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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Walters: Ex-Freeps Editor Finds a Friend on Fox News

Posted By on Thu, Jan 11, 2018 at 11:16 PM

Denis Finley, the former editor of the Burlington Free Press who was fired this week for posting a series of offensive tweets, found himself in more amenable surroundings Thursday night: on Fox News' primetime "Tucker Carlson Tonight."

Carlson served up a series of softball questions designed to portray the ex-editor as a victim of leftist intolerance, and Finley accepted the martyr's role gladly.

In his introduction, Carlson referred to Finley's firing on Tuesday (it was actually Monday, sir) "after he tweeted questions about a Vermont proposal to create a third gender option for driver's licenses."

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Monday, January 8, 2018

Media Note: Top Burlington Free Press Editor Fired After Controversial Tweets

Posted By on Mon, Jan 8, 2018 at 9:10 PM

  • Courtesy Steve Earley/The Virginian-Pilot
  • Denis Finley
Burlington Free Press editor Denis Finley was fired on Monday, three days after he posted a series of controversial tweets.

Executives at Gannett, the Free Press' parent company, made the move after meeting with Finley, who joined the paper in 2016.

"Upon review, it was determined that Finley had violated the company’s social media guidelines on a number of occasions," the Free Press wrote in a story posted on its website Monday evening.

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Saturday, January 6, 2018

Media Note: Top Free Press Editor Sparks Outrage on Twitter

Posted By on Sat, Jan 6, 2018 at 7:36 PM

Burlington Free Press Executive Editor Denis Finley - COURTESY STEVE EARLEY/THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT
  • Courtesy Steve Earley/The Virginian-Pilot
  • Burlington Free Press Executive Editor Denis Finley
The top editor of the Burlington Free Press drew heavy criticism on Twitter Friday and Saturday for a post suggesting that Vermont’s proposal to offer a third gender option on government identification “makes us one step closer to the apocalypse.”

In his Friday night Tweet, Freeps executive editor Denis Finley was responding to a Vermont Public Radio story about the proposal and a comment from Rights & Democracy spokesman Shay Totten that the policy move was "awesome!"

Community members quickly excoriated Finley, who joined the Free Press in 2016. Totten, a former Seven Days political columnist, questioned whether Finley was "transphobic, bad at Twitter, or both." Vermont Democratic Party chair Terje Anderson called it "another reason not to subscribe to the Burlington Free Press."

Finley responded to several of his critics in real time.

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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Media Note: New WPTZ Television Studio Proposed in Williston

Posted By on Wed, Jan 3, 2018 at 5:31 PM

Rendering of the project from the town file - SCOTT + PARTNERS ARCHITECTURE
  • Scott + Partners Architecture
  • Rendering of the project from the town file
The NBC affiliate for northern Vermont and upstate New York could be getting new digs.

A new 23,500-square-foot television studio has been proposed in Williston on Marshall Avenue. The occupant would be WPTZ-TV, also known as NBC5, according to Williston planning director and zoning administrator Ken Belliveau.

The town Development Review Board is scheduled to hold a preliminary review of the proposal at its January 23 meeting.

An application filed with the town describes broadcast studios and offices. It includes a roughly 80-foot tower with a microwave dish to send the TV signal to another tower on Mount Mansfield for broadcast throughout the region.

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Friday, October 27, 2017

Walters: WCAX Hires Political Reporter Neal Goswami

Posted By on Fri, Oct 27, 2017 at 2:24 PM

Neal Goswami, left, and Kyle Midura covering a gubernatorial press conference. - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Terri Hallenbeck
  • Neal Goswami, left, and Kyle Midura covering a gubernatorial press conference.
Updated at 3:11 p.m.

The media merry-go-round is spinning briskly right now.

Vermont Press Bureau chief Neal Goswami is leaving the world of print media to join the news staff at WCAX-TV. The announcement comes a mere two days after Terri Hallenbeck announced her departure from Seven Days and Taylor Dobbs of Vermont Public Radio was hired as her replacement.

Goswami will make a quick move: His last day at the VPB is Friday, November 3 — and he starts at Channel 3 on Monday, November 6.

“Neal is a one-for-one replacement for Kyle Midura,” said WCAX news director Roger Garrity. Midura had been the station’s chief Statehouse and politics reporter until this summer, when WCAX’s corporate owner Gray Television hired him for its Washington, D.C., bureau. “[Goswami] has the knowledge, the background, and connections to the issues and people in the Statehouse.”

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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Walters: Seven Days Hires Taylor Dobbs

Posted By on Thu, Oct 26, 2017 at 12:21 PM

  • Angela Evancie
  • Taylor Dobbs
Well, that was fast.

On Wednesday morning, Seven Days announced that Statehouse reporter Terri Hallenbeck would leave the paper on November 3 for a position at Middlebury College.

Here it is, Thursday morning, and Seven Days is ready to announce her replacement.

Taylor Dobbs, who’s been a digital reporter at Vermont Public Radio since 2013, will join Seven Days in early December. He will take on an investigative reporting role and cover the Statehouse when the legislature is in session.

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Walters: Bennington Banner Faces Backlash Over Las Vegas Massacre Cartoon

Posted By on Wed, Oct 4, 2017 at 5:42 PM

An image of the cartoon in the Bennington Banner - WCAX
  • WCAX
  • An image of the cartoon in the Bennington Banner
Updated on October 5, 2017.

The owners of the Bennington Banner were trying to tamp down a firestorm of criticism over a political cartoon in Tuesday's paper that addressed the Las Vegas mass shooting. Top executives of its owner, New England Newspapers, have written public apologies, and the firm's president made a quick trip from company headquarters in Pittsfield, Mass., to Bennington Wednesday to meet with offended readers.

The cartoon, by syndicated cartoonist Randall Enos, included the legend "Whatever Happens In Vegas..." above a drawing of a haphazard pile of bodies, drawn in outline without features, scattered on the ground. More than 1,000 people posted comments on the Banner's Facebook page objecting, in very strong terms, to the publication of the cartoon.

The story has brought widespread attention to the paper — so much so that when you Google "Bennington Banner," the first autofill option is "cartoon." Not only have national media picked it up, but so have papers in Great Britain and Australia.

Enos is an illustrator and cartoonist with more than 60 years of experience. When reached at his Connecticut home Wednesday afternoon, he was apparently unaware of the controversy he had sparked.

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Friday, September 22, 2017

Walters: Radio Vet Steve Cormier Buys WDEV

Posted By on Fri, Sep 22, 2017 at 10:09 PM

Steve Cormier and Tom Brennan during their days as Burlington radio personalities "Corm and the Coach" - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Steve Cormier and Tom Brennan during their days as Burlington radio personalities "Corm and the Coach"
After a long search for the right buyer, Ken Squier found his man working right there next to him.

In a Friday afternoon press release, Squier announced the sale of the Waterbury-based Radio Vermont Group, which includes WDEV-AM and FM, to the firm’s director of sales, Steve Cormier.

“I am thrilled that after 87 years [of Squier family ownership] the station will remain among Vermonters,” said Squier in the release.

Squier’s father, Lloyd, founded WDEV in 1931, and the station continues to offer predominantly local programming. Ken Squier, 82, has worked at the station since he was 12 years old; he also achieved national fame as a NASCAR broadcaster, and he is a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

In addition to WDEV, the Radio Vermont Group also operates 101 the One, which plays classic hit songs, and country station WLVB-FM in Morrisville.

Squier had been quietly looking for a buyer for a couple of years. His search was first reported by Seven Days in June. At the time, he said he was looking for “a Vermonter or some Vermonters who are interested in and dedicated to local programming.”

Cormier would seem to be a good fit. Before joining the Radio Vermont Group in 2015, he was station manager at WTSA Radio in Brattleboro. And that followed a 26-year run in Burlington broadcasting, most famously as cohost of the “Corm and the Coach” morning show.

“Local radio, there’s nothing like it!” Cormier said. WDEV’s local-heavy format, he added, “ain’t going anywhere.” That includes Squier, who does weekday sportscasts on WDEV and the renowned “Music to Go to the Dump By” show Saturdays at 9 a.m.

“I want him there every day,” said Cormier of Squier, who will serve as an advisor as well. “‘The Dump’ show, sports, until he decides he doesn’t want to do it anymore.”

Cormier also plans no changes at WLVB-FM, and minimal changes, if any, at 101 the One.

Cormier professed a personal commitment to maintaining WDEV’s emphasis on local programming. “I’ve worked for Clear Channel,” he said of the nation’s biggest radio conglomerate, now known as iHeartMedia. “I saw what they did. They didn’t care about their communities.”

The sale is subject to approval by the Federal Communications Commission, which is expected to take a few months. Cormier would not discuss the sale price, referring inquiries to Squier, who did not respond to requests for comment.

There will be one departure from Radio Vermont. Eric Michaels, vice president, general manager and cohost of WDEV’s “Morning News Service,” is resigning. Cormier noted that Michaels has “done wonderful things” in bolstering the company over the years.

“For 30 years, Eric has managed to maintain and grow the Radio Vermont Group as a relevant broadcasting voice in Vermont,” Squier’s press release said.

Cormier promised no changes, but he realizes that the broadcasting industry is constantly evolving. And WDEV itself has changed — slowly, deliberately — over time. He plans a collaborative approach to the future.

“There are a lot of bright people at those stations,” he said. “Any major decision I make, I’ll talk to Ken about.”

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

VPR Announces President and CEO Turnau Stepping Down

Posted By on Tue, Aug 15, 2017 at 5:06 PM

  • Courtesy: Vermont Public Radio
  • Robin Turnau
Vermont Public Radio announced Tuesday that President and CEO Robin Turnau, who has led the station since 2009, plans to step down in March.

“Reaching this decision has been very difficult for me,” Turnau, a Charlotte resident, said in a statement released by VPR. “I care deeply about VPR and it has been an integral part of my life for the past 28 years. Every one of those years has been incredibly rewarding, and waking up and coming to work each day continues to be a joy. I’ve been working at VPR for more than half my life and I realized it was time for a new challenge.”

Turnau, who started working at VPR in 1989 as membership and volunteer coordinator, said she has no plans for what she will do after stepping down.

The announcement comes as the station recently wrapped up a $10 million capital campaign to pay for a large expansion and renovation of VPR’s Colchester headquarters and to establish a fund to bolster programming.

“She has led our beloved institution during a time of intense media disruption,” VPR Board chair Peggy Williams said in a prepared statement. “Thanks to her dedication, hard work and professionalism, VPR is stronger than ever and poised for an even greater future. She has kept our focus firmly on doing what’s best for VPR’s audience.”

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Walters: WDEV Radio For Sale

Posted By on Wed, Jun 21, 2017 at 5:12 PM

  • File photo
Ken Squier, owner of the Radio Vermont Group, has confirmed that his company is for sale. It's a milestone for a fixture of Vermont broadcasting, held in the same family for 86 years.

The heart of the company is "the friendly pioneer," Waterbury's WDEV-AM, founded by Ken's father, Lloyd Squier, in 1931. In recent years, the group has grown to a total of four transmitters plus four lower-powered "translators" that boost a station's signal in weak spots.

The company operates two streams of programming: WDEV-AM and FM broadcast local news, talk, sports, music and weather; and "The One" is a music station that plays hit songs from the 60s, 70s and 80s. (The music stations were devoted to classical music until Vermont Public Radio built out a statewide classical network.)

In an age of mega-corporate broadcasters and national syndication, WDEV is a throwback, still producing the bulk of its programming on-site with a strong focus on serving its community. Squier says he's looking for a buyer that shares his values and commitment.

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