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  Who's Driving This Thing?
The Year in Review


Down on News-Sentinel Avenue

Newspapers are supposed to keep an eye on government and big business, informing readers about shenanigans and corruption. But when the newspaper is itself a big business and cuts a deal with the government, how does that affect coverage? This year, the city of Knoxville gave the News-Sentinel what some thought was a sweet-heart deal. The city agreed to give the paper 28 acres (claiming the land through eminent domain and cleaning up any hazardous wastes) and an in-lieu of tax agreement that would save the paper $1.7 to $3 million. The city also agreed to upgrade streets around the project and rename Westview Avenue to "News-Sentinel Avenue, Street, or Way." The newspaper agreed to invest $45 million in a new production facility and hand over its current Church Street office to the city. The city also gets an anchor tenant for its 90-acre Center City Business Neighborhood in Mechanicsville and keeps a large employer, if not quite downtown, very near it.

It's hard to blame either the paper or the city for making the deal, but you have to wonder just how aggressively the Sentinel will be in poking its nose into city affairs and looking out for the interests of citizens. On the other hand, where the administration of Mayor Victor Ashe is concerned, it hasn't been doing that for years anyway.

Lowe Rising

His boyish face looks a lot younger than the 49 he's listed at in the E.W. Scripps annual report. In the picture, Kenneth Lowe stands next to the old man, 80-year-old Charles Scripps, who started his career during World War II as a reporter at The Cleveland Press. They come from very different worlds. Scripps cut his teeth in the ink-stained world of printing presses and from 1953 to 1994 help transform the company into a formidable chain of newspapers and television stations. In contrast, Lowe made his mark in Knoxville, in the glitzy, advertising-friendly world of cable television—the Food Network, HGTV and Do-It-Yourself. Named president, chief operating officer and a director of the company last January, the young upstart stands poised to lead the company into the 21st century. Whether Knoxville becomes "Scripps-ville" or not will depend on how successful Lowe is and where he leads the company. We've heard Lowe remains quite fond of Knoxville and has kept his house here.

Bill Williams Signs Off

After 21 years as the sonorous, comforting voice of the WBIR news desk, Bill Williams called it quits on Nov. 30. During that time, Williams won countless awards, including a long string of firsts in the Metro Pulse reader's favorites poll, and he hosted the popular, heart-string-tugging "Monday's Child" segment. Williams' seat behind the desk was filled by Ted Hall, who had previously hosted the news-talk magazine "Live at Five." Among Hall's competition will be his former colleague Gene Patterson, who announced in December he's leaving his post as deputy mayor to return to the world of broadcast. He'll be heading up the news team at WATE Channel 6, possibly giving a much-needed spark to the perennial second-place operation.

Dick Broadcasting Sells Out

For nearly 50 years, locally-owned Dick Broadcasting dominated the radio airwaves in Knoxville. That changed in May, when the company, headed by Allen Dick, sold 11 of its 14 stations around the South—including country-music powerhouse WIVK—to Las Vegas-based Citadel Communications for $300 million. Dick Broadcasting maintained control of WOKI-FM.

The biggest selling points, according to Citadel officials: WIVK has the rights to UT sports and the Tennessee Titans.

In a Blaze of Coury

Metro Pulse marked a milestone this year with the departure of longtime editor Coury Turczyn, who had been with the paper during almost its entire existence. Coury, who built MP by cajoling old Whittle Communications' colleagues to freelance for him at ridiculously low rates, is the person most responsible for the character, intelligence, and personality of Metro Pulse over the years. In other words, it's all his fault. (He was even the one who convinced Jack Neely to start writing a history column.) He left in August to pursue other ventures in Birmingham, Alabama, and he's been sorely missed ever since (although he has continued in an occasional capacity as the Movie Guru). Accompanying him was his significant other, Hillari Dowdle, a frequent MP contributor herself and—in her alter ego as restaurant critic Bonnie Appetit—one of our most popular writers. She is now managing editor of Cooking Light magazine. We wish both of them good things for 2001.

December 21, 2000 * Vol. 10, No. 51
© 2000 Metro Pulse