So what's new in the news media?
* Crucians found a couple of weeks ago that they could no longer pick up St. Thomas radio station JAMZ 105.3 at the old WAVI position on the FM dial. That's because Knight Broadcasting stopped simulcasting on the St. Croix station and now broadcasts only on 105.3.
Michelle Maulden of Knight Broadcasting explains that the company did not buy St. Croix's' WAVI when it bought St. Thomas sister station WVGN from John Galansis. When WVGN, renamed WVJZ, went on the air last year, Randy Knight agreed to simulcast over WAVI "as a favor to the owner to keep him from going dark until he sold it, which he recently did," Maulden said.
* The old WAVI is now the new WYAC. It's owned by Luis Mejia of Puerto Rico, who owns several other radio stations over there. The programing is a simulcast of one of those stations, a staffer on St. Croix said it's "80 percent Spanish ballads, 20 percent English music, plus a morning talk show in Spanish."
* AM radio station WRRA has come a long way in the last year from the little local Frederiksted signal that hardly anybody else could pick up, or wanted to. Now owned by businessman Hugh Pemberton (who also owns Rotating Equipment, a Christiansted restaurant and a new St. Croix hotel), WRRA has gone from a one-room operation in Frederiksted to production, newsroom and studio facilities in Castle Coakley.
Herb Schoenbohm, who's running the news department, says the station has FCC approval to begin broadcasting at 1620 kHz with 10,000 watts of power, compared to the 500 watts it has at 1290 on the dial.
"We'll simulcast at first we can do that for up to four years," he says. Start-up will be "within the next six months."
Meantime, Schoenbohm says, he persuaded Pemberton to take the station on the Internet, "streaming" the data as an alternative to traditional analog transmission on the airwaves.
"We've had difficulty getting a good signal to St. Thomas," he says, and "interference from high-powered stations in South America at night" affects all of the local AM's. The response has been excellent, he says "from Australia, India, the mainland U.S. People tune in for the programing and the weather reports."
"Digital" is where the station is already at. "All of our music is stored in computer, transferred from CD to keep the sound quality good," he says.
"Lots of what we play is straight digital music, MPG files. It's how Sony plans to distribute its music on the Internet for sale."
Here's Schoenbohm's explanation of streaming: "Analog music off a CD through the console is digitized, then compressed so it doesn't take up so much of the spectrum, then transmitted through a phone line, which does not care about the frequency response, then decompressed and reconverted on the other end. It's an electronic bucket brigade. By streaming, you're not sending in real time, so you can send more information quicker, then play catch-up."
He says there's a delay of about 4 seconds between the radio signal and the Internet sound.
Meantime, the station is selling space on its website just as it sells time on the air. Want to know more? Check out www.wrra.vi.
* The Daily News recently adopted a dress code. Nothing like three-piece suits and ties or pantyhose, mind you. But no shorts, not even for those who work at night and on weekends and have virtually no contact with the public except on the phone.
This rubbed some editing personnel the wrong way, especially one who was sent home to change - and his wife, a fellow layout editor. Deciding they could do without the new demands of their job, they resigned.
"The advertising people always dress to impress," one reporter observed. "But the newsroom editors do tend to be more relaxed."
Word circulating unofficially was that blue jeans were about to be banned, too. "It's a lot like being in school," one reporter under the age of 30 commented.
* Former Radio One news director, then newscaster, then V.I. Legislature
public information office director Rick Ricardo is starting a new job soon.
It's not news media, and it's not government, he says, adding, "I'll be sure to have them give you a call."
* Onetime Channel 10 television newscaster, then legislative public information officer, and most recently WTJX-TV staffer Lee Vanterpool is freelancing. An encounter comin' around the curves of Haypiece Hill in a Channel 12 company vehicle had a lot to do with it.
He's reporting for WSVI-TV and covering the society circuit for the V.I. Independent.
* Michael Burton, senior reporter for the Independent for much of the last year, left the paper to become press secretary to Lt. Gov. Gerard Luz James II. Sighted at the recent Business After Hours at the Reichhold Center for the Arts sporting a dark suit and tie, he said his new job is proving to be
"a good way to find out how things work."
* Through no fault of her own, Daily News executive editor J. Lowe Davis was a minor player in the melodrama of special prosecutor Kenneth Starr vs. President Clinton. It has to do with Linda Tripp, the onetime White House employee who, to quote The New Yorker, "drew Monica Lewinsky to prosecutorial attention," having taped their lengthy telephone talks.
In 1969, a teen-age Tripp was charged with grand larceny in a youthful episode of no particular note. But 18 years later, filling out a federal security clearance form, Tripp answered "no" to the question of whether she
had ever been "arrested, charged, cited or held" by authorities for a crime. When Tripp's credibility came under fire vis a vis Lewinsky, the veracity of her response became an issue.
Different people have different recollections of what actually happened in
1969. One of them is the woman who was married to Tripp's father, Albert Caro, at the time - J. Lowe Davis. She recalls being with Caro when he got a frantic call from his first wife, Linda's mother, asking him to bail their daughter out of jail. Last year, Davis, long since divorced from Caro, told The New Yorker that she had met Caro's daughter only twice and didn't even recognize her married name when "Linda Tripp" began making headlines.
If you really want to know any more than this, see The New Yorker of last June 8.
Editor's note: Jean Etsinger is "the" journalism faculty at the University of the Virgin Islands and has worked as a writer and editor on St. Thomas for 16 years. She was formerly an editor at The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald and The Brazil Herald in Rio de Janeiro.
So what's new in the news media?
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