Annual Manual 2001


Here's where you'll find the scoop on local news, politics, entertainment, and social life in East Tennessee.

My dear readers, I'm part of that left-wing media conspiracy to sap the mental abilities of hard-working Christian Americans and turn this country into a Godless land safe for bad sitcoms, cheap disposable consumer products, pornography and welfare programs. Or at least that's how my job description reads. I try my best.

My assignment today, however, is to help you poor readers see through the haze of propaganda that the local media uses to control and manipulate the hoi polloi. So here it goes.

You'll find that the media here in Knoxville are exactly like everywhere else in the United States. Which unfortunately means bland, unimaginative and advertiser friendly. There are, of course, exceptions—even the worst media outlets have bright spots and talent.

In many ways, Knoxville is poised to become a media capital of sorts. Our daily paper, The Knoxville News-Sentinel, is owned by the media giant E.W. Scripps, the same company that owns cable television channels The Food Network, HGTV, and Do-it-Yourself. Many of those production offices are located here, and Scripps is toying with opening an entertainment/education center based on its cable channels. There are even rumors that Scripps may one day move its corporate headquarters here.

All of this is very hush-hush, however, and you won't read much about it in the pages of the News-Sentinel. You will see lots of marketing tie-ins to the cable channels in the paper (i.e., a "Home and Garden" section with HGTV copy).

Otherwise, reporting is spotty—sometimes great, but overall lacking depth. The editor is good friends with Mayor Victor Ashe, so don't expect to see much criticism of him.

For scandal, you can turn to the weekly Knoxville Journal, which bills itself as Knoxville's "oldest newspaper," a deceptive distinction it gets from having bought the name from the old Knoxville Journal, a daily that folded in 1991. The new Journal is prone to publishing rumors—which, nevertheless, sometimes turn out to be true—and attacking the powers that be.

Of course, if you want to find out what's really happening in Knoxville you'll pick up a copy of Metro Pulse every Thursday. Editor Jesse Fox Mayshark once described our agenda as supporting "a vibrant city, inclusive government, good beer and good music." In short, the paper is witty, insightful, irreverent, and would never stoop to lowly self-promotion the way those other corporate media outlets do. If nothing else, Metro Pulse provides Knoxville with free bird cage lining.

There's also The Hellbender Press, a liberal, environmentalist muckraking quarterly that gives attention to issues the mainstream media ignores.

When it comes to radio, Knoxville offers a wide-variety of rigidly programmed markets, er, I mean, formats. There are three classic rock stations, three oldies, two modern rock, one Top-40 and too many country, talk, and Christian stations to really keep track of. If you want anything that smacks of originality, you must turn the dial left.

WDVX is a quirky little bluegrass and Americana station run out of a trailer. It'll go a long way toward educating you about this region's musical legacy. So will WNCW, an award-winning Americana station rebroadcast from North Carolina. The University of Tennessee houses two stations: WUOT is a Goliath of a station that broadcasts classical, jazz and National Public Radio programs; the smaller WUTK showcases an eclectic mix of punk, alternative and hip-hop music. Sadly, both have become more rigidly programmed in the past few years.

Hope is on the horizon, in the form of low-watt FM community stations that could be up and running in 2001.

As for television, there's not much to write home about. You've got your TV news with doe-eyed anchors in heavy make-up who spend a lot of time talking about the weather, traffic accidents, sensational crimes and sports. WBIR Channel 10 (an NBC affiliate) is the perennial ratings leader and generally the best of the bunch, with some good reporting on local political issues. The other major networks are represented by WATE Channel 6 (ABC) and WVLT Channel 8 (CBS).

But let's be honest. There are only two things any self-respecting person needs from TV: The Simpsons and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. You can watch the former on Fox's WTNZ, Channel 43; the latter on WBXX, Channel 20.

And there you have the lowdown on where you'll be getting your local news and entertainment in Knoxville. Of course, you can't trust the media, so don't take my word for it.

—Joe Tarr