Local media site DCRTV is out ahead of the pack in reporting on the rumored demise of WTWP. Just yesterday, it posted an item that took for granted the experiment’s imminent undoing: “Now we wonder: What will Post veteran Tony Kornheiser do after ‘Monday Night Football’ without a Post-branded radio outlet to come back to? Some sources tell us that Kornheiser will return to the station early next year, doing the 10 AM to noon slot.”
Rumors, of course, are easy to spit onto the page. Getting on-the-record confirmation, at least on this piece, is a bit tougher. Here are responses from the key players in the partnership between WaPo and Bonneville, the operator of WTOP, WTWP, and some other local station. In each case, City Desk is asking for confirmation that the two sides are in talks to collapse the venture:
Len Downie, WaPo Executive Editor: “I can’t discuss it.”
City Desk: Can’t discuss what?
Downie: “Anything….People were on the radio this morning, and people will be on the radio tomorrow.” (That’s a classic)
Tina Gulland, WaPo Radio-TV Mogul: “We’re in discussions with Bonneville about everything all the time.”
City Desk: Yeah, but what about the rumored discussions about shutting down the joint venture:
Gulland: “I cannot and won’t characterize anything in particular.”
Christopher Ma, WaPo Biz Guy: No comment
Steve Hills, Big-Time WaPo Biz Guy: Did not return two calls for comment. Will keep working on him.
Jim Farley, Bonneville Higher-Up: No comment on rumors. Did say this: “Having Tony on the air was the turning point. It made us realize that what people want is personality, attitude, controversy, and opinion, and not simply debriefing print reporters about what they wrote in the paper this morning. That’s no knock at print reporters. What Tony brings is this added element.”
Joel Oxley, Even Higher Higher-Up With Bonneville: “Things right now are very status quo. I don’t have anything exciting [to report]. We’re continuing to try to improve the radio station.”
When asked pointedly whether there’d been any discussions on folding the operation, Oxley said, “We do not have anything going on about that—-no.”
He later called back to clarify: “Of course we have talked to the Post about all kinds of possibilities….We’ve explored all kinds of different things with them.” But: “We’ve thought about a lot of different things about how to try to make this work. At this point, that’s still what we’re trying to do.”