOX FAM 12 years ago. She fought bravely against uterine cancer and urges everyone to never ignore any symptoms. She helped raise millions of dollars for Houston's hungry and had the most beautiful, giving heart. We will miss you forever, Clev."

Stone, was a mainstay of the FOX 26 KRIV morning show with her lively Houston restaurant and food segments for 12 years.

She also hosted a restaurant/food show on 650 KIKK. In late March, Stone announced she was stepping away from her 650 AM show due to her cancer battle and the COVID-19 pandemic.

She got her start in radio on a food related show in 2003 with former 101 KLOL morning host, Mark Stevens, called "The Stevens & Cleverley Show" on BizRadio 1320 AM KXYZ.

Media success aside, her biggest contribution will be as founder of Houston Restaurant Week which Marcy de Luna of the Houston Chronicle is reporting raised more than $16.6 million, affording the distribution of more than 44 million meals to those Houstonians in need.

Stone's entrance into the Houston media started at the Houston Post where she rose to be the newspaper's wedding section editor. Before that she had worked at Foley's as the corporate bridal director.

She once told me she remembers the day on April 18, 1995 when the Houston Post was bought by the Chronicle. Working in her office, she looked up at the TV and saw her office window being shown live from the outside as other media showed up to cover the event.

FOX 26's story on Stone's passing says her final wish was that Houston Restaurant Weeks continue with the next edition happening August 1st, 2020.

Russ McCaskey and Jennifer Lindgren among CBS 11 KTVT layoffs

CBS had nationwide layoffs yesterday and those cuts also affected CBS 11 DFW KTVT employees

The bios of CBS 11 DFW KTVT morning anchor Russ McCaskey and weekend morning anchor Jennifer Lindgren were removed from the station's website yesterday.

This coincides with the much publicized layoffs in the CBS and Viacom merger that has not only affected the corporate side yesterday, but also the CBS owned an operated television stations.

I was told by a source there are around 15 or so employees of KTVT involved in this cost cutting measures.

In a statement CBS issued Wednesday:

“We are restructuring various operations at CBS as part our ongoing integration with Viacom, and to adapt to changes in our business, including those related to COVID-19. Our thoughts today are with our departing colleagues for their friendship, service and many important contributions to CBS.”

Yesterday McCaskey and Lindgren were no longer on the station's site. At the time of this post's publishing, McCaskey's KTVT Facebook has been deleted.

As we all know, this is a tough time for the media biz, but the timing of the merger between Viacom and CBS made this extra difficult.

Russ McCaskey

McCaskey joined KTVT in 2015 from KJRH Tulsa where he had been the 5, 6 and 10pm anchor. Before that he was an anchor reporter at KXII Sherman.

The Dallas native and award winning journalist is a Plano Senior High School and Texas Christian University graduate.

Jennifer Lindgren

Lindgren joined KTVT from WKYC Northeast Ohio in 2013.

Prior to Ohio, Lindgren was a reporter/fill-in weekend anchor at WTLV Jacksonville, WLTX Columbia, SC and KXII in Sherman.

Among the awards she has won is a regional Edward R. Murrow.

* This post has been updated to confirm that Russ McCaskey and Jennifer Lindgren and others were apart of CBS nationwide layoffs

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Sally Mamdooh leaves KPRC 2

Reporter Sally Mamdooh has left KPRC 2.

I got word she was leaving and tonight her bio was removed from the channel 2 website.

Mamdooh joined KPRC in July of 2018 from KMGH Denver, Colorado.

In 2019, the Sam Houston State University got engaged at her alma mater Sam Houston State University. She got married earlier this year.

No word on where she is headed next, but if you see before I do, please let me know!

Stay tuned.

Here is where Mamdooh has worked.

7NEWS/ KMGH Denver, Colorado
News Reporter
2015 – 2018

Bay News 9: Spectrum News
2013 – 2015
St. Petersburg, Florida

2012 – 2013
Madison, Wisconsin

Newscenter 25 KAVU
Nightside Reporter/Weekend Anchor
2008 – 2012

abc13 KTRK
Intern Investigative Reporting

Anastasiya Bolton is part of TEGNA's Deep Dive team in Houston

Anastasiya Bolton's bio just popped up on KHOU's page.

She arrived in Houston from TEGNA sister station 9News KUSA in 2018 and continued working for the company executive producing a show on Facebook Watch and other TEGNA digital properties called "An Imperfect Union."

Since September 2019, according to LinkedIn, Bolton was a Houston-based investigative reporter for TEGNA.

"Here I work as a part of TEGNA’s Deep Dive team, producing deeper investigative-type stories to air in 11 Texas cities where TEGNA owns TV stations," Bolton wrote in her bio. "We have the ability to reach more than 80% of the state."

As I said before, prior to coming to Houston and working out of KHOU, Bolton was the crime, courts and investigative reporter at KUSA Denver for 12 years.

Before Denver, she was a reporter for ABC 33/40 WABM Birmingham, AL and KETK Tyler.

Bolton has a BA in broadcast journalism from Southern Methodist University.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Stefania Okolie launches Solely Fit athletic brand

abc13 KTRK reporter Stefania Okolie starts athletic brand Solely Fit

abc13 KTRK reporter Stefania Okolie is launching her own athletic fashion line called Solely Fit.

Fitness is important for Okolie as she told Houston Fitness Czar Samir Becic's Health Fitness Revolution in 2019.

"I am motivated by many things to stay healthy," Okolie said in HFR. "For one, when I look in the mirror I like to see a strong me. I see my fitness not only through my exterior but my interior as well. What is a strong body, without a strong mentality? I strongly believe health is wealth and it starts in your mind. My happiness is fed by living a healthy life. I am also motivated by a fitness community always striving to be better."

That love and passion for working out, led the journalist to take classes on clothing design at LabelHorde while in Phoenix where she had worked for Fox 10 KSAZ.

"I wanted a black V-neck fitted crop top and like a poly nylon blend," Okolie told the In My Humble Opinion podcast. "And I couldn't find that anywhere. You know, I wanted a jumpsuit, that's like ankle length. I wanted leggings with, like, a mesh only's like things that I was looking for I could never find. So I'm like, 'I'm yeah, I feel good in these, like, solid black lulu leggings and, you know, crop white shirt.' But I'm like, 'I want to elevate myself.'"

Back in 2018, that desire and classes led her to use her Croquis fashion sketchbook to start working on what would become Solely Fit.

"Designing it is one thing, but then you have to like, construct it to go on the human body," she told the podcast. "So you need to know every single measurement. And there's probably, per a garment, there's probably 22 measurements that you need."

Okolie said in the interview that she has learned a lot through this project including patience.

So if I ever encounter a breaking news scene and Okolie is filing a report, I am stopping to ask for a discount code!

Before Fox 10 KSAZ Phoenix, Okolie worked for News 3 WTKR Norfolk, CBS 12 WPEC West Palm Beach, Florida and WRBL Columbus, GA.

Also, check out the In My Humble Opinion podcast (embedded below) to hear how Okolie had a "controversial" moment in her journalism schooling and how abc13 KTRK anchor Chauncy Glover helped land her channel 13 job!

Monday, May 25, 2020

Jennifer Sanders joins KXAN Austin

NewsChannel 9 WSYR Syracuse, NY morning anchor Jennifer Sanders returns to Texas at KXAN Austin

Morning anchor Jennifer Sanders is leaving NewsChannel 9 WSYR Syracuse, NY after nine years and returning to Texas at Nexstar sister-station KXAN Austin.

WSYR reports her last day in Central New York will be May 29th, so I would guess she would we on Austin's channel 36 sometime in June.

No word on the award winning TV journalist's job position at KXAN.

The station even had a car farewell parade (video embedded below) for Sanders since there could be no official party thanks to COVID-19.

Before WSYR, Sanders was a multi-media journalist (MMJ) for KXII Sherman. She started her TV career as a CW33 KDAF Dallas writer/web producer. According to her bio, she started her journalism career in Seguin where she worked for a newspaper and radio station.

Sanders is a Texas Lutheran University graduate with a University of North Texas master’s degree in journalism.

Houston Colt .45s radio poster from 1962

Well, we should be in baseball season right now watching the Houston Astros (or insert your favorite team here), but old coronavirus took care of that.

Twitter account RadioRewinder takes us back to that other Houston baseball team, the Colt .45s, and a radio poster from the 1962 season.

A stamp on the ad says Morningside College Library Sioux City, Iowa. Glad Morningside is keeping track of Houston history for us!

The ad reads, "Major League Baseball has come to Houston! And all games are broadcast on KPRC! Houston's Major League Radio Station. Represented nationally by Edward Petry and company."

According to Wikipedia, the Roy Hofheinz and Craig. F. Cullinan, Jr., owned team's broadcasts were on 950 KPRC-AM and channel 13 KTRK. On KTRK, Al Helfer, Gene Elston and Guy Savage called the game on KPRC it was Al Helfer, Gene Elston and Loel Passe.

Baseball Reference says the Colt .45s' record was 64-96 finished 8th in National League.

The attendance for Colt Stadium was 924,456.

- Colt Stadium Houston film footage from April 10, 1962
- Film clips of the Colt .45s in 1962
- How Union Station became Astros’ home
- How KTRK inspired the Astrodome