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"Uncle Walter" sticks in the knife

With Dan Rather due to deliver his last edition of the "CBS Evening News" this evening, his predecessor, Walter Cronkite, delivered a particularly damning comment in an interview Monday with CNN's Wolf Blitzer. Cronkite was not all that critical of Rather's role in the "60 Minutes Wednesday" piece using apparently phony documents that hastened his retirement from the anchor chair, allowing that he also might have trusted his producers in a similar situation. But Cronkite expressed misgivings that the network had kept Rather as its principal anchor as long as it did. "It surprised quite a few people at CBS and elsewhere that, without being able to pull the ratings up beyond third in a three-man field, that they tolerate his being there for so long," the retired anchor said. Cronkite said it would have been better for CBS to have put Bob Schieffer into the anchor chair long ago. But given his age, Schieffer will begin tomorrow as only a temporary occupant of the position - - and Cronkite refused to name names when asked who inside CBS news was qualified to take his former position on a permanent basis.

RBR observation:

Savage gone from XM

Conservative talker Michael Savage has been pulled from the America Right channel on XM Satellite Radio. Savage, syndicated by Talk Radio Network, apparently requested the move. Last week, Savage dedicated nearly a whole show about regulating Satellite radio. Many callers called him to debate the issue, and a few told him he was on XM. Savage mentioned his lawyers were working on getting him off of XM. Maybe his lawyers got what he wanted? All speculation at this point. Savage has been replaced with Radio America's Michael Reagan.

TRN's phones have been "10 deep" since Savage left XM, because XM ran an ad that told listeners to call the syndicator direct if they had any complaints or questions about the move. TRN CEO Mark Masters couldn't comment on the issue.

Gannett and partners put Reds up for sale

Wanna buy a big league baseball team? The Louise D. Nippert Trust, George Strike and Multimedia of Cincinnati Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Gannett Co., announced yesterday that they are putting their combined 51% stake in the Cincinnati Reds up for sale. But only that 51% is up for sale. The other 49% owners, including controlling partner Carl Lindner (a name familiar to many of you for his past broadcast ownership), say they have no intention of selling. The three non-controlling owners who want to cash out have retained Allen & Company to handle the sale. Even without control of the team, the sale could bring 100 million bucks or more.

RBR observation:
Unlike Tribune Company, with its ownership of the Chicago Cubs, Gannett doesn't get any particular advantage for its media properties out of its Reds stake. The company doesn't have a TV station in Cincinnati and its newspaper doesn't have any way to deliver play-by-play coverage.

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