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Steve Scher's KUOW disappearing act

Why would the popular public radio host suddenly pull his own plug? The answers say a lot about news, media and public broadcasting.
Steve Scher on stage at a Town Hall event in November 2013.

Steve Scher on stage at a Town Hall event in November 2013.

Radio microphone

Radio microphone Amy/Flickr

When the longtime and popular KUOW radio host Steve Scher up and quit suddenly last week, the rapidity and surprise of the event naturally raised eyebrows. Was he pushed? Got fed up over something? Is the radio station having an identity crisis?

The story of Scher’s sudden exit is less dramatic than it might appear. “Steve certainly could have stayed, and the decision to leave was his decision,” says the station’s new general manager, Caryn Mathes. That seems accurate, if incomplete. Scher was increasingly convinced that he wasn’t going to be a good fit in the station’s revised format. At the last minute, last Friday, he reached a decision point and suddenly departed.

The loss of Scher is a big one in local journalism. His departure is part of the steady loss of experienced journalists with lots of institutional memory. Among them recently would be, besides Scher, Brian Johnson and Dan Lewis at KOMO; Robert Mak at KING; Joni Balter, Emily Hefter, Lynne Varner, Bruce Ramsey, and David Boardman at the Seattle Times; and Pete Callaghan at the News Tribune in Tacoma (moving to Minneapolis). And this just in: Jean Enersen is announcing today that she will leave her anchor position at KING-TV this month although she will continue some other duties.

Scher, who was with the station for 28 years, was a maypole for many of these expert journalists, since he would have lots of editorial heavyweights on his long-running show, “Weekday.” It used to be on each weekday morning, 9-11 a.m. Format changes scuttled the show and relegated Scher to a relatively minor role on the new local show, “The Record,” now weekdays from noon-1. Scher, who was a steady, wise, wry presence in thousands of listeners’ daily lives, was gradually fading from air-presence. Gone was the rare interviewer who read the authors’ books, who used his slightly cumbersome style as a sly way to ask tough questions, and was the non-strident exemplar of Northwest progressive values.

He was also increasingly unhappy at the station he had long served and had come to exemplify. Public radio used to be about “shows” and habituated listeners. No more. It’s now about tightly produced segments, aimed at listeners who dart in and out of radio and want short fixes. Scher was instructed to cut back his 20-30-minute, in-depth interviews, to be more newsy, to have more “pace.” The station gradually took away his strengths. Once “Weekday” was canceled last fall, friends of Steve (myself included) thought it wouldn’t be long before he moved on, and Scher was privately getting gloomy about his future at the NPR station.

In an interview this week, Scher stressed that his decision, while seemingly signaling frustration, really was mostly a long-fermenting personal choice to leave radio and honor his “need to be a writer.” He has written a novel, “a romantic comedy that makes people laugh,” and wants to find time to polish it up for publication. He wants to continue his podcasts (on gardening and film) and possibly add a version of “Week in Review,” the regular Friday morning roundtable that Scher hosted with regular panelists Eli Sanders, Joni Balter, and Knute Berger. The Week in Review has now been placed “on hiatus” at the station. KUOW’s Mathes says the hiatus reflects the fact that Scher gave little notice of his decision and other likely hosts were temporarily unavailable. Mathes promises to “bring back the best possible thing we can” to carry on the very popular Friday morning news program.

Scher explained his decision to quit this way in a blog post: “I did a lot of writing during my sabbatical last year. It is something I have to get back to and complete. I turned 60 this year. I couldn't let another year pass without at least giving an honest attempt at the writer's life. After that, there are lots of opportunities in this changing media landscape. I look forward to the exploration.”


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Comments:

Posted Wed, Jun 11, 6:10 p.m. Inappropriate

So glad to see this informative article on Steve's departure from KUOW. Its been five days since the announcement that he will no longer be part of KUOW radio and there has been such a vacuum of information about it. For many of us there is a great sense of loss with his departure. Now we have some help to process this loss and yes, mourn losing Steve from Kuow's airwaves.

I join the rest of the community in wishing Steve all the best. I look forward to hearing his voice, spoken and written in the future. Maybe KPLU could host a "Week In Review" on Friday mornings with Steve and the gang after "Weather With Cliff Mass". Stranger things have happened.

To Crosscut: I am sure you could have found a better picture of Steve than the one used at the top of Dave Brewster's article. Why such a bad photo?

Posted Wed, Jun 11, 6:10 p.m. Inappropriate

I do hope that they get "Week In Review" back. It's one of my favorite bits on KUOW on Friday morning. I'd thought that the other KUOW reporters did a decent job hosting that segment while Steve was on sabbatical.

kedamono

Posted Wed, Jun 11, 6:57 p.m. Inappropriate

I agree entirely. It was a good show and the regulars -- Balter, Sanders & Berger -- had nice chemistry. A little too conventionally liberal for me but intelligent so the pieties weren't embarrassing. I hope it comes back and maybe even with Scher. Why not a part time job?

As for the rest of KUOW, it's too bad it has such a stone face. It may be public radio but it is not open, permeable, transparent. Of course maybe that is all media: we keep you informed but not about us.

With the web-casting, local shows have a tough time. When KUOW bores me I have KUOW 2 or KUOW3 or any one of thousands of stations. Of course what they lose they receive so it probably balances out in terms of listenership though not in terms of the local flavor.

Posted Thu, Jun 12, 7:04 a.m. Inappropriate

" A little too conventionally liberal for me "

Apparently those are the only folks with time to sit around and listen to the radio all day. Must me nice.

Simon

Posted Thu, Jun 12, 6:58 a.m. Inappropriate

I do hope that they get "Week In Review" back:

Knute Berger: "Bubblelator!"

Eli Sanders: "Income tax!"

Joni Balter: "Bubblelator income tax!"

Simon

Posted Wed, Jun 11, 6:21 p.m. Inappropriate

Marcie Sillman must feel a bit lonely.

sarah90

Posted Wed, Jun 11, 9:35 p.m. Inappropriate

I'm sadly learning to accept that when I lose access to insight and thoughtful discussion in local media, metrics will prove that ratings have increased. The metrics never seem to measure what's valuable to me.

Aside from Crosscut (which I will increase my support to!), online media is measured by the click, goosed along by salacious buzzfeed headlines and polarized wedge issues rather than real people grappling to find solutions. TV is an echo chamber with news to fit every preconceived belief system, and locally produced content is long gone (except, apparently, after 1AM). Now public radio (which I remember thinking had improved my quality of life even more than post-it notes when it came on the scene) is shooting straight for the headline news crowd. To me it's sad, but the metrics prove I'm wrong I guess.

My only complaint is that public radio's mission was to avoid all of that. Focusing on ratings, in my opinion, does not bear any relationship to the value my money used to support - which is, I guess, harder to quantify. Management gets to make that call, but my dollars will find their way somewhere else. My best wishes to Steve Scher finding another platform to continue the conversation.

Posted Wed, Jun 11, 9:42 p.m. Inappropriate

What I miss are the in depth interviews. The little snippets we get on The Record are frankly mind candy and not very nourishing.

nwcitizen

Posted Fri, Jun 13, 11:53 p.m. Inappropriate

Definitely agree. It's ADD radio.

sarah90

Posted Thu, Jun 12, 1:04 a.m. Inappropriate

Thanks for the in-depth article. I've been waiting for someone to explain things at KUOW. The new format has done just what they were worried about: sent me to on-line and stream content from NPR.org and PRI.org. The Record is a Broken Record that continually repeats segments. If the Week in Review were to go to another station, I'd go there, too. I did not renew my membership in KUOW this past pledge drive; Crosscut will get a larger pledge from me from now on for reporting on local news.

MASKR

Posted Thu, Jun 12, 7:09 a.m. Inappropriate

Can they cut the gardening segments? Seriously, you don't get more North of the Ship Canal, white, middle aged, short (or long) gray haired divorcee than that.

Simon

Posted Thu, Jun 12, 7:24 a.m. Inappropriate

As the local, national and global media landscapes undergo tectonic changes, it is all the more important for citizens to engage in media oversight, analysis and criticism -- including program content and staff review. After all, the people formerly known as the audience are now part of the conversation to a much greater degree -- and that's a good thing. But journalists and their managers/owners need to hear from us, and loudly, about what we want and need from our news media. Demand high standards, thorough coverage, good ethics and best practices. Ask your favorite news/opinion sources -- including KUOW and Crosscut -- to take the TAO of Journalism Pledge to be Transparent about who they are, Accountable if they make mistakes, and Open to other points of view. That's what they ask of everyone they cover. It's a two-way street. It will help them gain credibility and earn public trust. See http://taoofjournalism.org for details.

Posted Thu, Jun 12, 8:41 a.m. Inappropriate

Thank you for addressing this story. I respectfully think that we need more coverage than this, though, on what is really going on with public radio in our city. I would like to know, for example, what role national NPR is playing in these changes. I've noticed that one result of the new format is that our station is buying much more national material. Meanwhile the loss to our city of serious journalism and analysis is huge and regrettable. We have a huge Seattle news week like last week's and the station has to fit isn't coverage into the 10 second window allowed for local news. The week in review program was the only place anymore where we could feel like we were really connected to intelligent thought about issues from a local perspective. Now that is gone. Whose interests are served by the emptyheaded disconnectedness that is now the official marketing-base idea of news and journalism? A year ago I relied almost exclusively on daily doses of Kuow to stay informed. Now iam forced to goto other media. It seems like kuow has caught some flesh- eating disease.

nbeadie

Posted Thu, Jun 12, 9:27 a.m. Inappropriate

Steve brought me onto his show three or four times to interview me about articles or books I'd written. Each time he was superbly well prepared; as David pointed out, he's one of the vanishingly rare interviewers who actually reads the book his guest has written. He also has a gift for staging an interview as a thoughtful conversation. It makes guests feel at ease, and over the long run, draws out deeper intelligence for the listeners' benefit.

So KUOW's ratings have gone up? I'm not impressed. From my perspective as a listener, its daytime programming has been dumbed down, and I rarely tune in any more. We have way more than enough dumb broadcast journalism in the region; I sure can't understand why our premium public radio station would want or need to edge in that direction.

Posted Thu, Jun 12, 9:29 a.m. Inappropriate

I would agree that KUOW is changing in ways that arent very satisfying. And I think Scher was good, at what he did-
BUT- and, as PeeWee Herman says, we've all got one-

I totally disagree that whats wrong with Seattle media is the loss of "experienced journalists".
Every year, going back a few thousand years, old people die and retire.
Making way for young people, who, contrary to popular belief, are not all idiots, and will, given have a chance, grow into "experienced journalists".

KUOW has been stuffed to the rafters with AARP members, and needs new, young blood.

The bigger problem is that we are in the midst of a gigantic, worldwide shift in the economics of news reporting, radio, tv, and newspapers.
There are very few seats left in front of the mike these days, and most of them are being held by geriatrics who wont leave.

We have lost virtually all the experimental stations that allow kids to make mistakes and learn- KRAB, long sold out. KCMU, bought as a rich mans plaything, run as a version of MUZAK. Late night slots at various other local AM and FM stations used to allow wierdos to experiment- now, its playlists from corporate headquarters.

What would do KUOW a world of good is to hire a bunch of kids from Hollow Earth Radio, a local, vibrant, internet only station, and give em free rein, along with kids from other, similar, self motivated non-profits that operate below the radar.

Instead, we get music of the swing years- which you have to be at least 90 to have heard the first time around- or, endless reruns of Garrison Keiler and Car Guys, neither of whom were more than cute nostalgia 30 years ago, and who are just mumbling to themselves now.

Ries

Posted Thu, Jun 12, 10:15 a.m. Inappropriate

Thanks for mentioning KRAB. It was the last radio station I consistently listened to. Not because it mirrored my interests or beliefs but because it seemed authentic, frequently boring but hardly ever predictable, and (probably chief attraction) it allowed some mildly eccentric people to air their beliefs at considerable length every week (or sooner). One or two of these commenters were brilliant and bent my mind a little bit.

kieth

Posted Thu, Jun 12, 12:19 p.m. Inappropriate

I think you're off the mark. By a wide margin. KUOW has no young and up-and-coming staff? How about Ann Dornfield, Ashly Ahearn, Jamala Henderson, Jeanie Yandel, Lisa Brooks, Liz Jones and Reiny Cohen to name of few - many came though the ranks as interns.

And holy crap - the old KCMU as "non-experimental" and a "rich-guy's plaything" -that is an ill-informed statement. You refer to KEXP - the most innovative radio station around - and totally listener sponsored. The first station to widely stream, pod-cast their live performances, requirements for show-casing local talent hourly, a huge young and vibrant intern and volunteer staff and world-wide listeners and subscribers. It is a great station - do you ever listen to this? I can't imagine so.

Run as a version of MUSAK - you're kidding right? They play an amazing amount of material, blues, rock, rock-a-billy, country, world, latin - seriously?

Lily32

Posted Thu, Jun 12, 8:59 p.m. Inappropriate

Thank you, well said. This is not about gray pony-tails getting out of the way for innovative millenials to take the reins, this is about replacing content that appeals to subscribers with content that uses metrics geared to advertisers, adopting the performance metrics of the media public radio poses as an alternative to.

Posted Sat, Jun 14, 9:42 a.m. Inappropriate

KEXP sucks.
seriously.
You must not listen to a very wide range of music, if you think its great.

Ries

Posted Thu, Jun 12, 11:04 p.m. Inappropriate

Near as I can tell, Steve Scher retired about 5 years ago. The fan letter by David Brewster notwithstanding, Scher's "in-depth" interviews were often meandering and just plain boring. I was a guest on his show a couple times over the years. Nice enough guy. But as a listener, I got the sense he lost interest in radio. Maybe he's got a good book in him.

I confess I'll miss the geriatrics pontificating on Friday. Nice to get the Republican perspective from Joni.

Posted Thu, Jun 12, 9:31 a.m. Inappropriate

While I am sorry to see Mr Scher go, I am not sorry to see "Week In Review" go. The regular guests - Berger, Balter and Saunders - are stereotypical Seattle liberals. Their dialogue seemed a series of inside jokes, mocking conservatives and moderates with one-upmanship about how liberal each guest could be. By way of example, Saunders seemed unable to make a point on any subject without blaming our "broken tax system" that has no income tax, without any acknowledgment that the voters of the state resoundingly reject the income tax.

I acknowledge that Seattle is a liberal city. However, KUOW is broadcast all over King County, and King County has a large number of moderates and conservatives - certainly more than the 0% representation on the show. Scher was unwilling to have his Week in a Review guests be representative of the diversity of views present in King County. Good riddance to the show

PJS

Posted Thu, Jun 12, 9:49 a.m. Inappropriate

Knute Berger: "Bubbleator!"

Eli Sanders: "Income tax!"

Joni Balter: "Bubbleator income tax!"

Simon

Posted Thu, Jun 12, 10:58 a.m. Inappropriate

Joni Balter- a "liberal"?
What universe do you inhabit?

Ries

Posted Thu, Jun 12, 11:39 a.m. Inappropriate

Ummm..... by any rational definition, in the context of American politics, Balter is liberal. Read her op ed pieces in the Seattle Times. Listen to archived podcasts of Week In Review. A long history of support for liberal policies and candidates. More importantly - at least for this former listener - was her practice of disparaging and mocking moderate and conservative candidates.

PJS

Posted Thu, Jun 12, 12:51 p.m. Inappropriate

by any rational definition, Balter is center right, just like Obama is.
Left wing politics is virtually unknown in this country- we have ONE socialist elected official in Seattle, and ONE in the combined House and Senate, nationally, versus 40 or 50 extreme right wing tea party politicians.

Ries

Posted Sat, Jun 14, 12:01 a.m. Inappropriate

Definitions of words don't necessary change due to the change in the context of American politics. Balter is no liberal. You may have disagreed with her on various (or all) issues because she wasn't conservative enough for you, but that doesn't make her a liberal.

sarah90

Posted Thu, Jun 12, 11:58 a.m. Inappropriate

Thanks, David, for a very insightful piece of writing. As someone who has participated in discussions and decisions on how to grow and maintain audience, I’m sympathetic to those who grapple with these decisions. Ratings “numbers” are compelling but malleable. Ratings properly measure not only the number of listeners but also the length of time they listen. I believe I am correct in noting that KUOW’s highest ratings come on weekends when the long-form programs continue to run (Car Talk, Wait-Wait, This American Life, etc).

As I write this, I’m listening to “To the Point” on the PRI Internet feed. I’ve stopped listening to Morning Edition and ATC on KUOW because they hack the program up with local and PRI material, often previously aired and of lower quality. (Even before Steve’s departure and the shortening of “The Record”, KUOW would often re-run a story that was many months old. I guess “news” doesn’t have to be “new.”) Ironically, in trying to differentiate their programming from their national sources they have severely reduced the amount of fresh and locally produced programming. KPLU is my morning and afternoon station of choice for news. They have been hacking up ME and ATC but not to the extent KUOW does. Listening online to OPB, WAMU, WNYC and WBUR are now not just viable options but more deserving of my time. Weekends on KUOW are still strong with great shows like “On the Media”, “Day Six”, and the incomparable “Swing Years” among others.

KUOW laughingly, and mistakenly in my opinion, now refers to the dayparts that used to be anchored by ME and ATC as their “Morning” and “Afternoon” news magazine. It does take chutzpah to de-brand your most identifiable product. I wish KUOW well in their attempt to navigate a new and tricky media landscape. But fewer, shorter and unevenly produced local content is not, in my opinion, a recipe for success.

psnewman

Posted Fri, Jun 13, 5:39 p.m. Inappropriate

Yes, it's somewhat insulting to hear someone before 9:00 am (usually Bill Radke) introduce a spot that sets up an interview by John Hockenberry -- almost as if KUOW produced it somehow -- and then hear that same interview an hour or two later on Hockenberry's own show, in its actual context.

Who told KUOW they needed their "own" news "magazine"? Yes, "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" have their dull moments, but having KUOW pretend like those shows are mere fragments while the real show is being produced by KUOW itself is galling. With the loss of long-form local shows like "Weekday" and "The Conversation," and their replacement by cut-and-paste offerings like "The Record" and the morning and afternoon "magazines," Puget Sound public radio listeners are likely to just gravitate to internet feeds of other public radio stations and podcasts of better and more in-depth shows from other those stations. I've been a terrestrial radio junkie for years, but I feel like listeners like me are being pushed away in hopes of younger-generation replacements. But in my estimation, chopping existing shows into little "digestible" bits isn't going to bring younger listeners to KUOW.

small_d

Posted Thu, Jun 12, 12:09 p.m. Inappropriate

Excellent article! Great to see behind the curtain.
The voices of radio are part of our memory of place and time. I recall - and so do you - the call sign of stations we listened to in our youth. The voices that mr. Brewster mentioned are like a sound board. It is what we hear morning, noon and night. These are the peeps we hang with. So when a voice goes offline then part of the conversation goes away. It might be replaced by a better voice. But these radio voices are like companions, almost siblings. One might not always agree but we might yearn to hear the sound.

The sounds of the city
Are the sounds that you hear
On KSFO, in San Francisco

neonative

Posted Thu, Jun 12, 12:24 p.m. Inappropriate

Maybe the term "constructive discharge" rings a bell. Yeah, sure he quit.

KUOW has two digital sub-carriers where people like hollow earth, and even former KCMU and KRAB inspired DJs could play. But instead we get pre-fab milquetoast BBC rebroadcasts. KUOW, KEXP, and KING FM all either have underutilized sub-carriers, or some that are not used at all. Plenty of room but no initiative. Best to keep streaming WFMU at home for the real thing.

Posted Thu, Jun 12, 2:07 p.m. Inappropriate

KUOW increasingly broadcasts a stream of irrelevant boutique intellectual curios. The intellectual becoming more and more questionable. Can't blame Steve for dumping them.

MTC

Posted Thu, Jun 12, 2:39 p.m. Inappropriate

It's too bad. The current format just is a downgrade from what they had going. Steve was a great interviewer - prepared, knowledgeable, and bright. The current wham-bam-thank-you-ma'me style is annoying and surficial.

I really avoid the station now and will miss Steve. Yea, I know, things change. But this change is canned and far from innovative. Poor strategy - this will be the first year in 25 years I will not donate to their fundraiser.

Lily32

Posted Thu, Jun 12, 4:17 p.m. Inappropriate

About the only reasons I tuned to KUOW are now gone and a wrote to tell them so. Wish them well in trying to attract the 'younger demographic' and pander to short attention spans in this region. Interestingly, WAMU still has Diane Rehm and Kojo Nnamdi.

Posted Thu, Jun 12, 5:25 p.m. Inappropriate

Long-time KUOW listener and supporter here, with some respectful but dissenting views from what you voiced, David, and many others seconded.

I've lived with Steve Scher in one ear for a long time...I appreciated his sincerity and obvious desire to inform and educate, across the huge spectrum of topics that constitute 'public interest' radio.

However, I never felt that he had a newsman's or radio pro's feel for how a program should be paced. Many times, he'd get dog interviewees, and wait far too long before cutting the segment. His pace was often deliberate to the point of "come on, let's get to the point." Though the Friday 3-way with Balter, Berger, and 'X' (not always Saunders) had the potential to be a terrific show, they CONSTANTLY wasted time with small talk and inanities, sometimes burning the better part of an hour in that way and in dwelling far too long on one or two topics, leaving many other potential issues unaddressed or mentioned only briefly. The local yokels were often pressed into post-mortems on national topics, when that wasn't the focus of the show, and we didn't need more upper-left-hand-corner punditry on topics for which national expertise was already abundantly available.

I'm glad one listener mentioned KCRW's "To The Point," which in other free advice to KUOW, I've pointed to as an exceptional, rapid-fire, intelligent, and breezy show--now picked up by quite a few NPR stations around the country, I think. Warren Olney, despite a bit of vocal dithering at the mike, does have the newsman's gut instinct for how long to carry a topic, and focuses quickly and deftly at the essential elements of a story. To the extent that it aspires to develop local programming, KUOW should study the very best locally-originated shows from around the country, and invest the resources that it takes to do it (directorial and on-air talent, skilled program development/research support, and moolah). Failing that, KUOW should become a clearing-house for programs originating elsewhere, and give those who still listen to locally-broadcast FM (perhaps numbered on the digits of one hand) some crisp, interesting spots.

Behind all of this is the Big Question of what's dancing in the stars for local broadcast radio of any kind. Check your favorite 'device' for available programming--you name the content, musical, news, commentary of right or left, music--and you'll know Right Now why any local broadcast business plan (intended to support itself on local listernership) is on life support. You could bring in all the bright young people you want, but you're going to be nothing but a small, niche player for the vanishing few who still primarily listen to what's beamed from the top of Queen Anne, Beacon Hill, Tiger Mountain, etc.

All the best to Steve Scher--I'll look forward to reading not just one of his best-sellers, but many.

Seneca

Posted Thu, Jun 12, 8:40 p.m. Inappropriate

I wish Steve all the best in his efforts to write productively. It's hard to do.

Steve was the toughest interview in town. Not hard-driving confrontationally hard, but questions that were hard to answer. I always prepared with extra vigilance for the few times I got to be on his show.

Posted Thu, Jun 12, 10:28 p.m. Inappropriate

I wish they would cannonball KCTS next. Seriously, how many 'Peter, Paul and Mary' sing-a-longs do we need?

This town needs fresh blood. Desperately.

Simon

Posted Fri, Jun 13, 8 a.m. Inappropriate

I was waiting for someone to bring this up!! KCTC is beyond lame. PPM, 50's singing groups, Wayne Dyak, that skeletor health guy, yoga lady. F***! It has an amazingly horrible line up. The best items by far are the BBC shows.

Lily32

Posted Sat, Jun 14, 12:08 a.m. Inappropriate

The only good items are the BBC shows. Even though those of us with hearing problems can only understand one-third of the Britishisms.

sarah90

Posted Sat, Jun 14, 1 p.m. Inappropriate

Please, Crosscut, is this the best you can deliver? A self described friend of Sher's writes a fanboy article about his leaving. No mention of the extremely unprofessional way in which he did it, or even a hint at the controversies surround Sher and/or how so many people will be so glad to see him go. This is not journalism so count yourself among the losses of whatever you see us losing.
Sher will not be missed by many of us. Sometimes I would listen, but sometimes it was so painful, I just couldn't stand it anymore. Case in point: pull up his interview with Jodie Foster when she directed "Beavers". So, so awkward. You called it his "slightly cumbersome style" I laughed out loud when I read that. I guess he did read the books, but really, are we really handing out awards for that? And as for being a tough interviewer, do you folks NOT listen to Democracy Now, or Jon Stuart or anyone else? Sheesh. Tough because he rarely listened to the answer maybe.
Perhaps he did do some good. I heard that he helped get the RadioLab for teen interns started and that's a great accomplishment. But his professionalism is questionable. Who really just walks out on a job without notice without someone in the news calling him out on it? Not a friend, surely. But his handling of his own demise and the Cliff Mass affair tell us so very much about his ethics and maturity and self-centeredness, if you only care to be less biased.
I wish him the best, but I am not sorry to see him go. Let's hope KUOW shows more insight into his replacement than providing him with support.

Posted Sun, Jun 15, 1:07 p.m. Inappropriate

I must agree with some of what LarryCurlyMoe has to say. Steve Scher wasn't a news guy so much as an editorialist. I remember the days of the monorail and light rail fights from 2000-2008, when the monorail completely melted down. The monorailists were on the show constantly for free promotional air time. I was invited to the KUOW studios once and had a great time being interviewed and talking about light rail. But only once vs. the dozens of times Joel Horn and other monorailers were on KUOW. But overall, Steve's decision to quit seems obviously driven by the fact that he was just bored with doing radio after so many years. Not surprising and moving on seems like a natural choice.

I must agree with LarryCurlyMoe that the readership of Crosscut deserve more than than such a wholy 1 sided story about Scher's amazing presence with no downside. When you do the same thing in the same way with the same people (like week in review with Burger, Balter and Sanders), it gets stale, comical and less interesting. And that's exactly what happened.

Posted Sun, Jun 15, 1:09 p.m. Inappropriate

Perhaps KUOW can carry segments from Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman. It doesn't get more hard hitting than that. And the listeners would get NEW perspectives on stories rather than just the same coverage on the same stories from a different radio station.

http://www.democracynow.org/

Posted Mon, Jun 16, 10:33 p.m. Inappropriate

Oh yes, we can learn about how great a leader Hugo Chavez was and why socialism is the answer to all our ills.

Simon

Posted Mon, Jun 16, 8:16 a.m. Inappropriate

Luke Burbank did a wandering and quirky post-KUOW-exit interview with Steve Scher last week on his podcast, in which you can hear snippets of explanation for his departure. I will miss him, but I completely understand the criticism of his lazy style.

Listen here: http://mynorthwest.com/category/tbtl_player/?a=9972967

I desperately wish that KUOW would once again fill their expensive (paid with your donation dollars) and beautiful studios with local programming. Their executives unfortunately cling to the belief that national programming need to be regurgitated constantly because busy listeners only hear little bits at a time. It is sad that they don't realize that we have many other sources for this news. Original and local programming gives a radio station life, and serve its community. That is what we lost when Weekday went away.

Finally, I wanted to add my agreement about Warren Olney. I know his style may grate, but he is by far the best interviewer and all around newsperson on the air.

Posted Mon, Jun 16, 10:28 a.m. Inappropriate

I guess it costs less to have miscellaneous interns read Bleing press releases.

nbeadie

Posted Mon, Jun 16, 10:29 a.m. Inappropriate

That should be Boeing

nbeadie

Posted Tue, Jun 17, 2:30 p.m. Inappropriate

Warren Olney a good interviewer - are you kidding. All that guy does is constantly, I mean constantly say something along the lines of "well so-and-so. our other guest says this - what is your reply". I'd vote for him as one of the worst interviewers I hear on public radio, no insights, no pulling apart the discussion, no probing questions. His interviews are constantly very simple and unsophisticated. He lets so much go and always misses opportunities to ask probing questions. I don't think he is especially bright or well prepared. Plus his vocal style is amazingly annoying.

Treker

Posted Sun, Jun 22, 2:14 p.m. Inappropriate

Sounds like what you want, Treker, is someone who rants and has a bias going in. Warren Olney has the rare ability to deftly summarize the often wandering comments of his guests in order to get a response from someone who disagrees, who is then allowed to respond without being dogged by the host or the other interviewee(s). Half the complaints about KUOW's current situation is that programming has been chopped up into bite-size bits, but Olney is one of the few who allow guests to speak their piece without unnecessary interruption (contrast his style with Chris Matthews's style, for example). I can only respond to your assessment of Olney's vocal style as "amazingly annoying" as one person's opinion, and nothing more. If you want biased opinion, head to Fox News. But if, like most public radio listeners, you want fuller presentation of divergent opinions with a more-or-less impartial referee (which I think in today's media landscape, only public broadcasting is even close to achieving), Warren Olney gives you that. And in many ways, Steve Scher did, too. Maybe he wandered in his own way, but I'd rather spend time listening on that end of the spectrum than on that of the blathering opinionators everywhere else.

small_d

Posted Wed, Jun 18, 8:34 a.m. Inappropriate

Where oh where is the journalism of the 5 w's and h?
Where is there journalism that is not secretarial--that doesn't just facilitate the script written by money/power?

At least Crosscut is providing some significant cross winds to this influence. But is it enough to counter our disastrous foreign adventures in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan ad infinitum, and our bailing out of the too-big-to fail cohort, and our conditioned-reflex pushes to pursue an assumed unlimited growth that produces a system of tweedledee and tweedle-dumb differences.

Posted Wed, Jun 25, 6:50 a.m. Inappropriate

I agree fully with small_d. KUOW's style of calm, thoughtful reasoned commentary is just becoming the minority. The mistake being made, however, is that, this style is what other outlets SHOULD be doing.

The real problem is that the mission of informing people about 'news' about their community, their city, their government, can be really BORING. So you're not going to have the highest ratings by delivering good, quality news shows. It's just not as exciting and visually entertaining as say, a fire, a car wreck, a wardrobe malfunction, or some twit ranting on the radio about his rather irrelevant opinions.

The other problem is that radio stations aren't rated by their quality but by their cost. A better rating system would be based upon how well informed listeners are. By this rating system, comedy shows like Jon Stewart inform the viewers better than alleged 'news' companies like Fox.

Posted Thu, Jun 26, 1:36 p.m. Inappropriate

KUOW has lost all personality. Total sellouts. Losing Steve Scher was predictable. The station is no longer listenable.

CharlieE

Posted Tue, Jul 8, 9:24 p.m. Inappropriate

Management of KUOW has been obsessed with "ratings" for the last 12 years.

In search of ratings they have lost the essence of public radio.
A homogenized, A.D.D., international/local goulash of radio snippets is not what made us love Public Radio (and made me work in it for 30 years).

Very sad to see where much of the Public radio system is going. Interesting that many top shows (This American LIfe, American Routes.....) are leaving the traditional NPR/PRI distribution channels.

And Steve (and Dave Beck) have left KUOW. Good for them ..... do the right thing, not the ratings thing.

ElStein

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