By Dave Hughes
The Baltimore Examiner has published its last issue. The freebie tabloid, which provided local sports coverage, that launched less than three years ago as the city's second daily newspaper, printed its last issue Feb. 15. Clarity Media, the paper's Denver-based parent company, blamed slower-than-expected ad sales when it announced the closure last month. About 90 people lost their jobs.
The Baltimore Spectator blog reports that some former employees of the Examiner are working on a new Web site. Stephen Janis, senior investigative reporter at the Examiner, made the announcement Feb. 16 on Ed Norris' morning show on 105.7 The Fan.
Hat-tip to the Baltimore Sun's Ray Frager for reporting that Talkers magazine, a radio trade publication, has compiled its top 250 talk show hosts. The highest-ranked sports talker, at No. 29, is Jim Rome, heard locally on 1370 AM, Fox Sports Radio, WVIE. Also of note: Terps fan favorite Boomer Esiason came in at No. 40 with his partner for their show on New York's WFAN. ESPN's Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg were at No. 45. The Junkies of Washington's WJFK-FM rated No. 84.
Speaking of the Junkies, we're hearing more rumors that CBS Radio might be flipping its guy talk station, DC's WJFK, 106.7 FM, to sports talk. Like what CBS did late last year with Baltimore's 105.7, going from talker WHFS to sports talk WJZ-FM. You may recall that the Junkies were known as the Sports Junkies when they started their radio show in the 1990s. The four Prince George's County guys used to be heard in the Baltimore area via 99.1 and 105.7.
If WJFK flips to sports, it would be DC's second sports talker, along with ESPN 980, which is owned by Redskins owner Dan Snyder. No contest to Baltimore, which currently has four sports talkers.
Not really sports, but there are rumblings that WBAL radio afternoon host Ron Smith had a heart scare on Valentine's Day. Waking up with tightness in his chest, he got rushed to St. Joseph Medical Center, where docs diagnosed arterial blockage in his heart and then inserted a stent into his right coronary artery.
"I'm grateful to the staff at St. Joe's, to the doctors, nurses, and supervisors for the excellent care they provided me," Smith wrote in his Baltimore Sun blog.
And there's been more news about cuts coming from the Baltimore Sun, including at the paper's sports department. The cash-strapped Tribune rag is shutting down its three suburban bureau offices -- Baltimore, Howard, and Anne Arundel counties -- and moving its local reporters, including the local sports staff, to its main downtown headquarters. Looks like about 100 employees have taken the recent rounds of buyouts and layoffs. Will the mighty daily survive? Not in its current state.
Down in Washington, D.C., Dave Benz, who has been doing weekend a sports anchoring on Channel 5 WTTG, is heading west to Comcast SportsNet Bay Area in San Francisco. Before coming to the DC-Baltimore area, Benz worked in the Denver area, anchoring shows for Fox Sports Net Rocky Mountain plus doing play-by-play for college basketball games.
Also in Washington, Channel 4 WRC sports anchor Dan Hellie is recovering from a shoulder separation after taking a header Feb. 16 on the slopes at a ski resort near Park City, Utah. He will require surgery. Last year, Hellie needed 14 stitches to the eye after getting head-butted during pickup hoops.
For the past 11 years, Dave Hughes has been running www.DCRTV.com, which features Baltimore and Washington radio and TV news, gossip and commentary.